Leo & Karen’s California View – May 2012

IT’S SPRING, and not a moment to soon! www.britweek.org is in full bloom. Now in its sixth year, recognizing the contributions we Brits add to the culture of the American life, from film, theatre, music, business to the importance of a cup of tea and a pint! It took a group of dedicated Brits and Yanks in the US to accomplish this goal, following the idea of Nigel Lythgoe who took his thoughts to former Consul General Bob Peirce. They put together the concept of BritWeek and the rest is history! Since Bob has moved to the private sector, his American wife Sharon Harroun Peirce has taken the reins of the organization, coordinating various events with sponsors Jaguar, Virgin Atlantic, Champneys, Cunard, Variety, Fig restaurant, Fairmont Miramar Hotel, InterContinental LA, Four Seasons Hotel, BBC, CLProjects, IM Intelligent.media, and Boots, to name a few.

Some of those who have helped promote with their time, efforts, or personal appearances have included the likes of Dame Judi Dench, Juliet Mills, Eric Idol, Hugh Laurie, John Cleese, Jeff Lynne, Along with, Nigel Lythgoe, Ryan Seascrest, Simon Cowell, Michael Sheen, Sir Richard Branson, Tony Blair, Zandra Rhodes, George Blodwell, Victoria and David Beckham.

Events change from year to year have included soccer, Rugby, Cricket, Pub Quiz’s with celebrities at the Olde Ship in Fullerton, Dart contests at the Kings Head in Santa Monica, fashion shows at studios to the Fashion Plaza in Orange County, British car shows, presentations by Jaguar at the Design Centre in West Hollywood, along with British furnishings and fabric.

As BritWeek grows it’s also a good time to celebrate all things British at most locals: Pubs are enjoying weeks (21 days) of merriment. If your pub or shop wants to get involved, contact www.britweek.org or us here at the paper, and we’ll pass your info along.

There’s still time to participate as we go to press including on May 4 An Evening with Piers Morgan in conversation with Jackie Collins, supporting Children’s Hospital Los Angeles at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Check out www.BritWeek.org for all the events as they’re too numerous to mention.

Gillian Campbell covered a hugely successful Speakers Breakfast “In Beverly Hills March 30, Paul Tweed a leading Media lawyer in the UK, kept a room full of BABC LA members riveted by his insight into phone hacking cases against Newscorp in the UK. The audience heard how Mr Tweed’s many clients were victims and how he is currently investigating its prevalence in the US by UK tabloids and their counterparts. Interviewed by Chuck Henry, co-anchor of KNBC News the audience was kept captivated by a discussion on current media controversies in the US and UK including the phone hacking and wiki leaks scandals. This event was viewed later that evening on NBC LA.”

One event we attended last month in Malibu at The Sunset Restaurant on Zuma Beach, where I filmed a very popular Boddington’s Ale commercial called “Screen Kiss” which went worldwide but not the US.” The event was put on by the BABC. The whole place was packed with Brits, even Oksana Grigorieva, Mel Gibson’s ex was there. I talked to her for a while. No wonder Mel fell for her, she’s gorgeous! But see, that’s the danger: one’s easily trapped. Look at Karen and me. I’m such a romantic I’m in luv with luv itself.

Also reporting in on this event, Gillian Campbell said, “April 20 in Malibu at the Sunset, the building shook with a Night of Music in Malibu, put on by BABC LA who immersed members, guests, the entertainment industry and just plain music lovers with Gary Miller and his friends. Gary is a Platinum Songwriter/Record Producer who toured with Sir Elton John and George Michael. Joining Gary were eight geniuses in their own rights who backed up Gary with music until midnight! There was also a special musical performance by Oksana Grigorieva whose piano and voice kept the packed room captivated. The venue of the Sunset was perfect for this evening’s entertainment with Fritz the owner, tapping his feet as well! The evening was aired the same night on Fox, Channel 11 Los Angeles as well as Extra TV.”

Dory, Zoe, Bill, Leo, Barry, Carol and Karen at Leo’s Birthday Bash!! Photo: Bill Bass.

It was my big birthday with a “0” in it. Since I luckily survived a car crash, though still on pain pills and still hurting nearly five months later. Karen arranged a get-together of a few longtime friends to visit. So to show my undying luv and affection, as her early birthday present and to thank her for nursing me back to health, I bought her a NEW vacuum cleaner! Now that’s caring!

Rudyard Kipling wrote, when you can walk with Kings and Common men, then you are a Man my son.

I’d like to add to that, when you can meet the most famous people of the day, yet you recognize the greatest value is the friends you know everyday, then you are the luckiest person alive!

Most people don’t get or seek the recognition they deserve. So my birthday was very special. Everyone that had known each other for 30+ years and what a good idea that was. Bill Wilkinson I first met in 1966 while promoting dances at the Grand Hotel in Torquay. His ex, and my girlfriend of the time, Cherry Dobbins introduced us. Cherry now lives in Cypress caring for animals.

I was right in the middle of a punch-up, throwing out this loud Yobbo. (we didn’t have the luxury of bouncers in those days, so, I was using friends or Brixham fishermen). I’m on the ground in an arm lock, waiting for the local constable to arrive, Cherry said, “Oh, hi Bill.” Bill was one of the crowd watching the fracas. Later Bill and I went to a casino to try out a system Bill thought he had perfected on roulette, which cured me of gambling forever. I lost my shirt! Not Bill. He went on to really perfect the art of handicapping the ponies, and is now one of the most sought after racing advisers worldwide. His hobbies building large model aircraft (Spitfires) and flying them in two fields he bought in Devon solely as an airfield.

His partner of 30 years, Zoe Clough, is an award winning director, producer, and presenter for the BBC, who I knew as a child when her father and my father worked together at the now defunct Dartmouth Pottery and what a clever and talented lady. When invited, she said, “We were going to Paris for the weekend! But Port Hueneme sounds much more exciting?”

Dr Barry Steer went to Oxford, became a professor at a Miami University, went on to work for Visa, and now consults with IBM, flying around the nation weekly instructing on new software.

Carol Schauger, my first wife, I met in Trois Rivers, Ontario, Canada at a night club. At the time I was waiting for immigration papers to clear. Having just sailed the Atlantic in a 50’ ketch from Sweden, I got bored in New Jersey and joined a carnival to explore more of America. Met Carol, took her to England where we were married in the park, returned to New Jersey, then drove across the US in a Volkswagen. Lived in LA, split up a few years later. Carol went on to USC and got her Masters in Sociology, now works for the State as a supervisor with 15 staff in a youth corrections facility.

Dory Bass, my second wife, a UCLA graduate who I met through the late, great British comedian Jonathan Moore (long time friend). Dory is one of the more successful travel agents in LA. When we met, Dory worked for Sharon Osbourne’s father Don Arden and was doing all the travel in those days for Black Sabbath, Ozzie Osbourne, Jeff Lynne, ELO, and Air Supply. Later she took over travel for the LA Lakers when Jerry Buss moved the team to LA. Last year she married five time Emmy Sound Engineer Bill Bass.

Sadly, not in the picture as they arrived late, and getting everyone’s attention was by then impossible, was Car Man Phil, his wife Pat, and daughter Eliana. Karen and I were married in Phil and Pat’s garden, with Phil being best man.

My thanks and gratitude to Karen, who not only tolerates me, but goes out of her way to coordinate great get togethers like his one. She works effortlessly for the Brits and I’m hoping we’ve given her a home within our Community. What came out of an extraordinarily enjoyable long weekend is pooling our resources with Zoe being the best writer, Karen the coordinator, and the rest of us plain wild putting various stories together from the last 50 years into book form. Everyone contributing.

If one can go through life and meet and enjoy such good people, and the thousand of others I’ve met, one can only feel grateful and be very humble.

May Birthdays: David Beckham 36; Mary Hopkin 61; Adele 23; Tony Blair 58; Donovan 65; Eric Burdon 70; Pierce Brosnan 56; Craig Ferguson 49; Enya 50; James Fox 72; Joe Cocker 67; Morrissey 52; Joan Collins 78.

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