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I’m very happy to present a performance of Maria Bamford at the May 9th, 2012, Arts In Mind: Cracking Up – The Inner Lives of Comics, An evening with Maria Bamford. You will hear Maria perform material she prepared for this specific show and then a panel discussion afterwards with Dr. Donald Rosen of the Austen Riggs Center and journalist Adrian Nicole LeBlanc. Arts In Mind is sponsored and produced by the Austen Riggs Center of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, in collaboration with The New School, in New York City.

Check out Maria Bamford’s tour schedule at her website and follow her on Twitter. Maria Bamford will have her first direct-to-fans video special, “Maria Bamford: The special special special,” (see above image) released at on November 28th, 2012.

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Scott Aukerman's "Comedy Bang! Bang!" airs on IFC, Fridays at 10pm

Got to talk with the amazingly intelligent, funny, and generous with his time, Scott Aukerman: creator of the Earwolf podcast network, writer on countless TV shows including “Mr. Show,” creator of “Between Two Ferns With Zach Galifianakis” and many other web shows, has now produced a version/edition/mutation of the Comedy Bang! Bang! podcast for TV on the IFC network, Fridays at 10pm.

We talked about the show, co-conspirator Reggie Watts, Jazz, Ernie Kovacs, and Scott managed to stay polite with me the entire time, despite my idiocy.

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by in General, Interview, TV

Olympic figure skater Johnny WeirWas out in LA for another week where I covered several events of the Paley Center for Media’s PaleyFest2010. The festival panels were held at the beautiful Saban Theatre on Wilshire but I had seen some people complain about the venue being larger, thus putting fans farther away from the creators and talent of their favorite shows. I can sympathize with that but getting the access is more important than proximity.

The first PaleyFest event I went to was their “Community” night on March 3rd. Here is my LAist post about the night (or just check out the video here). I was bowled over by the opportunity to exchange a few words with Chevy Chase, an idol of mine since 1977. He thoroughly took advantage of me as he did everyone in the press line as well as the panel – I’m glad I wasn’t the only one. He was irrepressible and hilariously so.

The following night was “Dexter” night (full LAist write-up) where I finally had the chance to ask a couple questions of Julie Benz (aka Rita Bennett) – I had missed her at both the SAG awards and the Emmys so I’m glad it finally happened. I also spoke with Desmond Harrington and Brando Eaton whom I hadn’t connected with before.

Because I went to the 25th Film Independent Spirit Awards on Friday the 5th at the Nokia Center I missed the PaleyFest’s “Cougar Town” night which is unfortunate because, although I’m not a fan of the show personally, I know that a lot of my readers at LAist enjoy the program. I’m not sure what to say about the Spirit Awards. I was invited by IFC to cover it but it was somewhat miserable: they had overbooked press so there was literally no room on the carpet – we were jammed into each other which would have been even more uncomfortable except it was so cold and windy we actually benefitted from each others’ warmth.

You can see my LAist post on the Spirit Awards which was somewhat of a failed experience. A lot of the talent didn’t have publicists with them and were largely inapproachable. Organizers put the photographer pool at the wrong end of the line which created a gridlock of invited guests and their friends in front of us, but no one to manage who they talked to and for how long – a lot of the talent simply left. When I went to go upstairs I discovered that my accreditation gave me virtually no additional access so I hopped from foot to foot for a while until I got some pictures with Richard Kind, Matt Dillon, and Anvil, who were very nice and gracious. I did get a lot of photos – check out the published pool at LAist or my Flickr set which has even more. If I get asked to do it again next year I will demand an all-access pass or no go.

March 6th I went back to PaleyFest for “The Vampire Diaries” where I only got footage with Nina Dobrev and Paul Wesley but, of course, because of the teenybopper factor, that video and those photos have been getting more views than anything else I did during the trip. Nina Dobrev was actually very engaging and I think that she would have talked a lot longer if there hadn’t been other people waiting – a cute Canadian girl who was psyched about how well the Vancouver Olympics went. [See the LAist PaleyFest photo pool or my Flickr set.]

Sunday the 7th was manic because of the Oscars – actually, most of Hollywood was a complete mess for the week because of the closing of Hollywood Boulevard for set up. It took me less time to get to the residential area of Burbank than from Santa Monica/101 to the Wilshire district, which, if you aren’t so sure of the layout, is ridiculous, let me assure you. I decided not to go to the Oscars as I knew I’d just get a bleacher seat and 10+ hours of timesink. Instead I decided to hang out with my hosts for the morning and afternoon before heading over to the new W Hotel in Hollywood for E!’s Oscar party.

Unfortunately nobody from the Oscars showed up but I talked to plenty of TV people which is my beat anyways. Got some good interactions with cast from “Glee” and the upcoming “Dancing With The Stars” contestants. Snapped some photos but not many, although I think there are some winners in there of Buzz Aldrin.

My last day in LA was similarly busy, starting out with an interview I had scheduled with veteran actor Len Lesser (most popularly known as Uncle Leo from “Seinfeld). We talked for about an hour at his house in Burbank, a modest, if not classic bungalow, and the footage really looks good – I’m trying to figure out how to edit it together. I’ll probably have to make a 10 minute chunk for YouTube and perhaps a 1/2 hour piece for LAist.

My Lesser experience was followed by an interview with comedian Tom Green at his house/studio in the Hollywood Hills. Green was friendly enough but we were pressed for time as he had phoners to do with Australian outlets pending his 10 day trip out there. I do appreciate him setting aside time to speak with me as he had just arrived that morning from touring most of the United States and he could have used a rest instead of dealing with more press. The interview was posted and most people seem to like it a lot – I hope to interview him again later this year before his trip to Boston.

I have some invites to go to the TCM Festival and the TV Land Awards in April but I need to see how feasible that trip would be. I’m forever indebted to my hosts Molly and Desiree, Tim, and Elizabeth – but I don’t want to otherwise overstay my invitations as that would be my 3rd trip in 4 months. I’ll keep you posted here as I learn more about the future. Thanks for reading.

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by in Interview, TV

Had a great trip to LA from April 16th to 20th. My good friends the DVL (Desiree), Tim, and their daughter Little E (Elizabeth) hosted me again and I really do owe those guys so much – I can’t wait to have them come out to the Berkshires to stay with us for however long they want to: weeks, month, etc. and I’m serious about that.

They again let me use their home as a base as I ran all over Hollywood and Burbank like a madman for 4 days. It started out with going on the set of E!’s “The Soup” which is shot on the same set as all of E!’s programs – they have an amazingly compact soundstage with easily configurable sets. The actual set of “The Soup” is a green screen and a TV monitor in front of which host Joel McHale does his dynamic act. I put together a little video (below) of interviews with the producers, KP Anderson and Edward Boyd, and a snippet of Joel McHale. I loved their dynamic team of writers and staff who were in the wings during the entire taping – available for quick huddles of rewrites. Andrew Zimmern was the special guest and he performed admirably. Being at the taping was a privilege and I have huge respect for that crew. Go Soup!

The TV Junkie Goes to E!’s “The Soup” from Tom Lewis on Vimeo.

Friday the 17th was spent going to New Wave Entertainment to interview producers and comics involved with the creation of “NESN’s Comedy All Stars”. I interviewed comedy producer legend Barry Katz (creator of “Action”, “Last Comic Standing”, about a jillion HBO comedy specials, etc.) and comedians Jen Kober, Al Del Bene, and Freddy Lockhart. I’ll be editing those videos for the next few weeks (I’ve got hours of footage). It was a pleasure to talk to all of these people – total pros, very friendly, and very funny!

Saturday I took a bit of a break – got my equipment ready, ran up into the Hollywood Hills, went to Santa Monica with Desiree just to hang out and chill, and then went to dinner with AJ who was visiting LA from Brooklyn, and the infamous Tony Pierce, and the ever mysterious Jeanine Natale. Everyone was very kind to me, Tony bought my dinner as a payback from his visit back East (totally unnecessary!) and AJ bought us all drink. I’ve known these people for 20 years now and they are still so real and supportive, how fortunate can I be?

Sunday was pandemonium as I went to the TV Land Awards. It was easily 100F in the red carpet arrival area where I was stationed. They didn’t provide enough space for the journalists so we were standing all over each other. I was incredibly dehydrated after soaking all my clothes with sweat and was amazined that any of the actors would choose to walk that gauntlet to talk to such a bedraggled bunch as we were. I still count myself fortunate for the experience as I was able to talk to a pretty amazing set of people. Check out the video below, I still can’t believe it happened.

The TV Junkie at the 2009 TV Land Awards from Tom Lewis on Vimeo.

After TV Land I got out of my soaking clothes and popped another tape in the camera to go interview comedian Jon Lajoie who is an internet sensation. Jon creates these absolutely hilarious videos and is a real artist who does so very much with very few resources. He’s on tour and will be hitting Boston this week. Even though he was incredibly jet-lagged he conceded to do a walk-and-talk through Hollywood with me. Below is the result:

Comedian Jon Lajoie Walks & Talks in Hollywood from Tom Lewis on Vimeo.

More tomorrow!

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by in General, Marketing, TV

Actually got out for a ride today – temps were brisk as we’re not getting above 65F. I rode up to the hilltop orchard in Westhampton, it was beautiful. The leaves haven’t started changing in the Pioneer Valley, not even in the swampy areas. I hadn’t been on the road bike in a month and was a bit unsteady but was feeling in control by the end of it. I was really pleased with how people were driving their cars which is something I thought I’d never hear my self saying.

Speaking of bike stuff, I’m thrilled about Armstrong returning to the road.

Today’s TV Junkie – it’s all about Obama on Letterman. “Mad Men”, “The Shield”, and “Sons of Anarchy” have been excellent this week.

Here’s my summary of the Inbound Marketing Summit 2008 aka IMS08 – what a great day that was.

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