Saturday, May 02, 2015

The New York Times Yet Again Discovers That People Like Living In Los Angeles

New York

Oh, New York Times, where do I even begin? Listen, I'm always in favor of touting Los Angeles, and if L.A. is now winning the perception war vs. New York, I suppose that's fine. And yet, there's something about the "hey, L.A. is suddenly OK" tone in paragraphs like these that grate:

Bearded young New Yorkers can snap up brioche tarts at Proof Bakery in Atwater Village, visit gallery shows at Shepard Fairey’s Subliminal Projects in Echo Park, or settle in over barrel-aged rye cocktails at Bar Stella in Silver Lake, and scarcely realize they are more than a stroll away from McCarren Park, except for the 70-degree sunshine tickling their cheeks in February.

The changes are more striking in downtown Los Angeles. Long a gritty urban backwater, Downtown has become a trend factory, brimming with Beaux-Arts loft condos, galleries, groundbreaking restaurants like Baco Mercat and, inevitably, a new Ace Hotel to serve as “Portlandia” south. (GQ magazine called Downtown Los Angeles “America’s next great city” last year.)

The buzz from all this is audible 3,000 miles east, to the point that New Yorkers’ incessant Williamsburg comparisons to Silver Lake, Highland Park, Venice Beach — or wherever — have become a wearying cliché to locals (except Aja Brown, the mayor of Compton, Calif., who has been pitching her economically challenged south-central city as “a new Brooklyn” of late.)

No wonder a new generation of restless New Yorkers is starting to heed the Los Angeles siren call, and not just aspiring actor-waiters, as in years past.

“New York feels like it’s all about ‘making it,’ ” said Julia Price, a musician and former Manhattanite who is in her 20s. “L.A. feels like it’s all about making things.”

Folks from the East Coast have flocked to Los Angeles for over 100 years, drawn by the exact same things you mention in this article -- creative freedom (a little business known colloquially as "Hollywood"), weather, real estate and a lot more. There's so much condescension in the idea that Los Angeles is suddenly OK because it's got hipper restaurants and more people who care about fashion (is that even true?) Remember, In-N-Out Burger has been here since 1948.

L.A. was enough of a lure to East Coasters that the Los Angeles Times even published an annual "Midwinter Edition" and sent it to the East Coast up until the late 1950s:

LA Times
LA Times

Thursday, April 30, 2015

KCRW's THE SPIN-OFF: Producer Julie Plec on Juggling Two Shows, Pilot Season and Losing "Vampire Diaries" Star Nina Dobrev

The latest edition of KCRW's The Spin-Off is up! Showrunner Julie Plec is having quite a moment. Her show "The Vampire Diaries" has been renewed for Season 7. The spin-off of that show, "The Originals," has been renewed for Season 3, and she's also got a new pilot in play this year.

In a rare moment of calm, she stopped by KCRW to talk with me and Joe Adalian about everything from how she manages to oversee 44 new episodes a year, to the joys and challenges of dealing with very vocal fans on social media. She also tells us why in the writing world, she still feels like "brand" is a dirty word.

Listen below!


Sunday, April 26, 2015

A Visit to Discovery Cube Los Angeles, the Valley's New Children's Museum

Discovery Cube

A few years ago we took the kids to the Discovery Cube in Orange County; now we have an outpost of the children's science museum right here in Los Angeles. The Discovery Cube Los Angeles is now open, up in Sylmar, and now is the time to visit: For a limited time, entry is only $10 a person.

The Discovery Cube L.A. is smaller than the Orange County original, but has enough activities and exhibits to keep your little ones engaged and interested for several hours. (There's also room to expand, and there indeed are more attractions to come). Plus, it's located in the Hansen Dam recreation area, with a playground right next door -- so you can absolutely make a day of it.

Among the highlights:

"Aquavator": Descend deep into the earth’s crust in a specialized elevator and view the geological layers while learning the science behind underground water aquifers. Make sure to keep an eye out for the mythical Megalodon on your trip!
"Inspector Training Course": Is your house earthquake proof and energy efficient? Find out when you strap on an inspector belt and master the skills of a home inspector using a touch screen tablet. This competitive scavenger-hunt game takes you inside a California home and puts you to the test!

Discovery Cube

Rock climbing wall

Discovery Cube

Thomas and Friends Explore the Rails: "A hands-on STEM exhibit based on the adventures of everyone’s favorite blue engine, Thomas, his engine friends and the Island of Sodor’s iconic locations: Knapford Station, Sodor Steamworks and much more. Help Thomas and his friends solve a variety of challenges, from simple sorting and shape identification to more complex engineering obstacles."

Discovery Cube

Exhibit about the Los Angeles River

Discovery Cube

Race to Zero Waste: "The first one to zero wins! Zero waste, that is. Race against others to correctly sort recyclables and other waste to divert trash from our landfills."

Discovery Cube

Discovery Market: "Grab your cart, aim your scanner and zoom through the aisles in this exciting grocery store game. Learn the importance of making healthy and Earth-friendly choices when you shop. Are you up for the challenge?"

Discovery Cube

More inside the grocery store game

Discovery Cube

Science of Hockey: "The Science of Hockey, created in association with the LA Kings, is one of the most technically advanced sports-themed exhibits in the world. The permanent destination attraction provides science and hockey fans with exclusive access to the sport and the team, while exploring the fascinating math and science behind the game."

Discovery Cube

"Designers worked closely with LA Kings representatives and BaAM Productions to create an exhibit that is as interactive, compelling and realistic as possible – a commitment to authenticity."

Discovery Cube

Blogger Kid 2.0 loved the zamboni.

Discovery Cube

Discovery Cube is located at the intersection of Foothill Boulevard and Osborne Street, right off the 210 freeway.

Friday, April 24, 2015

KCRW's THE SPIN-OFF: Listen to TV Guide Magazine's Showrunners Panel from Wondercon

Following up on my post about this year's TV Guide Magazine Showrunners Fan Favorites panel at Wondercon Anaheim, we've taken the audio and posted it as a bonus edition of KCRW's "The Spin-Off" podcast!

The panel included:

Brannon Braga (Star Trek: TNG/Voyager/Enterprise; 24; Cosmos and Salem)
Kerry Ehrin (Moonlighting, Friday Night Lights, Parenthood, Bates Motel)
Adam F. Goldberg (Still Standing, Breaking In, The Goldbergs)
Dan Harmon (Sarah Silverman Program, Rick and Morty, Community)
Alex Hirsch (Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, Fish Hooks, Gravity Falls)
Peter Horton (actor; Grey’s Anatomy, Brimstone, The Philanthropist, American Odyssey)
Graeme Manson (Flashpoint, Being Erica, Orphan Black)

The discussion kicked off with an attempt to get the panelists to answer that always tricky question: What exactly does a showrunner do?

Listen below!

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