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.