George Clooney - Boy Genius. Talking about Tomorrowland

"Imagine a place where nothing is impossible." 

Of all the things that I thought that I might be writing about, never did I ever imagine that "interviewing George Clooney" would be one of those topics. 

But that happened and here we are. 

The context is that Disney Pictures has made a wonderful, oh-so-Disneyesque film called, "Tomorrowland." 


And George happens to play the lead character, Frank Walker. 

And I was invited as part of the press junket for the film, Tomorrowland held at the beautiful Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills. 


The rest of the cast, Britt Robertson (“Casey Newton”), Tim McGraw (“Ed Newton”), Raffey Cassidy (“Athena”), Brad Bird (Director / Producer / Writer), Damon Lindelof (Producer / Writer), and Jeff Jensen (Story By) were also present and were all very articulate and lovely.


But, as you can imagine, I only had eyes for George. (Can you blame me?)


Clooney describes his character Frank as “a disenchanted grump who was a bit of a dreamer as a young boy, a smart little scientist kid. Young Frank goes to a place that he thinks is the greatest in the universe, and he believes the world is going to be much better off because of it.

He finds out that those things were untrue and becomes probably the most cynical person one could be. He isolates himself on his family farm and plans to spend the rest of his life there but is forced to deal with his past because of situations that happen in the film.” 


QUESTION - George, at the heart of this movie is a really big idea, which I think is powerful. You’ve made a lot of bold films in your career, particularly the more political ones. But I think this one is right up there, as far as being quite bold. Do you see it that way? 

GEORGE CLOONEY - "Putting me in a summer movie is a very bold thought." [Laughter]

"You know, listen. First and foremost, I think it is a really bold thing for Disney to be willing to do a film that isn’t a sequel and isn’t a comic book, to really invest in a summer film of this sort of ilk.

"The fun part of it, to me, was when you read the screenplay, although I have to say, just so we’re clear, when Damon and Brad showed up at my house, they said,

“We’ve got a part that we’ve written for you.” And then I opened up the description of the character and it’s a 55-year-old has-been, and I’m kind of going, 'Hang on a minute, which part am I reading for?'"

JEFF JENSEN - "It said genius, by the way. It said genius." 

GEORGE CLOONEY -  "It said former genius, boy genius, who has gotten bitter in his old age."

"I just loved the idea of, you know, we live in a world right now where you turn on your television set and it’s rough out there. And it’s not fun. And it can really wear on you after a period of time. And we see generations now feeling as if it’s sort of hopeless, in a way, and what I love about it is it sort of speaks to the idea that your future is not preordained and predestined, and that if you’re involved, a single voice can make a difference and I believe in that.

I happen to believe in it, and so I loved the theme or the idea that, you know, there’s still so much that we can all do to make things better. And I liked it. I thought it was great."


BRAD BIRD (On growing up with great optimism for the future.) - "I grew up and remember the moon landing. I remember how that felt. I was actually in the air when they were about to get out on the surface. We were flying in from Denver, and I was like, “I’m going to miss it!” Fortunately, there were some kinds of technical errors and we landed in the airport. We ran to the nearest TV monitor and there were, like, 400 people just packed in, watching when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. And everybody just went, “Whoo!” That feeling has never left me." 

Having seen the film, I can tell you that that same feeling has never left me, either. I'll do a review on it in a few days. But for now, I'm glad to report that Disney has a vision for the future and this vision includes George Clooney. Boy Genius. 


"Imagine a place where nothing is impossible."

Like Marta interviewing George Clooney? I know. Shut up.

Tomorrowland opens in theaters on Friday, May 22nd, 2015.

All the "feels" at Pixar - That's Inside Out.

If you thought I was insufferable talking about my visit to Skywalker Ranch in January, just wait until I start telling you about Pixar. 

Pixar. *sigh*

I have often (metaphorically) knelt and worshipped at the altar of the animation gods (little g) at Pixar. Ever since I attended my first animation festival back when I was in design school (in the 80's) and was amazed by John Lasseter's Tin Toy, I have been in love and in awe. 

When I received the invitation to actually visit the Pixar campus in Emeryville, I was completely beside myself. This was an item on my Bucket List that I hadn't actually ever added to my Bucket List because it was such a far fetched concept. 

It was more of a "If I could, one day I would love to visit Pixar." 

Ta-da! (Somebody pinch me.)


The occasion was an invitation from Disney/Pixar to visit their campus, watch a portion of their upcoming animated feature, Inside Out and the newest short, Lava. We also got to interview director Pete Docter and producer Jonas Rivera. 

The fun began immediately upon our arrival. (Yes, I'm saving my badge forever. Why do you ask?)


Greeting us as we walked up to the main building was Luxo Jr. the iconic desk lamp that happily dances and bounces its way across the screen before each Pixar film.


Full disclosure: I tried doing the jumping up and down photo. It was not pretty. You'll just have to trust me on this.

Luxo Jr. stands in front of the Steve Jobs Building. I seriously stopped in my tracks and had a moment of silence. I was about to enter the heart of Pixar. Pixar! (Hold me.)


As you enter those hallowed doors you are greeted by some familiar old friends.


Everywhere you look there are the beloved life-size Pixar characters.



Imagine a group of 25 we-must-document-everything bloggers let loose in this space. 


The award cases were full of Oscars and Golden Globes and People's Choice awards. Duh. Of course. This is Pixar, remember?


As I stood there, looking back to the entrance, I had a take-a-deep-breath-I'm-really-here-at-Pixar-somebody-pinch-me moment. I was truly feeling all the "feels." 

Excitement. Joy. Nervousness. Fear. Anticipation. Awe. This-is-not-my-real-life amazement.


We were treated to a preview of the first 20 minutes or so of the new animated feature, Inside Out and then interviewed director Pete Docter and producer Jonas Rivera. 

Inside Out was inspired by Pete Docter’s daughter, Ellie, who was an outgoing kid until she got to the age of about 11 and then things changed a bit and it became more difficult for him to understand what she was thinking. 

"That was really the origins of this film, is trying to figure out what's going on inside her head, you know?"

Inside Out

Pete and Jonas used the ideas of emotions as their main characters. With the focus on emotions, they did tons of serious research by talking to psychologists and neurologists to get a deeper understanding of how and why we think and feel. It seems funny to me to go through this process for an animated film, but there's the beauty and genius of Disney/Pixar. 

According to Pete, “a lot of that research has shown up in the film, and then of course we made some stuff up too, ‘cause it’s supposed to be fun to watch.”

Jonas Rivera (producer) shared with us that “It was really that idea to personify the emotions. Like wouldn’t that be fun to do. I think when we pitched it to Disney and to John Lasseter, we talked about like our version of the Seven Dwarfs. You can really do something in animation, you only do it in animation, really get these characters and do something really unique, specific and fun. And it just really appealed to us.

We obviously love animated movies. We talk about the classic Disney animated movies a lot. Like what was it about those movies that lasted forever? Why do we still talk about Lady and the Tramp and Dumbo, and these movies that we grew up with? And they’re all very emotional. And, and so we thought, well what if we like movies that are emotional, what if we made one about emotions?”

And so they did. 

It's not just because I got to see a portion of the film that I'm already looking forward to it. (Okay. Maybe it is, a little.)

But it's Pixar. And after interviewing these guys I could feel how much joy and devotion they invested in this project. I also loved how cognizant they were of the Disney legacy.

And because Pixar does not disappoint I can almost guarantee Inside Out will be a must-see summer movie. 

Inside Out opens in theaters everywhere on June 19th.

Elijah Kelley Shares the Love in Strange Magic

I told you I couldn't stop talking about my visit to Skywalker Ranch and everything to do with Strange Magic and today is no exception.

To recap, I was invited by Disney and Touchstone Pictures (along with 24 other fabulous bloggers) for a once-in-a-lifetime tour of the famous ranch and for a screening of the new animated film, from the mind of George Lucas, Strange Magic.


Here's my interview with George Lucas.

And here's my oversharing about our visit to Skywalker Ranch.

Today I want to share the time that we bloggers got to spend chatting with Elijah Kelley.



Elijah Kelley is probably best recognized from his performance as Seaweed in Hairspray (2007). Also, he's absolutely adorable in person. 

When we arrived at Skywalker Ranch, I recognized Elijah right away and greeted him like an old friend. He was lovely. Very personable and willingly posed for photos with all of us bloggers. Every. Single. One of us. 

And, as you can imagine, every single one of us fell in love with him.

"Elijah, kissy face!" 


Elijah is the voice of Sunny the Elf in Strange Magic.

He's the central character in the film, who, much like Elijah himself, has a heart of gold. I can see why Elijah was chosen by George Lucas to play Sunny. 


photo credit:

Before he sat down to talk with us, we were treated to his wonderful performance of a mash-up of "3 Little Birds"/"Say Hey! (I love you.)" 


Here's his "Elf-Sized Serenade" from Strange Magic that is just one of the many songs in the movie. 

After all the impromptu concert, he sat down and talked to us about what it was like for him to be the voice of Sunny.

First of all, I’ve never done a voice-over before in my life, so it was a little bit of a challenge because see he’s (Sunny), hyper and super into everything that he always does.

I thought that it was gonna be so easy. I thought it was gonna be a piece of cake, but I would go in there and guarantee you, I would leave, lightheaded and sweaty from all the running and everything.

It was like P90X. Bringing it to life and understanding the world that Sunny lives in, and understanding that he’s kind of like, you know, I see him sort of the nucleus of trying to get everything together, and pulling everybody together, and trying to save the day, and messing up the day, it’s a lot like me.


photo credit:

The theme of the movie is about finding true love. Did he think people could connect to that through this film?

I think that people will connect for fighting for what you love because as you can see that everybody goes through a lot of trouble to be able to grasp the love of their life, and I think that love is so complicated.

I think that the wiring of love is just so weird, you know, and the fact that people can go to the ends of the Earth to capture something like that is very, very inspirational.

I think in a time like this where we are in the world, it’s an animation, but the subject matter is universal and it’s timeless, you know?

Was it weird seeing your facial expressions and such on a character that doesn’t look like you?

The whole process is weird. Honestly, I’m not over it yet. Being that this is only the second time I’ve seen the movie. On film you get used to yourself. You can see yourself in a different character. They literally bring your voice to life. And so all you do is talk and sing, and they do everything else. It’s really amazing.


He's also a philanthropist. Who knew?

I have a foundation; the Elijah Kelley Foundation.  And basically what we do is I try to be a liaison between underprivileged kids back from where I’m from and their dreams in arts and entertainment.

And so during the tenure that we’ve had the non-profit, I’ve given out, four scholarships over the last five years, with students from low-income housing that are going on to pursue careers in performing arts. From the Savannah College of Art and Design to, there’s a very small, great art school in Georgia called Gordon College.

I was deeply impressed by Elijah Kelley. Not just that he is so warm and personable or that he's a "quadruple threat," but that he is so dedicated to giving back. 

His performance in Strange Magic will make you love him all that much more.


Elijah Kelley @oneelijahkelley loves me. He said so. #strangemagicevent #ontheblog #ElijahKelley #video

A video posted by Marta Darby (@smrtqbn) on Jan 22, 2015 at 11:54am PST

"Every little thing is gonna be alright."

Strange Magic opens in theaters everywhere tomorrow, Friday, January 23rd, 2015.

About Love and Strange Magic with George Lucas

Last week (as you know because I can't stop talking about it) I visited Skywalker Ranch in Marin County, California.

I was invited by Disney and Touchstone Pictures (along with 24 other fabulous bloggers) for a once-in-a-lifetime tour of the famous ranch and for a screening of the new animated film, from the mind of George Lucas, Strange Magic.


What you don't know is that we bloggers were treated to an up-close-and-personal interview with George Lucas himself.

I wrote all about our tour of Skywalker Ranch here. Today I'm going to give you a peek into, well, the mind of George Lucas and his impetus for making Strange Magic.

Before the trip, I think we had all sort of fantasized about Wouldn't it be so great if we could see George Lucas himself when we visited Skywalker Ranch?, but again, that was still in the realm of fantasy.

Then, just before the movie was about to start, George Lucas walked into the theater and sat down (right behind us!) to watch the entire film all the way through for the first time.

Stop it. That's just crazy talk!

Skywalker-Ranch-theater-George-Lucas-selfie-my-big-fat-cuban-family copy 

Imagine our extreme delight and the pinch me no, seriously, Pinch me! moment when we were informed that yes indeed we would get to, not just see, but actually interview George Lucas.

Seriously? We would actually get to hear what was coming from the mind of George Lucas?

Skywalker Ranch truly lived up to its reputation for turning fantasy into reality.


So where did the concept for this film come from?

"It actually started about 15 years ago. I had the notion of making a film that was fun.

I like working with music and I like doing fairy tales and I love to do musicals especially when I can use my favorite music and so it kind of harkens back to my pre-Star Wars days.

I started working on it with a small group of people and we started designing it. Eventually we hired the director (Gary Rydstrom) and brought in Marius de Vries from Moulin Rouge to do the music because I wanted to try to tell this story through the music.

As George began talking about the music, he really became animated (no pun intended). Every song in the soundtrack to Strange Magic is very recognizable and it's practically impossible to not sing along.

George Lucas Interview

I love music. Music’s a huge part of my life.

I love all kinds of music, and obviously I listen to music every day – on the radio, top 40 and everything in between. But with this one, one of the inspirations was, I wondered if I could tell a love story using love songs. Would it be possible to take them and string them all together so they actually told the story?

That was the original challenge and, in the beginning the movie was about twice as long as it is now. Its like American Graffiti - I could sit and listen to it all day and that was a part of American Graffiti. I just wanted to have a movie that I could sit in the editing room and listen to and have a good time."


"I tell people I’m going to go back and do experimental films like I did in college, and this is getting myself back there. This is just a fun movie that I love to listen to. A lot of the songs were my favorite songs but a lot of them really had to do with trying to tell the story, trying to say what we needed them to say.

It was all about finding the right song that actually had the musical mood that would get us from point A to point B but also actually say the words that the actors were supposed to say to each other. That’s where Marius came in. Thanks to him, we were able to use different genres from different time periods, really different everything, but knit it all together so it sounded like it belonged together. And he’s a genius at doing that because ultimately, it had to have an evolution where some of the story was told in dialogue, some of the story was told in music and the story itself had to be tightened down and things connected which, in just using music you couldn’t do.

We hadn't really heard much about Strange Magic until very recently.

It really started to fall together over the last 4 or 5 years. It wasnt involved in any studio or anything, I made it in San Francisco where I live and I have my studio there and were not into promoting or any of that kind of stuff – were into making movies.

Nobody really hears about it until its ready to come out. It all seems fast. We actually just finished it and 3 weeks later itll be in theaters.


At this point, George started to talk about his daughters. About his family. About his wife and falling in love. He grew very tender as he spoke about his favorite song in the film.

The song that started it is the opening song, that was the first song I picked and its also at the end, ‘I Cant Help Falling In Love by Elvis. I love that song. I grew up under the tutelage of Elvis and my wife says I still have that pompous pompadour.

It, to me, was the inspiration to say this is what this movie’s about. You know, wise men say only fools fall in love. And ultimately the only thing I can say is there’s no accounting for love, it’s just no matter how rational you think you’re being, you say well I’ll never do that, and you do it.

"Strange Magic," he says, "is a story that needs to be told to every generation over and over again. The message is so simple and, you know it’s been around for thousands of years and yet still can always be retold.

George Lucas waxing poetically romantic about love and the power of music?? I was very pleasantly surprised to find that this is what is coming forth from the mind of George Lucas.


Speaking of music, we also interviewed Elijah Kelley who lends his voice to Sunny the Elf in the film. I'll share that later this week. 


Strange Magic opens in theaters everywhere on Friday, January 23rd, 2015.

I'm going to Skywalker Ranch and Pixar. (Don't hate me.)

You know that thing we Cubans do on New Year's Eve?

Not just the eating of the 12 grapes and throwing the bucket of water out into the street, but the one about carrying a suitcase out into the middle of the street at midnight if you want to travel in the coming year?

If you are confused about any of these Cuban New Year's Eve Traditions, read all about them right here.

So, back to the suitcase at midnight. I was one of the many Cuban Faithful who grabbed my bag and took it out into the street as the rest of the world was hip-hollering "Happy New Year!" Because I want to travel this coming year and that's what we do and I may or may not be a little superstitious about this stuff. (Full disclosure: I did not make my way completely around the block, seeing as we live on a hill, but that's not important right now.)

Which makes my announcement today super delicious...

I received an invitation from Disney/Pixar and Touchstone Pictures to a very special event. The invitation read like this:

We are looking to invite 25 of our top Bloggers to San Francisco from Monday, January 12th – Tuesday, January 13th to screen the new Lucasfilm and Touchstone Pictures film STRANGE MAGIC (opening in theatres on 1/23) up at Skywalker Ranch ( where you will receive a tour of the grounds and interview Director and 7 time Academy Award® winner Gary Rydstrom!

While up at Skywalker Ranch you will also interview Elijah Kelley (“Hairspray,” “Red Tails,” “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”) who voices Sunny in the film!  

And finally, you will also attend a reception at Pixar for an INSIDE OUT presentation (opening in theatres on 6/19) and a screening of the short film LAVA!

My initial reaction was disbelief. So I re-checked that my name was actually on the invitation. Because SKYWALKER RANCH AND PIXAR, people! It's as if someone had peeked into my super-secret-double-probation Bucket List and created an event of Perfect Perfection for a Super Star Wars/Pixar über-nerd Devotee such as myself. 

So, (I'm trying to say this as casually as possible) next week I'll be traveling (with 24 other bloggers) to Skywalker Ranch and receiving a tour of the grounds.


I'll be interviewing Director and 7 time Academy Award® winner Gary Rydstrom. And also Elijah Kelley (the voice of Sunny)

And watching a screening of the new Lucasfilm/Touchstone Pictures film, Strange Magic.

Strange magic

After which I'll be attending a reception at Pixar for an INSIDE OUT presentation (opening in theatres on 6/19) and a screening of the short film LAVA.

Inside out

Which looks super promising already. Check this out.

If you want to follow my trip, follow me on Instagram (I'm Smrtqbn) or Twitter. Or follow the hashtags, #StrangeMagicEvent or #PixarInsideOut.

I promise to be appropriately insufferable as I overshare the details of this trip.

Because how am I feeling about all this?

One emotion - one word...


Also, I will never again underestimate the power of Cuban superstitions.

Movie Review: Big Hero 6

A few weeks ago Eric and I had the good fortune to enjoy a pre-screening of the newest Disney Animation film, Big Hero 6

Because we live a few area codes away from Burbank, where the Walt Disney Animation Studio is located, we turned it into a Road Trip/Date Night. 


First of all, let me say that I had no preconception of the movie, nor did I quite get the extent of the plot from watching the trailers. I knew it was about a young braniac teen named Hiro and a big, fluffy, inflatable robot named Baymax.


Truthfully, I couldn't conceive how they could construct a compelling story around these two unlikely "heroes." 

As soon as the story begins to unfold in the streets of San Fransokyo, every one of my emotions was immediately engaged. 

The animation (this goes without saying) was beautiful detailed amazing.


This is my entire problem with this film: I don't have enough superlatives to describe the beauty, the action, the complexity of the characters. 

And the roller coaster of emotions? I went from laughing out loud to feeling fearful to crying (yes, real tears!) to laughing again to oh-no-how-will-they-get-out-of-this-alive tension. I ran the gamut from empathy to fear to tenderness, all between serious belly laughs. 

Also, Creepiest Villain Ever in a Disney Movie? Check.

For the Love of Shorts

As is usual with Disney Animation, they add a wonderful short before the movie. In this case, it was called "Feast," and I feel I have to mention it here because it's one of the most beautiful animation shorts I've ever seen.

Produced by Kristina Reed who also produced 2012’s Oscar®-winning short “Paperman," "Feast" treats us to the growth and evolution of adorable pupply, Winston and his love of all things edible. I seriously fell in love.

For the Love of Fred

Everyone will have their favorite characters in any film. In Big Hero 6 my personal favorite was Fred, voiced by T.J. Miller, who has the greatest character reveal in any movie - ever. (Working on my superlatives.)

"I've been trying to get Honey to develop a formula to turn me into a fire-breathing lizard, but she says that's "not science." ~ Fred


The Date Night Thing

I confess that I've seen Big Hero 6 twice now. Once with Eric on our Road Trip/Date Night and again with friends (who happen to be adults) Dan and Haylee.

(By way of explanation: I had RSVP'd to see the film again with my kids, but they bailed at the last minute because they have their own lives and all, but that's not important right now.)

All of us (grown-ups) agreed on the epicness (<--is that a word?) of the movie. And that no, it's not just for kids.


Marvel Gets Disneyfied

For you Marvel nerds, who probably already know that this story started as an obscure Marvel comic, you also know that, like in all good Marvel films, it is mandatory to stay all the way through the credits. In this case, there's a wonderful Marvel-meets-Disney-meets-Stan-Lee type moment. DO NOT MISS IT.

Thank you, Disney Animation. You've done it again. I'm thinking I need to create a movie rating system for when I do these reviews: 

"I give Big Hero 6 TEN pastelitos!" (Shut up. I know.)


Big Hero 6 opens in theaters everywhere today, Friday, November 7, 2014.

Alexander and the...Very Bad Day

I have a confession to make, I was not prepared to like this movie. But let me tell you why...

If you read my post from yesterday, you know that Jonathan worked as a featured background guy on the new Disney movie, Alexander and the Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. And if you did read all about it, you know that I'm going to be completely insufferable, but that's not important right now.

Movies are not made in a perfectly sequential order. You probably knew that, and I think I did, too, but I wasn't quite prepared with how jumpy and seemingly untethered the story appears as they are working on random scenes. Plus, they shoot scenes over and over and over which is how the director decides which "take" tells the story best.

It makes very little sense to those of us in the peanut gallery.


And, of course, we were only on the set for a few days, so we had absolutely no context for how they were making a 37 page children's book into a 2 hour movie. 

We spent a lot of time (waiting to go on) with the sweet little green-faced twins (little girls) who play the baby, Trevor. And couldn't quite fit him (them) into the story. But as it turned out, that baby was one of our favorite characters once we saw the actual film.

Who knew?


So here's my confession: before I saw the film, I didn't believe. There. I said it. Don't judge.

The movie follows Alexander, a soon to be 12 year old, as he has the very worst day of his young life. He believes he's the only one that ever has bad things happen. 

The next day, he finds out that his mom (Jennifer Garner), dad (Steve Carell), brother (Dylan Minnette) and sister (Kerris Dorsey) all find themselves living through their own terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Anyone who says there is no such thing as a bad day just hasn't had one.


We went to see Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day at the Walt Disney Studios (which is already a magical place) with some of Jon's friends and our neighbors. Our group ranged from ages 10 to 20 (not counting me, of course) and every single one of us loved it. 


You know that cliche thing you say, "It's got something for everyone." It's true in this case. The kids loved it. The teens loved it. The adults loved it. Something for everyone.

Congratulations, Disney. You made a wonderfully entertaining family-friendly comedy. I'm sorry I doubted you. 


Also, in case you've forgotten, when you go see the film, (and you must!) remember that Jon was in the limo. #jonwasinthelimo

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day opens in theaters everywhere today, October 10th, 2014.

From the Set to the Red Carpet - NOT A Very Bad Day at All

Sit back. Get some popcorn. I have a wonderful "full circle" type story for you today.

Jonathan worked on the film, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day last summer as a featued background actor. 

It started almost exactly a year ago when Jonathan decided he might like to give acting a shot. He signed up with a casting agency that specializes in background actors. Specifically kids. Because we homeschool and his high school classes were all online, there were no scheduling difficulties. 

He started working almost immediately as he was 17 and a few productions needed teenage background actors. I recall we were on vacation when I received the email asking if he was available to work for a few days in September on an upcoming Disney movie. 

Wait. WHAT?

Disney had a film in production and they needed a few kids to work "featured" background." They were calling them the Prom Kids. That's all the information they gave us. 

Edith Head and Me

We saved the filming dates and the next thing we know, Jon and I are on our way to the Edith Head Building at Universal Studios for a wardrobe fitting. 


Having worked as the costume person (and a huge fan of Edith Head) for theater productions for years, I was completely over-the-moon-out-of-my-skin-excited for the opportunity. I may or may not have made a complete fangirl fool of myself asking a bizzillion questions of the costume people. (Please notice the costumes from Once and Barbra Streisand's skating outfit from Funny Girl. That is all.)


 We still knew nothing about the what or why of the scene or the film, but dutifully followed all the directions we had.


Jon was delighted with his skinny, Euro-tailored suit and Italian leather shoes. Also, the wardrobe people were just lovely. 


We arrived on the set a few days later. Call time was 8:00 am for the days we were there for filming, which meant we left our house at 6:00 am. I know. "Wah, wah...we had to get up early to go work on a Disney movie." (Not complaining at all.)

Getting Camera Ready

First thing in the morning, Jon would check in with the wardrobe, hair, and makeup people. 





Then we were off to the set to "hurry up and wait."

The Prom Kids

There were 5 "featured background" kids - 3 guys and 2 beautiful girls. They quickly bonded - it's a strange feeling being dressed and made up for prom for an entire day, waiting for your scene. They began calling themselves "The Breakfast Club." (Early call times, you know.)


The Japanese Restaurant 

These particular days, the filming took place at a Japanese restaurant in Pasadena, which, in the film is called Nagamaki.  With a bit of movie magic and the change of a sign, we were now in the world of Alexander and his family.


This is where we were esconced during the filming of the restaurant/prom scene. Gratefully, it was air-conditioned. (Which proves the existence of God as far as I'm concerned.)

Hanging with the Talent

All the actors, including the background people, were in different rooms of the (air-conditioned-thank-you-God!) Japanese restaurant waiting for their scenes to be called. 


It was sooo accidentally cool to be:

  • Working on a movie set.
  • With Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner.
  • Keeping our fingers crossed that Jon's "prom moment" would make it into the film.



Steve Carell was truly gracious in allowing photos with the kids. Jon may or may not have said, "You...are my biggest fan," which got a laugh out of Steve. He also bought pizza for 80 people the night we had to stay late on the set. Lovely human.



Is He or Isn't He?

There are two moments in the film, and I mean moments, as in, if you blink, you missed them, where the Prom Kids are featured. 

One is where the characters of Celia and Anthony, played by Bella Thorne and Dylan Minnette see their friends at the Japanese restaurant on prom night.


Cue the Prom Kids.



They took turns walking in with a different person, in a different order. In the film, their "moment" is cut to less than 2 seconds. And no, Jon didn't make the cut. (Note: I totally would have made the same decision if I were the director. It makes sense to the plot of the film.) But still...*sigh*



At the end of the craziness that takes place in the restaurant (by the way, Steve Carell actually caught all those shrimp in his mouth with no CG, but that's not important right now) there's a scene that takes place just outside of a limo. 


They filmed the kids walking to the limo, getting into the limo, sitting in the limo. In the scene that actually made it into the film, Jon is IN THE LIMO. So, no, you don't see him at all on film. But he's IN THE LIMO. 

This has now become the running joke around here: "JON WAS IN THE LIMO!" Or hashtag: #jonwasinthelimo. I guess you had to be there...

What Was It Like on the Set?

You know at the end of a film when they roll the end credits and they go on for miles and miles? Well, those people are my heroes now. I know the stars and the director and producers are the ones who take the bows, but the people who make all the magic happen - the lighting, props, effects, makeup, wardrobe, best boys, and key grips and all that - they are my heroes. 

Not only were they super professional and hard-working, they were delightful and happy to answer all the questions that the über-curious Cuban mom threw at them.

Truthfully, I was giddy and happy and bouncing around with such enthusiasm because I was so happy to just be there (even in the inflatable cast I was wearing around this time) as this was all happening. I don't know if they felt sorry for me, or if my crazy was contagious. I could so appreciate all of their artistry. 


Seriously, prop people, what a fun job!


The Walt Disney Studios

So, here we are one year later and the film, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is ready to be released. Imagine my delight when Disney invited us to pre-screen the movie at the Disney Studios in Burbank. They were gracious enough to let Jon invite his friends. (Thanks, Disney people!)


We prepared them for the two scenes which Jon may or may not have been in.

Afterwards, they were wonderfully supportive (as only good friends can be in that moment when you find out your scenes have been completely cut from a Disney film) and consoled him with, "But, Jon, you were IN THE LIMO!

The Red Carpet Premiere

On Monday, October 6th, we were invited to the Red Carpet Premiere of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day at Disney's El Capitan Theater in Hollywood. (<--Please appreciate that sentence and be appropriately impressed and freaked out with me. Thankyouverymuch.)

Of course, I've already told you about the Press Junket.

As we walked the Red Carpet, I couldn't help but feel grateful at how we had come full circle and had the wonderful opportunity to experience the movie-making process from wardrobe fitting, to being on the set and working on the movie. Now here we were walking the Red Carpet on premiere night. What a gift.



The After-Party

As if it wasn't enough that we had the privilege to see the film with all the stars at the gorgeous El Capitan Theater, we were also invited to the after-party. 

Wait. What? (Somebody pinch me.)

I know. It was so much fun to be a part of the celebration. Dylan Minnette, who plays big brother, Anthony, remembered Jonathan from the days that he spent on the set.


Ed Oxenbould, who plays Alexander is an absolute delight.


We ate, we mingled, we discussed our good fortune to have been invited. I was proud of Jon in that he handled the disappointment beautifully and quickly went back to being his wonderful, goofy self. This whole thing has been a bit surreal.

So there you have it. That's the story of the journey that Jonathan and I took from Movie Set to Red Carpet. I'm still a little bummed that Jon didn't make it into the film at all, but so grateful for the amazing experiences I got to share with my son this past year.


Also, when you go see the film, please remember that: JON WAS IN THE LIMO!

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day opens everywhere on Friday, October 10th, 2014.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day Press Junket

I had the absolute pleasure to attend the press junket last week for the newest Disney release, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. A day at the beautiful Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills? Yes, please.

I had already seen (and immensely enjoyed) the film, so I was really looking forward to hearing what the actors had to say. There were 2 panels. The first being made up of the director, Miguel Arteta, the producers: Lisa Henson and Dan Levine, and the screenwriter, Rob Lieber.

To my everlasting delight, director Miguel Arteta invoked the mighty name of John Hughes (let's observe a moment of silence, please) as his inspiration for the way the film unfolded. "Yes!" I thought, "That's exactly how I would've done it." (Of course, that's the way I would have done it in the alternate universe I inhabit where I am in charge of the world, but that's not important right now.)


Call me old-fashioned but I love the idea of bringing back family comedies. The cast seemed to feel exactly the same. 

Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner play the quintessential harried parents trying to raise a family and keep it together for one, crazy, terrible, everything-is-going-wrong day. Steve played it, he said, very much like he interacts with his own kids and wife in his real life. I liked that very much.



Ed Oxenbould is impressive as Alexander, the titular character who can't seem to catch a break on this particular day. He plays an American 12 year old obsessed with Australia, which is ironic because he's actually Australian, but he sounds completely American. (Are you still following?) HE'S AUSTRALIAN, BUT HE'S DOING AN AMERICAN ACCENT. You would never be able to tell unless I shared that with you. Just keep that in mind when you see the film. You're welcome. 

The thing that struck me the most about this junket is how comfortable the actors were with one another. They interacted like, well...a real family. 


And you know how much I LOVE family. Well played, Disney. Well played.

The press junket ended with a special surprise performance by the "Australian Cowboy Dancers." (You need to see the movie to understand the significance.)

That would be Thunder From Down Under, who performed a rolicking (G-rated) dance for us. (They're wearing chaps, people!)


And hung around to mingle with those of us who were slack-jawed amazed by these beautiful specimens. I know. Shut up.


I have some really fun behind-the-scenes stuff to share with you in the next few days, so please stay tuned. In the meantime, here's the trailer for Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, which opens in theaters everywhere on Friday, October 10th, 2014.

Muppets Most Wanted - A Review

Speaking of the Muppets...

My family and I were delighted to attend a pre-screening of Disney's Muppets Most Wanted. Well, technically, I've already seen it twice, but that's not important right now.

The first screening took place at the Disney Studios in Burbank, which is always magical, particularly at night.

As any serious Disney fan knows, this has to be one of the coolest places to visit outside of the parks. This is the Legends Plaza which is a courtyard filled with bronze handprints of all the actors, imagineers, and anyone related to everything in the Disney Universe.

If I get invited to a screening of a Disney picture at the Studio, I will always say yes. (That, and wearing red lipstick at all times are my two unbreakable rules, but that's not important right now, either.)

Walt Disney Studios

I saw the Muppets Most Wanted at the studio with my daughter, Amy and a visiting friend. I hoped that the Muppets would deliver, as they usually do, and I'm glad to report, we were not disappointed.

The beginning sequence in which the Muppets are singing and dancing to the song, "They've Ordered a Sequel" was partly filmed right here on this lot, which, of course, made us feel sooo accidentally cool.

Muppets Most Wanted pre screening

Also, being big Muppet fans, there are certain elements that we expect in their films.

Memorable Characters - the introduction of Constantine, Kermit's evil doppelganger with the telltale mole, makes me already wish for a sequel to this sequel.

Celebrity Cameos - it goes without saying that a lot of the fun of a Muppet movie is looking out for and identifying the celebrities as they pop in and out of scenes. But hands down, my favorite was Tom Hiddleston (Loki!) as the Great Escapo, trying to find yet another way out of the Siberian gulag run by Tina Fey as the Russian warden Nadya. Her accent, by the way, was wonderfully over the top.

Tongue-in-Cheekiness (<--is that a word?) - the film is obviously very entertaining for little kids, but don't underestimate the appeal for those of us who appreciate some serious smart-aleckiness. (<--is that a word?) Ty Burrell plays a French detective, paired up with America's own Sam Eagle, who tries to unravel the mystery behind a series of break-ins at museums that happen to be at the same location where the Muppets are performing. He completely satirizes all-things-European, from their tiny cars to their penchant for long lunches and holidays. He was my hands down favorite.

Goofy Musical Numbers - I hope I'm not spoiling too much by telling you that Celine Dion and Miss Piggy make a winning duet. My favorite was the Interrogation Song performed by Burrell and Sam Eagle.

Bad puns - you couldn't have a Muppet movie without them and this one delivers plenty.

I went to a second screening, this time at our local theater, taking my husband, Eric, as well as Lucy and her Beau.

I'm happy to report that they too loved the Muppets Most Wanted. We laughed and rolled our eyes at all the puns and clapped at key moments. I may or may not have teared up a bit at the end when, in classic Muppet style, the underlying message of love and loyalty to friends and family finally wins the day.

It's so appealing that it makes you want to become one of the family. See what I mean?

Muppets most wanted Lucy Darby

I recommend Disney's Muppets Most Wanted. If you're anything like me and my kids, you'll totally enjoy it. Prepare to be completely delighted. And yes, I think you might want to bring the kids, too.

Muppets Most Wanted opens everywhere on Friday, March 21st.