Friday, March 01, 2024


The Stahl House is an LA treasure. It's a mid-century architectural wonder built in 1960 -- using steel and glass. The house was designed by architect Pierre Koenig and made well-known by photographer Julius Shulman. This modernist beauty sits high up in the Hollywood Hills overlooking the mesmerizing City of Angels. Just below you can see Sunset Blvd. and the Chateau Marmont Hotel. This historic home belonged (and still does) the Stahl family home. It is a gorgeous location in Hollywood and yet modest in its simple design with spectacular panaromic views. Enjoy some of the pics as we toured the house (there are public tours several times a year. Check their website for more info. Thank you, Melissa Stahl, for one great tour.
After the tour of Stahl House, we headed down the Hollywood Hills and enjoyed cocktails at the Chateau Marmont. Perfect way to wrap up an LA day. Cheers!
Until Next Time...

Saturday, July 22, 2023


Hey Folks, it's been a minute... Hope your summer is off to a kickass start! Mine is. We're experiencing a heatwave here in lovely Los Angeles. Triple digit temperatures. The sidewalks feel like mini ovens and yet WGA and SAG-AFTRA members are out pounding the hot pavement with picket signs (some deserve writing awards on this creativity alone)... the strike lines got a lot better lookin' once the SAG actors showed up outside Warner Bros Studios in Burbank, California... apparently actors have way more time to workout, or at least that's what us writers like to say. We sit way too much writing scripts! Get up and jump into action. It feels great to get outdoors, into the sunshine and high-90s temps to walk in support of labor and unions. Here are a couple of pics I took on the front lines.
Mega talented, Academy Award winning actor Allison Janney (of I, Tonya and The West Wing fame) was there to walk/march/chant. CJ Cregg represents! Love her. Along with many familiar faces from TV and film. Stay strong, WGA and SAG-AFTRA! Together you can impact the lives of thousands by sticking to your principles and guaranteeing a better contract for all.
Happy Summer! Stay cool. Until next time...

Friday, July 30, 2021


Last night we went to see "The Dark Knight" at the Legion Drive-In Theater right here in the heart of Hollywood.  It was a perfect summer night for an outdoor movie.  This gem of a drive-in is located in the back parking lot of the American Legion Post 43. 

It's the first ever drive-in cinema in Hollywood. Only one of two U.S. drive-ins left that  show movies in 35mm prints.  For movie lovers, you have to check it out. The booth has DCI-compliant 4K digital projection with advanced stereo FM sound transmission.

We were greeted by a pleasant young woman at the entrance.  She took our snack order (it was part of the ticket price of $60 per car).  It's a tad costly, but that covers everyone in the car. Each person gets one soda, popcorn (free & unlimited) and a box of candy.  It's well-worth the price and especially for the experience. We loved it! 

There is a new glass enclosed projection booth. You can watch how the movie gets projected and it's a cool thing to see, especially when a reel switches from one to the other during the film presentation.

 This was an amazing movie-going experience!  The staff makes sure every aspect of your experience is pleasant and enjoyable.  

We forgot just how great Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight was starring Christian Bale as Batman and the late Heath Ledger as the Joker.  Summertime, an outdoor movie in the heart of Hollywood is hard to beat!

Great job with the projection, celluloid selection and service, Legion Drive-In Staff!  We'll be back often.

For more information about this Drive-In, visit their website at

Until next time.


The Covid-19 pandemic refuses to exit stage right.  

There is a new variant of the virus called Delta. That name reminds me of the airlines or the famous tune Delta Dawn by Helen Reddy.  

This Delta is contagious and spreading fast, namely due to human beings refusing to get vaccinated.  There are many reasons for people not wanting the vaccination -- and I hear them out -- but for me, the science, the numbers, the math are proving vaccination works, as do masks in keeping people safe.

L.A. lifted its mask mandate for indoors in June, but after the July 4th holiday and folks having much-needed family gatherings and plane trips -- the numbers for infections are on the rise.

Masks are back.

I'm again wearing one at work.

It's, quite frankly,  frustrating and infuriating.  

During this latest public health crisis, I'm working on a new full-length play that takes place during WWII in America.  I'm researching books and stories about that time in the United States, how Americans put country and service first (men, women and children) during wartime in the '40s.  Every American found a way to serve -- selling war bonds, women working in empty factories when men left for war,  children selling items to raise money for the soldiers.

What happened to that collective, self-sacrificing American spirit?  Doing your best for others? Why, in this current American culture, is patriotism a word we don't recognize anymore.

There is a deep-seated anger in our country. It's worrisome.  Even a national crisis like this horrific pandemic can't bring Americans together. Even the summer Olympics can't do it. Americans are now bickering about Simone Biles.

On to a lighter note, movie theaters are reopening across LA.  I hope to return to the New Beverly -- Quentin Tarantino's theater.  It's a great, small, well-run movie theater.

I haven't ventured to the commercial movie theaters just yet and probably won't any time soon. I watch same day releases on HBO Max (Warners) and Disney+.  I invested in a new sofa and a bigger Smart TV. Home viewing or streaming isn't going away.

There is a debate about studios distributing new releases in theaters and on streaming on the same day.  Artists and distributors are upset that they're losing major box office money with this new business model, as are producers -- but the bottom line is the public isn't ready to embrace the movie-going experience in public spaces yet. 

Not until Covid-19 and its variant Delta disappears. 

So, what can we each do to make that happen sooner?  What's our wartime effort against this sickness?

What can we EACH do to improve the well-being of our coworkers, churches, theaters, restaurants, stores and schools?  For our children, grandchildren and grandparents?

For me, it was getting fully vaccinated.  It's the science.

Stay safe and enjoy summer 2021.



Sunday, April 04, 2021


It's been a trying year where it could have been easy to lose hope and faith.  Today, on Easter Sunday, we're reminded to never lose either.  There will be dark days but the light is promised. Wishing you and your families peace, blessings and joy this faithful season in April 2021.

To better days ahead for all.  Stay strong & well!



Until next time.


Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Contamination Nation 2020
by Janet J. Lawler
Los Angeles, CA
April 28, 2020

Burbank, CA at rush hour during the Coronavirus Pandemic 2020
A lot sure has happened since my last post.

Who cares about screenwriting or movies?  The world has ended.  Well, almost.

It's as if someone put a finger on a spinning globe.  Just stopped us all cold.  Life, as we know, seems over from coast to coast, continent to continent.

Just back in February, I attended an Oprah Winfrey live event here in Los Angeles with 14,000 in attendance at the Forum!  The year was young and optimism was in the air!  A new decade had begun. It was an all-day event of celebrating life and hope for 2020!

But then, the coronavirus invaded America.  The crowds went away overnight.  Events postponed, canceled, schools shut down, March Madness became a reality.

Now today, six weeks later, the US economy is still closed for business.  Movie theaters in LA and around the world are dark.  Film projectors are collecting dust. Box-office grosses no longer matter.  Nobody is going to the movies anymore.

Except at home.

Disneyland is closed, for heaven's sake.  Tomorrowland, folks, remains truly uncertain. 

Sports arenas are empty.  No crowds.  No fans. The streets and freeways show nothing but empty lanes.  No smog and wild animals are roaming freely where humans once roamed (I saw two coyotes in my residential neighborhood the other night!).

For once in LA, there is plenty of parking, everywhere! except there is nowhere to go as all the shops, clubs and restaurants are closed.

We can get fast food at the drive-thru or order in.  Delivery men and women come to your door looking like they've scrubbed up for surgery -- mask, gloves, goggles.  What in the world?  They still didn't remember to put my salad dressing on the side... but I'm not complaining... ever again about take-out orders being messed up!  Nowadays, we're just thankful to eat something besides tuna out of a can or pasta again!

Thank goodness for all the essential workers -- bless YOU all -- the doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers, school teachers, store clerks, package carriers, postal carriers, truck drivers, store clerks and stockers, moms and dads balancing child care and work duties at home,  and to the news media (yes, it's still where we get updated information on this monster virus.)

And forgive me while I go a little Alanis Morissette on you, but isn't it ironic?  We are now appreciating and seeing blue-collar, hourly workers (who may have been invisible before this pandemic) now being celebrated as everyday heroes.  Those men and women who labor in the agriculture field to pick our fresh produce?  Those undocumented human beings who work for pennies?  They matter.  Supermarket customers are suddenly being quite respectful to the local checkout cashier instead of berating her over some incidental mistake (like missing those savings of .10 cents on my Greek yogurt!).  And the RAINBOW -- most identified with pride in the LGBTQ community for decades -- is now the UNIVERAL symbol for strength in numbers and hope.  That was the point all along.

Is there a bright spot in all this craziness?  Yes, the Internet.  We can stream movies galore, download TV shows and series, watch vintage sports events, and Zoom each other silly.  Social and video conferencing sites are keeping us connected with our families and reuniting TV and movie casts (the latest this week, The Goonies!)

Our screens are keeping us closer to each other.  Again, ironic, huh?  Weren't we all aiming for less screen time just a few months ago?  And now kids are talking to their teachers on them.

We can't volunteer outside our homes to help society but we can donate.  We can make a contribution to food pantries or small businesses.  

Isn't it wonderful and inspiring also to see all these kick-ass, amazing artists (rock stars, Broadway divas, philharmonic superstars) offering free performances from their homes!).  Hats off to Lady Gaga, Melissa Etheridge, Bruce Springsteen, and others.

It's so intimate and inspiring to see mega"stars" in their natural habitats (at home) with bed head and in casual clothes like the rest of us.  It's Sunday every day of the week now. No need for dressing up, makeup or even showering if you don't want.  Everybody is keeping it REAL -- including late-night comedians and theater folks.  I'm grateful.

I'm wearing a mask at work, driving around LA, and running quick errands.  It's hard to breathe as the Southern California temps rise.  And it's hard to eat a snack, chew gum or take a sip of water without touching or lifting my mask.  And there is something mysterious about having on a mask.  Fashion statements (fancy scarves, sports logos, flags)... others wearing bandanas like Western bank robbers.

What about creativity during Coronavirus times?  Do we abandon our ideas and just vegetate in front of our laptop or TV?  Read for pleasure?  Not write a word until it's all over?

I can't.  I still feel the need to write, create, and hope.

I managed to bang out a new screenplay.  It's a comedy (don't we need more laughs).  It's called RITA RPM.  It's about a middle-aged woman who takes up competitive cycling to overcome her empty nest syndrome.  It's a Rocky-like story for those facing loneliness.  Talk about perfect timing!  We're all feeling lonely, disconnected, scared, angry, confined, and trapped nowadays. 

But we will make it through together, we WILL.  That's not just a slogan for the times.

This too shall pass, God-willing.  It's a horrific time with mass deaths caused by this virus.  My heart goes out to all those who have lost loved ones during the Covid-19 crisis.  So deeply sorry, especially for those in my beloved hometown of New York City.

How can this happen in modern times with our modern-day medicine?  How can the United States be the richest country in the world and yet so unprepared to fight this monster?  What is this virus here to teach us?  What is the ah-ha moment? That may sound like an Oprah-ism to you, but it's true.  What will we learn from this unprecedented shutdown, shut-in, global crisis, and human tragedy?   Will it force us to take inventory of our lives, reconnect with friends and family, let go of grudges and ill-will, create more, not take life, and leadership for granted?  Will it teach us anything about ourselves?  You and me? Are we better out in the world or being at home?  Where are we making a bigger difference?
Help on its way in NYC
Yes, it's a dark, very bleak time in human history.  For each of us.  But one thing we can count on is the human spirit loves to thrive and rise over adversity -- we did it after WWII, we did it after 9/11, we will do it after this epic battle.

Meanwhile, let your VOICE be heard, whatever you have to say or need to say, do it now!  Pick up the pen, the phone, a musical instrument or device and create like your life depends on it.  Because maybe it does.  Keep a journal (your grandkids will thank you, maybe history too).  Take photos of the good and bad.  Document living through this historic time of human struggle and economic devastation.  Others will learn from your experience.

Before long, the world will once again spin again at full speed, and these isolating days with time on our hands will be over.  What will we have to show for it?  What will we have learned?


Until next time -- good health!

Thursday, February 13, 2020

THE BIG GOODBYE:  CHINATOWN and the Last Years of Hollywood

"Forget it, Jake, it's Chinatown."

That's one of the most memorable ending lines in Hollywood film history.

If you're a devotee of this classic movie CHINATOWN (Paramount Pictures, 1974), be sure to pick up this new book THE BIG GOODBYE: CHINATOWN and the Last Years of Hollywood by Sam Wasson.

The book has amazing details about Jack Nicholson, as private detective Jake Gittes, insights about 70s movies and insider stories about Hollywood's top directors, producers, and stars from that era of moviemaking.

I bought my copy already and had it signed by Sam Wasson at his recent talk at the Burbank Public Library in Burbank, CA.
Author Sam Wasson and AD/Producer Howard "Hawk" Koch, Jr.
The Big Goodbye focuses on the production and legend of the Los Angeles iconic film.  The screenplay for Chinatown was written by Robert Towne.  Wasson refers to it as the "the Tora of screenwriting".  He explained why this came to be.  When screenwriting guru Syd Field wrote his first book about the writing craft titled SCREENPLAY (1979) he chose Chinatown as the best example on how to professionally craft a script. The movie and the screenplay are still today referred to for its stellar storytelling on screen and on the page.

First assistant director on Chinatown, Howard "Hawk" Koch, Jr. joined Wasson to offer inside tales about Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, Roman Polanski, and others.  I met Koch at the book signing for his recent memoir "Magic Time: My Life in Hollywood."  Kock was the AD and producer of over sixty films.  He produced some of my favorite films of all-time including "The Way We Were", "This Property is Condemned" (script by Francis Ford Coppola), and "Barefoot in the Park".  He's worked with the best in the film industry and also served as former president of the Motion Picture Academy and the Producer's Guild.

In closing, I'll leave you with another well-known movie line from Chinatown spoked by the film's director Roman Polanski in his cameo as Man with a Knife:

"You're a nosy fella, kitty cat, huh?"

And then, Man with a Knife slices Jake Gittes' nose open with a knife. 

Koch said that famous scene took twelve takes, with Polanski pretending again and again to slice Nickolson's nose open.  Finally, after the twelfth take, Nicholson said: "That's enough." Koch noted the director used the first take in the movie. 

Hollywood power games.

Until next time. 


Monday, September 23, 2019

Any good screenwriting books?
The Larry Edmunds Bookshop is well-known and one of the oldest bookshops around.  It's been in business for over 70 years. When you enter the place, it looks like a used book store with shelves of old and new Hollywood-themed books, movie posters on the walls and other Hollywood artifacts.  They have a great collection of movie scripts, everything from The Godfather to Forest Gump selling for $15.  We can get most now online for free, but if you're into collecting film scripts in pristine condition, this is your place.

I, of course, had to find the screenwriting shelf and they had many of the well-known screenwriting paperbacks from Syd Field and other popular writing gurus.  The store is rather small and some of it looked used more for storage.  I expected it to have a more impressive screenwriting collection/display -- but it's still a cool place to visit when on Hollywood Blvd. in L.A.

Hopefully, this old-time bookshop will stick around in the digital world.   Stop in if you're in town and pick up a book --  support the locals.  You can browse and feel like you're stepping back in time in Hollywood.
Here is some info about the place and the link to its website is below.


6644 Hollywood Boulevard Los Angeles, CA, 90028
Phone: 323)463-3273
Mon : 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Sat: 10:00 am – 7:00 pm
Sun: 12:00 pm – 7:00 pm

If you're looking for larger bookshops with a moe current stock and a more inviting place to hang out for hours, I'd suggest The Last Bookstore in DTLA or Book Soup on Sunset Blvd.
Either way, go buy a book and read.

Until next time.