Come on and join author Melissa Bradley as she sets off on her latest adventure...


If you are not 18, please exit stage left. While there is normally nothing naughty here, I do write and review erotica so there are links to spicy stuff and the occasional heated excerpt.

Monday, April 29, 2013

X, Y, Z... The 3 Point Play

Yeah I know, I was supposed to do one a day for each letter, but stuff happens. So you're getting a three for one to end on a high note like my Bulls in triple over time on Saturday. Hell to the Yeah!! Too bad they blew it last night. Ah well... I also want to thank all of you for coming by for E.J. Wesley's spotlight. He is truly an awesome writer and one of my favorite people. (Did I mention he's a Bears fan?)

So on with the show...
X Is For Zhou Xun

Xun is a superstar in her native China and throughout most of the world. She is an actress, a singer and model, one of the first Asian women to be named as an ambassador for the House of Chanel. This amazing young woman gained international fame in such films as Suzhou River, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, The Banquet, Perhaps Love, Ming Ming and Painted Skin. She made her Hollywood debut last year in the brilliant film, Cloud Atlas as the characters Yoona 939, Rose and Talbot.

Environmental advocacy is extremely important to her and she was named a laureate of the United Nations Environmental Program's Champions of the Earth. Xun also promotes green living through her involvement with the United Nations Development Program.

Y Is For Jessica Yu

Jessica is a director, writer and producer. In 1996 she won the Academy Award for Best Documentary, Short Subject for her film Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O'Brien. O'Brien was recently the subject of another Oscar nominated film, The Sessions with Helen Hunt and John Hawkes. Aside from her documentary work, Jessica is an accomplished television director, helming episodes of series like ER, The West Wing, American Dreams and Grey's Anatomy.

Interestingly enough Jessica is an avid fencer. In the late 80's and early 90's she competed on the US National Team.

Z Is For Mai Zetterling

I'm going old school once more with my final lady. Mai Zetterling was a Swedish actress and director whose career spanned nearly six decades. She got her start in Ingmar Bergman's films Torment and Music in Darkness, then moved to England where she starred opposite many legendary leading men like Tyrone Power, Dirk Bogarde, Richard Widmark, Peter Sellers and Richard Attenborough.

Her directing career began in the 60's with political documentaries and a short film called The War Game. Her first feature length film, Loving Couples, was banned at Cannes for its frank sexuality and nudity. Guess they weren't ready for racy from a woman in 1964. She explored feminist themes in many of her films and raised a few eyebrows with The Girls, a look at women comparing their current lives to the female characters in the ancient Greek play Lysistrata and finding that not much had changed since ancient times. Too true, my sisters. Although I do know there many good-hearted, evolved men out there these days.

Interesting to note that Mai was indeed watched by British Intelligence as a possible Communist. You just could not have a liberal thought back then, could you?

Thank you so so much for sticking with me and reading all my posts. I loved and appreciated every comment and visit from the bottom of my heart. I hope that you enjoyed my theme this year and I am looking forward to next year. I will be spending time between job and writing, visiting my fellow challengers that I did not get see as well as catch up with ones I've missed. Be well my fellow challengers, we did it!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Author Spotlight: E.J. Wesley

I know I did not do my X post yesterday and well I have to admit that I have a very hard time finding women whose first or surnames begin with X in Hollywood. I put it off and now it is biting me in my big rumpuss. I have to search some more. Plus, I'm still coming off of my huge high after my Bulls triple overtime win over the Brooklyn Nets. Hell to the yeah!!! Ahem... on with the show.

Today I am so very excited because I have the One and Only E.J. Wesley at the Imaginarium today. Whoo Hoo!! I love this man's writing, the way he sets scene is sublime, his characters are unique, striking and complex people who really get to you. He's also a great friend and fellow Bears fan. I'm hoping he'll spill a secret or two, purely for the sake of friendship you know. ;)

Who or what first inspired you to start writing?
I'd written a lot professionally and academically, but didn't have a lot of desire to write fiction--until the two crossed paths. I'd always been a reader--Stephen King was a favorite of mine in high school and college--but even that had fallen off some by grad school. Just too many textbooks to read and papers to write at that point to have much time for hobbies. I was working in a counseling agency, and some of the other counselors were using these books about a boy wizard to work with some of the children. The kids related to Harry's 'muggle hardships', and would really open up when we talked about the books. 

I eventually read them, too, and it was like a reawakening of that part of my life. I saw firsthand what great stories could do for people, and it sort of made me understand what those late night King reading sessions (with the lights on... always with the lights on lol) meant to me as a teenager who didn't really relate to much else. It was that moment that I decided I'd like to create stories with words, too. 

If we looked on your bookshelf or Kindle, what are some titles we would find?

Oh Lord! A little of everything... The Fire & Ice (Game of Thrones) series by G. R. R. Martin, the Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris, some Jim Butcher stuff, lots of Neil Gaiman, the Percy Jackson books by Rick Riordan, several Orson Scott Card novels, Harry Potter books of course (in multiple formats AND multiple copies of each--my wife and I couldn't take turns reading them when they came out, so we each had to have our own copy lol), classics like Lord of the Rings and the Narnia books--just a mix of lots of things, from graphic novels/comic books on up.
If you were sitting in front of a room of aspiring writers, what advice would you share?

Okay, I'm going to try to take a stab at something different here. The standard answer--and it's always the right answer, btw--is to never give up. Because you'll want to, like 'once-a-day' want to. But let's assume they've heard that one...

Evaluate what you are willing to sacrifice to create the kinds of stories you've dreamed of creating. How much TIME are you willing to commit to studying craft, reading, and writing and failing to make the story on the page match the one in your head? How many times are you going to be able to hear 'not good enough' and not give up? (PRIDE) How often can you honestly admit that others are better than you, and try to learn from them, before you'll be crippled by feelings of inadequacy? How many total rewrites will you do for a single story in order to get it just right? How many stories are you willing to publish without seeing any real financial return? 3? 10? 15? (MONEY)

If your honest answer is, "Whatever it takes." to all of the above, you're going to not only reach your writing goals, but probably become a dang good writer along the way.
Man, isn't E.J. the coolest? Here are his awesome Moon Songs books...
Blood Fugue Blurb & Links

“Some folks treated the past like an old friend. The memories warmed them with fondness for what was, and hope for what was to come. Not me. When I thought of long ago, my insides curdled, and I was left feeling sour and wasted.”

Jenny Schmidt is a young woman with old heartaches. A small town Texas girl with big city attitude, she just doesn’t fit in. Not that she has ever tried. 

Life has pummeled her heart into one big, lonely callus. She has no siblings, both parents were dead by sixteen, and her last grandparent—and caretaker—was in the ground before she turned twenty-one. She’s the last living member of her immediate family. Or so she thinks…

“We found my ‘grandfather’ sitting at his dining room table. An entire scorched pot of coffee dangled from his shaky hand. His skin was the ashen gray shade of thunderclouds, not the rich mocha from the photo I’d seen. There were dark blue circles under each swollen red eye. A halo of white hair skirted his bald head, a crown of tangles and mats. Corpses had more life in them.”

Suddenly, instead of burying it with the dead, Jenny is forced to confront the past. Armed only with an ancient family journal, her rifle, and an Apache tomahawk, she must save her grandfather’s life and embrace her dangerous heritage. Or be devoured by it.

Blood Fugue is the first of the Moonsongs Books, an ongoing series of New Adult, paranormal-horror-action novelettes by author E.J. Wesley. 
Barnes & Noble
Witch's Nocturne Blurb & Links

After receiving an ancient tribal journal from her grandfather, Jenny is sent on a mission of discovery in an attempt to unravel clues to her family's monster hunting past. The journey becomes more than academic when she is asked to confront a coven of dangerous witches who plan to cast an insidious spell on the plains of West Texas. 
Witch's Nocturne is the second volume of the Moonsongs Books, an ongoing series of New Adult, paranormal-horror-action novelettes by author E.J. Wesley. 

Dark Prelude Blurb & Links

Jenny Moonsong recently inherited the title of "monster hunter" and an ancient tribal journal/how-to manual passed down by her Apache ancestors. Unfortunately, a lot of on-the-job training is required to be a monster hunter, and unlike her computer repair business, this gig could literally kill her.

Dark Prelude finds the feisty protagonist, Jenny, searching for her best friend Marshal's missing father in the midst of a freak, West Texas winter storm. To survive the frigid night, she'll have to deal with a hated town rival, face a monstrous creature no Moonsong hunter has ever encountered before, and undo a mysterious curse. Can she keep everyone alive? If not, who will pay the ultimate price? 

Dark Prelude is the third volume of the Moonsongs Books, an ongoing series of New Adult, paranormal-horror-action novelettes by author E.J. Wesley. 

(These stories contain language and content better suited for readers 17+)

About The Author

E.J. Wesley resides in South Texas. He holds degrees in psychology and counseling, but prefers to examine the heads of fictional characters over the living ones. He likes his food and his stories spicy, and tries to give a little extra 'kick' to paranormal, horror, and the other genres he writes. In true Texas fashion, he is very neighborly, and enjoys chatting about books, movies, music, and family. He is the author of the Moonsongs books, a series of speculative paranormal action novelettes, with a Texas twist. Say 'howdy' at:  Blog | Twitter | Facebook |Goodreads

Friday, April 26, 2013

W Is For Paula Wagner

Oh thank God, it's FRIDAY!!! I've got my youngest nephew's First Communion tomorrow, but tonight will be movies, beer and pizza. A triple ace night in my book. Anyway, enough about my weekend and on to the W day for A to Z.

Paula Wagner got her start in the early 70's in New York as an actress on Broadway, then became a talent agent at Creative Artists Agency in Los Angeles when she and her then husband, set designer Robin Wagner moved out there. For 15 years she repped some of the industry's biggest including Sean Penn, Liam Neeson, Kathryn Bigelow, Oliver Stone and the couch jumper himself, Tom Cruise. In 1993, she joined with Cruise to launch Cruise/Wagner Productions and together they produced the Mission Impossible films, which have earned more than 3 billion worldwide. They also launched many of Cruise's other films like The Last Samurai, Vanilla Sky and Spielberg's War of the Worlds.

When she and Cruise bought into United Artists, she served as the studio's CEO from 2006 to 2008, a very rare occurrence for a woman in Tinseltown. She has since gone on to form her own production company, Chestnut Ridge Productions, which not only develops projects for film and television, but also for theater. In October 2012 CRP launched The Heiress on Broadway with Jessica Chastain and David Strathairn.

Paula is quite active in the realm of academia as well. She serves as adjunct faculty at Carnegie Mellon University and at Loyola Marymount. This coming fall, she will teach a course at UCLA entitled From Stage to Screen. Wagner also lectures at various universities her recent engagements included USC, Harvard Business School and my own alma mater DePaul University here in Chicago. In addition to her academic duties, Wagner currently serves on the boards of the National Film Preservation Foundation and Film Forum New York.

She has accomplished so much and continues to blaze trails for women in cinema.

Have a great weekend! I'll "see" you tomorrow for X, Very Hard Letter for sure.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

V Is For Amy Vincent

Happy Thursday, yo! I'm finally feeling better. My sinuses yesterday made my face puff up like I'd been hit several times by Mike Tyson.  It was not pretty. Anyway, I spent my day yesterday caught between sleep, the internet and trying to watch a couple of TV shows I've been hearing about but never had time to watch, Arrow and Red Widow. Turns out, I did not like either of them. At least now I don't have worry about trying to find space on my DVR.

It's V Day here on the A to Z and my girl this time is making it in a man's world. I'm talking cinematographer Amy Vincent. You know her work from the Oscar nominated film Hustle and Flow. from Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Good Life, Mr. Brooks, Black Snake Moan, I Heart Huckabees, the unfortunate Footloose remake as well as Zookeeper and Eve's Bayou.

She got her start in the late 80's working the camera for such films as Heathers, 18 Again!, Who Is Harry Crumb?, Freeway Maniac and Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers. Amy is one of the few female members of the American School of Cinematography.Her work has garnered her some terrific recognition as well. In 2001 she was given the Women in Film Vision Award for her outstanding work in advancing the presence of women behind the camera and in 2005 she won the Sundance Award for Best Cinematography for Hustle and Flow.

I can't believe how close to the end we are getting to this year's challenge. I haven't had much time to visit a lot of the blogs on the list so I am going to keep right on going until I finish the list. I did not finish last years list, I gave it a good try, but I failed spectacularly so my goal is to try and finish the list this year. I hope the links will stay up on the site for the rest of the year.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

U Is For Liv Ullman

It's Hump Day and we're getting in to VHL's of the A To Z aka the Very Hard Letters.U being one of them. Today I'm spotlighting Liv Ullman, actress, director and yes, another fellow Sagittarian. We are such creative folks.

Liv began her career on the stage in the 1950's, but did not become well known until her collaborations with famed Swedish director Ingmar Bergman. The Passion of Anna, Cries and Whispers, Persona and Autumn Sonata would become some of her most famous films. She has been nominated for nearly every acting award and has received several Lifetime Achievement honors. She won the Golden Globe for her role in the 1971 film, The Emigrants.

Her directing career started in 1992 with the film Sofie. She went on to direct the Bergman composed film Faithless, which garnered a nomination for the prestigious Palm D'Or. In 2009 she directed Cate Blanchett in a stage production of A Streetcar Named Desire for the Kennedy Center. Her upcoming directorial project is Miss Julie starring Jessica Chastain, Colin Farrell and Samantha Morton.

In addition to her acting and directing, Liv has chaired several film juries including Cannes and Berlin. She is the co-founder of the Women's Refugee Commission and a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF. In 2005 King Harald V of Norway made Ullman a Commander with Star of theOrder of St. Olaf, an honor granted to very few women.

T Is For Julie Taymor

It's Tuesday and I am already wanting the next weekend. Yikes! Anyway...I wanted to let you all know that I will be spotlighting the awesome E.J. Wesley this coming Sunday. He's graciously consented to visit and let me ask a couple of questions to find out some of his secrets.

It's T day here on the A to Z and I am spotlighting the incredible director Julie Taymor. Brilliant does not even begin to describe this woman who has received numerous prestigious awards in theater, film and academia including a MacArthur Foundation genius grant and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

She got her start in the late 70's when she formed her own theater company Teatr Loh, which toured throughout Indonesia and the Untied States. From there she went to work collaborating with The Theater for a New Audience developing and later directing productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Tempest, The Taming of the Shrew and Titus Andronicus. Her greatest theater success came in 1997 when she developed, directed and designed the costumes for the international hit musical The Lion King. Her work on this production garnered her two Tony awards, one for directing and one for costume design. She became the first woman to win a Tony for directing a musical. To date The Lion King musical has earned 6 billion in ticket sales and currently has nightly productions in 45 countries.

In the late 90's Julie turned to film where she adapted her production of Titus for the big screen. It starred Anthony Hopkins, Jessica Lange and Alan Cumming. She went on to direct Frida, the story of artist Frida Kahlo. It received six Academy Award nominations, ultimately winning two for Original Score and Make Up. Oscar would come calling again in 2007 for Taymor's film Across the Universe, a 60's love story set to Beatles music.

As if theater and film weren't enough, Julie has also found success in directing operas. She has directed productions of The Magic Flute for the Metropolitan Opera and The Flying Dutchman for the Los Angeles Opera. She filmed her production of Oedipus Rex and it received an Emmy Award and the International Classical Music Award for Best Opera Production.

My mind is blown by the sheer talent of this woman. And you know what?...She shares my birthday, December 15. We Sagittarians are in a class by ourselves, I must say.

Monday, April 22, 2013

S Is For The Soska Sisters

Happy Monday Imaginarians! Welcome to week 4 of the Big A To Z. We are all just pushing through, keeping on and doing an incredible job. Be sure to visit my fellow powerhouse challengers by clicking on the top of my sidebar. I had a great weekend and finally, finally got to see Defiance. In a word: awesome. I loved the characters, the dynamic of this post-alien invasion, Old West style town. And it has Graham Greene, one of my all time favorite actors. I also saw The Sessions with Helen Hunt and John Hawkes. What an incredibly odd, but intriguing film. I can see why Hunt got her Oscar nom, but I think that Hawkes should have gotten one as well.

On with the show...

Today I'm spotlighting two ladies are who rapidly making a name for themselves in the testosterone fueled world of horror. Jen and Sylvia Soska aka The Twisted Twins, have taken the horror industry by storm with their debut flick Dead Hooker in a Trunk. The indie flick was produced for about $2500 and garnered some pretty good critical acclaim for its grindhouse style and wild energy. They count as one of their early influences, the incredible Robert Rodriguez, who is known for his stylish, over-the-top violent flicks like El Mariachi, Machete and Planet Terror. Dead Hooker was made following Rodriguez' advice, laid out in his book Revel Without A Crew. In an unexpected twist, Carlos Gallardo, star of El Mariachi, makes an appearance in the film as God.

Their second flick, American Mary, follows a medical student who gets caught up in the world of underground surgery. It stars one of my fave horror actresses, Katharine Isabelle. From all the buzz and awards it is receiving so far, it sounds like Jen and Sylvia have a certified hit on their hands.We will definitely be seeing a lot more of these ladies.

How was your weekend? See anything good

Sunday, April 21, 2013

R Is For Shonda Rhimes

Shh... I'm cheating again. This time posting on Sunday because I had to take yesterday off. It was a busy, busy day and had me helping out my mom, who fell, while going to the wake of her friend's brother. I also took my nephew to take his high school entrance test at my old alma mater. I even signed up to do some volunteering for the place as they have created a really small (compared to when I was there), but very dynamic school community. Oh and don't forget to click on the top of my sidebar to visit all the other amazing challengers. Anyway, let's get this post rolling shall we?

R Is For Shonda Rhimes

Creator, writer and producer of the titular series Grey's Anatomy, Shonda is my girl all the way. She even comes from the south parts here around Chitown, having grown up in University Park, which is about 30  minutes straight south from my house. South Side Pride! Anyway, she also is the triple threat creator, writer and producer of my latest TV addiction, Scandal. Like Walking Dead, when Scandal is on, nobody better call me, come to my house or talk to me or I will cut you. Two ladies I work with are also like this so needless to say, Fridays are Scandal round ups in the office.

I digress...

Shonda worked her way through some crazy jobs before getting her start as the research director on the documentary Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream. She also wrote and directed a short film called Blossoms and Veils starring Jada Pinkett Smith. Her big break was writing the screenplay for the award winning HBO film Introducing Dorothy Dandridge starring Halle Berry.

She formed her own production company, Shondaland and was named Time Magazine's 100 People Who Help Shape the World. Shonda has won 4 NAACP Image Awards, a Producers Guild award and received the prestigious Women In Film Lucy Award for advancing the perception of women in film and television. My girl even won teh Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Screenplay for Crossroads, the 2002 Britney Spears flick which wasn't bad except that it starred vacuous Britney, who can't form words until they are given to her in an earpiece. Poor Shonda, it must have killed her to see her work in the hands of a moron.

Yeah I know I'm supposed to be highlighting strong women, but I'm not going hesitate on calling out the stupid ones of my gender. Dumb women should have their female card revoked as far as I'm concerned. We have a hard enough time getting accepted as equals simply because we're women. Dopes like Britney, Rihanna or Snooki, and every single Real Housewives incarnation cast member just add to the stereotypes.

Ok... Rant over.

Hope you all are having a great weekend. Come back tomorrow for my S post. It's killer. ;)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Q Is For Joanna Quinn

It's Friday, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah! These last couple of days have been drowning Chitown and the rest of the Midwestern area. I had to take a canoe to work and half expected to see the animals lining up two by two. I can't believe we are nearing the end of week three of the A to Z. High fives my fellow challengers, keep up the amazing work.

My Q entry is for animator, director and producer Joanna Quinn. Her first animated feature was Girls Night Out in 1987. It featured her distinctive style, drawn on paper and animated by hand. This film introduced the world to Beryl, an anti heroine who has many a misadventure while on her way to see a male stripper. Quinn's studio, Beryl Productions is named after her quirky girl.

Joanna has gone on to create 5 more animated features including Body Beautiful, Famous Fred, Elles and Canterbury Tales: The Wife of Bath. Her studios have produced commercial animated shorts for companies like United Airlines and Charmin. In the US, I'm sure we are all familiar with the red and blue toilet paper bears. 

She has been twice nominated for an Academy Award and has won 4 BAFTAs. Her work has garnered her 2 Emmy awards as well as the Leonardo da Vinci International Art Award. Joanna has also earned jury prizes at every major international animation competition such as Annecy, France. 2008 saw her work compiled into an international exhibit called Drawings That Move.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

P Is For Rachel Portman

Yay!! I am back to single letters now, all caught up with my awesome A to Z challengers. To visit these incredible people, please click at the top of my side bar.

I'm still getting caught up with all my visits. It's been a week or so I tell you. Say did any of you out there catch the premiere of Sy Fy's Defiance? I DVR'd it and hope to catch it this weekend. I hope it was as good or better than the hype.

On with the show...

Rachel Portman is an award winning composer. Born in England, she was educated at Oxford and began her career in the early 80's. She has scored over 80 films including Emma, The Cider House Rules, Benny and Joon, The Joy Luck Club, Chocolat, The Manchurian Candidate remake, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, The Duchess and The Vow. She was the first woman to win an Academy Award for her film score, winning in1996 for Emma, but also received nominations for Cider House and Chocolat.

Her other work includes a children's opera, The Little Prince and a musical based on the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. In May 2010 she was honored by BMI with the Richard Kirk Award which is bestowed on composers who have made significant contributions in the realm of film and television music. She is the only woman to ever receive this honor so far. This award came on the heels of being appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire for her work.

When I was researching this piece, I found that Rachel had done a huge amount of film scores that I really love and actually own. It's great to see women making their way in this still hugely male dominant arena.

N And O: The Twofer Trilogy Is Complete

The final day of doubling up and I am caught up with all of you, my fellow awesome A To Zers. High fives and fist bumps! I can't believe how quickly this month is flying by. I've been amazed at how well-received my theme has been and I have gotten tons of page views each day. I'm happy to have have been able to share the stories of these amazing women.

And speaking of...

N Is For Ve Neill

Ve Neill is a giant in the make up effects arena, a seven time Oscar nominee with three Academy Awards to her credit. She has received four Saturn Awards as well, working with such legends as Stan Winston (Batman Returns) and Rick Baker (Interview With A Vampire). Among her most notable works are Beetlejuice, Mrs. Doubtfire, Ed Wood, the Pirates of the Caribbean films, Sweeney Todd, Austin Powers in Goldmember, The Hunger Games and The Amazing Spider-man. 

She got her start in the late 70's serving as a makeup artist on films like Kingdom of the Spiders, The Dark and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Ve is currently a judge on the popular Sy Fy series Face/Off, which young make up artists compete for prizes and the means to establish themselves in the next level of their careers. She also has a scholarship named after her at the Cinema Makeup School.

O Is For Jeannine Oppewall

Jeannine is another intriguing woman behind the scenes in Hollywood. She is an art director, a four time Academy Award nominee for her work on the films L.A. Confidential, Pleasantville, Seabiscuit and The Good Shepherd. She came to the film industry in an unusual way. While studying medieval history at Bryn Mawr College, she discovered the work of Charles and Ray Eames, furniture designers and filmmakers. While on a visit to the office of Charles Eames, she got a job answering phones. Eames was impressed with her enthusiasm and taught her everything he could.

Her career began as a set designer on Brian De Palma's 1981 thriller Blow Out. She scouted locations, built sets and designed interiors. She is known for her tough attitude and her impulsive thought process. Many consider her work absolutely brilliant. Actor Jeff Bridges was so impressed with her replica of Charles Howard's (owner of Seabiscuit) ranch house made from fir planks, that he attempted to buy it and have it shipped to his Montana property.

She also is big into education and has served as artist in residence at the prestigious Mount Holyoke College.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

L And M: Twofer Tuesday

Happy Tuesday! Today is the second of my twofer days since I lost power and internet last week. I'm slowly, but surely making my way through to those who have commented on my posts. You guys are the best and I love you all for sticking. You've made my month.

And now onto the show...

L Is For Mimi Leder

Mimi is the first female accepted into the American Film Institute and consequently, its first woman graduate. She is a four time Emmy winner, whose television directing credits include the landmark Vietnam series China Beach, ER, The West Wing, and the current hits Smash and Nashville. Leder is one of a handful of women who have directed big budget action films. In 1997 she directed The Peacemaker, produced by Steven Spielberg and went on to direct Deep Impact.

Her silver screen credit also includes the popular Kevin Spacey film Pay It Forward. In the near future she will be tackling the First World War in a big screen adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet On The Western Front.

M Is For Maryse Alberti

Maryse is that rare bird, a female cinematographer. She has over 70 titles to her credit including Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler and Martin Scorsese's Bob Dylan documentary No Direction Home. She also shot When We Were Kings, about the 1974 Muhammad Ali , George Foreman "Rumble in the Jungle" fight. For her work on Todd Haynes' Velvet Goldmine, she was the first woman to be featured on the cover of American Cinematographer.

She has been nominated for three Independent Spirit Awards, winning twice for The Wrestler and Velvet Goldmine. Her work has also garnered her two Sundance Awards and a Prime Time Emmy nomination. Her upcoming projects include We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks and The Boys Club, a film about Julie Krone, the only woman to ever win a Triple Crown race.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

J And K: A Twofer

Well Imaginarians and A to Z ers, I'm finally back. YAAAYYY!! After a long, arduous battle with our cable company and our media gateway as the box is referred to,  I am finally back on the internet and able to do some posting. I'm also hoping the A to Z team and my fellow challengers will forgive my absence and think of it as a rain delay, albeit a three day one.

I'll be cheating a bit and doing twofers this week in order to catch up. So without further ado, let's get this challenge back on track.

J Is For Junie Lowry Johnson

Junie is a casting director with over 120 titles to her credit including the TV shows, True Blood, Deadwood, Ugly Betty, Desperate Housewives, The Killing, Big Love, In Treatment, Prison Break, NYPD Blue, and the Star Trek series Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise. Her latest project is the ambitious new SyFy series Defiance.  There has been little on television that Junie has not affected with her brilliant perception on who would be perfect for what roles. She has also worked her magic in film on pictures like Bruce Almighty, La Bamba, Grosse Point Blank and Forces of Nature. She has also been responsible for the cast of one of my fave monster movies, Abominable.

For her work she has garnered 41 nominations for Casting Society of America Artios Awards and Primetime Emmys. Of those noms, she has won 8 Emmys and 9 Artios. She has blazed a trail for women who want to work behind the scenes in Hollywood. and certainly left a mark. The actors make the roles their own, but we would not even see them in these roles had it not been for Junie's work. Like Patrick Stewart as Jean Luc Picard, Anna Paquin as Sookie Stackhouse and Ian MacShane as Al Swearengen.

K Is For Kathleen Kennedy

Kathleen is one of the very few truly powerful women in Hollywood. As a producer, her resume includes a vast array of blockbusters from Poltergeist and E.T. to Jurassic Park, Twister and The Sixth Sense. She has also worked on several Oscar contenders like Schindler's List, Seabiscuit, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Lincoln.

She co-founded Amblin Entertainment with Frank Marshall and Steven Spielberg in 1981. She is also one of the rare female producer to reach the billion dollar mark in total box receipts with her films grossing more than 11 billion dollars. She formed Kennedy/Marshall Productions with her husband Frank Marshall in 1992 where she remained as president until October of last year when it was announced that she would take over the reins at Lucasfilm.

Kathleen currently serves on the Board of Governors for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a position rarely afforded to a woman. She also served as co-president of the Producers Guild of America. In 1995, Kennedy was the recipient of the Women in Film  Crystal award and in 2007 received the inaugural Paltrow Mentorship award for her work with the next generation of female film makers.

I'll have two more ladies tomorrow. It feel great to finally be back on track.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

J Is For ...Just Delayed

A neighborhood wide power outage during some bad storms yesterday left me with no net because well, my cable company is just that bad with their service recovery, so I am delayed in getting my A to Z post out to you. In the mean time, please click the top of my side bar to visit all the other amazing participants. I'm really sorry, I know you all were stopping in to read about another terrific lady of Hollywood.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I Is For Ida Lupino

Thank God it's Hump Day. This week has just been kicking my ass. I think I've gotten 10 hours of sleep total in the last three days. Oy! Anyway, I've been out and about in the A to Z as much as I can, which is definitely a lot less than I want,still I am seeing some really great themes. Like Mina Lobo's Aphrodisiacs at Some Dark Romantic, Gwen Gardner's The Paranormal Case Files of Indigo Eady and Melissa Sugar explaining interesting legal terminology with awesome examples over at Have You Heard.

I'm going back old school yet again with my choice for letter I. My pick is Ida Lupino. She was an actress, writer and director back when a woman doing any of these things in the film industry was almost unimaginable. Ida got her start in 1931 and often referred to herself as the "poor man's Bette Davis" acquiring a number of roles that Davis had turned down. She starred opposite major stars like Humphrey Bogart in High Sierra and Steve McQueen in Junior Bonner. Ida was also famous for spending a lot of time on suspension for turning down roles she felt were "beneath my dignity as an actress. High five, Ida, you tell 'em.

While on one of these numerous suspensions in the late 40's, Ida started to think about directing films. To that end she and her husband Collier Young formed an indie film company The Filmmakers. The company produced twelve feature films, six of which she directed or co-directed, five she wrote or co-wrote and three she acted in. She made low-budget, hard-hitting films about issues like 1950's Outrage, about a rape and its aftermath, Ida also stepped up to direct Not Wanted after director Elmer Clifton suffered a mild heart attack. She earned high praise for the film and was even invited to the White House by Eleanor Roosevelt. to discuss this feature at length. Lupino also became the first woman to direct a film noir with 1953's The Hitchhiker.

Her directing began to focus more on television as her career behind the camera progressed and she directed episodes of popular shows like The Twilight Zone, The Rifleman, and The Fugitive.My girl has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contributions to film and television. She also won the inaugural Saturn Award for Best Supporting actress for her work in The Devil's Rain.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

H Is For Gale Anne Hurd

I can't believe it's Tuesday already. My day was a total blur yesterday. I literally worked until I dropped. I hate those days, especially when I'm running on three hours of sleep. Ugh...So here we are on the H Day of the A to Z. Man, we are cruising right along. You can check out all of the incredible challengers by clicking on the link at the top of my side bar. 

If you haven't been by the Imaginarium before, welcome. I tend to run on, get snarky and talk about anything and everything. And to all my faithful friends, yes I know I've been very bad and haven't gotten back to you, but you know I'll tag you all back as soon as I can. Thank you for sticking with me, I don't know what I would without you.

Moving on to H. And today's rockin' lady is my girl, Gale Anne Hurd. She is one hell of a producer, currently responsible for one of my all time favorite shows, The Walking Dead. She got her start with one of the geniuses of the film world, Roger Corman and his New World Pictures. In 1982, she formed her own production company, Pacific Western Productions, and produced some the 80's biggest blockbusters: The Terminator, Aliens (one of my all time fave films ever) and The Abyss.

She's a force to be reckoned with in the male dominated world of sci fi and action, one of a very few women who have successfully produced huge moneymakers. Her resume also includes Tremors, Terminators 2 and 3, Armageddon and The Incredible Hulk. Gale's latest project is AMC's The Walking Dead, cable's highest rated show ever, which has been signed to a fourth season. It's Season 3 finale was the most watched drama series telecast in basic cable history. Hell to the yeah.

In 1998 she received Women In Film Crystal Award, which is given to women, who through the excellence of their work, help to expand the role of women in the entertainment industry. Gale has kicked open the door for the women who come after her, proving that action and sci fi are not just the realm of men.

Monday, April 8, 2013

G Is For Lisa Gerrard

Week 2 of the A To Z is here and man I am falling behind on my visits. If I have not been to you yet, I am so, so sorry. I've been working a lot and a couple of projects that needed finishing, but I am trying like mad and I will visit. As always I direct you to the top of my side bar to visit the other amazing participants in this wonderful challenge.

I'm so very happy that you all are enjoying my theme and leaving such wonderful comments. For the letter G, I've chosen Lisa Gerrard, musician and composer. She has collaborated with some of the giants in movie music, working Hans Zimmer on the Gladiator soundtrack for which she won a Golden Globe, but because the Academy only allows one person to accept, she was not able to get a gold statue. She also helped score Mission Impossible II again with Zimmer, The Insider and Ali with Pieter Bourke and Fateless with Ennio Morricone. Her score for the Whale Rider consisted of all her own compositions and won a Best Score at the New Zealand Film awards in 2002. She has also scored films such as Layer Cake with Ilan Eshkeri, Balibo, and Playing For Charlie.

In addition to scoring, Lisa has contributed innumerable pieces to various soundtracks including "The Host of the Seraphim" for Legend of the Guardian: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, "Amergin's Invocation" for King Arthur and "Elegy" for the upcoming Man of Steel. Future projects include the horror thriller I, Frankenstein. She is also an accomplished vocalist with a contralto range and formed the group Dead Can Dance with Brendan Perry and Paul Erickson. The group recorded 8 albums and split in 1998, but has since reunited for a world tour and a new album Anastasis.

How was your weekend? Mine's been wicked busy and I'll need to go to work to rest up. LOL.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

F Is For Tina Fey

I can't believe that Week One in the A To Z is over already. Wow, time does fly. I hope all my fellow challengers out there are having as great a time as I am. Thank you for dropping by my little corner of the blogosphere, I appreciate the support from the bottom of my heart. To visit all the other incredible participants, please click on the top of my side bar.I'm really late with this today because well, while I'm not hung over, I did have a lot of fun last night. Hey, a girl has got have to some party time, right?

I also want to extend a HUGE hug and many, many thanks to Michael Di Gesu for his completely brilliant and amazing intro for my story collection Encore Performances. Thank you all so much for visiting.

What can I say about Tina Fey? Ms. Tina is my girl and she has become one of the most powerful women in comedy and television.The first female head writer of Saturday Night Live, creator, writer and producer of her own television show, 30 Rock, she has blazed a bright trail for young women and girls everywhere. She is also an actor, author and works tirelessly for charities like Mercy Corps and Autisim Speaks. Ms. Fey also speaks regularly on women's issues, pushing to see that we keep getting our fair share.

Tina has made some powerful lists that skew predominantly toward the male of the species like the Time 100 (In 2007, 2009), which magazine deems the 100 most influential people in the world. She was also a three time member of the Forbes annual Celebrity 100, a list of the most powerful celebrities.

Fey has numerous accolades for her work including 7 Emmy Awards, 2 Golden Globes, 5 SAG awards and 4 WGA awards. There has not been a woman with this much influence in television and comedy since those two redheads, Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett. Tina is definitely a powerful badass.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

E Is For Megan Ellison

It's Friday and the first week of the A to Z is almost up. I know I'm going to be playing catch up this weekend. I'm really, really excited because my book Encore Performances, is getting the Michael Di Gesu special treatment over at his blog In Time today. When you have a moment, please stop by and check out the amazing intro he wrote for me. Thank you, Michael!

Megan Ellison is a dynamo of a producer whom you've probably never heard of, but you will. She is on the fast track to being a giant in Hollywood. Getting her start in 2006, Megan financed an independent film, Waking Madison, about a woman who locks herself in a room for thirty without food in order to cure her multiple personality disorder. From there she went on to help finance several projects which went nowhere until she invested in the Coen Brothers remake True Grit.

In 2011, she founded Annapurna Pictures, a studio that has produced some of the finest pictures this past year including The Master, Zero Dark Thirty, Lawless and Killing Them Softly. On the project list this year are The Grandmaster, Her and Foxcatchers. We will be hearing about Megan more often as her future's so bright, she's gotta wear shades like the song says.

My E post today is a little bit sad as my man, Roger Ebert, passed away yesterday. He was a giant among film critics, a true intellect who understood film as few people do. He had the wit and incisiveness of a critic, but the soul of a passionate intellect. He wrote volumes on cinema, its history, its creative movements and its great characters. No one does that anymore and he will be missed. The balcony is closed forever.

D Is For Bette Davis

We're moving right along with the A to Z, and I am loving all the themes this year. To visit more of my amazing fellow challengers, please click on the top right of my side bar.

I'm going back old school today with Miss Bette Davis. We are all very familiar with her filmography, and I know I'm spotlighting women who are lesser known, but I could not resist Ms. D. She was one wicked smart, badass lady. She knew the score with the studios, how actors were signed to these stifling contracts and loaned out to various projects whether they wanted to do the film or not. She tried unsuccessfully in 1936 to free herself from her contract, but her fight inspired other stars to try the same. Bette also continued to stand up for herself, going toe to toe with studio execs whenever they crossed the line with her. No one dared tread on Ms. Bette.

During the war years, she co-founded The Hollywood Canteen with Jules Stein and John Garfield. It was a place where servicemen could relax and enjoy good food, drinks and entertainment free of charge. She devoted a lot of time there and served as its president. She was an equal opportunity entertainer and performed as the only white member of an entertainment troupe formed by Hattie McDaniel and Lena Horne to entertain African American servicemen. For efforts on behalf of the troops, she was given the Distinguished Civilian Service Medal, the highest civilian honor from the Department of Defense.

She served as the first female president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the first woman to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute. She was also the first to receive ten Academy Award nominations. Between film, television and Broadway, Bette had more than 100 roles to her credit, always finding a way to succeed just when it appeared her career was at a standstill.  And she did the bulk of this as a single parent of three children.

I've always admired Bette and indeed my favorite performances by her come from Of Human Bondage All About Eve, What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? and Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte. She always stood up for herself and was not afraid to be seen as a bitch. In an era when women were expected to conduct themselves in grace and silence, she roared like a lion.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

C Is For Marcy Carsey

Day  3 of the big A to Z and we are cruising. I've really been enjoying meeting so many new people and reading the various creative ways they have attacked this challenge. Don't forget to visit the other brillint challengers by clicking at the top right of my sidebar.

Television has been the one area  that seems to have produced the most opportunities for women to work behind the scenes and gain a toehold in the male dominated world of Hollywood. One of the most successful has been Marcy Carsey.

In 1974 she started work at ABC as a comedy programming executive. During her time there, she developed the seminal television sitcoms Soap, Happy Days and Mork and Mindy. In 1980, after her stint at ABC, Marcy went on to form Carsey Productions. In 1982 she was joined by her long-time collaborator, Tom Werner. Carsey-Werner Productions changed the landscape of television in the 1980's with The Cosby Show, A Different World and Roseanne. Their streak of success continued in the 90's  and 2000's with Grace Under Fire, 3rd Rock From the Sun and That 70's Show.

Marcy was recognized in 2000 by Women in Film with the Lucy Award for her excellence in creative innovation and changing the perception of women on television. Without her, a lot of today's strong female character would look a lot different. Marcy has given voice to many women who had been overlooked or made to fit unrealistic images.

Since it is Wednesday, it's also time for the Insecure Writers Support Group, of which I am a very proud member. We writers get together, thanks to Captain Ninja Alex and air our insecurities and encourage our fellow writers. This month I am having a very hard time making and keeping writing goals. I have so many things I want to accomplish this year that I am overwhelmed and as a result, have done nothing but scatter my energies. I am sunk, I swear. How do you all choose exactly what to focus on?

Monday, April 1, 2013

B Is For Zoe Bell

It's Day 2 of the Big A to Z and things are moving right along. Please check out the other awesome participants by clicking the button on the top right of my side bar.

I know many of you probably thought I would spotlight Katheryn Bigelow, first female winner of the Best Director Oscar and whose film, Zero Dark Thirty, was nominated for Best Picture this year. But I want to shine a light on talented and powerful women in Hollywood you may or may not know. One of these amazing ladies is stunt woman and actress Zoe Bell.

Her career started in 1992 at age 14 when she jumped out of a car for the New Zealand soap Shortland Street. She moved on to do stunts for Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess, where she doubled for Lucy Lawless. At one point, she fractured a vertebrae doing wire work and continued to work for a week until a chair smashed across her back during another sequence put her out of commission for a while.

She doubled for Uma Thurman in the Kill Bill films, where she learned to fight wushu style for the job. Zoe  impressed Tarantino so much that he gave her a role in his Grindhouse feature Death Proof. Bell has gone on to do stunt work in other Q projects including Inglorious Basterds and most recently Django Unchained. Her other stunt work includes such films as Ultraviolet, Catwoman (where she performed a 200 foot fall), Poseidon, Penny Dreadful, The Kingdom, The Collector,The Proposal, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters and the new Tom Cruise film, Oblivion, where  she also has a small role.

Bell also has twenty-two acting titles to her credit including Whip It, Gamer, Oblivion, The Baytown Outlaws as well as such television shows as Lost, CSI: Miami, Alias and Hawaii Five-O.

Zoe has won three World Stunt Awards, one for Best Fight and two for Best Overall Stunt by a Woman.
She has been nominated for and won a Maverick Movie Award for Best Stunt. Bell has a reputation for dedication, skill and focus. I think she is one bad ass bitch, making her way to the top in a very masculine environment.

Are you all enjoying yourselves so far? I'm really digging all the posts I've seen so far.