The Hollywood Shuffle

A trip down to LA to visit a career in the making

By Al Carlos Hernandez
Published on LatinoLA: August 4, 2003

The Hollywood Shuffle

Last week I went on my periodic sojourn to Los Angeles to visit my writing career. That is not to say that there are not competent film and TV writers in Northern California. There are.

They're called ?food servers?.

Without question, LA is the Mecca of creative media, and when down there I usually have a full plate of lunches, dinners, and coffees. In LA, business occurs based on relationships; relationships occur during socializing; and socializing occurs over food. So it seems incongruous to me that most folks are thin and healthy, because they are always eating or drinking something plantlike, syrupy, or Euro.

Over the years I have learned not to order a green salad after I?ve eyeballed a freshly mowed bistro lawn.

Angelinos probably lose their weight while suffering through 90 mile an hour car chases on the freeway while on the phone to ?Their People?.

No doubt, I am a fish out of water in LA. It is transparent to locals that I don?t have my own people; I usually have to borrow people, or pretend that I have people when I really don?t. This disingenuous process I understand is called ?Acting?.

I am very fortunate to have as a writing partner and media mentor, writer, director, producer Phillip Rodriguez to police me through the Al Carlos in Wonderland experience. He's an LA native, UCLA film school graduate, and a research fellow at Loyola, who is doing the definitive documentary on LA. Who best to help guide me through the maze?

Marina Del Ray was home base, choosing always to stay next to the water in case I have to hire a boat and sail my ethnic behind up the coast to Pacifica where I can take a bus up the hill home.

The first meeting was at Loyola to view a Director's cut of the new LA documentary, then lunch, then dinner. On Tuesday, we had a meeting in North Hollywood, so naturally thanks to Mapquest and a sensory-overload fueled case of dyslexia, I woke up early, got on the freeway and went to Canoga Park.

As a spiritual man I do believe in divine intervention. This might have actually happened as I was going from the 405 to the 10 to get on the 101. I was going 75 towards a split in the road, right to ELA, left to Ventura. I figure I should probably go right because I was wearing my Los Lobos tour jacket. Fifteen seconds before going profoundly the wrong way the phone rings, it is Rodriguez. I posed the question, he tells me, ?Go left, Chooch.? This allowed me to get to the wrong place at the right time.

Not finding the address because I was on the right street in the wrong town, I parked next to the unemployment office, subconsciously seeking comfort with other Latino writers and started banging the cell phone.

We had a meeting with the next Ted Turner: Spanish TV mogul Mario Palacios, CEO of El Cielo Entertainment at 11am. Mario is on a tight schedule. I was exactly at the wrong place at the right time, which ironically sums up my TV and Film writing career at this point. I was slapped with the synchronicity of the moment. Not really: I burnt my lip on a tall Yum Yum donut cup of coffee, one of the worse cups in my life.

Mario was gracious to reschedule for 1 pm. He gave a tour of his impressive facility. He cranks out international TV programs like a factory, and does everything in-house. El Cielo Entertainment is going to be doing big things in the years to come. Mario?s efforts may serve as a paradigm for boutique-styled studios, rearguing the development of original programming for world wide distribution.

The last night we had a dinner with master cinematographer Claudio Rocha at an Italian resturant at the Marina. As Claudio gave us notes on one our feature scripts. The waiter confused his fake Italian accent with a New Jersey-based one. How is the fish tonight? ?Forget about it.? Rodriguez asks "Forget about what?"

You know man, it.

I was happy to hear from LatinoLouges director and writer Rick Najera, who told me that he is now a staff writer on Mad TV, the first Latino they've employed. My plan was to hook up with him, Rene Lavan and Fernando Carrillo to do a piece on Novela heartthrob dudes crossing over to English media.

We may be called back in a few weeks for some network pitches if Mario?s TV mojo keep hitting on all cylinders.

Write if you find work.

About Al Carlos Hernandez:
Al Carlos is a national columnist and a screenwriter.

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