Writer Elaine Viets lays it on the line for Clooney Monday, Apr 13 2009 

Elaine Viets

Elaine Viets

Elaine Vietslives in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, but she is a product of St. Louis, Missouri. She proudly claims her roots here, and St. Louis just as proudly claims her as a hometown girl.

Elaine graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas High School (I know you other St. Louis natives all were wondering.)

She wrote a column for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for several years, and then she moved to Washington, D.C., and then to Florida. These days Elaine is best known for her mystery novel series featuring > Jodie Marcus, Mystery Shopper <. I last saw Elaine in person when she was a guest speaker on the subject of how to get published at a St. Louis business women’s event a few years ago.

No Caption Needed

No Caption Needed

Apparently Elaine has been following the comings and goings of current man-about-town George Clooney from her home in Florida, as he causes traffic to jam and hearts to flutter while shooting his movie around St. Louis.

Here is a > LINK < to a post by Elaine from “The Lipstick Chronicles” blog, giving George some advice on local etiquette.

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Spotlight On Bill Chott, The Improv Trick studio Sunday, Mar 29 2009 

Bill Chott

Bill Chott

I took an improvision workshop last year lead by Bill Chott (pr. “kott”) at his studio called The Improv Trick. It was an entirely comfortable experience for this utterly novice and inexperienced improv performer, and an interesting thing I learned from Bill about the history of modern improv is that Gaslight Square in St. Louis is considered to be its birthplace.

If you’re even slightly interested in the idea of improv, here are a few things about Bill Chott that might encourage you to take a workshop or classes from THE MASTER, who has studios in both St. Louis and Los Angeles. His Web site is linked here and called > the improv trick < and describes Bill this way,

“Bill Chott is one of the few nationally known stars to permanently reside in St. Louis while still remaining successfully busy in Hollywood. His recent credits include a staring role in the Top Ten Farrelly Bros. film “The Ringer,” Disney’s “Wizards of Waverly Place,” all while voicing cartoons on Saturday Night Live.”

Alan Rickman

Alan Rickman

This is a very short and modest list of what Bill’s done. Here’s a link to his full list of credits on > IMDB <.  A few highlights:  Bill was in an episode of Monk in 2008. He also played an alien in a move with > Alan Rickman <, who is tied for first place on my list of movie idol crushes with George Clooney. [Alan and I go way back (Alan is not aware of this.)] Bill Chott starred with him in “Galaxy Quest,” a spoof on StarTrek (and here I put my hand over my geek heart.)

lace-edge-heart1Since you asked, Alan’s short-list of roles includes Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies; Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd; Hans Gruber, terrorist, in Die Hard; Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves;  and Jamie in Truly Madly Deeply, where he won my heart.

But, I digress.

I just got a call today from The Improv Trick that beginner classes are starting again at the St. Louis studio, with sessions on Tuesday evenings and Saturday afternoons (same beginner class, both days/times.) I’m pre-paid for the classes, so I should get my behinder in gear and get over there to the studio on Cherokee Street next Saturday to dig into this again. If I can’t learn from Bill, then I’m hopeless, and I know I can at least improve!

Anybody else UP for this next week? 

Classes are held at The Improv Trick, 2715 Cherokee Street, St. Louis, Missouri, 63118. Call for more information at (314) 922-1998, or e-mail him at info@theimprovtrick.com.

If you want to see Bill in action, he is now appearing in

Comedy on Parade 
Mondays 8:00 pm 
at the Atomic Cowboy
4140 Manchester, St. Louis, Missouri

I’m still surprised that I attended the original workshop. Why did I do that?

bambi-tin-toyCouple of reasons: Curiosity, first of all. I knew absolutely NOTHING about improv, so curiosity was an initial driver. Secondly, I thought because I am often able to make people laugh that I might be naturally good at it, yet, at the same time, I am known to suffer from stage fright (deer in the headlights syndrome, see Video Resume post on this blog), and I thought maybe some improv skills would help with that. I like to face my demons and conquer them.

taming_of_the_shrew_logoThe improv workshop was a personal eye-opener: It seemed like everything that one needs to do to be “good” at improv goes against my every natural instinct. As an example, I tend to be a “debater,” and one of the rules with improve is that you accept what your scene partner says as true and build on that. Say what?!?

Another example of where I sucked at this is that, although a fluid writer, I have an extremely strong tendency with my verbal/spoken responses to “pause and check” before I speak (and then an occasionally unfortunate tendency to respond with a debate vs. accepting what someone says as true), but with improv you respond in the moment without that “pause and check” evaluation.

I had no idea what an improv workshop would be about when I went that first night, got to the studio and couldn’t actually believe I had gone as far as showing up, and I left realizing that I was naturally terrible at it. I had no choice but to sign up for beginner classes before I left that night.

So don’t hesitate to investigate this top-notch performance training resource we have right here in St. Louis. You could not possibly be worse at it than I am, Bill will make sure you’re comfortable, you may discover you have a gift for it, you will definitely learn something, and the workshop I attended had all ages and all levels of skill, including some local St. Louis theater “stars,” so it may be a great networking venue for you!

 

Image of Bill Chott from his IMDB.com, copyright unknown
Image of Alan Rickman from Variety.com and taken in 2007 at the Sweeney Todd premiere; taken by Dimitrios Kambouris | wireimage
Image of lace border Valentine heart clip art from clipartandcrafts.com
Image of Bambi jumping tin toy from www.tinmantintoys.com, only $5.99 US, and you should definitely check out this Web site for other cool tin toys. I’m headed back after I publish this post!
Imagine of Taming of the Shrew logo from theaterweb.com

 

 

I met George Clooney! Picture and story here! Tuesday, Mar 3 2009 

My New Best Friend

My New Best Friend

I heard some scenes would be shot at Mansion House. It’s right across from our office, and I park in the Mansion House Garage. I started two weeks ago, talking to all the merchants in the Mansion House “strip” along Fourth street there, leaving my business card, promising all kinds of things (mostly a six month FREE publicity plan for their business), and asked them to call me if they hear ANYTHING.

So, someone e-mailed me Saturday night telling me the crew had the whole 11th floor at Mansion House and they were filming in there.

Someone else called and told me they saw him getting out of an SUV at Mansion House this morning, about 8:20, so I knew he was in the immediate area.

Then, about 4:00 pm, someone called to tell me the semi-circle driveway was blocked off, signs posted about filming, liability, etc., people in costumes walking around like they were waiting, someone changing Mo. license plates to Nebraska plates on several cars, getting them in position, and a huge camera crew assembling around the Panaflex camera at one end of the drive.

So, I grabbed my purse (and cell phone/camera) and ran out without even a coat (it was about 20 degrees F) and waited in front of our building to assess the situation. I walked across the street and asked a camera man “how close can I stand without getting in the way?” and he said, “you can stand right here by me.”  NOBODY ELSE WAS OUT THERE RUBBERNECKING!!!  There were people in the donut shop, where it was warm, looking out the window, but I was the ONLY PERSON OUTSIDE NEAR THE CREW. The director was talking into a wireless mic and said, “I think we’re ready … .” They checked a monitor, and did an adjustment, somebody was in the shot who wasn’t supposed to be, and I suddenly see GEORGE CLOONEY in the glass-walled lobby of Mansion House. The director, standing right by me, says, “Okay, walk on out and we’ll get this shot.”

Dapper Dan Pomade

Dapper Dan Pomade

George, in a charcoal gray overcoat and looking lost in thought, walks out the front doors and around the half-circle towards the camera crew and and then continues walking out of the shot. Well, who is standing there? ME!!!!!  By then, a co-worker, Matt saw me when he came out to grab a smoke, and he walked over, just as George was coming out the door, and he starts snapping photos. George is standing right in front of us and says quietly, “Hi, guys!” Big smile. Suddenly it’s warm as July. I said, “I’m a Dapper Dan woman!” He almost snorted, but he held it in, Matt elbowed me and said, “Shhhh!!!! They’re still rolling.” and the director says, “Okay, it’s cold out here; let’s get a shot of you walking back the same way, and we’ll wrap.” So he turns and walks back around the driveway and into the building.

GC, in Oh, Brother ... .

GC, in Oh, Brother ... .

I met the 2X sexiest man in the world, AND he knows I’m a Dapper Dan woman!!!!

How’s that for a great day?

The photo of him at top is of the shot that was being filmed, and it’s the best of the pictures from Matt. Caption for it would read, George walks directly towards camera crew, then out of the shot to his right. I’m standing right there, and by then Matt’s standing next to me. George smiles and says, “Hi, guys … .”

Matt said, “That was RIGHTEOUS, man!”

PS — I told everybody I know, for two months, that I was going to meet him. I always get my story!!!!  Just insinuate yourself into the camera crew and look like you belong (I was wearing my retractable lanyard with two pass cards and a key on it, which made me look VERY official.)

My sister says the moral of the story is, “No guts, no glory.”

I say, “True dat.”