For several wonderful reasons, the holidays are one of my favorite times in Los Angeles. First off, the town (at least the show business aspect of it) completely shuts down starting about December 15th and doesn’t really reopen for three to four weeks. Personally, I find this a huge relief. There are no auditions, no meetings and no pressure to further my career in any way. For 21 glorious days, I don’t have to spend any time worrying about how I’m doing since it’s literally impossible for me to do anything about it. All that remains is to prop my feet up and enjoy my unemployment for a few weeks with no guilt whatsoever.
My second favorite thing about this time of year is that December marks the beginning of awards season. This means that there are lots of free screenings around town where lowly award voters like me get to sit in judgment of the work done over the previous year by the much more successful players. Usually the screening rooms are quite comfortable and you can even bring a friend if you like. Just last week, I got a sneak peak at a big Hollywood film that isn’t even scheduled for release until Christmas Day. Unfortunately, it was so dreadful that I was tempted to leave after about 20 minutes, but decided to be classy about it and sit through the whole thing. And because I am true professional, I sat through the credits and waited until I was at least 20 feet away from the theater before I muttered to my companion, “Jesus, what a piece of shit? Can you believe how rotten that was?”
December is also party season. Hollywood folks love nothing better than a good bash and there are usually plenty to fill up the calendar. It’s true that in show business, we attend parties all year long, but usually there is come professional catch involved; like it’s a premiere or somebody’s just moved into new offices and the whole event is basically about networking. What’s great about the holiday party season is that you actually get to see your cohorts out of their work clothes (so to speak). It’s a good chance to laugh off whatever didn’t happen in the previous year and wish each other well for the year to come.
Item number four on my list is the city itself. With the all the major studios on vacation, the infamous Los Angeles traffic recedes into memory for a while. Suddenly, driving from one side of town to the other is a breeze. I always take a few joy rides during the holidays; out to the beach; up to the observatory; out to Malibu State Park. At this time of year, you can easily enjoy what the city has to offer -- which is quite a lot. Plus, as I watched the East Coast get pummeled with a massive snow storm this week, I could help but feel a tinge of happiness that later I would be walking to the gym in a T-shirt and shirts.
Probably the best thing about this time of year is the amount of generosity that floats to the surface of a sometimes self-focused community. I’m not saying that the entertainment community doesn’t always do its part. In fact, I’m quite proud of the number of causes we champion throughout the year. But somehow at the holidays, the work that gets done is a little less “publicized” and bit more personal. I’ve been really surprised by the number of rather prominent people I’ve seen doing some rather unglamorous volunteer work during the holidays. It’s nice to reminded of the needs of others and it’s good to be humanized again by offering a little of our seemingly precious time to aid the less fortunate.
In conclusion, I’d like to say that I hope all my Jewish readers had a great Hanukkah – Yes, I know that it's about as important on the Jewish calendar as “Arbor Day,” but I still hope it was fun. If you are African-American, I hope enjoy the upcoming Kwanza festival. Sadly, I’ve never been invited to anybody’s Kwanza celebration, so I’m not exactly sure what happens, but I’ve always imagined it as full of laughter, good food and the singing of lots of Kwanza Carols. For my Muslim friends, I hope that Ashura (back on the 16th) and Al Hijra (celebrated on the 18th) were both a blast. To my Buddhist buddies, I hope Bodhi Day (observed back on the 8th) was as serene and peaceful as you expected. As for my Canadian and British readers, I hope Boxing Day (coming up on the 26th) will prove fulfilling as you (according to Wikipedia) "give seasonal gifts to less wealthy people and slaves as well as to various workpeople such as labourers, servants, tradespeople and postal workers.” And finally to my atheist friends (who I’m sure find this all sort of hilarious), I hope you enjoy the spectacle, the colors, sights, scents and sounds of the season and can appreciate the very human place from which it’s derived. Happy Holidays, Hollywood! See you soon!
Copyright 2009 Quitcher-Bitchyn Entertainment, Inc.
David Dean Bottrell is an actor (“Boston Legal”) and screenwriter (“Kingdom Come”) who writes a weekly blog about being strangely middle-class in Hollywood at www.partsandlabor.tv