Monday, September 21, 2015

Red Carpet Manners at the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards – “There’s Something about Andy”

The folks at Fox should pat themselves on the back for selecting Andy Samberg to host the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards. He may not have produced stellar ratings, but he sure is appealing thanks to a combination of boyish looks, self-deprecation and an adorable delivery of razor-sharp jokes behind a giant Cheshire Cat grin. The guy who cut his chops for seven years as a cast member on SNL and won a Golden Globe for his Fox TV series Brooklyn Nine-Nine is so likable, you can’t help but smile even when he releases one of his stinging one-liners.  Whether he’s skewering Donald Trump or calling out Kim Davis, or pointing a finger at racism, ageism or wageism in Hollywood, his timing is so quick and stealthy you hardly notice the one-two punch it until it’s passed.  

The comedian opened with a musical number that was both hilarious and cautionary as it poked gratuitous fun at the perils of watching too much “Must See TV”.  While it feels like you literally have to hold up in a Kimmy Schmidt type bunker to binge-watch the ridiculous number of shows, the sad takeaway is that many people would much rather spend time with their television content than engage in risky real live human connection.

On TV's biggest night, however, we were happily glued to our television watching intently and hanging on to every word to bring you our red carpet manners recap at this year's Emmys.

A Sea of Black on the Red Carpet. Stars showed up early on the red carpet in a color spectrum that ranged from teal on Amy Schumer and Kelly green on January Jones to canary yellow and shades of orange on actresses Heidi Klum, Mindy Kaling and Taylor Schilling. Black dresses were all the rage for Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Lady Gaga with sequins and silver showcased on Sarah Paulson, Sofia Vergara and Kerry Washington. Chain spaghetti straps made their debut draped over the gorgeous shoulders of Taraji P. Hanson and Claire Danes while new hairdos were on display on the likes of Elizabeth Moss and Amy Poehler. Lady Gaga looked fabulous in a retro bob and actresses Julie Bowen and Sarah Hyland looked sporty in their shorter loose locks.  As far as the night's biggest fashion winner, the young "Modern Family" actress receives our vote for a classic and chic off-the-shoulder burgundy dress by Zac Posen with matching nails and minimal accessories. However, Padma Lakshmi summed it up best proclaiming that on the red carpet, “nothing looks more beautiful than a smile.”  We couldn’t agree more!

Sweat Etiquette. At 96+ degrees in downtown Los Angeles, the stars were schvitzing up a storm on the red hot red carpet. Many of the women chose frocks with breathable fabrics, but the men suffered in silence with long sleeve button-downs and wool tuxes. Apparently, Mario Lopez soaked through four shirts before reaching the theatre! Amy Schumer felt compelled to wipe the brow of Ryan Seacrest during her interview and a perspiring Allison Janney was still clutching her face blotter when she approached the stage to accept her 7th Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy. 

Most Concise Candid Speeches. Thankfully most winners kept their acceptance speeches concise with the most succinct speeches going to the Outstanding Comedy Writing winners of “Veep” who hilariously thanked HBO “for letting us come over here and make fun of American politics and make American money.” And, Frances McDormand who won Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series for “Olive Kittridge” for a short, yet poignant speech that reminded us, “We’re all here because of the power of a story well told. Sometimes, that’s enough.”

Best Category Announcement Look. In anticipation of the announcement for Outstanding Lead Actress in a comedy, ever the jokester Amy Poehler donned aviator sunglasses and a hoodie going incognito when her category was called. She’s been down this road before so when Emmy veteran, Julia Louis-Dreyfus took home her fourth consecutive win, Amy handled it the only way she knew how, with humor and then a few fun follow-up tweets on social media. 

Silliest References in an Acceptance Speech.  The hysterical Amy Schumer who won for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series thanked all the people who helped her along the way, including a shout out to the girl who “gave me this smoky eye.” While Peter Dinklage who admitted he wasn’t prepared at all and was “even chewing gum” apparently kissed his wife and transferred the gum into her mouth before taking the stage to accept his second Emmy win for Outstanding Supporting Actor in the Drama “Game of Thrones.”

Well-Deserved Standing O’s.  Everyone was rooting for Jon Hamm to take home the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for Mad Men so they happily stood to cheer on their fellow auteur. After eight attempts, the Emmy award was long overdue and more than well-deserved.  The actor was so grateful, he literally crawled onto the stage and gave a speech that was both heartfelt and bittersweet after the long-running series ended. The second standing ovation of the evening went to the dapper looking and still recovering Tracy Morgan who took to the stage to present the final award of the evening. It marked his first public appearance since the devastating accident which took place in June 2014 and left him severely injured. Especially thankful, he was thrilled to return to the Hollywood community and the place he calls home.

Shedding Light on Civil Rights. The two wins for “Transparent” shed important light on the modern day civil rights issue for transgender people with Jill Soloway (Oustanding Directing in a Comedy Series) urging the audience to support the trans equality bill and Jeffrey Tambor dedicating his Oustanding Lead Comedy Actor award to the transgender community. 
Doing Away with Diversity.  Viola Davis' win for Oustanding Lead Actress in a Drama for "How to Get Away with Murder" was history making as the first African-American actress to ever hold that trophy. “The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity." "You cannot win Emmys for roles that are simply not there.” The additional wins for African-American actresses Regina King (of ABC’s “American Crime”) and Uzo Aduba (of Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black”) also echoed loudly. The hope is that one day we will do away with the idea of diversity and create a landscape of inclusion where all people - regardless of their race, color, sex or religion - will be celebrated and awarded equally for their efforts. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Manners Monday - No Need to Shy Away from White After Labor Day

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The old adage of 'no white after Labor Day' no longer holds water.  Fashionistas and trendsetters in the know don't fall prey to such archaic beliefs.  They beat to their own drum turning a cheek to the majority and shunning convention.  Coco Chanel, one of the greatest fashion icons of all time, balked at the notion of banning white after Labor Day and made it a permanent staple in her wardrobe. 

Historically, white garments were associated with a look of leisure reserved mainly for the privileged.  They were a status symbol for the fortunate souls who were able to change their clothing with the season.  Many of the well-to-do adorned themselves in white linen pant suits, light cotton shirts and white Panama hats as they escaped their sweltering city dwellings for more appealing climates.  When they returned from their vacations, they would deposit their summer duds and circulate a wardrobe that consisted of darker, heavier material.

Nowadays, we hold a different perspective.  Rather than scramble through the closet searching for white dresses, white pant suits, white flowing tops, any significant white piece of clothing to get our hands on as a last ditch effort to make sure it is worn before the clock strikes midnight, we may regard the cleansing of our white clothing almost as a symbolic ritual.  It is a purging of sorts that helps transition both mentally and physically from the light and carefree days of summer into the more industrious and diligent days that make up the fall season. 

But white is, in fact, embraced and acceptable any time of the year.  You'd be hard pressed to find a closest that doesn't contain a white button down men's dress shirt or a woman's white button down blouse.  These are one of the few essentials of every wardrobe paired beauifully with a pair of dark denim jeans and a blazer for a more casual look or worn with a tailored pant or skirt suit for a formal business meeting. It is one of the top items female executives will wear for their press photo presenting a no nonsense look with a sense of approachability. White sneakers are also all the rage making their debut years ago by famous entertainers and athletes and still a mainstay in fashion, particularly the white leather variety which may be worn in summer or winter.  And, let's not forget winter white with its slightly creamier shade of white and heavier fabric which is very much on-trend in the winter months.  The fashion magazines sing its praises and dedicate pages of styles after Labor Day to the cozy look.  

So while we pay tribute to the laborers who toiled away in the trenches and stood on the picket lines fighting for their rights, step out this Labor Day with confidence wearing your white. Confidence is, after all, the number one accessory that is appreciated any time of the year.  

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

6 Back-To-School Manners Kids Should Master Before Stepping Foot on the School Campus

Ah, the dawn of a new school year.  Kids are kicking and screaming for having to wake up early after almost three solid months of sleeping in late while parents are rejoicing that they'll have the house back to themselves to binge watch their favorite show on Netflix without interruption.  Not so fast. The race to ensure everyone in the housefhold is appropriately dressed and properly nourished with backpacks and lunches in tow, in the wee hours of the morning, is relentless.  Add in the pressure cooker of arriving at the bus stop on time or fighting traffic in the carpool lane and it's enough to send anyone over the edge.  Let the games begin. 

Whether they're beginning the first day of kindergarten or starting senior year of high school, the basic tenets of back-to-school manners never change.  Arming children with these important skills, before they step foot on campus, will increase confidence and guarantee success this new school year.

1. Put Effort into Presentation. New dress codes have been established at many schools across the country with extra attention paid to skirt lengths, bare shoulders, and tight or low waisted pants. Staying within school guidelines limits wardrobe competition and eliminates distraction.  Dress for the season and the weather, they don't always coincide. Wear athletic footware for everyday or closed toe shoes for formal occasions.  Putting effort into presentation it is not for show, but an act of self-respect as well as respect for the institution.  

2. Fraternize Politely with Friends.  The first few days and weeks at school are crucial for reconnecting with old friends and cultivating new relationships. Be that brave soul who greets everyone with a smile and kind words. Don't be a busy gossip sticking your nose in everyone's business. Mind your own. Never bully and step up if you see another person the victim of bullying. Look for opportunities to include others. Seek out those who are alone and invite them to join you and your friends.  This small act of sensitivity will leave a positive and lasting impact.

3. Hold Court in the Classroom. Draw attention to yourself, not by being the class clown, but by being the class role-model. Develop a respectful rapport with your teacher saying hello and goodbye each day. Raise your hand rather than blurting out. Sit up straight and lean in to actively listen. Participate and contribute to the conversation, don't detract from it. Create, collaborate and cooperate with classmates on assignments and projects. Respect personal space. Never let your eyes wander to copy another's homework or cheat on a test.   

4. Play Nice on the Field.  Safety comes first. Dress for athletic activities. Hair worn up or pulled back away from the face. Sneakers tightly laced to prevent tripping. Physical exercise is great for the mind and body. Give it your all. Practice good sportsmanship and be a team player. Be supportive to teammates, praise them for their efforts, and remember to thank all for a game well-executed.

5. Make the Most of Table Manners.  Elevate the lunch experience by implementing the tools of the table.  Whether you bring lunch from home or eat the lunch provided at school, dare to dine with some semblence of decorum.  Be sensitive to nut allergies. Avoid packing pungent smelling foods. Never cut the cafeteria line. Recyle where possible and clean up after your own mess.  Lunch is a bonding experience.  Include new friends and old to join you at the table.

6. Keep Tabs on Technology. Or the school will do it for you. Administrators may have access to your social media and be able to monitor your postings. This comes in response to an increase in cyber-bullying, school threats and other cries for help. Remember social media is a public forum. Know that anything transmitted electronically is permanent and privacy does not exist. Tablets and computers should be used for schoolwork only, not to shop online or socialize. Use schooltime to hone your interpersonal skills such as making good eye contact, engaging in face-to-face conversation, listening for tone of voice, and reading facial gestures. Listen and be present to your teachers and your friends.

A special note to parents. Back-to-school is not just for kids. When driving on campus, wait patiently in line for pickups and drop offs. Don't even think about honking. Park carefully in spaces. Greet parents in the hall with a smile and a few simple pleasantries. Sign up and volunteer for school activities when possible. Offer to help fellow parents in need with carpooling duties or a delivered meal.