What is it? This takes a little explaining - allow me to relate our roughly 3-hour experience. We arrived early at their request (6pm), but were held (with others) at the gates for 30 minutes or so. Once the gates opened, we were led into red-carpet space outside the main doors and had our pictures taken by "paparazzi." I put the paparazzi in quotes, because some of those photographers looked suspiciously like actors that appeared in the show later. In fact, one of them (Paolo) came over and made some small talk with us.
After a little more waiting in the red carpet area, we were led to a classy roof-less lounge area with low spongy sofas. We thought mistakenly that our ticket would grant us a drink (cash bar for alcohol, at this point). The place got a bit noisy with the chatting and music, and then we noticed something happening on the flat screens (there were three within eye shot of where we sat think sports bar). An entertainment host was interviewing cast and crew of some film entitled "Love and Waffles." If you don't enjoy the "club environment," this event may not be for you there were lots of people in a small amount of space with chatter, music, and folks talking on microphones.
After 5 minutes or so, we realized that the interviews were not taking place outside, but in our current lounge area. Despite being just a few feet away, we couldn't see the live action because of the low sofas and standing people. So, we got up and snaked our way to the action. The actors were spirited, and I wondered at first if this was a pretend premiere for their actual film "Love and Waffles" (a romantic comedy). As the actors and host went on, it became apparent that the film itself was not the show but rather, the premiere to it (as the title does imply). The "premiere's scripting" intentionally had the film sounding like a train wreck as the cast and crew aired their grievances with each other (especially the veteran original script writer and the rookie director).
This segment continued for roughly 15 minutes. Upon its conclusion, we were directed to a more indoor lounge area. There was a bar with a few stools and standing room, and to the right a very welcoming open area with a band and surrounding seating. Rather inexplicably, we were denied access to the surrounding seating as it was reserved for folks with VIP tags. (There were rumors, btw, I think untrue, that these VIPs were actually involved in the show. It occurred to me later, that VIPs may have been paying customers - as opposed to we members of the press). After some confusion, we realized there was another seating area (more of a dining room) behind the bar area, so we snaked our way there and found a nice comfortable seat. That's when the hors d'oeuvres starting coming ah, perhaps the highlight of the evening: appetizer sized chicken kabobs, some wonderful cracker dollop thing, and fine-to midland veggie-egg rolls. Uncertain of an actual dinner plate, we aggressively and happily fished the wandering servers' hors d'oeuvre plates. Again, the TV screens came on now with antics from some of the "Love and Waffles" actors. This time one of them was singing a love song with 4 people dressed in football uniforms as back up dancers. The skit was intentionally campy, but not compelling enough to leave our comfy seat to go see it live (in this case it was back in room we'd just left because of the cramped standing room only thing).
Meanwhile, one of the waiters backed into a seat near us, put his empty server tray down unhappily, and dropped his head into his hands. At this point, we'd been approached by an actor or two talking gossip about "Love and Waffles" cast and crew, so we were quite privy to the fact that this waiter may indeed be an actor (Imagine that!). None the less, we were won over we felt empathy! My girlfriend put her hand on his back and said, "Is everything alright?" "I can't do this anymore!" He burst in defeat. "I'm an actor! Not a waiter! I shouldn't be here waiting on people! I should be working on my craft!" My girlfriend and I were both impressed with his performance. Whereas some of the "planted actors" were so obvious and at times awkward this young man was believable (even though we knew he was acting!) and he was enjoyable! We were drawn to play along. "Don't worry" She said, "It'll get better." "I just, I just don't know how to do it. I'm just blank on how to make it work." He looked right at me now and said, "I mean maybe I can, but if you could be more specific, give me one piece of advice maybe I just need that one
" "Ground yourself." I said, "Pick yourself up by the bootstraps, and just do it. Just make it happen." He took a deep breath, nodded his head, "Make it happen." He repeated, then picked up his server tray and moved on.
It was just past 8pm when we noticed a buffet being put together in the far side of the room. We usually eat at 6pm (which was actually when we arrived). So, while the hors d'oeuvres were delightful, we both got up and put ourselves in the front of the buffet line and made conversation with those who had the same idea. I think there may have been other "premiere" activities going on
but we were focused at the moment. Burgers! Beef on one tray and Turkey on the other, with lettuce, tomatoes, and guacamole.
We found our way back to our seats and chowed down. The guac was fantastic, btw. And the burgers weren't bad either. I had the beef, she the turkey. We were just wiping the crumbs from our faces when another waiter came and sat down next to us. "I'm sorry to bother you, but I'm working on a documentary, and it's about ordinary people. You know, everybody does docs on extraordinary people; I want to do it on ordinary people, who do nothing special. You know, kind of like Seinfeld was a show about nothing. I want this doc to be about nothing, too. Would you mind to be subjects?" He asked us.
Again, we knew he was a plant but he was charming and engaging and fun. My girlfriend played along, "Nothing?" She pointed at me, "He wrote a book about nothing." The waiter/actor" looked at me, his eyes lit up, "Really? Tell me about it! What was it called?" "It's nothing really." I said, not wanting to inject myself into his routine. "Really! What's the title?" He prodded (he actually looked genuinely interested. "Nothing happens" I said (just the subtitle but apropos, I thought). He slowly broke into a smile, rose from his bend, and said warmly, "I'm so sorry, but I think that you two are too extraordinary to be in my documentary."
Btw, both of these waiter/actors gave us their cards (a mini 8x10 glossy). Which I thought was a wonderfully clever way for them to promote themselves as actual actors. However, true to their craft the names on the cards were only character names. I checked the playbill later. Here are their real names if you need an actor or two for a production or film: Christian Gnecco-Quintero and David Danipour. These two impressed us, and topped the hors d'oeuvres as highlights of the evening.
From there we were herded back into the room with the band for what appeared to be the main set piece of the night. All of the actors of "Love and Waffles" were seated in a semi-circle (as opposed to earlier where they were interviewed one at a time) and prepped for "live broadcast." The producer/director (an actor also) of this broadcast ordered "quiet on set." This was directed toward us assumedly. By now, people had been drinking and seemingly encouraged to be chatty and jolly, so the direction to be silent had to be more pointed and demanding, and imho, a bit too authoritarian for the setting (even if the actor was just emulating how things go on real sets).
Eventually, when we were quiet enough, they continued the same intentionally campy banter with actors and crew members showing off enough bad behaviors to dissuade the average filmgoer from seeing the rom-com "Love and Waffles" even if it were a real movie. I do think it was fun to have THE SHOW bash its own centerpiece, but it would have also been nice to have a bit more oomph behind the silliness. This bit lasted for 20-30 minutes or so, at which point (9:45ish) we were told the main festivities had concluded, but that we were welcome to stay and drink, dance, chat, enjoy the band. Btw, the band was Brant Cotton (Buzz Tabor and General Tso's Chicken). They were pretty good country-fried classic rock.
Suggestions for improvement:
1. While the audience is in line, hand out tags explaining their suggested pretend roles (producers, family/friends of the actors, ent. press, reviewers, studio exec's, etc) and a list of possible talking points when engaging in conversation with others. This would encourage/assist the audience to play along instead of simply being observers trying to make sense of the barrage.
2. The idea of having the audience move to different areas of the venue is a good one, but seating issues need to be resolved so that each member of the audience can see the live action (not a screen) from wherever they are directed to sit.
3. The choice to lampoon their own production is a fun start, build into this character development that engages audiences on an emotional level, and tie it all into a relatable theme.
We found parking on Yucca (just east of Vine) for $10 which outlets to the 101 in less than 2 blocks!
Manor on Vine is also called Tiffany's don't let the signage on Google Maps throw you off it's the same place.
-- Books by Ross Anthony, Author/Illustrator --