In the category of “Real Stories from Life”, this humble writer will present an actual tale taken from somebody’s own personal domain. Although the story we are about to present is true, no names were changed become there is really nobody to protect. In fact, all names mentioned within this article are not only true and accurate, but are being stated because of genuine accuracy. Read on…

A good friend of this writer named Kurt got married to his long time sweetheart Karen in early 1994. They were living in Chicago at the time, and spent their honeymoon at a ski resort just north of London, Ontario where they spend their weekend on the slopes. They didn’t spend much time there, only being gone between Friday through Sunday, but once they were going to come back, they were going to get their apartment in order.

Kurt had a brother who lived at the time in Northridge, California, a community that was part of Los Angeles proper located in the San Fernando Valley. Kurt’s brother, whose name won’t be mentioned due to his insistence, lived in an apartment unit located off Nordoff Street, not too far away from a shopping center and other businesses. Kurt’s brother called the happy honeymooners while they were at their resort on his cellular phone he had for the job he held at the time. Kurt and Karen accepted his congrads as the newlywed couple since he wasn’t able to attend their wedding held a few days beforehand. All were pleased to hear from the brother with his many good wishes.

On that Monday upon their return, Kurt was tuned in to the local all-news radio station, WBBM as he tends to do each morning. Around 6:30 AM (CST), the station broke off of their usual reports of time, temp, and traffic to report that there was a massive earthquake that hit the Los Angeles region. There were the early reports that the earthquake was intense in strength. As the local news reports were stating to trickle in, the station was able to get in contact with the station’s Los Angeles affiliate, KNX, presenting on-the-spot coverage. As the hours passed and reports of the devastation were stated to come in, there was a blurb that the earthquake’s epicenter was centered in the community of Northridge–the same community that Kurt’s sibling lived!

Of course, attempting to call anyone in that area was fruitless. All phone lines were either jammed or down. Anyone who tried to make a call to any number in the 818 area code received a recording that all circuits were busy. Although Kurt constantly tried to call his brother to check in on his status, all attempts failed.

Around 8:00 AM (CST), Kurt’s phone rang. It was his brother calling on his newfangled cell phone. For some reason or another, he was able to get through to Kurt. He did report that he was able to get out of his apartment unit safely. He was stating on the street with other folks from the unit, all huddled together. He was stating that most, if not all people who lived in the building was able to escape safely. Of course, it occurred around 4:30 AM local time where many folks were sound asleep. Many of these people were in their bathrobes, or were able to put on whatever clothing they could find. One person was even wearing an ugly looking Christmas sweater he received as a gag gift as his company office party. Kurt was able to get as much news he could from his brother. However, the phone Kurt’s sibling was using wasn’t fully charged, and within twenty or so minutes, the batteries died and the phone’s connection were cut off.

Kurt and Karen tried to keep abreast over the news stories that were coming in through the radio and the major TV networks. They couldn’t watch any coverage via CNN since the unit they rented out didn’t have cable TV installed yet as that was scheduled by the CATV company for the next week!

This little episode could be billed on how the modern technology at the time became a godsend. Kurt’s brother was able to use his portable phone device while landlines were totally down, and would remain down for weeks afterward. And that other communication device called “the internet” wasn’t available on a large scale. So the only forms and means of getting news and details out was whatever phone lines one could find (if any), or through radio, television, and print, although print was the slowest means of news.

Of course, that was some twenty five years ago, and a lot has changed since that third week of January of 1994. In today’s post modern world, the details on getting specific news out for anything of that scale, or even details on trivial events, can take place within seconds. If is quite possible to stream video from one’s newfangled smartphone to a number of social media platforms. Still imagery can also be send as events occur. Although a number of these forms of aspects involve events of importance such as the recent wildfires that broke out in California last November, anyone can bring out details or any event as they happen. Folks are also using this method to stream family events, such as Kurt and Karen’s wedding (and honeymoon) if they married twenty five years after the fact!

And with more technology that’s coming in droves, there may be a time were said communication can arrive via a number of smart devices found in a home, a vehicle, or wherever one can be. The possibilities are endless!

Today, Kurt and Karen are now living in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles, but not in Northridge! They have two kids. One will graduate high school this spring while the other is in the first year of grad school at California State University located in (where else?) Northridge! Kurt’s brother’s apartment unit was “yellow tagged”, meaning that the building suffered minor damage but was still inhibitable. Kurt’s bro eventually moved to another place in Los Angeles proper. He met a woman who was an “illegal” alien from El Salvador. They had a child, and eventually separated. And twenty five years later, the above story now falls as a nostalgic memory. Granted, it wasn’t anything of a festive nature, but does fall into the category of the so-called eight million stories in the naked city. This tale was indeed one of ‘em!

Theatre 40 of Beverly Hills presents for its seventeenth season, the return engagement of Katherine Bates’ THE MANOR, a play that speaks of a rise and tragic fall involving a very dignified family living in one of the nation’s prestigious communities.

The story begins in the roaring 20’s, where liquor flowed if one will find it, jazz music was all the rage, and fortunes were climbing at sky high paces. The MacAlister family that made its capital gains in mineral mining as headed by Charles MacAlister (Darby Hinton), is celebrating the wedding between his son and heir Sean (Eric Keitel) and the blushing bride Abby (Annalee Scott). As the two are joined in marriage, Charles meets up with his friend based in Washington DC, Senator Alfred Winston (Daniel Leslie) on a business opportunity. It appears that in the US territory of Hawaii, the Navy desires to build a naval base station within the location known as Pearl Harbor. Alfred asks Charles for a $100,000 loan to finance this development. In return for the requested amount, Alfred would receive exclusive rights to mine a valued mineral deposit that Charles operates. This well intended exchange opens in what later becomes a scandal developing into government bribery, business corruption, and an overall disgrace to this wealthy family estate leading up toward dire consequences. This aftermath not only involves Charles, but to the others within this domain set high among their “quaint” 50+ room estate overlooking the bedroom community village called Beverly Hills.

This original play written by Katherine Bates was inspired upon the actual family of Edward Doheny, who made his fortune in oil production. He was involved with tactics that later lead to a bribery misconduct known as the “Teapot Dome Scandal” that followed upon the breakup of the Standard Oil monopoly in the early part of the 20th century. What makes this play rather unique, outside of the fact that the plot is inspired by actual events that involves greed, corruption, family disgrace, and even death, but the settings takes place at Greystone Mansion, a 46,000 Sq. Ft. building and estate once owned by the Donehy family. Many of the play’s backdrops are founded in what did occur within the mansion when Edward “Ned” Doheny, son of Edward Sr., took his own life with a pistol. (The reasons leading up to this death vary, but it was indeed billed as a murder-suicide!) The play itself offers plenty of drama as depicted by the cast members that also include Carol Potter as Marion MacAlister, Kira Brannlund as Henrietta Haversham Pugh, Melanie MacQueen as Cora Wilson, Martin Thompson as family attorney Frank Parsons, Esq. with Daniel Lench as James the butler, Katherine Henryk as Ursula the housekeeper, and Ester Richman as Ellie, the mute maid.

As to how this play is set up. It takes place within a handful of rooms in the mansion where the audience is broken up into three groups. After the first scene is performed, each group is lead by one of the domestic staff into another nearby room where a second scene is presented. Then the groups, rotating to other rooms, witness yet another unfolding scene. These scenes performed for the selected audience groups are presented in a different order, but not out of context as each scene keeps its continuity in check. The background of the mansion itself serves as the backdrop giving this production an authentic feel. Each room offers limited stage furnishings as the original furniture and other decor has long been removed. David Hunt Stafford & Jackie Petras provides the set design that is part of the play, rather then to the actual building where this showpiece is housed.

THE MANOR has been part of Theatre 40’s repertory since 2002, offering limited run performances at the location where many of the inspired stage settings developed. If one attends this performance, one will see just a small glimpse of a humble home built when elegance, even at an excess, was at its peak. They don’t build places like these anymore, and it’s just as well! Along with viewing the homestead and the grounds, one will witness a great play that’s fully loaded with all the drama that such a stage work firmly allows.

THE MANOR, presented by Theatre 40 in association with the city of Beverly Hills Recreation and Parks Department, performs at the Greystone Mansion located within Greystone Park, 905 Loma Vista Drive (north of Sunset Blvd. off Mountain Drive), Beverly Hills, until January 27th. Showtimes are January 17th, 18th, and 25th at 6:00 PM, at 1:00 PM on January 19th, and 27th, and at 2:00 PM January 16th, 23rd, and 24th. For further information and for ticket reservations, call (310) 364-3606, or via the website http://www.Theatre40.org
The 24th annual Critics’ Choice Awards ceremony was held on January 13th from the Barker Hanger in Santa Monica, California, and was aired on the CW Network.

Taye Diggs served as the master of ceremonies where awards were presented by the choosing of The Broadcast Film Critics Association, and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association, presenting the best in television programming and feature films.

Among the many awards that were presented, ranging from Best Ensemble Cast (feature films), Best Actor/Actress in a Comedy/Drama (ilm/television), Best Supporting Actor/Actress in Feature/TV, Best Action Feature, etc., two special awards were presented.

Claire Foy was awarded as part of the #SeeHer movement where females are presented in movies and TV shows in a positive and progressive light, and Chuck Lorre was awarded the Creative Achievement Award for his work in the production of such TV series as (among others), Roseanne, Cybill, Grace Under Fire, Two and a Half Men, and his current work, The Kominsky Method.

The Best Picture Award was presented to the feature film Roma.

The Broadcast Film Critics Association, and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association consist of members who work as professional journalists that write and review films and TV shows in publications that exist through multimedia outlets. (Disclaimer: This writer is a member of the BFCA.)

For a complete listing of all titles nominated and its associated winning categories, visit http://www.CriticsChoice.com
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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (C) 2019 Linear Cycle Productions. All rights reserved. The views and opinions are those of the writers, and not necessarily of the staff and management. ‘Nuff said!


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