Movies and TV

Eyewitness This

Amanda Brugel as Sita Petronelli in EYEWITNESS episode 101 (Photo by: Christos Kalohoridis/USA Network)

EYEWITNESS Episode 101 “Buffalo ’07” Pictured: Amanda Brugel as Sita Petronelli (Photo by: Christos Kalohoridis/USA Network)

I’ve spent the last year of my life writing and producing this television series, which debuts tonight at 10 p.m. on USA Network. Because I know you care (and because I know you’ll downright love it), here is a sneak peek at the first 12 minutes of the show. So much sweat, blood, and tears have gone into these 12 minutes, and the story, cast, and crew you’ll get a taste of here are so damn fabulous that they even inspired me to relocate to Canada for five months. I apologize in advance for the way they’re going to get you hooked. If you want a little reading to tide you over before the episode airs tonight, I highly recommend sinking your teeth into The Advocate’s review of EYEWITNESS, which not only reminds me of everything we were aspiring to do with the show but has made me fall in love with what I thought was the lost art form of critical review essays. Enjoy…

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Monday Muse

Oh, Meryl

Meryl on the set of Sophie's Choice

Meryl on the set of Sophie’s Choice

“Put blinders on to those things that conspire to hold you back, especially the ones in your own head.” -Meryl Streep

PS: I’m just getting home after 4+ months producing a badass TV series in Canada. Can’t wait to tell you more about it once I catch my breath {and catch up on what feels like a lifetime of needed sleep}. xo

Photo via Pinterest.

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Movies and TV

Shades of Lately

 

Tonight is a pretty big night. A TV show that I’ve been working on intensely for the past few years premieres tonight — yes, tonight — nationally for all to see. Maybe you’ve heard of it, it’s this small show called Shades of Blue starring Jennifer Lopez and Ray Liotta… It has been such an amazing experience to be with this show from inception to production, and I hope you enjoy the finished product. (Shades airs Thursday January 7th 2016 at 10 p.m. on NBC. Yay!)

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Sweet Nothings

Happy Holidays, Yo

Requisite holiday snapshot of the husband and me

Requisite holiday snapshot of the husband and me

It’s that time of year again. Time to pose in goofy photo booths at holiday parties, drink too much eggnog, cry about all the weight that will inevitably be gained from said eggnog, and then eat an entire gingerbread house to cheer one’s self up. Yup, that’s pretty much where I’m at right now. Except, when I’m not stifling my cries with gingerbread, I’m actually feeling damn grateful for this past year, and — to top that off — I don’t think I’ve ever felt so excited to embark on a new one.

I had the tremendous privilege of working on two straight-to-series television shows in 2015, and have learned from/idolized some amazing writers and producers along the way — the kinds of people who push me to be better and whose talent makes me aspire to things I never knew possible. 2015 has been a year chock-full-o’ humbling challenges and just enough accomplishments to make it all feel worthwhile, and I know 2016 will keep up a similar pace. In fact, I go to Canada in the beginning of the year to start shooting an exciting new show for USA. I can’t wait to tell you a little bit about it, but before that I can’t wait to hear about your holiday plans… Mine will include catching up with family, soaking in time with the hubby and pup, and weaning off eggnog. How about you? xoxo

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Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling mixing prints and birds like the pro she is

When I think about the kind of woman I want to be as I move into the next stages of my career, lots of amazing role models in television come to mind, but no one quite inspires me like Mindy Kaling. Not only is “The Mindy Project” one of the most watchable shows out there right now, but Kaling is a bona fide #girlboss who unabashedly demands competence from everyone she works with and never apologizes for what she wants. As someone who spends a bit too much time making sure the people around me are happy and feel heard, I could certainly afford to channel Kaling more often. As she puts it: “I love women who don’t ask, ‘Is that okay?’ after everything they say.” You know what I’m getting at, right..? Is that okay?

On a purely creative level, I must also note that Kaling inspires me because her writing manages to all at once keep it real and make me feel good about the world I live in. I think her blend of harsh honesty and optimism is actually what makes the universe of her TV show one that viewers both want to watch and then crawl into, and, on some levels, I think that little universe also improves people’s lives. If I just aspire to create TV worlds like this, I think know I will do pretty well for myself.

Photo via Pinterest.

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Judy Garland

Judy Garland singing whilst leaning on books in "Strike Up The Band"

Judy Garland singing whilst leaning on books in “Strike Up The Band”

I used to dream of being Dorothy Gale from Kansas — not so much because of L. Frank Baum’s prose, but almost entirely because of Judy Garland. She had such grace, charisma, and, oh, that voice. With a four-decade career, three Grammys, and some of cinema’s most iconic movies under her belt,  couldn’t we all afford to channel a little Judy in our everyday lives? Sure she had her demons, but most complicated people who are worth knowing do. While as a child I particularly adored “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” as an adult I’m drawn to John Gorka’s bittersweet song about the dichotomy of stardust and strife in Judy’s life. It’s called “Heart Upon Demand” — give it a listen and let me know whether it also tugs at your heartstrings.

Photo via Pinterest.

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Merry Clayton

Merry Clayton, backup singer to the greats

Merry Clayton, backup singer to the greats

How many people can say they performed in front of Mick Jagger while wearing hair rollers and one month later had a hit song? Merry Clayton is decidedly the only siren with those bragging rights, and while her vocals on the Rolling Stones classic “Gimme Shelter” are probably her most recognizable recording, I think the most notable thing about her is that she’s lent her voice to hundreds of famous tracks in which it actually goes unrecognized. Continue Reading

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Movies and TV

Cheating on the Coens

Martin Freeman in Fargo by Matthias Clamer

Martin Freeman in Fargo (2014, FX)

I’d heard it said many times from many peripheral friends wearing tight pants: “Fargo — yes, the damn TV show — is brilliant… You need to drop everything and check it out!” I was always reluctant to believe these rave reviews, however, because a) I didn’t quite trust the taste of people who apparently thought they looked grand in tight pants, and b) I didn’t want to cheat on the Coen brothers’ 1996 movie. Fast forward to one year after the series debuted on FX when I finally broke down and watched the first episode as part of some work research, and I must say it was one of the most fun hours I’ve ever spent “working” and one of the best TV pilots I’ve seen in ages.

The show stays true to the dark humor coupled with bursts of extreme violence that made the Coen brothers’ movie so iconic, but it strays enough in story and in its entirely original cast of characters that I never get the sense I’m being unfaithful to the original. In fact, I think the choice to set the TV series in the fictional town of Bemidji instead of in the show’s namesake of Fargo is representative of the myriad spot-on decisions that creator/showrunner Noah Hawley made that allow the show to deviate from the original while helping viewers feel ever faithful to it. So, now I’m going to make like all my tight-pants-wearing compatriots and tell you, “Watch Fargo — yes, the damn TV show — and I promise you won’t feel like you’re cheating on Francis McDormand.” I, for one, am looking forward to a guilt-free marathon viewing this weekend of all the sardonic humor and  bloody bludgeonings the town of Bemidji has to offer.

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Marilyn

Marilyn Monroe at The Ambassador Hotel in NYC, photographed by Ed Fergeinst (1955 )

Marilyn Monroe at The Ambassador Hotel in NYC, photographed by Ed Fergeinst (1955)

If you’ve met me for a split second or spent even a couple minutes perusing this blog, then you know I have a more-than-mild obsession with Marilyn Monroe. This infatuation began in high school when I was a curvy girl who hadn’t quite grown into her woman’s figure. In an attempt to accept myself and feel more comfortable in my own skin, I began researching vintage fashion and old-Hollywood actresses; and, slowly but surely, all the magazine clippings of Kate Moss on my wall began being replaced by photos of Marilyn, the queen of curves and coy smiles. I immersed myself in her movies and biographies, and even read numerous conspiracy-theory books about her death, all secretly with the hope that if I surrounded myself with images of this hourglass-rocking woman who was so undeniably sexy and beautiful, I would eventually start viewing myself that way… As a knockout and a powerhouse of femininity that all the mean girls who called me “chubby,” “fat,” or a “heifer” simply couldn’t compete with. I’m not saying I ever quite succeeded at seeing myself solely in this bodacious, positive light, but Marilyn got me close.

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Sweet Nothings

Whirlwinds

The husband and me silly-ing it up at a holiday party

The husband and me silly-ing it up at a holiday party this year

Why, hello there. Since last we spoke I’ve become a redhead, discovered an awesome recipe for flourless chocolate-chip cookies, and, oh yeah, been working on a damn cool TV show at NBC. It’s all been nothing short of a whirlwind, but, when I look back on the blurry big events of the last year, what stands out to me most is this: somewhere in between all the milestones, Los Angeles has started to feel more like home. LA is such a big, daunting city with no real center to speak of, but Jeremy and I have been taking it on day-by-day — renovating our house every chance we get and finding new pockets of this ocean-side desert that we love, while forever fine-tuning the way we balance our professional and personal lives. I just wanted to pop by to share these updates and say hello. Write at ya soon, darlings! -Coté

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