Category Archives: Working Mom Adventures

My first NY Fashion Week shoot was a celeb bonanza! 

Sometimes my job is cool.

Granted my feet are killing me because I just stood on a sidewalk for three hours crammed next to pushy photographers elbowing me for the same two feet of space.

But it was fun watching all the giant black SUVs pull up to the door of the Tom Ford show, and guessing who would emerge from the car.

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson at Tom Ford fall fashion  show

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson prove romance never goes out of style

No surprise that the fashion darling attracted big stars. He’s dressed A-listers like Julianne Moore and Naomi Watts for years.

Julianne Moore at Tom Ford fall show 2016

Julianne Moore has been Ford’s muse on film and on the carpet.

The exclusive guest list included many fashion icons….

Iman at Tom Ford fall fashion  show

Iman arrived solo which made me sad.


Naomi Campbell at Tom Ford fall fashion  show

Naomi Campbell almost didn’t stop for photographers but finally gave us a few classic poses.

The hottest pop culture and music stars were also represented.

Karlie Kloss at Tom Ford fall fashion  show

Karlie Kloss. #squadgoals


Alicia Keys at Tom Ford fall fashion  show

Alicia Keys keeping it real with minimum makeup and husband Swizz Beatz

 

Zayn at Tom Ford fall fashion  show

Zayn (cue the screaming girls)

And of course a few starlets thrown in for good measure.

Uma Thurman at Tom Ford fall fashion  show

Uma Thurman owning the glam


Gina Gershon at Tom Ford fall fashion  show

Where has Gina Gershon been?


Hailee Steinfeld at Tom Ford fall fashion  show

Hailee Steinfeld werking it

Who was the best dressed?

My vote is for Cindy Crawford.


She looked amazing in this white gown –her body toned and hair and makeup understated. Perfection.

Apologies for the amateur photography. The iPhone doesn’t take great pix when there are so many flashes going off at once so the lighting is off in many of these. My phone was in shutter shock!

But all worth it for a night on the town. Now if only I could get inside the show.

I took these stealth photos of the runway through an obstructed view window in the back of the building.


Maybe from the front row next year!

My night with Babs and other recent events worth sharing

Hello Gorgeous!Barbra Streisand on tour at Barclays on Aug 11

That’s the theme of this post. Streisand fans will know it’s one of her famous lines from “Funny Girl.” I went to see her last week at the Barclays Center in her hometown.  She made her grand entrance (she doesn’t do anything small) in a black sparkly jumpsuit complete with black sheer batwings for effect. Her first words to the sold-out crowd?  “Hello Brooklyn!”

Barbra Streisand on tour at Barclays on Aug 11

Her voice is still like buttah

The doting audience of mostly septegenerians in their own fancy pantsuits and sweater sets (despite the steamy NYC weather)  howled and cheered.

I loved her show– part of a world tour for her new album, ” Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway” –and was thrilled to scratch seeing her live off my pop culture bucket list. She was everything I could have hoped for after following her career all these years.

Barbra Streisand on tour at Barclays on Aug 11

The show was organized, thoughtful, intimate and moving. The audience kvelled as she opened with “The Way We Were”– gently easing us through the misty water-color memories. She sang one hit song from each iconic album of every decade since the 60’s– and we all marveled at how many recognizable songs she has. And that was all before the 20 minute intermission. (Who has a real intermission at a concert anymore?)

Her second act was favorites from show tunes to ballads, many written by close friends and brilliant composers including Julie Stein, Marvin Hamlisch and Barry Gibb specifically tailored to Barbra’s unique sound.

Barbra Streisand on tour at Barclays on Aug 11

Here she’s pointing out how the record company photo shopped her nose to look thinner. She was not pleased!

Her voice is still strong and rich, and each song was interpreted with respect to the original, but new flare. The best part was how much she chatted between songs. She talked about the history of certain album covers, her iconic outfits and accessories, and those who helped and inspired her along the way.

She got political several times, proudly declaring her support for Hillary, which was met by mostly cheers from the crowd of devotees.

Barbra Streisand on tour at Barclays on Aug 11

She brought Jamie Foxx and Patrick Wilson onstage to sing separate duets from the new album, which was a fun surprise. Both sang with power and literally bowed down to Babs before exiting the stage.

It was like spending the evening with an old friend.

My father was a HUGE Barbra fan and her music was on the playlist of my childhood. Hearing all those songs again– still sounding so good– was like tonic for the heart. Nostalgic and sweet ….and isn’t that why music is so powerful?

In other news…. I have a nephew! I’m a first-time aunt to one Cooper George Lefferts.

Eli is a great cousin!

Isn’t he just the cutest?

IMG_4829

I hold him and feed him and smell his soft mushy head. I sway him and tickle his feet and love him up, before turning him over to his very tired parents.

Hello gorgeous!

brooke and coop aug 2016

Aunthood rocks.

I’m still plugging away at my job. It’s been nearly six months and although it can be overwhelming and stressful, covering entertainment news is cool and the days go by very quickly.

And once in a while I get a perk… like interviewing a celeb I admire.

Paul Reiser stops by the AP

Actor/comedian Paul Reiser came in to talk about the anniversary of “Mad About You.” I gave him sun butter and rice cakes and he made me laugh a lot.

Blake Lively was smart, sweet and easy to interview.

Daveed Diggs at the AP

IMG_4811

Hello Gorgeous!

brooke and daveed diggs

Shortly after he came in, actor/rapper Daveed Diggs won a Tony for his roles as Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in “Hamilton”

But now it’s time for a break. I’m leaving for Israel at the end of the week to celebrate Aden’s bar mitzvah with family in the Holy Land.

Will blog about that gorgeous place when I return!

I survived month 1 of my new full-time job

Oh it truly feels good to be back on this page. I’ve not had a moment to sit down at the computer since I started my new job at the AP at the end of February. I’ve been working beaucoup hours trying to get up to speed.

My duties include managing a team of 11 producers and 3 cameramen in several cities– including LA, NY, and Nashville — who help cover entertainment news for hundreds of TV clients all over the world. It’s a lot of masters to serve. While I have many years of TV news experience and a solid understanding of entertainment, every shop is different and it takes a while to adjust.

Work pass

But there’s barely time to adjust and get to know the staff because I have to keep up with breaking news– everything from celebrity deaths, divorces and babies to the latest album drop and show opening on Broadway — while receiving literally hundreds of emails a day– sometimes 1 per minute!– of pitches for coverage.

I’m not complaining– I love it! But as a colleague told me last week, coming into this job is a little like building a plane that’s already in flight. It doesn’t stop and I’m constantly worried we’re gonna crash. Miss the wrong email and you lose your spot on the red carpet for Nicole Kidman’s new movie or the deadline for credentials for the MTV Movie Awards. (These are hypotheticals of course…we should be good on both of these….but I’ll double-check now just in case.)

I know everything takes time and I’m hoping in a few months it will all be easier and I’ll look back on this time and laugh. Can’t wait!

In the meantime, some other thoughts on the big change.

How is the family adjusting?-– You know which family member had the hardest time with me going back full-time? Kids are great and Wilson has been extra helpful. It’s Brady! That lonely pup didn’t eat for two days and freaked out when I would walk in the door, chasing his tail and barking like a lunatic. Major separation anxiety! He’s alone more hours during the day now, but my sitter walks him and he’ll be fine. Poor pooch.

Brady needs a lot of extra attention and often has personal space issues.

Brady needs a lot of extra attention and often has personal space issues.

Commuting — I’m working 5 days in the city and take the train. Luckily I can walk from home and work to the station so it’s really a pleasant experience. I like to say I don’t hate the commute, I resent it. It’s nice to have some alone time to gear up, read in and decompress after work, or meet a friend to talk on the way home. But it’s just another 2 hours I’m not with my kids.

I’m crazy tired-– I was always tired– for the brief time I was not working and when I was working part-time– but this is a different kind of tired. It’s like 4pm 9 months pregnant tired. Like just got off a flight from Hong Kong tired. I think this will get easier too. When you’re new you have to be “on” for 9 hours a day. Good news is I sleep well and have been good about getting to bed at a decent hour– which is new for me.

Random celeb sightings– Yes, we have all kinds of actors, writers, reality stars and even celebrity pets prancing into the office. I have yet to make it to a red carpet, but in the office I met the legendary David Hasselhoff (don’t hassle the Hoff,) comedian George Lopez, and Colman Domingo (from Selma and Fear of the Walking Dead.) Jeremy Piven came in and I snuck a photo because Jacob’s a huge Entourage fan. I could have asked Piven for a real photo but we’re the press, not fans, and we should be better than that.

Piven picI thought showing Ari Gold live and in person in my office might impress the kids and let them know what Mom does all day.  I texted Jacob the sly pic and with typical teenaged disdain he texted back “Ayo.”

I don’t even know what that means.  Sigh.

One of the highlights was XMen’s Nicholas Hoult who has a British accent and is easy on the eyes. Nuff said.

Associated Press

Associated Press

 I miss writing– I had one last book review to get out so I wrote it this week and it felt good to be writing again. Right now, I haven’t had any time to write in my job, and at home I’m with the kids and trying to get stuff done. I hope in a  few months I’ll be able to make more time for it.

So keep watching this space– don’t give up on me just yet!

Big news! I’m back in showbiz!! (I got a new job)

I have exciting news!!!

You may have noticed I’ve been laying low on the blogging front lately. Much of my energy has been focused on interviewing for a job that seemed so well-suited for me, I was worried if I thought about anything else or spoke too much about it I would jinx it forever and be doomed to live the rest of my days wondering what could have been.

I had FIVE– count ’em five– interviews, and a few restless nights and hand- wringing days waiting to find out if I got the job. And I did!

Photo credit: Kathryn Huang photography

Photo credit: Kathryn Huang photography

You’re looking at the new Editor of Entertainment video for the Associated Press!

A former colleague who works at the AP told me about the position a few months ago and it seemed too good to be true. I’ve been looking for the right job for several years but like Goldilocks, could never seem to find the right fit.

I was working part-time at Fox News as a news editor for the World and U.S. pages and freelance writing for several websites. It gave me great digital experience, but I found writing about Islamic extremist bombings in the Middle East and Africa and the refugee crisis in Syria draining. I was always peeking over at the Entertainment page and pitching feature stories.

In this new job, I’ll be managing producers covering TV, movies, music and arts with no agenda– just straight entertainment news. During the interview process I was warned there might be some travel…. to help cover awards shows like the Golden Globes and Oscars.

oscars 2016 promo

That’s a sacrifice I’m eager to make!

As the interview process continued and the job became more real, I started to feel  drawn to it and realized it’s the gig I’ve been building towards for many years. It combines my TV and management experience with my love of entertainment and pop culture. And it’s at one of the most well-known and respected media companies in the world. The world, people!

During one interview, an editor told me one of the best parts of working for the AP is that when news breaks anywhere– from Capetown to Nashville– they have a bureau and contacts there to cover it. AP has reps on red carpets all over the globe. And someday soon I could be one of them.

ap logo

It’s also the right time to go back to working full-time in the city. My boys are older and more self-sufficient, and college tuition fees loom large. Jacob will be leaving in two years!

I’m thrilled to be going to work every day to talk about entertainment with people who love it as much as I do. I always wanted to be a journalist– you get paid to know what’s going on in the world and every day is a new opportunity to learn and tell a story. I’m excited for a new challenge.

And since I mentioned the Oscars, I’d like to take this moment to thank everyone who helped me get to this place….

Mom and me

My mother has been the Mickey Goldmill (Burgess Meredith) to my Rocky: always in my corner, wiping sweat and tears off my face, pumping me up with encouraging words and loving support, even when I was bruised and beaten down by life’s disappointments.

My aunt Jane was my very own Mary Richards (Mary Tyler Moore) — an inspiration ever since I was a little girl. She was the first journalist I ever knew (ironically she worked for AP’s rival, Reuters, for more than 30 years) and made the career seem fascinating, educating… and most importantly possible, even while raising a family.

Family friend, Anne Rosenbaum who gave me the best professional advice I’ve probably ever received. She had quit her high-profile TV job at ABC several years prior and told me– when I quit my full-time job in TV at Fox– to always keep my resume alive. I’ve been a freelance writer, digital editor, live show producer, blogger, essay writing tutor, and book reviewer.  I’ve kept busy and current in the changing media world and that helped tremendously when the time was right. She’s my Glenda the Good Witch.

thelma and louise

My girlfriends. Like Thelma and Louise…Violet, Doralee and Judy in 9 to 5, the southern belles of Steel Magnolias, and the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants …… I love my gal pals. If I start to mention names I’ll surely forget and offend so I’ll just say you know who you are. Thanks for listening to the minute-by minute drama of each job opportunity, for the calls and texts of encouragement, and for sharing wine and making me laugh when I needed it.

My former (and future!) colleague, Alicia, who alerted me to the job and showed me how my past experience had prepared me for it. I promise never to encase your stapler in Jello mold.

And no, I won’t pull a Reese Witherspoon/Hilary Swank and forget to thank my loving husband, Wilson. That guy has put up with more worrying, complaining, frustration, and indulgence than anyone, and took on the responsibility of primary breadwinning while I tried to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. You’re the best honey. Even better than Clooney.

ap logo

If you want to read more about the job, you can check out the AP announcement today here.

I start next week. Expect several posts about the transition back to full-time and my first celebrity sightings!

 

Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Big Magic” lit a fire under my ass

I’ve reviewed a lot of books in the past few years, but never has an author seemed to look inside me and shine a light on the web of ego and dreams tangled up in there.

Big Magic cover on carpoolcandy.com

The book came from the publisher “creatively” wrapped in paper with pretty ribbon

That’s what I felt like while reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s new non-fiction book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, which is out this week. I jumped at the chance to review her new book because I’m a big fan of her writing.

Her best-selling memoir, Eat, Pray Love, sparked both lovers and haters of her work, although, being on the love side, I don’t really understand the hate. Sure, it was self-indulgent, but aren’t most memoirs? Whether you bought into the journey, you can’t deny Gilbert’s talent. Her writing is personal, insightful, honest and funny.

Gilbert is able to see a situation, turn it over in her mind a few thousand times and then write about it so honestly and specifically,that even if the situation doesn’t apply completely, you can’t help but recognize yourself.

Elizabeth Gilbert on carpoolcandy.com

Big Magic is a must-read for writers, as it speaks to why we subject ourselves to the uncertainty, rejection, and criticism that comes with sharing your thoughts in public. Not to mention the love of art in lieu of a fat paycheck.

But it’s also for anyone who has creative desires of any kind and isn’t fulfilling them.

She uses an example of a friend who skated as a child and loved it, but quit when she became a teenager and realized she wasn’t going to the Olympics. She went on to become a successful businesswoman who was happily married with kids, but started to feel down and in a rut. After some soul-searching she remembered how skating used to make her feel and decided to get back on the ice.

She could have been intimidated by her age, by taking lessons with a bunch of 9-year-olds watching, by the cold, by lack of personal time….by what others would think. But none of that was enough to prevent her from getting up early to skate for an hour before work a few times a week. The feeling she got from being on the ice again carried over into the rest of her life and she felt joy and ease she hadn’t felt in years.

She hasn’t won any medals, and she’s still skating.

So what are you afraid of doing? What activity have you always wanted to try or tried once and left behind? There are a million excuses not to pick it up, and Gilbert lists them all in the book. But those excuses are hiding fear.

I’ll admit something I haven’t out loud much before: I have an idea for a screenplay.

Just writing this is making me queasy. I don’t feel comfortable sharing my dreams so publicly.

I’ve had the idea for about 10 years and have created characters, scenes and even dialog in my mind, but haven’t been able to commit to it because I’m afraid.

Afraid of failure and success. Afraid it won’t be as good as I want it to be. Afraid I have no business writing a screenplay. I’m no Brooklyn hipster or Hollywood phenom. I’m just a working mom driving carpool.

But Liz told me I have a voice and it needs to be heard. She hasn’t promised my work will be read, liked, produced and released. She just says I have to write it. For me. Because every year that goes by that I don’t write it, I feel like I’ve failed myself.

It would feel really good to get it all out of my head and onto paper (or a PDF file, you get the point.) I’ve spent more time in the last year on it than ever before and I actually have most of Act 1 down and an outline for Acts 2 and 3.

Writing desk on carpoolcandy.com

I spent a weekend alone in NYC last spring working on the screenplay.

But now I need to fully commit. To make room for this project, instead of waiting for free time to work on it. I’m a busy gal so there are lots of great reasons not to work on my story. Helping kids, cooking dinner, volunteering at school, reading for my book club and work. And how about just being dog tired after a busy week and preferring to lay on the couch eating cookies while watching Orange is the New Black?

But Liz has made me realize it’s fear keeping me from the page. And I can’t let fear win.

Big Magic has great stories and tips on how to tap into whatever creative gig you’re into. I gave the book a great review, which you can read here.  I’m not alone in feeling the power of this book, it just hit number one on the NY Times bestseller list.

What are you afraid of?  Be brave and tell me in the comments.  Then commit to punching fear in the face and getting started on your journey to a more creative life!

Listen to Your Mother 2015 Love Fest

Rehearsal for Listen to Your Mother 2015 on carpoolcandy.com

I’m still coming down off a contact high after watching 13 ladies bear their truths before a live audience Saturday in the second annual Listen to Your Mother North Jersey show.

Listen to Your Mother is a staged reading event where people share experiences about motherhood in all its forms. It started out as the brainchild of blogger Ann Imig with one show in Madison, Wisconsin and has now become a national movement– performed in 39 cities across the U.S. this year.

I was honored to be chosen to read in the first North Jersey show last year, and it was an exhilarating experience.

Rehearsal for Listen to Your Mother 2015 on carpoolcandy.com

I wanted to stay involved, so was thrilled when last year’s co-director/producers Deborah Goldstein and Sandy Rustin asked me to help direct and produce the 2015 show.

As a former TV news producer, flexing those muscles again was extremely satisfying. Working with Deborah and Sandy was one of the most joyful professional experiences of my life. They’re both uber talented and lovely human beings. Those gifted gals taught me so much, while always making me feel an equal part of the team, despite my rookie status.

The audition process was fascinating and humbling. We had almost 70 people read their stories and had the daunting task of choosing just 13 for the show.

Rehearsal for Listen to Your Mother 2015 on carpoolcandy.com

The audition room

Aligning with the LTYM edict, we tried to find pieces with a unique voice, but a universal message about motherhood. If you’ve seen the show, you know it’s an emotional journey, so it was also important we have balance, with thought-provoking stories that would make an audience laugh and cry.

13 women earned the coveted spots with their original, beautiful words. While several are career writers and/or bloggers, some have only dabbled in writing while keeping day jobs, or just had an important story to tell.

The age range ran from 30’s to 50’s, with topics ranging from foster care, parenting special needs children, divorce, racism, and gender stereotypes to cooking in the kitchen with mom and sending kids to summer camp. Each story had relatable elements, even if the experience described was completely new.

Auditions for Listen to Your Mother 2015 on carpoolcandy.com

We used very sophisticated methods to make the show order

After a successful 2014 show, tickets went quickly for the scheduled 5pm show. When the show sold out, we got ballsy and added a second show at 2pm. Although we didn’t sell out the second show, we had a terrific audience and the cast got to read twice. I remember last year being so sad when it was over, I wished I could start all over again and this year’s cast got that chance.

Rehearsal for Listen to Your Mother 2015 on carpoolcandy.com

The first read-throughs were raw and emotional

We only rehearsed twice before show day but these ladies were ready. There were a few butterflies but those tough broads laughed in the face of stage fright.

Rehearsal for Listen to Your Mother 2015 on carpoolcandy.com

Technical rehearsal on show day

The audience seemed to enthusiastically enjoy the show, and it’s been 24 hours of love online and in person from those who saw it. A few people told me the show was now officially part of their annual Mother’s Day weekend routine.

Taking a bow at Listen to Your Mother 2015 on carpoolcandy.com

Taking a bow after the first show. Proud and relieved!

There were many hugs and promises to see each other soon as we all parted to celebrate with family and friends after the second show. An email chain with all cast and producers continued throughout the day with Mother’s Day wishes and an outpouring of love and respect. I ran into one cast mate in town tonight and we ran into each other’s arms like old Army buddies separated by years, when really it had only been a day.

We are bonded forever by this meaningful experience.

I remain in awe of people willing to make themselves vulnerable by sharing deeply personal stories and exploring their feelings on a stage in front of 450 people. It takes a certain kind of courage and trust, and we producers were so grateful to each reader for their bravery and willingness to open their hearts.

North Jersey cast of Listen to Your Mother 2015 on carpoolcandy.com

Love these ladies!

As Sandy told the cast in the few exciting moments before they took the stage Saturday, you never know who in the audience needs to hear your story, needs to laugh or cry. Words are powerful, especially when expressed with authenticity. That’s what makes LTYM work.

Maybe you have a story to tell about having a mother or being one. Write it down!  LTYM NJ 2016 is not that far away…..

You can read more amazing stories in the new anthology: Listen to Your Mother: What She Said Then, What We’re Saying Now..

 

No matter how much you do, someone’s always doing more

I recently took a power walk with my friend, Sandy. She’s one of the most amazing people I know: smart, funny, creative, talented, and a standup gal.

Her resume is insane.

A successful actress, writer and producer, she wrote a sketch comedy musical about parenthood called Rated P (for parenthood), which opened to critical acclaim Off-Broadway in 2012. I saw it at least three times and adored it.

Rated P for Parenthood poster on carpoolcandy.com

It recently got picked up as a musical series for TV on ABC Family, through Kelly Ripa’s production company. Then, one day she had an idea and sat down and wrote a full length comedic straight play called The Cottage, which ran in Queens for a few weeks last year and has now been picked up in regional theaters in Aspen, Phoenix, and Plymouth, MA this summer.

Really??!

She has a one-act comedy that won a playwriting competition and is currently in development for TV, and created and stars in a web series on NickMom.

Exhausted just reading about it, right?

What’s most annoying is she’s a wonderful daughter, supportive friend, and attentive, fun mom to two little boys. It would make me feel better to think she’s a crappy wife, but I know her husband and he doesn’t seem like the type to put up with that.

A walk with Sandy is like a hard slap to the ego. No matter how much I’m doing professionally or personally, it never seems enough.

I’m no slacker. I’m busy all the time, like most of you. In addition to playing cook, maid, chauffeur, therapist, and gal Friday, I work in Manhattan two days a week and write freelance pieces for various websites in any “down” time, when the kids are in school.

This summer, the down time has been minimal to nil.

I signed the boys up for various camps but there has yet to be a week when all 3 are out of the house at the same time. I don’t have any childcare on the days I’m not working in the city so I’m on call all day for meals, rides, and questions like “Where’s the remote?”

I’ve really enjoyed the one-on-one time with them. But instead of embracing that time, I always seem to have a nagging feeling I should be getting more work done.

Work Life balance image on carpool candy.com

I should be blogging, reading, pitching stories, or trying to get paid for stories I’ve already written. I should be completing the bedroom upgrade I started three months ago, or getting forms ready for the new school year. There are scores of to-do list items swirling around my head at any given time, distracting me from enjoying the present.

I’m lucky I have the option now to be with my kids more than when I was working full-time. I should channel my inner bumper sticker: Carpe diem! Live in the moment! Life is short!

Sometimes I do. But not often enough.

The life of a freelancer and blogger is extra tough on the psyche because you have to constantly hustle and produce content, but the amount of hours doesn’t always translate to dollars.   I love what I do and don’t mind the hustling, but life sometimes gets in the way, and I don’t want to feel badly about that.

But I’m getting older and worry that if I don’t make a big mark in my career soon, it will be too late. The window on work goals is closing slowly and I want to be on the right side when it does.

I’m always in this weird middle place between dreaming big, working hard and making sacrifices….and wanting more flexibility and time with my kids before they grow up and leave. So I haven’t figured out how to feel satisfied about getting a little of both, and enjoying that luxury.

There’s always going to be a Sandy. She never makes me feel like slouch, I do that to myself.  My new goal is to try to feel gratified, whether I’m working hard or hardly working.

boys hiking on carpoolcandy.com

I spent today with Aden, Brady, and some friends hiking in a state park.

Hiking selfie on carpoolcandy.com

I didn’t get any work done.

But it was a good day.