the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Category: Gossip and Celebrities (Page 3 of 5)

Dr. Phil’s Son Engaged to Playboy Triplet


The son of TV psychologist Dr. Phil has proposed to former Playboy playmate Erica Dahm, one of the triplet Dahm sisters.  McGraw is a best-selling author of self-help books himself.

Dahm exclaimed, "Oh gosh, is this real?" after the Aug. 26 proposal, Hayes said.

The couple will wed in Los Angeles but the date was not revealed.

Jay McGraw designed the 5-carat diamond, emerald and platinum engagement ring.


Jay McGraw is best known for writing the best-selling Life Strategies for Teens, which was positioned as an youthful offshoot of Dr. Phillip McGraw’s popular "Life Strategies." 


The book’s back cover explains Jay Mcgraw’s aim in speaking directly to today’s teens:

Are you as tired as I am of books constantly telling you about doing your best to understand your parents, doing your homework, making curfew, getting a haircut, dropping that hemline, and blah, blah, blah?

Well, you don’t have to be anymore.  Life Strategies for Teens is the first guide to teenage  life that won’t tell you what to do, or what to be, but rather how to live life best. Employing the techniques from Dr. Phillip C. McGraw’s Life Strategies, his son Jay provides teens with the Ten Laws of Life, which make the journey to adulthood an easier and more fulfilling trip.

I think it is great when a self-help author helps today’s youth.  Dr. Phil should be proud.


I especially respect Jay McGraw for practicing what he preaches, using his own "techniques" in his own life to inspire others.  

In fact, here are the top four "Laws of Life," as outlined in this well-received best-seller (not really):

Rule # 1)   Kids, if you want an excellent life, this is very important because everything flows from this, so listen carefully.  Make sure your father gets to go on Oprah, because that will make him famous and give him the opportunity to have his own TV show.   

Rule #2)   Once your father has his own TV show, have him put his name and face on some unhealthy candy bars to sell to "fat people" even if your father is a bit on the hefty side himself.  Make even more money.

Rule #3)  Use your father’s connections to write you own book on the same subject — but for teens — (even though you don’t really have the qualifications) and take a job hosting some dumb reality show like "Renovate My Family."  Don’t let it bother you that everyone just calls you Mr. Your Father’s Name’s son.

Rule #4)   At a certain point, you’re going to want to share your love with someone special.  Look for a soulmate that will complete you, someone that brings respect and dignity to your relationship — someone like one of the Playboy magazine "triplets."  This way, when you fantasize about your wife’s hot sisters, it’s not really "cheating."

Deconstructing Gwyneth Paltrow


The following is a full-length article from the New York Times on August 10, 2005 titled "Gwyneth Paltrow Takes Her Turn Behind the Camera," written by Felicia R. Lee — interspersed with my own thoughts as I read the article.

Gwyneth Paltrow yelled "Cut!" as if her life depended on it. Sipping hot green tea on one of the hottest days of the year, standing in a meandering Brooklyn apartment that had been transformed into a movie set, Ms. Paltrow was directing her first film, "Dealbreakers," a short about the dubious charms of dating, with no small measure of authority.

(Hmmm. she is "sipping hot green tea on one of the hottest days of the year.  Does this mean that she is ultra-hip, a trend-setter, or just a masochist?  And did the writer make sure to check that the tea bag wasn’t in fact Earl Grey or is this another made up"Jason Blair"-type detail?)

At one point, standing at the monitor in a pink camisole that said "Mrs. Martin" (she is married to Chris Martin, the lead singer of the rock group Coldplay), Ms. Paltrow suggested a longer camera pan for a shot of Travis, a goofy hippie offering his date some gorp.

(Add one name-dropping of a famous husband.  And what the hell is gorp?  Oh, here it is on Google.  Oh, here’s a recipe.  Let me bookmark it.)

"One more shot, then on to Opera Man," Ms. Paltrow said, referring to another bad date in the film, a 10-minute short about those dating moments when you realize it’s not going to work, usually because of something your date has said or done.

(A fucking ten-minute short — that she is co-directing!  Does this deserve a whole column in The New York Times?  I made seven ten-minute shorts in film school — and I directed them by myself — and no one from the NY Times ever contacted me!)

Such moments of command were occasionally offset by more maternal concerns. Joined on the set by Apple, her 14-month-old daughter, Ms. Paltrow looked on in delight as Apple splashed in what had been a bucket of ice for water and soda.

(More name-dropping of the stupidly-named daughter.   This is supposed to remind me that Ms. Paltrow is not only a successful actress, but a doting Mom.)

Ms. Paltrow, who splits her time between London and New York, called the film a chance to stretch artistically and to help a good cause.

(A good cause?  I’m laughing already and I don’t even know what the cause it.)

The short was one of four stories made into movies by an advisory board of female executives and actresses in Hollywood, assembled to further the cause of women in film.

(OK, I’m into that.  That’s cool.)

The board chose from among 4,000 fact-based 750-word essays about life-changing events submitted to Glamour magazine by its readers earlier this year. Ms. Paltrow was the co-writer and co-director of "Dealbreakers" with Mary Wigmore, a close friend and filmmaker who is Apple’s godmother.

(Wait a minute.  Isn’t this supposed to further the cause of women in film?  Where is the name of the woman who wrote the Glamour article?   Why is the world-famous Ms. Paltrow the co-writer and director and not one of the thousands of terrific unknown women struggling in Hollywood?  Don’t we want to advance their cause… not that of the Oscar winning Ms. Paltrow?  Well, surely her co-writer and director must be a deserving young talent.  But what’s this? — the co-writer and director is a close friend and Apple’s godmother?  That smells more like nepotism than "advancing women’s causes.")

The Glamour "reel moments" entries included the usual tales of death and divorce and finding oneself after motherhood but also played with lighter moments of epiphany, like knowing when a date’s number is up.   The set of films will eventually be shown in 25 markets starting in October, and a DVD containing them will also be inserted into the December issue of Glamour.

The magazine will also make a donation to FilmAid International, a charitable organization that uses film to help communities deal with disasters. In this case, FilmAid will use the money for women in refugee camps in Kenya.

(A donation to women in Kenyan refugee camps?  Great cause, but what does that have to do with anything?  How much will be donated?  Why not set up training for women directors?  And by the way, still no mention of the woman who wrote the original article in Glamour.)

"The brand is about the empowerment of women," Leslie Russo, Glamour’s associate publisher said of the magazine’s involvement in the project. "Today, with the culture being so celebrity-obsessed, how do we extend that message? How do we support the telling of real women’s stories in Hollywood?"

(The answer:  By getting super-celebrity Gwyneth Paltrow and her daughter’s godmother to make a 10 minute film about this pressing new subject of "dating in New York.")

Glamour picked Moxie Pictures, a bicoastal commercial and feature film production company, to develop the stories, produce the shorts and assemble the advisory board that selected the essays and helped to cast the films. The board included the actresses Katie Holmes, Lucy Liu and Julianna Margulies, as well as Meryl Poster, the former president of production at Miramax Films; Caroline Kaplan, a vice president at IFC Entertainment; and Cara Stein, the chief operating officer at the William Morris Agency.

(More name-dropping)

The winning essays were matched with female talent behind and in front of the camera, including, besides Ms. Paltrow; Jenny Bicks, the Emmy-winning writer and executive producer of "Sex and the City"; the director Trudy Styler (the mini-series "Empire"); and the actresses Rosario Dawson and Debi Mazar.

(More established talent without the need for their cause to be advanced)

Of the three other films, one fixes on a woman’s quest to find the right little black dress, while another concerns a woman trusting her instincts on what’s missing in her life. The last is about a housewife’s accidental encounter with transvestites.

(From now on, I get all my story ideas from readers of Glamour.)

Ms. Paltrow said that she and Ms. Wigmore were both drawn to the comedic possibilities of "Dealbreakers," and structured the film as a faux documentary about the dating adventures of Fran, a 30-year-old New Yorker. They shot the film during three recent long, hot days in New York.

(… and then retreated back to Ms. Paltrow’s well-air-conditioned six-bedroom penthouse overlooking Central Park.)

"It’s been great," Ms. Paltrow said of her first effort at directing. "It’s been really interesting to kind of get in here and see that I have an instinct for it.  "I think I’m very sensitive to the actor’s perspective," she continued. "Obviously, I’ve worked on 30 films so I think I’ve learned a lot about filmmaking through osmosis. I’ve spent basically 12 years of my life on film sets the whole time."

("…so why would I want to give anyone else an opportunity to get into the industry and take work away from me?")

Ms. Paltrow, 32, who won an Academy Award for best actress in 1999 for her role as Viola De Lesseps in "Shakespeare in Love," is very much a child of show business. Her father, Bruce Paltrow, who died in 2002, was a producer and director; her mother, Blythe Danner, is an actress. Her brother, Jake, is a director.

(Moral of the story:  Who needs the "empowerment of women" when you already have the empowerment of show-biz parents?)

"My parents were very discouraging of me going into it," Ms. Paltrow said of acting as a career. "I think there was sort of the sense in the 60’s still and the early 70’s that show business was not as respectable a profession as some others and I think they wanted me to do something more intellectual."

(Does anyone believe for one moment that her parents ever said anything remotely like that or is this quote here to solely  make New York Times readers continue to salivate over their favorite young actress?)

And yet, show business has treated her very well, indeed. There is already buzz about her next film, "Proof," which is set for a Sept. 16 premiere. The movie, one of the last projects of the departing co-chairmen of Miramax, Harvey and Bob Weinstein, is based on the Broadway play about a mentally ill University of Chicago mathematician, played by Anthony Hopkins, and his unstable daughter Catherine, played by Ms. Paltrow. Ms. Paltrow said she hoped to work again with the Weinsteins, who are starting another production company after they leave Miramax on Sept. 30.

(Showbiz rule #1: Never do anything without promoting your next project — and not the bullshitty 10 minute one, either.)

Despite her own star power, she believes the industry has a ways to go when it comes to women.  "I think a lot of women writers in Hollywood write from their own experience," she said. "But normally in Hollywood those experiences get so kind of homogenized and put through the studio system that what started as a core idea from somebody’s life often gets turned in a movie that you’ve seen a number of times.  The men in Hollywood make it hard for women. I really believe that. What it means is that it’s kind of like the old-boy industries. It’s mostly run by men."

(I might be wrong, but I think three of the movie studios are run by women.)

Ms. Bicks said that the television landscape had improved for women with the network success of ABC’s "Desperate Housewives," and HBO’s former hit, "Sex and the City."  "It’s made a difference in pitching stories about women," Ms. Bicks said.  The Glamour project showed a group of talented women that they could handle jobs that some had not done before, Ms. Poster said. "I told Gwyneth she could tell people to move here, move there, without coming off as a fussy actress," she joked.

(Ha.  Sarcastically.)

With women now leading the studios at Disney, Universal and Sony, "someone said to me that the male studio head is becoming an endangered species," Ms. Poster said.


She contended that the industry is much more female-friendly. Women aren’t directing films in large numbers, she said, because it’s an all-encompassing job that is not often compatible with the complexity of women’s lives.

(…and Oscar-winning actresses who want to be directors are stealing the jobs from other women.)

Still, Ms. Paltrow insisted, "it takes women to write short films about women or features about women."

(Nonsense.  I wonder what my screenwriting friends think about that comment.)

"There’s no reason why," she said, "if there’s ‘Wedding Crashers’ for boys, there can’t be something really funny yet intelligent for women, that has something to say for women."

(Oh, yes, ‘Wedding Crashers’ really empowered me as a male.  It was about two complete jerks who manipulate women, and one of them gets repeatedly molested by one of his conquests — and ends up falling for her.   Gwyneth, feel free to direct the woman’s version of the film.  And I’m still waiting — where is the name of the newcomer who wrote the Glamour article?)

My Entry to the Vanity Fair Essay Competition


Vanity Fair magazine is concerned that the youth of today is apathetic, especially compared to the baby-boomer editors who lived during the 1960’s. 

"More than 30 years ago, young people across the country staged sit-ins for civil rights, got up and protested against a misguided, undeclared war, and actually gave a damn if a president lied to them. Today it seems as if the younger generation of Americans are content to watch their MTV, fiddle with their game players, [and] follow the love lives of Brad, Jen, Jessica and Paris. What has changed? What is going on inside the minds of American youth today?"

To rectify the problem, Vanity Fair (in association with Montblanc fountain pens) is running an essay competition titled, "What’s on the minds of America’s youth today?"   The prize:  $15,000, a trip to the  the Santa Maddalena writers’ colony, and a Montblanc fountain pen.

So, I figured — hell, if I can write erotica, I can certainly write a short essay on this topic.

My Essay for Vanity Fair:

What’s the Matter with Kids Today?

In the 1960’s young people had meaning in their lives.  They were politically aware and cared about what happened in this country and in the world.  Young people today are more technologically sophisticated, but have lost much of their "soul."  How did this happen?  What made America’s youth go off track?   I’d like to thank Vanity Fair for the opportunity to address this important issue.  

Rather than caring about war and poverty, today’s young people only care about celebrity culture (Jennifer Aniston, Vanity Fair cover, September 2005; Scarlett Johansson photoshoot, Vanity Fair, August 2005) and scandal (Martha Stewart, Vanity Fair cover, August 2005).  In the 1960’s, young people looked up to heroes like Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy.  Who do they look up to today?  (Tom Cruise story, Vanity Fair, August 2005; Porn Star Memoirs, Vanity Fair, September 2005).  In the 1960’s, women were at the forefront of a political movement, pushing for equal rights for all women.  Why have today’s women lost interest in politics?  (Jimmy Choo shoes article, August 2005; Elle Macpherson’s lingerie debut article, August 2005).   In the 1960’s, young people were fighting the establishment.  Today’s youth are complacent, caring more about consumerism and material objects than changing the world. (Adrienne Vittadini ad, Polo ad, Ralph Lauren ad, Movado ad, Calvin Klein ad, Bacardi ad, DKNY ad, Audi ad, countless other ads, in all Vanity Fair issues).

So, who is the culprit in the dreadful attitudes of our misguided youth?  The answer is clear. 

The editors of Vanity Fair.

Real Celebrity Encounters



My weekend of celebrity photos reminded me of an email conversation I recently had with a woman who just graduated college.  She lives in a small Midwestern town and wants to move to either New York or Los Angeles. 

"What is it like?" she wants to know.

She doesn’t have a job, friends, or family in either of these places.  Of course, I told her that big city life is great and has many cultural advantages, but I was concerned about her reasons for wanting to move.  She seemed to mostly buy into the media image of the glamour of these cities.   Let’s stop the urban legends right now.  Most young New Yorkers do not live in the apartments you see in "Friends."  Real New York women do not live "Sex in the City" lives.  Few Angelenos shop in Beverly Hills ala "Pretty Women."  Ask any New Yorker living in a tiny apartment on 123rd Street for $2500 a month or any Angeleno driving in a rush hour traffic (or trying to buy a house) and they’d tell you the truth:  life here isn’t all that glamorous.

College girl was most excited with the prospect of meeting celebrities.  All she seemed to care about was which celebrities I have met.  She loves reading blogs from the big cities, where bloggers write about all the celebrities encounters.   She especially loves this popular LA blog, which frequently talks about celebrity encounters.  I like this blog, too, but I also know that the glamour of Hollywood life is as real as the women in Playboy.

By living in these big cities, I’ve encountered many different celebrities.  Some at work, some at the car wash.  Sophia, in particular, has worked with many famous actors as an actress and a Russian dialect coach for TV and films.  She recently was the coach for Nicolas Cage in his next movie, where he plays a Russian-born arms dealer.  

Celebrities are not any more exciting than anyone else, just a whole lot more pampered.

It’s true that the first time you accidentally bump into Michael Douglas in the shopping mall, you call all your friends.  But gradually, you are taught that what distinguishes you — a hip urbanite — from the Midwestern tourist, is that you must always act cool and make believe that you hardly notice the person’s celebrity status.  Only tourists and desperate people ask for an actual autograph.   I completely ignored David Schwimmer when we both reached for the same box of Cheerios in Ralph’s.   He would think I was a total dweeb if I went "Oh my God, it’s Ross from ‘Friends,’ the show with the giant New York apartments!  Please sign my Cheerios box!"

I think other bloggers sometimes mention all these celebrity encounters to make others "envious," as if there was something wrong living in Kansas City.  The truth is that most big city dwellers would be much happier living in a nice big house in a small town in Wisconsin.  Instead, we put up with all sorts of shit just to feel like we are somehow more important because Pamela Anderson visits the same dry cleaners we do.   Every dry cleaners in Los Angeles has a hundred glossy photos on the wall.  Is this the new casting central?

Creating envy is the sole purpose of New York and Los Angeles magazines, two rags which create a total bullshit image of these cities.  I read both of them.  Don’t take any media about big city life seriously. 

I’ve only had four celebrity encounters that are even worth mentioning.

1)  I once got drunk with Tim Allen, where he said things I cannot mention in polite company.

2)  I once had a very funny conversation with multi-billionaire best-selling author Sidney Sheldon (I know, not exactly ‘celebrity’) at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and then lent him the three bucks for parking because he didn’t carry money around with him.

3)  I was alone, late at night, in the gym, with Bruce Springsteen.  If you live in Los Angeles, you probably know the small cheapo ‘Beverly Hills Health and Fitness’ on Beverly Drive.  The place was empty, except for me and … someone who looked like Bruce Springsteen. 

"Could it be?  Why would he be at this crappy gym?  Should I say something to him?  Should I say that I own every one of this albums?"  

This was finally someone who I would ask to sign my Cheerios box. 

Suddenly, the Boss started to walk over in my direction.  He was in great shape.  He pointed to some dumbbells sitting next to me.

Bruce:   "You using those?"

Me:  "Uh, no."

I handed them to him.  Our hands brushed against each other.  BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN’S HAND!

That was it.

4)  The last encounter was interesting only because it got me in trouble with my entire family.

Sophia and I were in New York.  We were going to a production of "Uncle Vanya" at Lincoln Center with my parents.  The show was starring Kevin Kline, one of Sophia’s favorites.  We were eating in an Italian restaurant before the show, when Kevin Kline, his wife Phoebe Cates, and one of their children, sit at the booth behind ours.  I’m the only one who notices them.  Kevin Kline and Sophia are literally sitting back to back in their respective booths.

Since I know of Sophia’s obsession with Kevin Kline, I wanted to tell her about him, but my parents have a reputation for being somewhat "overfriendly" and I was concerned that if I told everyone at my table, my parents would go over and talk to him — and embarrass me for the rest of my life.

I decided that I would just tell Sophia.  I was already living in Los Angeles at the time, so I was already indoctrinated in the "being cool with celebrities" attitude necessary to be considered a hipster.  How can I tell Sophia with being overheard by Kevin Kline?

Neil:  (whispered)  "Sophia.  Twelve o’clock."

Sophia:  "Twelve o’clock?"

She looked at her watch.

Sophia:  "It’s seven o’clock.  What wrong with you?’

Obviously Sophia never used this code when out in a bar checking out the opposite sex with friends.   No, she was probably talking to the opposite sex, not just standing there all night with loser friends, like I did.

I came up with a new plan.

Neil:  "Do you have a pen?"

Sophia:  "Why do you need a pen?"

Neil:  "I just want to write something down."

Sophia:  "What?"

Neil:  "I dunno.  An idea for a screenplay."

Sophia:  "Now?  In the middle of dinner?"

Neil:  "Just give me a pen."

Dad:  "I have a pen."

My father hands me his prize possession — his Parker pen that he’s kept in his shirt pocket for 30 years.  I try to write with it on a napkin.

Neil:  "It doesn’t work."

Dad:  "It has to work.  It’s a brand new refill from Staples.  You need to shake it."

Mom:  "Artie, when are you going to buy yourself another pen?"

Dad:   ‘They don’t make pens like this anymore."

Neil:  "Because they don’t work."

My mother dumps the contents of her pocket book onto the table, and hands me a Bic pen.

Meanwhile, a waiter brings a birthday cake over to Kevin and Phoebe’s child.  A group of waiters come over to their table and start singing Happy Birthday.  My parents and Sophia, still not knowing who they are, start singing along.

Everyone:  "Happy Birthday to you…"

Everyone claps.  I write a note to Sophia on a napkin.  It reads "Kevin Kline" with a arrow.  I slide the napkin over to her.  She reads it, getting annoyed at my behavior.

Sophia:  "I know who’s in the play.  Are you in a rush again to get there?  It’s not like it’s a movie where you need to watch all those boring trailers.  We already have seats."

Neil:  "No, read it again." 

Sophia:  "You’re acting really weird."

My father finished shaking his pen and scribbled something on his napkin.

Dad:  "Look, it’s working!

The Kline family left before I got a chance to tell the rest of my family.   After they left, I finally told them.   My family was upset at me.

Sophia:  "How could you be so selfish not to tell me?  You know I love Kevin Kline!"

There are many reasons to move to New York or Los Angeles.  Just don’t make it because of the celebrities. 

Celebrity Weekend Continues

Hollywood celebrities and supermodels across Los Angeles are quick to denounce a recent New York Times op-ed piece, which says that drinking fashionable bottled water is no better than tap water and is BAD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT.

Environment activist Cameron Diaz, recently featured on the Earth Day edition of Trippin’, an environmenal-conscious MTV show, is shown here hiding behind her bottled Norwegian water.


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