Friday, November 28, 2014

R.I.P. Bob Baker, Los Angeles' Master of Puppets

Bob Baker
(Pic by Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)

R.I.P. Bob Baker, a true Los Angeles treasure. Baker died Friday at the age of 90, according to Variety. His Bob Baker's Marionette Theatre entertained generations of Angeleno kids, having first opened in 1963.

Here's what I wrote on the blog in 2006:

I've always been slightly creeped out by marionettes, yet I've always been fascinated by the art as well. Bob Baker (who won an Academy Award for his puppet work on "Close Encounters of the Third Kind") not only made it his life's work behind the camera, but he also has run the kid-friendly Bob Baker Marionettes theater in downtown Los Angeles for nearly 50 years.

The Bob Baker Marionettes came to Pasadena's Levitt Pavilion (in Memorial Park) for a free show last Wednesday night -- so I grabbed Blogger Baby Evan, packed up some snacks and camped out on the lawn. The hour-long show had a Mexican theme, with mostly young people (taught by Baker, I assume) handling the strings. Afterward, we hopped on stage to see some of the puppets up close -- which scared Evan at first.

Some pics:

A gaggle of puppets

Evan is intrigued, yet spooked, by the marionettes

Cat and mouse

A little history on Baker, from his website:

While attending Hollywood High School, Bob began manufacturing toy marionettes that sold both in Europe and the United States. After graduation at the age of eighteen, he began his extensive career in animation at the George Pal Studios. He began as an apprentice and soon became a head animator of "Puppetoons" a year later.

After WWII, Bob served as an animation advisor at many film studios including Walt Disney.

With his partner, Alton Wood, Bob turned a run-down scenic shop near downtown Los Angeles into a family entertainment institution. An innovative artist and puppet master, Bob and his company have performed puppets around the globe, even on Navy ships and submarines. Mr. Baker currently has an inventory of over three thousand puppets as he creates more.

The Bob Baker Marionettes theater is located at 1345 W. First Street in Los Angeles; call 213-250-9995 for reservations (which are required).

Shows are held Tuesday - Friday at 10:30 a.m., and on Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. General admission for the show is $12 each for adults and children. Children under 2 are free (which means perhaps we should take Blogger Baby again before December!)
The future of the Bob Baker Marionette Theatre is now in doubt; go here to find out how you can help keep it alive.

One Last Big November Sweeps Win For KABC's Retiring General Manager

Arnie Kleiner's going out on a high note. The KABC general manager, who recently announced his retirement, just added one last November sweeps crown to his impressive tenure at the owned-and-operated ABC station. (Kleiner is departing at the end of January.)

I always preface these November ratings by reminding you that sweeps really shouldn't matter in Los Angeles any more -- the local market is now measured every day via personal people meters. But old habits die hard, and the local stations compete heavily in November as if it still mattered.

At 11 pm, KABC expanded its lead vs. No. 2 KCBS in total viewers, thanks in part to a surging primetime (in which KABC dominated vs. its competitors). Meanwhile, at 10 pm, KCAL is also now a dominant No. 1 -- a contrast to last year, where the three-way race was tight. A weak primetime has led to big drop-offs for KTTV.

Here are the November total viewers ratings for the Los Angeles market, in key news timeslots (as well as in primetime).

4:30 am
KABC 93,800 (last year 59,900)
KTLA 41,500 (last year 55,500)
KNBC 23,600 (last year 24,400)
KCBS 16,400 (last year 20,500)
KTTV 10,400 (last year 15,700)

KABC 135,000 (last year 109,100)
KTLA 93,100 (last year 98,400)
KNBC 37,800 (last year 39,200)
KTTV 36,800 (last year 28,700)
KCBS 27,300 (last year 32,900)

KABC 192,700 (last year 213,300)
KTLA 182,400 (last year 176,200)
KTTV 72,800 (last year 65,100)
KNBC 66,400 (last year 68,200)
KCBS 46,600 (last year 38,700)

KABC/Good Morning America 213,500 (last year 241,800)
KTLA/Morning News 208,900 (last year 210,000)
KNBC/Today 95,900 (last year 79,800)
KCBS/CBS This Morning 74,700 (last year 50,700)
KTTV/Good Day LA 67,600 (last year 87,200)

KABC 245,600 (last year 257,700)
KNBC 139,600 (last year 146,600)
KCBS 108,900 (last year 109,700)
KTTV 48,200 (last year 45,700)

KABC 277,500 (last year 278,200)
KNBC 147,200 (last year 136,900)
KCBS 97,200 (last year 107,300)
KTLA 58,900 (last year 86,600)

KABC/ABC 428,600 (last year 388,500)
KCBS/CBS 331,100 (last year 341,700)
KNBC/NBC 287,400 (last year 273,800)
KTTV/Fox 161,100 (last year 233,900)
KTLA/The CW 112,800 (last year 111,000)

KCAL 156,100 (last year 131,900)
KTLA 126,500 (last year 130,500)
KTTV 76,900 (last year 128,100)

KABC 335,900 (last year 318,200)
KCBS 215,000 (last year 205,000)
KNBC 159,000 (last year 186,700)
KTLA 83,000 (last year Arsenio Hall 75,300)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Rate-A-Restaurant #334: Zero Zero (San Francisco)

Zero Zero

Restaurant: Zero Zero

Location: 826 Folsom (San Francisco)

Type of restaurant: Pizza

Zero zero

We stipulated: For our last night in New York, we wanted to eat near our hotel, and find something tasty but also kid-friendly. Artisan woodfire pizza: A yes for us. Any pizza at all: A yes for the kids. Win win.
They stipulated: "With Zero Zero, noted chef and certified pizzaiolo Bruce Hill (BIX, Picco, and Pizzeria Picco) offers San Francisco diners a unique venue for his wood-fired pizzas and other Italian offerings. Opened Summer 2010 in the SOMA neighborhood Zero Zero takes its name from the ultra-finely ground flour used in traditional Neapolitan pizza dough and features variations on the pizzas that have developed a devoted following at Hill's Pizzeria Picco in Larkspur, just across from the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County. Zero Zero's menu also includes inventive pasta dishes, a range of starters and antipasti, including crudo, house-cured salumi, a changing selection of bruschetta and salads, and, for dessert, Hill's signature soft serve ice cream."

Zero zero

What we ordered: Fillmore pizza (Hen of the Woods Mushrooms, Leeks, Mozzarella, Grana Padano, Pecorino, Fontina, Garlic, Thyme - $17.50); Margherita pizza (Tomato Sauce, Basil, Mozzarella, Grana Padano, De Padova Extra Virgin Olive Oil - $14.50); Radiatore with Braised Short Rib, Lacinato Kale, Marrow Butter and Gremolata ($21.50)

Zero zero

High point:  We almost didn't get the radiatore, but I'm glad we did. The short rib made for a nice, hearty dish.

Low point:  It's a bit of a scene, so perhaps still not the best place to take the kids. Yet ironically it was the obnoxious couple next to us that forced another couple to move tables.

Overall impression: Great spot if you're in the SOMA area. Pizzas are fantastic, but don't pass up the pasta! I wish I had known about the soft serve, but then again, we over ordered and were stuffed. (The cold pizza made for a good breakfast the next day.)

Will we return: I could see us returning if we were back in SF and once again staying close by.

Don't Let Thanksgiving Go By Without Watching This Classic "WKRP In Cincinnati" Episode

Best Thanksgiving episode ever? No doubt. An annual Thanksgiving tradition: The "Turkeys Away" episode of "WKRP in Cincinnati."

"As God Is My Witness, I Thought Turkeys Could Fly!"

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

MIKE ON KCRW: Bill Cosby, DreamWorks, Netflix, More

On this Monday's edition of KCRW's The Business, Kim Masters and I bantered about several topics including:
- Someone behind an anonymous letter is looking to sabotage any possible DreamWorks deal.
- Nielsen will finally start measuring Netflix viewership, but that still doesn’t mean we’ll know how many people are watching House of Cards.
- A settlement has been reached in the Midnight Rider case.

Listen by clicking below:

On last Thursday's Hollywood Breakdown, Kim Masters and I talked more about the Bill Cosby mess:

Hollywood Breakdown
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