Brands Get a Bang for their Buck at Sundance…Still

January 28, 2016 :: Posted by - simplyjen :: Category - Celebs, Ramblings, Uncategorized

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I vividly remember the days the Sundance Film Festival was saturated with brands and the swag out-shined the films. As a member of the media at the time, I can’t deny having to make a visit to the local post office to ship boots, coats, speakers and more back home…I even once bought an over-priced suitcase on Main St that I packed to the brim…before I started to bring an empty duffel bag with me to accommodate the booty.
Brands would pays hundreds of thousands of dollars for naming rights to a venue or swag suite at Sundance and tens of thousands just to be permitted to hand out free product in the hopes that while being introduced to a who’s who of talent and tastemakers they would (and did) in turn garner some press.

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 3.39.10 PMThe mountains of free stuff became so gluttonous that (inspired by something similar Kevin Bacon had done), three years ago I did a ‘Reverse Swag Drive’ where I encouraged people to donate their swag to be auctioned off for charity. It was critically acclaimed, garnering ink in outlets from The Wall Street Journal, New York Times and CNN to Us Weekly and Star Magazine.

Cut to a few years later and trying to sell brands on doing an activation at Sundance was like being a telemarketer trying to make a sale when you’ve called during dinnertime.

This year the absence of ‘gifting suites’ was obvious, Kari Feinstein admirably being virtually the last one standing, but it was also evident in branding in general.

I’ll admit a few years ago branding at Sundance had reached saturation, but I think the mass backpedaling has led to lost opportunity.

Walking down Main St. this week I heard, “Remember when the Morningstar Café was there? I ate veggie burgers there every day” more than once, referring to Morningstar’s multi-year pop up.

“Remember when Fred Segal did Village at the Lift?”

“I had Bulletproof Coffee over there for the first time last year.”

“Remember that year they passed out those little ball eos chapsticks, wish I had one now.”

“I used to hang out all the time at the MySpace Café, then it turned into the Yahoo Café…What is it this year?” “Is there an Airborne Lounge? I could use some.”

Say what you will, but the brands that contributed to the gluttony of Sundance did what they set out to do, they garnered press and the attendees noticed…and remember.

This year Samsung had a lounge – and everyone knew about it because it was one of the only ones. After taking a photo in their photo booth I held the Galaxy for the first time and was surprised how sleek it is, and I liked it! I previously wouldn’t have considered an iphone alternative. Now I just might.


They hosted an after party for Don Cheadle and Ewan McGregor’s film “Miles Ahead.” I didn’t stay long enough to see McGregor (gratuitous photo of he and I Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 7.15.01 PMfrom a vintage Sundance here), but I watched the trailer so many times on loop that now I want to see the film. Marketing working again.

BMF’s a staple at Sundance that always has solid programming. They’ve evolved from being a ‘gifting suite’ and their experience this year and last has been more interactive, but not any less effective at introducing me to things I didn’t previously know about – like that Keurig now makes pods for Campbell’s Soup and hot cocoa in candy flavors like Charleston Chew and Sugar Babies!!


campbell'sI also did virtual reality, taking a trip underground to explore the sea and learn about Adrian Grenier’s “Lonely Whale” project before heading to the V8 Bloody Mary bar and after debating between a straight V8 green juice or a make-your-own Bloody Mary with the traditional V8 blend. I went for the Bloody Mary, but…When I went to the airport that evening, still curious about V8’s green juice I purchased one at the airport. It was a few months expired, so I have yet to experience it, but it nonetheless proved the power of marketing on Main Street at Sundance.



Oh, not to be forgotten, these fresh from the oven delectable doughnuts from a pop up of LA’s The Church Key at KIA’s Supper Club were scrumptious enough to entice our crew to want to check out brunch at The Church Key when we get back to LA.

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Writing Hacks

January 25, 2016 :: Posted by - simplyjen :: Category - Writing

Determined to take advantage of coming home from Sundance early, I sat down on a Sunday to write. The words flowed, but like a lot of writing, it was crap. Coherent sentences escaped me and as frustration threatened to creep in, I gave in to my elevated energy level and went for a run. When I came back feeling like I could go another few miles, I knew I still wasn’t in the mental state to write so I took out a canvas to paint. I ended up with not one, but two blank canvases.


The next day, as the blank canvases stared at me like reflectors from the corner of my eye, I took a break to add some color, not really sure how it would translate. I decided to make it a second experiment and like the blue background, I painted it entirely with my left hand – a trick I was taught helps tap into the more creative right brain.

Afterwards I sat down and wrote this post and am trying to gauge if my brain feels like it’s working any differently than if I had painted stars with my right hand. I’m not sure if I feel more ‘creative’ per se, but it definitely helped me focus as not using your dominant hand forces you to concentrate a bit more.


Mantra for 2016

January 07, 2016 :: Posted by - simplyjen :: Category - Uncategorized

I love good quotes. Paulo Coelho’s got lots of them. Right now this one’s really resonating with me.

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February 17, 2015 :: Posted by - simplyjen :: Category - Uncategorized

A week prior to my debilitating ski fall, I took a screen shot of this quote Entrepreneur Magazine posted on their Instagram.


I like the quote a lot (more so now), but prior to it’s words becoming so literal for me, it’s not really the kind of quote I’d think would have struck me so much to want to save it. Maybe my subconscious was having me stash it away for when the words would mean more to me – only a week or so later. Maybe it’s just a coincidence. Good quote though.

Torn ACL Got You Down?

February 07, 2015 :: Posted by - simplyjen :: Category - Uncategorized

Me too.

Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 3.36.29 PMScreen Shot 2015-02-07 at 3.36.39 PM

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a blog. But, after life dealt me a challenging blow and I couldn’t find online answers to many questions I wanted to know, decided the time was right to resurrect the blog and share my journey from super active, happy and positive – to benched for a bit, the waves of emotion that come with it, lessons learned (learning) – and physical activities that can done with one good leg.

How I Did It

My parents had me in gymnastics twice/week, tennis lessons, horseback riding and playing little league soccer all before I was 10-years-old – and except for maybe freshman year of college, I’ve hardly stopped doing something physically active 4-6 days/week since.

I spin and run as much or more for the mental clarity it gives me as the physical benefits.


Playing tennis is one of my favorite things to do…


I like to do headstands or handstands every day too. There’s something I find really relaxing about the blood rushing to my head

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And some days I like to kick things…


Not putting at risk the ability to do these things are some of the reasons why  I never skied.

Skiing is something I aspired to learn when I was younger, like grade school younger, but as I got older I learned the fear that comes with knowing how easily you could get hurt hurdling down a mountain and I accepted that it was a sport I probably wouldn’t have the privilege of enjoying in my life. I was ok with that. Being a writer who’s blissful vegging out in front of a fire with my laptop or a book, I love a ski trip as much as the next person and I snowshoe when I can. But, after more than half a dozen ski vacations with my best friend who likes to ski more than some professional skiers I’ve met, I relented and decided to try ski school.

Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 3.50.59 PMI liked it. But, still scared that I wasn’t competent enough to control avoiding injury, I went to ski school three more times – and got lucky with a private lesson ¾ times! Each time I went I was told I was perfectly progressing and with a little bit of practice I could become a decent recreational skier. Skiing is one of few things where I only aspired to the middle, to be able to go on a few fun runs and return to my happy place by the fire.

My second time skiing sans ski school (Amber finally told me I’d outgrown my beloved Sesame Street run), I  was feeling good. Post the craziness of Sundance Amber and I went to Powder Mountain, a gorgeous mountain in Eden, Utah that had very few skiers.

After a few falls on our first run as I adjusted to the new terrain (I’d never previously skied anywhere other than Mammoth Mountain), I got in a groove and was cruising. I got comfortable and was going straight down the catwalk runs, picking up speed and loving the adrenaline going over the rollers. I tried to breathe through my rapidly beating heart and enjoying the wind whipping through against my face as I went faster. “I could get used to this,” I thought.

All the way Amber was right next to me, in front of me or in back of me, staying close on runs well below her level to keep coaching me and make sure I was ok.

But, like a parent can’t protect a child from everything,  coaches with even the best intentions can’t prevent the student from sometimes falling.

Maybe it was over confidence, maybe it was a patch of ice, maybe just bad luck or a combination of both, but I had a couple of spectacular falls after a couple of great runs and on that last one, I felt something in my need kind of pop. I’d just got my skis back on after my last fall where they both went flying along with my poles (garage sale!), but my leg was throbbing so much I wasn’t sure it would unbend. I gave myself a minute and tried and realized it was fine (or so I thought). I was a little shaky, but made it the rest of the run and then some back to the lodge.

It was a little sore after I returned my skis, but I figured I was just a little battered and bruised  and was all smiles enjoying a beer at après ski with Amber and two of my favorite British imports Paul Oakenfold and Zen Freeman.

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After the flight back to LA a few hours later my leg felt a little still and swollen, but still not bad enough that I thought anything was really wrong. When Amber noticed me limping at the airport she asked, “Is it really that bad?” and I thought I was being a drama queen, or just tired from the trip, but it just felt better to not try and walk.

The next morning my knee looked like I’d implanted a baseball in it. When the swelling hadn’t subsided by afternoon and my leg became so stiff I couldn’t walk I went to a doctor.  After telling Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 5.00.01 PMme, “It looks like you have some fluid in your knee (Captain Obvious) he moved my knee around and told me it was really loose – until he did the same to my other knee, the ‘control knee’ and it was the same. Then he said, “I think you’re fine, but I’ll do a precautionary MRI and you’re limping, so I’m giving your crutches.”

I had a couple of lessons up and down the hallway on crutches and was laughing, thinking about what Amber would say that my fall put me on crutches – I thought for the next day or two.

Two days and 20 minutes in an MRI machine later I went back for the results.

“ACL” the doctor said, before ushering me into an office to see the MRI on a computer.

He showed me a ‘normal knee’ with a think black band across the knee. “That’s an ACL he said.” Then he showed me my knee. There wasn’t a black band.

As I started to register what that meant I started crying – even though at this point I thought it meant I’d be out for a couple of weeks and maybe need surgery.

When the my doctor, who’s over 70 and brags about   the steel rod in his body and his multitude of other ski injuries like they’re badges of honor started explaining that I’d need surgery and not be able to play tennis again for 9 months to a year, the tears came harder. He told me, “Get it together, you don’t have cancer.”

He did have a point, even if he didn’t have compassion. But, the tears didn’t stop. So, the doctor stopped talking. He said, “I’m not going to continue if you can’t stop crying, you won’t hear any of it.” I told him I could multi-task but he said, “Come back in two weeks after you’ve ingested it, you’ll be a new person.” I told him, “Yes, I’ll be a fat person.”

Ok, maybe I was a bit melodramatic, but I was, I am, fearful about what will happen to a person who’s been active and physically fit for so long, going from six days a week doing a work out – to Zero. I wondered what this this meant for the Grammy and Oscar parties I was slated to work, the trip to SXSW I intended to take, my tennis game I was finally getting good at – not to mention my bank account.

I asked if he had any instructions for me in the interim. He said no. I asked if I should ice my knee. He said, “If you want to.” I asked if it would help and he said there’s not much of a point after the first 48 hours, but do whatever I want.

Once I ‘got it together’ I thought it was odd that a doctor just told me I was broken and chose to leave me that way without further instruction until I came back a couple of weeks later to schedule surgery.

Which leads me to: Doctors & Insurance (Next Post)

On Writing…

July 29, 2013 :: Posted by - simplyjen :: Category - Uncategorized

Watching Stephen King’s “Under the Dome” tonight inspired me to pick up his book On Writing, again.

Writing Just Do It

I decided to approach the fiction book I’m currently writing ‘the right way.’ Not that there really is a correct or incorrect approach to penning a novel -although I’m sure some scholars are sure to disagree. What I mean by ‘right way’ is a formulaic way. Or, making sure I’m overly prepared in my research, character and scene development before I write a line of the book itself. Well, except the last line. That one’s already been written and unless the book takes an unforeseen turn, is likely to remain the same.

In getting ready to write I’ve been researching cities during various eras and interviewing my characters like they were real people. I’ve always thought the strategy was interesting and I’ve actually found it to be really fun – albeit time consuming. I sometimes find all of the preparation frustrating when I want to stop with all the prep and just get to devouring the meal, but I think it will ultimately make the writing process easier, and will definitely make the end result better.

I know because I’ve been spending a lot of time reading interviews with prolific authors, re-reading Stephen King’s On Writing…Now it’s time for me to stop reading about writing and start doing some myself. Or, at least get back to researching.

Ok, stopped to read one more link on writing. It speaks the truth…


July 07, 2013 :: Posted by - simplyjen :: Category - Uncategorized

Coming to the end of a long 4th of July weekend I’m usually happily exhausted from a long marathon of festivities with friends filled with copious amounts of alcohol and barbecue paired with various red, white and blue-colored sweets.

This year, I did things a bit differently.

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July 4 happened to fall in the middle of a self-imposed 21-day challenge to refrain from alcohol, simply because it’s something I probably haven’t done since I was a freshman in college. When I explained that I wasn’t drinking for a minute and was going to lay low this weekend, more than one person incredulously asked, “Why did decide to do this during 4th of July?!?”

My answer, “Because there’s never a ‘good time’ in my life to jump on the wagon for 21 straight days.” I’ve been told, “Your life is like everyone else’s vacation,” and I can’t deny in many ways that’s been true. There’s always a birthday party, an event (can you go to a liquor launch and not drink?), a wedding (this summer there are several) or a date, so I figured toasting the country celebrating another birthday wasn’t justification to put off the whole detoxification plan.

But, I also knew that to not make myself mentally miserable in the face of temptation, and risk being cranky sober while everyone else was not, (although I like to think I can have as much fun completely sober as I would sipping a lovely libation), I decided to embrace some time staying in.

Although I did go out for a few hours July 4 to party on the beach in Venice and watch fireworks with friends, most of the rest of the weekend was me-time. I burned off my excess of energy (those who know me know that I generally have lots) with yoga, spin and kickboxing classes – then otherwise hardly left the house, spending the days reading, writing, catching up on tivo, movies and sleeping a solid 8 (sometimes nine) hours/night – and I couldn’t have been happier or more relaxed.


I had moments where I questioned whether I was being lame. I sure felt that way when people called and asked what I was doing and I said I was going to stay home and read and write. Even more so when asked the next day, “What did you do all weekend?” But those feelings were fleeting. Even looking at friends photos on Facebook and Instagram I was able to smile at the fun they were happening without FOMO, because I really did exactly what I wanted to do all weekend.

I’ve said before I wish I could just press pause and take a time out to catch up on my life and that’s exactly what my self-imposed exile afforded me. I made a dent in the novel I’m co-writing in my ‘spare time,’ I finished reading one book and began another, I whittled down my previously perilously high stack of unread magazines, I leisurely enjoyed the newspaper each morning, nearly finished season 5 of “Mad Men,” and finally watched the first “Despicable Me” which I’ve been meaning to see since falling in love with the little characters at my friend Brooke’s so themed birthday party – two years ago.

Now Sunday I’m going back into the work week with a feeling of accomplishment that I finally completed some of the tasks that have long lingered on the To Do list.

This weekend was a bit different one for me as far as a holiday weekend goes, but I quite liked it. It reaffirmed you don’t need to go and at every opportunity or be feel bad sometimes curling up the couch instead of raging at a cool party. My friend was worried that I’d been staying home and sleeping more than usual, but it’s odd they’re symptoms of depression when I couldn’t be happier. I’m rested and looking forward to easing back into the land of the living with a social calendar of sober activities with friends this week, like coffee, a tea and a spin class….And I ordered a few bottles of Ben Watts new Watts Up Rose to take to a summer soiree when I’m back off the wagon in 10 days 😉

Hope everyone had a happy and safe weekend doing exactly what they wanted to do too…And know that you don’t always have to go away to enjoy the tranquility of a mental and physical getaway.


May 05, 2013 :: Posted by - simplyjen :: Category - Uncategorized

Flash mob -a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and seemingly pointless act for a brief time, often for the purposes of entertainment, satire, and artistic expression.

goodWhile on a cross-country adventure through American cities big and small, Trek Thunder Kelly set out to find The Good in America. During his journey, while video sites like YouTube were making Flash Mobs go viral and receive international attention, Trek conceptualized the idea of Help Mobs, flashmobs that rather than ‘seemingly pointless acts’ aimed at doing good in local communities. Via social media and word of mouth he did these in the places he visited.

help-mobBack home in California, Trek said he wanted to grow the Help Mob idea, get his friends involved and ideally, make Help Mobs a trend that spreads.

A fan of group philanthropic activities since my dad made doing so an annual family activity we looked forward to growing up, I volunteered to be his partner in crime to get it going. Barely more than a week later, on a beautiful, sunny Saturday in L.A., we managed to get a dozen of our friends to join us in a warehouse downtown at the L.A. Food Bank that delivers 1.1 million pounds of food packaged by volunteers to needy families, seniors and children in LA.

Even in the third and final hour of manual labor by our crew of artists, writers and entertainment industry execs not exactly used to getting their hands dirty, as we definitely did (despite the less than sexy latex gloves we were required to wear), all of us were smiling – and actually having fun.


I ‘borrowed’ this blog’s title from my friend Carter -as well as his skilled technique of expediently marking and repackaging hundreds of cases of canned shrimp. After it was over another one of our mobsters said, “It was a lot of fun. I felt like I was an in ’80s music video! It feels good to give back, have fun, and just be a part of something.”


We plan to keep doing Help Mobs the first weekend of each month, from packaging food in a warehouse, to giving it out on the streets, to planting trees. If you want to get involved or have a cause that could use a Help Mob, write us on our Facebook page Help-Mob L.A.

If you’re not in LA, try being the ringleader who brings friends and friends of friends together to start a Help Mob in your community.

Besides the obvious of giving back, it’s an alternative to getting a group of friends together outside the social norms of say, a night out drinking, it ‘feels good to do good’ – and doesn’t come with a hangover. Although, the brunch or cocktails following the Help Mobs might 😉

Thanks again to everyone who came out to our first Help Mob, until the next one…

Sundancing 2013 #RockandReillys #DoGood #Rally

January 27, 2013 :: Posted by - simplyjen :: Category - Uncategorized

sundance This was my ninth Sundance in ten years.

Whether the films, the talent in those films, the economy or the weather,

no two Sundance experiences are ever the same.

And, despite the long days filled with lots of work, little sleep and often too little to eat and too much to drink, it’s the one ‘event’ all year that many friends and I still look forward to going back and doing again.

Veteran Sundancers and longtime friends Jamie McCarthey and  Dimitrios Kambouris enjoy calm before the storm cocktails with Amber and I

Veteran Sundancers and longtime friends Jamie McCarthy and Dimitrios Kambouris enjoy calm before the storm cocktails with Amber and I

My first seven Sundances I went as a reporter.

Last year I straddled editorial and PR, hired to be a brand’s ‘celebrity blogger,’ but then also pitching for press hits.

This is the first Sundance I went as a full-fledged publicist, kind of.

Although I always have fun at Sundance, I always find a reason to go – rather than just for the parties and free stuff a la Paris Hilton.

This year I set out to bring, a social fundraising platform (that I equate as a Kickstarter for causes) to Sundance as a way to inject some good into the gluttonous landscape of my favorite playground for PR and introduce the entertainment world to a fun vehicle to fundraise, for a cause big or small or even a message-based indie film.

To make the product fit the festival, I found Rally a home at Rock & Reilly’s, the (soon-to-be-permanent) Park City outpost of my favorite LA Irish pub, where with Sunshine Sachs doing the event programming and Relevant doing the production, I knew was a sure win.

rally photo boothTo engage people, we got a beautifully wrapped and branded  photo booth (because everyone loves a photo booth) to take photos for people to email to themselves with messaging about pre-selected causes Rally was rallying for, like Malaria No More and The Redford Foundation, and links to the respective Rally page.

Keri Russell took a break to Rally for Feeding America during Austenland dinner

Keri Russell took a break to Rally for Feeding America during Austenland dinner

And, building on something I saw Kevin Bacon try to do several years ago, I suggested a reverse swag drive!

swagdrive browniebrittle

While Sundance founder Robert Redford has often voiced his disdain for the gifting that has become as synonymous to Sundance as the films, I decided to turn it into something good, encouraging people to donate their swag to a Swag from Sundance Drive to benefit Jon Bon Jovi’s Soul Foundation’s Sandy Relief Fund. Soul Foundation, which was already doing a rally on Rally, agreed to donate everything received to Sandy victims and auction and turn to cash the things they didn’t ‘need.’

While not necessarily a box office smash (need to get the word out earlier next year), the drive was a critical success, garnering press on CNN, both on-air and online, praise by Brooks Barnes in the New York Times and even a donation from The Wall Street Journal’s generous Marshall Heyman. CEO Tom Serres with WSJ's Marshall Heyman CEO Tom Serres with WSJ's Marshall Heyman

Making philanthropy part of the fun at Sundance turned into a welcome trend.

scooterOn football Sunday Scooter Braun, mega-manager to stars like Justin Bieber, Psy, The Wanted and Carly Rae Jespen, guest bartended (wearing a OnePiece Onesie!) to raise funds for his brother’s charity Pencils of Promise, which builds schools in countries that can’t afford them.  While the San Francisco 49ers were winning the game against the New England Patriots, Asher Roth manned the turntables at R&R and a combination of generous tips, including $5K from the great guys at Rock & Reilly’s and Scooter matching funds, raised $21K for PoP – enough to fund the building of an entire school!

Scooter tweeted Justin Bieber this photo of himself taking a break with San Francisco Giants pitcher Brian Wilson.

BrianWilson and Scooter Braun

Since the iPhone and Instagram make it so easy to post a picture with a pretty filter fast, and my Canon PowerShot never found it’s way outside my bag, this is the first year in many I don’t have a Facebook album to reflect on post-Sundance.

Even People Magazine prevalently played up their Instagram this year.

It used to be when you had something really great you wanted to pitch the magazine, you sent a photo you thought would be a fit for their readers and prayed. Sometimes it would make it in the pages of the magazine. Other times they would tell you they’re going to put it online at, which with millions of views daily is amazing. This year I was told, “We put a photo on our Instragram.”

And I was thankful, after a beat, because any People platform is a good one. This is the world we live in people. #PeopleMag

People Instagram Megan

elizabeth olsen Elizabeth Olsen also loved herself some Reilly. Elizabeth came to Rock & Reilly’s on our last day, along with rumored beau Boyd Holbrook and co-star Dakota Fanning for the Fresh Faces of Sundance brunch celebrating their Sundance film “Very Good Girls,” which was written and directed by Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s mom Naomi Foner!

Mixing things up again, I did a quick B-Roll interview with Elizabeth before I left for the airport. The film is about two best friends who crush on the same guy. When I asked if she’d ever been in a similar situation in her real-life, she confessed she had. During recess when she was about 10-years-old and held hands with a boy a friend may have liked.

Now a grown woman of 23, she says she stays fresh at Sundance with lots of moisturizer – and we both were loving the Fresh Sugar Lip Therapy. I got one in nearly every color for doing the interview at the Fresh brunch – and was happy to be paid in tinted lip balm (with SPF!) as I really am an avid user.


Ok, will finish this long and potentially rambling post with a series of photos capturing other highlights, memories and notable details from the whirlwind that was my Sundance 2013.

Rock & Reilly’s Park City!

LA’s little Irish Pub with a really big personality rolled into Park City during Sundance to tease people with their soon-to-open ski town location.

reilly rolls in

It’s since gone dark for a few weeks while they get it ready to open as a permanent place to be on Main Street, providing another reason to make it to Park City to ski when it’s not Sundance. Not that I’ve ever had a chance to ski during Sundance. Consider ski trip to Park City added to the bucket list.

Reilly’s had stars sign over an image of Reilly which will be covered in plexiglass and preserved to remember the first week. Jane Seymour’s signature under the eye really stood out, (and I sneaked my signature in the shamrock), but real-life couple Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman’s scrawl (in People Instragram above) was my favorite – and made it worth chasing Megan till she signed!

Megan and Nick

An Act Ate My Hat

Ran into a very dapper-looking Simon Hammerstein on Main Street who I haven’t seen since the early days of his bar The Box in NYC. He’s since opened The Act in Las Vegas and brought the show to  Park City for the CAA party.  A particularly interesting ‘act’ used its teeth to remove my hat from my head.  It was recovered on a nearby table.


A Staple of My Sundance was Ate by an Animal

For the first time in a decade, there wasn’t a café for credentialed talent and industry to congregate over free food. Sad face. Instead, what has been the MySpace Café and Yahoo! Café in the past this year was the ‘restaurant’ Animal (that in LA is a block from my house), offering more of a dining experience for those with adventurous palettes. So instead, Brownie Brittle became a trend for breakfast, current company included.

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It was even coined ‘breakfast of champions,’ on Twitter by Current TV editor Jo Piazza.

My one proper meal of the festival came on the last night, and it was worth waiting for.


I was with good friends for good food prepared by magnificent celeb chef Marcel Vignernon at Chef Dance, conveniently located next door to Rock & Reilly’s.


Courtney Love LOVES Her Johnny Was

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I saw photos on this private little thing called the internet of Courtney Love trying on gems from Johnny Was, the hot apparel company that was gifting talent who visited them in their exclusive room at the Miami Lounge. Excited she was in town, I investigated and learned she had indeed been by and was the lucky recipient of Johnny Was bracelets, silk scarves and lace dresses.

Then I heard rumblings she was swagging over at hospitality suite staple The Kari Feinstein Style Lounge. It was verified with photos such as this:

courtney love

So, eager to have Courtney be an example of a #DoGood rockstar, I reached out to her publicist Steven Honig and asked if Courtney would be interested in coming by and donating any of her swag to our reverse swag drive benefiting Bon Jovi’s Soul Foundation’s San Relief efforts.

He told me, “Thanks but she’s not going to be doing gift lounges.”


I understand getting so attached to Johnny Was you simply don’t want to part with it, I know love my Johnny Was pieces, but couldn’t he have just said sorry, she’s too in love with her Johnny Was to donate it?

The Constant

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So much changes, yet the one that’s remained the same for several years running is Tao. For better or worse, most Sundance nights end (late) among a sea of familiar and friendly faces at the Park City satellite of Tao. The morning after the fourth and last night of Tao there was a chain email among my friends thankful that Tao would not be open during our last night in town. But, that’s only because we may have had too much of a good thing….Until next year 😉

Hanging Out at Jackie Collins House

January 14, 2013 :: Posted by - simplyjen :: Category - Uncategorized

I’ve been interviewing celebrities, at their homes, on sets, at parties, in airplanes…for the better part of the last decade and although I appreciate (almost) each opportunity, it had been a long time since (to even my surprise) an interview had gotten me as excited as my At Home Interview with novelist Jackie Collins.

Jackie Collins and I

I always enjoy interviewing writers, because although my career has veered away from ‘writing,’ instead spending more time as a journalist and these days (gasp) a publicist, I still think of myself as a writer, who may one day finish at least one of the seven books I’ve started. Each time I interview a writer, I wait with baited breath for them to impart the words of wisdom that will light the fire in me to follow through.

When I asked Jackie her advice for an aspiring writer she said, “Write…Don’t talk about it, write. They all say, ‘Oh, I want to write a book’ and when you say, ‘Then why don’t you?’ They say, (in whiny voice), ‘Ohhhh, I’m so busy’ and I say, ‘I’m so busy too, but the thing is, you have to write, and if you write one page per day, you’d have a book at the end of the year.”

She added, “Also, write about what you know. Don’t write about Hollywood if you’ve never been there and you’ve just read the magazines. Write about what you know. If you work in Bloomingdale’s, write about what goes on there, because plenty goes on there.”

The interview ran this week in Australia’s New Idea Magazine:

Jackie Collins New Idea JPEG

Here are few gems from our interview that couldn’t fit in two pages…

Jackie’s been penning steamy novels for decades. When I told her my mom first gave me one of her books when I was about 12, she said proudly, “Well, then I taught you everything you know about sex.” So, what does she think of 50 Shades of Grey?

“The difference with my books is my heroines kick-ass,” she said, “But, at the same point, I’m really happy she’s had so much success with 50 Shades of Grey because it brings people into the bookstores and keeps people reading and we want to keep people reading. So, good for her! It’s not my kind of heroine, but good for her.”

More on writing…

Where do you write?

book“Everywhere! Because I write in longhand, I can write anywhere. I write at this desk (in the study), I’ve got another desk in back, I have another desk upstairs, I’m a bit of a desk freak. I have 1, 2, 3, 5, 6…I have six desks. Sometimes if I’m doing several projects I’ll keep one project on one desk, another on another one. It’s great.”

What’s your daily routine?

I’ll stagger out of bed about 7am, go straight to my desk and write a sentence or two, because that’s the secret of getting started.

  • deskI have getting-to-the-desk block, not writer’s block. Once I’ve started then I’ll write all day, until about 4pm. I’m a TV addict, so I’ll get a nice cup of tea and catch up on some programs, then I usually go out to dinner.

Do you have any kind of diet or exercise schedule you stick to?

“No, I’m terrible. I’m a chocoholic, total chocoholic. My philosophy is ‘eat what you want.’ Not just eat what you want, but, eat what you love. Don’t waste it on something you think is good for you, I would sooner have a hot chocolate fudge sundae for dinner than dinner, if I feel like it. Yesterday all I had was some smoked salmon and chocolate! It’s the worst diet in the world, but it suits me.”

Suits her it does. At 75, Jackie’s a bachelorette, still gorgeous from even inches away, hardly has a wrinkle (even though she hasn’t had any work done!) and has the sparkle and stamina a woman half her age is lucky to possess.  So is she lonely and pining for a man? Hardly!

“You know, I have a guy for every occasion,” she says, “It’s so useful. I was married all my life and then I was engaged for six years. I don’t like to live with anybody anymore. I found it’s really useful to have guys who like to go to the movies, guys who like to go to dinner, guys you want to stay home with, guys who like TV shows. I have a lot of gay friends too, and a huge family. So, I don’t feel the necessity to date anybody in particular. I had an incredible husband, an incredible fiancé and I’m never going to match them, so I’m much more into casual dating. I’m like an affluent bachelor, don’t call me, I’ll call you.”

It sounds like the new American Dream…
I think it is, yeah. It really works. It’s kind of empowering.

But I do think she has a not so veiled crush on Hawaii Five 0’s Alex O’Laughlin…She says, “I think he would be the perfect Flynn (a dashing character in The Power Trip). There’s something about him that’s incredibly sexy, and also smart, and I love that combination.”

Alex O plays prominently on Jackie’s Pinterest, which brings  me to her Pinterest boards. Specifically, the one she’s aptly coined ‘Smokin’ Hot!’ On this board, Alex shares the accolade with hotties like Robert Downey Jr., Rob Pattison, Ian Somerhalder and Zac Efron, but the one who she says has been re-posted the most – LL Cool J! “I love Pinterest,” she confessed, adding that she’s also on Twitter – and sometimes even dreams in Tweets!

How does she find the time and energy for it all?

She says she doesn’t find the time, and often wishes for an extra six hours in the day, but said, “I think it’s attitude more than anything. I’m always surrounded by family of all different ages and my friends are all different ages, like I’m really good friends with Kathy Griffin. She’s fantastic with her 14-year-old boyfriend. I mean 14 years younger boyfriend! He’s divine actually. So, I have friends of all different ages, I’m a popular culture junkie and I just keep my finger on the pulse and every day is an adventure. Getting older, if I think about how old I am, I think, ‘Holy shit, that’s not possible.’ But then, it is possible, and you think of the alternative and you think, good, great.”

Great indeed. I’ve decided I would now like to make a career out of being Jackie Collins apprentice. I wonder if she’d have me. In a decade or two when she needs someone to type what she says for her autobiography? Help jog her memory for poignant moments an interviewer from her past remembers?

In the meantime, I treasure the tokens of the day imparted to me by the gracious and humble host. She signed a book for my mom, a long-time Jackie Collins fan (and I didn’t tell her what to write) and even threw in an audio book when I told her they were my mom’s favored medium these days.

momnoteFor me, she said, “You said you like coffee?” and gave me this lovely coffee cup.

photo copy

Thank you Jackie. When I drink my coffee each morning I remind myself, “Just start writing one line.” Sometimes it’s all that I get for the day, sometimes more. Either way, I know what I need to do and now it’s up to me, but I’m re-inspired thanks to you.

Jackie’s TWENTY NINTH book, The Power Trip will be released in the US/Canada on Feb 12. I got an advance copy (since it was already released in Oz) and it’s scrumptiously delicious.

the power trip