Monday, August 31, 2015

Rate-A-Restaurant #354: Guu (Vancouver)


Restaurant: Guu Izakaya

Location: 838 Thurlow St (Vancouver)


Type of restaurant: Japanese

We stipulated: I was in Vancouver for less than 48 hours -- long enough for perhaps one real meal. My colleague Geraldine suggested Guu, which was located close to my hotel.



They stipulated: "Guu Original on Thurlow is where the Izakaya boom started. It’s not only the first Guu to open, but is the very first Izakaya in Vancouver. Established in 1993 as 'Raku' & changed to 'Guu' in 2000, this Guu offers the most authentic izakaya experience, offering classic dishes like Yaki Udon & Oden. This is as close you’ll get to the real deal….unless you fly to Japan."


What we ordered: Tuna Tataki ($8.40), salmon sashimi ($8.80), Guuud Ale ($8.80)


High point:  I took a chance on the Guuud Ale and it was indeed guuud! Tuna tataki was nice too.


Low point:  Guu didn't have the scallops dish that I was most excited about off the menu.


Overall impression: I'm pretty sure I blew it, eating healthy instead of getting the down-and-dirty fried goodness off their menu. I didn't do my homework, and when I asked for menu guidance, I really didn't get any from the waiter. So I went in default mode and ordered healthy.


Will we return: If I return to Vancouver, I may hit Guu again in order to order properly.

KCRW's THE SPIN-OFF: Preston Beckman, The Scheduler Unmasked

On the latest edition of KCRW's The Spin-Off, Joe and I are joined by retiring scheduling guru Preston Beckman, who crafted the network strategy at NBC during the height of "Must See TV," and then again at Fox as it rode the "American Idol" wave:

By the mid 90's, NBC was on top. They had a Thursday night lineup that included Seinfeld, Friends, and ER. Beckman tells us how he knew Seinfeld was something special and why scheduling at the networks in the late 90's became something like pro-wrestling, with lots of big talk and even bigger egos.

He also reflects on less successful lineups, like in 1997 when NBC had 18 comedies on the schedule. While that may seem crazy now, he walks us through the thinking at the time.

When Beckman moved to Fox in 2000, it was right at the start of the reality revolution, and he was ready to embrace it. He says no one quite knew what to do with American Idol when they first got it, but Beckman came up with the idea to put a results show on an entirely separate night.

As for as shows he's encountered over the years he wishes he could have saved, those include I'll Fly Away, Grounded for Life, and yes, Firefly.

Listen below!


Thursday, August 27, 2015

What Is The 2015 Song of the Summer?


Is OMI's "Cheerleader" the song of the summer? Radio consultant Sean Ross makes a case for it:

“Cheerleader” was perhaps the first time since “California Gurls” that a song remained a front-runner from Memorial Day to Labor Day, although there were a few negative whispers at the beginning (one PD told me that the women he played it for didn’t like it) and PDs who came up to me midsummer and admitted they didn’t like it at first.

It’s hard to come up with a more profound case for “Cheerleader” than the one made for it in May: “reggae + dance music = extra summer smash insurance in 2015.” But after “Blurred Lines” and “Fancy,” the song’s sweetness probably counts for something as well. You can also say that about “Shut Up and Dance” or “See You Again” after a glut of “Elastic Heart”-type midtempo harshness in the format.

I don't know. I just haven't heard this song much this summer. Maybe I didn't get out of the house much this summer? Yet I did travel quite a bit, and I just never heard it in the wild! What do you make of it?

Sean's other finalists included The Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face” (which seems to have picked up steam later in the summer); Silento's “Watch Me (Whip/Ne Ne)” (which feels more like the next Gangnam Style/What Does the Fox Say/Harlem Shake novelty sensation than a song of summer); and Wiz Khalifa’s “See You Again,” which is leading Billboard's summer chart.

What say you?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Celebrate the New Clifton's Cafeteria with the L.A. Conservancy


Can't wait to finally see the completely renovated Clifton's Cafeteria? On Monday, September 21, Clifton’s opens with an event to benefit the Los Angeles Conservancy. Per the Conservancy:

Guests will be among the first to visit the iconic downtown restaurant after its multi-year, multi-million-dollar renovation by owner Andrew Meieran.

The event will run from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m., and general admission is $125. Guests will explore the beautifully restored and reimagined first-floor cafeteria, as well as the new Monarch Bar on the second floor. They’ll enjoy passed hors d’oeuvres, drinks, and entertainment, plus full dinner and dessert—by going through the cafeteria line, of course. Tickets are available at

A limited number of VIP tickets also include a behind-the-scenes talk with Meieran and a tour of the third and fourth floors, which won't open until later this year. (Note: As of this writing, fewer than twenty VIP tickets are available; we expect to sell out of them this week.)

Go here for more info or to purchase tix.

Monday, August 24, 2015

MIKE ON RADIO: Interviewing Keegan-Michael Key on KCRW's The Business

I guest host this Monday's edition of The Business (Kim Masters is on vacation) and I had a really fun conversation with Key and Peele star Keegan-Michael Key.
It's a bittersweet time to be a Key & Peele fan. Now in its fifth season, Peabody-winning Comedy Central sketch show scored eight Emmy nominations this year, including a best supporting actor nod for our guest Keegan-Michael Key. Then, at the height of their popularity, Key and his comedy partner, Jordan Peele, announced that this current season of Key & Peele would be the last.

Key tells us that he and Peele opted to go "the British route," bowing out after just a few seasons, similar to many British shows or mini-series. Both Peele and Key have other projects they're pursuing, and Key says he feared that if they kept going on the show, they were in danger of repeating themselves. He doesn't rule out the idea of coming back to Comedy Central in the form of some kind of reunion special though.

There wasn't enough room on The Business for all of our chat; the full version will appear on a future edition of our The Spin Off podcast. But listen here to this week's episode!

KCRW The Business

Also recently on KCRW, Joe Adalian and I discussed the smash box office hit "Straight Outta Compton" and Universal's excellent 2015 on Hollywood Breakdown. Listen below:


And on last Monday's Press Play, Steve Chiotakis and I discussed:
Unless you’ve been living in a garbage can, you probably heard about Big Bird’s big move to pay TV. That’s right, Sesame Street is joining the network of Cersei Lannister, Tony Soprano and "Nucky" Thompson. TV’s a strange place anyway -- on and off-the-small-screen -- and we talk about a possible Fresh Prince reboot and insane plot twists on the underground hit Mr. Robot.

Listen below!

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