Friday, April 18, 2014

KCRW's THE SPIN-OFF: April Edition (Listen Now!)

It's that time of the month -- a new edition of KCRW's The Spin-Off TV podcast is now up! This month Joe Adalian and I are joined by Grantland's Emily Yoshida to talk about the latest hot TV topics. Here's a rundown:


Who is the real Stephen Colbert, and will CBS be able to get the best out of him for their late night landscape?

What's up, CNN? Plus, is the revamp of HLN, formerly "Headline News," a cynical bid to reach young viewers?

The unholy alliance between Twitter and TV. Does the social network help shows? Get tweeters jobs in the industry or is it all a big bubble?

Here's the episode, listen below, or go here to download it yourself!

Everything Is Awesome: The "Lego Movie" Exhibit at Legoland

Legoland hotel

We're living in a Lego world, and that's just fine with the blogger kids. "The Lego Movie" was a big hit in the Franklin Avenue household, and our recent visit to Legoland and the Legoland Hotel (more on that in another post) was probably one of the best moments of their young lives.

One of the highlights from this most recent Legoland trip was visiting the actual Lego sets as seen in the live-action tail-end of the movie. Pivotal scenes and characters were also depicted in what would truly be the most amazing personal Lego collection of all times. (Hey listen, I can relate to Will Ferrell's character in the movie. I'd want to try and keep my kids from destroying this world as well.) Some other pics:

Legoland hotel

Entrance to the "Lego Movie" exhibit

Legoland hotel

Everyone loves 1980-something space guy. Here's his space ship!

Legoland hotel

A Wild West display, along with a stern warning like the one in the movie.

Legoland hotel

The ominous Octan tower.

Legoland hotel

One of the climactic scenes from the movie.

Legoland hotel

A sweeping view of Lego city.

Legoland hotel

Emmett's construction site.

Legoland hotel

Will Ferrell's work table.

Legoland hotel

The Lego Movie skyline.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

With Spring in Swing, the L.A. River Back in Full Bloom


Above: One of the more scenic sections of the L.A. River, near Frogtown

With spring here, the Los Angeles River is once again green and in full bloom -- making it perfect for Sunday bike rides. I hit the path last weekend and took a few more pics.


From Atwater Village, I took the bike path all the way to the end, Egret Park (near the 5/110 transition).


Frogtown mural.


One more mural.


Love these newly added signs giving mile counts along the path.


Red Car river park in Atwater Village.


This is kind of cool: A small concert takes place on the banks of the river near Red Car park in Atwater Village. The people watching are even dressed up!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

L.A. Cameo: Slate on "Modern Family' And Its Accurate Los Angeles Geography

Over the years "Modern Family" has gone from barely acknowledging its setting to taking full advantage of its Los Angeles locale. The comedy's characters shop at the Grove, regularly show up at the Century Plaza Hotel (above, which doubles for many locations) and plenty of other West L.A. locales.

In a column for Slate, writer Andy Bowers sees even more similarities between the show and his life on the westside:

Mitchell Pritchett has taken over my office. I mean that literally, or as literally as possible when one is discussing a fictional character. If you watch last week’s episode of ABC’s Modern Family, you’ll see Mitch start a new job at the Center for Justice. They give him an office with an exposed brick wall, the office in which he finds several intriguing notes left in the desk drawer by the previous occupant. But in real life, the previous occupant of that room was me. (I recently moved to another office that also appears briefly in these scenes; it’s the one to the right of the vending machine, a machine that, sadly, they only brought in for the shoot.

If you live or work in West L.A., you’ve probably had a few Modern Family encounters of your own. And if you live around here and watch the show, it’s easy to forget these people are fictional. They feel like real neighbors who inhabit the same world we do, much more so than any other TV show I’ve ever seen. They’ve filmed at my daughter’s middle school, and Luke and Manny currently attend the public high school (Pali) that they’d probably attend if they were, you know, real people. The Pritchett and Dunphy kids use the playground and sports facilities at the same park we do. Claire’s firing range is in a strip mall that is walking distance from my house (although that particular business does not exist), and the intersection where she tried to get a stop sign installed is one I pass through every day on my bike ride to work (thankfully, it already has a four-way stop). We also regularly see the MF crew as they shoot driving scenes—which involve complicated rigs in front of the characters’ car—all over the local streets.

That's nothing new in Los Angeles, even in this age of runaway production. Film shoots are a regular way of life here, of course. And we regularly chronicle how "Mad Men," "Parks and Recreation" and some of our other favorite shows use Los Angeles spots to double as out-of-town settings. But Bowers points out a rare opportunity: "Modern Family's" Dunphy house is actually on the market right now, and for sale at $2.3 million.

OK, the fantasy of living in pricey Los Angeles real estate. That is the stuff that Hollywood dreams are made of.

Rate-A-Restaurant #315: Deluca's Italian Deli


Restaurant: Deluca's Italian Deli

Location: 781 Americana Way (Glendale's Americana at Brand)

Type of restaurant: Italian Deli


We stipulated: We were at the Americana on a Friday night for an event at the Barnes & Noble, and it was getting late -- too late to find a sit-down restaurant, but time to get something quick.

They stipulated: "Deluca’s Italian Deli serves up flavorful, authentic sandwiches, antipasti and bakery treats in a fresh, modern setting. Enjoy Italy’s finest imported meats and cheeses as well as local artisanal specialties, all priced for everyday eating."


What we ordered: PANINO CAPRESE (Fresh imported Mozzarella, sliced tomato, roasted bell peppers and basil on a toasted baguette; $7.50), rigatoni from the deli case ($7.50)


High point:  The one sandwich was good enough for both Maria and I (we weren't that hungry), while Evan and Nathan could share the pasta.

Low point: They gave us the wrong sandwich first -- mozzarella with prosciutto. It was Friday, so we were supposed to be no-meat for Lent, and realized Deluca's error when we took a bite! But thankfully they made us a new sandwich and let us keep the wrong one (and bring home).


Overall impression: While the market items (imported from Italy) are as pricey as you might expect, I was impressed with how economical our meal was -- rare for an upscale deli like this. I like that Deluca's is around, and is probably a nice resource for people living at the Americana. Given the Americana's turnover rate -- many of the shopping center's inaugural restaurants (including the ones funded with Rick Caruso seed money) are now gone -- I wonder how long Deluca's has left in its life. But for now, I'm glad we tried it.

Will we return: Perhaps, if we're at the Americana and again looking for a quick bite to eat.
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