You know you're living in a different zone when you go to a party where porn star Ron Jeremy is telling you how much he admires evangelist Tammy Faye Bakker Messner and practically the next minute you're on the dance floor with MC Hammer. And let's not forget "Angel" co-star Andy Hallett wandering around in full demon make-up with no one batting an eye. Perhaps red eyes and green skin are the norm at industry parties here. Welcome to Hollywood -- or at least the WB party, a major stop on the winter television critics press tour. Oakland native Hammer, who went from a multimillion-dollar mansion in Fremont to a home in Tracy, has found his career on the upswing after a stint on the first season of the WB's "The Surreal Life." He has an album, "Full Blast," coming out, a VH1 show by the same title airing next month and is confident his sitcom will be on the air this fall on the WB. "I saw MC Hammer in 'Surreal Life' and I just liked the way he puts the emphasis on his family and thought this would make a great sitcom," said WB Chairman and CEO Jordan Levin. "A pilot is being produced and we'll see how it goes." Drew Fuller, a "white lighter" on "Charmed," claims a Bay Area tie. "I was born in Atherton and lived there as a baby, but then we moved to Newport Beach," Fuller says. "But that's kind of Atherton South, isn't it?" Hmmm. Sort of.
Also in that oh-so-Hollywood way, during a panel session earlier in the day, "Angel" and "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer" creator Joss Whedon was asked for his reaction to the word that the WB was looking at a fall pilot by "ER" and "The West Wing" producer John Wells, based on the old vampire soap opera "Dark Shadows."
Whedon obviously was taken by surprise.
"At least it's not an important, successful producer," Whedon joked.
At the party, Levin took Whedon aside to apologize for not telling him earlier.
When asked about the conversation, Whedon said there was no problem.
"Well, except that our budget is cut so we won't actually have the money for vampires next year," Whedon joked. "You'll have to look off-camera for them as we reference the scary people."
Whedon also commented about his Oscar win as the screenwriter for "Toy Story."
"I didn't come up with the concept, but my claim is that although I made a film that parents have to sit through over and over again, at least I slipped in enough humor that they can enjoy it too," Whedon said.
Earlier that evening, critics were given free rein of Stars Hollow, the set where "The Gilmore Girls" is shot. In the small New England fantasy town -- think Disneyland's Main Street -- the twinkle lights were out. Inside the sets, Luke (Scott Patterson) was in his cafe while critics filed through to pick up doughnuts and coffee. Next door at Taylor's old-fashioned ice cream and candy store, girls in candy-striped aprons dished up ice cream (Cherry Winterland was a favorite) while inviting critics to help themselves to the candy.
Talk about your kids in a candy store.
Outside on Main Street, stars Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel chatted with critics. Graham had been mentioned in a press release last summer as being one of the stars of the independent horror film "Dead and Breakfast," shot largely in Livermore.
"That was an honest mistake in the press release. I was considering it because some friends of mine were going to do it, then pulled out of the project, so I didn't pursue it," Graham said. "But if I'd known it was being shot around wineries, I might have reconsidered."
Keiko Agena, who plays Rory Gilmore's best friend in the series, was hanging out by Luke's. She was asked about her former boyfriend, played by Adam Brody. The boyfriend was booted so that Brody could take the role of Seth, one of the starring roles on Fox's "The O.C."
"See? He just dumped me and took off for California," Agena giggled. "When you see him, tell him he should have stayed because that move just isn't working out for him."
Farther down the street, series creator Amy Sherman Palladino was entertaining writers with stories about her early writing days on "The Roseanne Show."
"The studio was throwing money at us to stay, but Roseanne was just crazy and was very self-destructive. One day, she called us all together and told us she wasn't calling us by name any more and threw us T-shirts with numbers on each and said to put them on," Sherman Palladino said, doing a perfect Roseanne imitation.
"At first we thought it was a joke, but she meant it. Then the executive producer put his shirt on and others started putting theirs on. And I was just looking at this shirt with a No. 2 on it and thought, 'I've been doing this show for years and she wants to start calling me by a number?' "
The writer walked away from the show and never looked back.
And speaking of not looking back, as the WB party drew to a close, up on stage was Vanilla Ice doing the karaoke version of "Ice, Ice Baby."
You can't make this stuff up.
Credit: Almeda Times-Star Online
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