In the Spotlight: Kinky Boots on Broadway

Kinky_Boots_Broadway_71_email_1.jpgThere is one thing I absolutely love about living in New York — the chance to see amazing musicals on Broadway. Recently, my husband and I had a fun filled date night when we got to experience a brand new show from Grammy® Award-winning pop icon Cyndi Lauper and four-time Tony Award® winner Harvey Fierstein, which was directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Jerry Mitchell. In a word, “Kinky Boots” is “fantabulous!” (If that’s even a word!)
Based on the motion picture, the show shares the story of Charlie Price (Stark Sands), an ambitious young son of a shoemaker who attempts to escape his life for the big city, only to find himself back in his father’s factory after he suddenly passes away. Unfortunately, much to Charlie’s dismay, he finds out his dad’s business is in dire straits and unless he comes up with an ingenius way to save it, he’s going to have to fire his loyal employees.
While his materialistic fiance tries to lure him back to London so they can start their lives together, Charlie meets Lola (played by the incredible Billy Porter), a larger than life cross dresser who laments her troubles finding comfortable and sexy shoes fit for a man. And that’s where the lightbulb in Charlie’s head goes off. Develop a shoe for cross dressers and the factory will be saved!
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From the moment the curtain opens, you can feel the electricity ignite on stage. Featuring a sensational new score, dazzling dance numbers and an incredibly inspiring and uplifting story, “Kinky Boots” is a must-see new musical that proves that sometimes, the best way to fit in is to stand out!
Take a look…

In addition to Billy Porter and Stark Sands incredible performances throughout the show, I instantly fell in love with Annaleigh Ashford, who portrays Lauren, the adorable factory worker who harbors a secret crush on Charlie and is the first person who inspires him to devise a creative plan to save the business. Ashford’s voice is magical and the moment she starts singing “The History of Wrong Guys,” you will instantly have a smile plastered on your face!
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If you are planning a trip to New York City and are on the lookout for an incredible new musical, then look no further than “Kinky Boots.” From the show stopping chorus and dance numbers, to the powerful ballads, memorable duets and let’s not forget those incredible costumes and boots, “Kinky Boots” will instantly put you in the best mood.
For more information about the show and to order tickets, visit the Kinky Boots website.

The Croods Croodaceous Creatures and Worlds

croodspic.jpg How do you create a prehistoric world even though you are not a palentologist? We found out when Rolemommy visited the DreamWorks Animation Campus for a sneak peek at the creation of The Croods which is in theaters March 22nd. Croodaceous Creatures and Worlds await…..
We sat down with Markus Manninen, the Visual Effects Supervisor to find out what his job entails and how they come up with some crazy world The Croods live in. Markus filled us in on the biggest part of his job, “I’m the guy who makes sure that Chris and Kirk get the visuals in the movie that they want to tell their story.”
Markus admits that they “geek out” a little to come up with some of the ideas, “The interesting thing with the New World for us, is it’s not just the New World that the family discovers — when they come out of their old habitat and this new world in front of them reels itself and they’re forced into it. But, for us, it was also a paradigm. We had to
figure out how to create this time between time that the story took place in. It was important for the story that this felt like earth because we wanted this to be a family, a regular family that were trying to survive and go through regular life in their context of actually survival and eating.”
There is so much that goes in to the visuals and it starts with one illustrator to set the tone, “We start with a beautiful illustrator who makes really interesting shapes. We’re really interested in finding ways to emulate this kind of fun and whimsical aspect of the world and translate that into something that The Croods could stand in front of. The art department then takes this to the next level, actually refining and in a way, making these rules in some ways, exploring what the world can see and we start painting them up and trying to make this into something tangible that we could imagine seeing on screen.” then they go to the producers to present, “Chris and Kirk throughout this whole process are giving us feedback about where are we going, what that they like, what can we do slightly differently. This type of prep is all the stuff we do before we’ve even decided on what kind of story we’re telling, we’re actually just exploring what the world will be like for the story that is going take place.”
The beautiful wonder of The Croods is that the movie starts in a drab, muted world and when they discover the new world it is bright and lush, “The first sequence where we go into the new world–we call it the Cazam! The Croods come down, they drop into this new world, and we started exploring what that would look like. Now, the original images that we had for this world were slightly more muted. But, by the time we had gotten to this point in our story process, we decided we really want to feel color come into this world so that, when the movie starts, we get to know the world that the family is in and the limitations in some ways visually of that and then this beautiful blossoming color world comes to life in front of them and shocks us as an audience because we’re going through the journey with them.”
Since The Croods is in 3D, Rolemommy was very curious to find out how the decisions are made to add the very small details? For example, the ashes were amazing during the fire scene and the flowers had such detail.
Markus explained, “Well, one of the things that Chris and Kirk had talked about from the beginning was that they really wanted the sense of us being there with the family. It was very important to them. So we started exploring the things that are going to make you feel like you’re there. For example, the atmosphere, we actually developed something called BIA, which is bugs in the air, as well. It makes you feel like you’re there, having things around you come from over your shoulder and so on.
Kirk DeMicco elaborated, “It kind of comes throughout. Everybody is keeping their eyes open for an opportunity for a little bit more of a 3D shot. Markus will come in and go, you know what, this is one of our 3D moments, let’s have those little puffballs, little white puffballs, let’s bring those way out. So, everybody’s kind of on the lookout for a way to make it more 3D.”
Since The Croods began production 5 years ago the use of 3D with the animation was so much better than I’ve seen recently. We were wondering if they develop some kind of technology, what is making this one so different? Just then we were surprise by the special guest who had snuck in to the room!
Jeffrey Katzenberg explained, “Maybe I can give you a better bigger sort of context to it, there is more 3D knowledge, experience and movie making here within the studio than any other place on the planet today. We’ve now made a dozen movies in 3D. If you look at it on the technology standpoint, those engineers who are perfecting the tools, the toolbox, it incrementally gets better each time. If you look at it on a creative basis, the experiences, the filmmakers, Yong Duk, who was the cinematographer on this movie, did Kung Fu Panda 2, which also had some pretty amazing breakthroughs in terms of the use of 3D.The fact that we’re able to just keep building on top of it, I think we could certainly argue that there’s no place in the world today where there’s as much expertise and creative and experience knowing how to apply 3D in a way that really makes it an immersive experience. The goal always has been, if we can transport you into that world and really make you feel as though you’re in the center of it, that’s the best use of it. So, it’s less about gimmicks and things that kind of poke out at the screen as opposed to immerse the audience in it.
You can see for yourself on March 22nd when The Croods comes to a theater near you. In the meantime, here is a look at their amazing new world and as Eep says “You really need to see this…”

Croods Sneak Peak: Behind the Scenes at Dreamworks Animation Studios

West coast correspondent, Kristin Flannery gives us a sneak peak at the new Dreamworks Animated film “Croods”
Last month, Rolemommy was invited to a parenting blogger summit and we were given an exclusive tour of DreamWorks Animation in Glendale, California, as well as presentations that detailed the many behind the scenes secrets that went into creating “The Croods,” which will be released in theaters on March 22.
During the summit day, they covered so many topics from the original idea, the first script, and how it “evolved” (sorry, had to say it since it’s a caveman movie), the storyboarding, character movement and voices, the 3D process, and the creation of the creatures and lands the Croods live in.
We were also pleasantly surprised by a guest appearance from DreamWorks Animation’s CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg!
As we get ready for the nationwide premiere of Croods, Rolemommy kicks off our coverage by taking you through the story pitch presentations….
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The producers Chris Sanders and Kirk DeMicco with their story artist Steve MacLeod took us through a typical storyboard meeting and presentation.
Chris explained that he and Kirk started out by writing a script like you would do for any movie. Then up on the wall we saw what goes into the next step, which are storyboards mocked up so they can visually seen the scene before it goes to the artists. If you have ever wondered what it looks like it is exactly like a scene from an ad agency that you see in the movies with each scene in individual cubes, almost like a comic book.
Chris explained that story boards are really critical to the animation process because the story boards enable the team to develop the story and script as a fluid process. Through storyboarding, animators can change the dialogue, the setup, they can add elements to the scene and they can write dialogue to move the story along. Chris believes that this is where the rubber meets the road in animation as far as he is concerned is the story process.
Steve MacLeod was a guest story artist actually storyboarded a great deal on this movie. He began as a story trainee and worked on this film for five years when he was right out of college. Can you imagine beginning something when your child is born and then having them at the premiere? Steve’s daughter is in kindergarten now and old enough to see the movie! As Chris Sanders pointed out “That’s the shocking truth of how long it takes to make these. If you have a child at the beginning, they will be going to the premiere.”
Story board artists take the original script, in this case, “The Croods” written by Kirk DeMicco and Chris Sander, work on the sequence (those squares I mentioned before) then, we’d come into a room, which happened to be the room we were in and he would do this pitch. It would go through the pipeline and they get a lot of notes which are any ideas how to make it better. Steve said “It’s kind of a back and forth. I’ll get the script, I’ll read through it, and then we’ll do what they call a launch, and that’s where the directors will tell me all the little specifics or details that they want to include in the script, anything they don’t want to take out, what things are flexible. We’ll start storyboarding, and then we’ll do an even rougher drawing, if you can imagine. After that, I’ll pitch a rough, they’ll give me notes, we’ll see how close we are, and we’ll do a couple more times. It’s a vicious cycle until finally we feel like it’s really close, we’ll send it to editorial who starts putting all the dialogue and some temp music and scratch dialogue. It won’t be the celebrities quite yet.”
Steve didn’t just work on one character, “Well, it’s hugely collaborative. So, it actually happened simultaneously. Some people are developing the look of the characters, and then we’ll try to use their drawing designs and incorporate them into the drawings.”
What you will notice about the film is that the main character, Eep, (voiced by Emma Stone) is not a classic prototype but a girl a little bit chubby, big boned which was a conscious decision. Steve clarified, “Well, you know, we got these designers Carter Goodrich, Shane Prigmore and Shannon Tindle. They were looking at all these primitive cave paintings. And they tended to have certain shapes. They had to fit with the story, so we really wanted like cavemen. That extended to the voice actors, as well. We wanted to make sure the voices inhabited that kind of body type, and that body type belonged in this kind of a world. It’s a pretty rugged world, so we wanted characters that looked about as resilient and real as we could.” Kirk added ” We also always wanted Eep to be athletic and make you feel like she actually could do everything she’s doing, which usually those princesses can’t do. So, we always were looking at more like beach volleyball players and downhill skiers and just people that were athletic and for the whole family because we wanted it to feel real that they could actually do what we’re making them do.”
When the voice actors are cast this could change some of the characteristics of the animation. Even though they have been storyboarding a character a certain way once they get the actor in the recording booth the have a video camera recording them from two different angles. Chris explains, “A lot of the time, we’ll grab a take that they did, and we’ll take the video as well as the voice, and we’ll give that to the animator because there might be something kind of special that the actor did during that take. Emma Stone (Eep), I think we pulled more video on than any of the other actors because she is so animated. She could change expression in one frame of film. So, she’d be like happy and she’d suddenly have this cartoony upset face. And when we would go back and play it, it would be like one frame she’s happy, one frame of transition, bam, she’s unhappy. So, the speed at which she could change expressions was extreme.”
The Croods is in theaters March 22nd but you can check out Emma Stone’s animated expression in this trailer….

Marissa Meyer Wants Us to Quit Whining and Go Back to Work

Want to find a way to stir the pot amongst employees who have telecommuted for nearly a decade? Simple – tell them it’s time to ditch the sweatpants and sherpa slippers, put on something presentable and come to work five days a week. Sure, you can easily communicate with your co-workers via skype, email, text, Facebook or Gmail chat, but at Yahoo, nothing beats spending quality cubicle time with your fellow employees.
Just so you know – I don’t work for Yahoo, but I’ve been to their New York offices and the place is wall to wall cubicles. People don’t talk much since they are usually emailing other people but nevertheless, they are together. But will that camaraderie foster more productivity? As someone who has telecommuted for nearly 14 years, I have to say a five day work week in the office doesn’t make you more productive — it just enables your boss to know you are readily available for meetings that go on for eternity and keep you away from your massive to do list. It also frees you up for conversations around the Keurig machine and encourages you to make Happy Hour plans with your co-workers.
Don’t get me wrong – when I worked five days a week in a corporate office — I really enjoyed it. In the mornings, my co-workers and I would catch up on our evening festivities much like Kelly Ripa does with Michael Strahan every morning. We then attended a staff meeting, participated in conference calls, answered phones, emails, etc. and for the most part, we got some work done but definitely not as much as I did when I was home cruising through my to do list like a speed demon.
The bottom line to all this work life balance controversy is that in this day and age, there is no reason for a CEO to change policy and inform their staff they are doing away with telecommuting. We are all connected to servers, emails, texts, etc. In fact, though many of us are not brain surgeons, we hold our smartphones as a lifeline to the outside world — reading and responding to emails constantly even if they have no bearing on our personal or professional lives.
I truly hope that Yahoo is instituting this new plan so that their employees can shut down their computers at 6pm, go home to their families and not have to think about their respective deadlines until the next day. The telecommuting generation has become a 24/7 existence so if Yahoo has decided to set boundaries by instituting a workday that lasts a limited amount of hours, I am all for it. However, if their plan is to have their employees work five days a week and respond to their bosses after hours too, then therein lies the problem.
Something’s gotta give and if going backwards is Yahoo’s strategy – I truly hope their employees can roll with the punches, step into their respective time machines and experience life the way it used to be — when we spent five days a week at an office but were able to unplug the moment we bolted out those revolving doors.

Chef Tim Love Teaches Me How to Cook!

521732_10151263867090205_650499033_n.jpegI have to say, there are some really great perks to being a blogger. Some days you get to go movie screenings. Other days, you try out brand new products. And then you get to meet celebrities. But I never thought that when I started blogging more than 8 years ago that I’d get to film a cooking video with a famous chef.
Well, thanks to Hellmann’s I did just that when Chef Tim Love welcomed me into the kitchen and showed me how to make parmesan crusted chicken. I had so much fun being his sous chef — even though he could tell I was a bit nervous about spreading all those ingredients on the chicken. In fact, he even called me “Two Step Beth” when I confided that I usually do two things with a chicken. Step 1 – scatter poultry seasoning on the chicken. Step 2 – stick it in the oven.
Well, get ready for an all new improved Beth as chef. I’m adding a few more steps to the mix and take a look at how it turned out:

Want to recreate this recipe at home? Then follow these steps and you can impress your family too!
Parmesan Crusted Chicken
Ingredients
1/2 cup Hellmann’s® Real Mayonnaise
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1-1/4 lbs.)
4 tsp. Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs
Directions
Preheat oven to 425°.
Combine Hellmann’s® or Best Foods® Real Mayonnaise with cheese in medium bowl. Arrange chicken on baking sheet. Evenly top with Mayonnaise mixture, then sprinkle with bread crumbs.
Bake 20 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.
Also terrific with Hellmann’s® or Best Foods® Light Mayonnaise or Hellmann’s® or Best Foods® Canola Cholesterol Free Mayonnaise. Cost per recipe*: $7.16 Cost per serving*: $1.79 *Based on average retail prices at national supermarkets.
Timesaving Tip: Try making this dish with thin-cut boneless skinless chicken breasts! Prepare as above, decreasing bake time to 10 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked. TIP: Omit Parmesan cheese and have “Magically Moist Chicken” on the table in less than 30 minutes.
For more of Tim’s awesome recipes, check out the Hellmann’s Facebook page.

Got 45 Minutes? Then Listen & Laugh with our Latest Blog Talk Radio Shows!

We took a two week break from our Blog Talk Radio Show, but came back strong this week with our take on the Superbowl, the latest celebrity news, Oscar countdown, health advice and so much more.
Even I laughed out loud while playing back the show and I already knew what I said the first time around. So if you have some time in your day to listen in, trust us, you will not be disappointed!

Listen to internet radio with Role Mommy on Blog Talk Radio

Safe Haven: An Interview with Nicholas Sparks

ROLEMOMMY sat down with one of our favorite authors of all time, Nicholas Sparks on the set of SAFE HAVEN his novel turned major motion picture which hits theaters February 14, 2013.
IMG_8368.JPGRM: How would you define a Nicholas Sparks character?
Nicholas Sparks: A Nicholas Sparks character, for the most part, whether male or female if they’re your main leads, unless they’re a specifically bad character.
Like Kevin Tierney (played by David Lyons) in Safe Haven, what you would want is someone that you would feel like they could be your brother, your sister, your kids, your neighbor, your friend from college, your friend from high school, someone that you know and like, someone you work with, right? Because the simple fact is that nobody walks around being perfect. And so, you don’t want to create a character that’s absolutely perfect.
They have to have flaws. And yet, for the most part, most of my characters are created with my own worldview I guess.
And my own worldview goes something like this. I think that 80 percent of the people 80 percent of the time try to do the right thing.
They try to do what’s best for their kids. They try to support their friends or their family. Nobody’s perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. But, I tend to see the glass half-full when it comes to humanity.
A Nicholas Sparks character would be, the glass half-full type of character.
Yes, they have flaws. Alex (played by Josh Duhamel), he gets frustrated. He’s lonesome. He has problems, right? He’s got his own baggage.
Rolemommy: He seems pretty perfect.
Nicholas Sparks: Well, he’s a nice guy at heart. He tries to be the best dad that he can and run his business. And you know, you’ve got the guilt of bringing someone new into your kids’ life. And what if they’re not the right person, you know? Some people never think of that. But, I think eight out of 10 people do.
Rolemommy: How are you going to portray her ex, because you did such an excellent job in the book of making the reader grasp that he was crazy. And you felt a little bad for him, not that it’s excusable. But, how do you portray that for film?
Nicholas Sparks: You know, as soon as you move from novel to film, you have to start making decisions. You know, Kevin was a very introspective character.
To be quite frank, some of that is impossible to bring out – Without a lot of time. So, you kind of pick. Instead of this almost an OCD paranoia, you make it a little more just a little crazy.
And then you throw some booze in it, and it ignites.–There’s always differences with the transition from novel to film. So, again we had to pick. We couldn’t do all of that for Kevin. So, what was the most important characteristics about Kevin? He scares her, right? He’s dangerous. He’s a very good cop and she knows that if he ever finds her, she’s in big trouble. He’s got a drinking problem, etc. So, you pick the big things and you make them work.
Rolemommy: There is a BIG twist in the book and we wonder how you bring that to the big screen. We thought, “Oh, you can’t leave that out of the movie because that’s–.”
Nicholas Sparks: It’s very tricky. It’s tricky to do it in film, and it’s tricky to do it in a book. And we’re–yeah, it’s in there. But, how–it’ll probably be a little bit different than it was in the book, be how they do the reveal or the exact nature of the relationship.
But, simply, again, for time reasons, you know, they — In a book, I had 30, 40 pages to devote to that relationship. In a film, you’d probably have eight to 10. Some things get condensed.
Rolemommy: Are there certain things that you were disappointed that had to be left out or tweaked?
Nicholas Sparks: It is a different kind of thinking. You have to be able to capture things. You know, a novel is a story told with words. A film is a story told with pictures. I’ve written both screenplays and novels and it’s a different thinking. I find novel writing much harder.
Rolemommy: Are you thinking about how your book will look on film when you are writing your books?
Nicholas Sparks: No. I think about films in the conception of the story. Before a single word is written because what you’re looking for is three things. You’re looking for things to be interesting, original, and universal. That goes to the theme of the story, the journeys of the character, but also the specific elements in the book.
For example, one of the questions I always have to answer is, “What’s an interesting, original, universal way for the characters to meet and come together.”
It is really easy to do two of those three. Original and interesting, and you get Hannibal Lector. But, he’s not universal. You don’t feel as if you can know him. So, in The Notebook, the character climbs up on the Ferris wheel, and he dangles, right? But, it seems realistic. You can see him doing that. But, you’ve never seen it before. You’d never read it before. You’d seen John dive off the pier to save her purse. You’ve never seen it before. But, it seems like it could happen. Someone finds a message in a bottle.
So, the conception of a story and the elements within the story — I do have to think about that because it needs to meet those three criteria for both novel and film.
But, then once I have those things sorted out, I sit down to write only about the book.
–‘Cause there’s no guarantee that’s going to be a film.
Rolemommy: Can you give us an example of something romantic that you have done?
Nicholas Sparks: Ha sure. Every year for our anniversary, I write my wife a love letter and it takes me four days or so to get all the words perfect. I type it up first. And then after I have it all typed, I handwrite it. So, everything is perfect. And it recaps the years, the ups and downs. And through it all, she’s just the one for me. Some women find that romantic. And they’re really well-written letters, by the way. I worked really hard on them.
Rolemommy: You appeal to people like my aunt who’s 87 and my niece who’s 16. So, what do you do to get inside the mind of an abused woman to write this character? It is shocking and very impressive. What is your process when you outline your characters?
Nicholas Sparks: It is always a challenge because by the age of the characters is the first thing I make a decision about in any novel. It’s always the first thing.
RM: What age group are the main characters that fall in love?
Nicholas Sparks: I try to vary it from book to book because most people like to read about people they relate to, right? I look back on my past. I said, “Well, I had The Last Song, and that’s teenagers. I had Dear John. They’re in their 20s.”
Nicholas Sparks: So I said I’ll do 20s for Safe Haven or whatever. But, then I said, “Oh, my gosh, where’s my middle-aged people?” So, here comes The Best of Me characters in their 40s and 50s. And so, then what you do is say, “Ah, but everyone wants to enjoy these.” So, in my teenage story, I also make it a father-daughter story. And in my 40- and 50-year-old story, they had a love story as teenagers. So, believe me, all of that is done purposefully to keep everybody happy.
Rolemommy: I found this book a little darker than your other novels. Especially the character of Kevin, so was that a conscious shift to go more violent suspenseful?
Nicholas Sparks: What you do when you’re among the many decisions you make in the creation of one of my novels is we all know it’s a love story, right? We all know that. It’s love and something. Love and something. You can have love and mystery, love and forgiveness, love and loss, first love, right? You can have all these things.
This was love and danger. I chose love and danger because it’d been a long time since I’d done one. I did that with The Guardian.
The Guardian was a stalker-type danger. A woman goes out on a date one time with a guy, and he will not go away. The guy is psychotic and nuts. That was a stranger danger.
I look back, say, “Okay. Now, I can do it. It’s been a long time. It was never a movie. No one’s familiar with it. No one will even remember about The Guardian. It’ll feel similar but, I will make it different.”
For Safe Haven, it could’ve been a female danger. It could’ve been a guy. But, I’m like, you know, “That fatal attraction was is still such an iconic film you know.”
Rolemommy: What research did you do to develop the story and the character?
Nicholas Sparks: Research is an interesting thing. For the most part, you know the basic. When it comes to how to be an abused woman, maybe that’s just a knack I have, but I think it’s partly because, from the very beginning of my career, I’ve jumped into different characters.
At the very first novel I wrote, I was 28 years old, this 80-year-old guy with all–you know, his wife has Alzheimer’s. You know, I’ve never been 80. (the successful novel and movie “The Notebook”) Next book was Message in a Bottle. And even though Kevin Costner kind of may dominate your memory, if you read the novel, it was about woman. That was a book about a woman. And she was divorced, so I made that jump. If you say, “Okay. Now, what if it was like if she has been beaten?”
We all know what it is, right? There’s just different varieties and this and that. So, you try to make it–how would a normal person in this situation–not crazy, not weak ’cause I didn’t really want to create a weak female.
And the question you really have to ask is — ’cause it’s what my wife would do when she’d watch this situation play out on talk shows — “Why didn’t you leave?”
Why didn’t you leave? He’s whacking you over the head with a frying pan. Why don’t you go? So, you had to say “why” and answer that question.
So you think, “Oh, okay. Maybe she did couple of times. Maybe he found her both times.” So, why would he be able to do that? Because he’s a police officer. She went to the police. They’re covering it up. She’s got no family. She has nowhere to go. He keeps track of the money. He does all this. Okay. Now, you know why she can’t leave–and you know what? She still does anyway. She does it. That’s part of the success is because she’s smart.
For your chance to see Nicholas Spark’s characters brought to the big screen don’t miss SAFE HAVEN in Theaters February 14, 2013. In the meantime, click here to see Nicholas Sparks introduce you to his amazing, complex characters.

Why Jimmy Kimmel is Hilarious

I don’t know about you, but Jimmy Kimmel is beyond funny. In fact, forget about all those late night talk shows out there who have stale jokes and silly antics that at times are borderline stupid. Jimmy Kimmel is hysterical. His skits are always right on the mark. His guests love him and well, that’s why he is now going head to head with Jay Leno and David Letterman. If you haven’t caught Jimmy in late night, have no fear — he’s also in taxi cabs, online and oftentimes, his videos are shared more than any other late night talk show host I know.
Want to see why?

I know. Hilarious. Feel free to share…it’s the right thing to do.

LUXURY LIVING AT THE MANHATTAN HOUSE

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Project You recently got the opportunity to host a fabulous cocktail party with the help of WPIX anchor, best selling author and lifestyle expert, Tamsen Fadal. And it wasn’t just any old cocktail party. Oh no. When we throw a party, we do it in style. And so, on a crisp January night a group of our favorite parenting bloggers, a nationally renowned organization expert, a real estate maven, one finance guru, a branding expert, television producer and more joined us for a night of wine, cheese, conversation, luxury apartment tours, and incredible advice from Manhattan House interior designer Heather Zick. Take a look…
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“Manhattan House’s model residence staging inventory consists of merchandise that has been accumulated over the years from previous designers and include a spectrum of different styles,” says Heather Zick who says she uses “creativity and imagination to find a way to turn chaos into clarity, while making sure each model residence has a fresh, new and inviting look each time.”
“I try to use the three R’s whenever I can Reuse/Resize/Rework,” says Zick. “If it’s absolutely necessary that I purchase something new, I will, but I truly enjoy the challenge and creativity it takes to find a way to make the old make sense and furthermore, find a way to make it actually feel like new.”
If you would love to re-create some of these amazing looks in your own home, then follow Heather’s amazing design tips.
HEATHER ZICK’S DESIGN IDEAS FOR OPTIMIZING SPACE AND MONEY:
Choose furniture styles and layout wisely:
Beds without footboards and chairs without arms are great for smaller spaces
* Modular furniture that can easily be separated and moved around
* Stools and ottomans that can double as tables or additional seating
* If you have limited wall space, try placing furniture at the end of your bed, behind your sofa or float it in the middle of the room
* Turn convector covers into additional seating by adding cushions and throw pillows
* See if you can eliminate your dresser from your bedroom by moving it into your closet or by having your closet outfitted with drawers
* Flex-spaces that can serve more than one purpose (Media Room/Play Room or Guest Bedroom/Office)
Finishes:
* If you find something you like, but don’t love the color of it, buy it anyway – strip and stain it a color you do like.
* Buy commercial-grade wallpaper that looks like a grass-cloth or some other natural material but is actually vinyl, which is less expensive and more durable.
* Paint moulding and trim the same color as the walls to make the room feel larger and more uniform.
* For furniture and frame touch-ups use Sharpie markers and White-out or find a paint color that matches and buy a sample pot.
Art, Accessories and Area Rugs:
* Take your own photographs and have them printed on photo paper or canvas
* If you see an expensive piece of art you like, commission a friend or local art student to create an interpretation of it
* Shop in the flower district for candle holders, trays, vases and silk flowers – create your own floral arrangements
* Shag and sisal rugs are generally inexpensive, versatile and durable – if you like wool and silk rugs, opt for wool and viscose instead which has a similar look and feel but is much less expensive
Lighting:
* Buy plain white paper lampshades which are the least expensive kind and sponge-paint them for a cool, textural finish and better ambience
* Buy antique bulbs for light fixtures where the bulbs are visible for a more interesting look – purchasing them online in bulk will be less expensive
Reupholstering/Recovering/Resizing:
* Shop for fabric in large fabric houses like Mood and B&J – they have some really unique materials, especially in the faux fur and men’s suiting departments
* Buy throw pillows with removable covers so they can easily be changed – or use an old bedspread or faux fur coat to fabricate your own covers
* Use a furniture surgeon to adjust a piece to fit in your space rather than buy a new one
* Have area rugs made from wall-to-wall carpet remnants
MH_058.JPG“Many people have a hard time visualizing in a blank space. They are unable to connect with the space and imagine it as their home without seeing elements in it that remind them of a home, like furniture and artwork. My job is to help them get to the place of being able to imagine it as their home. Since each individuals’ idea of a home is different, I make my goal to simply come up with the optimal look for each space, using what I have available to me. I know my job is done, when I walk into a model residence that I’ve just designed and have a sense that “I’m home.”
To find out more about Manhattan House and their incredible luxury apartments, visit their website.

Behind the Scenes at “Safe Haven”

Kristin NC.jpg Last summer Rolemommy had the chance to fly to North Carolina to meet Nicholas Sparks and tour the set of his new movie SAFE HAVEN in theaters February 14, 2013. When I flew in to North Carolina, I was met by a local towncar driver who whisked me away (well, I was running late) and we started on the hour journey to get to the parade scene in the movie.
On our way I learned all about Southport, North Carolina’s history (in 2010 when it was announced that billionaire hedge fund manager, Louis Moore Bacon, bought this huge mansion called Orton Plantation), the other films that have shot in NC (Hunger Games, Iron Man 3 and soon to be released We’re The Millers) and his divorce and kids (what can I say, people tell me everything!). We already knew why Southport, NC was the perfect spot to film SAFE HAVEN but taking a walking tour with Nicholas Sparks was something we did not want to miss….
Mr. Nicholas Sparks: The really interesting thing about North Carolina, it’s one of the reasons why I set the stories here and why this particular place is perfect is that it’s a very unique state in that, unlike virtually every other state, the big cities are off the coast because of the hurricanes.
The entire eastern part of the state is dotted with small towns. Biggest town is Wilmington, about 150,000. And that’s huge. I mean, you know, Southport has a population of 1,500.
So here is something very typical of outdoor dining in these small towns. And it’s a great place where someone like Katie could wander in and, you know, there’s never going to be anyone from Boston that you’d ever happen to bump into here.
Mr. Nicholas Sparks: You’re at the mouth of the Cape Fear River here. Over there is Oak Island, where they were filming the parachuting scenes for Iron Man 3.
People here are watching fireworks and people diving from the sky over there. Poor little Southport, right? Southport is interesting. Wilmington was the last open port in the, as they say here, the war for Southern Independence.
Charleston had closed, and everything else had closed, New Orleans had closed. Southport was really the last place that everything came in. And this was the south port, hence the name that they change it to in about 1887. It was originally called Smithville. There’s your North Carolina history lesson.
Most people don’t know, but the last major battle of the Civil War was fought in North Carolina, it was fought after Robert E. Lee surrendered.
This is true, the Battle of Bentonville, which was fought by Joe Johnson because Robert E. Lee, he was just in charge of the armies of Northern Virginia, which was the main army, but you still had the North Carolina regimens–.
Rolemommy: I think this such an amazing experience -it’s fun to see the actual place your filming, and then to see it on the big screen, I know it will look so different.
Nicholas Sparks: yes, it always looks different when you frame things. That’s called movie magic.
We walked down the street to the set of “Ryan’s Port Market” which was fully built from scratch. *Plot spoiler alert* Unfortunately, the very cool-looking market did not stay there in keeping with the plot of Nicholas Sparks’ book they burnt it down.
Nicholas Sparks: The one side of the store is here. This is where they entered. Now it’s burned down, people were sad that it was gone. One of the great things about North Carolina are these live oaks. I love these trees, they are very interesting because they don’t shed like regular oak trees. They stay green year round, they shed three times per year.
And so, they’re always as beautiful as this. It’ll be this green throughout winter, these little leaves just fall all the time.
Normally when they grow let’s say, in Virginia, they don’t look like this because it’s not quite as wet and humid. It’s the moisture in the air that causes these trunks to twist and to spread out.
So if you buy a live oak in a nursery they won’t look the same. The sad thing they do now is they kind of force them to grow straight and spread.
Nicholas Sparks: So, the best way to get a live oak for your yard — that’ll look like this — if you live outside of North Carolina – is to go out to the forest, find someone with some forest land, and you dig up one that’s already kind of growing like this.
And then in about 60 years when you’re dead, you’ll have a fabulous tombstone there. And people say, “Man, that is a great tree.”
I mean, I think this is one of the most beautiful towns. Ten years ago, I was here for the filming of “A Walk to Remember.” I remember walking down here and I said, “I have to find a book for this place one day.”
So get ready for Nicholas Spark’s SAFE HAVEN in Theaters February 14, 2013
In the meantime, click here to see the trailer and the beauty of North Carolina….