The Who Hits Back with an Orchestra in San Jose

All Photos © Jonathan Scott Shensa Photography

Monday night The Who brought their latest tour “The Who Hits Back” to the Sap Center in San Jose. Unlike their last tour, The Who Moving On 2 years ago they didn’t have a new album to support. Instead of doing a greatest hits only tour they decided to take a chance by playing with a local orchestra in each of the cities The current U.S. tour kicked off in Hollywood Florida back in April and is ending in Las Vegas in November. The band is made up of original members Roger Daltrey, Pete Townsend, guitarist/backing singer Simon Townshend, drummer Zak Starkey (Ringo Star’s son), keyboardists Loren Gold and Emily Marshall, bassist Jon Button, and backing vocalist and Billy Nicholls. The Who also were accompanied by a 48-piece orchestra, complete with cellos and French horns.

Driving from Sausalito, to San Jose I kept thinking about how I’ve seen the band in 5 decades. My two favorite The Who memories were seeing the band do their rock opera “Tommy” in 1989. Another show was in 1996 when the band played the entire Quadrophenia album from start to finish at Madison Square Garden. Sadly the show that had the most impact on me was their show at the Hollywood Bowl in 2002. This was their first show together after the untimely passing of John Entwistle. I even attended the VH1 Honors The Who Show in at UCLA in Westwood, California.

I decided to try and save some money by driving down to San Jose to buy a ticket from the Box Office like I’ve done in the past. When I got there they Box Office was closed with a sign saying buy tickets at ticketmaster.com. I walked around the outside of the building looking for someone who worked there. I finally saw a person inside the venue and I found an open door and entered the Arena as the band was sound checking Baba O’Riley. The friendly security guard explained that the venue Box Office only opens 2 hours before door. Thankfully the guard told me of an area near by to get something to eat.

I made it inside the venue in time to see Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers guitarist) play a short set. It was great to see Mike on the stage killing it once again on guitar. He wore a yellow suit that could have come out of the closet of Elton John. The band hit the stage at 7:30. The bands set list was a mix of of songs from their two albums and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers songs. The band opened with a rocking song called Mike went deep into the Heartbreakers catalog for the second song of the evening a song called “Fault Lines”. My favorite song of the evening was Mike playing the Heartbreakers classics, Refuge and “Runnin’ Down A Dream”. The band actually played a headline show at the Fillmore Tuesday night.

All Photos © Jonathan Scott Shensa Photography

30 minutes after Mike left the stage the lights went off and the band and the orchestra launched into the opening of the Overture from The Who’s Rock Opera “Tommy”, The songs played included “1921”, “It’s a Boy”, “Amazing Journey”, “Sparks”. The “Tommy” Tribute ended with two of my favorite Who songs, “Pinball Wizard” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It”. The crowd of all ages sang along to the “See Me Feel Me Listening to You” part. Following “Tommy”, the orchestra stayed on stage for “Eminence Front” and “Ball and Chain”.

With the orchestra taking a break it was time for the second part/act. Next up was another classic”You Better You Bet”. The next song was “The Seeker”, which had one of my favorite lyrics, “I asked Bobby Dylan, I asked The Beatles, I asked Timothy Leary, But he couldn’t help me either.” The Seeker was followed by “Naked Eye”, and “Another Tricky Day. Next up were two of the bands biggest hits, the classic anthem “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and the power ballad “Behind Blue Eyes” (with violin, cello, contrabass).

The third and final part of the show saw the Orchestra return for”Quadrophenia’s”, Bad boy anthem “The Real Me”, I’m the One, “5:15”, “The Rock and “Love, Reign O’er Me”. The final song of the evening was another Who classic, “Baba O’Riley” with the Katie Jacoby (electric and acoustic violinist), stepping up to the front of the stage jamming with the band taking it to another level.

The band did an amazing job and sounded great. The band was set up like an opening band or a small club, where the members are almost on top of each other (the orchestra was on the stage in the back). So we didn’t get to see the band jumping around. Roger did throw around his microphone and Pete did his windmill swing (no jumping). After over 50 years together one thing you can be sure of “The Kids are Alright”. For all things The Who, checkout their website at https://www.thewho.com

All Photos © Jonathan Scott Shensa Photography

All Photos © Jonathan Scott Shensa Photography

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Falling for Anne Heche

Greetings everyone. Welcome back to “The Outsiders Guide to the Inside of Hollywood”. My entertainment blog is not only just about the events I that I covered as a photographer, its about how artist had an affect on my life. Sadly today’s blog is about losing another celebrity too soon.

On August 5, 2022, Anne Heche was involved in a sequence of three motor vehicle collisions in the neighborhood of Mar Vista in Los Angeles. The accident left Anne with a severe anoxic brain injury. Just before the first accident Anne’s car was caught on a video speeding through the suburban neighborhood. Thankfully she didn’t kill or seriously hurt someone. The LAPD said that a preliminary blood analysis confirmed the presence of both cocaine and narcotics, including Fentanyl, her system. Anne was paced on life support so that she could be an organ donator as she wished. Anne was taken off life support (Anne was brain dead on the 12th) on August 14, it was announced that organ recipients had been found and that her body would undergo the organ donation procedure that day.

Anne first got her big acting break on the CBS Soap Opera “Another World”. My first time seeing Anne was on a 1991 episode of “Murphy Brown”. In 2001 Anne guest stared in 7 episodes of “Ally McBeal”. Some my favorite films of her were “Donnie Brasco”, “I Know What You Did Last Summer”, “Wag the Dog”, “and Six Days, Seven Nights”.

Anne was always about taking chances in her career and in life. In 1998, she decided to take on the role of one of the greatest female horror characters of all time actresses by playing Marion Crane in Gus Van Sant’s “Psycho” remake. The film was not revived well by critics or the public.

Anne began dating Ellen DeGeneres in 1997, when both were at career high points. They took a lot of heat for their relationship. The relationship lasted till 2000. The couple came out as dating when Anne invited DeGeneres, as her date to the 1997 premiere of “Volcano.” Anne claimed she was cancelled in Hollywood because of her relationship with Ellen.

I only had the chance to photograph Anne twice in 2011. On Valentines day actor Alec Baldwin, was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I attended the ceremony and noticed Anne in the crowd in the crowed watching the ceremony. I tried to get some candid shots but failed due to the amount of fans at the ceremony. After the ceremony was over there was a lunch at Beso Restaurant, in Hollywood. I decided to try and get some photos of the celebrities entering the Restaurant. After watching a number of guests attending the lunch I noticed that Anne was walking towards the Restaurant. I was across the street trying to get a clear shot. I called her name and she turned around. At that point I slipped on a wet pavement and fell. Anne started to run towards me and asked as I hit the pavement. Luckily I held onto my camera like a football player. I got up and told her I was OK. I then asked her if I could get a photo of her. She laughed and said “of course you can.”

Later that year in June I had Red Carpet credentials for the Jim Carey film “Mr. Popper’s Penguins”. Anne attended the premiere with her boyfriend James Tupper and son Homer Lafoon . She looked so happy. I was hoping that she finally defeated her demons. Homer released a statement earlier in the day, stating he was “left with a deep, wordless sadness” following her death.

Sadly Anne could not control her drinking and drug use. The actress had a Podcast called “Better Together w/ Anne Heche and Heather Duffy” on Apple Podcasts. “We celebrate friendship, and we believe that we can create more joy in the world by sharing our stories, stumbles, and triumphs.” Just a week before her accident she was clearly drunk during the Podcast. I wish she could have gotten the help she needed. If you need help don’t be afraid to ask someone for help and remember you are not alone.

All photos © Jonathan Scott Shensa Photography

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Oscar Nominees Make Final Stop on the Road to the Oscars at the 37th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Santa Barbra Proves You Can Have a Safe In Person Festival During COVID

Welcome to the reboot of my blog, “The Outsiders Guide to the Inside of Hollywood”. For those of you joining me for the first time, my blog is different from others. I’ve been photographing celebrity red carpet events for over a decade and have been a lifelong film lover. I’m also an aspiring screenwriter and producer. As I’m sure everyone can relate to, I’ve been in complete hell thanks to COVID. My agency, PR Photos, closed up shop and disappeared without paying me the money they owed. I finally made my way back to covering films festivals with in person talent attending last fall at the Mill Valley Film Festival.

One of my favorite film festivals is located in Santa Barbara. I’ve been covering the Santa Barbara International Film Festival for over 10 years. The festival is famous for their tributes held at the historic Arlington Theater. Like most of the film festivals held Post COVID, last year the festival was virtual. When I first heard that SBIFF was going to be in person (with virtual events streamed) I was overjoyed. SBIFF is the final festival on the road to the Oscars. This year’s tributes were stacked with 2022 Oscar nominees. The list of talent appearing live was Javier Bardem, Nicole Kidman, Kristen Stewart, Will Smith, Benedict Cumberbatch, Caitriona Aunjanue Ellis, Penélope Cruz and more.

This year’s festival featured another obstacle with the rise of the Omicron-led Virus which led to the cancellation of the Sundance (they did a virtual version in 2021) and Palm Springs film festivals. The 2022 festival featured 48 world premieres and 95 U.S. premieres from 54 countries. The festival kicked off with director Craig Roberts,  “The Phantom of the Open” starring Sally Hawkins and Mark Rylance.

Outstanding Directors of the Year Award

My first day covering the festival was The Hollywood Reporter’s event Outstanding Directors of the Year Award honoring Paul Thomas Anderson (LICORICE PIZZA), Kenneth Branagh (BELFAST), Jane Campion (THE POWER OF THE DOG), Ryusuke Hamaguchi (DRIVE MY CAR), and Steven Spielberg (WEST SIDE STORY).

Once I arrived in Santa Barbara, my first stop was not the hotel or the venue. I had to race to pick up my media badge and show my proof of vaccination. The festival required masks to be worn both inside and outside at the festival. They had a great system, giving out red wristbands (that had to stay on at all times) to people after showing their card. This process saved a lot of time, and prevented me from having to dig out proof of vaccination at every event.

The first  Oscar Nominee who hit the red carpet was not a director but the Best Supporting Actor nominee, Kodi Smit-McPhee, from “The Power of the Dog”. Shortly after that “Belfast” director Sir Kenneth Charles Branagh arrived and signed autographs for the fans surrounding the Arlington Theatre. After speaking with the house video team he headed down the carpet and posed for photos with his wife, Lindsay Brunnock. After that he posed for solo photos. Just a few minutes later, Paul Thomas Anderson arrived representing his feel good coming of age film “Licorice Pizza”. At this point, there was a lot of confusion going on with a large number of people on the carpet. Unfortunately,  Paul walked right by my spot and I could only get a few shots off.

Kenneth, who was answering a videographer’s question, stopped and watched Anderson’s interview then walked up to him. Both directors were in great spirits and posed for pictures together. It turned out that both directors were fans of each other and this was the first time they ever met.That left us with 3 directors to go. As we waited, nothing seemed to be happening. I was almost sure Steven Spielberg and Jane Campion wouldn’t walk the carpet. The carpet finished up and I went inside to watch the tribute.

The evening kicked off with the Director of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival executive, Roger Durling hitting  the stage. Durling said, “It’s amazing to be back, amazing to be back in person, it’s surreal.” I’m in heaven. Durling spoke how COVID, changed the way he looked at things in life. “The glass was always half empty in life now, the glass is half full.” He then announced that  a few of the directors couldn’t be here because of testing positive for COVID. Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Steven Spielberg, and Jane Campion were interviewed in a taped virtual call. The night was far from over. Both directors were interviewed separately.

American Riviera Award Honoring Kristen Stewart

The third day of the festival was one of the most anticipated. The festival was honoring Kristen for her work playing Princess Diana in “Spencer.” The Oscar nominee arrived at the Arlington and to no surprise her first stop was to sign autographs for fans, who had been waiting. After the house interviewed her she made her way down to the press line to pose for photos. Kristen, who looked amazing, wore Chanel; a full-length black chiffon dress with a sheer midriff, complete with peek-a-boo white tutu. I have photographed Kristen in the past, but this was the most camera friendly I ever saw her. Kristen seemed overjoyed. Unfortunately, due to time she was only able to interview with the A list outlets. After the interviews, Kristen headed inside the Arlington for her tribute and award presentation. The tribute covered scenes and interviews that spanned Kristen’s entire career starting with her acting debut at the age of 12 in “Panic Room” with Jodie Foster to her most recent work in “Spencer”. The interview was led by IndieWire’s Anne Thompson. Anne went through Kristen’s career of course talking about the film series that made her an A list talent, the Twilight Saga. At this point, I was feeling a little bad for her. Kristen could have easily been typecast or gone on to do more teen films. It had to be hard when talking about the Vampire films. Kristen has come a long way, choosing independent films over potential box office blockbusters. She’s taken challenges of playing everyone from Joan Jett in “The Runaways” to Princess Diana in “Spencer”. The one thing Kristen hasn’t done is direct a film. That could be changing soon as she told Anne that she is trying to develop a feature “I’m trying to put a movie together right now… I have a couple balls in the air,” she said. “I’ll tease you with that, but I’m very excited.” After the tribute a surprise guest, Charlize Theron presented her with her award. The actors who are friends co-starred in “Snow White And The Huntsman”, hugged as Kristen made an acceptance speech thanking friends and family and directors she had worked with. 

Virtuosos Award

The next event was one of my favorite nights of the festival, the Virtuosos Award. This award was sponsored by UGG at the 37th Santa Barbara Film Festival at the Arlington Theatre. This award is given to multiple “up and coming” actors for achieving breakthrough performances. This year the festival honored Caitriona Balfe (Belfast), Ariana DeBose (West Side Story), Alana Haim (Licorice Pizza), Emilia Jones (CODA), Troy Kotsur (CODA), Simon Rex (Red Rocket), Saniyya Sidney (King Richard) and Ciarán Hinds (Belfast). The actors were interviewed on stage separately by Dave Karger, Turner Classic Movie Host,  who moderated the conversation. The star of the night was Troy Kotsur (CODA). The deaf actor proved that not only is he a great dramatic actor but he was really funny. I’ve got a feeling he will be taking home the Oscar this weekend.

Outstanding Performers Award Will Smith and Aunjanue Ellis

Sunday night was one of my most anticipated evenings. The 2022 Outstanding Performers Award with Will Smith and Aunjanue Ellis for their work in “King Richard”. They portrayed the parents of Venus Williams and Serena Williams in Reinaldo Marcus Green‘s “King Richard”.

Aunjanue Ellis arrived first. Shortly after Will Smith arrived and started signing autographs for the fans. After that, he headed down the carpet, posed for photos and did interviews before heading inside for the tributes.

The evenings started off with The Hollywood Reporter moderator, Scott Feinberg, showing clips and speaking with the actors while walking through their past films. Scott is one of the best moderators, however nobody could have predicted what was next. Shortly before the tribute started I was in my seat and these two drunk girls tried to sit in the media area. Luckily the volunteer made sure they left the press and talent area seats. Fast forward to about 15 minutes into the interview when I heard people talking and acting like they were at a bar. The scuffling got louder and louder. I wanted to get out of my seat and tell them to shut up! The scuffling only got louder. So loud that the actors heard it on stage. Will tried to see through the lights to see if the woman was alright. A young woman (very drunk) was repeatedly talking throughout the interview about a man sitting in front of her who had asked for her to be quiet and when she didn’t he took a cup of water and threw it on her. Security was in the process of kicking them both out when Smith stopped to ask what happened. He then joked to Ellis, “That’s why it’s really important to have white audiences, cause that would have gone very differently at either place where we grew up. So I wanna commend the white people for how y’all handled that. You wanna act out the scene, how it would’ve been if someone poured a drink on you?”

Ellis took off her earrings and heels as if she were getting ready for a fight. The audience laughed and Smith joked with Feinberg who tried to resume, “You’re not gonna make it back from that, Scott! You can try.” Luckily Scott made it back and led a very interesting tribute.

The Montecito Award – Penélope Cruz

Next Up was The Montecito Award presentation given to Penélope Cruz, who was being honored for her role in Pedro Almodóvar’s, “Parallel Mothers,” which earned her an Academy Award nomination in the Best Actress category. Penélope  looked stunning wearing a burgundy gown with a low back. After finishing up with the press line, she then entered the theater for her tribute. The tribute showed mainly clips from the 7 Pedro Almodóvar films she starred in. The actress talked about how she delves so deep into her characters when acting she can sometimes take on the emotions or the stress of those she is portraying. Penélope had a theater filled with fans, but her biggest fan was her husband, Javier Bardem, dressed in a suit who sat in the front row to support his wife. Penélope received the award from Sophia Loren’s son, director/producer Edoardo Ponti, which was followed by a recorded message to Penélope by Sophia Loren. In her speech Cruz, brought up that it was International Women’ Day, and said she shares her award with all of the wonderful mothers who are facing unbearable challenges and horrors in Ukraine.

Cinema Vanguard Award – Benedict Cumberbatch

The festival’s 2022 Cinema Vanguard Award winner was Benedict Cumberbatch. The actor is nominated for an academy award for Best Actor for the Jane Campion Western “Power of the Dog”. The film is the most nominated film of 2022 with 12 Nominations including Best Actor for Benedict. The actor hit the red carpet after signing autographs outside the theater for the fans. A few minutes after he walked the carpet his director of “Power of the Dog” who just recovered from COVID, Jane Campion joined him. She’s nominated for three Oscars: director, adapted screenplay, and best picture. The director who is not fond of walking carpets was completely caught up in the moment and was ecstatic to see Benedict. You could really see how the two became close friends and how much love and respect they had for each other.

After the press line, Benedict was interviewed about all the roles he did from television with “Sherlock Holmes” to “Power of the Dog”. The evening was the most attended event at the festival selling out the Arlington. His award was presented to him by Jane Campion. After his speech he started to leave but came back pointing at something in the crowd. The actor was given a Ukrainian flag as a sign of support for the country amid the ongoing Russian invasion. He then posed for the press to take photos as fans rushed the front stage area.

Maltin Modern Master Award – Javier Bardem & Nicole Kidman

The only disappointing night of the festival was the Maltin Modern Master Award. Oscar nominees Javier Bardem and Nicole Kidman were being honored for their portrayal of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball in Aaron Sorkin’s “Being the Ricardos”. Unfortunately, Kidman had to be in a Zoom interview, due to tearing her hamstring on her current Amazon television show, she was unable to attend in person. Javier Bardem showed up for the carpet wearing casual clothes. A much more laid back look compared to the suit he wore at his wife’s tribute (Penélope Cruz). After the carpet it was time for the festival’s final tribute. Javier was extremely happy making a number of jokes. He showed how much he appreciated the in person crowd upon accepting the award, Bardem said: “I’m very honored, I don’t want to leave this stage! …seeing these images on the big screen after two years, in a theater full of people… it’s a joy for an actor.”

The closing night film was a documentary on Dionne Warwick “Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over”. Director Dave Wooley attended the final night’s film. In closing I want to thank Roger Durling, Haley Powers, Sunshine Sachs, and the over 400 volunteers who made the festival’s return a huge success. For more coverage on the 2022 festival including the 2020 Winners checkout this article below by Patch Media’s Beau Behan.

https://patch.com/california/los-angeles/santa-barbara-international-film-fest-honors-2022-oscar-nominees

This blog is dedicated to my dad who died last July. Thank you for checking out my blog. Don’t forget to support independent film and local music in your city.

All photos © Jonathan Scott Shensa Photography

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My Kobe Bryant Tribute and Experience

        

Every generation has their where were you when moment. For my parents generation it was the Kennedy assassination. For my generation it was when, Kurt Cobain died and of course 9/11. Sadly we can add the events of January 26, 2020 to that list. On a foggy day in Calabasas at 9:45 in the morning Kobe Bryant and his 13 year old daughter’s helicopter slammed into a mountain side killing all 7 people. When I fist saw the news on television it didn’t feel real. After seeing all the post on social media all I could do was hope it was another fake celebrity death story. Then it was finally confirmed. The media started reporting that Kobe with with his daughter and her teammates on the way to headed to a basketball game at the Mamba Sports Academy’s Thousand Oaks.

After hearing the news about Gianna. All I could do was think of Kobe’s wife Vanessa and her two other young daughters. My thoughts went back to all of the games I got to witness on television and in person. Kobe was the second greatest player I’ve ever seen play the game. growing up in Yonkers New York I was a Knicks fan. I even got to attend a number of Play Off Games in the late 80’s and early 90’s. As a young child however, I use to root for The Philadelphia 76ers. My dad grew up in South Jersey and always followed the hers. H e even sent me off to Dr J’s basketball camp at Fordham University in the Bronx (but that is another story). Back in the 80’s the 76ers biggest rival was the Boston Celtics. Even though my mom and other family member scam from Boston for some reason I just really hated the Celtics. unfortunately with the exception of 1 year the Celtics would Always knock the Sixers, out of the Play offs. The celtics main rival from the Western Conference was the Los Angeles Lakers. When it came time for the NBA Finals I would always root for the showtime Lakers. At that point I never knew that The Lakers would end up being my home team.

Kobe Bryant The Early Years

I first started hearing about Kobe around 1995. I thought to myself this kid is too young. How can a teenager in the NBA. However Kobe may have skipped college but he did play in Italy where he grew up. His dad is NBA player Joe Bryant, Kobe declared for the 1996 NBA draft after graduation, and was picked by the Charlotte Hornets with the 13th overall pick; the Hornets then traded him to the Lakers. That trade would forever change the Los Angeles Lakers. In May, 1997 I moved from Yonkers to Sherman Oaks, California. There I had a coup friends who lived there already. In November, I had a bucket list item crossed off my list. After years of seeing the great western Forum on television, I was actually going to see a Lakers game at the historical venue. I along with two friends from New York we attended the New York Knicks v.s. Los Angeles Lakers, game on November 7, 1997. Kobe came off the bench and scored 4 points. I defiantly saw potential. The Lakers won 99-94. Bryant won the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest, at the All-star game. He then along with with Shaquille O’Neal, helped win three consecutive NBA championships from 2000 to 2002 and to titles in 2008&2009 without Shauq.

2002 Playoffs

After suffering through years on watching my Knick’s get nocked out of the Play Offs, (thanks to Jordan). I have to admit it was exciting to be a Laker fan those years. The 2002 season will always be special to me. I attended a game in the second, third and in June 2002 I was able to cross off attending a NBA Finals game in June. One of the games I attended was the game where with less than one second remaining on the clock, Robert Horry of the Los Lakers recovered the ball and made a three-point shot over Sacramento Kings’ Chris Webber to win Game 4 of the NBA Western Conference Finals at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on May 26, 2002. The Lakers would go on to beat the New Jersey Nets to complete their three-peat.

American Film Institute’s 44th Life Achievement Award Gala Tribute to John Williams

I would go on to see Kobe, grow from boy to man. He had an unforgettable smile abut never had a big ego. Sadly I never had the chance to meet him.I did however get a chance to photography him on the red carpet for American Film Institute’s 44th Life Achievement Award Gala Tribute to John Williams. Bryant had worked with Williams on the his 2018 Oscar for Best Animated Short Film ‘Dear Basketball’. Kobe walked the very crowded carpet. He seemed to be having the time of his life taking it all in. He was so proud of his Oscar, Laughing and chatting with J.J. Abrams and other celebrities. Kobe had been working on several projects at the time of his death.

The role that Kobe loved the best was being a Girldad. Kobe Bryant left a legacy from his 20 year, Laker career. He wasn’t just a great player he was a great person helping numerous charities. You could have seen him as a coach or possibly an owner of an NBA Team. Bryant was called “one of the greatest players in the history of our game” by NBA commissioner Adam Silver,. The NBA mourned for one of its own. One thing is sure, Kobe will never be forgotten.
Mamba out!

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Hollywood stars head North for the 35th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival

 Welcome back to ”The Outsiders Guide to the Inside of Hollywood.” I hope everyone enjoyed the Oscars. My latest blog is on one of my favorite film festivals, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. The festival marks the end of Award Season and the final film festival before the Academy Awards. This year’s festival ran from Jan. 15 to Jan. 25, 2020.

The festival in the past had always been at the end of January / first week of February. This year the festival moved the date up to two weeks earlier in hopes to have more world premieres and showcases for new films and talent. SBIFF took gamble changing the dates, in the end, the gamble paid off. The the festival featured 47 world premieres and 71 U.S. premieres from 50 countries along with tributes to this year’s top Filmmakers, panel discussions and Q&A’s. Opening night the festival began with off with the U.S. Premiere of “A Bump Along The Way”, Directed by Shelly Love and starring Bronagh Gallagher, Lola Petticrew, Mary Moulds, Dan Gordon and Brendan Farrell.

Renee Zellweger American Riviera Award

SBIFF is famous for its Celebrity tributes, this year featured a diverse group of Filmmakers. Many who were nominated for an Academy Award. The first of the tributes was to Renee Zellweger, who was being honored with the American Riviera Award for her performance in “Judy”, playing Judy Garland. Renee hit the carpet wearing a black Tom Ford suit styled with Tom Ford shoes and David Webb jewelry. After doing interviews and posing for photos it was time for her tribute at the historic Arlington Theatre. When asked about playing Judy Garland, she called it “Role of a lifetime: She recently told Forbes of playing Garland: ‘I came to admire her even more deeply than I did before’. During her tribute Renee spoke about her entire career. One of the things I love about conversations and Q&A’s is hearing the story behind the story. I always have enjoyed SBIFF’s tributes. Zellweger would go on to win the Oscar for Best Actress at the 2020 Academy Awards.

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Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson The Outstanding Performers of the Year Award

The next the night the festival celebrated their choice for The Outstanding Performers of the Year with appearences by Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson. The actors were being honored for their portrayal of a couple going through an ugly divorce in Noah Baumbach’s, “Marriage Story”. After waiting for the Academy Awards nominees who were running late, we started hearing rumors that Scarlett wasn’t coming. About 15 minutes later still no actors. Finally, we got word that Scarlet told them she got deafly ill at the hotel and wasn’t coming. There was a lot of talk going around about how truthful she or her handlers were being. Everyone was disappointed a lot of press and fans were really angry, but life happens and the show must go on. I started to wonder how were they going to do an on-stage interview with Adam due to the fact he doesn’t watch himself/ his films on the screen at all. Adam arrived and signed autographs for the fans before hitting the carpet to do interviews and photos. After the photos, I headed inside wondering how they were going to fill the time if they aren’t showing clips. The tribute started with Roger Durling telling the audience he had some bad news. After that, a pre clip of Adams films ran before taking the stage. I really enjoyed seeing Adam speak about his craft. I really didn’t know that much about him. The first thing I learned was before acting Adam served our country in the marines. You could tell he was a little bit nervous. As the conversation went on I actually grew to like this format. Adam really did a great interview. I have the feeling that he will get his Oscar one day.

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Virtuosos Awards

Next up was actually one of the festival’s best nights, the  Virtuosos Awards. The award celebrates a select group of talent whose noteworthy performances in the film have elevated them into the national cinematic dialogue. This year’s honorees were, Awkwafina (The Farewell), Taron Egerton (Rocketman), Cynthia Erivo (Harriet), Beanie Feldstein (Booksmart), Aldis Hodge (Clemency), George MacKay (1917), Florence Pugh (Midsommar), and Taylor Russel (Waves). The evening started with a Red Carpet with all of the recipients walking. Some of the fashion highlights of the evening were“Little Women” 2020 Oscar nominee Florence Pugh who wore a Valentino dress from the Spring 2020 Collection. Double 2020 Oscar Nominee for her role in “Harriet”, Cynthia Erivo, wore Brock Collection and Schiaparelli Couture. “The Farewell” and “Nora from Queens” star was dressed in Giambattista Valli. Once the carpet was finished the honorees headed inside the Arlington Theatre for the Award presentation. The Hollywood reporter’s Scott Feinberg then interviewed the actors separately before everyone was brought back together for a panel discussion that was full of interesting facts and some really cool and funny moments.

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    Montecito Award  Presentation to Lupita Nyong’o

The 2020 Montecito Award went to Lupita Nyong’o for her work in “US”, for not just playing one role but two. The film horror was written and directed by Oscar-winner Jordan Peele (Get Out). Lupita, who won an Oscar for her supporting acting in “12 Years a Slave”. Lupita, arrived for her tribute walked the carpet wearing Dolce & Gabbana Floral Print Dress. Lupita was interviewed and spoke about her career and some of her biggest highlights. The “Black Panther”, actress was then presented with the Montecito Award, which is given to a person in the entertainment industry who has made a great contribution to film.

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   Cinema Vanguard Award Presentation Laura Dern

The next celebrity tribute was the Cinema Vanguard Award being given to Laura Dern for her work as a divorce attorney in Noah Baumbach’s, “Marriage Story”. Dern who had swept all the major awards of award season already, wore a black vest dress inspired by a tuxedo. Laura was interviewed on stage and gave comments on ands stories from her long career. She also talked about parents Diane Ladd and Bruce Dern. The evening’s moderator showed clips of past films all the way up to “Marriage Story”. Laura who won in the past 5 Golden Globe Awards and a Primetime Emmy. Last week after being nominated for an Academy Award twice before for 2014’s “Wild” and 1991’s “Rambling Rose” Dern, finally took home an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in “Marriage Story”.

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  Maltin Modern Master Award Presentation to Brad Pitt

The Maltin Modern Master Award had always been one of my favorite night’s for the reason being the award and onstage interviews were given by the legendary Lenord Maltin. The award is the highest honor presented by SBIFF. Established in 1995, it was created to honor an individual who has enriched our culture through accomplishments in the motion picture industry. The award was re-named the Maltin Modern Master Award in 2015 in honor of long-time SBIFF moderator and renowned film critic Leonard Maltin. This year’s honoree was one of the most popular actors of all time. Brad Pitt was being honored for his career and his work in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”. This by far had one of the most press I’ve ever seen at the SBIFF. The sideline was around the corner with journalists almost on top of each other. Brad arrived at the Arlington and was greeted by a thunderous cheer that sounded more like a rock concert. Brad started by signing autographs for the huge crowd who was watching across the street. After finally finishing up the interviews with the house crew he started the long process of giving soundbites to the video journalist. Due to the amount of press we were body to body on the photo press line. Next to me, I saw some Junior High School and Grammar school kids sexting up a camera to due to an interview. I started to get nervous because people ended up pushing at the end of the carpet and I didn’t see a teacher with them. I literally shouted to the camera people pushing having to push back so no kids were hurt. One of the reporters who was from the grammar School name was Megan. She was like a mini Erin Andrews. Really acted well past her years. Her teacher who showed up with a mounted camera, told the girls that Brad may not have time for them to interview him. I then told them there’s no way he would just walk past and ignore the Junior Journalist. When Brad got to their spot he was surprised at first but gave the kids time and told them how good their questions were. After a quick photo run, I headed inside. Lenord Maltin brought Brad out and as the other tributes, he took a walk down memory lane starting with Brad’s early films along with his most recent. The most interesting fact learned from his tribute was his answer to the question what roles did you turn down. The answer was the lead role in the Matrix films. I’m sure Keanu Reeves has thanked him for. Brad’s award was given to him by Director and friend David Fincher. Brad got very emotional hearing David, words and thanked everyone in a humble speech. Two weeks after receiving the award in Santa Barbara, he would take home his second and first for acting Oscar.

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The Outstanding Director of the Year Award Presentation to Bong Joon-ho

The final tribute of the 2020 Santa Barbra International Film Festival was the The Outstanding Directors of the Year Award. Last year, in a historic event the festival had all 5 directors who were nominated for Best Director were honored and took part in conversation altogether. This year the lineup was listed as TBA till a couple days before the event. My colleges in the press were expecting some high profile names like Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, and Noah Baumbach. Up until a few months ago, they all were seen as the front runners, until a Korean Film named “Parasite” directed by Bong Joon-ho came from nowhere and became the biggest surprise of the 2020 Award Season. Instead of showcasing multiple directors the SBIFF Renamed it The Outstanding Director of the Year Award honoring Bong Joon-ho. Personally I knew Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese already were honored by SBIFF in December. The WGA had an event that night in LA where Noah Baumbach attended that night. I do feel that the SBIFF could have done something really cool and would have been the most talked and most covered event of the festival. What I would have done was invite all the nominees but include some of the Women directors who were not nominated for an Oscar but should have. I would have had Greta Gerwig (Little Women) Lulu Wang (The Farewell) and Olivia Wilde (Booksmart). As we know “Parasite” went on to win 4 Oscars, including Best Picture, Directing, International Feature Film and Writing (Original Screenplay). It was the first foreign film ever to win the Best Picture Oscar. So it looked like the festival made the right decision.

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As usual the festival had an amazing lineup of tributes. My only regret is that due to my event and work times conflicting with screenings I didn’t have time to see any films. The Santa Barbara International Film Festival will return for the 36th edition Jan. 27-Feb. 6, 2021 The SBIFF has screenings and events with celebrities several times a year. For more information go to sbiff.org. The festival is up for the USA Today Best Film festival. You can vote for them here. VOTE for them every day at bit.ly/36TeTuo.

For more on the 2020 festival including the 2020 Winers checkout this article by Patch Media’s Beau Behan. https://tinyurl.com/w6h6uvk

Thank you for checking out my blog. This Blog is dedicated to Kobe Bryant (Lakers) and Neil Pert (Rush) who tragically lost their lives last month.

All Photos © Jonathan Scott Shensa Photography
#JonathanScottShensaPhotography #photobyjonathanscottshensa #sbiff #sbiff2020
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Netflix rolls out the red carpet for Santa , then pulls the plug on the show a week later. Why your favorite streaming show might be next.

Greetings everyone and welcome back to The Outsiders Guide to the Inside of Hollywood.” I figured if Hollywood can reboot every Film and Television show, then I can reboot my blog. My blog is not like all the other blogs out there. Its is based on personal experiences I’ve had in my life of attending or covering entertainment and press events as a photographer, story teller and fan. The reason for my long hiatus was due to writers block. I was deeply effective by the suicides of Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington. My last Blog  was written on Chris Cornell’s birthday. It was also the day that Chester took his own life. I tried to put my feelings down on paper but another one of my creative influences, Tom Petty, accidentally overdosed on pain medication. I started over a dozen blogs, but never could get past three paragraphs. Lately I’ve been able to find my creative voice once again.

If any of you have read my blog’s in the past you know how I feel about Drew Barrymore. So it should be no surprise that when I found out about the LA Red Carpet Premiere of Season 3 of  “Santa Clarita Diet”, I had to cover it. The show stared Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant. Drew was also an Executive Producer on the show. The show is about  a married couple real estate agents in suburban Santa Clarita, California. Drew’s character dies, but transforms into a zombie and  needs human flesh to feed.

The day before the premiere, I still didn’t hear back from the publicist to see if my photo request was confirmed. I live in the Bay Area which is 400 miles from my home. After not hearing back, I sent one last email. Later on that night I got an email from the PR company saying my emails got lost in their junk mail. She then told me I was approved to cover the premiere in LA at 6 P.M. the next day. At the crack of Dawn the next morning I headed South.

About 6 hours later, I arrived in Hollywood. I lived in the Lower Hollywood Hills for 10 years and always have fond memories living and working in the area. Due to the large amount of events going on the premiere was held  at Hollywood Post 43 behind a closed gate. This was great. We didn’t have to deal with Fans, Collectors (Ebayers), Paparazzi and tourists. The Red Carpet was located in the parking lot. The set up was perfect, a beautiful long Red Carpet and great lighting! For the first time in a long time I was excited for a shoot!

The first cast members to arrive were actors  who were guest staring on the show this season. Goran Visnjic (E.R. Timeless), posed for pictures. During a interview with a Videographer, another former “Timeless” cast member actor, Malcolm Barrett, sneaked up to him and hugged Goran. They greeted each other like they were truly overjoyed to see each other.

The first  regular cast to hit the carpet was Skyler Gisondo. Skyler who is now co staring in the indie hit film “Booksmart”. He then was followed by former “Justified” actor  and Drew’s husband on the show, Timothy Olyphant. As he walked down the carpet he finally made it to my stop at the end.  I started to take some photos as he looked at my Guns N’ Roses sweatshirt Timothy spoke to me saying “Cool Sweatshirt.” I answered back, ” Cool Band”.  He nodded his head and said “Yeah.”

Finally it was time on the carpet for the lady of the evening, Star and Executive Producer, Drew Barrymore. Drew arrived in a beautiful green emerald long dress. Drew posed alone and with the cast and crew of the show. She then made sure that all the video people got interviews. By the time I packed up everything and got to my car Drew was on her final interview. The lot was pitch dark besides the one light left from the interview with no people except her, the interviewer, and her handlers. The night ended with high spirits and everyone hoping for a Season 4. But those hopes quickly faded.

One week later the show was canceled by Netflix. Fans were immediately furious with the Streaming service and threatened to cancel their membership. The hash tag’s #SaveSantaClaritaDiet and #CancelNetflix became popular posts on social media. Drew, being the professional that she is made a statement to Entertainment Weekly that both her character and Olyphant’s  were an “Amazing couple,” adding that she feels “lucky” to have been a part of the show. Barrymore also gave a shout out to Victor Fresco, the shows creator.”Sheila  and Joel were an amazing couple, who had shared goals. And I am lucky to have worked along side Tim Olyphant,” she told the outlet. “It was an honor to get to do something so delightful. Sheila lives forever in me. And I am grateful to Victor Fresco, who created a world so unique.”

So the question is, why did Netflix cancel the show? Sadly it came down to money. The show they claim cost too much to produce. They wanted to produce new cheaper shows of their own content. The streaming service did hardly any promotion for the new season. The Network has been on a firing frenzy lately, cancelling “One Day at a Time”, “Jessica Jones” and other fan favorites.

Their latest cancellation is actually a show they saved a year ago.  After 3 seasons “Lucifer”, a show staring Tom Ellis was cancelled by network TV. The series revolves around Lucifer Morningstar, the Devil, who abandons Hell for Los Angeles where he runs his own nightclub and becomes a consultant to the LAPD. The show was resurrected by Netflix after Fox cancelled the show last year. More than 300,000 fans campaigned to get the drama a fourth season.  The show and previous seasons premiered on Netflix for a shortened 10 episode season last month. However Netflix, last week renewed the show  for a Fifth but final season.

Once again Netflix said it is to expand their original content. Unfortunately they have replaced it with below average Netflix Original Films which are poorly made for television shows, and would have  either gone straight to video or never been released back in the day. It’s such a shame to see quality shows be replaced with below the bar quality. Netflix has produced a number of great shows and films. It just seems that they are interested in quantity over quality which could be a bad mistake in the streaming service wars. They don’t want to end up  being the next Myspace.

So what can you do as a fan? For streaming shows, you can stream them again. You don’t have to be a Neilson Family. Unlike regular T.V., Netflix knows what the numbers of viewers are. Another powerful tool is social media. Get people talking about the show. Tell a friend who hopefully will tell another friend to watch a film or T.V. show. Now more than ever its important to support Independent Film and Music. Check out an indie film or a local band in your area.

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My Chris Cornell Experience & Birthday Tribute

 

Greetings everyone and welcome to another edition of “The Outsiders Guide to the Inside of Hollywood”. This falls into the category of, wish I didn’t have to write. I’ve been trying for the last month’s and literally have started and stopped this blog over 50 times. Last May, we lost one of my favorite musical artist, Chris Cornell. Today July 20, would have been his birthday. Chris was a musical genius. His range and different styles of music was unlike anything at the time. The first time I heard of Soundgarden, was in 1990 when they were on tour with Faith No More”. I remember seeing an interview on MTV and hearing that voice. “That voice”, was so unique. The range of his vocals from Temple of the Dog, to Audioslave and his solo work to the unique and ground breaking sound of Soundgarden. The band had a sound unlike I’ve ever heard. Their songs were well written tales about overcoming obstacles and dealing with darkness, coming through to see the light and hope. The musical journey took everyone to a special place in their mind. Chris sang about personal demons but also stories of Love and hope.

Soundgarden, who was part of the Seattle Invasion along with Nirvana, Pearl Jam and others part of the Grunge rock scene. At the time the rock bands who were dominating the Billboard charts and filling Arena’s were part of the 80’s hairband era. Soundgarden may have had long hair and considered themselves a Heavy Metal band, but they were defiantly not a hair band (Poison, Warrant, ect.). The first Soundgarden album I bought, was the band’s third studio album, “Badmotorfinger”. The CD featured a hard rocking in your face version of “Rusty Cage”. Several times live you can hear Chris dedicate the song to Johnny Cash, who covered the song in 1996. The album was fresh and exciting. There was one song on the album “Outshinned”, that stood out to me. From the opening thunderous chords to the rock anthem lyrics like, “I’m looking California. But feeling Minnesota.”

My first Soundgarden show wasn’t until 1991, when they opened for Guns N Roses in in Woster Massachusetts. The my second show was at Lollaloluza 1992 which featured Red Hot Chili Peppers, Soundgarden, Jesus and Mary Train, Ministry and Pearl Jam and Ice Cube. The band sounded great. Unfortunately they only had about 30 minutes to play. Thankfully I got to see them headline in 1994.

It was the bands 4th album “Supperunknown”, that had an important significance in my life. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and went on to win 2 Grammy’s for the singles “Black Hole Sun” and “Spoonman”. The album launched the band into mainstream popularity. In 1995, the album was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Rock Album. The album has been certified five times platinum by the RIAA in the United States, has sold 10 million copies worldwide and remains Soundgarden’s most successful album. Almost all the songs were instant rock classics. However, it was “Fell on Black Days” and “The Day I tried to Live” that had a direct impact on my life. The album came out on March 8, 1994. I bought it as soon as it came out and was the only thing I listened to for about 2 weeks straight. This time period was one of the toughest in my life. One year away from graduating college I was feeling lost and empty inside. I felt hopeless and was struggling with the question who I was and where I was going.

On a April 5, 1994, I was in Harvard Square at the House of Blues, drinking with my fellow alcoholic friend sometime before noon. I can’t remember which pitcher we were on when a guy came in and said he heard that Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain had died. It was before affordable cell phones and social media, so I went to the phone booth and called the local Alternative Radio station WFNX where the D.J. confirmed it. At first everyone thought it was a drug overdose like Cobain had a few months earlier. Then the news came out it was a suicide. At that point I lost my shit. Here was a guy with everything in the world to live for. As we know addiction has it’s toll on everyone but for him to commit suicide it made me feel like I could never go on. At the time I didn’t know it but I was having a major bipolar episode. I’m not sure how but someway I made it back from Cambridge to Boston. I was walking around the streets of Boston but had no destination. I ended up showing up late to a fraternity meeting, completely trashed instead of continuing to drink or doing something even worse. I don’t remember much about that day. I do remember waking up the next afternoon and listening to “The Day I tried to Live” over and over again. The opening lyrics. “I Woke the same as any other day Except a voice was in my head It said, “Seize the day, pull the trigger Drop the blade and watch the rolling heads”. I used the lyrics as a way to express ones self. It was about a month later where I started to write my first screenplay. Whenever I  write I  use music as a way to transform my thoughts and mentally turn into my characters.

1996 Soundgarden, returned to a very different Lollapalooza lineup than 1992.This lineup way far from the Indie bands that normally played. The New York shows at Randallas Island featured Soundgarden, The Ramones (final tour), Wu-Tang Clan, Rancid, Devo, Steve Earle, Cornershop, Melvins, Cocteau Twins, Screaming Trees and a controversial headliner Metallica. Metallica took a lot of heat for being the headliner since they fell into the Heavy Metal category. Like many other artists at the show Chris, talked about how much it meant to him to him to be on tour with The Ramones. Soundgarden sounded amazing. The band fed on energy from the crowd sang along with some of their lyrics. Sadly, the band broke up a year later, due to creative differences on where the band was going.

The next time I saw Chris perform was with Audioslave, The supergroup was formed in Los Angeles, in 2001. The band consisted of Soundgarden lead singer/rhythm guitarist Chris Cornell, and Rage Against the Machine members Tom Morello (lead guitar), Tim Commerford (bass/backing vocals), and Brad Wilk (drums). On May 6, 2005, Audioslave played a free show in Havana, Cuba.The band  became the first American rock group to perform a concert in Cuba, playing in front of an audience of 70,000. One thing different about this tour was unlike their first tour this one featured a few Soundgarden and Rage Against the Machine songs.

After a hugely successful show in Cuba, the band headed home to Los Angeles (Cornell was now living in LA). The band decided on doing another free show to celebrate the release of their latest album. The band would perform an outdoor concert on Hollywood Blvd. that will be broadcast on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” The band hit the stage in front of Kimmel’s studio on Hollywood Blvd. The street was closed for the concert that attract some 10,000 fans. The concert areas was behind wire fences and was suppose to only be for contest winners and the studio audience. The band was to play material from its new album, “Out Of Exile,” which was scheduled to be released May 24. Unlike most Kimmel, shows band was set to play a set and not just 2 songs like most guests do. The band sounded great, opening with “Your Time Has Come”. The crowd was full of energy. However, outside the gates everyone was watching the show on a huge screen. The crowd pushed it way to the gates. About 20 minutes into the set, the band broke out the Rage Against the Machine classic “Killing in the Name”. Fans were so excited they started moshing (slam dancing). The police saw it as a riot. Then the gate barrier tumbled. Then the riot squad i riot gear showed up. The police looked like Stormtroopers (latest Star Wars film opened that night) marching through the crowd. Then Chris got on the mic to tel the crowd that the show had to stop. Cornell then played one last song. The show ended with no other problems. The band released a third album, but broke up later that year.

I did have the chance to see Chris solo several times. One of those shows I was registering voters for Headcount, in the Bay Are for the 2008 “Projekt Revolution” tour.
Cornell was featured on the Main Stage of Linkin Park’s “Projekt Revolution” tour. The highlight was of the evening was Cornell dueting with Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington, performing Temple of the Dogs” Hunger Strike”. My next show in 2010 was a real special show. It was advertised as a solo acoustic show at the Troubadour. This was the second performance in what would be hisSongbook series. The show featured just Chris and an acoustic guitar. Chris played songs from Soundgarden, Audioslave and Temple of the Dog. He also played some of his favorite songs ranging from Elvis Costello, John Lennon The Beatles and Led Zeppelin. The crowed was packed and even included some celebrity guests. I ended up running into actor Tom Hanks and his wife as I left the show.

In 2010 Soundgarden, got back together with a tour that sold out the Forum in LA. The band sounded just as good as they did when I first heard them. My first and only official time photographing Soundgarden was on the Red Carpet at the Avengers LA premiere. Chris’ s kids had walked the carpet and sat on motorcycles that were on the carpet.

Out of all the shows I have been to I feel that my favorite show was At the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California in 2015. The tour was a co headlining tour with Nine Inch Nails. Chris and the guys knocked it out of the ball park. They blew Nine Inch Nails away at that show. The energy from the bands was the most intense I have ever seen of them. Chris looked happy and healthy. His vocals hit all the high notes. Sadly as I saw them walk away not realizing that would be the last time I ever saw Chris.

On May 18th, the Chris was found dead at the MGM Grand Hotel in Detroit.  I was in shock. But the real shock was when the information came out that it was a suicide. Cornell had a wife and young children. Soundgarden was on tour at the time. The only thing I could think of was all of the fans. Especially the ones like me, who had used his lyrics as our therapy. His songs helped us feel that we were not alone. As soon as I heard the news I flocked to his Twitter to see if there were any signs of even depression in his tweets. He seemed happy and looking forward to some family time. Vicki Cornell didn’t believe that her husband would actually take his own life. She blamed the anti-depressant Ativan for the singer’s hanging suicide. Sadly we will never know.

If you are having suicidal thoughts talk to a friend, family member or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255.

 

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Why Film Festivals are more important than ever – Santa Barbra International Film Festival

Greetings everyone. Welcome to my first blog of 2017. My blog is not like all the other blogs out there. My blog is based on personal experiences I’ve had covering events as a photographer, filmmaker and fan. I’ve always had a special place in my heart for the entertainment industry ever since acting in local theater when I was a child. Out of all the events I cover my favorites are film festivals. I fell in love with screenwriting after attending the Boston Film festival screening of ‘Reservoir Dogs” in 1992. What I love about festivals is not just seeing a film before it’s released, Q&A’s with the filmmakers and celebrity tributes. In this age of straight to cable, streaming services and pay per views, there still isn’t anything that can take the place of seeing a film on a big screen at a theater. Sadly because the amount of money it takes to put on a festival the number is now decreasing. Without sponsors, volunteers and customers a festival can’t survive in 2017. This is my first in a series of blog’s about film festivals and why they are more important than ever.

32nd Santa Barbara International Film Festival – “Charged” Opening Night Film

This blog is filled with highlights from months 32nd Santa Barbara International Film Festival. The festival featured many of the 2017 Oscar nominees and winners. The festival kicked off with a documentary about a chef Eduardo Garcia, who Charged with 2400 volts of electricity, Eduardo Garcia lost an arm, ribs, muscle mass and nearly his life. The film was very powerful. At times it was hard to watch in the beginning with the severity of his injury. His rebirth and new look on life and returning to his profession was powerful. After the film the festival had an opening night party eating and drinking from food supplied from local restaurants.

Maltin Modern Master Tribute – Honoring Denzel Washington

The second night of the festival was actually one of the most anticipated. Denzel grew up in Westchester County, like myself. I have literally grown up on Denzel from Carbon Copy and St. Elsewhere. His performances in Glory and “Training Day” won him Two Academy Awards. I personally feel “Malcolm X” and his current film “Fences” are his two best performances. Denzel arrived in Santa Barbra and started signing autographs for the fans across the street from the theater. He then did some interviews and walked the red carpet. The press line was crazy with a large number of photographers driving from Los Angeles and high school student reporters. After his quick appearance on the carpet he headed into the theater for the tribute. The tributes are always my favorite part of SBIFF. You can see a movie anywhere but where can you find out stories never told before and see a career highlights. Denzel’s tribute was amazing. Seeing where he started and what path got him to where he is today was a real special moment. As happy as I was for Casey, the best performance of 2016 was Denzel’s “Fences”.

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Outstanding Performers of the Year Award

Up next was my third and final tribute to “La La Land”, of Award Season. SBIFF honored Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling with the Outstanding Performers of the Year Award. The two posed for photos together and apart for the press after signing autographs for the fans outside the theater. Both looked amazing on the carpet. The tribute part of the evening showed highlights of both of their careers including clips from the three films
they did together. During the conversation part of the evening you could clearly see how much chemistry they have together. After the tribute was over “La La Land” director and fellow Oscar Nominee Damien Chazelle, presented the two actors with their Awards.

Virtuosos Award

One of the cool things about the festival it has always welcomed talent of all ages with the Virtuosos Award. Virtuosos Award honors a group of talent who’ve distinguished themselves through breakthrough performances in film that past year. In many cases they are smaller independent films. The 2017 Award Winners were Mahershala Ali (Moonlight, Hidden Figures) Naomie Harris (Moonlight), Simon Helberg (Florence Foster Jenkins), Stephen McKinley Henderson (Fences), Janelle Monáe (Moonlight, Hidden Figures), Ruth Negga (Loving), Dev Patel (Lion) and Aaron Taylor Johnson (Nocturnal Animal). Everyone looked spectacular. The carpet had that Gala / Award Season feel to it with the women dressed in high fashion. This was another packed night on the carpet and in the photographer pit. There was one part of the night that was unexpected. Due to the amount of photographers on the press line, I was forced to shoot from the second row. Luckily I brought a two step step stood that I stood on. Oscar Nominee (and winner), Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), appeared with his 8 1/2 month pregnant wife on the carpet. After that, Mahershala, walked by himself. As he got to my area, it looked like he was saying something to me. I though he might have not been happy with my flash going off directly at him from an elevated level. Then I saw him get really excited and seemed like he was pointing at me. With all the noise coming from the carpet I couldn’t hear what he was saying. I just smiled and nodded. He continued pointing at me. Then I finally realized he was reacting to my yellow Golden State Warriors, 73 Win Sweatshirt. I didn’t find out till later that he was from Oakland. I gave the thumbs up. Then instead for moving to the next photo station he walked away from his publicist and the carpet. He started to walk towards the photographers pit. He then leaned into the area and gave me a high five.

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Cinema Vanguard Award Honoring Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams

Up next was the Cinema Vanguard Award Honoring “Manchester By The Sea” actors Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams. What made this a special night was that both actors live a very unHollywood life style out of the public eye. The actors walked the carpet together and separately. Casey was dressed in a black suit. He still had his salt and pepper thick beard that he had at the Globes and Oscars. After walking the carpet and doing interviews with video people the two walked into the Arlington for their tribute. The actors were showcased in video clips from their entire careers. I must admit. Michelle Williams was the reason I use to watch “Dawson’s Creek”. Of course, Michelle has gone on to be one of the best actresses in recent memory. The two sat on couches next to each other for their interviews. You could tell how genuine both were. Williams shared an adorable personal moment when she spoke about how happy her daughter was she was actually winning the award unlike other spoke about her daughter who was happy to hear that she was finally getting an award instead of losing.

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Montecito Award – Honoring Isabelle Huppert

Another tribute for an Oscar nominee was the 2017 Montecito Award, Honoring “Elle” actress, Isabelle Huppert. Known as the “Merrill Streep” of France. Unfortunately she walked right by me and my photo area without even looking. Luckily I had a wide lens to shoot from other stations. I must admit I was relieved she didn’t win the Oscar. She also lost my Spirit Award vote. That doesn’t takeaway from the fact she is an amazing actress who has been in over 100 films.

American Riviera Award Honoring Jeff Bridges

My final event of the festival was actually the one tribute I wanted to see the most. Not many people can be recognized by two words that are not their name. The recipient of the “American Riviera” Award was “The Dude”. “The Big Lebowski”, may have been one of my favorite Jeff Bridges films but it wasn’t my first. He first appeared in my universe in the 1982 film “Tron and kiss Me Goobye”. However, it was the 1984 film “Starman” was my favorite of his 80’s movies. Jeff appeared in the film along with one of my first celebrity crushes Karen Allen. Of all his films, last years “Hell or High Water” might have been one of his toughest challenges. Like all his other roles he mastered the complex portrayal of a Sherif on his way to retirement looking for one last hurrah. Jeff spoke for over 2 hours about a lot of the stories that were behind the scenes. One of the most surprising parts of the evening was to find out that Jeff’s dad, Lloyd Bridges, pushed him into acting and away from his desire to be a musician. It actually took 10 years for Jeff to start feeling comfortable acting. The Santa Barbara actor was in a joyous mood. After the moderator stopped talking about Lebowski, he tried to move to the next film he was discussing. Jeff then made him go back to Lebowski, he then brought up an really interesting hypothesis about one of the co stars roles in the film. Asking if “Donny was real or just a figment of imagination. Another special moment came when Jeff spoke about his longtime wife (who was sitting right by me) and how in love with her he is. One thing is for sure, we can all look forward to seeing Jeff playing all types of characters he brings to life.

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The 2017 festival featured more than 200 films from across the globe; as well as screenings, industry panels & education programs. You can view the 2017 award winners here: http://variety.com/2017/film/news/santa-barbara-film-festival-2017-award-winners-1201984675.For more information on the festival you can go to SBIFF.ORG. Additional photos can be found, with a article by journalist patch.com entertainment journalist Beau Behan: http://patch.com/california/malibu/photos-2017-santa-barbara-international-film-festival-wraps

Thank you for checking out this blog.Don’t forget to support local film and music in your city. Now more than ever they need your support.

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Dead and Company Live at the Toyota Amphitheatre Wheatland CA. 7/29/2016

It was just over a year ago in Chicago, the Grateful Dead wrapped up playing the last notes of “Attics of My Life, as a farewell to their fans. The band consisted of the remaining core 4 of Bob Weir, Mickey, Hart, Bill Kreutzmann and Phil Lesh. The band Celebrated 50 year’s of the Grateful Dead Dead, with 5 shows, 2 in Santa Clara & 3 in Chicago. The shows were called “Fare Thee well”, as this would be the final time the core 4 would play together.

Shortly after the shows, there were rumors that some of the members of the band were forming a super group. The news brought joy to Deadheads, that the band they love would still be playing the music they loved, so deeply. What they didn’t know was who was going to take on the nearly impossible task of replacing Jerry Garcia. Rumors also had Mike Gordon (couldn’t be in the band due to his busy schedule) from Phish replacing Phil on bass. The rumors would be confirmed in late August. The super group would be formed under the name Dead and Company. The band would consist of 3/4 of the core 4. Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann. The guys would be joined by John Mayer, on guitar, Oteil Burbridge (Allman Brothers Band) on bass and keyboard player Jeff Chimenti (Furthur/Ratdog).

Fans were stunned and critical of a pop singer joining the band and singing some of Jerry’s songs. However, after last years shows, Deadheads are singing a new tune. The band seemed revitalized and after a New Year’s Eve show in LA last year when Mayer, at the end of the final song saying the band would see them next year. Questioned critics, who thought this would be a one time tour.

Dead and Company’s 2016 Summer Tour, was held at a combination of stadiums and amphitheaters. That train headed North, for the final 2 shows of the Summer Tour. The first Northern California show, was at the Toyota Amphitheatre, in Wheatland,California. The crowd was in a festive mood being a weekend and the second to last show of the Summer Tour.. The venue (near Sacramento) was packed hours before the start of the show. The parking lots were filled with Deadheads of all ages.

The band hit the stage and started jamming into “Uncle John’s Band”. The band harmonized beautifully with Bob and John both taking turns at singing. The crowd was in a joyous mode when they went into “Tennessee Jed” with the crowed singing the chorus. “Easy Wind” was followed by another crowd favorite “Ramble on Rose.” Being born in New York City this song has always had a special place in my heart. Bob’s vocals were strong. The next song, “Row Jimmy” would normally fall into the slow jam category, but the song reaches a new level with Mayer’s vocals and guitar playing with Bob. “Looser” was up next with Bob handling the vocals. The first set ended with the band’s only hit single, “Touch of Grey”, with Bob and John taking turns on vocals. Once again, the crowd had a blast singing along. After finishing an amazing first set, Bob walked up to the microphone and said if you weren’t registered to vote you should head over to Headcount (you can register to vote here: https://www.headcount.org), at Participation Row and register to vote.

The Second set, started with another slow jam song “Lost Sailor’. The tempo picked up as the band played “Saint of Circumstance”. The crowd sang along to the lyrics “Sure don’t know what I going for, but I’m gonna go for it for sure.”

The band played “He’s Gone” originally written, about 
the disappearance of Mickey Hart’s father, who was acting as the band’s manager, with a good deal of money. The song was famous for the two lyrics “Like I told you, what I said, Steal your face right off your head.” and “Nothing left to do but smile,smile, smile.” Next up was “China Cat Sunflower was followed as it should be by I know you Rider. After drums and space the band jammed into “New Speedway Boogie”, from the bands 1970 Album “Working Man’s Dead”, was followed by “Morning Dew”, another Jerry song, that Bob sang lead vocals on. The tempo picked up again with another transportation themed song. “Casey Jones”. The band returned for the encore with acoustic guitars and closed a magical night out with “Ripple”.

One thing is for sure. Anyone who thought Dead and Company were just another Dead nostalgia group and that John Mayer was the wrong choice, were proven wrong. Dead and Company is proof that not only will the music will never stop, it also has gone to new places for a new generation to enjoy. To purchase this show and the entire Summer Tour go here: http://livedead.co/live-music/0,14553/Dead-and-Company-mp3-flac-download-7-29-2016-Toyota-Amphitheatre-Wheatland-CA.html

Set List
Dead & Company 
Friday July 29,2016
Toyota Amphitheater
 Wheatland, California

Set I

Uncle John’s Band bw jm
Tennessee Jed bw
Easy Wind jm
Ramble On Rose bw
 Row Jimmy jm
 Loser bw
Touch Of Grey bw jm

Set II 


Lost Sailor bw >
Saint Of Circumstance bw >
He’s Gone bw jm >
China Cat  Sunflower bw
I Know You Rider bw jm >
Drums/Space >
New Speedway Boogie bw >
Morning Dew bw
 Casey Jones jm
E: Ripple bw jm

 

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Dead & Company at the Toyota Amphitheatre in Wheatland California 7/29/2016

© Jonathan Scott Shensa Photography

 

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Dead & Company at the Toyota Amphitheatre in Wheatland California 7/29/2016 © Jonathan Scott Shensa Photography

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John Mayer Dead and Company © Jonathan Scott Shensa Photography

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Bob Weir and Mickey Mickey of Dead and Company.Dead & Company at the Toyota Amphitheatre in Wheatland California 7/29/2016 © Jonathan Scott Shensa Photography

 

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My Silicon Valley Comic Con Experience

Greetings everyone. Welcome to another edition of “The Outsiders Guide to the Inside of Hollywood”. This blog is once again going to be different from my normal ones. It’s not about a Hollywood Premiere or a concert; it’s about another phenomenon all together. What do you get when you mix together popular culture, entertainment, technology fans and a bunch of fanboys/fangirls? The answer is…Silicon Valley Comic Con. SVCC was the brain child of Steve Wozniak and Stan Lee. The convention’s goal was to combine entertainment and technology fans in one place. The Apple computer co-founder Wozniak, did many interviews including a walking tour of the main floor while being interviewed by a news women. By adding the technology piece, Wozniak, created a very different kind of gathering, which really sets it apart from other comic related conventions.

Silicon Valley Comic Con 2016 – Day 1

The convention kicked off on Friday March 18th, with a Red ribbon cutting with Steve Wozniak, Stan Lee and Christopher Lloyd. The Opening night event was, “An Evening with William Shatner.” I arrived at the convention early, so I would be able to walk the floor and checkout the artists and merchants. Like Comic Con and WonderCon there is a main floor that is packed with everything from collectibles to artwork. One of the coolest things you can find at these conventions are autograph booths with everyone from celebrities from the present and some favorites from the past. I arrived to find out there were no posed photos. William Shatner, was signing copies of his new book, Leonard. I watched as I saw a number of people of all ages freaking out about meeting Captain James T. Kirk. One of the people from the staff let me take a few candids of him signing autographs.

An Evening with William Shatner

I headed to the room where Shatner, was going to be doing his event. No surprise that the room was totally full by the time the event started. Shatner, walked on stage to an enormous applause. The crowed was filled with fans dressed as their favorite Trekkie character. One of the interesting things about this convention was that with the exception of the “Back to the Future” panel, there wasn’t a moderator. Shatner spoke about taking his Harley and driving from Chicago to Hollywood, where he hoped to find work. For the second part of the program William took questions from the crowd, who had lined up by a microphone. The most touching part of the program was William, answering a question from a child about his friendship with the departed Leonard Nimoy. Shatner, spoke about having an argument with Nimoy and his despair about not speaking before his death. It was truly a special night seeing an icon in such a personal moment.

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© Jonathan Scott Shensa Photography

Jeremy Renner Panel Day 2

On Saturday was the day filled with panels. I decided to cover the panels on the main floor. I was glad I walked the floor on Friday because the convention floor looked like grand Central Station at rush hour. The first panel was an appearance from Avenger member, Jeremy Renner. I have to say out of all the events I attended Jeremy seemed to be so happy to be at the event. Renner, seemed to really enjoy having no moderator leading the conversation.  You could clearly see how much he loves his fans. He even gave some good advice answering a question about going into acting saying, “If you could do anything else, do it”. Jeremy was so into connecting with his fans that he went 10 minutes over his scheduled time. He even said that he “felt bad knowing that fans had questions he didn’t get to answer.” He posed for Selfie’s with fans and even hugged a woman who said it was her birthday. After the panel Jeremy headed downstairs for photo ops and autographing signings.

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© Jonathan Scott Shensa Photography

Nathan Fillion Panel

Next up was an appearance from “Castle” star Nathan Fillion.  The actor spoke about his TV and film career. Besides being on a hit television show many people know him as Captain Malcolm Reynolds, in the television series Firefly and its feature film. Nathan took questions from his fans. Nathan charmed the crowd with his sense of humor and told tales about cutting and pasting Joss Whedon’s head on his private parts to cover up during one of his naked scenes. Nathan Fillion was actually one of the reasons that I attended the convention. My sister is a longtime fan of his, so much so that she purchased the VIP package which included a photo with the star and an autograph signing. After meeting him she told me, “He’s always been my “Big Damn Hero” and I’m so glad that meeting him in person did not shatter my love for him as an actor and a human being. He comes off as kind and silly and that’s exactly who he is. His boyish charm is contagious. He really made my weekend.”

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© Jonathan Scott Shensa Photography

Back To The Future Panel

The final panel/conversation was a “Back to the Future” reunion with, Lea Thompson and Christopher Lloyd in attendance. The actors spoke about the film franchise and it’s affects on them. This is rumored to be one of the last live events Michael J. Fox, would be attending. The room was packed to capacity. All eyes were on Michael, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1991. He continued to work and didn’t go public about his disease until 1998. Michael showed me what bravery is. He gave great insight about the film series and his life during his panel. At times you couldn’t see symptoms of his disease, which sadly has worsened. That didn’t stop him from taking part in this reunion. To learn about the Michael J. Fox Foundation (charity for finding a cure for Parkinson’s) check them out here: https://www.michaeljfox.org

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© Jonathan Scott Shensa Photography

The three-day convention/show ended on Sunday with signings and a panel from Icon Stan Lee. The convention brought in 60,000 guests. The weekend was filled with celebrity appearances, science/tech discussions, and panels with award-winning authors, displays with comic book artists, cosplay contests (fan’s dressed in costumes they make) and more. “We couldn’t be happier with the turnout at our first Silicon Valley Comic Con—from passionate fans to engaging exhibits and talks,” said founder Steve Wozniak. “Version 2.0 in 2017 will be even better. The convention was a huge hit for the fans, artists and the city of San Jose. Congratulations to Steve Wozniak. He took a major risk and it paid off. I guess we should have expected it from Woz.

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© Jonathan Scott Shensa Photography

Thank you to my sister who helped capture the event. Thanks to everyone at the Con who put on a great event. Don’t forget to support local music, films and artist in your city.

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Posted in blog, Blogger, celebrity blog, celebrity candids, Celebrity Event Photos, Celebrity Photos, Entertainment, Entertainment Blogs, Entertainment Photographer Blog, Event Photographer for Hire, Hollywood celebrity photos, The Outsiders Guide To The Inside of Hollywood, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment