Oz The Great And Powerful World Premiere and Kristi Yamaguchi and Disney On Ice Dare Kids To Dream and Read – Blog

Greetings everyone and welcome to a very Disney edition of “The Outsiders Guide to the Inside of Hollywood”. This blog is about my experiences covering three very different kind of Disney events. The first one was Walt Disney Films trip to the land of Oz. The two other events were sponsored by Disney On Ice and Field Entertainment. One of them was a special book reading for students of Fred T. Korematsu Discovery Academy in Oakland, with Olympic Medallist and children’s author, Kristi Yamaguchi.  The children also received free tickets to, Disney On Ice: Dare To Dream  ice show at the Oracle Arena in Oakland. I also attended the show which was my first ice show in 30 years.

“Oz The Great And Powerful” Los Angeles Premiere – El Capitan Theatre 2-13/13

Ever since hearing James Franco, was going to be playing The Wizard in Disney’s take on “The Wizard of Oz franchise “Oz The Great and Powerful”, I had wanted to cover this premiere. The films director Sam Raimi, who worked with James on the original “Spiderman” films take us on a different journey to the land of Oz. The film is inspired by L. Frank Baum’s 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and is the prequel to the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. in James Franco in the film are Mila Kunis as Theodora, Michelle Williams as Glinda, and Rachel Weisz as Evanora.

I had photographed Mila for the first time unofficially (fan area) at the “Extract” Premiere and professionally(on the carpet) in New York City at the “Friends with Benefits” premiere. I had wanted to photograph Michelle Williams for several years. I admit, I had a big crush on her back in the Dawson Creek Days (only reason I watched the show) and loved seeing her career evolve. As for Mr. Franco we had crossed paths before unofficially. Back in 2010 I met James and photographed him in the rain where he met loyal fans waiting for him to arrive at a film festival reception event and later just before a screening of his film “127 Hours”. James who took time to pose with fans (including s surprised particular blogger) before heading into a private event. James really seems to be a down to earth guy. If you couldn’t tell how much he loves his fans then, you sure could a few months later at the Santa Barbra Film Festival, where James signed autograph, books and took pictures with fans that waited hours outside the theater for his arrival.

I arrived early expecting it to be a madhouse. The first thing I saw as usual Disney had Hollywood Boulevard shut down. As I made my across the street to the media check in  area I saw a huge hot air balloon from the movie being blown up. We were given strict instructions by the studio not to take any pictures until the start of the carpet and of the balloon until it was in the air. Disney had created a yellow brick road carpet stretched out down the boulevard. As we started to be checked in I was expecting my usual number at the end of the list. I could tell by looking at the amount of photographers, and the space we had, I knew it would be tight. I was just hoping not to be stuck in the third row. Then to my surprise my number was in the top 25, which got me a front row spot at the end of the photographer area. One of the photographers who is always in an A list spot showed up late and as usual got into a argument with another photographer. This wasn’t the first time I witnessed a temper tantrum by this same photographer. She set up in back of me and kept reaching and getting her hands in my shots. Deciding it wasn’t worth causing an argument when the carpet had open I just worked around her.

The films co-star Zach Braff (Scrubs) walked the carpet with his girlfriend Taylor Bagley. James Franco showed up next wearing a purple suit. He quickly made his way down the carpet and caused a flash frenzy when he stopped briefly in my area. I knew from attending Q & A’s with James that this part of the business was not his favorite. Michelle Williams who plays Glinda (the good witch) looked beautiful. I must admit I like her better with long hair but she still looked amazing and graceful. Mila Kunis (who arrived with out Ashton Kutcher who was on the press list) arrived right after Michelle looking absolutely stunning. She was very accommodating to the photographers even coming back after already walking once already. The last of the main stars to arrive was Rachel Weisz who just had a Hollywood old school classic look that night. After walking the carpet she shared some personal time with Mila. The films director Sam Rami was the final arrival as he quickly made it down the press line. This ended up being a really good premiere, my only regret was I had to wait a few weeks to see the film.

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Oz The Great And Powerful – Film

When I saw this film this past weekend I must admit I was expecting it to be good. I was glad they chose the actors they did for the film, but I was wonder how the story would be. I myself have ties to “The Wizard of Oz”. I  was in the play “The Wiz” at Sara Lawrence College when I was a child. So that magical story always was close to my heart. The film opened in black and white and introduced us to Mr. Franco,as a traveling circus con man magician who slept around. The character James plays does not have to many redeeming qualities. I found James really believable. The film does an amazing job of showing us how the story of Oz was a set up to the “Wizard Of Oz”. All the women’s performances were a amazing. I found Mila’s character was the most challenging. Playing two very different women in the same film. Michelle shinned and I loved Rachel’s performance. Sam Rami did a phenomenal job of directing. This film really must be experienced on the big screen. I believe this was the best prequel I’ve seen. For tickets and showtimes go here: http://tinyurl.com/bx7cltb

Kristi Yamaguchi “Dream Big Little Pig” Book Reading or students of Fred T. Korematsu Discovery Academy in Oakland

The next two events are types of jobs I usually wouldn’t do. Especially at 9:30 in the morning. However this shoot was for a good cause to promote children reading at a young age. In an age where book stores are going out of business while video game sales and stores are rising, it’s important now more than ever that kids expand their minds by reading. The Bay Area’s own Skating Olympic Medallist and Children’s Author, Kristi Yamaguchi, sponsored an event with Disney On Ice. 70 students from Oakland’s Fred T. Korematsu Discovery Academy got to hear Kristi read her book “Dream Big Little Pig” and get a free book and tickets to Disney On Ice: Dare To Dream show in Oakland.

The event stated at a community center where the children were at tables doing arts & crafts making masks, while Kristi watched and helped out. The schools staff were excited to get photos with the staking star. After the arts and crafts the kids got into a line and marched into a gym while waving to the press who were there to cover the event.  One of my favorite things about this event, was being able to cover it with two individuals who I have been contributing photography to their magazine and website. Some of you know Denise Berry, from http://livingdeelife.com/ from my past blogs. She did an amazing interview with Kristi Yamaguchi that you can see here: http://livingdeelife.com/kristi-yamaguchi-interview-fashion/

Back in the fall at the Mill Valley Film Festival I met Cindy Maram, who runs her own online/print magazine, Dig In Magazine: www.DigInMag.com. Shortly after that I began to work as a contributing photographer for some of the celebrity events I covered. Check out here footage here: http://www.diginmag.com/2013/02/27/olympic-gold-medalist-kristi-yamaguchi-gives-back-dare-to-dream/

The book reading was sponsored by Kristi Yamaguchi’s charity “Always Dream Foundation” http://www.alwaysdream.org/, which promotes children reading at an early age. After hearing Kristi read her book “Dream Big Little Pig”, the students received another surprise visit. Princess Tiana, arrived to the excitement of the children. The Disney On Ice star took pictures with the children and were told they also would be receiving free tickets to Disney On Ice: Dare To Dream show in Oakland.

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Disney On Ice: Dare To Dream – Oracle Arena

I ended up by attending the ice show too. My only other experience attending an ice show was about 30 years ago in Madison Square Garden with my younger sister. As I get out of my car and walked to the arena I saw kids dressed up in Disney character costumes. The majority of the kids were girls dressed as princess. I found the media check and had an escort to take me to the photo area. Only problem there was no photo area. I saw I had a great seat but when I suggested I shoot there the escort though it was too low. I only was aloud to photograph the show for the first 15 minutes. I finally ended up in an allele on the side about 35 rows up. People kept on getting in my way and I knew at this point the pictures would not be good enough to submit to my agency. I decided to stay and watch the show so I could blog on it.

The show was to my surprise really enjoyable and would be a great event for families to share together. The Ice show was broken into two acts. The skaters were dressed up as Disney characters. The show opened and ended with Mickey, Donald and friends. The shows main focus and storyline empathizes on Disney Princess. Tiana (from “The Princess and the Frog”), Cinderella, and Rapunzel (from “Tangled”) The staking was spectacular. The most impressive Cirque de Soleil like stunts included aerial acrobatics in the “Tangled” portion were breathtaking and stole the show.

Obviously the show was targeting girls but I did see many brothers faces light up too. I highly recommend this as a great family event for families to experience together. The show is currently at in Detroit The Palace of Auburn Hills till the 17th. To find out if the show is coming to your town or to buy tickets go to: www.DisneyOnIce.com

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Hollywood Stars Head North for The Santa Barbara International Film Festival – Blog and How Quentin Tarantino Inspired Me to Become a Writer

Greetings everyone and Welcome to the first part of my Awards Season blog. Earlier this month for the second time (first 2010 James Franco Outstanding Actor Award) I attended the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Originally I had bought tickets to conversations and tributes to Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence. I had applied for credentials with a magazine but were turned down due to the large amount of request they were getting. Just a few days before the start of the festival I revived an email that due to a conflict in his schedule (or not being nominated for an Oscar) Leo was canceling. The festival replaced him with “Django Unchained” director Quentin Tarantino. As a photographer, this would be a huge let down due to the popularity  marketability of Leo for potential sales. For me this was a tribute and felt like coming full circle. I have Mr. Tarintino to thank for inspiring me to move to LA in back in 1997.

Boston Film Festival October 1992 Copley Square

As some of you know I started off in New York as a child actor doing mainly theater and an IBM Computer commercial standing next to Alan Alda. At some point during doing interviews at WDMC Channel 19, at Roosevelt High School in Yonkers New York, I felt uncomfortable watching myself on my home TV. I decided to take a different journey and path. That road led me to Emerson College in Boston.

After a year and a half majoring in Audio and Radio I still felt like something was missing. That all changed one fall evening and a trip the Boston Film Festival. I remember my friend who was a Film major dragging me out in the cold to see a film by first-time writer-director. Unfortunately the director was not there funny enough due to a scheduling conflict. I remembering asking my friend what was the film about all I would get him was the title “Reservoir Dogs”. When the film started I had no idea what to expect. The opening scene we meet eight men having breakfast at a Los Angeles diner before their planned diamond heist. The movie opens with a casual conversation that turns out to be a piece of screenwriting history. Somehow a cheap robber named Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi)refusing to leave a tip gets crossed with the true meaning of Madonna’s “Like A Virgin”. From that minute on I was hooked. What really spoke to me was the writing. It reminded me of a conversation three of my friends and I had a few day’s earlier. No it was not a song but lets just say that two of the people at the bar left early to go watch “Melrose Place”. I didn’t know it then but that scene would be the first scene of the first screenplay I ever wrote. So if it were not for that night I might still be living in New York. I was more excited about being able to hear the writer, director, actor and producer speak.

28th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival – American Riviera Award Presentation to Quentin Tarantino

Since the award recepient and the date changed I thought there might be a possibility I could cover this night. I sent an email to the festival publicist who sent one back to me saying there would be no carpet but we could take pictures during the conversation and award presentation. I got to the theatre and found a seat four rows back on the right of the podium. The set up was a little unusual. there was a podium set up on the right on the press side. The opisite side of the stage had two chairs facing each other for the conversation. About 10 minutes before the start of the event I was texting Denise Berry http://livingdeelife.com/, when out of nowhere Quentin walked directly in front of me to his seat, which was about two feet from me. All I could think to say was hi and thanked him. He smiled and said hi back.

My favorite part of the evening was not just reliving scenes from all of Quentin’s films but hearing the stories on how he wrote. I found out that he writers the same why I do. One step at a time with no real map of where your going until you arrive at that place. Most of the conversation was Quentin talking about the writing aspect. I couldn’t have been more pleased. At the end of the evening the American Riviera Award was  presented passionately by SBIFF Festival Director Roger Durling. You could tell he was one of his heroes. Quinton tanked everyone and seemed to really enjoy the veining as he exited the stage with his award.

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2013 Santa Barbara International Film Festival – Amy Adams Cinema Vanguard Award  Presentation

I originally was not going to be at the festival on Thursday but when the Tarantino event was moved to Wednesday I decided to spend an extra night in Santa Barbara to attend the Amy Adams Tribute. After getting permission the previous night, I tried again to get credentials. This night it was actually after press check in. I was given a spot in the second row on a large ramp. I actually liked this spot a lot. I was high up but I had a view of everything and was able to get full length shots. I had photographed Amy at “The Muppet’s” and “On the Road” (2 very different movies) premieres in Hollywood. Both events were a madhouse filled with photographers and videographers.  I was looking forward to a more intimate carpet. Amy arrived wearing a cute white dress with black polka dots from Jenny Packham http://www.tomandlorenzo.com/2013/02/in-or-out-amy-adams-in-jenny-packham.html.

Amy looked amazing as she walked the carpet and gave interviews to media outlets and Santa Barbara students. Most of the students were cool but they had way too many people on the carpet and did not stay in there place, which is a big no no for carpet events.

After the carpet I headed into the beautiful historic Arlington theatre for the award and conversation part of the evening. I found a seat about 5 rows back first seat on the right hand side. Amy like Tarantino entered the theatre before the start and ended sitting about two feet away from me. She gracefully walked to the stage after her introduction. She seemed like she does in interviews a real down to earth clean cut person. She spoke about all of the many different roles she had and acted in, and was shown clips of her film career during a 90-minute interview with moderator Pete Hammon. One interesting fact I found out was Amy’s father was in the Army and she was born on a military base. Amy talked about her stage fright and seemed honored that her “The Master” her writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson and co-star/fellow Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix were in the crowd to support her. The evening ended with Paul Thomas Anderson presenting her the Cinema Vanguard Award which is given to risk takers. He joked about her clean cut image and poked fun at her by mentioning drugs (F.Y.I.which he hasn’t done) a few times. Amy has taken many risky roles in her career (award was created for risk takers), so I found this award recipent was well deserved.

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Santa Barbara International Film Festival – Jennifer Lawrence Outstanding Performer of the Year Award & Conversation

My last event of the festival was the one I was most looking forward to. Since seeing “Winters Bone (Jennifer’s first Oscar Nomination) I had wanted to photograph her. I can’t remember another actress that rose so fast in complicated roles. Jennifer arrived wearing   a Stella McCartney blue jumpsuit. She immediately headed for her fans who were waiting for a couple hours for the chance to get an autograph and picture of the Oscar nominated actress. She walked quickly down the carpet after spending more time with videographers. She looked absolutely stunning and it was worth the trip just to see her.

After the carpet we headed into the Arlington theatre once again. Like the other nights Jennifer, sat just a few feet away from me. She was sitting with some girl friends and in front of the award presenter her director in “Silver Linings Playbook” David O. Russell. The festival’s executive director Roger Durling, introduced her described her work as “filled with electric energy and vitality,”. He then called her a star is doing her a disservice. She’s a supernova!”. Unfortunately for Roger he was also the moderator. In one of the most embracing and painful things I’ve seen Roger spoke about Jennifer getting her start in theatre. A shocked actress, told him she never did theatre. At this point the interview felt like a uncomfortable blind date. Roger looked embraced and there was a weird feeling for the rest of the interview. Jennifer did talk about how she never imagined this kind of life. She had pictured herself as a Soccer Mom. The actress admitted that she never prepares herself before filming. She doesn’t read her lines in advance or familiarize herself with shooting schedules. She also shared her  stage fight and feeling uncomfortable on the Red carpet and in interviews.

After the interview was over David O. Russell her director in “Silver Linings Playbook” gave a speech and presented her with the award. This also didn’t go smoothly. I’m guessing that no one told her that she was supose to give an aceptance speech. After getting the award she seemed confused where to go or what to do. She “Thank you Santa Barbara!” and rushed off the stage. I have a feeling that she will be more prepared if she wins the Oscar on February 24th.

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Thank you for joining me on another adventure. For more celebrity photos check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.shensa and follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Jonathanshensa. You can also read my past blogs here: http://theoutsidersguidetotheinsideofhollywood.com/

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My New Year’s Eve, Imagine Dragons Play for the Kids, and My Thoughts on Award Season

Greetings everyone and welcome to my January edition of “The Outsiders Guide to the Inside of Hollywood”. This is going to be a little different from some of my previous blogs. This will be the first blog of my Best Of 2012 series. I will introduce you to one of my favorite talent and band I discoveries of the past year. I’m also going to share my New Year’s Eve with you, which will be followed by special benefit for Children’s Hospital Oakland with Imagine Dragons. I’ll be also giving you my first thoughts on the 2013 Award Season.

Nigel Who? “One with the Clouds” 2012 Men’s Fashion Collection Show

2012 saw a number of first experiences for Jonathan Scott Shensa Photography. In August, I was contacted by an actor, model and promoters I had worked with in the past. I was asked about covering fashion designer Ronnie Bogle’s, Nigel Who? “One with the Clouds” 2012 Men’s Fashion Collection Show at Umbrella Salon in San Jose. If anyone knows me knows that when it comes to fashion my cloths collection consists of, a number of Concert T Shirts and whatever feels comfortable. I could probably count the number of designers I know on one hand. For me being at a fashion show would be like Hank Williams Jr., playing at President Obama’s Inauguration. I decided it would be a good idea to broaden my portfolio and experiences and took the chance of going. I had a decade ago judged model and talent competitions when I worked with talent agents and managers. It turned out to be a very interesting night. After the show was over I took some post show pictures. My biggest surprise wasn’t discovering a new model (all the model’s did an amazing job), it was someone who also was covering the event.

Introducing Denise Berry

At the end of the show I had a problem. I was not given a list with the models names. My celebrity wire service, I work with, requires the names of anyone in the photos I submit. I started to chase down the models and ask them for cards. Unfortunately many of the models didn’t have any cards. I then saw a videographer talking to one of the models. I got her information so I could add her to my submission.

A few weeks later I was contacted on Facebook by Miss Berry, and decided we would meet up in downtown Santa Cruz. I then Googled Denise and found out some surprising information. I was not shocked to find out that she was a former Miss California contestant, what I did find out was she was the first ever Iraq war veteran to compete for Miss California. Denise served her country in the United States Army for six years as a sergeant and combat medic. She even has a bachelors/ masters in international business.

Denise has a radio/ video show  called “Living Dee Life” where she currently interviews fashion designers, music artists, and entrepreneurs. After meeting up with Denise in downtown Santa Cruz, we walked around and I took some candids in shops we visited. I have to say she is one of my favorite actors / models to photograph. Her personality really come out in a photo. Every time I photograph her she has a different and diverse looks. She is always positive and gives that energy back in everything she does. She has that love for fashion that you can see in her eyes when she talks about it and her favorite designers. She also is an amazing interviewer able to relate to all different types of guests and personalities. Check out her company’s site at http://livingdeelife.com and see for yourself why Denise does live dee life.

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Project X Santa Cruz – NYE Party with “The DANCETRONAUT’S”

Months ago, I knew this would be a New year’s Eve I’d be dreading. The reason being it was going to be my first NYE of my Forties. Originally I had hoped to go away like my 30th Birthday in Vegas. When that didn’t happen. I ended up deciding to work in Santa Cruz at an Award show that friends of mine were hosting, performing at. Unfortunately just 3 days before the event the promoters and producers cancelled it. At this point it was too late to find another gig and the concert I would have gone to was sold out. I thought about staying in and ringing in the New Year with Buffy (Cat). I found out that Denise was going to be attending and covering a Project X Santa Cruz – NYE Party with “Dancetronaut”. The Dancetronaut’s are A fully sustainable mobile production company based out of Santa Cruz, CA. providing top of the line sound system technology, world renowned DJs, cutting-edge stage lighting and visual effects and professional dancers, and performers. I decided that it would be a fun and different way to spend the New Year.

I headed up to Santa Cruz and decided to stay at the Days Inn, where two other from people I knew from Reno were staying. One of them was a photographer I met in Reno a year ago who now covers events in the Reno area for PR Photos. Cate Vail also has her own Photography company called Sirens Photography. Besides covering major entertainment events in Reno, Cate specializes in Art Photography and her infamous Mermaid fantasy imagery. The other person was someone who I had worked with in Reno and the fashion show in San Jose. Joseph Squellati, is an accomplished fashion host, who has developed a loyal fan base on the hit international show “Wake up Call”. You can also see him on http://www.loadedtv.com Joseph is also the Southern California fashion blogger for http://livingdeelife.com. Joseph also has an amazing and inspirational story to tell. http://tinyurl.com/am92h87

After heading to the ocean and shooting some sun set landscapes from the lighthouse area, I headed back to my hotel. I was surprised to hear a knock on my door. It was Cate and Joseph who happened to be staying in the room next door. We ended up going to the pier and met up with Denise for dinner. The restaurant was great. I enjoyed talking with Cate about photography.

Just before getting ready to leave I got a call from Denise who was already at the party. Unfortunately, we had bad reception, but I did hear her say something about glow sticks. I now realized that the location was a private home not a club or place. I started to drive being navigated by navigation system on my phone. After traveling on main roads I ended up somewhere in the Santa Cruz Woods. Of course, Murphy’s law kicked in as not only did I loose cell reception but I also lost my Navigation system. As I drove another mile down this deserted road, I started to think of movies like The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th. I decided to turn around and then saw a green light in the distance. I followed it and found the house where the party was being held.

After parking down a dirt road in the back I started to make my way to the house. The scene was broken down into 3 different kinds of groups. Outside were people chilling drinking and smoking. This is probably where I would have fit in normally being a long haired concert T-shirt jeans wearing guy. Because it was New Year’s and I actually bought stuff for the original event which was a dress up event, I wore a purple dress shirt and black dress slacks with a black sports coat. just then, I ran into Cate and her husband. As we walked into the house the second group of people were where The Dancetronaut’s, were performing was set up as a club / rave scene where people danced to DJ’s with a light show. The house was crowded and I started to get the feeling people were staring at us. I wasn’t sure if it was because they didn’t know us, we were dressed up or we were too old. After feeling like I was at a High School party for a few minutes we saw Denise and Joseph. I took some candids of them and of some of the DJ’s and party guests and friends. I then followed Denise and Joseph as they interviewed the promoters. After that I walked around and took some pictures. People didn’t seem to be into it. Still feeling a little out of place I decided to do a wardrobe change. I turned in my dress shirt for a black t-shirt, I created to promote a script I’m writing (Johnny Paparazzi in white letters) and a black hat. All of the sudden, I got people mobbing me asking for pictures. After people got drunker the pictures got a little wilder. In the end I had a great time ringing in the New Year with friends I knew and some I  just met.

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 Imagine Dragons in Concert Benefiting Children’s Hospital Oakland at The Independent in San Francisco – January 5, 2013

If you’ve read some of my previous blogs, you might remember eight months ago I told you about a brand new band I had just seen that blew me away. Normally when photographing bands I’m in a zone and block everything out. Last May I was working the Live 105 BFD concert in Mountain View Ca. The first band I photographed that night had such amazing energy. They put on such a great performance and I was immediately hooked. That Las Vegas band 8 moths later have enjoyed commercial successes that include a hit single and top 5 album. The band I’m talking about is Imagine Dragons. When I heard that the band was doing a charity benefit for Children’s Hospital Oakland in San Francisco at a 500 person club I knew I had to go. I decided to try and ask their management company if I could photograph it for PR Photos. I doubted it would be able to happen since it is such a small club and there is no photography area. I ended up getting contacted by their label who said they didn’t have any tickets for media. I then was able to get one when the box office randomly released tickets at that moment. I immediately was told that I had permission to shoot. I was happy that because I bought a ticket I would now be able to see the whole show too. Normally for concerts you are escorted in and out after 3 songs. So I try and not officially apply for shows I want to see.

On the night of the show it rained. Luckily as the show got closer it was down to a drizzle. After about 45 minutes of circling I found a spot a few blocks away from the club. As I headed to the box office I heard the club blasting “Radioactive” one of Imagine Dragons first singles. As I got closer and looked through a crack in the door I saw it was the band actually doing a sound check. The music and vocals sounded loud but perfect. I knew this was going to be a great show.

Bay Area musician Brad Brooks opened up the show with an interesting set. He reminded me of a combination of Bob Dylan meets Elvis Costello. After his performance a $10,000 dollar check from 104.5 KFOG was presented to Children’s Hospital Oakland. A few minutes later Imagine Dragons hit the stage. I must say this 500 person crowd was one of the loudest ones I can remember.

The band opened with the song “Rocks” from their debut CD Night Visions which made it all the way to # 2 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums. From the second the band hit the stage you could feel this was a special night. Not just because the chance of seeing a band that one day soon will be headlining arenas in a small and intimate club. The show was a fundraiser for Children’s Hospital Oakland http://www.childrenshospitaloakland.org a research center the only independent children’s hospital in California, treats cancer, asthma and disorders of the heart, blood and nervous system. Dragon’s lead singer Dan Reynolds stated “Tonight we’re doing something that means something”. The band played an amazing 13 song set. This was the third time I saw the band play in the last year and even though every show was amazing this one really stood out. It’s such a rare opportunity to see a killer band in a small club. Imagine Dragons are one of thoses bands where the crowd feels like they are part of the show. Singing along and dancing to every song the band played. Highlights of the evening were an in your face version  of “Radioactive”, “On Top Of The World” and a crowd singing version of “It’s Time”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaLSOah2oUg

The band played almost their entire “Night Visions CD. Several times during their performance Dan thanked the crowd. At one point he was overcome by joy from the thunderous crowded reaction. He recalled the last time they played The Independent as an opening act. One thing is for sure the days of Imagine Dragons opening for anyone will come to an end soon. I expect huge things from this band. Everyone who was at the Independent will look back on that show and be able to brag about seeing them in a small and intimate setting. The band kicks off their first headline tour this spring. For tour dates in your area go to: http://www.imaginedragonsmusic.com/events/default.aspx

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My Take On the 2013 Golden Globe and SAG Winners and the Oscar Nominees

If your a fellow movie lover like me you probably know we are in the middle of Award Season. Last night at the SAG Awards, in what my friends in the media called another upset, best Cast went to Argo and best Actress in a Drama Jennifer Lawrence for her work in “Silver Linings Playbook”. Even though both also won Golden Globes it was seen as an upset with “Lincoln” the favorite to take the top prize. I however could not see this as a shock. I would have voted the same way. The fact that Ben Affleck was not nominated for an Oscar for Best Director was a travesty. If the Academy is going to have more than 5 nominees for Best Picture (9 this year) they need to add nominees to the Best Actor Actress, and Director category too. This was an amazing year for films. I really loved Silver Linings Playbook, Life of Pi and Les Miserables. This was one year where I really wished the Oscars had separate categories for Drama and Comedy/ Musicals. There is no fair way to compare these amazing pieces of art we got this year. One thing that the season has taught me when it comes to Television is, I need to start watching “Homeland”. I will go much deeper into the Oscar nominations on my film festival blog Oscar weekend.

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Thank you for joining me and letting me share my thoughts and experiences with you. Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Jonathanshensa or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.shensa.

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Fergie Parties for a Great Cause, Hanging with Cruz Matik in LA and my Afternoon with Hugh Jackman

Voli Lights Vodka “Cell Phones for Soldiers” Benefit with Fergie

Greetings everyone and Happy New Year everyone! Welcome to my first blog for “The Outsiders Guide to the Inside of Hollywood” of 2013. My New Year’s Resolution was to write more frequent blogs to this site. I’m going to start by taking you back to December, and a really cool charity event I photographed. The event was a Benefit for “Cell Phones for Soldiers”. The Red carpet was hosted by Fergie, at the famous (and hard to get into) Skybar, on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles.  “Cell Phones for Soldiers” is a non-profit organization, dedicated to providing cost-free communication services to active duty military members and veterans.

I arrived at the venue early thinking it would be a madhouse. To my surprise it was empty and no one I asked at the hotel in the venue knew about the event. My first thought was I went to the wrong location. After a few nervous minutes, I saw someone who instructed me where to go. Five minutes later one other photographer showed up. A few minutes later it got about as crowded as Grand Central Station at rush hour. We finally checked in and saw our places were marked right on top of each other. Luckily we had enough time to just fit everyone in. All was quiet until one foreign female photographer came just as the event was getting ready to start demanding everyone makes room for her in the center. She ended up getting into a very loud and public fight with another photographer.

Finally everyone chilled just as “Big Bang Theory actress, Kaley Cuoco arrived looking stunning. Another arrival highlight of the evening was Reality TV Star Aubrey O’Day ( girl group Danity Kane, Celebrity Apprentice). The evening defiantly belonged to the host. Fergie arrived dressed in a red sparkly dress. All eyes were on Fergie, as she made her way down the red carpet. She even stopped by a table set up on the carpet with the sponsors Voli Lights Vodka bottles and posed for candids. In the end a good time was had by all benefiting a wonderful charity. To donate and help support this non profit go to: http://www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com/

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10th Annual Junior Hollywood Radio & Television Society (JHRTS) Holiday Party

The second official photo shoot I did on my last trip was the Junior Hollywood Radio & Television Society (JHRTS) Holiday Party. JHRTS educational and networking organization for executives-to-be. I wasn’t familiar with many of the invited celebrities who walked the red carpet, but the stand outs personally for me were Lindsay Shaw (Pretty Little Liars), Madeline Zima (Californication), and Skyler Day (Parenthood). The reason I attended this carpet was to photograph a group out of Santa Cruz, California called Cruz Matik.

I was introduced to Reggie Reggie Stephens (Former NFL Player with the New York Giants) and J-Willz, by the amazing Denise Berry, of Living Dee Life http://livingdeelife.com.  I took some pictures of the guys at a recording session, at the cool and modern, Indigital Recording Studio in Santa Cruz. A month later, I met up with the guys and Denise as they shot a new video for their song “Up All Night”.

Few weeks later on one of my rare days off in LA, I got a text from Denise that Cruz Matik, would be walking the red carpet at the “JHRTS” holiday party. Luckily I was able to get on the media list at the last minute. About half way through the red carpet the guys arrived. I always love seeing people I know at events. For one reason I can get eye contact and don’t have to worry about shooting from faraway to get the pictures I want. After saying hi to the guys they headed into the club. After the carpet was over and the photographers left, I decided to see if I could get inside the event (photographers almost always only have red carpet accesses). The party was packed so no one noticed that I didn’t have a wristband on as I made it inside. After walking around and trying to figure out where the guys were thanks to Facebook pictures they were posting, I found the VIP area. The band was hanging with executives and even the President of JHRTS. I got some cool candid and posed pictures of the group socializing and enjoying the evening. I have not seen them live yet, but I expect big things for this group in 2013. They really have an interesting and original style and sound. Check them out for yourselves here: http://www.facebook.com/cruz.matik

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Hugh Jackman Honored with Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

My final day and shoot in LA would fall under the Johnny Paparazzi category. One of the most fun events in Hollywood, are the Walk of Fame ceremonies. The cool thing about these events they are open to the public to watch. Unfortunately the event is impossible to get credentials for. My plan was to get there early and get a good spot. When I got there all the good spots were taken or the view would be obstructed by press and videographers. I knew this would be a point and shoot camera day. Hugh and Jay Leno walked in and said hi to friends. Just before the start of the ceremony I noticed that “Les Miserables” cast members Anne Hathaway and Amanda Seyfried were in the crowd. Jay Leno gave a speech before Hugh stepped up to the podium and before Hugh’s star was unveiled. Seeing what a madhouse it was I knew it would be too hard to fight off autograph seekers and real paparazzi. I started to head towards where the cars were. Just my luck Anne and Amanda went off in other cars. I started to expect that the car in front of me was a decoy.

Knowing that they always have post Walk of Fame brunches, I started to walk towards the Roosevelt Hotel thinking that is where it was. Once again, lady luck was not on my side. Hugh, was escorted by security to the hotel, as he was being followed by a large number of fans, collectors and paparazzi. I decided to head to the parking lot area hoping that I could get some pictures from far away and not get into trouble with the hotel’s security. When I got there a small group of fans, collectors and photographers were there. I found out Anne had left. About a hour later the number of people got smaller and smaller. Finally a large group tried another exit. Seconds later Amanda in sunglasses and a long coat came out and got into her car. I cot a couple shots but they were from too faraway. The next departure was “Les Miserables”  Director Tom Hooper (Oscar Winner for “The Kings Speech”). His driver began to drive past us then the car stopped. There was only 1 fan left so he rolled down the window and started to sign several items.

The people who left ran back to where I was. Now Hugh was the only one left. All the sudden they moved the final car (Hugh’s) to the other side of the parking lot. Once again, almost everyone but a few fans ran back. About five minutes later Hugh walked out of the hotel and said good bye to his family who got into another car. As I started to take shots of him from faraway, he looked at the small group of fans left. Instead of getting into his car and heading to the Tonight Show, he started to walk towards us. He greeted and signed autographs for everyone. As I took photos, I briefly spoke to him. He seems like a really good guy to take the time when he was on a very tight schedule. As he got in his car, the other photographers ran back and chased after the car. Score another one for the underdog. I saw the film and it’s amazing. By far one of my favorite films of the year. Hopefully Hugh will have a Golden day on Sunday at the Golden Globes.

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Thank you for joining me for another sneak peak into some of Hollywood’s coolest events. For more celebrity photos and Entertainment news check out my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.shensa and follow me on Twitter at


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No Doubt’s Gibson Amphitheatre Residency – Night #6 and My So Cal No Doubt Experience

Greetings everyone! Welcome back to this edition of “The Outsiders Guide to the Inside of Hollywood”. This blog is dedicated to one of my all time favorite blondes band. Like many of you I was late and didn’t experience No Doubt’s music, until their third album, 1995’s Tragic Kingdom. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see them on that historic tour. My first time seeing the band would not be for another 6 years.

U2 with Special Guest No Doubt Staples Center, Los Angeles – 11-12 – 2001

When I first heard that No Doubt, would be playing in support of U2, on the Elevation Tour, it was a dream double bill for me. I’d been waiting to see No Doubt for years, and now they were playing in an arena with one of my favorite bands. By the time of the show date the city I was born in was attacked. As the nation tried to pull together leaders encouraged us to go back to our normal everyday lives. However the fear of a large amount of people in a public area caused many musical acts put off tours while U2 was adding shows to sold out cities.

Horrifically on the day of the show the people of New York faced another tragedy. American airlines Flight 587 flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City to Santo Domingo Las Américas International Airport crashed in Queens. At first the fear was it was another terrorist attack on the city, which thankfully was not true.

The music and the show went on. After a long wait I got to see Gwen and the boys at their best playing live. The band was on high energy and played all the crowds favorites including the latest single / anthem “Hella Good”. Gwen would return during U2’s set, for a emotional and memorable duet with Bono of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On? My first No Doubt show was one of those special nights and concerts. It was more than just a concert in was an experience. The bands made everyone sing and cheer and feel good again. I couldn’t wait to see No Doubt again playing a full set. What I didn’t know that it would be the last tour the band would do till a reunion tour in 2009.

No Doubt Reunion Tour Gibson Amphitheatre – at Universal City 7- 22- 2009

When No Doubt announced their summer 2009 Reunion Tour, I knew if there was only one summer concert I was going to attend, it had to be that one. To make matters even sweater the show was going to take place down the street from where I lived. I decided I wanted to go to night 1 of the 6 shows. I waited to the day off the show and literally stood at the box office for hours hoping they would release more tickets. Finally about 3 hours before the opening act was to take the stage I got a ticket for the pit of all places. Oping acts The Sounds and Paramore played crowd pleasing sets. By the time No Doubt, hit the stage the crowd went crazy. The bands energy energized the crowd as they played all their hits and even some great album cuts. Gwen and the band seemed to be so happy to play together again. It was clear to see how much the band loves their fans. After taking a number of pictures, I wanted to get a video clip of one of my favorite songs to remember the experience and share with fans who couldn’t be there. What I wasn’t expecting was Gwen, walking into the pit in the middle of the last song “Sunday Morning”. Then I had an extreme too close up with Gwen. I then saw a hand and microphone coming for me as she kept banging and shaking her head. I kept moving back as she moved forward so I didn’t whack her with the camera ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DP-eysbeZBM). Another amazing show and another memorable experience.

No Doubt Gibson Amphitheatre Residency at Universal Studios – 12- 4- 2012

No Doubt played their 6th, sold out show of their current seven night residency Tuesday night at the Gibson Amphitheatre, at Universal Studios. After impressive sets from female lead singer bands Kitten and Best Coast, Gwen and the boys hot the stage at a little after 9. The band took to the stage taking a long look at the ecstatic audience, then laughing into the title track of the bands brand new album “Push and Shove”. The band would go on to only a few more tracks off the current album. This was a night for the bands fans to celebrate and share. The second song of the night, was their hit cover of 80’s band Talk Talk “It’s My Life”. Next up was the dance anthem Hella Good, followed by Underneath It All, Ex – Girlfriend, Hey Baby and New. The crowded danced and sang along with every song. You could see how much the band loves there fans. The ages ranged from 5 – 55. Girls dressed up like Gwen and her different styles from 1995-2000. Some of those lucky fans were invited on stage to show home made signs they had made and got photos with her.

Half way through the set the band did something I’ve never seen them do. A five song acoustic set that included unplugged versions of Hey You, Sparkle, Simple kind of Life,  One More Summer and End It On This. Gwen spoke to the crowd telling them how much it meant to her when the crowd knows and sings the lyrics to the new material. You could see Gwen’s and the bands emotions were real. You could feel the love and support between the band and the audience. My highlight of the evening was Sunday Morning with A Capella Intro. I must admit every part of the show was enjoyable. For an encore the band played Total Hate, a fan choice winner chosen on their web site before closing with Spiderwebs. Gwen continued to shake and sign autograph for the crowd in the pit after the last note was played. The show proved the there is no doubt, that the band is currently as strong or stronger than ever! No Doubt will play their 7th and final show at the Gibson Theatre Thursday at 7:15. A limited number of tickets are available here: http://concerts.livenation.com/event/0900491B0DBF86AC?crosssite=TM_US:749997:73787

It was an amazing treat to see the band in a small and intimate theatre setting. Here is a link to the complete set list from the evening: http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/no-doubt/2012/gibson-amphitheatre-universal-city-ca-53da277d.html

Thank you for joining me for this latest trip inside some of Hollywoods coolest events. Next week I’ll be kicking off Award Season, with a look back on two film festivals I attended this fall. I will also give you my thought on next weeks Golden Globe Nominations.

Posted in 2001, CA, Celebrity Photos, concert, Concert Review, Entertainment, Entertainment Blogs, Gwen Stefani, Los Angeles, Music Blog, No Doubt Blog, No Doubt Gibson Amphitheatre Residency at Universal Studios - 12- 4- 2012, Staples Center, Uncategorized, USA Nov 12 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2012 John Steinbeck Award, Presentation and My John Mellencamp Experience Blog

Greetings everyone! Welcome to this months edition of “The Outsiders Guide to the Inside of Hollywood”. My Blog is different from many others you have probably read. They are not detailed reviews of events, or gossip about who whore what and who was with who. This is about my personal experiences, not only just at the event, but my history with the artist or subject. I write from many different perspectives. I was a child actor and movie fan, who happens to be an aspiring screenwriter. I also spent time working as an assistant in Hollywood for Talent Agency’s and Management companies. I’ve also been a life long music fan and have worked managing local and local bands.

This month’s blog is about the presentation of the 2012 John Steinbeck Award, to John Mellencamp and my four decades of going to John’s shows.

August 1, 1981

On August 1, 1981 an event occurred that changed television, the music industry and pop culture, as we know it. The birth of an all music video channel brought a new marketing tool to lure in Generation X. With the launch of MTV, it instantly created music stars. What is also did, was put artists who may have not been critically but not commercially know to the masses exposure.

My First Album Purchase “American Fool” – 1982

One of those artists, whom I was introduced to, went by the name of John Cougar. John’s sixth album “American Fool” was the first record I ever purchased. I loved not only the music put his lyrics and if attitude that I saw in his early videos for “Jack and Diane”, ‘Hurt So Good”, and Hand To Hold On To”.

As the 80’s moved on, John returned to his roots by name (John Mellencamp) and artistically through his music. I’ve always had a strong connection to artist who write, their own lyrics, and tell stories of underdogs fighting to survive and find their piece of the American dream. John’s music evolved to tell stories of social and economic problems that affected his home not just his area of Indiana but across the United Sates.

1988 Lonesome Jubilee Tour Meadowlands Arena

In 1988, family and I attended the John Mellencamp show in New Jersey at the Meadowlands Arena. Mellencamp, was one of the few modern artists both my parents and my sister and I listened to. The final song that night came from an artist that my sister and I use to cringe every time my parents would play. My sister thought that his voice sounded like a frog. However after hearing Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” preformed and listening to the lyrics, it opened me up to discovering one of the greatest songwriters of all time. So when I heard that John, was going to be in San Jose receiving the 2012 John Steinbeck Award, I knew I wanted to not only cover it, but also attend it.

2012 John Steinbeck Award – John Mellencamp: A Conversation and Special Performance at the California Theatre in San Jose on July 30, 2012

The John Steinbeck award, is given to artists who capture “the spirit of Steinbeck’s empathy, commitment to democratic values, and belief in the dignity of the common man, in collaboration with the John Steinbeck Family Foundation, San Jose State University, and The National Steinbeck Center. The evening was broken down into three parts. The Award presentation. A conversation with John being interviewed by Robert Santelli (Executive Director, Grammy Museum). The evening would end by a live performance with Mellencamp and his 6-piece band.

John way humble when accepting the award. During the interview John played some of his classic including “Jack and Diane” acoustically in between questions he answered. The small and intimate California Theater, was the perfect setting for this type of performance. You really felt like you were in a living room at times. Mellencamp’s spoke of his past, musical influences, and his work with charities, like Farm Aid were discussed. The only controversial part of the evening was when John, light up a cigarette on stage during one of the segments.

John hit the stage with his 6 piece and played a short set of some of his classic hits. This marked the fourth decade I had seen Mr. Mellencamp perform. Mellencamp, still puts on a magnificent performance as he continues to be a voice for the underdog. Thank you to the Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies, for allowing me to photograph the event and for using one of my photos on their homepage. http://as.sjsu.edu/steinbeck/

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“Rock of Ages” Los Angeles Premiere and my Personal 80’s Experience Blog

Greetings everyone! Welcome to another sneak peek inside some of the entertainment industry’s hottest events. This blog is dedicated to the new film based on the play “Rock of Ages”. The film is directed by, Adam Shankman (Hairspray). The film is an adaptation of the 2006 Chris D’Arienzo rock jukebox Broadway musical of the same name. The film and play featured a soundtrack of 70’s groups like Journey, Foreigner, and Reo Speed Wagon along with music from some of the most popular bands from the 80’s hair band scene including Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Poison and more.

Before I talk about the film and the premiere, let’s take a trip back to 1987, as I can share some of my experiences from that time period.

Some of you that know me know I have a younger sister named Rachel who is four years younger than me. If you grew up in the 80’s and were a female, musically there were two roads you could go down. The first was the hair band / Glam Rock phase. This included music from bands that are still playing live like Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, and Poison. It also included some bands like Guns N’ Roses, Motley Crue, Winger, Warrant and others. The other and more popular choice with teen girls were the beginning of boy bands and pop stars like New Kids on the Block, Tiffany, and other one hit wonders. Luckily my sister took the hair band road.

Bon Jovi Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, NY, April 8, 1987 – Slippery When Wet Tour

After a few months of listening to every song on the Slippery When Wet album by Bon Jovi, I wanted to see them live. At the time none of my friends were allowed to go to rock concerts. My sister who was only 11 at the time desperately wanted to go. My mom decided to take us, but she wasn’t going to stay in the parent’s waiting room with the other moms. My mother surprisingly liked the band and did not trust me to watch my sister at the show, so she ended up taking us. My mom would later be called an old hag by some glam rock chick in the women’s bathroom. After returning from the bathroom with my sister the opening band Cinderella started to play. Some of the crowd started to bang their fist and had their head sway back and forth to the music. My sister saw this and immediately started to copy them.

About an hour later the light went out and the smell of hairspray mixed in with cigarette and another unusual kind of smoke filled the air. Girls were screaming as the band slowly walked on to the stage. Our seats were nosebleed ones a few rows from the top of the arena. John was dressed in leather pants and a blue Jean Jacket, to go along with his long brown curly teased up hair. The band put on a great show and I was hooked on live music.

Def Leppard Hysteria Tour:  September 21 1988, East Rutherford, New Jersey Meadowlands Arena

The next band that I saw was Def Leppard, in 88 at the Meadowlands Arena. This time I brought a friend with me. Once again, my sister wanted to go. This time it was my dad’s turn. Unfortunately for him the opening band Queensrÿche, which was a louder band, to begin which had their sound turned up way too loud for an indoor arena. This would be my final show with a parent taking us. We would go on to see many of the hair bands from 88-92 including Poison, Warrant, Motley Crue, and ending with the Guns N’ Roses  / Metallica tour. Now that I’ve shared my hair band experience now it’s time to talk about the  “Rock of Ages” premiere.

Rock of Ages – World Premiere – Grauman’s Chinese Theatre Hollywood

I walked on to Hollywood Boulevard, and saw a large black carpet set up to look like the Sun Set strip in 1987. Various landmarks, like the Whisky and the Rainbow Room, were joined by some fictitious clubs like “The Bourbon”, which is owned by Alec Baldwin in the film. The first person seen on the carpet was a flyby by one of the films stars Tom Cruise, who plays “Stacey Jax” a cross between Jim Morrision and Axle Rose. Tom waved to the photographers while saying hello to the films producers. The first stars to walk the carpet were a mix of 70’s and 80’s music stars like Lita Ford, Reo Speedwagon singer and Brett Michales who arrived before his band Poison. Brett quickly found Tom Cruise and would go on to take pictures with dozes of celebrities. The first band to walk the carpet were Def Leppard, whose song “Rock of Ages” from the bands mega album Pyromania the play and the film are named after.

Most of the cast, from the film, attended the world premiere. Even 80’s pop queen Debbie Gibson (this bloggers teen age crush) who has a cameo in the film was there to celebrate the release.  Juliana Hough lit up the black carpet in a yellow dressed. This was my third time photographing Miss Hough and every time she has a different amazing and original look. Juliana posed for pictures with everyone from Tom Cruise to her “Dancing with the Stars” brother Derick Hough.

In the end it wasn’t an actor or musician from the film that stole the carpet. “Transformers” star Josh Duhamel, strutted down the carpet dressed in full blown 80‘s hair band costume. Josh wore a long black curly hair wig along with a black skull shirt unbuttoned and holding a Corona beer . Josh would have gone unrecognized if it wasn’t  for his wife actor and Black Eyed Peas member Fergie.

The movie has the feel of a musical / rock opera. Going into the film I knew stars like Julianne Hough and Catherine Zeta-Jones would have no trouble nailing the singing roles. One of biggest surprises for me was how well Tom Cruise created,acted and sang his Jim Morrison meets Axl Rose character. The other surprise for me was co – star Diego Boneta , who shined as a singer and actor in the film. The film may not be nominated for any awards but it was a lot of fun. The same can be said about what the music scene was like in the 80’s. What made those shows so special was the live performances. The crowd gave back as much energy as the bands did. People would sing along clap their hands and light an arena up with 20,000 lighters. The shows let the audience take part in it. You had the feeling of a live show. Not like today when people at concerts are more interested in updating their status on Facebook or taking pictures with their camera phones.

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts in Concert at the Marin County Fair in San Rafael – July 2, 2012

Now that Generation X’s kids are growing up, some of them who were raised with the music of the 80’s as continued the trend. On July 2nd of this year I photographed the Joan Jett and the Blackhearts show at the Marin County Fair. As I expected the audience was female dominated. After all Joan Jett has been referred to as the “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll”. Joan along with Lita Ford and their all female band may have not been hugely commercially successful in the U.S. but their influences in rock history still lives on to this day. In the crowd were females wearing Joan Jett and The Runaways shirts ranging from 7 to 57. Joan delivered a powerful performance looking and sounding just as good as she did in the 80’s.

As I looked back and watched the crowd sing along, I was reminded how much can be ageless and timeless. This hair band or glam rock scene has now transformed into classic rock. Bands like Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, and Poison are some of the most played bands on classic rock stations. To borrow a line from The Rolling Stones “It’s only rock n’ roll but I like it”.

Thank you for joining me on this trip back to the 80’s. My next blog will be returning to the 21st century, and will be on the Los Angeles Film Festival. Till then don’t forget to support independent films and music in your city.

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18th Annual Live 105 BFD Festival and the 23rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards – One Long Day Blog

Greetings everyone! Welcome to this edition of “The Outsiders Guide to the Inside of Hollywood”. This entire blog is dedicated to a very long day I had on June 2nd. For the past few months I had trouble finding and getting credentials for Northern California entertainment events. My main problem is my wire service, PR Photos normally only gets Southern California events. Normally I have to find events on my own which is an every day battle. I usually spend hours researching and applying for photo credentials to places that only grants them to the chosen ones. The chosen ones are photographers who work for the big boys (Getty & Wire Image ect.) or have worked with the companies and studios forever.

After weeks of nothing to cover since the San Francisco Film Festival, I saw a listing for the Black and White Ball in San Francisco. I submitted an email knowing it was a long shot (declined). The next event I saw was an event I had applied for and got turned down the previous year, Bay Area Alternative / Indie Rock station Live 105’S 18th Annual BFD Festival. Four days before the festival I had not heard anything, which normally means my credentials, was turned down. Unfortunately a lot of sometimes I don’t ever get contacted. Since I got turned down last year I assumed the same result would occur this year. I then got a mass email that was sent out to all the PR Photos photographers, for the 23rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards in San Francisco, hosted by “Glee” actress (and my new celebrity crush) Dianna Agron. I sent an email to my agent and asked her to submit me. I almost instantly was confirmed. About 3 hours later I got an email from Shoreline Amphitheaters media person that I had been approved to shoot the side stages and she was waiting to hear about the main stage. I thought to myself Murphy’s Law. After 3 years applying to shows this was only the 2nd time I’d ever been granted a photo pass. I didn’t want to tell them I couldn’t make it but I also couldn’t back out of a job my agency booked for me. The concert was an hour from the Award show; I thought that if I got there early I could shoot for a couple hours then run to the city and comeback to Mountain View in the evening for the headlining acts.

The day before the show I got contacted by the venue telling me I got turned down and only would be able to shoot the side stages. The GLAAD Awards carpet media check in was scheduled for 3:30. I then came up with a plan where I would get to the venue by 10:30 a.m. and shoot the side stages in the morning and end my day in the Subsonic Dance Tent with a D.J. set by one of my favorite groups “The Limousines”. Then I would jump in my car and drive to the Marriott Marquis San Francisco for the GLAAD Awards.

 18th Annual Live 105 BFD Festival – Shoreline Amphitheater – Mountain View, CA 10:30 A.M.

I left my place in Sausalito around 9 a.m. and crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and headed down 19th Avenue. Lucky for me it was a Saturday and there was no traffic. I made it to the venue and parked. I knew I was a little early so I wanted and waited. Finally some more photographers also showed up. As the show got close to starting the media table was empty and not set up. The first band went on and I wondered if I should just head back, but finally we got checked in. I was glad that I attended last year’s show as a patron because it was the same set up. The C parking lot had been turned into a area with 2 side by side stages and the Subsonic dance Tent. The great thing about Shoreline unlike most venues is that have you shoot from the soundboard on the opposite side of the stage, we shoot 2 songs from a closed off area in front of the stage.

The first band I shot was a band called “Imagine Dragons. http://www.imaginedragonsmusic.com The band is a five-piece rock band based in Las Vegas, Nevada. The lead singer Dan Reynolds reminded me of “Coldplay’s”Chris Martin a little bit in looks but mainly in stage presence. He banded away on a giant drum during many of the bands songs. Though I did not hear of there music before it went off really well live. The band also interacted with the fans and signed autographs after their set for fans. They had lots of energy and were fun to photograph.

After the “Imagine Dragons” set the action literally moved over to the side and the second stage. Next up was “Walk the Moon” http://walkthemoonband.com  an indie-rock band based in Cincinnati, OH. They looked like a young “Death Cab For Cutie” and the crowd seemed to enjoy their performance. After photographing the first two songs I decided to walk around and try and get some festival atmosphere pictures. Unfortunately I would not be able to make the sets of “Angeles & Airwaves”, “Neon Trees”, and “Fun”.

18th Annual Live 105 BFD Festival – Autograph Tables – 12:30 P.M.

One of the really cool things BFD has is an autograph area. A number of artist including a couple on the main stage signed autographs for fans. My main reason for wanting to cover the side stages at BFD was because one of my favorite bands “The Limousines” http://thelimousines.com, was the signing autographs at 12:30.performing a D. J. in the Subsonic Dance Tent.

I featured the band on my January edition of my blog “The Outsiders Guide to the Inside of Hollywood” here: https://theoutsidersguidetotheinsideofhollywood.com/2012/01/24/the-limousines-show-indie-music-is-far-from-dead/

Some of my favorite photo shoots of all time have been ones where celebrities interact with the fans. You could easily tell that bands members Eric Victorino and Giovanni Giusti truly love their fans. They guys signed autographs for fans of all ages. To truly appreciate “The Limousines” you must check them out next time they play in your city.

The second band to hit the BFD autograph tables was alternative rock band from Provo, Utah “Neon Trees” who for the second year in a row were playing the Festival Stage later in the day. The band reached # 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Animal” in 2010.  Band members Christopher Allen, Tyler Glenn, Elaine Bradley, and Branden Campbell were all there to meet their fans.

Live 105 BFD Festivals – Festival Stage – Falling In Reverse – 1:15 P.M.

As I started to head back to the Festival Stages, the small group of people in the area between lot C and the entrance area was body to body with people. Finally, making it in to the area and to the front of the photographers. With a little time to spare before The Limos D.J. set, I wanted to photograph one more band on stage.  The hard rock act “Falling into Reverse came out looking like “Motley Crue” on the “Girls, Girls, Girls Tour. The band had great stage presence and reminded me of my hard rock days back in the 80’s. Unfortunately the singer was having microphone problems and it was hard to hear him.

Live 105 BFD Festival – “The Limousines D. J. Set

After another struggle to get through the crowd I finally made to “the Limousines” D.J. Set at the Subsonic tent. I had wished the band was playing this years festival like they did last year, but The D.J. set turned the tent into an all out dance party and celebration. Singer Eric Victorino showered the packed in crowd with a confetti gun, as the crowd knocked around giant balls. Keyboardist Giovanni Giusti looked like he was having lots of fun spinning records for the crowd in his beastie Boy’s like attire. Once again the band showed how multitalented they are. I hope to see these guys on the main stage at BFD 2013 and US Amphitheaters soon!

Live 105 BFD Festival – Autograph Tables – Angels & Airwaves 2:00

As it got time for me to head into the city for the “GLAAD Awards I noticed that one of the bands I really wanted to photograph but would miss was doing an autograph session. I took the chance that check in was really not at 3:30, so I thought I’d give it a shot. Unlike the “Neon Trees” earlier A & A was on time. “Angels & Airwaves”, an Alternative Rock super group, led by “Blink-182” guitarist and vocalist Tom DeLonge. I had photographed Tom before when they toured with “Weezer” a few years ago. He is always extremely photogenic. He was kind enough to give me a good direct eye contact shot. I’ve seen A & A twice before and wish I could have photographed and seen their set. I then started my dash for my car and the freeway, hoping that it would take less than 90 minutes to reach my next destination.

280 North – 245 p.m.

About half way to the city I saw a sign on the road warning about a brush fire. Not knowing the area it was in I was hoping not to run into it. A few minutes later traffic started to slow down. I started to smell smoke. I saw that the fire was at its beginning phase. Luckily the fire department caught it early, and I was going the opposite direction.

Marriott Marquis – San Francisco – 3:10 P.M.

Somehow I made it to my destination with a few minutes to spare. Just when I though I pulled it off I was hit with a fastball. The bellhop informed me of the parking rate. I realized that it would have cost over $50 to park in the hotel garage. I was still in a t-shirt and shorts from the concert shoot. I gave the attendant a few bucks to hold the car while I changed into more suitable clothes.   Feeling like a bad comedy film, I returned to my car and searched for a cheaper lot. After finally finding one I made it back to the hotel. As I went to check in I saw I was the only one around. I then was told that check in was not till 4:30 now. I laughed to thought and myself now I can actually relax for the first time today.

23rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards – San Francisco 4:30 P.M.

GLAAD Media Awards honored outstanding images of the LGBT community. Events were held in New York and Los Angeles earlier this year with over 5,000 attendees, the GLAAD Media Awards bring celebrities, corporate partners, media professionals, and young adults together in support of GLAAD’s mission to amplify the voice of the LGBT community and achieve full equality.

Before the ceremony a red carpet was held. The ceremony was hosted by “Glee” star Dianna Agron Presenters/attendees included Pretty Little Liars stars Shay Mitchell and Ashley Benson, the cast of Scandal, the cast of Degrassi and Rita Moreno and Grey’s Anatomy/Private Practice/Scandal creator Shonda Rhimes received a special award.  Everyone seemed in good spirits. Unlike other cities Bay Area photographers are very friendly to each other. It was nice seeing some friendly faces and catching up on what everyone was doing.

Everyone looked great on the carpet but the two that shined the brightest were Dianna Agron and Ashley Benson.  Mario Lopez and Rita Moreno chatted for a few minutes before separately walking the carpet. Lopez did take photos on the carpet with performers “Cirque Du Solei”l. Everyone was in great spirits and it really had the feel of a joyous occasion.

Meeting “Glee” Star Dianna Agron at the 23rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards

After the carpet was done I saw that the evenings host Dianna, did not rush into the ceremony or hide out in some V.I.P. area. Instead she spent time talking and taking pictures at the pre reception for all the guests who wanted to meet her. After that a few photographers including myself took photos with the blonde beauty. I couldn’t believe how down to earth she was. She really seemed down to earth and happy to be back in the area she came from. She literally had to be pulled away by one of the shows staff so they could start the awards.

Thank you for joining me on this trip inside my celebrity experiences. For my next blog, I will be doing deep inside my closet, and pull out a pair of ripped jeans, to go along with my 80’s collection of Vintage Concert T shirts.  The next edition of “The Outsiders Guide to the Inside of Hollywood” will be on the Black Carpet for the “Rock of Ages” Premiere in Hollywood.

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“The Avengers” Premiere, Running into Julia Roberts, and Meeting Adam Yauch in 2009 – Entertainment Blog

Greetings everyone and welcome to my latest edition of “The Outsiders Guide to the Inside of Hollywood”. This blog is from my experience at “Marvels” “The Avengers” World Premiere in LA last month. I will also be sharing running into Julia Roberts at a Screening in Hollywood. Sadly the last experience I will share with you was when I ran into Beastie Boy’s Adam Yauch in 2009. Adam who lost his battle with cancer this week.

“The Avengers,” World Premiere – Arrivals El Capitan Theatre – Hollywood

Before the shoot even began I knew this was going to be a tough one. “The Avengers” was one of the most anticipated movies of the year. Hollywood Blvd was shutdown. The carpet looked larger than a football field. I knew that not only would I be dealing with all the usual photographers but for this one there was a large pool of International press too. I got to the shoot location at the El Capitan Theatre and saw the carpet covered in a plastic tent (due to possibility of rain). I knew that we were now going to be in a tighter situation. When I got to the press area there was only a few photographers. As the time got closer to check in there was a last minute of rush of the A list photographers. They immediately cut in front of us like we weren’t even there. Having to once again, take the high road I waited till I finally was able to check in. Every premiere is different but for this we were given a number from 1 – 85. Once again, I ended up in the back of the list at number 83. Which was upsetting because I wasn’t an Independent photographer on this one, it was booked through my agency.  Though it’s not at top 3 wire service, it probably is a top 5. A number of the people ahead of me came from places I’ve never heard or seen their work.

By the time I got into the tented carpet there was already photographers looking for spots that weren’t there. I realized I was going to have to use my point and shoot along with my professional camera. I finally got to an area, where I again was stuck in the third row. For the second time in a  row I had a douchebag in my way. I always try and be respectful but its hard when that respect is never shown to you. What made matters worse was that they allowed two videographers in the photography area by me, which had no room. Like many times before, I had to make the best of the situation I was dealt.

The carpet started with a familiar face Disney actress Bella Thorne. Shooting over two rows of photographers on a flat surface, I knew I was not going to be able to get many full length shots. To the right of me on the carpet was a black Harley Davidson motorcycle that some of the cast and celebrity guests posed in front of me. Stellan Skarsgard from “The Avengers” and “Thor” posed for pictures with his son and “True Blood” star  Alexander Skarsgard. Some of the photographers were yelling to people who they didn’t know to move down the carpet. I had to inform them that those were Seattle’s legendary band Soundgarden who had a song in the movie. Lead singer Chris Cornell’s kids also waled the carpet and one of them sat on the motorcycle. Off course the star of the carpet was a blond Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow “The Avengers”)who looked stunning dressed in a black dress. Robert Downey Jr. was dressed in a pink  Prince like suit. Susan Downey accompanied her husband down the carpet. All of the super hero’s walked the carpet. My only disappointment was that Iron Man’s Gwyneth Paltrow was not in attendance.

Due to my position I knew I needed more photos. Like always I waited around till I was one of the last photographers there. After a few minutes of watching the actors being interviewed they all went behind a curtain. An announcer started to introduce all the actors as they came out for V.I.P.’s and videographers there.

After a few minutes of fans screaming from across the street. Robert waved to them. Film director Josh Whedon and Mark Ruffalo (The Hulk) waved and thanked the crowd. Ruffalo bowed to the crowed before heading inside the theatre for the premiere.

Yesterday I saw the 3D version of “The Avengers”. The film is a lot of fun. It also answers a lot of how these characters some from other time periods come together as one. Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow) showed she can kick just as much ass as her male team members. The story took a little time to bring everything together but was still fast moving. It will be interesting to see how the characters in other film sequels will continue this storyline. The 3D fight scenes were well done but the film can also be enjoyed in 2D. The film had a huge world wide opening and looks to be one of the highest grossing films of this decade.

“Jesus Henry Christ” Los Angeles Premiere  4/18/2012 Grauman’s Chinese 6

My last day in LA a friend of mine and I were suppose to attend a screening of a movie called “Jesus Henry Christ”. I didn’t know anything about the film. The passes were from a site http://www.gofobo.com that gives free passes to films. Sometimes they are early screenings but sometimes they are actual tickets to a premiere. We got to the theater in Hollywood to find a small carpet inside the Chinese 6 at the Hollywood & Highland complex. At this point the line was out the door. At this point I knew we were not getting in but my friend wanted to wait. After 90 minutes 60 of which was inside in a non air conditioned area, I headed to entrance to see what was going on. As I walked by a saw a red head being interviewed by Extra. Looking through the camera men, publicist a saw it was Julia Roberts. Turns out she was a producer. I took out my point and shoot and took several shots before security told me to leave. Not a bad way to close out an LA trip.

Meeting Adam Yauch on Hollywood Boulevard in 2009

Last week the music world lost another musician way too early. Beastie Boys founding member Adam Yauch lost his battle with cancer. In 2009, MCA announced he was being treated for a cancerous parotid gland. I ran into Adam and his wife a few months after he was diagnosed. He was looking great and seemed really happy to me. I was wearing a Yankee Jacket and when I called to him he smiled and said hi. I wished him well and he posed for an exclusive picture for me that I shot with my point and shoot. My heart goes out to all his family and friends. If your a fan or have lost someone you know from this disease and want to do something in to remember MCA think about donating to the American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/

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“The Vow”, “This Means War”, and “Wanderlust” Los Angeles Premiere Blogs

Greetings everyone and welcome to my latest entertainment blog for “The Outsiders Guide to the Inside of Hollywood”. This is the third and final blog, from my last trip to Los Angeles. As some as you already know, this is a different kind of blog. I write this blog as a Celebrity Event Photographer, who is also a lifelong film fan, and an aspiring screenwriter. What makes my blog different from others, is that I write from my personal experiences covering these events. Today I will be taking you on the red carpet for the Los Angeles premieres, of “The Vow” and “This Means War”. I will also be sharing my experiences hanging out in the fan area before the “Wanderlust” premiere and during and after with autograph and seekers.

“The Vow” Los Angeles Premiere – 2012-02-06 – Grauman’s Chinese Theatre

As I started walking on Hollywood Boulevard, I started to feel like I had come full circle. My first premiere I ever photographed was at the Chinese theatre back in  2009, for “G. I Joe”. The film starred “The Vow’s” and “21 Jump Street’s” Channing Tatum. Having my first carpet premier alone would be tough enough without being out gunned by other photographers. This was only my third job for a wire service I was working with. I had just covered the Mad Men season 3 premiere, at the much smaller venue the Directors Guild of America. For my music friends out there, it’s like having your first gig at Madison Square Garden. I was the last one called to the carpet and ended up with a really bad spot where many of the actors walked right past me. As I walked away from the other photographers I ran into Channing on the street as he was going to sign more autographs for his fans. I asked for a picture and I took out my point and shoot and got an exclusive shot. That’s right I said point and shoot. I didn’t get my Nikon D5000 camera till March 2010. So when I had the chance to photograph Channing on a carpet made me see how far I had come. However the problem with applying for premieres, on my own without my agency doing it, always means my name is at the bottom of the list.

After name after name was called close to the end of the list my name was called. I walked down the photographers pit and couldn’t find a spot in the second row. Unfortunately, that means being stuck in the third row shooting over two rows of photographers some standing on ladders. I do realize I’ve only been doing professional jobs for 3 years, and can’t complain about my placement. As I started to set up an older photographer named Russ approached me. The photographer told me I shouldn’t try and shoot from the third row. I explained that I’ve done it on more occasions than I care to remember. He ended up asking someone he knew to let me in to an area in the second row. I thanked him. It made the difference and the shoot turned out well thanks to him.

The first person to hit “The Vow” carpet was a familiar face, teen star Bella Thorne. Bella looked amazing and truly has grown up in front of my eyes. She also knows how to walk a carpet, which a number of our younger actors out there could learn from her. Another pair of sisters who, have also grown up before my eyes over the past two years. They may not have  Kardashian in their name, but what Kylie and Kendall Jenner, do have is a beautiful and classy look. They really know how to light up a red carpet. They seem to have a certain look that I feel will keep them working in the industry for a long time.  Another newcomer who just looked stunning on the carpet was ABC’s “Revenge” co star Christa B. Allen who plays Charlotte on the hit show. Finally we started getting arrivals for actors in the movie.

Channing Tatum, arrived dressed in a classic blur suit signed autographs for fans before walking the carpet with his wife, actress, Jenna Dewan-Tatum. The final actor to arrive was the films female lead Rachel McAdams. Being a guy and never seeing “The Notebook”, they only thing I really knew about Rachel besides seeing her in Sherlock Holmes and Mean Girls was that she shared a name with my sister. To my surprise Rachel, had long wavy blond hair, dressed in a light blue dress with a long silver necklace. She was absolutely stunning and owned the red carpet. After taking pictures together as a cast and director, Channing and Rachel took pictures with the family that inspired the film before heading into the theater for the premiere.

This Means War” Premiere – 2012-02-08 – Grauman’s Chinese Theatre

As I headed back to the Chinese Theatre, for the second time in 48 hours I arrived at the carpet. I immediately saw that the photo section was much smaller than the other night. Once again, I applied on my own, and was one of the last names called. Unfortunately there was no space anywhere. I ended up squeezing into a small area at the end of the carpet. As I started to set up another taller photographer who appeared to be foreign in the second row decided he was going to use a step stool. That totally blocked my area. I kindly asked him to leave a space open for me to shoot. I’ve done this several times myself. It’s about respect for other photographers. He said he would try to. That ended up being a total lie. Not only did he not leave me any shooting room but he pointed and used his hands to get the actors attention for him. By far he is is the “King of All Douchebags”. Not wanting to get into a fight that would get me blacklisted I had to make the best of the situation.

I was really excited to photograph  Chris Pine and  Tom Hardy for the first time. The person I was looking forward to the most was Reese Witherspoon. NBC T. V. star Whitney Cummings, was there to support “Chelsea Lately” and the film’s co star Chelsea Handler. Christa B. Allen, was also back at the Chinese Theatre showing a more conservative look with her dress and her hair brushed back. Star Trek’s Chris Pine looked like he was in an add for a clothing store wearing a suit with a purple shirt and tie.Tom Hardy also looked great and was sporting a full beard look. In the end, the star of the evening and the carpet was Reese, who looked absolutely glowing.

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“Wanderlust” Premiere – 2-16 – 2012 – Mann Village Theatre Westwood, CA

The evening before I went to Arizona, to cover the premiere weekend of “Dorothy and the Witches of Oz”, I decided to try to cover the new Jennifer Aniston film “Wanderlust”. I couldn’t get credentials but ended up going down a few hours early and hanging out in the fan section. After about two hours of talking to fans from all over the country the stars started to arrive. We were set up directly across the street from the Village Theatre (LA Confidential theater) in Westwood. The good thing about premieres here unlike in Hollywood, they close off the street, which gives more incentive for the actors to come across the street and sign autographs.

The premiere started with the usually early arrivals of lesser known actors and models.  The first person I noticed from across the street was from “The Office” Kate Flannery. Paul Rudd was the fist major star of the film to arrive at the premiere. As his car pulled up he got out and started to sign autographs for fans. He seems like an actor who really loves his fans. He walked an entire line of fans, as he got to my area it was a crowd frenzy. I did get a shot of him close up (like directly in front of me). At the same time this madness was going on, Jennifer Aniston arrived. She did make it across the street but not in my direction. I ended up getting a couple of shots of her from across the street. After the director and a few more co stars signed autographs, I decided to go to Starbucks and wait till the film was over to get some departing pictures.

I started off waiting with some professional autograph seekers. What I mean by professional is these collectors are trying to sell the autographs they get on everything from posters to pictures and more. I carry around portfolios with thousands of  pictures of different actors. Also waiting were a small group of loyal fans hoping to get a picture taken with the actors. About 5 minutes before the film was to let out a black haired women walked on the opposite side of us. Screams of Courtney. She turned around and waved for a second. I saw it was one of Jen’s friends on and off the screen Courtney Cox. A few minutes later Jen and co star / boyfriend Justin Theroux left and headed to their window. Finally as the crowd came out director David Wain, Ken Marino, and Malin Akerman signed autographs for the fans.

After spending at least 6 hours trying to get my shots, I headed back to the Valley to upload not one but two different assignments for my wire service. I ended up pulling an all nighter and driving to Arizona for a premiere later that night. Just another normal week in my life.

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