Monday, March 28, 2011

HOPping fun in L.A., part one

Yup, folks, it's time. We've been given the green light to blog all about our trip. Yay!

If you're interested in hearing the "professional me" talk about the interview experiences from my recent visit to L.A. for the HOP press junket, please be assured that you can read that type of post over at 5 Minutes for Mom today, in my post Fatherhood in Hollywood, James Marsden's Star Performance. While this post (along with the uncertain number of future follow-up parts, as well) will include more details about the entire weekend experience, I'm going to forewarn you that the posts over here on my own little space on the internet will also feature some other key components:
  • ridiculously silly photos of my fancy hotel room
  • candid professional photos of the group of bloggers as we partied it up
  • cool details about the animation/live action filming process that I learned
  • the real skinny on those celebrity interviews, including the wackiness that is Russell Brand
  • lots of virtual squealing
Shall we get started?

I won't go on too much about the travel details, (like the fact that no matter which seat I sit in on an airplane, the person next to me decides they deserve both armrests surrounding them), but I feel compelled to say that it is an odd, odd experience to fly from the East Coast to the West Coast-- sitting on my butt for hours and hours, only to get three of those hours back upon the touching down of the plane. The flip side is that the loss of those hours on the way back is a real kick in the pants.

I'm going to reminisce a little about my experience on Friday, because not only did we get to attend the press pre-screening of the really adorable movie HOP, it also was only the second time I ever hung out with a crew of hardcore bloggers. And honestly, there were some really cool writers there- some representing large collaborative sites, like I was there as the rep for 5 Minutes for Mom, as well as others who run their own "big blogs" and were there on their own accord. Everyone was friendly and excited to be there, and I was happy to find folks who helped make me feel comfortable in such a new-to-me environment.

Okay, sure, this is a pic from Saturday, but you get to see us all looking our finest!
Photo courtesy of Chris and Kristen Photography

The general consensus among the group was quite positive about the movie, and I was glad to hear that I wasn't the only one who went into it with somewhat low expectations. I have to say that the trailers and film clips that are available now are much more indicative of the cuteness factor of the movie than the original. (Good work, marketing department!) I consider myself a pretty tough critic when it comes to media marketed for children (really, it's about the only area of my life I could be called "conservative"), and other than one small reference that I wish was not included in this movie, I'm confident recommending it as a fun and funny family film.

After the movie, we returned to the hotel for a little cocktail party and dinner. Oh, did I forget to mention, we were put up at a pretty nice hotel. (cough) Nice, as in, (cough) The Four Seasons nice. Yes. Little old me in the fabulous Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. Holy guacamole, this was by far the fanciest place I've ever slept in. Let's take a moment to focus on the little details that made me giggle with joy in my room:

My comfy-ass bed

Equally comfy chair. I enjoy reclining, can you tell?

 The balcony of my 9th floor room that made me slightly nervous, but on which I stood nonetheless

 The view from said balcony. Had I been on the other side of the hallway, I'd have been able to see the HOLLYWOOD sign!

The television that politely greeted me by name

And finally, the toilet phone... for when you need to take care of business, when you're, um, taking care of business

Alrighty, now that the silly pictures of my room are out of the way, let's get back to Friday evening, and the fabulous party and dinner that was set up for us. Some cool facts about the night:
  • There was a special drink, a HOPtini, available for us at the party, but I have had questionable experiences with drinks that end in 'tini,' so I opted out.
  • I went old school and ordered a screwdriver, because it seemed like it would go well with the dinner. It was lovely.
  • The dinner? DELISH! Macaroni and cheese that would be ashamed to know it shares a name with the neon orange stuff that is Kraft, twice baked potatoes with broccoli, baked ham that was so juicy I wanted seconds, lamb chops with a tangy sauce... wow.
  • For those of you who actually know me, yes, I will repeat that I ate broccoli and I even tried lamb for the first time. Not a big fan of either, but I was eating my heart out that night and wanted to give them both a go.
  • Also for those of you who are aware of my preferred eating tendencies, you should not be surprised to know that these bits of chocolatey goodness made my night. I apparently am also different than the rest of the crew in that the "pooping" jelly beans joke from the movie (watch the trailers, already!) didn't affect me in the least. I am unfazed by fictional scatological humor, and I really do enjoy jelly beans.
  • When you sit down with two very friendly mom bloggers, the conversation is sure to include funny kid stories, a little bit of book talk (in which I sadly unveiled my tendency to stalk befriend and follow authors online), and a whole lot of laughter. Thanks Lexi and Carey!

I admit to being one of the early departers from the party that evening, but in my defense, my body did think it was 1:30 AM, and I'd been up for over 20 hours at that point, discounting my fits of sleepiness on the plane. But, of course, when I returned to my room, I fiddled around online for a bit, watched a little television on that friendly machine, and drank the fancy bottle of water that was so thoughtfully left on my bedside with an accompanying glass. Oh, and the nice housekeeping staff even straightened up the mess I had left with my toiletries spread out on the bathroom vanity in my hasty departure earlier that afternoon, as well as making it one step easier for me to climb into bed that evening by removing the big pillow and folding down my blankets. I could have seriously never left that hotel.

As I closed my eyes to finally drift off to sleep that night, my mind raced with excited, anxious and curious thoughts about what the next day would bring as we went to the Universal Pictures lot to actually interview the stars of the movie HOP, James Marsden, Russell Brand, and Kaley Cuoco. Fun, fun, fun.

Disclosure: Universal Studios paid my expenses to attend the press junket for Hop, but any opinions about the experience or the movie are completely my own.

Leaving you on the edge of your seat,

Since I'm blabbing about this trip all over the Internets, here is the full collection, that will be updated as posts go live: