music, technology & life in pasadena, california

Rainn Wilson Bought My House!

Four years ago, we gave up the trappings of an urban lifestyle, where paint remover is an essential ingredient in keeping your sanity and your neighbor’s houseguests are living in his garage and raising livestock. Every morning, a rooster crowed to wake us. When celebrated author, humorist and two-blocks-away-neighbor Sandra Tsing Loh wrote her hilarious non-fiction send up of Van Nuys, she mentioned the rooster. Honey, I can’t believe it! The rooster! She writes about the rooster! Well, maybe it’s not our rooster. Maybe it’s a different rooster, she said. That’s when I knew it was time to move from our luxurious abode in beautiful downtown Van Nuys to our bucolic life in the foothills of Pasadena.

We put a lot of our stuff in storage to clean up the clutter that inevitably accumulates when you’ve lived somewhere for thirteen years, which in our case meant boxes upon boxes of books. The house, a 1300 square foot, 1920 Craftsman-style with a white picket fence and great front and backyard gardens, cleaned up nicely and we put it on California’s perennially hot real estate market.

After a week of endless real estate agent walk-throughs, a man appeared at my door wanting to take a look. After a quick call from his RE agent to confirm he was legitimate, I let him in for a tour. He looked around, asked a few questions and said he’d be back with his wife. They liked the place immediately and our transaction was as smooth and pleasant as could be.

A few months ago, a friend from the “old neighborhood” told me the house was for sale again and that the fellow who bought it from us was a big TV and movie star now. He’d heard the news from his “pool guy”. The Southern California “pool guy” will go down in history as the most effective communication tool in history even when you include smoke signals and cell phones. I did a little research and, sure enough, Rainn Wilson was the fellow who showed up at our door that day and whom I’d eventually hand the keys over to.

Rainn is one of the regulars on NBC’s hit series, The Office, played the odd mortician intern Arthur Martin on Six Feet Under (he always looked vaguely familiar to me whenever I chanced upon watching that show), and is now the co-star, along with Luke Wilson and Uma Thurman in My Super Ex-Girlfriend, a new feature directed by Ivan Reitman.

Just another day in Hollywood…

August 13, 2006 | Link to this entry

Move Over Pee Wee!
Here Comes Melanie!

For those of you without children (or who do not allow their children to watch television, that great mind and body snatcher of the 20th and 21st centuries) let me give you some background. PBS Kids has a new-ish cable network called Sprout. Each evening it airs The Good Night Show, which aims to get preschoolers ready for bed. By playing cartoons, telling stories and doing simple arts and crafts in five-minute segments, it’s the perfect antidote to the age-old parental problem of getting the kids to bed without a fight. Now, you can tell the tykes, just five more minutes and mean it, and they can get their fill of another complete segment. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, life’s not that simple.

The popular host of The Good Night Show is Melanie Martinez, a 33-year-old actor and mother of a young child. PBS summarily fired her this week after it was learned that she had appeared in a spoof public service announcement giving advice to teens on how not to get pregnant. (I won’t go into the details here, but if you’re a good Google searcher, you’ll be able to find it with no problem.)

The spot, while distasteful, was obviously shot years ago, before Martinez was hired at PBS Kids. It also appears to be a home movie with no production values, and to top it off, Martinez was the one who alerted her bosses at PBS about the video, most likely after learning that it was making the rounds on the internet.

Sandy Wax, president of the PBS Kids Sprout network, said, “PBS Kids Sprout has determined that the dialogue in this video is inappropriate for her role as a preschool program host and may undermine her credibility with our audience.”

Now, as a parent, I understand how and why people get bent out of shape for all sorts of things when it concerns their kids, but I find the reasoning absurd in this case (and I’ve seen this video.) First, let’s look at Wax’s statement. She states that the dialogue in the video is inappropriate for Melanie’s role. Well, guess what? The dialogue is not being delivered by Melanie in that role; it was delivered years ago in a sloppily made home video that now, for whatever reason, is being circulated on the internet. Wax also worries that the video may undermine Melanie’s credibility with the show’s audience. What? Where are the 2-5 year-olds that watch Sprout going to stumble upon this video? Where are the 2-5 year-olds that will even understand this inappropriate dialogue?

Melanie Martinez is an actor. She will be asked to play many roles in her life. This is what actors do. When she made the video, she was playing a role. If we start to preclude actors because of roles they’ve played in the past, we are engaging in a type of prejudging and intolerance of the worst kind. In its haste to preempt criticism, PBS Kids has conducted a hasty witch-hunt trial and decided to burn Melanie Martinez at the stake.

But, you know what I don’t get? Sesame Street, PBS Kids’ biggest hit, regularly has special guest stars who have played many “inappropriate-for-kids” roles on television and in the movies. Edie Falco, of The Sopranos, who regularly spews obscenities each week as part of her role as Tony Soprano’s wife, has appeared hamming it up with Elmo and Co. I don’t understand PBS Kids’ hypocrisy here. Don’t you think that toddlers are more likely to stumble upon The Sopranos on HBO than a home video floating around the internet? Free Melanie!

August 4, 2006 | Link to this entry


Paul Viapiano is a guitarist working in film, television and live performance based in sunny Pasadena, California.

You can email me here.

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