Friday, June 28, 2013

Retro Friday: Target, Circa 1970: "A Fun Place to Shop"



What an amazing find: A circa 1970s TV ad for Target -- "a fun place to shop." I think the most amazing part of this ad is the realization that after all these years of jokingly saying "Target" with a fake French pronunciation -- "Tar-jay" -- it turns out one of Target's in-house brands back then was indeed called "Ms. Targé" and pronounced that way!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

An Evening With the LA Conservancy's Last Remaining Seats

Last Remaining Seats

Our annual pilgrimage to the LA Conservancy's Last Remaining Seats was another winner. Neither Maria nor I had seen the Bette Davis classic "All About Eve" (1950), and the grand, historic Los Angeles Theatre seemed like the place to do it.

After a drink at The Association and a quick bite straight off a taco truck parked on 7th, we found our seats up in the balcony and settled in. To kick things off, LA Conservancy leader Linda Dishman gave the crowd a status report on the Wyvernwood Garden Apartments (1939) in Boyle Heights, which is in very real danger of being demolished. (Separate post to come.) Leonard Maltin then introduced the film, offering a few trivia tidbits.

We've been to the Los Angeles Theatre countless times -- it's the venue we always seek out during the Last Remaining Seats -- but it still thrills. There's nothing like seeing a classic film in such an ornate movie palace. A few pics from this visit:

Last Remaining Seats

Last Remaining Seats

Last Remaining Seats

Last Remaining Seats

Read all of our Last Remaining Seats posts here. Also, your last chance to take part in this year's event happens tonight or this weekend. More details from the Conservancy:

The Los Angeles Conservancy will wrap up its twenty-seventh season of Last Remaining Seats this week with screenings at the historic Orpheum Theatre in downtown L.A. and Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills.

Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925)
Wednesday, June 26, 8 p.m.
Orpheum Theatre (1926), 842 S. Broadway, Downtown L.A.
The June 26 screening of Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ will be hosted by historian Mark A. Viera and feature live accompaniment by Clark Wilson on the Orpheum’s Mighty Wurlitzer organ.

Casablanca (1942)
Saturday, June 29, two shows – 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Saban Theatre (1930), 8440 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills
KPCC’s “Off-Ramp” creator and host John Rabe will host the 2 p.m. matinee, and film historian, writer, and director of the Film Noir Foundation Alan K. Rode will host the 8 p.m. evening screening.

Tickets for all three screenings are still available at laconservancy.org. Advance tickets are $16 for L.A. Conservancy members and $20 for the general public. Any tickets remaining at show time will be $20 at the door.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

MIKE ON RADIO: Remembering James Gandolfini

Gandolfini TV Guide

A week later, it's still stunning to think that we have lost "The Sopranos" star James Gandolfini (above, in this week's TV Guide Magazine) at just 51 -- and sad to ponder what great future things he might have done. I chatted with KCRW last week about the life and career of Gandolfini; here's their full report:

We Found It, The Actual L.A. Location of Don Draper's Childhood Whorehouse

Mad Men

Pity young Dick Whitman/Don Draper. The childhood orphan wound up growing up in a Pennsylvania brothel with a stepmother who didn't love him. (At least he had the occasional Hershey's bar.) Season six of "Mad Men" featured several flashbacks to Don's teenage years in the whorehouse, leading to the final scene of the season finale -- in which Don (Jon Hamm) takes his kids to the home (now, years later, in complete disrepair, see above).

In real life, Don's childhood whorehouse is actually in the historic Los Angeles neighborhood of Angelino Heights, a popular spot for film shoots (particuarly period pieces like "Mad Men"). The neighborhood, located just south of Dodger Stadium/Chavez Ravine, is known for its collection of still-standing Victorian homes.

Mad Men

Don Draper's childhood whorehouse, located at the corner of Douglas and Carroll (that's the Google Maps photo above), was built in 1887; is six bedrooms/one bath; 3,160 square feet -- and valued at just under $600,000, according to Zillow. (That sounds remarkably low, given the size and the historic value.)

Here's the Zillow entry:

Mad Men

Note a few important differences: "Mad Men" added *a lot* of CGI to make the house look more rundown than it really is. Plus it's surrounded by apartment buildings in that digitally altered scene from the show, but in real life it's just more homes. (At least the power lines on the left appear to be authentic.) Interestingly, this publicity shot for the show, found on Richard Rushfield's Tumblr, appears to also be without those digital alterations:

Mad Men

How popular is this house as a film location? The Google Maps photo of the house happens to catch a shooting trailer and "No Parking" signs all around the house:

Mad Men

Meanwhile, Nicole Verhamme, who lives across the street from Don Draper's childhood whorehouse and goes by the handle @slowdowncoletrane, has chronicled the "Mad Men" shoots. Check out this pic she snapped from her window:

Mad Men

"Once again, woke up on the set of a Mad Men shooting, & yes, that IS Jon Hamm right in front of me...!!!!" she writes. (Pic by @slowdowncoletrane)

Obviously they did add some junk to the front yard, it's not nearly as nice as the yard in the Google Maps pic. But the house sure doesn't look this shabby:

Mad Men

And by the way, it goes without saying, but there are no smokestacks on the other side of the street, despite this shot:

Mad Men

We've marveled for years about how "Mad Men" has expertly managed to turn Los Angeles locations into mid-century New York (as well as Rome and other locales). Check out some of our past posts here.

How amazing was that Season 6 finale, by the way? It really sets the stage for perhaps a new, introspective Don Draper. And it also gives us plenty to think about as we wait for the show's final season next year. I spoke to creator Matt Weiner about the season ender; read that TV Guide Q&A here.

Monday, June 24, 2013

CicLAVia Takes Over Wilshire Boulevard

CicLAVia on Wilshire

Sporting our Great Los Angeles Walk t-shirts from 2010's Return to Wilshire, the Blogger Toddler 2.0 and I headed down to Los Angeles' Grand Concourse in order to participate in another CicLAvia. Shorter than past CicLAvia courses, the draw this time nonetheless was the freedom a ride a bike over a large chunk of car-free Wilshire. Even though I've walked the entire length of Wilshire twice, it took riding a bike to realize how hilly the street really is (at least East of Mid-Wilshire). But all that huffing and puffing was good exercise. Meanwhile, the Korean BBQ festival in Koreatown coincided with CicLAvia -- and my only regret was not having time to sample the food. More pics:

CicLAVia on Wilshire

CicLAVia on Wilshire

CicLAVia on Wilshire
Yoga in MacArthut Psrk
CicLAVia on Wilshire

CicLAVia on Wilshire

CicLAVia on Wilshire
The obligatory selfie shot on CicLAvia

CicLAVia on Wilshire
Given all the churches on Wilshire, it's no surprise that things got a bit religious here and there. Many churches handed out water, but one guy on a street corner spent the day yelling things about Jesus.

CicLAVia on Wilshire

CicLAVia on Wilshire
I Heart K-Town!

CicLAVia on Wilshire
Friend of Franklin Avenue Waltarrrrr! has some fun with the CicLAvia.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Retro Friday: John Wayne, Bank Pitchman



Kind of weird to see the Duke, in his final days, as a commercial pitchman. But here's a Great Western Bank spot (originally shot in 1977, but dusted off for this 1986 ad) featuring John Wayne, hawking a savings account.

Rate-A-Restaurant #300: Noshi Sushi

Noshi Sushi

Restaurant: Noshi Sushi

Location: 4430 Beverly Blvd. (Koreatown/Hancock Park)

Type of restaurant: Sushi


Noshi Sushi

We stipulated: Maria and I were out to see a show in the Hancock Park area, and were inspired by the L.A. Times' recent sushi issue to hit an old economical standby: Noshi Sushi. It had been years since we last visited, and it was time to return.

Noshi Sushi

They stipulated: "Sushi chef Shogo Noshi opened a small 30 seat sushi restaurant, Noshi Sushi, in 1983. At the time, Japanese owned restaurants in Korea town were very unusual. His large portions, fresh fish and authenticity soon spread by word of mouth. Shogo Noshi's 50 years of experience and cutting technique quickly gained him loyal customers. Two months later customers were already lining up even before opening time. In 1990 Noshi Sushi moved to its current location to accommodate more than 100 seats. Since then, experienced Sushi chefs have maintained the traditional Japanese taste of sushi when making sushi. In addition to the basic sushi, the restaurant also offers Spider Roll and the California Roll made with real Crab in response to many of our customer requests."

Noshi Sushi

What we ordered: A wide variety of sushi and cut rolls, including spicy tuna, shrimp tempura, baked ebi mayo roll, salmon sushi and crab roll.

Noshi Sushi

High point:  The spicy tuna tasted fresh, and both the baked ebi mayo roll and the salmon sushi were decent.

Low point: The service was super slow. And when the waitress accidentally gave the table next to us our food, she then grabbed it from them and simply dumped it on our table without a word. Also, the tempura and the crab roll were just OK.

Noshi Sushi

Noshi Sushi

Overall impression: Noshi Sushi's time has probably come and gone, and it still feels too much like a too bright, noisy Denny's than a sushi joint. But the prices are still pretty good.

Noshi Sushi

Chance we'll go back: We're not in Koreatown often enough to make the trip, but if we were in the area and had the time to wait for a table, it's possible.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

L.A. Emmy Nominations: KNBC Leads the Pack, But Time Warner SportsNet Impresses



The Lakers couldn't survive the playoffs, but Time Warner Cable's new local sports channels -- which now carry the team -- are already on their way to Emmy gold.

In their first year of eligibility, Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Time Warner Cable Deportes earned a combined 15 nominations (8 for the English network, 7 for the Spanish channel) in the 65th Los Angeles Area Emmy Award competition, besting chief competitors Fox Sports West/Prime Ticket.

What's more, Time Warner Cable SportsNet also has already been awarded two Emmys, for creative technical crafts. Not bad for two channels that just launched in October -- but clearly carrying the Lakers makes a difference, even in an off year like this one.

The Emmy nominations were less impressive for Fox Sports West/Prime Ticket, which earned a combined 12 nods (5 for Prime Ticket, 4 for both and 3 for Fox Sports West) -- a huge dip from the 22 they picked up last year..

As it seems to do every year, KNBC/4 once again led the pack, with 18 nominations, followed by Univision's KMEX/34 (15), Tribune's KTLA/5 (13), KABC/7 (12), public TV indie KCET (12) and KCBS/2 (9). (The combined KCBS/KCAL duopoly earned 17).

Several of KCET's nominations were for "SoCal Connected," a show that remains in limbo at the station. Somehow the show, for reasons that will need to be explained to me, was nominated in both the "INFORMATIONAL/PUBLIC AFFAIRS SERIES (MORE THAN 50% REMOTE)" and the "INFORMATIONAL/PUBLIC AFFAIRS SERIES (MORE THAN 50% STUDIO BASED)" categories. So which is it, remote-based or studio-based??

The L.A. riots remain a hot topic. KCBS/KCAL's "Eye On Our Community: The L.A. Riots--20 Years Later" was nominated in the "ARTS AND CULTURE/HISTORY" category, while KNBC's "LA Riots: 20 Years Later" was nominated in the "NEWS SPECIAL" competition.

Interestingly, despite Time Warner Cable SportsNet's overall haul, its live Lakers coverage didn't get a nom. In the "LIVE SPORTS COVERAGE" category, Prime Ticket's Clippers basketball coverage will face off with sister Fox Sports West's Kings hockey coverage.

In another bit of an upset, KTLA's Rose Parade coverage, a frequent winner in the "LIVE SPECIAL EVENTS -- PROGRAMMING" category, wasn't nominated there this year. KMEX's "Roses Parade 2012" was, however. And it's going up against another Spanish-language special: Time Warner Cable Deportes' "Launch Show."

Speaking of head-to-head bouts, in the "LIVE SPECIAL EVENTS-NEWS" category, KTLA's coverage of the Endeavour Space Shuttle arrival will face off with KTTV/11's coverage of the same thing. And in the "LIVE COVERAGE OF AN UNSCHEDULED NEWS EVENT" category, KTLA's coverage of the Newtown, Conn., shooting will go up against KTTV/KCOP's coverage of the same event.

A few more categories:

INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING - NEWS
BEHIND THE GATES OF THE GUARD (KNBC)
CALTRANS AND THE GOVERNOR (KCBS)
CALTRANS DRINKING ON THE JOB (KCBS)
EL 34 INVESTIGA: FRAUDE HIPOTECARIO (KMEX)
ILLEGAL ANIMAL TRAFFICKERS (KNBC)

OUTSTANDING SPORTS REPORTING
Michael Eaves (Fox Sports West)
Mario Solis (KNBC)

OUTSTANDING HARD NEWS REPORTING
Ana Garcia, Reporter; Robbi Peele, Producer (KNBC)
David Goldstein, Reporter (KCBS/KCAL)
Joel Grover, Reporter; Chris Henao, Producer (KNBC)
David Ono, Producer, Reporter (KABC)
Antonio R.Valverde, Reporter (KMEX)

OUTSTANDING NEWS FEATURE REPORTING
Pat Harvey, Reporter; Mansan Luc, Producer (KCBS/KCAL)
Dave Malkoff, Reporter (KTLA)
David Ono, Producer, Reporter (KABC)
Norma Roque, Reporter (KMEX)

OUTSTANDING DIRECTOR - NEWS
Gayle Galvez, Director (KNBC)
Todd Griffithe, Director (KTLA)

OUTSTANDING WRITER - NEWS
Daisy Lin, Writer (KNBC)
Nicolette Medina, Writer (KCBS/KCAL)

Besides the two Time Warner Cable SportsNet awards, KNBC also picked up an Emmy in the "SPORTS SERIES-NEWS" category, for "The London Olympics: SoCal Shines at Summer Games."

As usual, any one who entered for the best newscast categories were nominated. And as usual, KABC refused to enter itself in any of the categories (leaving staffers to submit themselves).

This year's Governors Award will go to Univision's "comprehensive, multi-platform" education initiative "Educate, Es El Momento."

All told, 136 nominations were made in 43 categories. The 65th Los Angeles Area Emmy Awards winners will be announced on Saturday, August 3, 2013, at the Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre in North Hollywood.

PREVIOUSLY:

L.A. 2012 Emmy Nominations: Fox Sports West/Prime Ticket and KNBC Lead the Pack (July 2012)

LA Local Emmys: KNBC Extends Its Streak at the Top (August 2012)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Retro Friday: 1940s Los Angeles, In Color



Some early L.A. color finds from the Vintage L.A. and Lost Los Angeles YouTube channels, culled from various film clip libraries.


"Civic Center in the 1940s"


"Driving in LA, 1940s style"


"Grand Hollywood of the 1940s"


"The Southland Style 1940s"


"Sunset Strip in the 1940s"

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

BANFF: Craig Ferguson on Deconstructing the Talk Show, the Late Night Wars and Whether He Wants a New Time Slot

Craig Ferguson

"Do I have ambitions for another time slot? You can ask me," Craig Ferguson tells me. "I dont care."

"Craig, do you have ambitions for another time slot?"

"I don't care."

The highlight of this year's Banff Media Festival had to have been my on-stage interview with Ferguson, the late-night host who has become a pro at deconstructing the entire genre. "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" is known for its spontaneous interviews, robot sidekick, stream of consciousness monologues and more. We talked about all of that, and more, in front of a crowd of perhaps 200 conference attendees (including the mayor of Banff).

Here's an excerpt from how the local media covered it:

BANFF, Alta. - The popular host of "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" brought his unique brand of often ribald humour to the Banff World Media Festival where he was receiving the Sir Peter Ustinov Comedy Award.

"My people built this country. I don't know if you know that. Oh, I'm lying? It's not true?" Craig Ferguson said Tuesday to laughter and applause.

"This is what I said when I drove into Banff. It's lovely here. This is what Scotland must have looked like when they first built it," said Ferguson, with a much more pronounced Scottish accent than he has on his show.

Ferguson, 51, has been hosting the show for nine years. He's been nominated for an Emmy and won a Peabody Award for his interview with Bishop Desmond Tutu, has written books and appeared in TV shows and movies.

There's the air of a bad boy about Ferguson, who often refers to himself as just another "late-night douche" in reference to the typically formulaic state of late-night talk shows.

His show is unscripted and it's tradition that he tears up the carefully typed notes and tosses them as each guest sits down.

"That's just a kind of protest. It's saying I'm not going to do what your publicist told you I was going to do. That's how it started as and what it's become is some stupid OCD thing, I suppose, but I just do it," said Ferguson, wearing a casual grey Catalina Island T-shirt, jeans and running shoes.

"They're not props. They're really done and they still do them and I rip them up."

Even the addition of his gay robot skeleton Geoff Peterson was meant to be a shot at the cheerleading responses of most late-night sidekicks.

"Geoff Peterson is emblematic of my failure as a late-night talk-show host because what I wanted to do, as a protest, have a robot that would give the sidekick pat answers. This is how robotic it is. It's ridiculous," he said.


More coverage from the Calgary Herald.

And here are several clips from the interview that have already made it on to YouTube:







Monday, June 10, 2013

John Beard on How He Became "Arrested Development's" Unlikely Star

John Beard

Even John Beard was surprised by the amount of face time he got in the new season of "Arrested Development." The former Los Angeles TV news anchor, now in Buffalo, spent a 12-hour day last year shooting all kinds of footage for the show's new Netflix run. Most of those scenes ended up spaced out throughout this season.

I last spoke with Beard back in March, before the show premiered. Now that we've seen this season, I asked him to talk about his experience -- read the story here.

An excerpt:

In the "Arrested" world, the newscaster has become the host of a "To Catch A Predator"-like show, quits his anchor job and defaults on his house. House of Lies' Ben Schwartz even plays his slacker son, John Beard, Jr.

Creator Mitchell Hurwitz says the story of Beard's career collapse on the show mirrors the Bluths' prospects. "I don't know why this guy isn't taking some of Brian Williams' jobs in comedy," Hurwitz says. "He's excellent. He plays it serious and also makes fun of himself, and also seems real. I just love him."

Beard says his character's career evolution in Season 4 also "mirrors that of every long-time TV news anchor, as the business transitions into a much leaner enterprise than it was when we started." He knows that situation first-hand, having left KTTV in 2007 when his contract wasn't renewed. "I think news viewers in every market have seen that change reflected in many local stations," Beard says. "Mitch managed to put that and the housing market collapse to good comedic use."

Los Angeles, Ad Town: Travel Town Edition

Ad town

Usually downtown's Union Station is the backdrop for advertisements -- which makes it kinda cool to see Griffith Park's Travel Town getting some commercial love. Here's a spot for "OurTime.com" shot at your toddler's favorite spot for a birthday party.

Ad town

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

It's Purple Season in Los Angeles

Trees

I know, it's June Gloom. But it's also jacaranda season as the trees bloom their pastel purple flowers -- and cause a mess on cars and streets everywhere!

Trees

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Bob Hope Airport's Cameo As An India Airport in "Arrested Development"

Arrested Development

In episode 3 of this season's "Arrested Development," Lindsay (Portia de Rossi) flies to India for some spiritual enlightenment. (We later discover that Tobias wound up there as well). Doubling for the India airport? Burbank's Bob Hope Airport.

Of course, the airport has been covered, via CGI, with Hindi lettering. Here's an extra subtle joke: "Arrested" creator Mitch Hurwitz tells me that the main sign you see in the India airport reads "BOB HOPE AIRPORT" in Hindi.

Here's what Bob Hope Airport normally looks like:

Bob Hope Airport

Monday, June 03, 2013

WGA Chooses the 101 Best-Written TV Series of All Time; Do You Agree?

TV 101 WGA

Lists like this were made for debate, and boy, are people debating it. Last year the Writers Guild of America members were asked to pick 20 of the best-written TV series of all time. A independent group then tallied the entries and helped come up with the Top 101 list. The WGA unveiled the ranker on Sunday night at an event in Beverly Hills; because TV Guide Magazine was the media sponsor, I got to open the event with a few remarks before turning things over to moderator Merrill Markoe.

The top ten:
1. The Sopranos
2. Seinfeld
3. The Twilight Zone (1959)
4. All in the Family
5. M*A*S*H
6. The Mary Tyler Moore Show
7. Mad Men
8. Cheers
9. The Wire
10. The West Wing

Read the full list here.

The gathering attracted some hefty names, but the highlight was easily Carl Reiner and Norman Lear. We could have listened to them tell stories all night. Some pics:

TV 101 WGA
Living legends Carl Reiner and Norman Lear at WGA's 101 Best Written TV Series event. At 91, Reiner is sharper, wittier and faster than most comedians half his age. And at 90, Lear is remarkably spry as well. Can someone bottle their youthful energy?

TV 101 WGA
Gail Parent, Jim Brooks, Steven Bochco join Reiner and Lear on the panel to discuss TV of the '60s and '70s.

TV 101 WGA
Drama panel: Matt Weiner, Ron Moore, Gail Parent, Jim Brooks, Steven Bochco, Winnie Holzman, Vince Gilligan.

TV 101 WGA
Modern Family's Steve Levitan (far left) joins the panel to discuss comedy.

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