Celebrity Flashback: Jamie Lee Curtis on the set of Halloween: H20

What’s Celebrity Flashback? From 1996 – 2000, I met dozens of celebrities while working in the West Coast bureau of Premiere Magazine and later, at Us Weekly. These interviews ran the gamut from 30 seconds on the red carpet (Leonardo DiCaprio) to an hour on set (George Clooney). And of course, there were many stars I never interviewed or even saw – not ever in the entire time I worked in Hollywood (Julia Roberts). In Celebrity Flashback, I’ll share the details of one of those close encounters.

Jamie Lee Curtis on the set of Halloween: H20

It was 1998. When I heard they were making a Halloween: H20, I knew I HAD to visit the set for the “In the Works” section of Premiere. It wasn’t too difficult a sell to my editors. The movie, which commemorated the 20th anniversary of the 1978 original classic, starred Jamie Lee Curtis, plus up-and-comers like Josh Hartnett and Michelle Williams. And Debra Hill, one of film’s original producers, was a friend of the magazine. I got to meet her at our annual Women in Hollywood event. She was a short, blonde, round, sweet, unassuming, very regular lady. Not a power tripper at all. She loved that I was a fan of the original. I think it was her first film ever, and probably her most famous.

Anyway, I was thrilled to drive out to La Puente, California to meet Jamie and Josh on the set of Halloween: H20. The downtown main street of tiny La Puente was serving as the downtown of fictional Summer Glen, where Jamie’s character lived as headmistress of Hillcrest, a school in northern California. That day, they were filming a totally boring ‘filler’ scene where Jamie’s character has white-wine lunch with her boyfriend played by Adam Arkin.

After watching the pointless scene, I went to Jamie’s trailer to talk about making the original, and why she’d agreed to do this one — essentially part 7. She told me how incestuous the making of the original was. I believe John Carpenter and Debra were a couple at that point. And some of the other actors were dating each other. The guy who played Michael Myers was dating one of them, I think. She was happy to retell those memories, so that was cool.

Jamie was friendly but I wouldn’t call her warm. She had kind of a masculine, aggressive way about her. A little scary. I could tell the unit publicist was scared of her too. When Jamie needed something, she bellowed out to the unit publicist, ‘MARGARET!!!!!’ Margaret immediately busted into a sprint to get to us. Jamie chuckled and said to me, ‘Look at her run!’

What can you say? She’s a legend. She’s Janet Leigh’s daughter for godssake.

Separately, I met Josh Hartnett, new hottie on the scene. He played Jamie’s son John. He and Jamie had no interaction while I was there; he seemed to be holed up in his trailer with his beanie cap and his music. He seemed like a stoner. It was his first movie ever and I could tell he’d rather be off making a Gus Van Sant film, artiste that he is. I got nothing use-able from him. That’s probably why my write-up never ran.

Later I talked to LL Cool J on the phone. He had a bit part in the movie as a security guard. No idea why. We talked for about five minutes, and he mentioned he was playing at the House of Blues that week, and I should come. He put me on ‘the list.’ Then the call dropped and he never called me back. I did go to the show. Thrillingly, he started the show with a super-loud remix rendition of the famous Halloween theme music.

My biggest regret of the whole deal is I didn’t get to see Michael Myers on the set. No sign of him. I have often wondered if they do that on purpose — schedule press visits on days when he isn’t there so as not to ruin the magic — or if it was my bad planning.

I’ll never know. Happy Halloween!

Ode to toast

20131029-224743.jpg

In the morning, when you have good bread and don’t have to eat in your car, there’s nothing better than buttered toast.

For good toast, it’s all about the bread. The craggy nooks and airy, chewy texture of the so-called Tuscany sliced bread from Giant Eagle’s bakery turns out the PERFECT toast. That’s right – I’m shouting. It’s good toast.

The top of the bread, where it’s really airy and craggy, gets close to burnt. It’s the same roasty, toasty aroma that emanates from Stauf’s coffee roasters in Grandview in the early morning hours.

This perfect toast is what I had for breakfast today. It was fuel for turning the living room into a ‘zoo,’ going to the park, hitting Giant Eagle for a few odds and ends and gas for the Black Pearl, making dinner, helping the kids paint approximately 19 pictures, and getting them to bed by 9pm.

No Wonder Bread toast, please.

20131029-224832.jpg

20131029-224842.jpg

20131029-225345.jpg
This is an entirely gratuitous but wonderful shot of Mag at the park. If Magnus were a food, I think he’d be buttered toast made with good bread. Golden. Complex and chewy. Special.

Poem for your Tuesday

Barrak regularly sends me the poem of the day from Writers Almanac. This one from last week really stayed with me.

Nursery, 11:00 p.m.

by Robyn Sarah

Asleep, the two of you,
daughter and son, in separate cribs,
what does it matter to you
that I stand watching you now,
I, the mother who did not smile all day,
who yelled, Go away, get out, leave me alone
when the soup-pot tipped over on the stove,
the mother who burned the muffins
and hustled bedtime, tight-lipped.
You are far away,
beyond reach of whispered
amends. Yet your calm
breathing seems to forgive,
unwinding
into the air to mesh
like lace, knitting together
the holes in the dark.
It makes of this dark
one whole covering
to shawl around me.
How warm it is, I think,
how much softer
than my deserving.

“Nursery, 11:00 p.m.” by Robyn Sarah, from Questions About the Stars. © Brick Books, 1998. Reprinted with permission.

Chicken and wild rice soup

Chicken and wild rice soup warmed our bones yesterday.

Everyone in the house is sick to some degree. Nasty coughs, stuffy noses, headaches… So I made soup.

Right after Magnus was born, my sister brought us a giant box of size 1 diapers and this soup.

Now I like making it because 3 out of 4 Green family members will happily eat it and it’s fast and easy. It tastes rich from the pint of half and half, heap of sliced mushrooms and splash of sherry. And it warms your bones when you’re feeling achy and brittle.

Here’s how to make it:

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked chicken, diced (I ripped open a package of Bell & Evans chicken tenders, coated with extra-virgin olive oil, added salt and pepper, baked at 350 for 18 minutes, then chopped)
  • Box of Uncle Ben’s Long-Grain Wild Rice, cooked using instructions on box
  • 2 cans Cream of Mushroom soup
  • 1 can Cream of Celery soup
  • 14 oz chicken stock (if you buy those standard boxes, it’s about half of one of those)
  • 2 tablespoons sherry (add more if you like; I do)
  • 2-3 large carrots, sliced
  • 8 oz package mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 large onion, sliced or diced
  • 1 pint Half and Half (I microwave it before adding so it’s not ice-cold)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a soup pot or Dutch oven, sauté carrots, mushrooms and onions in extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat until soft. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes without boiling. Stir often. Fend off early taste-testers until the carrots are soft and the sherry has melded with the soup.

20131029-080107.jpg

20131029-080117.jpg

20131029-080143.jpg

20131029-080152.jpg

Chocolate chip banana bread

I don’t know about you but my stomach doesn’t wake up until around 9am. Not so convenient when you work. A few months ago, I was running from meeting to meeting and my stomach was doing its usual grumbling. Like a modern corporate America miracle, my lovely co-worker Kate offered me a slice of homemade chocolate chip banana bread. Why yes, I WILL have that! And the recipe too, please, because it was delish.

This is a great way to use up too-ripe bananas and half-used bags of chocolate chips. I usually use dark chocolate chips because I cling to the belief that they’re healthier.

I used the recipe from simplyrecipes.com then added a cup of dark chocolate chips.

This is one of the best, most moist (most moist? moistest?) banana bread recipes ever. Made even yummier with chocolate chips. Great at night, when the kids have gone to bed and you want a little something while watching the Packers-Vikings game. Great in the morning with your coffee.

I couldn’t find my loaf pan, so I used a Bundt cake pan. Because of the difference in the pans, I didn’t bake it the full hour; I took it out around the 50-minute mark.

20131028-121512.jpg

20131028-121525.jpg

Halloween fun for little monsters

Our neighborhood is big on Halloween. Which suits us fine. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. In fact, I have this week off so I can be around to carve pumpkins, get the kids ready for trick-or-treat and watch scary movies. I also plan to do some cooking. More on that later this week.

Earlier this month, we had the annual Halloween Cookout and Haunted Trail. This past Friday, a small group of us did a progressive Halloween party for the kids.

Starting at 6pm, the kids went to a house for a craft, games and treats. At 6:30pm, they come flying out of that house like a swarm of bats — screaming and hooting and running like they just saw a ghost — and into the neighbor’s for another half-hour of activities and treats. It goes on like that until 8:30 or 9, depending on how many host families we have. This year, we had the 7pm slot.

It’s our 3rd year participating. The first year, we did a haunted trail through the wooded easement in our backyard. Last year, we set up a tent in the living room, painted pumpkins, then read scary stories in the tent, like the one about the voice who kept saying as it came up the stairs, ‘Where’s my toooooeeeeee?’

This year, we played Halloween bingo — winner gets to pick a prize from the cauldron — and had whoopie pie ‘spiders.’ I got this great idea from my sister, and they’re so cute.

Whoopie Pie Spiders

I got the decorating kit from Target. It comes with candy eyeballs and a bundled rope of black licorice for the spider legs. It also comes with a mix for making whoopie pies but on my sister’s advice, we bought a package of ‘gobs’ in the bakery at Giant Eagle. I guess they’re a Philly thing and Giant Eagle is based there. So only Giant Eagle has them. Gobs are whoopie pies. Finkle IS Einhorn. It made the whole affair so much easier – especially since I had about 30 minutes to put them together on Friday night.

Pumpkin Hunt

On Saturday, we went to my mom’s for the Ohio State game and a pumpkin hunt. My mom hid three pumpkins for each kid in her woods. It was really fun for the kids. Thank heaven for my mom and all her energy. All four grandkids rubbed her feet at the end of the night. They worship her.

Boo at the Zoo

On Sunday, we went to Boo at the Zoo. What a letdown! It was so lame. We went into the little kiddie area toward the front, where they had “Little Boo Village.” They had a totally amateur haunted mansion and a hay bale maze. Mag, who’s 3, liked it. Greta, who’s 6, said ‘boring.’ It just felt so commercial. All the ‘treat’ booths were manned by companies like The Basement Doctor and Gutter Rx. Just to get a pixie sugar straw, you had to give your personal information to them so they could hound you for the rest of your life. The best part was that the kids could dress up, and see other dressed-up kids.

Anyway, we’ve been driving around town for the past three weeks listening to the theme from Halloween and Psycho, at the kids’ request. We’re into it.

For the annual progressive Halloween party, the kids gathered at the first of 5 houses. The parents ended up hanging out here for a few drinks after their turn hosting.

For the annual progressive Halloween party, the kids gathered at the Manley residence — the first of 5 houses. All of us grown-ups ended up hanging out at the Manley’s for a few drinks after our turn hosting.

The whoopee pie spiders - made with 'gobs,' candy eyes and black licorice legs. Thanks for the idea, Bran!

The whoopie pie spiders – made with ‘gobs,’ candy eyes and black licorice legs. Thanks for the idea, Bran!

We decorated our dining room with creepy haunted mansion portraits. Thanks Target.

We decorated our dining room with creepy haunted mansion portraits. Thanks Target.

Halloween bingo was the activity at our house. Barrak had to take a break to go check on the ghost that lives in our attic. That sufficiently freaked them out.

Halloween bingo was the activity at our house. Barrak had to take a break to go check on the ghost that lives in our attic. That sufficiently freaked them out.

Spiderman (aka Magnus) enjoyed his spider gob.

Spiderman (aka Magnus) enjoyed his spider gob.

Triumph at grandma's pumpkin hunt!

Triumph at Grandma’s pumpkin hunt!

Pumpkins looking for pumpkins...

Pumpkins looking for pumpkins…

That blue blur is Magnus jumping in leaves that Grandma had raked into a pile.

That blue blur is Magnus jumping in leaves that Grandma had raked into a pile.

The One-Year Shopping Cleanse

I have been a shopping glutton the past couple weeks. With credit cards in hand, I gorged myself on Ann Taylor shoes, J. Crew shirts and Banana Republic baubles. With a business trip to New York coming up, and a couple key evening events on the agenda, I felt the need to spruce up my blah wardrobe.

Have you ever taken down an entire small pizza yourself? Or mindlessly unwrapped and eaten a whole bag of Lindor truffles? That’s how I feel. Gross and ashamed. So I’m going cold turkey.

No more shopping. For one whole year. I’m serious! And it’s gonna hurt. I actually made this resolution last week after my final trip to the mall – the proverbial last truffle in the bag, where I really didn’t need one more but I couldn’t help myself. The kids and I were at the mall until 8:30 p.m. They were tired and grouchy – acting up by taking their shoes off in Banana Republic and drumming on the gold ‘art’ tree-like thingy in J. Crew. Who could blame them? They should have been at home, in the tub. Instead they were out and about while mom cruised the mall for her next fix.

New clothes, new shoes, new jewelry – that’s my drug. How did I get to be such a shopaholic? Maybe it comes from wearing K Mart and Gold Circle clothes as a kid. I was always coveting the Guess? jeans the Stephanies and Heathers of my class were wearing. The white Reeboks and Outback Red 10-button henleys. The new stuff = you’re in! Whatever the psychology, it’s time to get clean.

So the cleanse starts now. A few exceptions: I’ll still shop for the kids, family members and husband. I’ll still spend on beauty essentials like moisturizer, shampoo, and haircuts.

The thought of making it through Christmas, spring and summer 2014, all the way into next fall… it doesn’t seem doable. I’m already coveting the sweaters in this Redbook magazine slideshow. The first step is withdrawal…

So instead of buying what I want, I’ll blog about it. Maybe you can buy it and tell me what it’s like.