News Article

One Day in Hollywood

Kate Bosworth, Mya, the ''Simpsons'' writers, and others give an inside look at the way entertainment is made

Kate Bosworth
Image credit: Kate Bosworth Photograph by James White

Kate's Break, 9 a.m.

Every so often, Hollywood scans the teeming masses of unheralded actors who toil in this city and -- seemingly at random -- picks one as the Next Big Thing. This time, it's Kate Bosworth's turn, and the swirl of buzz surrounding her is already approaching tsunami proportions. The 20-year-old actress has precisely one starring credit to her name -- playing a babacious surfer chick in last year's ''Blue Crush'' -- and yet here she is, strolling onto the set of the romantic comedy ''Win a Date With Tad Hamiliton'' for her second high-profile role of the year. (She just finished costarring with Val Kilmer in the sure-to-be-controversial John Holmes biopicture, ''Wonderland''; later this year she'll play 1950s ingenue Sandra Dee opposite Kevin Spacey in ''Beyond the Sea.'').

In her case, at least, there does seem to be more happening here than hype. ''Kate Bosworth is a movie star in every sense of the word,'' believes director Robert Luketic (''Legally Blonde''), watching his new starlet prepare for a scene in which her character, a naive Midwestern girl who wins a date with fictional movie star Tad Hamilton (Josh Duchamel), first arrives at LAX. ''There is something incredibly paper thin about some of these Next Big Things, but Kate has the talent to back the fame up. The notice she's getting is not a result of some publicity machine. It's because of the quality of her work.''

Still, Bothworth has valid reasons to be scared: Stunning NBTs or arguably equal talent and have come and gone before her (see Gretchen Moll). ''When someone says something nice, I wonder about their real motive,'' Bosworth says. It's a horrible way to be, but if you're a hundred percent innocent in this business, you're going to be eaten alive.''

She's already learned Lesson No. 1.

Crafting the Perfect ''D'Oh!'' 10:10 a.m.
Their Monday morning probably isn't entirely dissimilar from yours: They get up, get dressed, go to work, and slurp coffee while engaging in deliciously nerdy debates about ''The Simpsons'' with their coworkers. The only difference is: These guys get paid a lot more for it. Tucked away in a cozy, bungalow-style office on the Fox studio lot in L.A., the show's 20 writers earn their keep by poring over the blueprints for an episode airing next year in which bully Nelson moves into the Simpson household after Marge grows motherly toward him. Even with a script from a seasoned scribe, the rewriting process is significant; today's pass is the first of two or three drafts to be completed before the cast is brought in to record their parts; more tweaking will likely follow. (And it can be as subtle -- and as important -- as simply changing the phrase ''giving my self-hatred a swirlie'' to ''giving my self-hatred a purple nurple.'') Despite this cultivation-by-committee construct, the vibe in the room is far more casual than corporate, though not completely kooky. ''Everybody has an arrow in their head, everybody's wearing rainbow suspenders, and everybody has a Nerf gun,'' ''Simpsons'' writer Matt Warburton deadpans. ''Because it's comedy, right?'' And comedy is the sole objective, insists executive producer Al Jean. ''It's not something where your name goes on the joke, so it's noncompetitive,'' he says. ''It's something where you only want to get a good product.'' Along the way, however, some wackiness does ensue -- though outsiders don't always get the humor. ''[People always] say, 'What goes on in there?''' says coexecutive producer Ian Maxtone-Graham. ''Every now and then, I try to explain step-by-step a comic digression that had us all doubled over in stitches and they look at me like I'm dehydrated. Which I am.''

Mya Busts Some Tour Moves, 3:35 p.m.
Inside a North Hollywood rehearsal studio, Mya (front) and five dancers she's about to take on tour are running through their paces. ''My love is like...wo!'' Mya mimes, gyrating wildly to her new single. ''My touch is like...wo!... My ass is like...wo!'' And with that, she and the two female dancers snap their well-toned bums toward the male hoofers, who feign whiplash. When they bring this choreography to the stage (opening for Mariah and R. Kelly Stateside, and headlining overseas), Mya won't even participate in most of it, because she doesn't want to cheat with tapes on the singing front, à la some other dancing divas. But she's still learning every step, and ''the stuff that I think is most effective, I'll jump into.'' Dance rehearsals have been going on so far for a week and a half, six hours a day, following every-other-morning physical therapy. Her discipline is like...wo!

Taking a Meeting, 4:12 p.m.
On today's agenda at Revolution Studios is casting for ''The Forgotten,'' a supernatural thriller about a grieving mother (Julianne Moore already has the part) whose dead son may be a figment of her imagination. Oscar-winning producers Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen (''American Beauty''), Revolution partner Todd Garner (above right, with Cohen), development exec Scott Bernstein, and director Joseph Ruben (''The Good Son'') are running through a list of names (we've agreed not to reveal) to play a detective who befriends Moore. Garner envisions a Jodie Foster-in-''The Silence of the Lambs'' type. Cohen thinks one TV-drama actress radiates the right toughness -- ''she's got balls, it's all about her balls.'' The others are unconvinced. The name of a not-quite-A-list beauty is floated. ''Too model-y,'' says Ruben. The group dismisses an indie regular as muted, then focuses on an action-prone star (''she's tough and sexy,'' Ruben enthuses) -- but has she gotten too big for a supporting role? Garner argues that the actress will be ''in 80 percent of the movie, and [she's given an intriguing scene] that people will be talking about it. It seems like a real actor would want to do this.'' Let's go back to that Jodie Foster idea...

Casting the ''Everwood'' Sister, 5:15 p.m.
''I'm just going to do my thing,'' Melinda McGraw announces before launching into her audition on the Warner Bros. lot. ''Stop me if you want something different.'' ''Everwood'' casting director Patrick Rush doesn't stop her, which could be a good sign or a bad one. If McGraw lands the part -- playing the new-to-town sister of Dr. Harold Abbott (Tom Amandes) on the WB hit drama -- it could be a career-making break, giving this working but still unrecognizable actress her biggest shot at fame. But then, that's a big if. ''She has the look and I like her voice,'' says Rush after the audition. ''But the warmth is missing.'' Still, in Hollywood hope springs eternal -- or at least gets strung along for a while. ''I'd fight to bring her back,'' he adds. ''We need three choices to take to Warner. Hopefully two will be approved to [take to the] network.''

Rowan Atkinson Cranks the Yank Market, 5:48 p.m.
Rowan Atkinson unwinds in his dressing room after a guest spot on ''The Tonight Show'' plugging his new movie, ''Johnny English.'' ''I was very nervous for the first few minutes,'' confesses the 48-year-old British comedian. ''I'm not a naturally funny person. I'm not improvisational. And there's this enormous obligation to be entertaining.'' Atkinson did just fine -- scoring laughs by removing his pants -- but the pressure was clearly on: Although an enormous star worldwide (among British actors he's second only to Hugh Grant at the global box office), he's still a cult figure here (thanks to imports like ''Mr. Bean''). But his spy-spoof movie could change all that, potentially becoming his American breakthrough (overseas gross so far: more than $120 million). His goal tonight, of course, is to get Leno watchers to see ''English.'' ''Achieving success in the U.S. isn't something I hanker for on a personal level, and it's not really necessary for commercial reasons,'' Atkinson says. ''But it would be nice. It's nice when two people like you, but it's even nicer when three like you.''

Breaking the Band, 11 p.m.
By the looks of the Beatles-on-''Ed Sullivan'' response Yellowcard are getting at the release party for their new album ''Ocean Avenue,'' you'd think they were superstars. But the moshing girls and boys at L.A.'s Roxy belie the long road ahead for the pop-punks, signed to Capitol in April after building a rabid yet tiny fan base with constant touring. ''We've been working as hard as we could for years, and that won't change,'' says frontman Ryan Key (above). ''It's just more people turning switches and making things happen.'' Across town, Capitol president Andy Slater is pushing Yellowcard and upstart rapper Chingy but says the marketing philosophy is the same for both. With music, he says, ''it's never really about the first-week sales.... These are artists and this is their lives. Let's try to give them a long-term career rather than see if it can happen right away.''

Preserving the Indie Cred, 11:30 p.m.
At a Glendale dive near where Nicolette (vocals) and Aixa (drums) Vilar, Betty Cisneros (guitar), and Michelle Rangel (bass) grew up to become L.A.'s ass-kickingest punk band and the only boy-free act on the Warped Tour, Go Betty Go still work hard at maintaining their independence despite heavy label courting. ''When the right deal comes along,'' shrugs Aixa, ''we'll be happy. So far, they haven't been to our convenience.'' As for all the hype over being all-girl, all-Latina? ''We're just a rock band,'' says Betty. ''Leave us alone.''

Originally posted Jul 21, 2003
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