Sunday, August 18, 2019

'DuckTales' Cast Reveals the Truth About Area 51 at Comic-Con (WATCH)

"DuckTales" star Paget Brewster knows *a lot* about the theories behind Area 51, and even has her own alien encounter story from her youth. Watch as Brewster educates her co-stars Bobby Moynihan, Kate Miccuci and Ben Schwartz on plans to rush Area 51 and discover what's really going on.

I interviewed the "DuckTales" stars at Comic-Con in July; earlier that day I had also moderated the show's panel:

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Horsing Around: An Evening Riding (and Eating!) at Sunset Ranch Hollywood

I've known Chris Alexander, the head of PR for 20th Century Fox TV, for years, and got excited for him in recent years as he bought a horse and became a regular rider up in the Hollywood Hills. Chris has a stressful job, and it's wonderful to see him experience so much joy blowing off steam by hitting the Hollywood Hills on his horse several times a week. Chris finally found a way to combine his passion with his job this Sunday, inviting reporters gathered for the TV Critics Association up to the Sunset Ranch Hollywood to ride horses — and hear all about the second season of "Bless This Mess," a sitcom his studio produces for ABC.

The last time I rode a horse was last year, while on vacation in Hawaii, and thankfully I still remembered the basics. This was a simple ride for beginners, of which most of us were. But we got to experience the ride for nearly an hour, and take in the sights of the city from the Hollywood Hills.

Sunset Ranch Hollywood, located in Beachwood Canyon, offers casual rides (starting at $50 an hour), lessons, boarding for your horse, filming options and more. It also has access to "hundreds of miles of tails and bridle paths in Griffith Park." There are a wide variety of tours, including with BBQ options, kids' parties, and even a "proposal package." More pics from our ride:

Friday, July 26, 2019

Queen and Adam Lambert Concert: The Blogger Kid 2.0's First Full Concert Is a Hit

Over the Christmas holiday, Maria and I were watching a screener of "Bohemian Rhapsody" in our living room when the Blogger Kid 2.0 (age 9) came in and plopped down next to us. He was intrigued: What was this music? And who was this guy Freddie Mercury?

He needed to learn more. So we started playing him some Queen, starting with the songs he remembered from the movie. From there, he wanted to watch Queen videos on YouTube, over and over. He wanted to check out Queen's 1985 performance at Live Aid. And every morning when I drove him to school, I had to play him "Bohemian Rhapsody" and several other Queen songs.

Every. Day. For six months.

I took the Kid to an "American Idol" taping for Queen night, but sadly, Adam Lambert and the surviving Queen members were only on tape. It was fun to hear the contestants perform Queen hits live, but I knew the Kid wanted to hear the real thing. So I began checking on concert dates.

Turns out Queen + Adam Lambert were performing at the Forum in July -- but the show was mostly sold out, with remaining tickets upwards of $200. I was going to give up. But then I had the opportunity to get tickets and review the show for Variety. I jumped at the chance.

On Saturday night, the Blogger Kid and I hit the Forum. Read my Variety review:

The mostly older audience likely appreciated all the nods to the Queen they grew up with. But Lambert still made plenty of the show his own, interjecting his own swagger and personality in the mix — from licking a microphone to frequent, and outlandish, wardrobe changes.

The setlist offered the usual greatest hits package, with plenty of songs from the movie getting their due. There was no surprise to the ending: Queen and Lambert wrapped up the initial set with “Bohemian Rhapsody,” while “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions” served as the encore.

The Blogger Kid 2.0 couldn't see at first, which hampered his enjoyment. But eventually the woman behind us gave us permission for him to stand on his chair — and it was just in time to see the second half of the show. He came away cheering — and with a pricy concert T-shirt. It was a fantastic night. More shots:

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Amoeba Records: Pre-Sad About Its Impending Move

Amoeba Music is moving, now that the City Council has approved a new 26-story tower on the site. But no one knows where Amoeba is moving to — and I can't imagine, wherever it ends up, that the new location will be nearly as large or exciting as its current digs.

Amoeba, of course, is the last of the great monster-sized music shops. There are still plenty of other record stores in Los Angeles, but none of them are very large. Stores like Rockaway Records have survived by downsizing their space. Large retailers like Tower Records and Virgin Megastore are long gone, and even decent-sized stores like Aron's Records have disappeared.

That's why we've got to savor the Amoeba Hollywood experience while we can. I spent several hours there on a recent Saturday night, and could have spent several hours more. 

Writes the L.A. Times: "The retailer’s Hollywood location, which opened to great fanfare in 2001, has been in a kind of holding pattern since news of the possible development came to light a few years ago. The store sold the building to developer GPI Cos. in 2015 for $34 million."

The Times also notes that Amoeba has repeatedly promised to reveal its plans, yet hasn't yet — which gives me cause for concern. Adds the paper:

“Amoeba has every intention of remaining in L.A.,” Amoeba’s Jim Henderson told The Times in 2017, citing the store’s statement on Facebook as the most complete update on its future at 6400 Sunset Blvd. “Rest assured, we are NOT closing, but we are now in a position where we may have to change locations in the coming years.”

On Tuesday morning, Henderson seemed unconcerned with the City Council’s vote. Amoeba’s move is a foregone conclusion, he said. The store has a lease that will carry it in its current location “for about another year,” he said, with a few brief extension opportunities.

“But I can also tell you that if we find something that’s a fit, then obviously we won’t be taking those extensions and GPI can get on with their business and we can get on with ours,” Henderson added.

The council’s vote was the final hurdle facing the development, which will replace the two-story Amoeba building with a mixed-use tower slated to contain up to 200 residential units. The ground floor will provide 7,000 square feet of commercial space, but there are no indications that Amoeba will remain at the address.
Save Amoeba!

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!
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