Monday, July 22, 2019

'Superstore' Comic-Con Panel: What's Next for Mateo, Amy and Jonah, and Whether Dina Can Forgive Garrett (WATCH)

NBC's "Superstore" hit the San Diego Comic-Con stage for the first time last Thursday, and the reaction was electric. Much like last year's "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" panel, the fans couldn't contain their enthusiasm.

America Ferrera (AMY), Ben Feldman (JONAH), Mark McKinney (GLENN), Lauren Ash (DINA), Nico Santos (MATEO), Colton Dunn (GARRETT), Nichole Bloom (CHEYENNE), Kaliko Kauahi (SANDRA), and EPs Justin Spitzer, Gabe Miller and Jonathan Green discussed big questions, such as what happens to Mateo next, now that ICE has rounded him up for being undocumented. Serious subjects aside, there was room for plenty of antics as well.

Among the few revelations: The Mateo storyline will continue for some time, and not be easily wrapped up. But also, the march to unionization will continue, and there may be more conflict between Amy and Jonah.

Stay tuned... and watch a copy of the full panel above!

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Scenes From Comic-Con 2019: 'Superstore,' 'DuckTales' and More

It was a quicker than usual Comic-Con for me, as I spent most of my time down in San Diego focused on moderating two panels: NBC's "Superstore," in its first time at SDCC; and Disney Channel's "DuckTales," a fan favorite with quite a few funny people in its voice cast.

Yes, that included getting to meet Lin-Manuel Miranda (who plays Gizmoduck/Fenton on "DuckTales") for the first time, and even taking an embarrassingly blurry selfie. I later had a wild sit-down video interview with the rest of the cast in town — Bobby Moynihan, Ben Schwartz, Kate Micucci and Paget Brewster — that involved a discussion of aliens and Area 51. (I'll post the video when it goes live.)

The "Superstore" panel was a huge treat, as the show's producers and stars visited Comic-Con for the first time and were overwhelmed by the fan response. That video is forthcoming as well. Check out some pics from the long weekend below:

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Scoops Ahoy! A Visit to the 'Stranger Things' Pop Up in Burbank

Steve "The Hair" Harrington and his fellow scooper Robin were nowhere to be seen, but I did see plenty of other "Scoops Ahoy" touches, inspired by "Stranger Things," as I stopped by the pop-up store last week. The wait was long — the line snaked down several blocks, and it appeared to be hours before fans got a chance at buying a U.S.S. Butterscotch — so I just took photos and peered in the windows. But in a way, that was enough to soak in the experience. (Plus, Scoops Ahoy quarts are available at Target — where you don't have to wait hours in line to experience it.)

I know this Baskin-Robbins location well, as it's close to the Blogger Kids' elementary school. But for two weeks, it transformed into Scoops Ahoy, a pivotal location in Season 3 of Netflix's "Stranger Things." Check out some pics below.

Unfortunately, the Scoops Ahoy pop up is now closed. But from what I understand, you can still order a "U.S.S. Butterscotch" (essentially a banana split, with waffle cone pieces shaped like boat sails) at most Baskin-Robbins locations for a limited time.

Monday, April 15, 2019

A Farewell to the Good Luck Bar, Where It All Began

Maria and I were sad to read about the impending closure of the Good Luck Bar, a Los Feliz institution that has been at the intersection of Hollywood, Sunset, Virgil and Hillhurst, around the corner from the Vista Theatre, for at least 25 years. Apparently the landlord is looking to tear down the building to build either condos or a hotel — and the Good Luck Bar has been given notice.

With just a few weeks (or if we're lucky, another month or two) left before it disappears, we headed there on Saturday — for the first time in years — in order to pay our respects and also reminisce.

The Good Luck Bar is where we met, nearly 20 years ago, and although the world and L.A. have changed a lot since then (not to mention our lives — two kids later!), it was always comforting to drive by the Good Luck Bar sign and know that it was still there.

On Saturday, the bar was packed. Clearly, a lot of people had the same idea. A line snaked down Hillhurst and we had to wait a bit to get in. But I'm glad we did. It's hard to believe that a chance meeting at a bar all those years ago set us on this path.

In 2009, on the 10th anniversary of when we first met, I wrote this:
Ten years ago, on the evening of July 3, 1999, I was lounging in my West Hollywood apartment -- flipping through channels -- when the phone rang.

It was my friend Pang-ni. She and a few friends were heading to the Good Luck Bar on Hillhurst in Los Feliz. They were also hanging out with some off-beat guys, and well, they needed to be rescued. Would I join them?

Hmm. I was already in for the night. And Los Feliz was a hike from West Hollywood. But I had promised myself to make more of an effort to get out and meet new people. Plus, it was the July 4th weekend, I thought to myself, and I oughta be out having a good time.

So I got dressed, hopped on the surface streets and headed to this "Good Luck Bar."

Inside, Pang-ni and Brenda -- two friends from my college dorm -- were there.. and yup, I saw what they meant by these guys. It was a busy holiday weekend night at the Good Luck Bar, but the group had managed to snag one of the last seating areas -- which had just been occupied by two girls. Pang-ni had struck up a conversation with one of them, and I wound up sitting next to Pang-ni.

Before long, I was talking to Pang-ni and the new girl to her left. And later, I wound up talking to that girl a little bit more. She seemed pretty cool, and we talked about all sorts of nonsense. "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Where we grew up. And what we did for a living. She told me she designed CD packages at Rhino Records. Oh -- and her name was Maria.

She was there, having a mini "girls night out" with her friend Andrea. (Turns out she was in a similar "what the hell, I'm gonna go out into the world, and if I meet someone, I meet someone" phase as well.) At the end of the night, she wouldn't give me her number. But I gave her my card. I was intrigued.

Later, while leaving the bar, Pang-ni asked me what I had thought about another one of her female friends who had been there that night. But all I could think about was this girl I had just met.

I didn't want to be too eager, and I didn't want to be Creepy McStalker. But I knew her first name, and I knew where she worked. I was going to wait a week, and then call Rhino. (Probably too long in hindsight -- but again, I wanted to play it cool and not scare her off.)

But before I finally got the nerve to call... I was in the office on Thursday night (back at my old gig at the now-late Electronic Media) when the phone rang.

"What were you doing giving your number to a drunk girl?" laughed the voice on the other end.

It was her. I couldn't believe it. Honest, to this day, she teases me that I was never going to call -- but I was. She just beat me to the punch. And thank God she did, because it gave me a bit more confidence to push hard for a first date. Soon.

We arranged to meet the following week at Lola's on Fairfax for drinks. And that led to our first full-fledged date: Drinks at 360 (now long gone) and dinner at the old Luna Park (also long gone), where Pancho Sanchez also performed. That led to another date at Campanile's Grilled Cheese night. And so on.

It all led to now -- marriage, home and Evan -- plus another addition, just a few weeks away.

And to think it all started that night, ten years ago. It's crazy to think how so much has resulted from that phone call from Pang-ni -- and that split-second decision to get off my lazy ass and drive all the way to Los Feliz. And ditto Maria's decision to meet up that night with a friend at a bar that, like me, she'd never been to. (And yes, we've felt cheesy for years that we met in such a cliched fashion -- at a bar, and a bar named "Good Luck," no less.)

We're hoping to visit the Good Luck Bar at least one more time before it closes — and buy a T-shirt too! 

Go before it's too late: 1514 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

College Admissions Scammer Rick Singer Sure Didn't Try Hard With This Cheesy Recruitment Video

You've all heard by now about the college admissions scandal led by Rick Singer, who is behind the college admissions cheating plot that led to the indictment of nearly 50 people. Singer orchestrated the plot that has now implicated Lori Laughlin, Felicity Huffman, CEOs and coaches in a bribery scheme to get the children of wealthy individuals into colleges of their choice. Among other things, Singer is accused of having helped some kids cheat on their SAT and ACT exams, while falsifying records of others in order to get them admitted to schools as part of sports recruitment.

But I like to also point out that sometimes, it's easier to point out scams than you think. Watch the video above, from Singer's "The Key Worldwide." It's pure amateur cheese from start to finish, and a true red flag that this guy was a fraud. Anyone involved has to be embarrassed. My favorite part has to be "Key Coach" Brian Hewitt and the moment he starts addressing the camera. This could be a "Saturday Night Live" sketch -- but sadly, it's reality. Watch above.
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