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Director Kyle Patrick Alvarez releases his sophomore film, C.O.G. which he wrote based on a story by David Sedaris. Kyle tells host Robin Milling getting the rights to the story from Sedaris was a challenge as he regularly passes on the idea of making his stories into films.
Determined, Kyle showed up at a Sedaris book signing with his first film, Easier With Practice, in hand. His passion plea was his personal connection to C.O.G.which deals with the intersection of religion and sexuality. Growing up in the Mormon community dealt with that in spades! Four months later Sedaris e-mailed and Alvarez became the first person to adapt his writings for the screen.
Kyle is clear that C.O.G. is not a coming out story but more about coming to terms with being seen as a gay person; nor did he want to cast an openly gay actor as a gimmick. Jonathan Groff was just the right person for the job. He says, 'I think Jonathan has the quality of being an openly gay actor for most of his career, arguably his entire career and I think he truly has the opportunity and the possibility to break out and for people to not question him as a romantic lead opposite women. He has the looks and the talent and the charm to handle all of those things you need from a leading man.'
Milling About visits The Evergreen Inn Bed & Breakfast in Spring Lake Heights, New Jersey. Dating back to 1873, it was once a stagecoach stop. Innkeeper Laurie runs the inn like she's hosting a dinner party or hanging with friends at the local Jersey Shore pub. A great storyteller, she entertains her guests at breakfast. If you're still sleeping or even slightly hung over she is the perfect wake-up call! Her juice glasses are on a slant to confuse you even more. She says, 'it's 140 years old so I don't know if I'm the one that's slanted in my 40s or the house is slanted but it works for me!'
One wonders if her five year-old daughter is an inspiration, joking she's a 'beard' for her goofiness. Leaving the corporate world she fell into hospitality having a Yureka moment finding a Christmas ornament that said 'Evergreen Inn.' Since 1997, she put her management skills to work with a homey renovation. The rooms are named for evergreens like The Redwood, a tribute to The Eagles' Hotel California and her 'thing' for Don Henley complete with mirrors on the ceiling and pink champagne on ice.
It's Halloween so everybody loves a good ghost story. Laurie was busy painting alone on the third floor at 2AM when she distinctly heard her name. She laughs, 'Turns out it was an ex-boyfriend calling from across the street at the 7-11 for a booty call at two in the morning!'
Breakfast is the main attraction with names like 50 Ways To Leave Your Lovah French Toast, Brie Rules The World Eggs; one with lobster because hey, it's the beach. Laurie gleefully recites the ingredients as you enter the dining room insisting on seconds.
Milling About visits The Sagamore Resort in Lake George, New York, an idyllic property on Green Island in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains. Everywhere you turn is a view of the lake and the mountains. General Manager Tom Guay who grew up in the area tells host Robin Milling guests can hike the surrounding mountains as well as relax. There's a serenity with the sweet smell of pine permeating from the year-round lobby fireplace. Just outside is the Veranda terrace where brides begin their matrimonial walk down to the lake to say, 'I do.' The 385- room resort in existence since1883 is rumoured to be haunted, especially Room 209. Director of Sales Lori Rehm tells Robin about the resident spirits. There's a 1930s maid whose affair with a guest caused the wife to smother her with a pillow. Lori says some guests have seen someone in a maid's outfit standing in the corner or felt the blankets being tugged down by someone, and when the lights were turned on there was noone there! Visit www.thesagamore.com
Milling About visits Hotel Zero 1 in Montreal, Canada. Senior Marketing Manager Michele Cantin tells host Robin Milling it's an ideal location just steps away from Chinatown and the cultural district Quarter des Spectacles, ripe with art, music and food festivals. For sightseers the Old City and the Old Port are a short walk away. This chic boutique-style property was once home to students attending nearby University of Quebec. The walls are concrete so the renovation focused on the 163 rooms which are stylized for comfort with just enough room for the essentials. The minimalist European aspect might not appeal to Americans looking for lots of space but you soon trade that for efficiency and charm. The beds are the centerpiece with 250 thread count sheets and microfiber duvet and pillows. The cupboards contain kitchenettes with hideaway appliances such as a mini refrigerator and coffeemaker.
Cantin is no stranger to the hospitality business having worked at a spa, but jumped at the chance to launch the opening of Hotel Zero 1 just two years ago, named for the address on Boulevard Rene-Levesque. She says being the new player in the city, they are the talk of the town. Their best kept secret is the 5 floor terrace where you can be very French and just take in the views of the city with a bottle of wine. It's a taste of France just six hours drive from New York City.
Milling About visits The Samoset Resort in Maine where romance, relaxation and recreation meet at their lovely waterfront property sitting on the edge of Penobscot Bay. Just sit back on a lawn chair and watch the boats go by or play 18 holes of their championship golf course while taking in spectacular views of the ocean. Luxuriate in your renewal journey at The Spa at Samoset after negotiating rocks on the near mile trek on the Breakwater to the Lighthouse.
General Manager Connie Russell and Spa Director Julie Slade join host Robin Milling. Connie came to the hospitality business working at his father's motel in his hometown of Orono. Along the property are one and two-bedroom cozy cottages Wind Drift, Spring Tide and Sea Spray, which Connie says are perfect for couples with screened porches and gas fireplaces. The glorious 100 year-old Flume cottage juts out on the rocks boasting an outdoor hot tub on a glass railing deck overlooking Penobsot Bay. Like any historic hotel, The Samoset originally built in 1889, has had it's share of ghost stories like the elevator closing or opening by itself!
At The Spa, Robin was treated to an aromatherapy massage deeply inhaling frankincense; the scents are tailored to your mood. Before your massage, breathe in the ocean air while sipping tea in the serenity room with privacy screens so you can walk around freely in their cushy velvety robe. Julie tells Robin the massage mixes western and eastern traditions with reflexology, Chakra work and Swedish. A former owner of her own day spa in Camden, Julie led Colorado whitewater rafting tours before she settled in Maine, and now she comes 'skipping to work!'
Milling About visits Sans Soucy Vineyards in Brookneal, Virginia for a delicious wine tasting hosted by owner Paul Anctil. A French Canadian, Paul says growing up he'd turn anything fruit into wine. His six acre vineyard offers daily tastings from bold and dry reds to light and sweet whites. Once a tobacco farm, some reds take on a smoky tobacco finish like Petit Verdot, with hints of dark cherry and vanilla. There's a dish of semi-sweet chocolates to compliment the bold reds. The wines are named for their pets. Cab, a black Lab dons the label of their stellar Cabernet Franc perfect with T-bone steak. The light summer red is Chateau Weuf de Pup. The family cat is on Chat-O, blending Traminette and Viognier for honeysuckle notes. Paul's military time in the hot summers of Spain inspired the Tempranillo featuring raspberry and blackberry tones; the unique Ginger wine comes from the British Marines, made from whole ginger root. The Bark & Wine festival in June donates their wine tasting fees to a no-kill animal rescue in town. www.sanssoucyvineyards.com
Milling About visits The Nonantum Resort in Kennebunkport, Maine which is rich in history dating back to 1884 when Henry Heckman built a stately home overlooking the Kennebunk River to honor his ship's captain brother David, lost at sea. The name Nonantum is Algonquin Indian meaning 'rejoicing;' fitting for the resort celebrating over 125 years. The lobby of the Carriage House is homey with a welcoming fireplace and fresh baked blueberry scones, featuring Maine's finest fruit. The original old-fashioned elevator with iron gated door and manual lever is refurbished, and is still used to ferry guests.
General Manager Tina Gordon, celebrating her 21 season, joins host Robin Milling to talk about the hotel's newest finds which have been discovered through renovations such as the original hotel safe, and a priceless stash of letters from guests to the innkeeper found inside horsehair plaster in the walls from the early 1900s. Tina says there is a resident ghost Sadie who likes to hang out by the fireplace, and kitchen spirits who have been known to move pans and throw things off the top of the refrigerator to get the staff's attention!
Innkeeper Jean Ginn Marvin who left a life of politics in Maine legislature for hospitality, makes sure she walks 10,000 steps a day making the guests happy. When at The Nonantum drive along Ocean Drive, and in less than 1.2 miles you'll get a glimpse of President George Bush's summer estate which sits on it's own private little island at Walker's Point. The secret service took some getting used to but Jean says the Bushes are regulars at Nonantum for parties and events and couldn't be more charming and appreciative of their hospitality.
Director P.J. Hogan joins host Robin Milling to talk about his new film Mental. It's a story that is so fantastic you can't make it up. P.J. tells Robin everything that happens in the film happened to him at 12, when his philandering father, up for re-election as mayor, picked up a hitchhiker named Shaz, played by Toni Collette to watch over his wild brood while his mom was 'on holiday' in a mental institution.
Telling stories from his life is not new to the Australian filmmaker whose debut film Muriel's Wedding was all about his sister. P.J. says Mental is a comedy because laughter is the best medicine when you come from crazy. He tells Robin, 'As far as mental goes I'm in the trenches with it because my sister is schizophrenic, my brother is bipolar and I'm the father of two autistic children. So I live with it every day and that's why I made the film a comedy.'
P.J. hopes that underneath the laughs there is a serious message that will come across about how to deal with mental illness whether or not it's personal to you and to re-examine what is normal.
Jim Sturgess joins host Robin Milling to talk about his new film Upside Down. Jim tells Robin he actually had to practice hanging upside down for the role and got to 20 minutes with the aid of gravity boots; but not before nausea got the best of him! He even has an upside down kissing scene with his co-star Kirsten Dunst who had some previous experience with that in Spider-Man. Jim says he was asked to appear in the Spider-Man musical on Broadway by his Across the Universe director Julie Taymo
Not all marriages are meant to last forever – some of them don't make it to a year. That was the inspiration for the comedy about romance, I Give It A Year by writer/director Dan Mazer. Dan tells host Robin Milling he went to an elaborate wedding where the guests were wagering it wouldn't last past six months, and it didn't. Married in Morocco, Dan is going on eight years with his wife which he says works because they are right for each other.
Comedy ensues in the film when Rose Byrne, married to the wrong person, is wooed by the stunning Simon Baker who turns out to be Mr. Very Right. Dan confesses he has a huge man crush on Baker who had everyone on set melting over him. “Simon Baker could turn me! Honestly I had feelings that I never felt before when I would be in the room with him. He is mesmerizing. And the hair is something to behold! As Josh the character says, 'I could drink him in!'”
Fellow Aussie Rose Byrne tells Robin she actually grew up mooning over Baker watching him play a heartthrob on Australian soap opera, E Street. In the film she was impressed by his unwavering composure when he wines and dines her and doves are flying everywhere. “He was literally unflappable landing on his head, and I was a mess! Luckily nobody got pooped on but that would've been the least of my worries!” Next Rose reunites with Get Him To The Greek director, starring with Seth Rogen in Townies.
Minnie Driver joins host Robin Milling to talk about her new film, Hunky Dory. Minnie shows off her musical talents, dueting with the students and playing guitar as a drama teacher in Wales who is keen to put together a rock musical of Shakespeare's The Tempest that would make David Bowie proud. Set in the 70s her students perform hit songs from the era, namely Life on Mars? which Minnie says is perfect timing with Bowie's comeback, The Next Day. Minnie says she can't stop listening to the CD especially when Bowie so graciously lent his music to the film for a song.
Minnie tells Robin about her involvement with musical educational programs and the importance of music and the arts in schools. Her five year-old son Henry is already showing a penchant for music taking piano lessons. He was on the set of Hunky Dory getting into the jamming sessions. Minnie says it's been in his genes since before he was born getting an earful of her guitar playing while on tour seven months pregnant.
This is the year of the musical for Minnie who will also be starring opposite Meatloaf in the horror musical Stage Fright. She is also releasing a CD of cover tunes in June Ask Me To Dance to follow up her original CD Seastories in 2007.
Gary U.S. Bonds joins host Robin Milling to talk about his new book, By U.S. Bonds, That's My Story. Written with a foreword by Steven Van Zandt, it's an autobiography that's a love story, according to co-writer Stephen Cooper who helped Gary organize his life into 20 chapters.
Impossible as that seems, the stories are classic such as meeting Bruce Springsteen and forming a friendship that still thrives. As Gary recalls Bruce came to his show in New Jersey circa '76 and years later called him to record Dedication. Gary tells Robin he repaid the favor, gifting Bruce a '57 Chevy with 'Dedication' emblazoned on the fender. Bruce still proudly drives it around Jersey.
Gary's career began during the racially charged '50s where music might be color blind but the world certainly wasn't. He says he'd perform at all-white clubs, painfully aware of the segregation, but blended in as an entertainer and never had a problem. It was only touring with Dick Clark's Caravan of Stars in the early '60s that he experienced racism when he couldn't stay at the same hotel as white bands like Bobby Rydell.
At 74, Gary has lived a life of music and still does celebrating his birthday at BB Kings in NYC where musicians come to honor his musical legacy. There's plenty more story to be told.