The J.Lo Low-Down
Laurie K. Schenden
The Back-up Plan” premieres this week and it’s Jennifer Lopez’ first film since birthing twins. It’s also the first feature film directed by Alan Poul, producer of Six Feet Under, Tales of the City and an advocate for gay rights. This is the third romantic comedy that J.Lo has starred in for a gay director (the other two were Robert Luketic on Monster-in-Law, Adam Shankman on The Wedding Planner).
“We click,” Lopez said in an interview with the Advocate. “Gay directors have a certain sensitivity when it comes to women’s issues … that’s what I feel. They also have a tremendous sense of humor about life, so they know romantic comedy. I love them.”
I had dinner with my pal Carlease Burke, a versatile actor-comedian-singer who appears in this film and also had recent recurring roles on NCIS and Heroes.
Cool and perpetually professional, Carlease (who always says to pronounce her name as if you are asking for a car lease in a dealership) has shared scenes with A-listers before, such as Tom Hanks (The Terminal) and Cameron Diaz and Toni Collette (In Her Shoes). Carlease did admit to one hurdle in teaming with Lopez.
“First of all, you have to get over the fact that she’s stunningly beautiful. You have to not stare, because she’s just [pauses to find a sufficient word] beautiful.”
Of course, on set J.Lo was accompanied by an entourage of hair, makeup and assistants.
“She also had her children with her and her own trailer the size of a small apartment building,” said Carlease. “The crew called it J.Lo Village.”
Carlease describes Lopez as “businesslike,” which comes as no surprise. Throughout her showbiz life she’s been the Latina Madonna, a woman who skillfully juggles her multi-talents into a multi-faceted career. While the nanny kept an eye on the little Marc Anthony clones, Lopez was typically parked front-and-center in Video Village, an area at the edge of the set where the director, producers, etc. watch the video monitors.
Carlease described her role as one of the single moms in the support group that Lopez joins. Single moms? There must be a lesbian character in there somewhere. Indeed; and one scene takes place in the lesbian household. The plot thickens when Lopez’s character, who decides to have a child on her own, promptly meets the man of her dreams, played by the hunky Alex Loughlin, after she has the procedure.
As Carlease gave me the J Lo low-down, we nibbled on a fresh assortment of food at Reyhan Persian Grill in Culver City, a place she suggested. The water in this place is even pH balanced.
That lead to her most revealing story of the day, which is probably why Lopez, who’s known to have an exceptional memory, will never forget her. I won’t give away the details but the next day, Carlease walked on set and Alex Loughlin, who wasn’t on set the day before, was sitting in Video Village watching the previous day’s footage.
“There was no reason that anyone would be watching that,” Carlease lamented.
But Alex turned to Carlease and asked, “Was that you?”
“I didn’t think anyone noticed, no one said anything,” she replied, innocently. At that, J.Lo burst out laughing and everyone else on set followed suit.
So if J Lo loses it at the premiere this week, will it be over a funny scene or Carlease? Lopez has already said that of all her romantic comedies, she thinks this is the funniest.
“You won’t mention that, right?” Carlease asked, pleadingly, after her story. I stared and she immediately realized that of course, it must be told. Not by me, however.
In addition to acting, Carlease is a stand-up comic. She is the producer of Laugh-a-Latte, a monthly comedy show at Hot Java in Long Beach. As comics know, and I know from covering comedy for years, personal experience is the stuff of which entertainment is made.
I can hardly wait to see Carlease, the comedian, explain this one onstage.
Blogger Bio: For more than a decade Laurie Schenden has covered the entertainment industry for Curve, the Los Angeles Times and Germany's Spotlight magazine. Her cover stories for Curve magazine have included Sharon Stone, Melissa Etheridge, and the cast of The L Word. She’s also an award winning documentary filmmaker and one of the co-creators of the Laughing Matters film series, seen on Logo.