Posts Tagged ‘Grammys


Holy Shit! World Premiere of WHEN I SING. Part 2: Thank you Robin Russin

One week from today, my life’s story, WHEN I SING, made with my life’s savings, and a lot of help from my friends (sing that line like Ringo), will premiere at the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival. Hoo Ha. (And my jaw is clinched at 5 am as I write).

How self-absorbed is it, when one make’s a movie about….themselves?! I swear, it’s a great story, not because it happened to me, but just because it happened. And I hope that under the constraints of my meager budget, that we were able to pull off conveying the story.  It wasn’t easy.  But, to start, it wouldn’t have been possible without…me.  I’m kidding – Robin Uriel Russin, my cousin by marriage.  In fact, we call it “An Odd Cousins Film”.

Odd?  Well, besides the fact that he’s a road scholar, who graduated from Harvard, and I’m a University of Miami drop-out, we were at odds during the filming, because being my life’s story, and having lived every minute, I felt compelled to direct the director.  Oops. So, if there is an award for tolerating me, Robin gets it.  (Well, and everyone else.)  I did direct a few scenes when Robin couldn’t be around on certain locations, and it was fun…I had a good teacher…Robin.

Initially, because of the extremely low-budget, I figured I’d be doing most everything…because I don’t have to pay myself. And I wore so many hats that I’m surprised I didn’t break my neck. I mean, I made fucking sandwiches and dragged wardrobe and props and set up the scenes to save money, in between acting.  And I assumed I would be directing, because I had no choice…

BUT then Robin asked me “Who’s Directing?”

Linda: “Uhhh, I guess I am.”

Robin: “I’ll take a semester off of teaching at UCR and direct, if you want”.

Are you shitting me?!  Wow.  You’d do that for me? Well, he did it.  (Robin helped me edit my book, Who the F**K is Linda Chorney, which WHEN I SING is based on, thus, he was quite familiar with my story…and believed it was a good one to tell!) Not only did he make huge, personal sacrifices to direct the movie, but when we ran out of money, he received a grant from UCR, (which paid for my co-editor, Robert Murphy).  Of all of the projects he has done, Robin chose WHEN I SING to go for a grant.  Incredible. He saved me from breaking my neck, while I busted his balls.  It was a perfect match! And although we are, indeed, odd cousins, we are more like brother and sister, who fight, but love and respect each other, greatly.  (Thanks for marrying him, Sarah!)


(Robin and I having yet another discussion about a scene – while co-star, Maxwell Scott, playing the roll of “Scott”, hung in there. “Here they go again…”)

And WHEN I SING is our child.  (That sound’s really weird).  So, I don’t know if Robin is clinching his jaw as much as I am, mine,  but I do know he’s ready to hand out cigars next Sunday. February 25th!  If you happen to be in the Los Angeles area, come to the premiere! Meet Felix and Oscar on the red carpet, (guess which one I am?), and other stars of WHEN I SING, including Chris Mulkey and Marion Ramsey. See cast here!


(Robin directing Evan Grae Davis, our DP, of live performance with Chris Mulkey and me.)

A tremendous thank you to University of California, Riverside. No one can hurt me, when I have money to pay the bills!  (For those of you unfamiliar with lyrics from title track, WHEN I SING, the chorus says “no one can hurt me when I sing.”)  Get it!?

Stay tuned for Part III!



Grammy’s change the rules again…because of the way James Comey treated Hillary Clinton.

As Ronald Raegan would say, “Well, there you go again.”  I learned, as someone nominated for a Grammy, that getting awards can be as bad, and full of shit as politics.

Ya know how bills are passed that have a lot of pork and earmarks? Well the latest from the Recording Academy is filled with oink and skid marks.  How so?

Here is the article from The Associated Press.    The headline?  “Grammys switching to online voting, changes top album rule.”

Okay. That sounds cool and reasonable, as long as the votes aren’t hacked, which I do not personally see as an issue. In fact, it would be nice if voting in USA for government positions could work that way..and actually be obligatory, to possibly prevent a total idiot from becoming POTUS.

What the headline from the AP neglects to mention, is the pork.  And of course, most people have A.D.D. and only read headlines.  (below taken from the AP article.)

“Bill Freimuth, the academy’s senior vice president of awards, said the academy expects to attract younger voters and touring musicians who are away from home during voting season.”

said of online voting, which comes a year after the Latin Grammys made the switch.

Freimuth said there were concerns about security issues, but added they have “done everything we can to make sure the integrity of the system will be preserved.”


I read that word, and spit out my tea. Let’s talk about integrity.  (And by the way, I have met Bill Freimuth, and he is a really nice guy, and I’m sure his intentions are honorable, but….)

I repeat. Let’s talk about integrity, shall we?  Please allow me to dissect his statement.

“attract younger voters, and touring musicians who are away from home during voting season.”

99% of these touring musicians – and younger “voters” also want a shot at the brass ring. The academy welcomes these voters with open arms to pay their dues, and participate. But they don’t really trust the paying voters to make the right decisions. How can I say that? Answer? One word.


When I was nominated, in 2012, there were no committees in “Americana” and all roots categories across the board, thus it was a democracy of the voting members who decided  the top 5 nominees, by majority vote, and then the winner, in the same manner.

The following year, without transparency to the voting members, they changed the rules, and put in a committee to decide the top 5, vs. the democratic vote, because, God forbid, another indie, like myself, gets past the gatekeepers. I put these facts in my book, “Who the Fuck Is Linda Chorney”, (I also mentioned it at the time to the Press, and they didn’t give a shit) – and then, the following year, after my book release, (read at least a thousand times!) all of a sudden, The Recording Academy decided to be transparent.  (My transparency? Yes, that was a slight plug for my book. tee hee.)

Then in 2013, Al Walser, another Indie, was  nominated for a Grammy in Dance Electronic category. At the time, this too was a democracy. Low and behold, the following year, they put in a committee to decide the top 5 in all Dance stuff.

Still, a few categories remained  true democracies, thus completely independent artists grabbed that brass ring, and some even won in New Age, Rap, and Contemporary Instrumental genres. And you bet your ass, lots of touring musicians joined, and paid their dues, in hopes of having their shot! Membership doubled after my nomination, alone, being the first in history to get the nod in Americana. (Imagine me taking a bow.)

BUT NOT ANYMORE!  (Say like Inspector Clouseau, after he trashed the “priceless Steinway”.)

The Below excerpt, is taken from the same AP article, for dissection number 2, also coinciding with spitting out more tea.

Other changes include nomination review committees added to the rap, contemporary instrumental and New Age genres. The committees serve as an additional layer of checks and balances, and for rap, could prevent wins like Macklemore & Ryan Lewis in 2014 over Kendrick Lamar, which were highly criticized. It could also allow rising acts to earn nominations over veteran performers like Eminem and Kanye West, who consistently earn nominations.

“We form these committees only when we hear from … those genre communities (when) they feel like something’s wrong, or that our nominations could be better,” said Freimuth. “For rap, what they were finding was that ‘legacy’ artists, almost no matter what they released, they would get a nomination because of their name recognition and fan base.”


“Layer of checks and balances.”  Bwahahahahhaa! = CONTROL.

Justification for committees – “It could also allow rising acts to earn nominations over veteran performers like Eminem and Kanye West, who consistently earn nominations.”


Here’s the deal. “It could also prevents no-names, without labels, where no gatekeepers profit off of their nominations, and spares the Recording Academy the embarrassment of the likes of a Linda Chorney getting nominated.”  THAT’S ALSO WHAT IT MEANS.

Which brings me to the title of my blog. The Recording Academy’s justification for putting in these committees, is as valid as Donald J. Trump’s justification for firing James Comey.  (Because of the way he was unfair to Hillary Clinton. Such an outrage!)

Now the tea has come out of my nose.  (Maybe I should run for a governor of The Recording Academy and add my 2 cents.  I’m reading Al Franken’s “Giant of the Senate”, and cannot believe the bullshit he has to put up with. I don’t think I could handle it…or they could handle me. I am still a voting member. They have not yet kicked me out.) Again, I digress.

Of course, putting in committees to decide the top Nominees for President of The United States, might not be such a bad idea. Because, it would give Macklemore & Ryan Lewis a better chance than Kanye West.




If GRAVITY wins Oscar for Best Picture, my eyeballs will roll in outer space.

This year there were numerous brilliant films. Gravity was not one of them. Sure the visual effects were incredible and groundbreaking, and it is certainly worthy of an Oscar for them. However, was it a “Best Picture?” Hell no. Was Sandra Bullock great in it? Hell yes. But the dialogue, and the far-fetched back story, mother losing child in space thing, well…I was bored out of my mind, and felt robbed of my $13.50 when I left the theatre…so this little thief snuck into The Book Thief afterwards, and that was a better film, and story.

In my humble opinion, a Best Picture should be about the story. Yeah, yeah, we all got to experience imagining being alone in outer space…but they dropped the ball with character development and story line, and dialogue. The ball just floated around without gravity.

This year it is extremely difficult to pick a Best Picture. Between Dallas Buyers Club, American Hustle, Nebraska, 12 Years a Slave, and Captain Phillips, how can you choose? What do 4 out of 5 of them have in common? They are all based on true stories. I prefer reading non-fiction as well. When it really happens, I just think it’s cooler. (And I didn’t manage to see Philomena, also based on a true story, but I hear it is wonderful. But guessing it is not a contender for political reasons.)

And although Wolf of Wall Street was also based on a true story, it belongs in Best Picture as much as Gravity…and Her for that matter. Her was very creative, Joaquin was amazing. and it made me think, for sure, about relationships. But I believe The Butler, should have been in there. And I don’t understand why it was omitted. It was epic. I cried my eyes out. The cast was strong. Forest Whitaker was snubbed for Best Actor. And I could watch it again.

A Best Picture, for me, is one you can watch once a year and just go, “Wow!” every time.  Like Forrest Gump.

So, let’s start with front runner, 12 Years A Slave. The film was hard to watch. I actually had to cover my eyes at times. (as much as I did seeing the high wasted pants in Her.) Brutal.  It was gripping. The cinematography was gorgeous. The story was mind-wrenching.  I left angry and sad. I cried in the parking lot. It was a story in history that needed to be told, in form of a film. (Since most Americans don’t read enough…including me.) It needed to be graphic to be effective. Most of the acting was superb. But not all. And once was enough for me. So, although I think it may get Best Picture, because Brad Pitt produced it, and has many relationships for votes…it didn’t get mine.

Dallas Buyers Club is certainly worthy of a Best Picture. Mathew McConaughey will most likely win Best Actor. It was his role of a lifetime. Jared Leto should win Best Supporting Actor. And as Best Screenplay it is a contender. And if Captain Phillips and American Hustle were not in the running, it would get my vote.

Yes, I am torn between Captain Phillips and American Hustle. To me, I left the theatre with that Wow Factor. I could buy these films, and watch every year.  I’m actually surprised that Tom Hanks was not nominated for Best Actor. And although Barkhad Abdi was superb, I don’t think he will win for Best Supporting Actor.

Superstar Cast. No weak links. Clever, fun movie.

The Superstar Cast. No weak links. Clever, fun movie.

So let’s move on to Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Every single nomination is worthy on that list. But for me, Jared Leto stands above the rest.



But who lost more weight?!

Double Yikes

Double Yikes

Best Supporting Actress Role. Very tough category.

Forget Julia, the film sucked. Sally Hawkins was good…Jennifer Lawrence is on fire on the screen, and in Hollywood right now. She has an amazing long term future, and will rack up several Oscars in her lifetime. But I have to say, June Squibb and Lupita Nyong’o get a tie with me. But only one can win. So, I think Lupita or Jennifer will get it. (And she deserves it, too.)

Best Actor? They all deserve to win…with the exception of Leonardo DiCaprio. Yeah, I know he’s been robbed before, but that’s no reason to nominated him for a way over the top film that could have been much better, without the cheap, gratuitous approach.

Christian Bale was fucking brilliant. Bruce Dern was superb. I wouldn’t mind seeing him win. Chiwetel was powerful, and Matthew McConaughey went above and beyond for his role.  He’s going to win, but Christian Bale gets my vote. (And Tom Hanks would have taken it, if he was even nominated.)

Best Actress?

Meryl and Sandra, I love you…but the films? Eh Shmeh. Emma Thompson got robbed. Judi Dench, didn’t see it yet, but you have a shitload of nominations, and one Oscar win, and you are probably not popular enough this year. Amy was great. And although Blue Jasmine was an okay film…Cate Blanchett was the film. A film that could have been much better, based on the scenario. Thus, forget screenplay win. But Cate has my vote, and I think she will win. If Sandra wins, it will be strictly political, not that there was anything wrong with her performance. If Amy wins, I won’t be surprised.

And now for Best Screenplay. Another toughy. To be able to translate a long book into a tiny movie with only 90-120 minutes to effectively relay a story…that takes skill! (I know. I am working on the screenplay for my book, Who the F**K is Linda Chorney, besides being a wanna be movie critic?)

Best Screenplay:

Another toughy, although Blue Jasmine is out in my book. disappointed in Woody on the dialogue. Thought it was forced and contrived. Her, pretty weird, pretty good, but American Hustle, Nebraska, and Dallas Buyers Club are all top-notch. Who will win? American Hustle. Who would I pick? I don’t know. Have the Oscars ever had ties?

Best Director?

Another toughy. Forget Wall St and Gravity. Although American Hustle would get my vote, I think 12 Years a Slave will win.

Best Editing?

Toughy….but definetely not Gravity. That editor should be fired…or maybe commended for doing his best with tons of footage without content. I would pick Captain Phillips. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. But maybe American Hustle will win.

Best Documentary?

I ony saw 20 Feet from Stardom, which was very good, and near and dear to my heart and career, (lead cast member, Lisa Fischer is my friend), but I’ve seen documentaries that stop me in my tracks…so although I am rooting for 20 Feet, I am sure one of the other four is stronger. But 20 Feet might just win, because of the relationships in the music world. But I could be off base. But I predict The Square, just from seeing a few brief clips! I must see that film.

Star of 20 Feet From Stardom, and me, 20 thousand light years from Stardom

Star of 20 Feet From Stardom, Lisa Fischer –  and me, 20 thousand light years from Stardom

Best Foreign Film. I’m embarrassed to say that I have not seen any of them, yet, and they are always superb. Usually anything about the Holocaust wins. So since it doesn’t look like any of them are about that, I’ll go with whatever Palestine did…Omar.

Best Costume Design?

I’ll go with 12 Years A Slave, but I loved the costumes in American Hustle!

Best Original Score?  Whatever it is…it’s fixed by the labels. I’m guessing John Williams has enough…Gravity will win. Nebraska should have been nominated..and win.

Best Special Effects?

GRAVITY. Totally worthy of this award. But if it wins best picture…refer to the title of my blog. And it should also win any sound stuff.

In summary, I have to admit that I always get excited about watching the Oscars! Really. Excited. And I never get excited about watching the Grammys. The Grammy Telecast seems like an ametuer act compared to the Oscars, which are always a class act. And I LOVE the fashion! Nominees in the Oscars are usually very worthy. Grammys? Not so much. But both are politically driven. Let’s hope some of my picks win!

IN SUMMARY: (And remember, it is a huge honor just to be nominated..(tee hee)…it was almost impossible for me to choose the very best ones this year.

LINDA’S PICK                                                                              LINDA’S PREDICTIONS

Best Picture: Captain Phillips & American Hustle       12 Years A Slave

Best Actor: Christian Bale…okay..and Matthew           Matthew McConaughey

Best Actress: Cate Blanchett                                                 Cate Blanchett

Best Supporting Actress:  Lupita & Squibb                    Jennifer Lawrence

Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto                                     Jared Leto

Best Director: American Hustle                                           12 Years A Slave

Best Editing: Captain Phillips                                               Captain Phillips

Best Screenplay: American Hustle                                      American Hustle

Best Original Score, whatever

Best Costume: American Hustle                                        12 Years A Slave..or maybe American Hustle (I’m not betting, so I can pick 2)

Best Documentary: 20 Feet From Stardom                  The Square

Best Foreign Film: Omar                                                        Omar

Best Visual Effects/Sound: Gravity                                   Gravity

What are your picks?!!!

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Linda Chorney

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