Category: Stuff to Buy or Do

Films Now, Books First

As a general rule, if there’s a movie or TV show based on a novel or a play, I always try to read the original work first before I see the new version. When the latest film adaptation of The Great Gatsby came out in theatres earlier this year, I begged friends who hadn’t read the book yet to read the book first, so they would be familiar with the original story in case the movie changed things or left things out.

Because book-to-movie adaptations do that a lot – they change things. That’s why they’re called adaptations. Books and plays and films and TV are different mediums. When they shift from one medium to another, stories are going to change. Sometimes for the better, sometimes not so much, depending on who you talk to and how attached they are to the source material. When you read books, you might picture characters and settings one way, and another reader might picture them a different way, depending on your experiences and your interpretations of the author’s words.

I recently asked various friends what upcoming book-to-movie adaptations they were most looking for to, and why. Here are a few titles they brought up:

To date, the critically-acclaimed horror writer Stephen King has written over 50 novels and over 200 short stories, many of which have been made into feature films, TV movies, and comics. The current Syfy Channel television show Haven is loosely based on his novel The Colorado Kid. His first published novel, Carrie, took the main character through high school horrors to the extreme. Without spoiling too much, I’ll tell you it’s about a girl who discovers she has telekinesis (the ability to move things with her minds) and uses her powers against people who have teased and hurt her. The latest film adaptation of Carrie, starring Chloë Grace Moretz as the title character and Julianne Moore as her mother, was released in theatres on October 18th. The trailers show the climactic scene at the school dance, which might disturb those who can’t stomach the sight of blood. This iconic scene is well-known by people already familiar with the book or previous films, but putting it so prominently in the commercials might spoil it for some people – but then again, it will probably draw others to it!

More than one person expressed excitement about Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which Warner Bros. recently announced. It hasn’t even started production and this Harry Potter-related story already has the world buzzing. “I’ve read the whole book series three times and watched the whole movie series twice,” said Divya, age 16. “I have too many emotions about it!” The new movie will supposedly be written by J.K. Rowling, who wrote the seven original bestselling Harry Potter novels as well as the “supplemental” books: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which was supposed to be a textbook Harry got at Hogwarts; Quidditch Through the Ages, a history of the game; and The Tales of Beedle the Bard, a collection of wizard-related fairy tales. Will any familiar faces pop up in the Fantastic Beasts film? We’ll have to wait and see.

“I’m excited to see The Hobbit Part Two,” chimed in Aidan, age 17. “The D&D [Dungeons and Dragons] club always goes to the openings together, and it’s always fun to see a movie with friends.”  The Hobbit, based on J. R. R. Tolkien’s novel, was published in 1937. The other books set in Middle-earth, often split into three separate books, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King, are collectively referred to as The Lord of the Rings.  Here’s a fun fact: According to Wikipedia, the first authorized adaptation of The Hobbit was a stage production by St. Margaret’s School in Edinburgh in 1953, a year before the first part of The Lord of the Rings was published!

The Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth will appeal to people who like dystopian stories – stories about a community or nation dealing with a society or government which enforces “undesirable” rules and regulations. In Divergent, a 16-year-old girl goes through a required initiation process and challenges the way her society is broken into different virtuous factions. The movie is coming out next March, and Victoria, age 14, plans to check it out. “I’m excited to see Shailene Woodley do the action scenes.” Daniel, age 15, will also be checking out the film. “I like to see book-to-film adaptions to see how other people interpret the book.”

Other books-turned-movies on the radars of kids I talked to include but are not limited to:

  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, starring Jennifer Lawrence
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry, with Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, and Brenton Thwaites
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (My favorite John Green novel is Looking for Alaska)
  • – and many more.

I myself am hoping that the film adaptation of The Book Thief is faithful to Markus Zusak’s original book. I’ll let the cover flap summary speak for itself: “It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery…” Read it. Read it now. It’s positively brilliant, with an unlikely narrator telling a heartbreaking, memorable story.

Like I said before, I like reading books before I see the movie – but I can’t always help it. I first saw the movie Strangers on a Train when I was really, really little, and didn’t read the book until years later. I was really surprised by the events in the book because so much was different! I actually like the movie better than the book. Much better. Alfred Hitchcock directed the movie; multiple writers worked on the adaptation.

Now for some books I love that were made into some really good films: The NeverEnding Story by Michael Ende is an amazing fantasy novel, a story-within-a-story, a nice, long book for those of us who love nice, long books. Note: I love the first movie, which I feel got a lot of things “right.” I like the second movie, which also included events and elements from the book. I didn’t care for the third movie, which I felt deviated too much from the book.

One of my favorite books of all time is Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. Many adaptations have been made, ranging from silent films to animated movies, from TV mini-series to my favorite version, the 1972 live-action musical starring Fiona Fullerton. Though some of the singers are admittedly better than others, the whole thing is so much fun, and a lot of the lyrics in the songs are taken right from the book. Kudos to John Barry and Don Black for creating such a pretty soundtrack, and to the costume and set designers for creating such a lovely Wonderland.

What book-to-film-adaptations are you looking forward to this fall and winter? Leave a comment below and let me know!


allie costaAllie Costa is a Los Angeles-based actress working in film, TV, theatre, and voiceover. She can usually be found on a set, in a theatre, or in a secondhand bookstore. She worked with the hosts of Teens Wanna Know on the film Nerd Wars! Her character, Natalie Grace, was named after legendary actresses Natalie Wood and Grace Kelly.



Allie’s Website

The Oscar® Race is ON!!! – Animated Feature Films Submitted

On your mark, get set, GO! The race for best animated feature is on and nineteen animated films have been submitted for consideration in the Animated Feature Film category for the 86th Academy Awards® today. 

Every one of these films had an incredible team of artists who worked together to help bring the characters to life, so we want to congratulate them on this accomplishment and thank them for their hard work. And now the 19 submitted features, listed in alphabetical order, are (drum-roll, please!):

“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2”

Starring: Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Andy Samberg, Neil Patrick Harris, Benjamin Bratt, Terry Crews, Will Forte, and Kristen Schaal









“The Croods”

Narrated by Emma Stone. Starring: Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Clark Duke and Cloris Leachman.









“Despicable Me 2”

Starring: Steve Carrel, Kristen Wiig, Benjamin Bratt, Miranda Crosgrove, Eisie Fisher, Dana Gaier, Russell Brand, Steve Coogan, and Ken Jeong.












Starring: Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Amanda Seyfried, Christoph Waltz, Aziz Ansari, Chris O’Dowd, Pitbull, Jason Sudeikis, Steven Tyler and Beyoncé Knowles.









“Ernest and Celestine”

Starring: Lambert Wilson, and Pauline Brunner









“The Fake”

Written and Directed by Sang-ho Yeon














“Free Birds“

Starring: Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, and Amy Poehler










Starring: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Santino Fontana, and Josh Gad











Starring: Jake T. Austin, AnnaSophia Robb, Liam Neeson, Ben Vereen, Laurence Fishburne, Anika Noni Rose, Joey Richter, Catherine Tate, Richard E. Grant, Dee Bradley Baker, Greg Ellis, Loretta Devine, Jennifer Cody, Steve Buscemi, and Alexander Polinsky










“The Legend of Sarila”

Starring: Christopher Plummer, and Rachelle Lefevre.









“A Letter to Momo”

Starring: Karen Miyama, Yuka and Daizaburo Arakawa









“Monsters University”

Starring: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, and Steve Buscemi










“O Apóstolo”

Starring: Carlos Blanco, Xosé Manuel Olveira ‘Pico’, and Paul Naschy










Starring: Dane Cook, Stacy Keach, Priyanka Chopra, Brad Garrett, Cedric the Entertainer, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Roger Craig Smith, John Cleese, and Carlos Alazraqui





“Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie – Rebellion”

Starring: Kana Asumi, Junko Iwao, and Emiri Katou










“Rio: 2096 A Story of Love and Fury”

Starring: Selton Mello, Camila Pitanga, Rodrigo Santoro, and Benvindo Sequeira











“The Smurfs 2”

Starring: Neil Patrick Harris, Brendan Gleeson, Jayma Mays, Katy Perry, and Hank Azaria











Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Michael Peña, Snoop Dogg, Maya Rudolph, Michelle Rodriguez, and Samuel L. Jackson










“The Wind Rises”

Starring: Hideaki Anno, Miori Takimoto, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Masahiko Nishimura, Steve Alpert, Morio Kazama, Keiko Takeshita, Mirai Shida, Jun Kunimura, Shinobu Otake, and Nomura Mansai








So, hold on to your seats and wait to see who makes it when the nominations are announced live on Thursday, January 16, 2014, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater. Tough competition, since only 5 will be able to make it to the next step.

“What’s next?” you may ask. More waiting, the final winner will be announced March 2, 2014, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® at the Academy Awards. So, don’t forget to tune in to ABC Network for the live event. This amazing show will also be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.

Have you watched all of these movies to make an educated guess of who will win? Who do you think will take away the prize? Tweet us your thoughts to @teenswannaknow using the hashtag #twkoscars and let us know.

Zendaya Performing at Universal CityWalk 9-18-13

Zendaya Coleman of Disney’s “Shake It Up!” fame gave a free performance last night at Universal Studios CityWalk. We caught a few songs, and in addition to her hit “Replay,” (sponsored link) she performed an unreleased work-in-progress as a special sneak preview for the fans in attendance.

The show was not without issues because, as can be seen in the above video at the 1:11 mark, at one point Zendaya called for the band to stop playing because she didn’t like the audio she was hearing. We couldn’t tell if it was an issue with the band or with her microphone, but Zendaya took the initiative to interact with some fans in the front row while the problem was sorted out. (Sorry for OUR poor audio as well, we didn’t have our pro audio recorder on us!)


Zendaya was dressed in all white.


All smiles, even when she detected trouble with her audio.


Interacting with fans off to the side of the stage.


Listening to the screaming fans?


She was accompanied by a full band and four dancers.


Keira Peña with Phil Morris and Carla Renata, who play Zendaya’s parents on “Shake It Up” and came out to support her.

 We look forward to seeing her perform again.

Eddie Gomez EP to Benefit Anti-Bullying Cause

50be084e71305284-EDDIE_NO_EP1600_SMALLWhile many artists pay lip service to social causes, just a small handful actually demonstrate their commitment to said causes in concrete form .

Eddie Gomez is one artist who is putting his money where his mouth is by donating 100 percent of the profits from sales of his newly released EP titled “No,” through October 31st, to PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. This non-profit organization seeks to “unite, engage and educate communities nationwide to address bullying through creative, relevant and interactive resources.”

Gomez , a singer/songwriter who was raised on Portland and now residing in L.A., suffered from stuttering as a young child, which caused him to endure endless bullying. To concide with October’s National Bullying Prevention Month, he is not only donating profits from his record, but also producing and performing in a major benefit concert on October 9th with proceeds also going to PACER.

With an estimated 160,000 kids staying home from school to avoid bullies, and 13 million kids being bullied each year (source: PACER), Eddie “hopes to create awareness around bullying prevention and provide funding for a worthy foundation and join efforts to put an end to these senseless acts of cruelty and violence,” according to his publicist 

Eddie is setting a good example as an artist going beyond just delivering a message and actually taking concrete steps to address a cause which is important to him. Hopefully more will follow his lead.

Here is the link to his EP on iTunes: and check out the “Someday” Music Video below:

Teen Actors Jimmy Deshler and Riley Beres Team Up to Fight Homelessness with New Film

HFOO LogoHollywood is a world of fantasy, where dreams of stardom and riches can come true for those with lots of ambition and a bit of luck. Underneath the glitter, however, is a reality which isn’t quite so bright: the problem of homelessness, one which is prevalent in Southern California despite the enormous riches and opportunity which can be found here.

Two teen Hollywood actors have decided to do something about this by increasing awareness through a new documentary called “Hope for Our Own: An L.A. Story.” The film, which is being shot and produced by actor Jimmy Deshler, best known as “Rafe” on the extremely popular and long-lived soap opera General Hospital, and Riley Beres, best known for her role on “Matumbo Goldberg,” will bring viewers a first-hand view of the many faces of homelessness and also illuminate some “shocking facts,” according to the filmmakers.

We got the chance to ask these two positive teen role models a few questions about their project:

TWK: With so many causes out there why did you choose to advocate for the homeless?Any personal reasons?

Jimmy: I see how big of an issue it is, and feel like there isn’t enough people advocating help for the homeless. There are so many different shelters tjimmy deshlerhat specialize in certain types of homelessness, and I feel like if more people knew about them, more people would be helped. Obviously our goal isn’t to end homelessness, we simply want to inspire change and create hope

Riley: For me, I met a guy at the end of our visit to Hope of The Valley’s breakfast held at St. David’s Church. He came up to us and asked us to film him. His words and  his presence just sort of spoke to me. It made me think of how many homeless people are around our city and how we don’t always look at homelessness with the full picture. It make me think about how I feel when I see homelessness and it made me ask, “if I don’t really see homelessness outside of what I see on the streets, how do others see homelessness? And, how do we change that?” I mean people volunteer at animal shelters, hospitals, for admirable causes such as cancer or diabetes, but we aren’t really talking about volunteering and changing our outlook on homelessness. Homelessness is a loss of resource in our community and it affects our economy. I feel that the majority of people, I myself can be put it in that category, don’t really see homelessness outside of people who are chronically homeless; and I think there is a fear there that needs to be addressed so more people will come forward and help out. There is a stigma attached to it, based on what is easily seen but there is so much more to it than that and we all need a little education on it. I just don’t think people are talking about it enough and we need to start a conversation in order to initiate change. Personally, there has been a member or two in my extended family that have experienced homelessness, that had feeling of no way out and they rebounded. I feel, that it can and does happen. We as a public need to understand that.

riley beresTWK: So who is actually going to run the camera, Riley or Jimmy? Tell us what each of you will do.

Riley: Both Jimmy and I will be running the camera at different times. We will be alternating on asking interview questions and filming the interview itself. Both of us will be putting our input on any B-Roll that is included in the film. Basically, we are both an eye to the Director of Photography, as we compliment each other very well in our differences.

Jimmy: We will both be doing some filming and directing. We plan to take this on as a team, and work together to accomplish our goal

TWK: What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about homelessness?

Jimmy: I believe the biggest misconception about homelessness is “Oh, they’re homeless, they must be addicted to drugs or alcohol.”

Riley: In reality, homelessness could happen to absolutely anyone at anytime.

TWK: What is the biggest challenge to getting your film done?

Riley: This is really a two-fold answer in that we have two hurdles. The first is raising the money for filming permit. The second, is getting people to come forward with their stories of homelessness, since it is such a private struggle and people are afraid of being labeled.

Jimmy: The actual filming process is the least of our worries. We are more focused on raising funds for editing as well as promoting our film.

TWK: What are your plans once the film is done?

Jimmy: We plan to enter the film into some festivals and hopefully get good feedback and continue entering larger festivals. We also hope to use the film as an educational piece in schools and organizations. I plan to take what I learn during this process and volunteer my help to the different shelters in my area. I also plan on encouraging younger people to get involved with volunteering.

Riley: Of course, we would like to submit it to film festivals to get the word out there and start making our LA community thinking about homelessness in a new way.

It is inspiring to see these two teens in action to raise awareness for such a great cause! For more information, or to support these two filmmakers in their efforts, check out the links below.

Website :

Allie’s “Before a Fall” Playlist

before a fall posterPlaylists are so much fun to create. Whether it’s for a special event, for a friend, or simply music to play in the background while I write a screenplay (or a blog post!), I tend to put a lot of thought into the songs I select.

As an actress, I sometimes create playlists for certain projects/characters and listen to certain songs before filming or performing. My current show, BEFORE A FALL, is being called “Justified” meets “To Kill A Mockingbird.” My character’s name is Darla, and her journey is really emotional and intense. Here are the songs I’ve been listening to before rehearsals and performances, with some choice lyrics noted here and there. There are some new songs, some older tunes, a mix of genres – pop/rock, country, even musical theatre – and I hope you like hearing familiar voices as well as new-to-you artists!

Note: I usually put the songs in a particular order, but because this show is presented in a non-linear format, I like to put the playlist on shuffle and see what happens – but I always, ALWAYS start with Stepping Stone by The Good Mad! If you hear me singing between scenes, chances are, that’s what I’m singing.

Here’s a player for you to hear the songs – free streaming music!

The full list of songs:
“Stepping Stone” by The Good Mad
“She Walks Beautiful” by Amy Studt
“She Ran” by Amy Studt
“She Runs Away” by Duncan Sheik
“Kept” by Matt Nathanson
“C.S. Lewis Song” by Brooke Fraser
“Faithful” by Brooke Fraser
“Albertine” by Brooke Fraser
“Be Still” by Kelly Clarkson
“Reach” by Andrew Belle
“Barton Hollow” by The Civil Wars
“The Violet Hour” by The Civil Wars
“Lullaby” by Jonatha Brooke
“Forgiven” by Jonatha Brooke (from the album “Careful What You Wish For”)
“Even Angels Fall” by Jessica Riddle
“Gone” by Jessica Riddle
“Mama Who Bore Me” from Spring Awakening
“All My Sins” by Mandalay
“Simple Things” by Mandalay
“Home” by Gabrielle Aplin
“Liar and the Lighter” by Gabrielle Aplin (cover of the song by You Me at Six)
“Falling Asleep (Shine Don’t Shadow)” by The Good Mad
“The Drifter” by David Poe
“Borrowed Heaven” by The Corrs
“Gold from Once” (I especially like the a capella version)

Some significant lyrics:

“Stepping Stone” by The Good Mad
At the bottom of the fall, I wonder
Was it worth giving all I gave?
In the wake of all the worry
Through the pain, I must be learning

“Liar and the Lighter” (cover) by Gabrielle Aplin
Stick around to watch this town fall down onto its knees
You can pray the day that you hope is coming round real soon
I will run and stay away in a place that I don’t know well of
You can chose a different song that you will soon love

“She Ran” by Amy Studt
She’s running to the arms of an angel
She’s running from the only place she’s ever known
She’s running with her heart left behind her

“C.S. Lewis Song” by Brooke Fraser
If I find in myself desires nothing in this world can satisfy,
I can only conclude that I was not made for here…
Speak to me in the light of the dawn
Mercy comes with the morning

If you don’t see the music player embedded in this post, click here to listen to the playlist on Grooveshark.

allie costaAllie Costa is a Los Angeles-based actress working in film, TV, theatre, and voiceover. She can usually be found on a set, in a theatre, or in a secondhand bookstore. She worked with the hosts of Teens Wanna Know on the film Nerd Wars! Her character, Natalie Grace, was named after legendary actresses Natalie Wood and Grace Kelly.

Allie is an active member of readergirlz, a literacy and social media project for teens which was awarded the National Book Award for Innovations in Reading. If you missed this year’s Operation Teen Book Drop and would like to participate in future events, reach out to readergirlz via Twitter – @readergirlz #rockthedrop – or Facebook, or just ask Allie for details!

Allie’s Website

Downtown Burbank Car Classic – July 27, 2013

burbank car classic

Downtown Burbank Car Classic: A Salute To SoCal Automotive Culture

DOWNTOWN BURBANK, Calif. – The region’s most fabulous automobiles will cruise into Downtown Burbank for the 2nd annual Car Classic featuring restored and pre-1974 vehicles, exotics, hot rods and bikes on San Fernando Boulevard between Magnolia Boulevard and Angeleno Avenue, Saturday, July 27 from 3:00 to 9:00 pm. The Downtown Burbank Car Classic is free and open to the public.

In tune with Downtown Burbank’s ties to the entertainment industry, cars with a “Hollywood” twist will be in the spotlight — those appearing in film or television, or having a distinguished pedigree of celebrity ownership. Rounding off the fun will be family entertainment, music, and automotive-related vendor booths.

Sponsored by Downtown Burbank Partnership, the show will be held on four city blocks packed with retail, restaurants and eateries, and will integrate top automotive design with the upbeat vibe of Burbank’s legendary downtown shopping district.

For further information or to register a vehicle, please visit

Downtown Burbank is a mixed-use urban neighborhood spanning 34-blocks and featuring more than 300 shops, restaurants and businesses. Situated in the heart of entertainment industry, the area is renowned for its dynamic street scene, outdoor dining, and pedestrian orientation. Shopping and dining destinations include Urban Outfitters, IKEA, Barney’s Beanery, and Burbank Town Center. AMC movie screens consistently rank in the top five of theatrical circuits nationwide. The area is bounded by Verdugo Avenue, Glenoaks Boulevard, Burbank Boulevard and the I-5, and contains more than 9,000 parking spaces. The District is managed by Downtown Burbank Partnership, a California nonprofit mutual benefit corporation.;