Pop Culture

Celebrity interviews and pop culture news from entertainment journalist Darrah de jour.

Q&A with Muslim-born Composer Farzam Salami

Q&A with Farzam Salami

by Darrah Le Montre


Where were you born?

FS: I was born in Tehran, the capital of Iran.

When did you start writing music?

FS: I started playing music at age two. My parents tell me that I started playing an Iranian drum called the Tombak.

How dangerous was it in Tehran for a musician wanting to express themselves?

FS: Around 10 to 15 years ago it was much more difficult to do music in Iran, now it’s better. But if an artist gets to be known worldwide and works with western artists, especially Americans, then the Iranian government will be restrictive about it. I had interviews with Iranian-American satellite TV channels which caused me so many troubles with the Iranian government.

Are you a practicing Muslim?

FS: No, I’m not a practicing Muslim.

Do you have any Christian friends?

FS: I have many Christian friends and my first concert in America was with well-known Gospel singer “ Kadesh” AKA Desiree Coleman Jackson.

Are you a US citizen?

FS: I have a Green Card, so I am a legal U.S. resident. In two years I will be a U.S. citizen!

Do you feel unsafe in the United States?

FS: I don’t feel unsafe in U.S. but I have faced difficult situations that could be construed as racism. For example, some industry people didn’t want to work with me because I am from Iran, and many others didn’t want to give me an opportunity as they considered me a stranger/foreigner.


What inspires your music?

FS: Mostly my life story inspires me to write! When I was younger, I started writing music to reflect different personal experiences. Also, world events inspire me; whether they are other people’s life stories or victims of terror attacks or natural disasters.

Do you have friends or family in your country of origin that are trying to come to the United States?

FS: Yes, my mom, as well as my married sister in Iran. They have both faced difficulties because of my collaborations with different western artists here. For example, there was fallout for them after I wrote and dedicated a song to President Obama called Utopia of Peace.

How do you feel about Donald Trump?

FS: About Donald Trump, I believe in America, democracy and that laws are much stronger than a person like Donald Trump to change or remove them. Donald Trump will make everything worse in Middle East and it’s already a messed up situation.

How do you feel about the burkini ban in France?

FS: Burkinis are bad in France, in my honest opinion. I don’t like burkinis, but I think forcing people to remove them is against human freedom, as long as they are not a threat to public safety.


What do you love about the United States?

FS: What I love about America is the freedom and opportunities that are available for everyone. Even though it was extremely difficult at the beginning not having ANY relatives here and moving here not knowing English. But I still believe America is land of opportunities.

You’ve mentioned that you have been inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr. Explain this?

FS: Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of the first inspirations in my life, after I read the translation of “I Have a Dream Speech.” It changed many things in me as a 15-year-old boy, which made me want to move to America.

Where can fans listen to your music?

FS: My website: www.farzamsalami.com and www.hollywoodmixstudios.com and friend me on Facebook.

LISTEN to Farzam’s song Utopia of Peace below!

Please follow and like us:

Backstage With Jake Gyllenhaal and the rest of my crazy summer!

It’s been ages since I blogged, but I assure you that I have a good excuse! This summer has been magical — and crazy! We travelled like mad! Overcoming a fear of traveling to a foreign country, I just returned from Tokyo, where I saw Tim Burton‘s NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS LIVE and enjoyed temple crawls and authentic sushi meals! The plane ride was totally bearable, especially since my honey and I got bumped from business to first class for free on the way home!

We also spent the Fourth of July in NYC and Rhode Island at an AMAZING hotel called Ocean House. It’s two doors down from Taylor Swift’s insane mansion (yes, Tay, that was me with the binoculars). We enjoyed a top-notch, classy discovery called Cracker Barrel (and had to dine there — can it even be called “dining”?? three times in one week). We had a brilliant photo shoot in San Antonio at America’s oldest kiddie park and kicking it all off was a fabulous trip to Maui and Kauai! (My babysitter spied John Mayer in the fitness room of our hotel.)

The fangirl in me just about died hanging out with Will Chase… of “Nashville” fame to Angelenos, and broadway fame to New Yorkers. His girlfriend, Ingrid Michaelson was even more adorkable in person.

At the after party for the MINIONS premiere, I met fucking Jon Hamm.

Most of all, I am feeling grateful for the whirlwind of summer, the love of my family, and the soulful experience of being a mother. What are you feeling grateful for? Have you had a good summer?

Much love!!

Darrah xoxox

Steven Boyer, star of Broadway's Tony-winning musical HAND TO GOD

Steven Boyer, star of Broadway’s Tony-winning musical HAND TO GOD




Adorable Cosplayer personifying Jack Skellington

Adorable Cosplayer personifying Jack Skellington in Tokyo, Japan


With Danny Elfman and Sandy Cameron

With Danny Elfman and Sandy Cameron


We look like sisters! <img class=

Vanessa Bayer from SNL” width=”450″ height=”600″ /> We look like sisters! smile Vanessa Bayer from SNL



Jon Hamm (and rye) MINIONS PREMIERE

Jon Hamm (and rye) MINIONS PREMIERE



Please follow and like us:

The Conversation: Darrah’s Essay is Live!

I’m really honored to have an essay “Daddy Dearest: When Father Equals Fear” appearing on The Conversation website. Brit blonde host and wife of Nick from The Strokes, Amanda de Cadenet, handpicked the piece from a slew of others. It details growing up inside a less-than-perfect household, and how I finally made (some) peace with the patriarch of my nuclear family.

Will you help me? Please share/like and comment beneath the story. I’d love to hear your thoughts and appreciate the support! Who knows? Maybe – with your help – I’ll start writing for them more often! ;)


Eleven years old

Please follow and like us:

Adult Film Star Sasha Grey Joins Piven and Grenier on ‘Entourage’

Not just a girl – from Soderbergh to Katzenberg porn chick Grey becomes one of the boys

By Darrah Le Montre

HOLLYWOOD, CA (HollywoodToday) 7/31/10 – One of adult film’s most enigmatic and lauded stars has made a significant transition into legitimate acting.  The star of Steven Soderbergh’s 2009 escort-themed film “The Girlfriend Experience,” Grey will play an escalated version of herself, as Vincent Chase’s hard-partying, arty girlfriend on HBO’s hit dramedy “Entourage.”

Grey, 22, describes guest-starring in a multiple episode arc starting August 1st as “exciting.”

Being the new kid on the long-running TV show, she tells Hollywood Today in an exclusive interview, “There’s definitely shorthand between some of the cast members because they’ve been working together for so long.  There’s little idiosyncratic behaviors that you don’t really catch onto right away.  But, overall they really made me feel like part of the family.”

An advocate for sexuality, regardless of “shape, size or color or what you’re into” Grey admits when she was young, she navigated through an environment where sex was considered dirty and something to hide.  “I’ve always been proud of my sexuality,” she says.

The recently married, self-proclaimed artist has been documenting her years in porn since day one – at 18 years-old – and can now add archivist and storyteller to her résumé.  “Neu Sex,” a photography book created in collaboration with her husband Ian is mixed with behind-the-scenes images from her daily life sprinkled with fine art.  “Neu Sex” released by VICE Books in November is designed to aptly expose Sasha in an artful way that she controls.  She explains, “There are so many photos of me, taken by other people that aesthetically I have no control over.”

Palin's got nothing on Sasha

The pioneer in a one-woman anal sex revolution, the waify brunette has been recognized as an unusual force in adult film.  Insisting she moved to L.A. specifically for the adult industry and without typical Hollywood aspirations, life changed when Soderbergh found her on MySpace.  “When you get the opportunity to work with somebody like Steven Soderbergh there’s a lot of other opportunities that stem from that,” she says.

A stand-out from the standard blonde hair/fake boobs utopia that over-populates Porn Hub, Grey’s indulgences include foreign cinema (with a special passion for Godard).  She is an art buff who frequents The Pacific Design Center and a foodie, traversing L.A.’s best tapas-style restaurants.  Not the typical fare for your average hardcore hacktress.

The American Apparel model and lead vocalist for aTelecine, her experimental post-punk band (releasing two full-length albums later this year) considers herself a role model though she abhors the word ‘feminist.’  “It really doesn’t have a lot of life left and it’s really unfortunate.  People say the word feminist and they have this very narrow minded idea of what that actually is.  I do think of myself as a strong, independent, female individual.”

Only four month’s into her professional life as a triple X’er she was profiled by Los Angeles Magazine in a piece entitled, “The teenager & the porn star: will 18-year-old Sasha Grey become the adult film industry’s next Jenna Jameson?”  This instant fame attracted the attention of TV’s “The Insider” and then Tyra Banks.  The stunner appeared on “The Tyra Banks Show” receiving something of an anti-porn tirade from the model herself.

Un-phased, the Sacramento-native Grey, who says she became more comfortable in her skin and with her sexuality at 16 years-old after multiple visits to San Francisco, continued acting out.  She’s appeared in nearly 200 adult films.

Though today, Grey is hesitant to discuss her adult film future, stating only that if she finds a porn flick “worth doing,” she’ll do it.  Admitting it’s an “uphill battle,” right now, she’s focusing on her acting career.

Sasha Grey will appear on “Entourage” August 1st on HBO

“Neu Sex” will be released in November and available online and at select book retailers.


First appeared in Hollywood Today.

Please follow and like us:

Voice-Over Royalty Kenny & Talley Celebrate SpongeBob’s 10th Anniversary

The hottest voices in animation enjoy life out of the spotlight

By Darrah Le Montre

LOS ANGELES, CA (Hollywood Today) 3/7/10 – Now in its 10th year, the multiple-Emmy nominated hit animated series “SpongeBob SquarePants” is a phenomenon.  This quirky underwater tale stars sensation Tom Kenny and features his wife, sought-after Jill Talley.  The duo dish to Hollywood Today on what it’s like as voice-over actors on dry land.

Before starring in Nickelodeon’s wunderkind “SpongeBob SquarePants,” which has spawned a feature film and merchandise sold all over the U.S., Kenny says he was “the weakest man to ever work on a loading dock.”  He also spent time “down in the bowels of a bank in San Francisco taking pictures of cancelled checks everyday for a year,” Kenny deadpans.

Being fascinated with cartoons and animation in his pre-teens, Kenny read up on the voice-over industry becoming aware of the credits on cartoons and veterans like June Foray, Mel Blanc, Daws Butler and Don Messick.  Foray, who has lent her voice to hundreds of shows including “Bugs Bunny,” is like “five Mick Jaggers,” he says.

As a teen, the 47-year-old Annie Award winner remembers talking with long-time friend, comic Bobcat Goldthwait about whose career each would have if given the opportunity.  Bobcat, who Kenny describes as “very John Belushi-esque” staked a claim in Belushi.  “I said Mel Blanc and my reasons were because he’s had this impact on pop culture that’s not immediately apparent.  And he’s old and working in show business.  Even at 16, I was sort of worried about the ageist aspect.  I thought then, as I think now, find something that you love to do and then do it for as long as you can.”

Syracuse-born Kenny, who says he was never the “out-there class clown” admits he played around a little with voices as a child.  However, the humble actor drew comics and was Goldthwait’s sidekick.  As teens, Kenny and Goldthwait formed comedy duo “The Generic Comics” getting paid to write sketch shows.  Every Tuesday at a biker bar in Syracuse, the two would take the reins over the small stage; gaining invaluable training for the future.

Kenny reflects the two were ballsy and calls his career, “smart by mistake.”

The bulk of Kenny’s stand-up experience came in the 80s in San Francisco, when “it was really creative, comedy was king,” he enthuses.  “You could make a good living at it as a single guy with a cheap apartment.”

One of his fondest memories is meeting legendary stand-up comedian George Carlin, who encouraged his unique style and liberal politics.  He offered newbie Kenny his phone number to use when he moved to L.A.

“I never used it,” he confesses, presuming Carlin didn’t sincerely want to hear from “some kid.”

After some fairly rough gigs at fish houses and bowling alleys making anywhere from $150-$275 each set (not bad in 1986) he earned his stripes as a fan favorite, segueing into an incredibly successful career in voice-overs.  Kenny and writing partner Andy Paley have written songs for SpongeBob and Disney.  Tom’s upcoming projects include the animated feature film “Winnie the Pooh” and Cartoon Network’s “Adventure Time.”

Another highly recognizable voice in the industry is Jill Talley, Kenny’s wife, who came up in the ranks studying comedy with heavy-hitters Conan O’Brien, Amy Sedaris and Steve Carrell.  Talley has voiced dozens of characters for cartoons like “The Boondocks,” “American Dad,” “WordGirl,” and the award-winning indie film “Little Miss Sunshine.”  She’s appeared on-camera on “The Sarah Silverman Show,” “Frasier” and “Seinfeld.”

Married with two kids, ages 6 and 12, the down-to-earth couple met at CBS Radford Lot doing the sketch show “The Edge” with Jennifer Aniston and Julie Brown.

It was 1992 a year of sketch comedies, including “The Ben Stiller Show” but “The Edge,” starring an unknown Jennifer Aniston lasted only one season.  Kenny says of Aniston, “she was quite good and completely unconfident.”

Jill began her career at Chicago’s infamous improv mainstay Second City.  “I was very scared when I first joined,” Talley admits of teaming up with the award-winning touring company whose alum includes the late Chris Farley, who Talley performed alongside.  But it was at Second City that she broadened her range, hitting the road visiting schools and honing material written by the actors on the Main Stage – where she eventually landed.

47-year old Talley, who almost followed in her father’s footsteps becoming a firefighter, says she likes character roles the most.  And revels in the normalcy of not taking on starring roles.

Highlighting the differences between voice-over work and on-camera toils, Jill says, “The simple pleasures of taking your kids to the park and not having anyone disturb you – I would have trouble giving that up.”

A niche industry, Talley notes that while there is some acrimony in voice-over work among women, mostly there is respect.  “Yeah, I think there’s competition in any performing field, but I think there’s also such mutual respect among the top women.  Grey DeLisle, Pat Musick, Tara Strong – who are so good at what they do, there’s no denying it.  The very top women in the voice-over industry love each other.”

However, she observes, “I never really feel there are enough roles in general for women.”

Neither Kenny nor Talley watches or listens to their performances, choosing instead to donate the DVDs to their children’s school auctions.

“Being uncomfortable in my skin made me infer that voice-over was the best place for me,” says Kenny.  “Not being seen gives me so much more freedom.  Being on camera would limit the shit out of me.”

While many people make the assumption that he must be rattled that SpongeBob hasn’t lent the way to more on-camera work, Tom clarifies that sitcom fame was never his intention.

“I don’t need to speed-date a career,” Kenny muses.  “I’m already doing what I love.”


First appeared in Hollywood Today.

Please follow and like us:

Bisexuality Continues To Puzzle Researchers

Republished by Harvard University Press

Researchers continue to stammer over what truly defines attraction

By Darrah Le Montre, staff writer

LOS ANGELES CA (RPRN) 05/14/09 — Megan Foxrecently admitted during an interview with Esquire, “I have no question in my mind about being bisexual … I mean, I could see myself in a relationship with a girl — Olivia Wilde is so sexy she makes me want to strangle a mountain ox with my bare hands.”

Adding her to the celebrity hot list of women that identify as bisexual, including Angelina Jolie, Madonna, and on some days, Drew Barrymore, one can’t help but wonder whether bisexuality is a trend, a choice or something more real altogether, like its own identity.

To read the full story, visit Rush PR News.

Please follow and like us:

Love it? Share it!