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Only in Hollywood
Remembering Celeste Legaspi

By Ruben V. Nepales
First Posted 01:23:00 08/04/2007

Filed Under: Celebrities

LOS ANGELES -- Inquirer colleague Bayani San Diego Jr.?s precious piece on Celeste Legaspi brought back memories of our encounters with one of local show biz?s national treasures.

Celeste was always magnificent in concept-driven concerts. According to the singer-actress, she was challenged to stage those shows in the 1980s after her father, the late National Artist for Visual Arts Cesar Legaspi, told her that ?my concerts were good, but they were not original!?

After one of those concerts, which Celeste conceptualized with her manager, Girlie Rodis, we congratulated her, ?Excellent -- as usual!? She said thanks, but she told us she hated the words ?as usual.? We understood her point. There was nothing ?as usual? about her shows and performances.

Gastronomic novelty

One time, we had the pleasure of being invited by Celeste to dinner at her home with her husband, Nonoy Gallardo. We remember eating crispy kangkong -- a gastronomic novelty then -- and enjoying wonderful conversation and music.

?Celeste, ano ito, fried rice?,? asked Rene Durian, who was then working with her. The feisty entertainer shot him her famous ?taray? look. After all, what she cooked was not fried rice, excuse me, but paella! We all laughed.

We have since watched other world-famous performers, but to us, Celeste?s concerts rank among the very best we?ve seen.

Higher plane

To this day, Celeste?s divine singing and Ryan Cayabyab?s piano playing of such musical gems as ?Kundiman ng Luha? and ?Pahimakas (Awit ng Naghihingalo)? in her ?Koleksyon? CD can still transport us to a higher plane as we continue to navigate the concrete jungles of LA.

Homer Simpson hits a homer

?The Simpsons? has finally been turned into a movie and, best of all, has made enough money to buy Homer all the doughnuts he can eat in his lifetime!

Before the film was released, the show?s creator, Matt Groening, and his fellow writers and producers, James Brooks, Al Jean and Mike Scully, sat down with the press. Pink versions of Homer?s favorite snack were served. Al dished, ?I really should have bought stocks in pink doughnuts (laughs)!?


Matt, who was interviewed separately, talked about what factors determined which celebrities -- from Tony Blair to Stephen Hawking -- were heard on America?s longest-running TV comedy show, which is aired in over 90 countries and dubbed in more than 40 languages.

?Honestly, it?s the logistics,? answered the genius behind the delicious satire of contemporary life, once described by Time magazine as the ?best television show of the 20th century.? ?Sometimes we have to fly to the person whom we want to have on the show. We had to go to England once to record Paul and Linda McCartney.

?Another time, George Harrison, who played himself, was in LA so he just walked into the recording studio. When Elizabeth Taylor guested on the show, she came in with a little dog on her shoulder -- it was amazing! Johnny Carson came in by himself, while Hugh Hefner came in with an entourage.?

Old episodes

Matt confessed that he has forgotten the storylines of some of the old episodes. ?We?ve done so many -- over 400 episodes!,? he shared. ?I?ve forgotten some earlier episodes, so I watched them the way other people saw the show. I would go, ?Wow, what?s going to happen next?? They still surprised me!?

There are 11 writers credited in the series? big screen incarnation, which was directed by David Silverman. The others who contributed to the screenplay are Ian Maxtone-Graham, George Meyer, David Mirkin, Mike Reiss, Matt Selman, John Swartzwelder and Jon Vitti.

?A lot of the jokes in the movie are stuff that we dared ourselves to write,? Matt said of the movie script. ?We said, ?We?ll see if we can do it and still manage to be not too vulgar.? For instance, we were worried that Bart?s naked skateboarding scene might be too much.

?We knew it would be fine in Europe, but in the United States, some people couldn?t handle seeing Bart completely naked! But, I think we did it -- in a funny way.? So far, no one has objected to seeing Bart?s goods on the big screen.

New baby

The series? bespectacled creator, who?s also behind TV?s ?Futurama? and ?Life in Hell? comic strips, seized the chance to tout his new baby: ?I have a brand-new cartoon book, ?Will and Abe?s Guide to the Universe,? published by Harper Collins.

?It?s a collection of comic strips starring my children, Will and Abe. Parents love what their kids say -- we think they?re charming, funny and witty! My kids made up songs and stories and got into arguments. I taped them, wrote down everything, I drew them and compiled them in a book.?

What?s next? ?Vacation,? Matt replied quickly. ?It?s wonderful to push this movie out the door and see how the world likes it and then relax a little bit -- for the first time in 20 years! I will try to figure out what I want to do when I grow up (laughs)!?

James Brooks, who was interviewed at the same time with Jean and Scully, explained how a consensus is arrived at among a large group of writers.

Most forgiving wife

The filmmaker, who won an Oscar and a Golden Globe for writing ?Terms of Endearment,? said of their celluloid version of the beloved TV series: ?The movie says something that we haven?t had a chance to say before: Even with Marge Simpson, who?s the most forgiving wife in the world, you can?t take love for granted!?

In light of the team?s devotion to keep ?The Simpsons? simple but well-loved look in its cinematic version, James joked: ?They called the movie ?the picture that dares to be ugly.??

Since the movie took many years to make, the writers prayed that Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is the US president in the story, remained an ?in? subject.

?We were worried about Schwarzenegger,? James admitted. ?First, he was very popular. Then, he became unpopular!? To much laughter, he added: ?We were worried he wouldn?t get reelected (as governor of California). We even voted for him!?
Harry Shearer plays the voices of God and Satan in the series? TV episodes, and now, in the movie version, he voices Schwarzenegger.

The real voice of Tom Hanks, who portrays himself in the film, was used. ?We were looking for a character?the most trusted man in America,? Al explained. ?Hanks was the first choice, and Jim had worked with him, so Jim made the call.?

James disclosed, ?It took us 14 months to get Green Day on the phone, but it took only about four minutes to get Tom Hanks on the phone! (Laughter)?

Asked if the Simpsons will ever age, James answered: ?It?s clearly one of the reasons we?ve gone on so long -- that we can keep them at that age. We?re happy with that.? Then, Al cracked, ?If Homer was 18 years older, he would be dead! (Laughter)?

Impulsive desires

Which Simpson character do they relate to?

Matt: ?Originally, it was Bart, but these days, I relate more to Homer, in part because I love the idea of a guy who?s completely driven by his impulsive desires. That?s one of the reasons why Homer is popular. The difference between us and Homer is that, he goes for it and feels no guilt. I?ll look at a doughnut, but I?ll try to restrain myself -- whereas, Homer would not!?

Al: ?I relate more to Lisa because I wasn?t cool like Bart. It?s my way of getting revenge on everybody who was popular! (Laughter)?

James: ?I also relate to Lisa, because she is shunned and unappreciated. I relate to that part of childhood.?

Mike: ?I?ll go with Homer -- because I?m this kind of a crude slob!?

E-mail rvnepales_5585@yahoo.com, and read his blog, ?The Nepales Report,? on www.inquirerbloggers.net/nepalesreport.

Previous columns:
?Pisay? off to Toronto ? 08/03/07
A chat with Catherine, part 2 ? 07/29/07
Anne Hathaway?s beau ? 07/27/07
?Hermione? reacts to ?Potter? 7 leak ? 07/22/07
Julia Roberts? niece is another pretty woman ? 07/21/07
Vanessa Hudgens, Zac Efron turn heads at ?Hairspray? bash ? 07/19/07
Rodriguez and Tarantino: A great tandem ? 07/15/07
Imelda Staunton relishes villainess role ? 7/14/07

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