Category Archives: Fav TV

I rubbed elbows with Jon Hamm at HBO’s Girls party

That’s right kids, I was partying with the stars last night. My entertainment producer-friend Alicia, invited me to be her plus 1 at HBO’s extravaganza celebrating the premiere of the fourth season of Girls. 

hbo girls season 4 premiere party ticket on

HBO invited what seemed like nearly a thousand of its nearest and dearest to Manhattan’s Museum of Natural History to view the first two episodes of the new season and eat, drink and be merry with all the pretty people associated with the show.

Seriously, it was hard to find anyone even plain at the event, it was so jammed with long leggy models, wanna-be starlets, waifish “serious” actors and actresses, and many of their astoundingly attractive significant others.

There was a red carpet– complete with paparazzi and screaming fans desperate for a selfie with anyone recognizable–  although we missed that part and headed straight into the screening. Creator, writer, director, and actress Lena Dunham came out with writing-producing partner, Jenni Konner to intro the season, thank everyone for coming (you’re so welcome,) and subtly poke fun at the press.

Both episodes were great and made me laugh a lot. They reminded me a bit of the first season, with the opening scene of Hannah and her parents at dinner discussing her life choices and making some pointed, insulting remarks about how they chose to show their “love and support,” while she was figuring things out. Then she heads to the famous University of Iowa writers workshop, which is fodder for all new quirky characters and chances for Hannah to humiliate herself in her unique way.

hbo girls season 4 premiere party ticket on

After the shows, we strolled through several displays of taxidermy and artifacts to get to the hopping party. There were many star sightings on the way: Natasha Lyonne (Nicky), Alysia Reiner (the evil warden) and Pablo Schreiber, (aka Porn-stache) from Orange is the New Black, Questlove and Steve Higgins from Fallon, John Oliver, a bunch of SNL-ers, including Cecily Strong and Jay Pharaoh, Rita Wilson, and many more faces you would know more than names.

We got a couple of cocktails and took a loop around the balcony, where there were tables set up for guests to get free manicures, hand massages and make up applications.

hbo girls season 4 premiere party on

Alicia and I got hand massages and free Bliss products!

Then we made our way downstairs and pushed through the sea of people. It was a gorgeous party– the food, flowers, lighting– but not over the top or glitzy. Very New York. Very Girls.

As we made our way around the room, we noticed certain tables were reserved for every star of the show.  So we might have lingered longer around Zosia Mamet’s table, where exec producer Jenni Konner was standing in a hot red strapless jumpsuit, yapping with Lorraine Bracco.

I so wanted to approach her and tell her she has my dream job. I thought she might enjoy hearing she’s inspiring to other writers and TV fans. But Alicia advised me against it. So instead I just stood near her trying to overhear her conversation for a few moments, in hopes of gleaning some life advice that would set me on a path to writing riches.

That’s the thing about going to parties like this. We didn’t know anyone there enough to chat with them, so we just wandered around looking for famous faces and acting like it was all completely normal.

We walked past Allison Williams’ table and I got a little flutter when I saw my newsman Brian Willliams there supporting his daughter. I would have loved to tell him we watch him every night and my kids say “Goodnight Brian” to the TV at the end of every newscast, but I would have sounded like a nerdy super fan, so I just kept walking.

Williams looked amazing. All the stars of the show were glammed up and lovely up close. We stood about 20 feet from each of them at different points in the evening, and each was striking, with glowy skin– particularly Jemima Kirke. I guess it helps that they’re all still so damn young.

Here’s a photo of all four stars mugging on the red carpet.

We had heard Jon Hamm was there but didn’t see him until we were almost leaving. I was strategically leaning against a table in Lena’s area when she walked in with her boyfriend, fun singer Jack Antonoff.

hbo girls season 4 premiere party on

That’s Lena talking to Adam Driver & girlfriend. Her bf Jack is behind her on the right.

There was a little buzz, and then the gobs of minions jammed at the bar parted like the Red Sea as Hamm walked towards her table. He had to pass me to get through and for about five minutes he stood talking to someone behind me and we were back to back (elbow to elbow) in a cramped area.

Alicia and I just kept talking about work and TV shows, like it was no biggy. The proximity was actually rather anticlimactic. (Although I admired the snug fit of his jacket which hugged him in all the right places.) Shortly after, we decided to go.

As we were exiting the building, Gossip Girl’s Penn Badgley– who is extremely hot up close– smiled as he held the door open for his stunning girlfriend, and then for us. It was a great way to end the night.

hbo girls season 4 premiere party swag on

I almost forgot about the swag bag! It was heavy with Girlsy goods, including:

I love wine tote bag (totes cute) 
Wade and belle not too tights (will definitely wear these)
Sunglasses (typical giveaway crap but good for kids)
Argyle Happy socks (classic Hannah wear)
Post shaving/waxing lotion for girls  (probably will never use)
Base coat/top coat nail polish in sparkly bag (very useful!)
Bliss anti-aging mask (fancy!)
Dark chocolate covered caramel (ate one on train home)
Flowered le sportsac (retro chic)
Loreal redlip gloss  (not my color)
Tinted moisturizer/Sunscreen  (will try it)
Eyebrow oil (didn’t even know that was a thing, much less how to use it!)

For photos of boldface names (and some randoms I didn’t know) plus party decorations, check out Vogue’s slideshow here.

FYI, HBO announced at the party it has picked up Girls for a fifth season, before the fourth has even started. Who knows who I’ll rub up against next year?!

Mazel of the week goes to “The Andy Cohen Diaries”

If you wanna know what it’s really like to hang in the celebrity crowd– from the Vanity Fair Oscar party to weekends with the Seinfelds and Fallons in the Hamptons– late night Bravo host Andy Cohen’s new book, “The Andy Cohen Diaries,” will be your new guilty pleasure.

the-andy-cohen-diaries-a-deep-look-at-a-shallow-year cover on

The book is a take off of “The Andy Warhol Diaries,” a gigantic tome of the artist’s daily activities and bitchy impressions of all the celebrities he encountered partying nightly in Manhattan in the late 80’s.

andy warhol diaries cover on

Cohen was fascinated by Warhol’s commentary and thought it would be fun to detail a year in his life at the epicenter of pop culture in New York today.

It is fun.

The book’s subtitle,” A Deep Look at a Shallow Year,” suggests Cohen knows that some of the minutia– daily weigh-ins and workouts, two-hour massages, selfies galore– is frivolous.

But it’s all real, and if you want to know if stars are really like us, this is your book.

Andy Cohen and Kim Kardashian selfie from Instagram

A pop culture moment: selfie with Kim Kardashian’s ass on the set of his show,   “Watch What Happens Live” (Instagram)

In many ways, Cohen is still a fan and gets excited and even nervous to interview and hang with his childhood idols like Cher and Madonna, but he’s also an insider who finds himself in some crazy situations that bear sharing. He’s chatting at a party with Malala Yousafzai and Lady Gaga, he’s pigging out at Sasha Seinfeld’s bat mitzvah, he’s hitting the beach with Sarah Jessica.

Here’s an excerpt from my review:

Cohen — host of a late-night talk show on the Bravo network and executive producer of “The Real Housewives” series franchise — worked hard to get where he is, but he makes it look easy. A typical day in his downtown Manhattan playground includes a workout with his personal trainer, a romp at the dog park, lunch with friends, a meeting or conference call, a nap, hosting his show and drinking with pals until the wee hours.

His writing style is conversational and tight, infused with snarky and self-deprecating humor. He sticks to a diary format, which includes everything from activities to weigh-ins, to random thoughts and dream analysis. But he often uses only first names, and no explainers, so an index or family tree of his Algonquin round table of pals would be helpful.

An engaging storyteller, he creates a narrative with reappearing characters, including his hilarious, bossy mother, Evelyn. Other players range from the famous — talk-show host Kelly Ripa, actress Sarah Jessica Parker and musician John Mayer — to the amusing — his loyal doorman Surfin, an overly chatty flight attendant and his butt-kicking personal trainer, affectionately called “the Ninj.”

Cohen addresses the obvious risk in recording his every move and mood in the book’s subtitle, and in the introduction. He owns the name-dropping and navel-gazing, but has the honesty, wit and confidence to pull it off, striking a balance between being self-involved and self-aware. He doesn’t take himself too seriously, and isn’t afraid to point out behavior gaffes and personality flaws.

You can read the rest here.

Andy Cohen's dog, Wacha, new book on Instagram

Andy fell in love with a rescue dog this year he named Wacha, after a player on his
beloved St Louis Cardinals (Instagram)

Cohen’s been promoting the book all over. Here’s a funny interview he did with Stephen Colbert this week.

I loved the book. Not only is it a gossip fest and a peek into the lives of the rich and famous,  it also captures a moment in pop culture and in New York, like Warhol did. Maybe Cohen’s book will inspire some young kid watching Bravo tonight to dream big. I’ll look for his diaries in 2039.


New Fall TV: where romance and identity issues reign

When I was growing up, TV was my thing. I watched too much, but that was when no one cared. It would take at least 4 episodes of The Brady Bunch and two more Family Ties shows taped on the VCR before my mom would venture into the family room to suggest that maybe I do some homework.

My poor boys watch one episode of Dog with a Blog and I’m all “YOUR MIND IS TURNING TO MUSH!”

New fall TV reviews on

My love affair with the black box has never waned. But the nature of being a TV devotee has changed dramatically. There’s no way you can keep up with the best shows. There are just too many.

It’s a good problem to have, but now it’s tough to be an expert– the person friends come to for advice on what’s the best use of TV time.  Over the summer, Wilson and I finally finished Breaking Bad (amazing) and we’re half-way through season 2 of Orange is the New Black (original, fascinating, funny!)

I’m not going to pretend I’ve seen all the new fall shows and can recommend the best of the best. I can tell you what I’ve had time to watch, when not keeping up with my other show commitments (Daily Show, New Girl, Brooklyn 99, Parenthood, Masters of Sex, Boardwalk Empire, Modern Family and of course, my favorite, The Goldbergs.)

I’m not into sci-fi, fantasy or zombies, so luckily that eliminates a bunch of suggested new shows (Z-Nation, Constantine, Gotham, The Flash.) I’m a drama and comedy girl. Here’s what I’ve tried out so far…..

New fall TV reviews on


Black-ish– ABC comedy about a rich black family trying to maintain their roots and identity in ritzy, suburban L.A. It moves quickly and has some laughs but we were watching with Jacob (who’s 14) and were slightly mortified when the second episode focused on the 13-year-old son getting caught “enjoying alone time” and then asking Dad a lot of intimate sex questions like “What’s oral?” Authentic storyline or network TV trying to push the envelope to keep up with cable? I do like the concept of a show dealing with stereotypes and cultural differences through comedy. It has potential and the kid actors are adorable so I’m sticking with it for now.

New fall TV reviews on


Marry Me:  Please don’t let this cheesy poster affect your first impression of what could be a hit show. A 30-something couple living in Manhattan get engaged in the pilot episode, in a very unexpected way. It’s funny and the writing is strong– think Modern Family and New Girl, quick banter that actually had me rewinding a few times to catch the diss I missed. The leads– Casey Wilson (from Happy Endings and SNL) and Ken Marino have great chemistry and handle the complicated dialog with ease. I’ll definitely tune in again.

New fall TV reviews on


A to Z:  This NBC comedy is probably good enough to stand on its own merits, for smart writing and talented actors, but because it stars Cristin Milioti– also the long-awaited “mother” of How I Met Your Mother, and an actor (Ben Feldman, the crazy writer from Mad Men) who looks a little like Ted and has the same dreamy infatuation with romance and fate, fans of that show will undoubtedly be living vicariously through this plot. Both lead actors are very attractive and clearly have chemistry but the supporting players– meant to be quirky and hilarious– weren’t memorable or funny. The story was cute but not sure it will be enough to save up space on the DVR. Time will tell.

The Affair New fall TV reviews on


The Affair– This show got all the buzz and the trailers intrigued me. Brooklyn teacher (Dominic West) with lovely wife (Maura Tierney) and 4 kids spends summer at in-laws’ gorgeous Hamptons beach house and can’t resist a sexy, complicated diner waitress (Ruth Wilson). They start an affair and something rotten happens, because they’re spilling their story to a police detective in the pilot episode. The characters so far don’t seem particularly interesting and the family dialog does not ring true to me. But half of the first episode is told from his point of view, and the other is told from hers which is refreshing and compelling.  Press on the show says it deals with the complicated motivation behind infidelity. Wilson — who cheered when a drug dealer’s face was blown off by an IED and didn’t flinch when Al Capone smashed heads and shot up a gang of traitors– didn’t enjoy some of the depressing content of this story. But it sucked us both in enough to keep watching.

Transparent New fall TV reviews on


Transparent– This show was a leap for us old school viewers because it’s an Amazon original show we can only watch on my laptop. It’s been a critical darling, because of its daring subject matter and authentic portrayal of a privileged LA family dealing with a major adjustment. Jeffrey Tambor (from Arrested Development)  plays a divorced retired professor transitioning from male to female. The pilot has him trying to tell his three grown children but struggling because of his own discomfort, and his new perception of them as too self-involved to see him for who he wants to be. Despite the small screen, the show is shot beautifully and feels like an indie movie. The dialog is sharp and almost painfully real. The characters are complex and mysterious. I loved it. My favorite new show by a mile. Wilson had no interest based on the elevator pitch, but the pilot drew him in and he’s on board. That’s my guy!

I still want to try:

Madam Secretary— It got rave reviews and I’ve always liked politics and Tea Leoni.

The Chair— Wilson and I loved Project Greenlight back in the day and this promises to be a better version of the reality show. Aspiring directors compete to make the best movie on a tight budget in tough Hollywood. But if this doesn’t cut it, Affleck and Damon are bringing Project Greenlight back with new episodes on HBO soon.

What are you watching? I’d love to know which shows have you hooked and which you’re booting off the DVR. Tell me in the comments.

And if you want more info on all the new shows, check out these stories:


Lena Dunham is “Not that Kind Of Girl”

Recently a friend posted an excerpt in The New Yorker of Lena Dunham’s new memoir, Not That Kind of Girl, declaring it “one of the stupidest things the magazine ever published” and warning friends not to read it. Within a few hours there were at least 12 comments agreeing with the post and dissing Dunham big time.

I normally avoid public arguments, especially over subjective topics like art, but I couldn’t help but become Dunham’s lone champion in the sea of critics with this comment:

At the risk of being pelted with rotten tomatoes, I love her. I’m reading her book now to review for the AP and thoroughly enjoying it. Also love Girls. As a writer I admire her unrelenting candor and thoughtful, modern prose. As a woman I’m inspired by her ambition (writing directing acting producing on her terms at 28!) and empowered by her moxie in a superficial Hollywood. Plus she makes me laugh. Out loud.

It wasn’t until this exchange that I realized Dunham is a polarizing figure in pop culture. I was under the impression that everyone thought she was brilliant, funny and innovative, as I do.

lena dunham NYT cover on

Dunham’s been celebrated all month before the book launch. I loved this cover.

I found out she was writing a book last April and immediately emailed my editor to call dibs on reviewing it. I wanted to be one of the first to read it, and secretly hoped she might read my review, which would be a thrill. That’s how much I admire her writing.

When Girls came out on HBO in 2012, I eagerly watched every episode and marveled at how someone so young could be so talented and driven. She created the show, acts, writes, produces and directs. It has her personal stamp on every episode and hasn’t been vanilla-ed down by clueless network executives.

The characters and dialogue are so authentic, I’m engaged for the entire half-hour and always wish there was more.

I can see how some could perceive her as attention-seeking or self-indulgent, but the book draws a clear line between her character Hannah on the show, and Lena. She’s actually extremely private and leads a pretty low-key life in Brooklyn. Like Hannah, Dunham struggles with OCD and anxiety. She writes candidly about how it’s affected her life and work, which is likely to help others.  She’s an artist, and a workhorse, and from all I’ve read, extremely grateful and humbled by her success.

I guess what’s turned off some people is how often she appears topless or naked in the show, because she doesn’t have the typical Hollywood body and seems completely comfortable letting it all hang out. I love that about her and envy her chutzpah.

Guess what? She doesn’t want my admiration and frankly finds it insulting:

“A frequently asked question is how I’m “brave” enough to reveal my body on-screen. The subtext there is definitely how I’m brave enough to reveal my imperfect body, since I doubt Blake Lively would be subject to the same line of inquiry,” she writes in the book.

All those moms I see on Facebook posting stories about how to raise daughters with healthy body images are some of the same ladies who diss Dunham for showing too much of hers. She has some reasonable explanations in the book about why she’s comfortable naked, but why should she even have to address it? It’s her show, her character, her vision.

Not-that-kind-of-girl-cover- on carpoolcandy.comI loved the book, as I said in my review:

In her new memoir, “Not That Kind of Girl,” Lena Dunham relays a charming story about meeting a new friend and fellow writer she admires in London, drinking too much wine and projectile vomiting all over the woman’s living room floor. After a feckless effort to keep the last messy detail of the night to herself, Dunham blabs the story to colleagues in the first 10 minutes of a meeting the next day. “Sharing is my first instinct,” she writes.

It’s that brazen willingness to bare all that drives Dunham’s work, and readers of this collection of smart, funny and poignant essays will thank her for it.

You could argue that Dunham is too young to be doling out life advice, but the book’s subtitle, “A Young Woman Tells You What She’s ‘Learned,'” is a wink at readers. She acknowledges that she’s no expert, but hopes discussing intimate topics — from losing her virginity to her struggles with crippling anxiety — may normalize the daunting process of transitioning to mature adulthood.

 While much of the advice is aimed at millennials, she has the wisdom and depth of an old soul….

To read more click here.

Whether she’s your cup of herbal tea or not, you can’t deny her smarts. She’s one of those writers who says a lot with few words. By revealing just a few descriptive details and behaviors she conveys instantly recognizable characters, and can transport you right to a place by its looks and smells. Her use of language and self-deprecating humor make me giggle.

So I say give Dunham another look, naysayers. And fans, you’re in for a treat.

Tell me what kind of girl you think Dunham is in the comments.

My summer TV catch-up

I’m writing about TV today– one of my favorite topics– and an antidote to the 24/7 baseball vortex I’ve experienced this summer.


What TV to watch this summer on

As I’ve mentioned– probably about a hundred times– we are all baseball all the time over here. In summer travel leagues, we’ve probably had at least 50 games between my three sluggers in just the last month.  It’s difficult to make plans with friends or travel because our schedule is so relentless and unpredictable.

But the one respite I’ve had in these last few weeks is my shows. No matter how late we’re up hosing dugout dirt off the kids, or soothing a fragile ego in the middle of a slump– Wilson and I always make time for a show at the end of the night.

With all our regular network shows on hiatus, we’ve been able to catch up on some buzzworthy premium cable shows that were on our ever-growing list of must-see-TV.

breaking-bad What TV to watch this summer on


We finally finished Breaking Bad. Whoa. Lived up to the hype. While I was very disturbed by what happened to Jesse and Skyler in the penultimate episodes, the finale was one of the best I’ve ever seen. Brilliantly conceived, directed and acted. Creator Vince Gilligan tied up the story realistically and effectively. My one complaint is that Skyler’s part was minimized to nothing in the last season or two. She started out so strong and rounded, but ended up as a prop with no back story or meaty scenes until the very last few minutes of the series. While I didn’t love Saul, I’ll watch Better Call Saul, (which debuts on AMC in 2015) because I trust Gilligan will make it compelling.

True Detective What TV to watch this summer on


After saying goodbye to Walter White, we turned to the even darker True Detective.  There are only 8 episodes of this HBO drama but each one feels like a movie. It’s Twin Peaks meets Seven. The show is set in the savage underbelly of the Louisiana bayou where two detectives– played by Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson– try to find a twisted serial killer who targets young women and sets up sacrificial altars by their bodies.  The story jumps around in time, building suspense, but it’s the strong writing and complicated characters that grabbed me. Harrelson and McConaughey are both excellent as flawed, seething, selfish, narcissists.  Unraveling their stories was a trip. No wonder the show just received 12 Emmy nods.

Episodes What TV to watch this summer on


After immersing ourselves in drug lords and murdered prostitutes, we needed some levity. So every night after an hour of drama, we watched Showtime’s Episodes for a laugh. It’s a playful half-hour comedy starring Matt LeBlanc playing himself as a once huge TV star, now trying to stay relevant. The show features a British couple who created and wrote a hit sit-com in England, lured to Hollywood to produce an American version. Inevitably the network suits screw up the natural humor and originality of the British show and turn it into crap.  It took me a few episodes of Episodes to get into it but once I was in, I fell hard. The characters– especially LeBlanc– are funny and engaging, and I love the irony of a show making fun of Hollywood behind-the-scenes with good writing, instead of predictable clichés.

MASTERS OF SEX What TV to watch this summer on


But alas, we powered through all of those shows and needed a new focus. I’d heard good things about Masters of Sex on Showtime and was intrigued. It’s based on the relationship between William Masters and Virginia Johnson as they developed their scientific theories on human sexuality in the uptight late 50’s. The show is beautifully shot, the costumes are technicolored eye candy, and the acting is terrific. The writing is not as smart as some of our other favorites (Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Girls) but the story is fascinating. I don’t know who is more gorgeous, Lizzy Caplan who plays Johnson or Caitlin Fitzgerald who plays Masters’ long suffering wife. And the sex scenes aren’t bad either.

After we reach the climax of Masters of Sex, we need to finally get Netflix so I can see what all the fuss is about on Orange is the New Black and House of Cards.  We still have another month or so before the fall season begins!

What’s on your DVR? Tell me what you’re watching this summer in the comments.


Rob Lowe inspires readers to take chances in Love Life

Skeptics stay with me. I recently reviewed actor Rob Lowe’s new book, Love Life, and guess what? That pretty boy can write.

I chose the book because I’d heard from fellow pop culturites that his first book, an autobiography called Stories I Only Tell My Friends was terrific.

stories i only tell my friends cover on

The critically acclaimed bestseller traced his life from insecure theater nerd living in Ohio to young movie star and 80’s it-boy. He’s candid about his alcohol abuse and the rehab stint in 1990 that changed the course of his life, and led to his continued success in plum TV roles on many hit shows including The West Wing, Californication, and Parks and Recreation. 

I thought it made sense to read both books to compare the second one to the first. I was not disappointed. I’d even read a third!

Lowe is a gifted storyteller who uses humor and self-deprecation to draw readers in, and keeps their attention with fun tales of Hollywood behind-the-scenes.

Love Life is a collection of essays that reveal more about Lowe’s family life and personal philosophy, while still dishing details on show biz. Here’s an excerpt from my review:

Fans who fear he gave up all the good stuff in the first book will be pleasantly surprised.

“Love Life” is catnip for pop culture addicts. Lowe names some names (his torturous kissing scene with singer Jewel, and actor Tom Sizemore’s personal meltdown are two examples) but is coy about other famous “friends” — tantalizing readers with only hints of the players in some juicy stories.

Lowe talks about the craft of acting, offering tips on how to eat, use props, and ad lib on camera. He often reminds readers entertainment is a business, and success is fleeting. That’s driven home in the failure of two shows he produced and starred in, even turning down the part Patrick Dempsey made into McDreamy in “Grey’s Anatomy,” for a series that never got past a few episodes. But every experience helps him grow. “The only time you flop is when you don’t learn something,” Lowe writes.

A contender in movies, TV, and politics, Lowe meets Prince William and Kate, exchanges notes with Bill Clinton, and pals around with scores of A-list celebrities. But instead of just name-dropping, he has a way of making the reader feel like he snuck us in his shirt pocket and took us along for the ride.

As he stares at Warren Beatty’s Oscar at the legend’s home; or turns down Madonna for a dance at the Palladium; or is in the room with Arnold Schwarzenegger as he won the California gubernatorial election, he’s looking over at us whispering, “Can you believe this?!”  

 He manages to make being Rob Lowe somehow seem normal.

To read the rest of the review click here.

Love Life cover on

If you grew up in the 80’s, if you like insider stories about how Hollywood works, if you enjoy smart, funny yarns, you’ll enjoy Love Life.

Both books have several pages of photos of Lowe through the years with his family and notable celebs. That bastard has barely aged a bit.

But don’t hold that handsome face against him.

Would you read the book? Tell me why/why not in the comments.