Monday, August 13, 2007

Me to Merv in Three Degrees

In which we talk about relationships, Hollywood style

Merv Griffin passed away this weekend. In Hollwoodland, whenever an a-lister shuffles off, everyone who ever so much as spit-shined his shoes gets into he act, trying to twist the event into a story about himself.

I'm no different.

Griffin was, of course, an industry giant who eventually became a one-man, multi-million-dollar holding company for hotels and riverboat casinos and all manner of big-ticket, pleasure-oriented investments. He started out in the late '40s, singing songs like, "I've Got a Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts," and crooning on his own daily radio show on KFRC in San Francisco.

But I remember him best as the jovial host of "The Merv Giffin Show." It was the '70s, the age of Studio 54 and Andy Warhol, the Factory and disco. His show seemed so glamorous. He often called his guests "the bee-oo-tiful people," those stars who lived the sporting life in places like Saint Tropez and Gstaad.

One show was devoted to interviews with three women Griffin considered "classic beauties." These were actresses celebrated for their slender grace, noble carriage and elegant simplicity of style. Griffin decked them all out it Greek-style dresses, even though their "classic" beauty was far more WASP than Grecian.

Anyway, one of these classic beauties was Mariette Hartley, the TV actress whose career began (in earnest, anyway) with "Peyton Place" in 1964 and hasn't much slowed since. The recent series, "Dirt," in which Hartley guest stared with Courtney Cox, ran three seasons on FX.

Of course, I remember Hartley best for her role on the original Star Trek episode, "All Our Yesterdays," in which she played one of Spock's intermittent girlfriends.

So, anyway… Justine, one of Hartley's daughters and an actress in her own right---and quite a classic beauty herself---works a few day shifts at my local watering hole, Maeve's.

So there you have it -- from me to Merv in three degrees: Merv, Mariette, Justine, me.

Friday, August 03, 2007

A Very Brady Neighborhood

In which recognize the strangely familiar in the curiously mundane

Look familiar... ?

No? Maybe this will jog your memory...

Still nothing? Try this...

Getting the picture? Fact is, I've been cycling past this house on Dilling Street, going to and from the Aroma Coffee House (the best little coffee house in the Valley) for two years now and have often thought, "My but that house does look familiar..." Then, recently, one of my coevals at the office mentioned that Studio City, where I live, is also the home of the Brady Bunch house -- meaning, of course, the house used in the exterior "establishing shots" for the show.

So I did a bit of research on this InterWeb thingy and lo! It turns out that the house I have been passing-by and the Brady Bunch House are indeed one in the same. The central window has mysteriously disappeared, palm trees and a rather ugly wall have sprung up, but it's the same house and no mistake.

Both my photo and the studio publicity pic of the house make it seem quite rural, as if Eichler suddenly went country. In fact the house abuts the L.A. Trench… excuse me… "River." But just beyond the house and over the river is Ventura Boulevard, a Mobil station, a 76, a Ralph's, a 7-11, a number of shopping cart-pushing bums and all manner of concrete flotsam. For the Valley, it's about as urban as it gets. Just goes to show how the camera lies, and camera lies are what Hollywood's built upon.

See the hill behind the house? That's north face of the Hollywood Hills (or the Santa Monica Mountains, depending on how you slice it). I live at the foot of those hills.