Sunday, June 17, 2018

Journey to Florida for a Wedding!

Friday, April 13, 2018 was a very lucky day for our friend's son, Scott Boone, as he married his college sweetheart Caroline Mowry in a beautiful wedding at Eden Gardens State Park in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.


Mr. and Mrs. Scott Boone


Scott graduated from high school and attended the same university as my oldest daughter, Lauren. When Lauren studied abroad in Austria in Spring 2013, Scott and Lauren's friend Jenn packed up Lauren's items in her apartment and moved them to a storage unit. We have also attended the same church as Scott's family for more than 15 years and have gone on church trips together. So when Scott announced his engagement last year and his fiance's family lives in Florida, it became a "Destination Wedding"!

I turned a car trip to Florida into a Spring vacation:


My first stop was to visit my youngest daughter at her sorority event at Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi.



After spending the evening in Oxford, I then drove to Hoover, Alabama and spent the night with Jana, one of my best friends and sorority sister from college at Arkansas State University.



Amazing chicken tacos with pasta salad, fried okra, sweet potato chips and french fries at The Boot At The Grove in Hoover, Alabama!



I arrived at the condo in Panama City Beach, Florida after first accidentally booking a hotel room in Panama City, Panama.



My daughter, Sara, and her boyfriend, Will, joined me in Florida.



Our amazing condo offered two separate swimming pools, a hot tub, a view of the ocean from our balcony and full beach access!


I love the white sand and blue water of the Gulf Coast!



Sara and I at the Eden Gardens State Park, the location of the wedding.
Photo by W. Chamberlin.



Sara with Savvy Shields @savvyjanine Miss American 2017, who was one of the bridesmaids at the wedding.



The bride along with two of the bridesmaids enjoying the amazing band at the reception.




The parents of the groom with long time friends from Arkansas at the wedding reception.










Other photos from my trip to Florida:





















I stopped at the Navarre Beach Children's Park where my daughters made tiles
with their hand prints almost 19 years ago while we were on a family vacation.





Photos by Leslie & Sara Doan


Saturday, March 24, 2018

The Movie Tavern




The Movie Tavern recently opened in the Gateway Town Center, located behind the Bass Pro Shop in the Mablevale area of Little Rock. This movie theater contains everything I love - movies, drinks and food!




Founded in 2001, Dallas-based Movie Tavern is a leader in the cinema eatery segment catering to adults and families with 24 high-quality theaters and 220 digital screens in ten states.

In a short time, I've seen three different movies at this location, all with different experiences.

During its soft opening after the first of the year, I went to see the musical The Greatest Showman at The Movie Tavern on Sunday, February 4, 2018.


The Greatest Showman




The Greatest Showman, starring Hugh Jackman as P.T. Barnum, founder of Barnum & Bailey Circus, also showcases the musical talent of co-stars Michelle Williams, Zac Efron and Disney star Zendaya as a beautiful trapeze artist. The musical features some amazing songs, great performances, beautiful cinema photography and is set in the late 1800's.

Since I was a few minutes late getting to the theater, the movie had already started and it was a little unsettling to have the employee lead me around the long way to my already chosen seat. I would also recommend that the employees use a small flashlight instead of an iPhone to find the way in the dark theater!

Because the Movie Tavern operates as a full service "eatery" complete with a separate bar/lounge area, there is not the typical concession stand you find in most movie theaters. You purchase your ticket online or at a small kiosk inside the the lobby of the theater with an employee and then are shown your seat where another employee will be your server and hands you a menu.



At this showing, I ordered the Spinach and Artichoke Dip along with a Dr. Pepper. The theater serves Mr. Pibb and the dip was really good, just a big serving for one person. Both items were delivered to me in my seat as I watched the movie. I paid and tipped my server after the movie was over.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip appetizer at The Movie Tavern

The second time I visited The Movie Tavern was on Wednesday, February 28, 2018. It was the night of their special VIP Grand Opening Preview Party. I was lucky to win tickets during a contest put on by fellow blogger Heather of Heather's Dish.


Spotlights in the parking light added to the "Movie Premiere" feel of this event!

I saw the new blockbuster movie, Black Panther, ordered the Spinach and Artichoke Dip appetizer, the Loaded Tavern Cheeseburger and had a Caribbean Rum Punch - all free!






The professional photographer hired for this one night event took my picture using
my own camera with a Thor life-like cut-out!


 Black Panther


Black Panther, starring Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Letitia Wright, Sterling K. Brown and Martin Freeman, is an amazing movie based on a fictional superhero character from Marvel Comics.

As someone who remembers watching Michael B. Jordan as teen Reggie Porter Montgomery in my favorite soap opera, All My Children, from 2003-2006, it was great watching him in such a powerful movie role. I also enjoyed seeing one of my favorite actors from my new favorite television show, This Is Us, Sterling K. Brown, in such an exciting film.

Once again, I really liked all the food and drinks I was served while watching the movie in my comfortable seat, which reclines back and you're also able to extend your legs forward!

After the movie, you can relax in the bar and or lounge area, complete with big screen TVs and plenty of furniture and board games.



Two days later, on Friday, March 2, 2018, I went with a friend to see the new movie, Game Night, at the Movie Tavern. We bought our tickets online so we just had to be shown our seat before the movie started.



 Game Night




Game Night, stars Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams as married couple Max and Annie who met during Trivia Night at a local bar and now have their friends over to their home for weekly trivia games. Kyle Chandler stars as Max's older brother, Brooks, who invites everyone over to his new house for a special Game Night. The rest of the movie is spent as the characters find themselves entangled in a real-life mystery.

During this movie, we just ordered soft drinks that were delivered to our seats, where they were also paid for after the movie was over. Note, since there is not a concession stand, you can also order popcorn from your seat if you wish to eat a snack instead of a meal.

My favorite part of the theater is the wall of movie posters that display movies filmed in Arkansas - including  Gone With The Wind (1939), Biloxi Blues (1988), The Firm (1993) and Mud (2012), directed by Little Rock native Jeff Nichols.




On Saturdays and Sundays, enjoy Brunch at the Movie Tavern!




GATEWAY TOWN CENTER
11300 Bass Pro Parkway
Little Rock, AR 72210

https://www.movietavern.com/locations/littlerock/


For more information about movie production in Arkansas, see my newest entree in Only In Arkansas, Light, Camera, Arkansas.


Photos by Leslie Diane

Movie Posters from IMDb













Thursday, February 15, 2018

I Am Rebecca Pearson

Note: This blog entry contains my personal opinions and references the television programs This Is Us (NBC) and Glee (Fox) because they are special to me but I have nothing to do with these shows or characters.

My family attending a Kentucky vs Arkansas football game with a fellow UK fan (sitting between our two daughters) at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville on September 22, 2007.

During the summer of 2016, I participated in a six week summer program in the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California (USC). As a 50-something year old retired Technical Writer and longtime movie and television fan, this was one of my dreams come true. I was surrounded by film and television productions, sitcom writing and meeting professionals in the entertainment field in California.

I was busy writing scripts for class, watching sitcoms for homework, reading books and working on projects. I met many great people - including several other students that became good friends. Yes, they were about the same ages as my two daughters at the time - 23 & 19 - but we all shared a love of film and television and bonded over movies!

At this time, I noticed a preview of an upcoming NBC show called This Is Us. At first I thought it was three different shows! Because I was living in Los Angeles, instead of Little Rock, I noticed the preview playing many times a day on the NBC affiliate in LA. This trailer quickly became the most viewed preview of the summer. The pilot episode aired on Tuesday, September 26, 2016 and I eagerly awaited to watch it back home in Arkansas.


I saw the entire cast of This Is Us at a special event held during
PaleyFest in Holywood in March 2017

By the end of the first episode, I had already fallen in love with the Pearson family! In fact, I wrote a blog entry about the show during the first season on November 15, 2016. If you are reading this blog entry, you are probably already a fan of This Is Us, but just in case you are not, I'm going to discuss several things that have been aired during recent episodes. So it's SPOILERS if you have not watched all the aired episodes.

Long Story Short - this program jumps back and forth in time so the viewer sees the characters in past, present and even future times. Over the last year and a half, so far 33 episodes in two seasons, we've found about how Jack and Rebecca meet, fall in love, get married, have children and then we see these children as adults and their children. We also found out last season that Jack died when his children were teenagers.

Thus, the title of this blog entry - I Am Rebecca Pearson. Of course I do not mean I'm actually the fictional character on a television show but I have experienced (and survived!) some of the situations she is going through now on TV.

Family trip to Orange Beach, Alabama during Spring Break, March 2012
  • My two daughters were teenagers when my husband died suddenly on May 10, 2012 of an undiagnosed Pulmonary Embolism. I had to tell my youngest daughter (15) in the principal's office at her high school that her father who she had said goodbye to that morning in our home had passed away. With the help of our church youth director and my oldest daughter's (19) boyfriend, she was told on the phone on her last day of college that her dad had died. Rebecca had to tell her three children that their father died after he was taken to the hospital following a house fire.
  • Like Rebecca, I too had spoken to my husband before he died. A neighbor called me to say an ambulance had taken my husband to the hospital after he fainted at home while talking to an air conditioner repairman. I called his cell phone and he told me to meet him at room 2020 in the ER. I got there and was then taken along with my parents to a small conference room where about 30 minutes later a doctor came in to tell me that it was not good news, he didn't make it and passed away from a blood clot.
  •  The Pearson's were big Super Bowl fans and always celebrated that day. When our children became active in our church youth group, one of our friends hosted an annual Super Bowl watching party at their home. We would go every year and always had a great time!
  • Like Rebecca told Kevin on the episode, Super Bowl Sunday that aired on February 4, 2018, after the actual Super Bowl, each year Jack sends her a sign that makes her smile and laugh, such as a special song playing on the car radio. That has happened to me too. One of my husband's favorite singing duos is Hall and Oates. And my girls and I loved watching Glee. My oldest daughter always wanted actor Cory Montieth to perform the song You Make My Dreams Come True on the show and on the episode titled Mash Off that aired on November 15, 2011, the character of Finn, along with other characters, performed a mash up of I Can't Go For That/You Make My Dreams by Hall and Oates. On the day of my husband's visitation at the funeral home, the girls's and I went to the home decor store Kirkland's to buy me a jewelry box for Mother's Day, which was three days after my husband died. We were in the store about five minutes when the music on the store's loudspeaker started playing the first few beats of the song You Make My Dreams Come True. My oldest daughter ran over to me and said that it was Dad sending us a sign to let us know he was with us. We all smiled at the thought. Since then, we've all heard that song in different places, including my youngest daughter hearing it in the Washington D.C. airport! That's pretty amazing for a song that came out in 1981.
  • In the episode that aired on February 6, titled The Car, Jack and Rebecca take the kids to a local car dealership to buy a used car and Jack ends up purchasing a brand new Jeep Grand Wagoneer so his family will be "Ok". On my husband's 50th birthday in 2010, we bought him his dream car, a black Jeep Wrangler. He loved his Jeep and loved taking us for rides in it, putting the top down. After he died, my father wanted me to sell his Jeep Wrangler since I was still paying on it, but I refused to sell it. My oldest daughter then drove it for three years in college in Arkansas and now my youngest daughter is driving it in college in Mississippi. Like my husband used to tell me and Rebecca said at the end of the last episode, "We're gonna be OK."
Another thing that I noticed during the funeral scenes, the only people that spoke were Rebecca, each of the three children, close family friend Miguel and Dr. K, who delivered the children years earlier. No interfering in-laws, no annoying funeral home employees and no idiots saying things like "Everything happens for a reason".

Rebecca takes the kids out of the reception after the services, goes to "Jack's Tree" where they scatter some of his ashes and then drives all of them to a Bruce Springsteen concert, thanks to Jack for buying tickets the previous week as a surprise.


In October 2012, five months after my husband died, we went to a Glee event in California where we met Dot-Marie Jones, who played Football Coach Beiste.
Almost six years later, my oldest daughter is a proud U of A college graduate and works at Harvard University as an Event and Education Coordinator while my youngest daughter is a junior Journalism major at the University of Mississippi.

Yesterday was Valentine's Day and I received a beautiful arrangement of pink roses from my two daughters.


February 14, 2018

I know that my husband is proud of all of us.


Monday, January 1, 2018

Me, Myself and I - Happy New Year 2018!


Background Actor for Pilot Episode of Me, Myself and I
Filmed in March 2017

Earlier this year, I appeared as a Background Actor in the pilot episode of the new CBS sitcom, Me, Myself and I. It's a comedy that examines one man's life over a 50-year span. Actor John Larroquette plays the main character as a 65-year old man in 2042. That got me to thinking about me, now in 2018, as opposed to me when I was in college in the 1980's and the me that was married for 25 years.


Leslie Smith


Me - When I graduated from college in 1984

As long as I can remember, I've always wanted to write. And dance. And do well in school. One year I wanted to be an astronaut and a few years later I wanted to be a Television News Anchor. I always participated in both school and community activities - Drill Team, Newspaper Staff, Student Council, Girl Scouts, 4-H Club, church youth group. I made good grades, graduated in the top 10% of my high school class and received an academic scholarship to Arkansas State University.

Once in college, I could see my future. I pledged Chi Omega Sorority, threw myself into my Journalism and Radio/Television classes and participated in other school activities while also working part-time. I interned in the news department for a local television station in Little Rock after my first year of college. This me was like a younger Mary in the Mary Tyler Moore Show, a want-to-be Carolyn Long (Channel 4 News Anchor) and wanting to pursue a job in writing or producing for either the Today Show in New York City or Oprah in Chicago.

I became the first person in my family to actually graduate from college in four years. I had the world at my feet. I was Leslie Smith. Oh, and there was another Leslie Smith in my Health class my first semester in college. She stopped coming to class before Thanksgiving but I never found out why.


Leslie Doan

Our Wedding Day - October 18, 1986
During the last semester of my last year in college, two good friends introduced me to a guy who had just moved to Arkansas from Kentucky and was working as an Anchor and Reporter at KAIT-TV, the ABC affiliate in Jonesboro. His name was Thruston Stewart Doan but had to go by his middle name, Stewart. My two friends were my classmates in my Radio/Television classes at ASU and worked with Stewart on the morning news program at KAIT - Channel 8. We started dating and I fell in love with the handsome man from Kentucky. He grew up on a farm but attended the University of Kentucky, taught me all about the UK Wildcats basketball team and also had dreams of working his way to a bigger market as an Agriculture Journalist.

After college and a brief job in Little Rock, I moved to Dallas, Texas to pursue my career. I quickly landed a job in the Recruiting and Advertising Department at Electronic Data Systems. Before I knew it, I was 23 years old and flying to different cities around the country, helping employees in accounts that were closing down to find new jobs in EDS. I continued dating Stewart long distance and before Christmas in 1985, we became engaged. By this time, Stewart was living in my hometown of Little Rock and working at KARN Radio Station as the main Farm Reporter. I moved back to Little Rock and we were married in a beautiful wedding ceremony at St. Andrews Methodist Church, complete with a wedding reception on a river boat in the Arkansas River on Saturday, October 18, 1986, ten days before my 25th birthday. I was now Leslie Doan.



Hawaii - January 2012

People don't lie when they say "time flies".  I worked at Dillard's and Stewart continued working at KARN. Withing a year, I was hired at the Little Rock office of EDS and we were DINKs (Double Income No Kids). We continued like that for seven years. Because Stewart traveled a lot in his job, I was able to go with him on many business trips - Kansas City, Orlando, Padre Island, and many others. Then we had two beautiful daughters - Lauren Grace born in 1993 and Sara Elizabeth born in 1997. There were jobs, and daycare, and vacations and promotions for Stewart, including serving as President of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters (NAFB). In the middle of working full-time and having babies, I decided to go back to college and received a MA Degree in Technical and Expository Writing in 1996.

Real Life continues, including a cancer diagnosis in 2000 of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphona, when our daughters were only 7 and 3 years old. Excellent medical care and a strong support system along with Stewart and my family helped me during both chemotherapy and radiation treatment, resulting in receiving the news that I was in remission on May 17, 2001. So I had many titles - Wife, Technical Writer, Grad Student, Mother, Sunday School Teacher, Homeroom Mother, Cancer Patient, Survivor, Widow.


Leslie Dianne

Sara and I met actor Darren Criss at his recent concert in Los Angeles on December 15, 2017

So now, here it is, January 1, 2018. My husband passed away suddenly over five years ago from an undiagnosed Pulmonary Embolism. According to the US Government, I am now a widow. But I am still more than that. I continued to support and raise our two daughters, who were only 19 and 15 when their father passed away. You never know what you can do until you have to do it. I don't like the title "Single Mom", I was a widow with children. I continued to work as a Technical Writer 30 hours a week, be both a mother and father to my two daughters, and manage a home. Luckily, I have so many family members, neighbors, church members, co-workers and friends that helped me and the girls following my husband's death. Friends who brought food, mowed our big lawn, helped me with taxes and financial issues, drove me to medical appointments, assisted me with selling my house and always just being there for us.

During these past five years, I've had many new titles - Retired, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Woman of the Year Nominee, USC Summer Program Student, Blogger, Background Actor.

2018 is looking pretty good so far.




Leslie Smith Doan, a native Arkansan, is a retired Technical Writer and active blogger. She enjoys traveling and attending special events with her two daughters, ages 24 & 20. A long time TV and Movie Fan, she has also appeared as a Background Actor on the television showsScandalAmerican Housewife, the pilot episode of Young Sheldon and the movie God's Not Dead 2, filmed in Arkansas.

Leslie lives in Little Rock with her two rescue pets, Oreo, a black & white Australian Shepherd and Lilly, a calico kitty. 

She blogs about her personal experiences as both a cancer survivor and widow along with movie reviews and humorous essays in her blog Leslie In Little Rock. You can also find Leslie online on her TwitterInstagram, and Facebook accounts.



Monday, December 11, 2017

The Do's and Don'ts Of Background Acting

During the past two years, I have appeared as a Background Actor (also known as an extra) on several film, video and television productions. Although a large part of it is attributed to luck, there is also planning, research, hard work and a lot of waiting that goes into background acting!

I portrayed a wedding greeter (wearing a big pink hat!) on the 100th episode of Scandal "The Decision" that aired on April 13, 2017 on ABC.

I have always been captivated by film, television, musicals and plays. With a love of writing that started when I was a child, I was enchanted by the written word that could be turned into a visual piece of art, such as a movie.

Growing up, I read all I could in magazines and books about movies and celebrities. During the summer, my mother would let me stay up later at night so I could watch The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson. I also watched both local and national news programs because I wanted to know all I could about current events.

So it wasn't unusual when there was a chance to meet a celebrity, I would try to go. I can still remember meeting actor Henry Winkler during the first season of Happy Days at a scheduled appearance at a mall in Little Rock. And anytime an ABC soap opera star came to Arkansas during promotions events for the local affiliate, I was there!

My daughters and I met actor/singer Darren Criss at an event in California in October 2012

During the summer of 2016, I attended the summer program at the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles. While I was taking classes in screenwriting and the television/film industry, I also worked as a background actor on several productions.

I played a bar patron (tall lady in the background not wearing a hat) on the first episode of the Netflix series Santa Clarita Diet. This episode, starring Drew Barrymore and featuring Nathan Fillion, was filmed in June 2016 in California and aired on February 3, 2017.

Following the advice from a friend in California whose four children have appeared in many commercials, movies and television shows, I signed up online with LACasting.com. Within a day of signing up and paying the $14.95 monthly fee, I began receiving email notifications of extra roles that fit my specifications, such as gender, height, weight and racial status. In other words, when someone needed a tall, skinny, older white woman, they sent me an email!

In addition to signing with LACasting.com, which is done all online, I also registered in person with Central Casting of Los Angeles while I was in California in November 2016. There are also Central Casting locations in New York City, Atlanta and New Orleans. The registration process does not cost anything but requires you to show up on certain days and takes a few hours to listen to a talk about casting, fill out forms and take photos that will then be available to all the casting agents.

In November 2016, I appeared in a Flo Rida music video as a dinner party guest for the song "Zillionnaire". I am sitting directly behind Flo Rida's right arm while Victoria Secret Angel Chanel Iman dances on the table with money floating from the ceiling!


You can find out about possible film/television/commercial roles by checking with your state's casting office, contacting a talent agency in your town or looking at Facebook accounts such as Arkansas Casting Calls & Auditions.


Here are some tips for when you get that call to be a background actor:

  1. Know where you are going and how you are going to get to your location.When you first get your "call time", you should prepare how you are going to get there and where it is. Whether you are driving yourself, taking a car service such as Uber, or being dropped off by a friend, you should know exactly where you are going. In addition, be ready for unexpected issues, such as not being able to park in a parking deck or last minute location changes.
  2. Show up on time, or even better, 30 minutes early.
    When I book projects through Central Casting, I get a call time. For example, I am working on a mini-series tomorrow, and my call time is 6:18 am. Since I'm currently visiting my friends in Burbank, I have to make arrangements to get to the set location by 6:18 am. I also will find out tonight after 7:00 pm where the filming is being done. I have a phone number to call at Central Casting, which is their Work Line. When I call that number, I put in a four digit code number that will then take me to a recorded message that gives me all the details about the shoot.
  3. Be quite on set.Whether you are shooting in a studio, such as for Speechless, or on location, which I did last week at a coffee shop in Van Nuys for the upcoming mini-series Unsolved on the USA Network, you need to always be quite and listen. There are many people and different moving parts involved in a shoot, so the crew and the actors need to be able to hear their direction.
  4. Take something to read or work on while you are waiting. And you will wait. And wait. And wait some more. Ever hear of the phrase "Hurry up and wait"? That's what background actors were made for! I always bring a couple of magazines to read. I've seen people bring books to read and afghans to knit. Many background actors will just play on their phones the whole time. I've been at shoots where background actors will bring their own chairs, PCs and just set up camp while they are waiting.


Photo Gallery


I played a Defendant on The Verdict With Judge Hatchett
















I appeared in the audience (on the front row wearing pink dress) at
an Infomercial starring Dick Van Dyke







In costume/hair/makeup for the pilot episode
of Young Sheldon



Dressed for 2042 for the pilot episode
of Me, Myself and I



In the 2017 Season finale of American Housewife on ABC, I appeared in the audience of a dance recital

I've really enjoyed working as a background actor and have been fortunate to meet many amazing people. I'm not doing it to win an Academy Award or to make a lot of money. I just do it because it's fun and I get to eat great food on set!