TLC Vacation: Los Angeles with Ingrid Goes West

To celebrate the DVD and digital release of ‘Ingrid Goes West,’ Matt Spicer’s dark comedy that satirises the modern world of social media, I was invited by Universal Pictures UK to visit some of the film’s featured hot spots, arguably some of the city’s most Instagrammable sites. 

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The film follows the journey of Ingrid Thorburn (Aubrey Plaza) who with an unhinged history of mistaking ‘likes’ for meaningful relationships, moves to Los Angeles in an effort to stalk down and befriend her Instagram idol, Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen.) What has been called the ‘Single White Female’ of the social media age, this film is brilliantly topical, and frequently makes for some super uncomfortable viewing (especially for those of us heavily involved in using social media… EEK!)

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Aubrey and Elizabeth aside, however, another shining star of this film is undoubtedly its location… LOS ANGELES. I’ve been really lucky to spend time out in LA over the years, even moving there for a few months to work with some producers when I was younger.  It’s ridiculously spread out, but each differing area has its own remarkable character and almost pre-filtered aesthetic, and having an opportunity to explore some of these places once more, as well as smugly missing the arrival of ‘The Beast from the East,’ seemed too good to be true. 

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I mean, I can’t tell you how jammy I felt to be taking off in a roomy Norwegian Air Premium seat and heading for the California sunshine, just as the first snow was beginning to fall upon the runway in my wake… #SorryNotSorry!

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I spent two nights at The Kinney, a beyond colourful and quirky hotel at the heart of Venice Beach (where the oh-so-Boho Taylor Sloane lives, no less!) enjoying both a delicious dinner on the candlelit Gjelina patio (is there a better, more comforting cure for jet lag than pizza and red wine?!) and a sunny breakfast (with avocado, natch…) and much needed giant coffees at The Rose Café which set us up happily for all our sightseeing… iPhones at the ready.  

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After popping into Clare V’s (the boutique Ingrid first meets Taylor) I had my my hair tousled by the lovely peeps at The Hive in Silverlake (no blonde Taylor make-over for me, this time!) I then, eyes on stalks, visited some key Instagram locations across the city, including the much-photographed Love Heart Staircase and the infamously pink Paul Smith Wall, with lunch at the Carrera Café, and dinner at Ostrich Farm in Echo Park, yet another aspirational filming location. 

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With my camera roll almost as full as my stomach, we then set off on a road trip, just like the girls do in the film, for an afternoon in Palm Springs and a night in Joshua Tree.

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I stayed at the Parker Palm Springs a few years back, and it remains one of my favourite hotels, so to return for a mouth-watering lunch at Norma’s (shrimp tacos, always) was a serious highlight. Originally a Holiday Inn, this mid-century mansion has been transformed by the famously eccentric designer Jonathan Adler, who’s iconic pottery I am a keen collector of. The hotel is a perfect balance of extraordinary and chic, and you’re unlikely to have seen anything like it.

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A visit to the Moorten Botanical Gardens followed lunch, a garden designed by Slim and Patricia Moorten in the 1930’s, which now boasts over 3000 examples of desert cacti and other desert plants, and has become a real Palm Springs destination.  

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Our next stop was a tour around the Palm Spring’s Art Museum, where brilliantly, our visit had happily coincided with their Andy Warhol retrospective. As if my senses were not on over drive enough, it was a total pleasure to see more than 250 of this artist’s works from over four decades, in person - the pop art in particular.   

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After an early dinner at The King’s Highway Diner at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs (shrimp tacos on repeat, this time with Frozen Piña Coladas… Next level, just sayin’!) we headed into the desert darkness.

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The Pioneertown Motel, a must-stay when exploring the Yucca Valley. The motel is rustic, and straight out of a film set, which is of course in keeping with the real life, actual Hollywood western film set that lies on its doorstep! The rooms are simple and stripped back, and if you are comfortable with the lack of light pollution, and abundance of cool desert air, a good night’s sleep is guaranteed.

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Sadly we arrived at the motel on one of the two nights a week where neighbouring bar and renown rockstar/cowboy/rock climber hangout, Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneer Town Palace was closed! This, coupled with having to set off early the next morning, rendering us unable to explore the film set, has left me with valid reasons to justify a return one day…

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After a stack of Cross Road’s Café pancakes (next to some dubious taxidermy), we headed towards Joshua Tree National Park, where my boyfriend had visited to rock climb only a fortnight before. With 8000 climbing routes and 2000 boulder problems, the epic landscape, fascinating variety of plants and rare opportunities to sleep under the stars, have all created a truly world-class climbing destination… Oh, and the perfect Instagram location…!  As demonstrated by Taylor and an eager Ingrid in the film, we also had our moment to capture some Coachella vibe #OOTD’s amongst the yucca trees...

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There are also some vintage stores, such as ‘The End,’ worth dropping in on before leaving Joshua Tree.  Despite not finding my dream cowboy boots, I did find a vintage Italian umbrella which was too adorable not to take with me on the road. 

With Downtown LA (‘DTLA,’ for those in the know) mid-way through a real rebirth, with exciting restaurants, galleries, and hotels opening throughout, its currently a really great, buzzing place to stay, and after all that dust, and travelling, it was pretty euphoric to walk into my beyond spacious, and achingly cool studio suite at The Ace Hotel.  With a roll top bath, record player, a guitar and water provided in cardboard boxes, I became hipster by default. Cool. 

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The next morning, after one giant lie-in (and hangover), armed with green juice, we hiked to the Hollywood Sign. Kidding, we took an Uber...

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After obligatory photographs were taken, a spoiling lunch (of, you guessed it, shrimp tacos) at The Ivy Restaurant in West Hollywood ensued. Totally sceney, and totally worth hustling your way into for the eclectic décor and people watching-alone, but I can also thoroughly recommend the Key Lime Pie! 

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Here is a little video of these fabulous few days in LA...

TLC ON TOUR... LOS ANGELES SUITCASE:
(Click on the items below for their direct links)

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In collaboration with Universal Pictures (UK), Discover LA and Greater Palm Springs CVB, with thanks to Norweigan Air.

Photography: Myself and Erin Wyatt.

Nails: Sophie Gass.

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HAWT: Sienna Miller in Gucci

Hawt = A late 1940's and early 1950's acronym for "Having A Wonderful Time."
Now the word is used on the internet as slang for something reeeeally hot.

Last week Sienna Miller lit up the red carpet like a beautiful ray of sunshine in her fantastical Gucci Lampshade Dress.  Alessandro Michele’s oversized detailing and bold colours once again stole the show at the premiere of Sienna’s latest film, Live By Night, a prohibition era crime thriller directed by Ben Affleck, which I can't wait to see. This icy blue, layered tulle gown, very different from Sienna’s minimalist Golden Globes ensemble, was full of character, wonderfully clashing with its icicle like golden sequins and her red power pout.  This magical look gets an almighty big Red Carpet High Five from TLC; un fashion triomphe.

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Below:  'Live by Night' (out in cinemas NOW)

Shop Sienna's Look...

HAWT: Alica Vikander in Louis Vuitton

Hawt = A late 1940's and early 1950's acronym for "Having A Wonderful Time."
Now the word is used on the internet as slang for something reeeeally hot.

My new girl crush Alicia Vikander not only won Best Supporting Actress for her outstanding performance in Danish Girl last night at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, but also, in most people’s opinion, won Best Dressed of the night also.  The gorgeous Swedish actress wore a geometric, metallic sequinned Louis Vuitton gown (Alicia is the new face of the brand) which despite it’s demure long sleeves and high boat neckline, had a cheeky thigh-high slit.

ANOTHER red carpet high five to you, Ms. Vikander!  I cannot wait to see this film. 

For the full list of award winners see HERE.

The Golden Globes 2016

Award season kicked off this week with the 2016 Golden Globes (a lot like the Oscars, but a whole heap more drunken!)  Of course this time is about reflecting on and celebrating the most recent, epic movies and all the outstanding performances that Hollywoodland have exposed… But let’s not kid ourselves here, it’s mainly about the red carpet dresses, people! 

Here is a look at my favourite looks of the night… Ladies, Red Carpet High Fives all round!

Above: Jennifer Lawrence. Wearing wore a bold red Dior Haute Couture column gown topped off with more than 156 carats of Chopard diamonds, J-Law sizzled. A total head turner and show stopper (*and most importantly, she didn’t fall over.)

Above:  Alicia Vikander.  Nominated for not one, but two, Golden Globes, this beauty wore a refreshingly understated, yet effortlessly chic apron-front Louis Vuitton dress with ruffles and shimmering piping.  The cross-strap detailing of the column gown, and delicate pleating, oozed elegance. A total win.


Above:  Cate Blanchett.  The Marmite dress of the night; you either loved it or hated it. I LOVED. For me, Cate can do no wrong on the red carpet, continuously making unexpected, risky and regal choices. Wearing a Givenchy Haute Couture design, with Tiffany & Co. jewellery and a Roger Vivier clutch, Cate’s pale pink 1920’s silhouette, capelet and fringing was all kinds of Downton FAbbey.

Oh, and then there's that awkward moment when bad dresses happen to good people...

Above (L-R): I love Kate Hudson, she’s hilarious… However, I’m still waiting for the punchline of this outfit.  Despite her killer abs being more than sensational, this two-piece Michael Kors (stripper) ensemble, was just not red carpet worthy.  Eva Longoria’s underwhelming and rather conservative floral and bow ensemble just didn’t match the rest of the glitz and the glamour on the red carpet sadly. Melissa McCarthy apparently designed this metallic wrap dress/rain mac herself… Yikes! #StickToYourDayJob.

For the full list of Golden Globe winners, see HERE.  

 

'An Afternoon With Audrey' at Le Caprice

The National Portrait Gallery’s ‘Portraits of an Icon,’ the must-see exhibition celebrating Audrey Hepburn, teamed up with Le Caprice this Summer, and with only a few days left to go, I was thrilled to be invited to ‘An Afternoon with Audrey.’  For an amazing £35 pp, my girlfriend Kalita and I were spoiled with a delicious lunch (with a glass of bubbles, naturally) at the iconic London restaurant before heading to the gallery to enjoy over 70 images of the beautiful and elegant Audrey, taken by all the photographer greats; Richard Avedon, Cecil Beaton, Terry O’Neill, Norman Parkinson and Irving Penn.  

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With images spanning from her chorus girl days, to being one of the world’s most famous actresses and fashion icons, to her admirable philanthropic work in Africa in her later life, Audrey truly deserves her title of 'icon.'  A stunning wall of vintage magazine covers, original film stills and truly special archival material (such as her old, pink ballet slippers worn in the 1940’s, below) add to the whole experience.

An Afternoon with Audrey’ is available Monday-Friday between 2.30pm-6.30pm until October 18th. To book call 020 7629 2239 and quote ‘Hepburn.'

RIP Cilla...

There are just certain people who are synonymous with your childhood, and for me, one of those people was the ever glamorous national treasure that was Cilla Black, who sadly passed away at the weekend.  The very words that used to be spoken by ‘our Graham, "Aaand here is your host tonight... Missss Cillllaaaa Blaaaaack," would sound the klaxon to a Saturday night with my parents and sister, to all cosily watch “Blinnnnd-da-Date’ together.  Who could ever forget her little curtsey-bop upon her entrance to THAT theme tune, the ginger hurrr, the sequins, the long legs and the warm, Liverpudlian accent, “What’s your name and where d’ya come from?”  No show has really ever come close to being so authentically entertaining in a more innocent time of real personalities, before reality TV with it's falseness and ulterior motivations took over our televisions.  And don't even get me started on 'Surprise Surprise,' the show she hosted latterly that would leave a nation sobbing into their supper each weekend (all those reunited families would leave me in pieces!)  You may have helped make the 60's swing Cilla, but you also filled the 80's and 90's with a lorra lorra laughs and you will be missed. Ta-ra for now Chuck...  

A campaign has been launched to try and get Cilla Black's most famous hit back to the top of the charts. The Facebook group is urging Cilla fans to buy 'Anyone Who Had a Heart,' the Burt Bacharach and Hal David song that became the UK's biggest selling single by a female artist in the 1960s, as a tribute.  Available HERE on iTunes.

Blind Date's Greatest Hits and Unseen Bits...


Golden Globes 2015

Yessssssss… Award season has begun, which to me means the red carpet’s Battle of the Dresses is ON good people of Hollywood!  The Golden Globes, a ceremony I have always viewed as the drunken, more entertaining version of the Oscars, gives us not only an early indication of the season’s winners, but also a welcome glimpse at the latest show stopping frocks (or sparkly jumpsuits, as the case was this year).   

It is worth mentioning, before we get to the fashion nitty gritty, that the glorious Tina Fey and Amy Poehler presented the awards for the very last time on Sunday (a total travesty, someone throw even more money at them, QUICK!) Their opening monologue (below) was, once again, my serious highlight of the night… These two ladies and their on-point humour shall be greatly missed. 

Right, back to the fashuuuuun and my Best Dressed of the night… With so many of the stars dressed immaculately, but oh so predictably, at these events, I will always be drawn to the women who choose not to play it so safely (or clevagey).  No one, in my opinion, looked better at this year's Golden Globes than TLC's serial red carpet winner, Emma Stone.  Wearing a bejeweled Lanvin jumpsuit, the actress oooozed confidence and cool, with just the right amount of quirk.  Diane Kruger looked every inch the blonde and icy screen siren wearing one of my favourite designers, Emilia Wickstead.  I also adored beautiful Brit Felicity Jones’ unusual, teal Christian Dior gown, which although divided opinion, had me at hello. 

Special mentions must go to Leslie Mann for her yellow Kaufman Franco sequinned dress/green clutch combo (and for just always being the sweetest, most cute-as-a-button thing I ever did see), Sienna Miller’s stand out Miu Miu dress worn with rocky, choppy hair, and Anna Kendrick in her Cinderella by name/role, Cinderella by nature/dress, in fairytale Monique Lhuillier.

It has to be said, shiny Golden Globes may have been highly sought after by many a Hollywood hand, but the real winners were these three dapperly dressed dudes, all holding super smokin' and strikingly dressed ladies in their arms;  Benedict Cumberbatch with his fiancé Sophie Hunter (in Erdem), Joshua Jackson with long-term love Diane Kruger (in Emilia Wickstead) and Jamie Dornan with wife Amelia Warner (in another of my favourite designers, Husihan Zhang).  High five gentlemen, we salute you.

Below:  When Bad Dresses Happen to Good People.  Ohhhh… There’s always one who lets the side down… ok, perhaps five.  I met Lana Del Rey in LA once, she was LOVELY, unlike her dress on Sunday.  Rosamund Pike was scarily good in 'Gone Girl,' ironically as her cutom-made Vera Wang dress was scarily bad.  Lupita Nyong’o, who topped EVERY best dressed list last season, clearly has decided to let everyone else have a go this year, wearing this Giambattista Valli 'thing.'  Michelle Monaghan wearing a 'Throwback Thursday' to the awesome nineties… except it was a Sunday, and this Jason Wu dress was not awesome.  Kate Mara in Miu Miu. Has the 'House of Cards' actress stepped in a puddle?  Do puddles even exist in LA?!  And don’t get me started on that belt... No Kate. No. 

For the full list and details of the evening's winners see HERE

RIP Robin Williams (1951-2014)

Having studied acting at the Juilliard School in New York City, 63 year old Robin Williams shot to stardom in the 1978 TV sitcom, ‘Mork and Mindy.’  This mischievous, irresistible force of nature made us cry with laughter in his various comedies, and had us captivated during his more powerful, heartfelt performances.  Robin Williams, simply, made millions of lives brighter… mine being merely one of them.  This is just unacceptably sad.

I have just spent a (bittersweet) hour watching various scenes from the beloved Oscar winning actor’s much adored films, varying clips from hilarious interviews he gave and several teasers from his stand-up shows... Robin Williams was a true comic genius!

Below:  After the news broke, thousands of tributes began to pour in from heartbroken friends, colleagues and fans a like (and even from President Obama!)

Below:  The actor's 25 year old daughter, actress Zelda Williams, posted a beyond perfect quote from Antoine De Saint-Exupery’s beautiful 1943 classic, 'The Little Prince...'

Thank you Mr. Williams, the original Rockin'Robin, for bringing an extra dose of magic to my childhood, and leaving me inspired as a teenager. I hope your spirit has found peace… The world is an infintely less sparkly place without you. 

If you are dealing with depression, the charity MIND has many helpful resources. 
Alternatively, call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90.

The Oscars - 2014

With surprisingly less ‘stand out’ frocks on the red carpet this year than the last (what were these drably dressed women thinking, that we cared about their actual films?!) the uncontested best dressed ladies at the 86th Academy Awards were Cate Blanchett andLupita Nyong’o.  In a sea of black gowns and (we’ve seen them all before) nude-toned dresses, both these actresses dressed to impress and with every intention of walking away with those golden statues… which they did.  

Best Actress Cate Blanchett wore a flesh toned, delicately embellished and very romantic Armani Privé dress which almost looked like her own beautifully pale skin.  As faultless as she always dresses, and this was no exception, I’d have loved her to have worn a brighter, red or coral lipstick to really perfect the look.   Best Supporting Actress Lupita Nyong’o, who hasn’t put a (well heeled) foot wrong during the lengthy awards season, wore a custom-made ‘Nairobi Blue’ Prada gown (the colour reminded the actress of growing up in Nairobi) with a plunging neckline and sparkling embroidery.  I wasn’t entirely sold on the actress’ Fred Leeighton diamond headband, but hey, who am I to judge a girl for having her Cinderella moment?!  The award winning actresses, who we are more used to seeing wear bolder (Lupita) and quirkier (Cate) designs, both looked elegant, super-feminine and timeless.

A special mention must also go to Kate Hudson (above), who was presenting an Oscar on the night.  Wearing a stunning, low-cut Atelier Versace dress with amazing caped sleeves, the gorgeous actress evoked an old Hollywood glamour, accessorizing with an Art Deco inspired clutch.   Also, Angelina Jolie’s make-up (below) deserves a special mention. Neutral, earthy and simple, Angie's thick lashes, soft smokey eyes and nude lips looked subtle and flawless. 

Below:  Ummm... déjà vu much?!  Clumsy Best Supporting Actress nominee Jennifer Lawrence, wearing Dior (like last year) and a Harry Winston back-necklace (like last year) fell over (like last year) on the red carpet at the start of the evening.  The loveable clutz then hid behind a giant Oscar statue.  Ellen Degeneres later mocked J-Law by saying if she were to win an Oscar that night, they would bring the award to her... Safety first.

Below:  Singer/Rapper/Producer Pharrell Williams arrived at the Oscars wearing schoolboy-like Lanvin Tuxedo Shorts… Please tell me this is not going to become ‘a thing!’  Come back Vivienne Westwood Canadian Mountain Ranger Hat, aaall is forgiven!! 

Below:  A big new red carpet trend at year’s Academy Awards was… Photobombing!  Jennifer Lawrence’s love of the red carpet photobomb has gloriously caught on andBenedict Cumberbatch’s magnificent airborne photobombing of U2 was worthy of anOscar in itself! Other note-worthy photobombing was achieved by Jared Leto to Anne Hathaway, who then in turn photobombed Jessica Biel. Boom!!  

Below:  Pharrell Williams (thankfully out of those shorts) performed his song ‘Happy’ from ‘Despicable Me 2’ (catchiest song EVER?!) and shared short, impromptu dances and shoulder shimmies with nominees Lupita Nyong’oMeryl Streep and Amy Adams.

Below:  Jared Leto, with enviably perfect ombre hair, won the Best Supporting Actor award for his role as transgender AIDS patient Rayon in 'Dallas Buyers Club.'  Jared is 42 years old... HOW did that happen?!  He doesn't look a day over Jordan Catalano. 

Below:  John Travolta introduced the performance of (award winning song) ‘Let It Go’ from the Oscar winning animated film ‘Frozen.'  The actor however, some how introduced the song’s singer, well-known Broadway star Idina Menzel, as Adele Dazeem… Car crash.  You had one job John… Just one.  Believing that you’re nobody until you’ve had your name mangled by the actor, Slate immediately created its own widget allowing you to “Travoltify” your name (mine is Kirsty Edians!) Pleeeease next year can he introduce Benedict Cumberbatch and/or Chiwetel Ejiofor?!  ('Travoltify' your name HERE)

Below:  In the most memorable moment of the entire night, a tearful Lupita Nyong’o accepted the award for Best Supporting Actress and became Kenya’s first ever Oscar winner.  Eloquently and humbly, Lupita dedicated her award to Patsey, the brutalized plantation slave she so powerfully portrayed in ’12 Years A Slave,’ "it doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else’s."

Below:  After losing out on Best Supporting Actress for her role in ‘American Hustle’ pranksterJennifer Lawrence jokingly tried to steal Lupita Nyong’o’s award. 

Below:  Love was certainly in the air at this years Oscars.  Bradley Cooper lost out on Best Supporting Actor but does he look remotely phased or disappointed? Hell no, he was too busy canoodling with his gorgeous girlfriend, the British model Suki Waterhouse! Likewise, after winning  Best Actor for his standout performance in 'Dallas Buyers Club,' Matthew McConaughey told reporters that he and his beayoooticul wife Camila would not “stay at the after-party long – I want to go home and make another baby!”

Below:  When Steve McQueen's modestly budgeted slavery odyssey, based on Solomon Northup's 1853 memoir, ’12 Years A Slave,’ won Best Picture, the joy and excitement amongst the cast and crew was almost tangible.  After leaping for joy, British filmmaker Steve McQueen poignantly dedicated the award to all those who had suffered, and still suffer, from slavery, saying “everyone deserves not just to survive, but to live."

Ellen DeGeneres took the ‘selfie’ to end all ‘selfies’ mid-ceremony, which later broke all Twitter records (and even Twitter itself momentarily!) for the most retweets (3 million times and counting!), a record previously held by President Obama.  The EPIC picture included Brad PittAngelina Jolie, Jared LetoChanning TatumBradley CooperKevin SpaceyMeryl StreepLupita Nyong’oJennifer Lawrence and… ummm… who? Ohh hi there Junior Yup, Lupita’s brother Junior made his way into the most Hollywood of Hollywood ‘selfies’ and I personally think he MADE this picture.  I can imagine his Christmas card is sorted for the next few years/forever...   

Anna Kendrick's Non-Super Bowl Commercial

For anything remotely sport related to interest me, especially American sport, it had better be good… Damn good.  

Newcastle Brown Ale’s commercial that was never made (confused?!) starring TLC fave Anna Kendrick was THE talk of last weekend's ‘Super Bowl Sunday’ (that’s football riiiight?!)  The Tyneside tipple launched the ‘If We Made It’ campaign, showing the 28 year old actress in a brilliant behind-the-scenes discussion/rant about a commercial that she would have been made had the brand had had the money to indeed make it.  Outta the way Tina Fey, Anna Kendrick ("the hottest girl in your improv class hot") is fast taking centre funny-stage.