Maya Takes on Hollywood

Maya in THE purple dress.

When I got the invite to meet all the casts of the upcoming NBC line up, it was like a jackpot! So many names and I couldn’t wait to interview every single one of them. But… then I had complications with surgery that landed me in the hospital for three days and out of commission for another seven. When I asked my Dr. if I could go to Los Angeles, she said absolutely not… until I told her why and even she was trying to figure out a way to make it work. Lucky for me, Maya was able to fill in for me and, as jealous as I was, I was stoked she got Breezy Mama the scoop on how pregnancy has changed Jessica Simpson’s style, why Chelsea Handler snapped, “I’m not f—ing you!”, Amanda Peet’s must have fashion item, what Christina Aguilera said to hook Maya and so much more!

From Maya:

Fabulous people and fabulous event! It was a different and exciting new world for me as I attended the NBCUniversal Winter 2012 press tour for Breezy Mama.

When Chelsea asked me to attend this event I jumped at the opportunity. I am a teacher and love to challenge myself and learn from any opportunity at hand. However, I learned fast that I would never be as good as my best friend Chelsea at these events. You have to be bold, fast with your questions and as Chelsea put it perfectly…you need ‘cajones’. I couldn’t have thought of a better word.

The celebrity line up for the upcoming NBC Universal Winter 2012 season is incredible. During the Press Tour, I got to see in person and interview a-list celebrities such as Jessica Simpson, Nicole Richie, Debra Messing, Katharine McPhee, Josh Lucas, Chelsea Handler, Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine, and so many others. This winter TV line-up is the best I have seen in years. I am excited to see the new dramas, comedies, musicals and reality television shows. Your DVR will be smoking with all the new shows to watch and I know you will fall in love with the winter’s new characters.

The event was at the picturesque Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena, California. It was at the base of the beautiful San Gabriel Mountains and the hotel had a very relaxing and chic vibe.

I knew this was going to be a day to remember when I walked into the hotel and 50 plus paparazzi photographers had their cameras poised at me waiting to see if I was a celebrity. I was not…cameras went down immediately.
But wait…I wanted to shout…I did my hair and makeup and I am wearing a really cute outfit!

Instead, I asked a photographer if this was the way into the NBC Universal press event. He responded quickly, “Press uses the side door.”

Ok, I just had my first ‘almost’ celebrity moment!

Once inside the hotel, I knew I was in Hollywood Heaven. There were the beautiful celebrities, their publicists, agents, press from every magazine imaginable and did I mention the FREE COFFEE! Chelsea told me about the table where they serve free coffees all day long. I couldn’t find him at first… but once I did, I had my share of Cappuccinos and Lattes…sooo worth the 2+ hour drive!

The morning began with the season clip of the Fashion Star. This is a new reality for NBC with a fashion twist. At the end of each episode, viewers will have a chance to immediately purchase the winning designs showcased on the show that week. NBC press release states, “Fashion Star is an exciting reality competition series that will search for the next big brand in fashion. Featuring host and executive producer Elle Macpherson, along with celebrity mentors Jessica Simpson, Nicole Richie and John Varvatos. The series will give 14 unknown designers the chance to win a multi-million dollar prize to launch their collections in….Macy’s H&M and Saks Fifth Avenue.”

If you love fashion, I know you will want to watch this show. I like the idea of the celebrity mentors and the fact that each show will have an incredible fashion show featuring musical performances with dancers and models. During the Q&A with the press after the promo clip, the producer of the show promised that the focus would be ‘contemporary fashion’. This will be fashion that will appeal to all women and men of all sizes. Jessica Simpson added, “There will be designs for everyday women. We are not setting trends.” When a reporter asked Jessica Simpson if her pregnancy has changed her fashion sense, she replied, “I now look at comfort. I am not wearing any maternity lines because I couldn’t find anything that fits my taste. My next fashion line for Spring 2012 will include a maternity line.”

The reality series Fashion Star makes Fashion Sense!

The Firm is one of the new drama shows for the NBC winter season. It stars the talented and gorgeous movie star- Josh Lucas. He was so charming during the press Q&A that I know I wasn’t the only reporter drooling at his every word.

According to NBC, The Firm follows the McDeere family 10 years after they have lived under the Federal Protection program for exposing the law firm he worked for that was connected to the Chicago mob. The McDeere family “…begins their efforts to reclaim their lives, which proves to be an uphill battle.”

When asked why the series has kept the same name as the movie, Josh Lucas replied, “We want the audiences to see the direct connection to the movie but it IS 10 years later and now my character has more of a sense of drive to protect his family. However he has more fear and more paranoid of events that motivate his character to find justice.”

This is going to be an intriguing drama due to the writing and the actors’ impressive talent, Josh Lucas as Mitch McDeere, Juliette Lewis as Mitch’s feisty receptionist and Molly Parker as Abby McDeere.

After the Q&A, I could only reach Juliette Lewis and I am now a HUGE fan of this actress. She is not the typical ‘Hollywood actress’. She is upfront, honest and very modest about her acting accomplishments. Juliette is someone who reminds me of my dearest friends and I saw a natural glow in her that most actresses don’t have. Juliette radiates because she is happy with her choices, with her life and she always finds ways to challenge herself.

The Firm will make you want to root for the good guys to win…and they always will.

Before lunch we were introduced to the new comedy, Are You There, Chelsea. This series is inspired by the best selling books from actress/comedian Chelsea Handler. I was so EXCITED! After we viewed the hilarious clip from this new show, the lights lit up the stage and there was the funniest woman alive, sitting in front of me, Chelsea Handler. The cast had a really fun vibe on stage. Jokes were cast on the press, on each other and it was the most fun all day.

What is Chelsea like? She is brave, unapologetic, not sweet but ballsy. She is not a girly girl at all and I think people appreciate her honesty. As Lenny Clark, the actor who plays Chelsea’s Dad, shouts out during the Q&A, “Chelsea is brilliant…and hot!” She doesn’t miss a beat and answers in her classic Chelsea humor, “I’m not f—ing you Lenny!” Finally, Chelsea shared her favorite vodka drink, vodka with just lime and her favorite hangover remedy, 2 Excedrin’s and Buffalo wings.

The show stars Laura Prepon as the 20-something Chelsea. Chelsea Handler is in only 7 episodes, due to other work commitments, and has a recurring role as Chelsea’s born-again Christian and conservative older sister. This show is exactly what has been missing from TV. It will be a riot to watch with your girlfriends and I can already see the ‘Chelsea-isms’ that will come from this show!

This is a must-see from NBC!!!

The next cast was from NBC’s new romantic comedy, ‘Bent’. Bent is short for the show’s philosophy, “bent, not broken.” According to NBC, Bent is a romantic comedy about a womanizing surfer dude contractor (played by David Walton) and his beautiful no-nonsense type-A client (actress Amanda Peet) who work together to remodel each other’s lives as they renovate her Venice, California home.”

It looks like a fun, upbeat but predictable comedy. I love the chemistry between the two stars. I think this show will do well this winter because fans of romantic comedies will be drawn to the characters’ sexual suspense and the funny antics amongst their family and friends. It is a predictable premise but sometimes we need that after a long day with work and after the kids have gone to bed

Amanda Peet looked gorgeous in her pleated skirt outfit. I just read in the January In-Style that pleated skirts will be the rage this spring and now I see why. I can’t wait to try on this style again. Amanda Peet was also very gracious with the writers and producers on the show because they allowed her to bring her kids on set and they were very supportive of her as a mom. She has 2 young daughters and she cherished doing work that she love and still continue to raise her daughters. She was darling and her performance will make this show a favorite.

If you love Glee and musicals, you will LOVE Smash. This is the new musical drama from NBC this winter and it looks amazing!! NBC details Smash as “…a musical drama that celebrates the beauty and schemers who all have one common desire-to be a “Smash.”

This musical drama features, Angelica Houston, Debra Messing, Katharine McPhee and Megan Hilty. All I can say is …they had me at the first ballad.
The music is beautiful, the drama that follows these two talented singers vying for the premiere role as Marilyn is heartbreaking, and the passion the entire cast has for performing the best performance is captivating.

It reminds me of the days when Chelsea and I used to perform for our Showstoppers in Middle School (ha-ha…kidding…kind of…remember all our bus rides…ha-ha).

During the Q&A with the “Smash” cast, the reporters quickly asked why Angelica Houston chose to join this show. Angelica Houston answered, “It’s the best cast, and great writing. I would be a fool no not participate!”

Debra Messing added, “Smash has a very naturalistic tone, the cast is so accomplished committed and passionate about this project.”

When asked if Smash was similar to Glee and what could Glee fans expect from this show, the produces were quick to credit Glee for introducing viewers to musical dramas. However, this will be a show that takes this genre to the next level. I literally had goosebumps watching this clip. I can’t wait to watch this show…

Don’t miss Smash. It will have you singing all winter!

I didn’t think anything could top all of these incredible shows, I laughed, I bonded with all of these new characters and then I saw the clip for the new NBC drama, Awake. If you watch the pilot to the show, you will know instantly that this is a drama unlike any that you have seen before. Detective Michael Britten and his wife and son are in a tragic car accident. After Detective Britten regains consciousness, he discovers that his wife has died. However, each time he awakens, he experiences a dual reality where his son has died and his wife has survived the crash. It is at first a difficult concept to grasp but the show does a beautiful job to explain this drama. It is a show that will be exploring new rules and boundaries for this drama because no other drama has this same idea. He is living in parallel realities as he lives each day and awakens to either his wife or son. He continues to fight crime as a detective and to understand his realities he is seeking help from 2 therapists. Detective Britten does not want his dual realities to cease but to understand them better. It is within these realities where his family is still alive…while he is Awake.

If you were a fan of 24 or X-files, you will love this show. Google this show, watch the promo clip and I dare you to not cry at the last scene. This will be the show that everyone will be talking about.

NBC Universal ended the day with the BEST Q&A session ever with the cast from The Voice. I can honestly say that I did not watch this show last year because of all the hype and constant publicity from American Idol. I did not want to invest my time into another music reality show.

Once I heard about the show’s philosophy, I was hooked on The Voice. Wow! This show is awesome!! The show’s coaches will be Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, and Cee Lo Green. This is the reality show to watch for up and coming musicians as they compete amongst themselves as well as the coaches compete for singers to be on their team. How is this show different that American Idol? The Coaches will focus on constructive criticism rather than being mean. Also, all four coaches and mentors are singers and that is their main craft. Christina Aguilera promised the reporters that this second season would be even better due to the higher talent level this season. She explains, “Everyone is good! The Talent is so versatile!”

Christina had me hooked when she said, “The voice is about how you are moved by simply…the voice. Just how radio originally presented the pure talent of singers. Before all the social media and the chaos that surrounds each new track or new artist.”

The Voice finds talent by listening and once singers are chosen, they are guided to become the singers they are meant to be. To help each team, the coaches choose mentors to help the singers during their musical journey. The mentors will include, Kelly Clarkson, Jewel, Miranda Lambert, Alanis Morrisette, Robin Thicke, Kenny ‘Babyface’ Edmonds, Ne-Yo and Lionel Richie.

Be sure to catch the first episode of The Voice after the super bowl on February.

The Q&A session ended and the after party began a few hours after at the Athenaeum at Caltech in Pasadena, California. It was surreal to see so many celebrities in one venue. Honestly, I was tongue-tied and in awe of the amount of talent at one party. Once again, I walked in the wrong way into the party and ended up walking the red carpet. I have GOT to remember….press uses the side entrances! I don’t think anyone took my picture but if they did, I was wearing the purple dress. The entire time I kept wishing Chelsea was there with me sharing this incredible night. Then I remembered that Chelsea is always with me whispering… ‘cajones’! Thanks for this amazing night beautiful Breezy Mama. Enjoy the new shows this winter on NBC; you will not be disappointed!!

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maya_familyAbout Maya:

Maya Ramirez Drake lives in Carlsbad with her husband Todd and their three reading sons, Noah (14), Lucas (12) and Joshua (9). She is a third grade teacher at Buena Vista Elementary School. Maya graduated from the University of California, Irvine with a Major in English and a Minor in Spanish. She recieved her Teaching Credential from the California State University, San Marcos. Her teaching experiences include ESL/Citizenship instructor, EL and Reading tutor as well as first and second grade teacher. Maya grew up in a family of educators and values all that she has learned from her family and from her own teachers throughout her educational career. Her teaching philosophy is to value each child and to instill a love of learning in all her students. Maya and her family enjoy surfing, paddle boarding, soccer and camping in Northern California.

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  1. Wow! So much fun info in this article. But, I did have to laugh at this typo…. Katharine McPee 🙂 [Editor’s Note: LOL! Excellent catch! We have since fixed it – thank you Michelle!]

  2. So much fun! Maya did a great job- and Chelsea- you missed out! Although, I know having me over to keep you company that afternoon was a close 2nd to this! 😉

  3. Sylvia G. Ramirez says

    This was so much fun to read, and Maya kept the whole family in stitches when she told us about her adventures. She did it again in print! So proud of you Maya – Mom

  4. Maya, I beg to differ: you did choose the correct door to enter–you are a star!
    Love, Dad

  5. Maya, you truly are the star! I love you so much and thanks for always having my back!

  6. Fabulous! I love your purple dress too – come home for an audition and i’ll make you a star!

    your loving husband 🙂 Todd

  7. Maya–You ROCK! Thanks for helping us out and your dad is right–you SHOULD enter through the front door! xoxo

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