Monday, September 30, 2013

Manners Monday - The Making of 24 Karat Etiquette: Golden Rules from the World’s Most Glamorous Zip Code

It has been a long road to say the least. While hardly a serious tome, 24 Karat Etiquette, was a labor of love many years in the making. Apparently, I was supposed to labor through many different concepts and meet with a number of talented collaborators to discover that ultimately I wanted this to be a project of my own.  Truly it was my passion for manners that was the driving force, and after many years, pitches, and passes from publishers, we are finally celebrating my debut book release.

It was summer of 2012, when I bumped into an old friend at my tennis club who had started a new gig as a book agent.  She asked me if I’d ever thought of writing a book.  “Had I?” “YES!” I shouted emphatically.  Within a couple of weeks we met for lunch to hash through some ideas, she connected me to an amazing editor who helped put my tips into witty prose, and I never looked back!

With this book, I wanted to embrace what was right under my nose – Beverly Hills.  Growing up in 90210 with Hollywood at my fingertips, it made the most sense to write about my little neck of the woods inhabited by the rich and famous to offer an insider’s peek into how this privileged set operates, what makes them tick, and what irks them (or us). What I quickly discovered during the process was that while the lens was tightly focused on this unique world, the tools were applicable and beneficial to anyone, anywhere. 

Hallelujah, I had found my niche and now we were ready to pitch it.  The proposal and one sample chapter were submitted to a number of publishers in November. Thankfully, two New York publishers responded positively, and I decided to go with Skyhorse Publishing.  The serious writing began in January, and it was a race to the finish to turn the final pass of the completed manuscript in by the end of June. 

Meanwhile, there was great discussion over what the book cover would look like. My editor friend came up with the idea to recreate a famous Jackie O photograph of her lighting candles on a dining table set for dinner. Using this photo as our inspiration was significant.  Not only was Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis an icon in American culture, she was the epitome of elegance, grace and style forever associated with all that was correct and appropriate. This was something I certainly wanted to emulate, however, with a modern twist paying homage to the old—but acknowledging that we live in a new normal. We took the Jackie O shot as inspiration, and added a new twist. Lighting a candle with a sparkler (instead of a match), represents the idea of igniting a new conversation about manners—one that would dispel the misperception that they are formal, tedious and only for the chosen few.  

In the end, all of the elements came together as planned and I was thrilled to learn that the photo would be used in full on the back cover.  To complement the photo, the publisher used an image of a chandelier for the front cover tying the two themes together and also satisfying the need to find a singular image that encapsulated manners.   I think we did it justice.

24 Karat Etiquette is available for purchase online at and in stores. Please feel free to reach out to me on Facebook, Twitter @90210manners, or via email at with your questions, reactions, and thoughts. And, if you feel so inspired to write a quick (and glowing) review on Amazon and/or Barnes & Noble, I would be most grateful.

Many, many thanks in advance and best wishes always!!


Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Lackluster Show Delivered More Fizzle than Punch – Red Carpet Manners at the 65th Emmy Awards

“Television is the new movies,” expressed KTLA host, Sam Rubin, during his pre-show interviews on the red carpet at this year’s 65th Emmy Awards.  With more and more A-list talent fleeing the big screen and flocking to groundbreaking storytelling on a smaller one, it is perfectly understandable that expectations would be especially high for tonight’s show.  Enlisting the wildly talented, Neil Patrick Harris, fresh off his stellar hosting gig at the Tony’s only cemented our anticipation. So when we were treated to a opener that felt as flat as a pilot that barely debuts before the network executives decide to pull the plug, we were gravely disappointed.  Initially, it had promise.  The reference to binge-watching the entire season of television was spot on, as that is how it feels to most of us in this day and age of never enough time and too many good shows, but the bit was too long and the selected clips not compelling enough to hold our attention.  As NPH stepped out of the booth and on to the stage, we nodded along with the jokes, but were secretly awaiting a show-stopping number. When it didn’t arrive, we were left still feeling empty. Not until Kevin Spacey appeared on camera owning the show in complete “House of Cards” character, did we crack a much-needed smile. For some reason, even the Amy Poehler/Tina Fey (whom we typically love) popcorn-induced, team heckling from the front row felt canned.  Finally, halfway through the show, our song and dance man, gave us what we have been waiting for, but possibly too little, too late. Even cameo appearances by Nathan Fillion and Sarah Silverman were hard-pressed to resuscitate the lack of energy in the audience.  And, how many times do we have to endure A-list celebrities dressed down in their shorts and tees as if that is naturally funny?  Who decided it was hilarious to see Will Ferrell in this ridiculously casual outfit.  He’s presenting the final two awards of the night – dress up for goodness’ sake - and while you’re at it, put your offspring in their own mini tuxes too! There weren’t any serious crimes that breached good red carpet manners, only a few misdemeanors.  Here is our complete list of winners and losers in the etiquette department, as well as a sprinkling of other thoughts we felt were worth mentioning. 

Patriotic Colors Ruled the Red Carpet. Wearing brilliant shades of blue, actresses Tina Fey, Allison Williams and Edie Falco rocked the red carpet in dresses constructed perfectly for their figures. A clean and crisp white (even after Labor Day) was the chosen color by Taylor Shilling, Padma Lakshmi, Emilia Clarke, and the stunning Kerry Washington who went with a more embellished version. And not red, but a richer Pomegranate, was adorned by such knockouts as Heidi Klum and Sofia Vergara.

Hair, Wardrobe & Style Malfunctions. What big event would be complete without a mention of malfunctions in the appearance category?  Apologies in advance to all the uber-talented ladies, but we could see a noticeable hair extension that went astray in Amy Poehler’s pony tail, Tina Fey’s Spanx line was visible around the waistband area of her dress, we were in constant fear that Juliana Margulies’ gown would fall to the ground and reveal her breasts, and Anna Faris’ bright red lips did nothing but compete for attention with her canary yellow dress. Don’t even get me started on Lena Dunham.  The tattoo/heavy eye makeup combo with the print dress doesn't do her any justice.  She can be edgy and still look presentable by wearing a solid color in a classic cut and taking the less is more route on the makeup. The idea is to enhance the look, not fight with it.

Surprisingly Short Speech. Accepting an award, let alone the first winner of the night, is enough to give even the most seasoned vets the jitters.  So when two time nominee, Merritt Wever, actually won the award for Supporting Actress in a Comedy for Nurse Jackie, it was clear she was overwhelmed with emotion and perhaps a little anxiety-ridden.  Her only words short and to the point, “Thank you so much. I gotta go. Bye.”  Was that a joke, we wondered?  Was it funny or awkward?  We couldn’t decide. Perhaps, both.

Famous No Shows.  No matter how nice they may be in person, it always leaves the audience feeling a bit jilted when thespians do not show up to collect their awards.  Both David Fincher, who won the award for Best Director of “House of Cards,” and Laura Linney who won the category for Outstanding Leading Actress in a Miniseries or Movie, couldn’t be bothered apparently.  Where were they?  Together watching the last episode of “Breaking Bad” perhaps?

Overuse of the Word Crap.  This throwback word has endless meanings and is the closest thing to a swear word without getting into trouble with the FCC.  Chanteuse Kerry Underwood let out an, “Oh crap!” on the red carpet when she temporarily could not recall the name of her famous dress designer.  And you couldn’t miss, “Breaking Bad” show creator, Vince Gilligan, let out an exuberant “Holy crap!” when he accepted the award for Best Drama. Both instances were innocently used, nothing intentionally uttered that would make us feel uncomfortable like an actor saying, “Cut the crap” or ” I don’t need this crap," or this awards show is a bunch of crap.

Citations for Visible Gum Chewing.  We happened to catch Vera Farmiga chomping away during an unsuspected pan to the audience.  She is such a beauty and to be caught in the act truly detracts from that.  And, poor Jeff Daniels, who was already the upset win in his category for Best Lead Actor in a Drama for "Newsroom," but adding insult to injury, no one was listening to his acceptance speech because we were all too busy focusing on his incessant gum chewing!  Yes, it’s of the utmost importance to maintain fresh breath, but please remember to dispose of your gum in a tissue before your category is called.

Memorial that Caused Turmoil.  The In Memoriam tribute is a staple in all awards shows, however tonight’s decision to memorialize in depth only a chosen few, and then lump the vast majority together in a video montage, was to the detriment of many. I suppose it makes sense that respected actor, James Gandolfini who unexpectedly succumbed to a heart attack and young actor, Cory Monteith, who died of a tragic overdose were mentioned, but why single out Gary David Goldberg, Jean Stapleton and Jonathan Winters?  There were at least a handful of others who were veteran television icons that were somehow overlooked. One such icon was Jack Klugman - famous for countless award-winning television shows - whose son took to Twitter to express his unhappiness.  Unfortunately, the whole approach put a morose tone on the entire show and left everyone with a bad taste in their mouths. Lessons hopefully learned…

So there you have it, but just so we don’t leave you with a depressed feeling, here is a final bit of levity and camaraderie.  Michael Douglas was a shoe-in to win Best Actor in a Miniseries for his portrayal of Liberace in “Behind the Candelabra," but what was so sweet and genuine was that he sincerely shared the award with his co-star and friend, Matt Damon, and managed to garner some pretty hearty laughs with his unintentional  - and then intentional - references to a certain male body part and the golden statue.  We certainly chuckled. 

In the event you missed it, here is a complete list of all the winners.

Monday, August 26, 2013

“Applause & Roar with a Side of Nasty” – Red Carpet Manners at the VMA’s 30th Anniversary

Huge expectations for the 30th anniversary of MTV’s Video Music Award’s did not disappoint. The two hour plus show (if you include the pre-show), started off with awkward applause, ended with a big roar and in between got more than a little nasty. 

Far away from last year’s venue at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, MTV decided to commemorate the anniversary by going back to their roots relocating to their original hometown of New York, but taking up residence in the popular borough of Brooklyn. The still newish Barclays Center housed the majority of the show, with the exception of the grand finale which was held outside with a backdrop of the famous Brooklyn Bridge. 

The hoopla had been building for weeks with speculation surrounding a Justin Timberlake and ‘NSYNC reunion, a Lady Gaga what will she do next? show opener and a Katy Perry will she give us another anthem? closer that created a competition between the two ladies of pop before the show even hit the airwaves.  Other artists scheduled to perform included the dynamic duo of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Robin Thick and Miley Cyrus, as well as rappers Kanyé and Drake.  The highlight of the evening was projected to be Justin Timberlake's acceptance of the special Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award.

The night had me a bit nostalgic for my youth.  I will always remember exactly where I was when I turned on my MTV in August of 1981.  I can picture the early rotation of video performances by artists like Scandal (featuring Patty Smyth), Pat Benatar, J. Geil’s Band, Phil Collins, The Police, and Kate Bush. It was clearly revolutionary, but it was also fun, meaningful and fairly innocent.  Can’t necessarily say that about today’s music videos!  Had I known this evening’s awards show would be sprinkled with commercials touting Trojan condoms and performers strutting thong underwear and using foam fingers to perform lewd acts, I most certainly would've made a greater attempt to keep my girls (9 & 11) out of the viewing area.  

So what exactly stood out for us at the VMA's 2013?  Who were the biggest winners in the upstanding citizen’s category and who went down the less favorable path of total embarrassment and shame?  Take a look at our red carpet manners hits and misses below.  

Not Necessarily Applause Worthy.  After a rather long hiatus, Lady Gaga returned to the world of music and the audience was waiting with baited breath. Slated to open the show, imaginations were running wild with what elaborate costume she would arrive in.  Would it be another beef ensemble or an updated version of the egg-shaped cocoon? Nope. Instead, she appeared in full white nun regalia complete with tunic, pearls, scapular and a tricked-out version of a head veil. What followed was a spectacle that somehow fell short. Her new song “Applause” didn't exactly encourage us to want to perform the act. After a series of nonsensical wig changes, the lowest point was her stripping down to a thong bikini revealing butt cheeks that were neither tight nor appealing, for no apparent reason other than to try to be different and add an element of daring.  

Good Sportswomanship.  "Besties" Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez could teach a seminar on how to be supportive friends.  It doesn't hurt that they are equally talented, driven young ladies with good looks and multiple hit songs to boot, but they do seem to seriously support one another's achievements and that was evident in their hearty congratulations when they each took to the stage to accept their Moonmen awards.  Even when not supporting one another, they were caught on camera with giant smiles dancing enthusiastically from the audience showing unwavering support for their fellow performers.  Nice job girls and appreciated your choice of wardrobe!  Your elegant full-length gowns stood out amongst the sea of gawdy choices.

Most Shameful Performance.  Where in the world did our little Miley go and where were her parents when this genius decision was made? It was just yesterday that she blossomed as the wholesome “Hannah Montana" on the popular Disney channel and now she's Miss Nasty! Listen Miley, you don’t have to go down the road of indecency to transform your image. Although it may seem that gyrating and twerking with Robin Thicke in front of a live audience is good times, there are smarter ways to gain attention and affection. Your best moments were when you were singing about “The Climb” and other inspirational songs.  You are a talented young lady with so much to offer. Call it a momentary lapse of reason and decide to turn it around.  You will thank yourself in the end.

The Hardest Working & Most Well-Liked Man in Music.  I had the privilege of seeing JT along with Jay-Z at the Rose Bowl this summer and he knocked my socks off.  There is nothing this triple-threat talent cannot do!  He is more than deserving of the Vanguard Award he received having been at the top of his game for two decades, both as a member of 'NSYNC as well as a solo artist, delivering hit after hit while managing to maintain a squeaky clean public image.  His record medley in the middle of the show had everyone on their feet dancing from start to finish!  Justin is a role model extraordinaire for every young performer looking to get into the business. The introduction by fellow nice guy, Jimmy Fallon, only proves his likability factor. Listening to his acceptance speech sincerely thanking everyone who supported him over the years from his managers to his video directors, his family and former band mates, shows he is as appreciative and respectful as he is charming.  This guy will be around for a long time.   

Best Social Message.  When I first heard the song “Same Love” I was leaving a funeral for a young boy. I had been crying my eyes out for two hours straight and heard this song upon my exit and it stopped me in my tracks.  Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ song could not be more on point if it tried.  No matter who you are, you cannot help but feel something when you listen to these lyrics.  The words may have been written in support of gay rights, but they resonate for anyone who has experienced social injustice due to sexual preference, race, religion and more.  It is an important step in music that has been embraced by the community at large.  The fact that Macklemore is not an overnight success, but has been working tirelessly on his talent for years, makes his story of achievement even more appealing. 

A Roar of a Performance.  Katy Perry was handed the throne of the final performance of the evening and she lived up to her title.  Taking a cue from Rocky III’s. “Eye of the Tiger,” she roared herself right to the top of the charts and into the hearts of the audience.  Not missing a beat and feeling the adrenaline of the city in front of the Brooklyn Bridge, the message of empowerment and hope for a girl seizing the moment and taking back control of her life was invigorating. When she held up the sign at the end of the song that read, “GAME OVER,” it was clear who was in charge.  Kudos Katy, you've magnificently lifted us up once again! 

In the event you missed the big show, here is a complete list of the winners.

Video of the Year
Justin Timberlake, "Mirrors"
Best Male Video
Bruno Mars, "Locked Out of Heaven"
Best Female Video
Taylor Swift, "I Knew You Were Trouble"
Best Pop Video
Selena Gomez, "Come and Get It"
Best Rock Video
Thirty Seconds To Mars, "Up in the Air"
Best Hip Hop Video
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Ray Dalton, "Can't Hold Us"
Best Song of the Summer
One Direction, "Best Song Ever"
Best Art Direction
Janelle Monae feat. Erykah Badu, "Q.U.E.E.N."
Best Collaboration
Pink feat. Nate Ruess, "Just Give Me A Reason"
Artist To Watch
Austin Mahone, "What About Love"
Best Video with a Social Message
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, "Same Love"
Best Choreography
Bruno Mars, "Treasure"
Best Cinematography
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Ray Dalton, "Can't Hold Us"
Best Direction
Justin Timberlake feat. Jay-Z, "Suit & Tie"
Best Editing
Justin Timberlake, "Mirrors"
Best Visual Effects
Capital Cities, "Safe and Sound"

Monday, February 25, 2013

Red Carpet Manners – "Seth McFarlane Spins His Brand of Sarcasm at the 85th Academy Awards"

I’ll begin by saying that I’m not particularly a fan of Family Guy and I never saw the movie Ted so I wasn’t expecting much from this year’s Oscar host, Seth McFarlane, other than I was imagining the worst, something along the lines of Ricky Gervais, but even more crude.  I would’ve never guessed that the man behind such irreverent and profane humor would actually appear rather dapper dressed to the nines in an elegant black tux and donning a beautiful smile and great posture.  I had absolutely no idea he was a wildly talented song and dance man who had performed at both Carnegie Hall and London’s Royal Albert Hall and been nominated for two Grammy’s!  So when he launched into his first song, “We Saw Your Boobs,” however ridiculously inappropriate the subject matter, I was impressed with his vocal and production chops. I was further mesmerized by his commandeering presence on the stage clapping vigorously and jumping right in with his hosting duties after each musical cue. His jokes, although sometimes dipping into the dangerous – the Chris Brown and Rihanna mention was a specifically low jab – garnered a steady stream of laughs from the audience.

That being said, there is no way around the fact that the show ran long clocking in at three and a half hours exactly.  And we’re not just being literal here.  The monologue, which contained some witty one liners, started to become monotonous. The William Shatner “Star Trek” and Sally Field “Flying Nun” references I could have done without.  However, the skit with sock puppets poking fun at the movie "Flight" was absolute genius!  The banter among the presenters seemed to drone on a bit long. Note to the Avengers cast, Paul Rudd & Melissa McCarthy: Were you supposed to improvise or was it scripted? And, the song and dance numbers began to border on wearisome. Did we really need to see dancing from Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Daniel Radcliffe and was the final number with Kristin Chenoweth to celebrate the losers truly necessary?  Apologies in advance to the producers, Neil Meron and Craig Zadan.  I don’t mean to offend. You are undoubtedly two talented guys and I do love Smash, but the show clearly could’ve been edited down.  I was worried about the poor starving female nominees, presenters and winners in their fabulous dresses who were already withering away when they arrived!  They must have been salivating at the thought of Wolfgang Puck’s creations and what they would soon be devouring at the Governor’s Ball.

Now on to the awarding of the Oscars themselves.  It was a spectacular year for movies with a total of nine films up for Best Picture alone.  What was noticeably different was that there was not one clean sweep for any one picture, but that the wealth was spread amongst the top contenders.  While Ben Affleck was snubbed for Best Director, his biopic, “Argo,” won for Best Picture as well as Best Adapted Screenplay.  The Best Director nod went to the extraordinarily imaginative Ang Lee for “Life of Pi.”  Best Actor, Daniel Day-Lewis, gave “Lincoln” a nice affirmation as did Best Actress, Jennifer Lawrence, for “Silver Linings Playbook.”  The Best Supporting Actor and Actress roles went to frontrunners, Christoph Waltz and Anne Hathaway for their steady portrayals in “Django Unchained” and Les Misérables.”  Our recap wouldn’t be complete, however, without our red carpet manners commentary encapsulating the most noticeable moments of the night. Here they are.

A Colorless Red Carpet. Each awards show the legions of hired stylists highlight a central color on the red carpet and this year’s Oscars was no different.  We spotted an almost wedding party theme with an inordinate amount of light pinks and blush dresses on everyone from Jennifer Lawrence and Charlize Theron to Anne Hathaway and a pregnant Georgina Chapman. Shades of grey ranging from barely there to gunmetal in interesting fabrics were worn by celebs including a striking Naomi Watts, a wispy Amy Adams, a leggy Stacy Keibler and even the First Lady, Michelle Obama, were in abundance! There was a small spectrum of other colors donned by celebs including Jennifer Garner in burgundy, Jennifer Aniston in red, Helen Hunt in navy and Jane Fonda in yellow. Trains were a plenty. Makeup for the most part sparse with pale lips.

An Ominous Interrupter.  Please don’t even get me started on whose decision it was to play the theme music from Jaws every time an acceptance speech ran long. That may have been the worst choice in history!  And, why were the earlier acceptance speeches cut off by the music whereas the night’s biggest winners had license to thank virtually every one they’ve ever known without threat? Each time I heard the famous strings taunt, I imagined a giant shark ripping through the stage.  I was thinking to myself, “Are they kidding us with this?”

An Excruciating Acceptance.  The gravity of the menacing music was felt most during the acceptance speech for Best Visual Effects for the film, Life of Pi.  The Oscar winners said their thanks and then just as they began to make mention that the irony was not lost – referring to the recent press about visual effects house, Rhythm and Hues, having to file Chapter 11 - they were cut off abruptly by the band.  Whether they had reached their allotted time limit or the producers did not want the show to be used as a political platform is debatable.

A Flawless Performance. The theme for the 85th Oscars was a celebration of music in film.  There was no doubt that the show’s producers would throw in a number from their hit film Chicago with the reliable Catherine Zeta-Jones (by the way – was she lip-syncing?), and certainly Oscar nominated Les Mis had to have a moment on stage, but it was the performance by the gorgeously svelte, Jennifer Hudson, that was the evening’s show stopper.  First of all, it is hands down one of best songs ever written and secondly, there is no comparison to the strength in her voice and raw emotion. Her pain is palpable.  I will always love Barbra and saw her in concert at the Hollywood Bowl last Fall, but she just wasn’t feeling it last night. Nora Jones is wonderful to listen to during a spa treatment, but not to watch on a nationally televised show.  Adele’s voice is also heavenly, but “Skyfall” is not one of our favorites. We were delighted; however, to hear (and see) Dame Shirley Bassey’s Bond tribute that earned her one of the night’s standing ovations. Old Hollywood never fails.

A Most Patient Audience.  After the second hour hit, we could see the audience starting to squirm and the tension beginning to build as they struggled to figure out how in the world the show was going to finish on time.  We’re not sure if it was originally planned or was brought in to save the day, but the lovely outfitted candy girls offering sweets and popcorn to sedate fidgety spectators was a great idea!  On the subject of length, is there good reason why audiences must be held captive while they save the most important awards for the bitter end?  The problem is those last ten minutes are the part of the show that is mainly worth watching and, due to limited time, we are forced to cram both the awards and the speeches into a warp speed mess!

A Disastrous Moment.  Kudos to whoever styles Jennifer Lawrence from head to toe.  Her dress, her hair, her makeup and her jewels were entirely flawless.  I will say, however, that I’m not sure if the train on her elaborate dress by Dior was a blessing or curse.  She was obviously overwhelmed with excitement as she took to the stage to accept her award for Best Actress, but she didn’t account for the layers of fabric around her feet which prevented her from getting their faster. One quick step and she was down!  Thank goodness, however, that the dress was as full as it was because at least she was fully covered and was able to recover quickly, especially thanks to the aid of Hugh Jackman who was nearby. It will definitely go down in history, but as the saying goes, it could’ve been worse.  She might have hit her face and broken a tooth! Could you imagine???

A Presidential Presenter.  The First Lady, Michelle Obama, has never looked better.  She probably completed extra reps of arm weights to prepare for last night’s appearance on the Oscars because they happened to look especially toned.  It’s not every day that the White House presents the Best Picture Award and it did make quite the impression.  There was a long speech by the First Lady that may have sent some for a quick restroom break, but when the envelope was opened and Argo was announced the winner, it was especially gratifying to witness the many service men and women who continuously fight for our country and to think about the countless other Americans who are held captive in foreign countries every day.

A Breathless Victory Speech. The evening finally came to a close with shoe-in, Ben Affleck, accepting the Best Picture award for Argo.  Overcome with emotion, he at least had a moment to compose his thoughts while fellow producing partners, Grant Heslov and George Clooney, took to the mic.  When it was his turn to speak, he was still breathless, but genuinely humbled, and spoke reverently about his first Oscar win for Good Will Hunting fifteen years earlier.  His thanks was plenty mentioning virtually everyone who helped him make his film possible from the actors to the hosting countries.  His only slight misstep was when he appeared a bit overzealous thanking his wife, the demure Jennifer Garner, for working on their marriage emphasizing perhaps a tad too much that although it is the best kind of work - marriage is definitely work!  Those of us that are married may concur, but best perhaps to keep that conversation limited to your small circle of friends rather than the one billion people watching the show! 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Red-Carpet Manners – “Stripped Down & Sturdy Performances Shine Most at the Grammy’s 2013”

The 55th Grammy Awards started with a circus spectacle by the lovely Taylor Swift and ended with a rowdy tribute by the host and rapper, LL Cool J, with a little help from Beastie Boy Chuck D.  But the most noteworthy acts of the Grammy’s three and a half hour long show were the stripped down, raw and emotional performances that were sprinkled in the middle. 

The band, Fun, whose anthem-like rendition of “Carry On” executed on a simple stage with pouring rain and talented musicians, set the tone for the evening that hard work and perseverance really do pay off.  Bordering on the intense and definitely more restricted than we are accustomed to, Rihanna’s soulful delivery of her new single “Stay” alongside Mikky Ekko, was gut-wrenching, especially if you picture her singing this song to former-turned-current beau, Chris Brown.  

No lip synching allowed here.  The Grammy’s adhere to a strict policy that all artists must perform live.  This may explain why many of the performers selected songs sans movement.  This is a welcome change from the typical fan fair we are used to seeing on stage that is often more distracting than entertaining.   

In comparison to other music awards shows, the Grammy’s are known for their elegance and sophistication continuously trying to pay homage to the old guard while nurturing the ingénue.  This is evident in their musical pairings which this year did not disappoint.  Couplings from Elton John and Ed Sheeran, Sting and Bruno Mars, Black Keys and a New Orleans band of jazz musicians and Mavis Staples with the lead singer from the Alabama Shakes, will go down in history as classic Grammy moments.  

What else did we notice?  Of course, we have a few red carpet manners passes and violations to hand out.  Here they are in no particular order. 

Wardrobe Misdemeanors.   CBS, the network hosting the Grammy’s, issued an explicit advisory in advance stating, "Please be sure that buttocks and female breasts are adequately covered. Thong type costumes are problematic. Please avoid exposing bare flesh under curves of the buttocks and buttock crack."  While they made their best efforts, ladies who couldn’t help themselves included Katy Perry who looked like her breasts were permanently glued into her dress and Rihanna, who dressed elegantly for her ballad, but then changed into a bosom-peaking top for her tribute to Bob Marley. Presenters J.Lo and Kelly Rowland also decided to ignore the guidelines by bearing too much leg and revealing more than a comfortable amount of skin.

Sophisticated Gents.   There were a number of men, however, that were looking rather elegant for the affair.  Black suits and separates in a variety of styles with tasteful gold accessories or gold bling depending, seemed to be the uniform of choice.  Our favorite crooner Justin Timberlake and the always dapper Jay-Z held the standard.  I would expect nothing less from the duo who lent their talents to a song entitled, “Suit & Tie.”  R&B artist Miguel and rapper Wiz Khalifa inspired their own street takes while Bruno Mars, Sting and Adam Levine garnered dressed down versions.

Cheerful Cheerleaders.  Once her opening number was completed, the perpetually cheerful Taylor Swift was seen flailing about, clapping and singing her way throughout the Grammy’s.  It’s no surprise that music worshiper, Ellen DeGeneres, would be singing and dancing in the aisles as well, displaying her love and support for her favorite artists. Kelly Clarkson must also be included.  She is fiercely talented and so comfortable in her own skin that she inspires everyone she meets.

Questionable Acceptance Speeches.  Frank Ocean was the newcomer underdog and he may have not been expecting to win, but his handlers might have suggested preparing a speech just in case.  Instead, we were treated to some muttering about picturing the audience naked followed by a quick thanks.  Adele’s speech for Best Pop Solo was also a bit too casual for our taste.  Yes, she won oodles of Grammy’s last year, but a little more gratitude and graciousness this year would have also been nice.  Lead singer, Nate Ruess. of Fun opened up his acceptance speech for Best New Artist with the unforgettable lines, “I gotta pee so bad.” Thanks for sharing.

Ladies Who Chew Gum.  The camera happened to pan on Adele once again chomping on a wad of gum in her mouth while watching in the audience.  She may need a gentle reminder that the camera has eyes whether you are on stage or off.  I was surprised, however, when we also caught blues maven, Bonnie Raitt, in the action.  I suppose we should just let it go and be happy knowing these ladies like to keep their breath in check.

Good Time Guys.  I want Justin Timberlake and Bruno Mars at my next party!  These guys don’t have to brood, they just smile and the world is their oyster.  They know how to own the stage and have an awesome good time!   They are charming and convincing.  JT was out of the picture for a while, but has come back in full force complete with his own orchestra.  I loved the throw back to the days of the big band and lead vocals.  I can’t wait to hear the new album in its entirety.  Bruno Mars is no slouch either.  He owned the stage with his latest hit “Locked Out of Heaven” blending perfectly in sync with Sting and then invited Rihanna and Ziggy Marley to participate in a vibrant tribute to the legend Bob Marley.

Most Humble.   Accepting an award for Record of the Year from an icon like Prince is a dream come true and that’s exactly how Belgian-Australian singer Gotye and New Zealand singer Kimbra felt when they accepted the award for their breakout hit, “Somebody That I Used to Know.” Their humble wishes sending a warm thanks to all musicians and ending with a resounding “Cheers!” left everyone feeling appreciative just to be in attendance and that is exactly how it should be. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

FeyPoe Hit a Home Run with Razor Sharp Wit & Saccharine Sweet Smiles - Red Carpet Manners at the 2013 Golden Globes

It’s been a stretch of unusually cold weather here in sunny California inspiring the Twitter hashtag #coldinLA for the past week, but last night’s female hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler brought some much needed warmth to our fair city with their razor sharp wit and saccharine sweet smiles. 

It was clearly ladies night at the 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards with these two beauties knockin’ em out of the park prompting laugh out loud moments one after the other, with only a couple of jabs that solicited gasps from the audience.   Truly hysterical with a deadpan delivery, this dynamic duo sure knows how to party and make an otherwise monotonous ceremony seem totally fun. 

The opening sequence included many one liners that will go down in history.  One of my personal favorites was the joke referencing “The Hunger Games” and the many months of dieting that was required to fit into their formal dresses, followed by the “Life of Pi” which was what they admitted they would be eating to reward themselves in the months following.  My other favorite, that had the audience rolling, was the omnipresent Meryl Streep, who was unfortunately unable to attend due to the flu, but they “heard she was amazing in it” poking fun at her award honors for always sweeping in her category.  When Lena Dunham won for Best Actress in a Comedy (their category) and then proceeded to innocently reference her age difference, they were not deterred.  Instead they came back with a vengeance as two drunken sages, who may be losers, but who will never let age get the best of them.  These two ladies have honed their skills and earned their hosting stripes.  They’ve come a long way since their sketch days on Saturday Night Live and they are reaping the rewards of their success. 

As for the rest of the evening, it was a mixture of highs and lows.  In fashion, it was either a major hit or a massive mistake.  Noticeably missing was the lack of material covering a number of body parts.  Goose bumps were the popular accessory. Hair in elegant Veronica Lake side swoops and swept up-do’s were the most eye-catching.  The presenters and acceptance speeches had their fair share of hits and misses as well ranging from the uncommonly funny, to the dead serious, to the just plain weird.  Here’s what stood out for us in our red carpet manners commentary at this year’s Golden Globes.

Tattoos, Cleavage & Bare Midriff’s, Oh My!  The arrivals on the red carpet were a spectacle as always.  The surprising colors that reigned were a formal and sometimes shiny black, various shades of striking red, a sprinkling of pure snow colored white, rich burgundy, and some subdued nudes.  More apparent this year for us, was the amount of skin or tattooed skin that we noticed.  We were concerned all night that Amy Poehler, Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Hudson, Claire Danes and Katharine McPhee’s,  daring décolletage, whether it was frontal or on the side, would dip into a wardrobe malfunction nightmare.  One raucous raise of the arms and the puppies were out!  Hale Berry and Kirsten Wiig both dressed like they were going to an outdoor summer affair flaunting their bare midriffs even in the dead of winter! Lena Dunham and Kelly Osborne seemed to enjoy the extra attention their body art attracted or, in my opinion, detracted from their voluptuous bodices. My favorite look of the evening was an exceptionally exquisite and lanky Taylor Swift. Jessica Alba should also receive top honors for a flawless look from head to toe.

Slits in the Skirt or Skirting the Issue.  We don’t want to raise a red flag here and all of these ladies are quite lovely, but we’re seeing a trend where the more leg you show, the less tangible your career.  Are these gals trying to keep themselves current around the water cooler?  We haven’t heard much about Eva Longoria since the days of “Desperate”, Halle Berry was in the press over the holidays, but not for anything pleasant and Lea Michelle’s “Glee” has been slowly losing steam with each year that passes.

Award Worthy Acceptances.  Jessica Chastain executed a perfect thank you for the encouragement and support she has received in her long, but steady career. She is an incredibly talented and daring actress who willingly acknowledges those who have helped her along the way including her grandmother who always encouraged her to believe in her dreams. Daniel Day Lewis dispensed a fluent, flawless speech that is expected from this caliber of an actor.  A very gracious, Executive Producer Alex Gansa, gave a heartfelt speech admitting how hard it was to follow such a successful first season of “Homeland” and made a point of thanking the actors whose characters were “sacrificed on the altar” this season.

Unrehearsed Speech.  The most surprisingly humorous speech came from a very unlikely source, the HFPA’s, Aida Takla-O’Reilly.  This is typically the time to head for a bathroom break, but this two-year term President was going to have the last laugh and instead gave us a nice jolt in our seats with one of the funniest, unscripted speeches of the night.  She began her goodbyes with a request to scan the room of celebs which fell flat when the producers did not oblige, but then proceeded to launch into some very clever commentary that mentioned how Jeffrey Katzenberg, producer and CEO of Dreamworks Animation, “will never forget her name because he never knew it in the first place,” and then ended with a “Call Me Maybe” shout out to hunk Bradley Cooper which garnered some very hearty laughs from the audience.

Squirm in Your Seat Moment. We weren’t exactly sure why Jodie Foster had garnered this year’s Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award, after all she is a young fifty years as she made it well known to the audience.  Yes, she looked beautiful, was impeccably coiffed and dressed, but I felt sad for her nonetheless.  The speech was entirely too long.  It made me uncomfortable.  I had no idea where she was going with that setup to reveal something big and then was let down just the same when she made a pitch for her single status.  Her career is definitely noteworthy and deserves accolades, but instead we were left with the heartbreaking admission that she doesn’t want to go into the future alone.  The whole thing sounded like a premature swansong.

Unfinished Business.  We appreciated the great attention paid to the all-important thank you’s this year.  It seems that everyone was careful to make sure they did not omit anyone on their team.  Ben Affleck who was obviously nervous accepting his unexpected win for "Argo," started the trend when he asked his wife, Jennifer Garner, to give kudos to his producing partners George Clooney and Grant Heslov.  I mean how can you forget to thank George?  Anne Hathaway followed suit when Les Miserables won its top notch for Best Musical and she snuck in a an extra thanks that she had forgotten previously. Lena Dunham also got into the action thanking Chad Lowe, which was a promise she made way back when if she ever got the chance.  Remember Hilary Swank who forgot to thank her husband?  Ouch, the writing was on the wall with that one! 

How to Walk in High Heels – Cheers to Lena Dunham for raking in the awards at this year’s ceremony!  I have to confess that I detested “Girls” at first, probably because I have two young daughters and was scared $#!%less at what might befall them once they leave the roost. Now I am more forgiving and can see the beauty in the craft.  I just have one word of red carpet advice.  Practice walking in high heels at home before the Emmy’s later this year.  Lena’s seat halfway back in the ballroom didn’t help matters as she proceeded to walk towards the stage in what appeared to be a mile long stretch in which she was teetering on the verge of falling. 

All in all, we give the show a thumbs up.  Love the fact that we can watch it live on the West Coast and be in bed nice and early on a Sunday night!!  See you next time at the Oscars...

What did you think of this year’s ceremony?  Did we leave anything out?  Any other red carpet commentary that we missed?  Please share with us.  We’d love to hear from you. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Flipping Out Over the Flu? - Manners to Help Take Back the Control

It’s all over the news in the New Year, flu season is in rare form and taking civilians down with a vengeance.  Just before the holidays, kids were dropping like flies at my daughters’ school with a super bad case of the stomach flu sending children home by the dozens!  Somehow (and I’m knocking on wood as I speak) we managed to escape in perfect health and are still going strong.  I am not sure if it is the fact that we all got flu shots back in November (my ritual just before Thanksgiving) or that I am a drill sergeant when we get home barking orders to make sure my girls run to the bathroom to do a Silkwood scrub of their hands with soap to remove any traces of germs from their day – but something is clearly working (knocking on wood again).

I will admit though that I am walking around with the equivalent of garlic and a cross around my neck (even though I’m Jewish) trying to ward off the impending evil flu for the remaining months where we are in potential danger.  Side note – garlic actually has powerful anti-viral, antibiotic and anti-fungal properties that help boost the immune system. 

I’m feeling quite productive right now and really have no desire to be slowed down by illness that sentences me or my family to the bed for days on end.  Here's what I recommend not only as a responsible parent, but as a respectful citizen to help minimize the spread of germs while maintaining my good manners.  

Symptoms & Signs. You’ve seen the commercials, the close-ups on someone coughing, sniffling or sneezing. We know when we begin to feel that tickle in our throats, the heaviness in our eyes or a queasy belly that something most definitely is awry. Most of the time, we ignore it and do our best to carry on and sometimes we are knocked completely off our feet and forced to lay low.  The important thing is to recognize our own bodies and know when we should stay home as opposed to going out and infecting others.  This is a sign of respect and others will thank us for it. 

Washing Hands. This is the number one rule to protect us against the spread of germs and infection.  Washing hands is also part of a proper hygiene routine.  Adults and children alike must remember to wash their hands with soap and warm water to protect themselves and maintain good health.  A good rule of thumb is to wash hands after bathroom use, returning home at the end of the day, before eating a meal and after shaking hands with someone who may be sick.  Children should also get used to washing hands the moment they come home from school. 

Boosting Immunity.  Eating warm food on a cold day not only fuels the body, but feeds the soul.  Adding preventative ingredients such as garlic, ginger and spice into our diets not only helps with digestion, but also assists with staving off colds and flu.  When we are feeling under the weather, a bowl of warm oatmeal for breakfast and homemade chicken soup for lunch or dinner is best. Liquids are also important for hydration and flushing out germs.  Drinking a hot cup of chamomile or mint tea with honey or a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice may be just what the doctor ordered.   

Dressing Warm.  I absolutely love the cold weather and I am the first person to break out the coats come Fall.  Although Southern California is warm by comparison to other parts of the U.S., we still have a cold day or two and it is necessary to know how to dress appropriately for the weather.  The key areas to keep warm are the neck, head and feet.  No matter how cold you may be feeling, if you put a scarf around your neck or a hat on your head, you will be just fine.  As far as shoes go, I am a huge proponent of wearing cozy Uggs or similar slippers around the house in the winter time rather than bare feet.  It turns out that I may be on to something.  Apparently, there is a connection between the walls of our nose and cold feet that actually breaks down our defenses.  If we protect our feet and keep them warm, we’re actually helping to fight off potential infection.  

Shaking Hands.  As an etiquette instructor, handshaking is a must.  I can’t tell you how many people I have come across who refuse to shake my hand due to illness.  Would they refuse the President’s hand if he had a cold?  I think not! My feeling is if you’re too sick to shake my hand hello, then you shouldn’t be wandering out of the house in the first place.  It is plain rude!  To bother to go out and socialize and then refuse to properly greet others is awkward and insulting.  If you are too sick to shake hands, simply stay home!  If you are the recipient of a handshake and worried about the spread of germs, discretely head off to the restroom to give a good Silkwood wash with soap and water.

Covering your Mouth.  Believe it or not, sneezing and coughing without covering your mouth ranked as one of the highest manners offenses.  Adults should know better, but how many times have we yelled these words to our children just after they’ve let loose and showered us with their germs.  They are constantly forgetting to cover their mouths when they cough or they sneeze.  And where are the little hankies or boxes of Kleenex around when you need one?  At school, children are taught to sneeze into their elbow (a/k/a “the Dracula sneeze”) and at home they are asked to use a tissue. Either way, the proper way to capture a sneeze or cough is to turn your head towards your right shoulder away from others to avoid spreading germs directly, or, if you are lucky enough to have advance notice, carry tissues and use them when you feel a sneeze or cough coming on. Finally, if you see a fellow sufferer let out a sneeze with no tissue in sight, be polite and offer them a Kleenex, it might actually save you from getting sick.

Acting Responsibly. As adults we know there is never a good time to get sick.  With the pressures of everyday life and a society that expects you to be available 24/7, getting sick seems like a luxury not many of us can afford.  With children, however, we have no choice but to stop and alter our plans. It is inevitable that a child will come down with a cold or flu at the most inopportune time and as parents it is our job to act responsibly and keep our children home, especially with fever or a stomach virus.  It is wildly inappropriate to bring them to school or schedule a play date unless they have had a minimum of 24-48 hours symptom free.

Have you fallen prey to this terrible flu season?  Know anyone who was a carrier and showed up in public anyway?  What did you do, how did you handle it?  Share with us your flu war stories.  We'd love to hear them!