An Old Writing Challenge

I was going through some old writing challenges from the time I was part of a writing group on MSN. At the time I was a Forum Assistant for the Women Online Forum. We had a writing group with some great challenges. Here is a fun challenge and my submission. Keep in mind it was during the Bill Clinton presidency. 


The Challenge:

You are writing a novel and its plot is similar to the alleged white-house scandal playing out in our country today. Title your piece of fiction and write a blurb for the novel's jacket.  Keep it under 300 words. Have fun with this -- it might be the only part of the current events you can enjoy.


My Submission: 

Subpoena Envy

What really happened in the White House and who was involved?  Forget Colonel Mustard in the Library with a rope. This time it's the President in the Oval Office with, ahem, well, you know. Delve into the lives of the First Family in this amusing and fast paced story of politics, power, greed, lust, and sex. Ms. Brokaw continues her string of best sellers with this tale of the President and First Lady as they carefully meander their way through the maze of cabinet meetings, secret liaisons, and press relations inside the historic home. Will the President find his rose garden, or will he get pricked along the way? The thorny circumstances the First Family find themselves in will not only have you on the edge of your seat asking who, what, where, when, and how, but also why. The thrilling conclusion will leave you breathless. Subpoena Envy is destined to be the most talked about novel of the year.



TCA Awards Nominations 2013

I just voted for the 2013 TCA Awards. Unfortunately, as usual, many of the shows I nominated didn't make the cut. Below is the list of nominations for this year's awards, which will be handed out later this summer. Were your favorites nominated?

Individual Achievement in Comedy

Louis C.K., “Louie” (FX)
Lena Dunham, “Girls” (HBO)
Jake Johnson, “New Girl” (Fox)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep” (HBO)
Amy Poehler, “Parks and Recreation” (NBC)

Individual Achievement in Drama

Bryan Cranston, “Breaking Bad” (AMC)
Vera Farmiga, “Bates Motel” (A&E)
Tatiana Maslany, “Orphan Black” (BBC America)
Monica Potter, “Parenthood” (NBC)
Matthew Rhys, “The Americans” (FX)

News and Information

“Anderson Cooper 360.” CNN
“Central Park Five,” PBS
“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” Comedy Central
“The Rachel Maddow Show,” MSNBC
“60 Minutes,” CBS


“The Amazing Race,” CBS
“The Glee Project,” Oxygen
“Shark Tank,” ABC
“Survivor,” CBS
“The Voice,” NBC

Outstanding Achievement in Youth Programming

“Adventure Time,” Cartoon Network
“Bunheads,” ABC Family
“Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” PBS
“Sesame Street,” PBS
“Switched at Birth,” ABC Family

Outstanding New Program

“The Americans,” FX
“Elementary,” CBS
“House of Cards,” Netflix
“The Mindy Project,” Fox
“Orphan Black,” BBC America

Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries and Specials

“American Horror Story: Asylum,” FX
“Behind the Candelabra,” HBO
“Downton Abbey,” PBS
“Rectify,” Sundance Channel
“Top of the Lake,” Sundance Channel

Outstanding Achievement in Drama

“The Americans,” FX
“Breaking Bad,” AMC
“Game of Thrones,” HBO
“Homeland,” Showtime
“Mad Men,” AMC

Outstanding Achievement in Comedy

“The Big Bang Theory,” CBS
“Louie,” FX
“New Girl,” Fox
“Park and Recreation,” NBC
“Veep,” HBO

Career Achievement Award

James L. Brooks
James Burrows
Jay Leno
William Shatner
Barbara Walters

Heritage Award

“All In the Family,” CBS
“Lost,” ABC
Saturday Night Live,” NBC
“Star Trek,” NBC
“Twin Peaks,” ABC

Program of the Year

“The Americans,” FX
“Breaking Bad,” AMC
“Game of Thrones,” HBO
“House of Cards,” Netflix
“The Walking Dead,” AMC


Disney Princesses

Disney recently celebrated Princess Merida’s coronation at Walt Disney World in Florida. Merida is the newest addition to the growing list of Disney Princesses, and along with her title there is a lot of merchandising to accompany her royal stature. Besides producing some unforgettable and enjoyable films, Disney is also noted for their incomparable merchandising.

The Disney Princesses are beloved by girls of all ages. And Disney knows they are. There are special areas in the Disney stores devoted to the princesses. There is a special website devoted to the princesses. There is a magazine devoted to the Disney princesses.

Today’s Disney princess is not like her predecessors. No. Today she does not wait around for a man to kiss her and bring her true love so they will live happily ever after. The Disney princess of today is self-confident, independent, and has a mind of her own. She is a force to be reckoned with. And she is just as adored and admired that the original princesses who were out looking for love.

With the addition of Merida (from the movie Brave), following the youngest Disney princess Sofia (from the TV series Sofia the First), the list of princesses is growing and their fan base is growing as well.

Fantasy Faire in Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California is the newest remodeled area in the landmark theme park. It is devoted to the Disney princesses, and has a special area in which guests meet and greet the beloved women. Plus, there are stage plays depicting some of the stories of the young women. Fantasy Faire provides guests an up-close-and-personal experience with a variety of Disney princesses.

There is no doubt the princesses are popular characters. With continual additions to the Royal Court, Disney is jumping on the bandwagon when it comes to knowing what their fans want. They want Disney Princesses! The young girls of today are eager for role models who aren’t waiting for their prince. And Disney is giving that to them. Merida is the feisty redheaded archer who stands on her own. True, she makes mistakes, but she is just a young girl. She’s only human, well, in the animation world at least.

I have something to share with you about the Disney princesses, but that will wait for another time. Keep checking back. 

In the meantime, you can read about the festivities surrounding Merida’s coronation here.


Feel-Good Movies

The other day I was talking to a friend about “feel good” movies. You know, the ones that you can watch over and over again, never tire of, and know that when the credits roll you will be happy and smiling. I was explaining to her that I have several DVDs/Blu-rays I turn to when I am a little down and want to know that in a couple hours I will be perkier, smiling, and in many cases, even humming a tune.

I know almost every line of these films. I have watched them countless times. Yet, I never tire of them. They are the ones I play when it’s been a tough day, when I’m not feeling very well, when I’m frustrated with the world (you all know that feeling), or when I just need a little pick-me-up.

Some of these include (in no particular order):

  • Sunday in New York
  • Somewhere Tomorrow
  • Gidget
  • That Funny Feeling
  • An Affair to Remember (with a little tears)
  • Charade
  • Do Not Disturb
  • Father Goose
  • The Final Countdown
  • 40 Carats
  • The Four Seasons
  • Ice Castles
  • Ishtar (Yes, Ishtar)
  • A Majority of One
  • Murphy’s Romance
  • Pillow Talk
  • Return to Me
  • You’ve Got Mail
  • Just the Way You Are

None of these are classic musicals, yet I do have my favorite musicals I watch when I get in the mood for some good music. I’ll cover those at another time.

In the meantime, if you find you want to watch a fun little feel-good movie, check out some of the titles on my list. You might discover a new film that makes you feel good too!


Then Everything Changed

I recently read this book by Jeff Greenfield in which he writes an alternate history of the world if one thing had been different. I think we have all thought about the decisions and actions we have made in our lives, and wondered what our lives would be like had we taken a different path. Greenfield is knowledgeable about politics and history and this book is a stunning exploration of the world had a few things gone differently.

I had the opportunity to sit down one-on-one with Jeff Greenfield a year ago. I know him from his career in both politics and journalism. He is extremely smart and insightful. Greenfield weaves together facts and real people with a fictional tale of history in a way that is remarkable.

Some people may recall that prior to his inauguration, a bomber targeted John Kennedy. The book looks at the Johnson Administration and more specifically the Cuban Missile Crisis had LBJ been sworn in in 1961 instead of JFK.

Having grown up in the 1960s and been greatly influenced by the words and actions of Robert Kennedy, I found the middle chapter unnerving, in a way. Greenfield changes the incident in the Ambassador Hotel in June 1968. Instead of being assassinated, RFK narrowly escaped the bullets and that episode propelled him onward. In the beginning I was excited to read about RFK surviving the attack and continuing the campaign, and going even further. (I won’t give any spoil alerts in case you decide to read the book.)

Personally, I enjoyed reading about what RFK would/might have done, but then I had some queasiness in my stomach when I realized it didn’t happen. For so many of us, RFK was the one beacon of hope, and reading about him was exhilarating yet at the same time uncomfortable because it just wasn’t real. So, once again I was reminded of what might have been. As he said, “Some men see things as they are and ask ‘why?’ I dream things that never were and ask ‘why not?’”


How I Rebooted My Life

I became an entertainment journalist after my journey through cancer. As a survivor I was asked to write an article for Coping with Cancer Magazine. In it I describe how there are many things I had to change in my life after  cancer surgery. But there were also new things I tried. And I forged out a different career for myself as an entertainment journalist. 

My article is in the print magazine and now online

National Entertainment Journalism Awards

Beyond the Red Carpet: The World of Entertainment Journalists came in second place at the LA Press Club's National Entertainment Journalism Awards.  While I would have loved to receive the award, being second in the national awards is still a very big honor and I am very proud to be included in such distinguished company. I want to thank everyone at the Los Angeles Press Club for the wonderful gala event and for recognizing my book. 




Pepperdine On-Camera Interview

I had a fun time talking to some classes at Pepperdine University. After class, I went outside with Pepperdine journalist Halleta Alemu for an on-camera discussion about being an entertainment journalist and my book, Beyond the Red Carpet: The World of Entertainment Journalists.

Halleta is so much fun and a great

To watch the interview, click here.


Steven Spielberg and Abraham Lincoln

The other night I had the pleasure of screening the new Steven Spielberg film LINCOLN. It is wonderful and I honestly hope Daniel Day-Lewis is honored with an Academy Award nomination at the very least for his performance as Abraham Lincoln. The movie is the perfect blend of drama sprinkled with humor to make the 2h 25m film fly by. 

As a history buff, I particularly enjoyed this film which transports audiences back to 1864/1865 and the waning months of the Civil War. The focus of the story is the 13th Amendment which abolished slavery. 

Please read my full review. Post a comment and let me know what you think of the film after you have seen it. 



Two Interviews

Next Monday is going to be strange for me. I am interviewing a screenwriter then two hours later I am going to be interviewed for a magazine. I hope I switch my hats quickly enough from interviewer to interviewee. 


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