Friday, May 17, 2013
Every year the TV networks fly to New York and present their new fare wares to the nation's media buyers. It's called the upfronts, and although everyone grumbles that it's an outdated and expensive practice, there are still reasons to do it (as Joe Adalian explains here). This year the networks announced nearly 60 new shows -- and by Friday, it's hard to remember everyone and everything we've seen. But it will be hard to forget some of the other highlights of the week -- including Adult Swim's upfront party. Kanye West was the featured performer, and he definitely brought the crazy, in the form of a mid-concert tirade about... well, I'm still not sure. The media? The world? Celebrity culture? Whatever it was, it was fun. (Not so fun: Kanye's painful new track "Awesome," about you-know-who.) Kanye performed his entire show inside a mesh-covered pyramid (the Kanyeramid -- trademark pending), but briefly ran out to say hi to the crowd -- which is when I snapped this blurry pic. Meanwhile, other highlights included Passion Pit performing a few hits at the USA Network upfront; Icona Pop performing "I Love It" at the CW upfront; and attending the "Saturday Night Live" dress rehearsal featuring guest host Kristin Wiig. Some pics from my week in NYC:
Kanye performs inside his Kanyeramid (trademark pending).
Icona Pop at CW upfront.
Passion Pit at the USA upfront.
More of Passion Pit at the USA upfront.
Cousins Robbie and Stephen Amell, now stars of their own respective CW series. The CW breeding program is a success!
The pretty people of the CW.
The cast of "Psych" performs "Psych: The Musical" at the USA Network upfront.
"New Girl's" Max Greenfield cracks wise and shows off his guns on the Fox upfront stage (at the Beacon Theatre).
Rising star Rebel Wilson gives a deadpan speech on stage at the ABC upfront (at Lincoln Center).
The cast of hot ABC drama "Scandal" on stage at the network's upfronts.
"Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." on the ABC stage.
Robin Williams at the CBS upfront.
Congrats to Paul Hewitt for getting this "#dropthemic" reference all the way through and on screen at the CBS upfront (at Carnegie Hall). Sadly, Leslie Moonves is not really on Twitter.
When David Letterman walked on stage for his first upfront in several years, we all started to brace for a potential retirement announcement. He hugged Moonves and started talking fondly about CBS. "This could be it," I thought to myself. And then it wasn't. Thank goodness. That would have turned our afternoon upside down.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Restaurant: Big Gay Ice Cream Shop
Location: 125 East 7th Street (between 1st Avenue & Avenue A) (Lower East Side, Manhattan)
Type of restaurant: ice cream
We stipulated: I was hungry for some ice cream and stopped by Momofuku Milk Bar to sample a flavor -- but besides the usual cereal milk flavor, there was an unappetizing nut-flavored one. So I decided to try my chances elsewhere. I Googled "ice cream lower east side" and the Big Gay Ice Cream store came up. I had heard of it before and the reviews promised amazing flavors. I was ready to try it out.
They stipulated: "Big Gay Ice Cream began as the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck, a summer experiment by founders Douglas Quint and Bryan Petroff that began rolling the streets of New York City in June 2009. Described by The Village Voice as 'a cross between Mister Softee and Mario Batali' the menu combines traditional soft-serve ice cream with imaginative toppings such as wasabi pea dust, Nilla Wafers, Dulce de Leche, olive oil and sea salt, and other rotating offerings. These are dispensed the way ice cream should be — with humor and good cheer. With this playful attitude, BGIC spins a new take on old-school soft-serve by creating fun and unique toppings that appeal to a diverse mix of clientele."
What we ordered: "The Salty Bea Arthur": Vanilla ice cream infused with dulce de leche; covered in crushed 'nilla wafers and salt. ($5.95)
High point: I would have ordered the "Salty Pimp" but didn't want the chocolate coating. Adding salt to the "Bea Arthur" was perfect.
Low point: Not as much ice cream variety as I was expecting.
Overall impression: I'm still thinking about that cone. The right amount of dulce de leche-- not too much, not too little -- and the finely crushed 'nilla wafers was an amazing touch. Add in some salt, and it was the best ice cream cone I've had in recent memory.
Chance we'll go back: Yes, please.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Live, from the quiet entranceway at the Parker Meridien hotel in midtown Manhattan today, I got on the phone with KROQ's Kevin & Bean to hash out this week's network announcements. We talked about cancellations (they were not happy about "Southland's" end) and new shows like Michael J. Fox's NBC comedy, as well as the "Late Night" shift from Jimmy Fallon to Seth Meyers and a lot more. Click on the box below for the download of my segment of Tuesday's "Kevin & Bean" show.
Monday, May 13, 2013
I arrived in New York on Saturday morning after taking the JetBlue redeye from Burbank -- not the most pleasant flight ever. But at least I got to Manhattan by 7am -- too bad my hotel room wasn't ready yet. So I walked over to nearby Grand Central Terminal, where people were already lining up for the Grand Centennial Parade of Trains. It was a celebration of old trains from the start of the 20th century straight up to now. I decided to check it out -- and it's a good thing I was there early, as the line snaked through the terminal before long. (Who knew so many people were interested in old trains?)
Among the trains were several from Los Angeles -- I thought I recognized one from Chris Nichols' birthday a few years ago. Apparently the trains' owners rode them all the way out to NY (via Chicago) from Los Angeles, and next were heading to D.C. before the trip home. All told, they took 15 days for their journey.
Here are some pics from last weekend's events.
U.S. Railway Car Post Office (1910)
On-train barber shop
People file out of Metro-North cars
Vintage MTA trains on the shuttle service between Times Square and Grand Central Station
See? It's not just in L.A. -- green bike lanes abound in New York!
Are downtown's lime green bike lanes really that bad? Film industry location scouts complain that L.A. can't pass for New York or any other urban mecca anymore -- particularly if you're shooting a period piece. But see above, those same lime green bike lanes are also found in New York.
Here's what the Los Angeles Times has written on the matter:
Bicyclists and downtown neighborhood groups are fans of the 1.4-mile stretch of green bike lane on Spring Street from Cesar Chavez to 9th Street. But location scouts and production managers who bring filming to the city's historic downtown core are not so happy. Spring Street is flanked by old buildings and can stand in for almost any big city in a variety of time periods. The most frequently filmed intersection in the city is 6th and Spring, according to Paul Audley, president of Film L.A.
The problem, the industry argues, is that the bright green of the bike lane is costly to erase if you're filming, say, a scene that takes place in the 1940s and you don't want a bright green bike lane running down the middle of your shot. It can't be lifted out of film by the usual post-production technique known as chroma keying, and it is more expensive to remove than other greens. And it's not just the street that needs to be color-corrected. Under the bright lights used for filming, the green bounces off the street and tints everything it touches, including actors' faces.
As the paint begins to fade — apparently it didn't bond well with the street in certain areas — film industry representatives are again asking that the portion that runs from 3rd to 9th Streets be removed or repainted something other than the offending neon color.
What do you think? Should productions suck it up, or should these ugly bike lanes lose the color?
It's the broadcast networks' upfront week! Look excited! This is the week that the networks announce their new TV shows (and cancel the slackers). This week, at least, everything looks great and is a potential hit. Now, come fall, 80% or so of these shows will fail too... but for now, at least, the honeymoon period has begun. I return to KCRW's The Business today to chat about the upfronts (which actually is more about the $9 billion spend that advertisers will commit to "upfront" -- hence the name) with Kim Masters. Listen below.
Thursday, May 09, 2013
Has anyone been able to figure out how the Shell gas station at the corner of Olympic and Fairfax manages to stay in business? The station charges on average at least $1 more per gallon than any other gas station in the city. Meanwhile, despite the fact that you're paying more than any other gas station, the workers there are said to be surly, unhelpful and downright rude. Read the Yelp reviews for more details.
Writes one unfortunate patron:
IF I HAVE ONE MISSION IN LIFE IS TO WARN PEOPLE NOT TO COME TO THIS HELL HOLE -
- AND REALLY ANY SHELL STATION ON EARTH -
SPEND YOUR MONEY AND THEN - GET INSULTS THROWN AT YOU - FOR ASKING TO USE THE BATHROOM!!!
This guy is psychotic.
Shell is psychotic for hiring this guy.
It's bad enough we have to spend almost $5 a gallon -
- but to be insulted for this displeasure STAINS my life and yours too -
IF YOU CHOOSE TO LOWER YOURSELF BY VISITING THIS DAMNATION
Jesus Christ! God willing! I never hated a gas station more in my life.
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
This may be one of the more bizarre creative licenses I've seen in a while: The Red Line subway magically appears above ground in downtown LA, via this University of Phoenix spot. Thanks to Will Campbell for spotting this one. He writes:
Can't remember what we were watching this weekend, but this scene from an ad for University of Phoenix sure got my attention. In it, the real-life fully underground Red Line train is seen magically elevated and traveling westbound over Flower Street at 4th. That's the Bonaventure Hotel just beyond the train on the right side of the frame.
Here's the full ad:
Monday, May 06, 2013
Perhaps the most unfortunate press release typo in recent memory? Yikes.
Another rare night out as the kids were at their cousins' house, so Maria and I headed down to Koreatown to catch British blue-eyed soul singer Alice Russell perform at a unique venue: the 1927 First Unitarian Church on 8th in Koreatown. The Echo, which promoted the show (sponsored by KCRW and LA Weekly), has a deal with the First Unitarian to hold concerts at the venue, and it turned out to be quite a special place to hold a show.
I first became familiar with Alice Russell's big voice thanks to her collaboration with Quantic, 2012's Look Around the Corner. The track "Here Again" was even one of my favorite tracks of 2012.
Russell performed songs from her past releases as well as her new album, To Dust. The intimate church setting meant that we were pretty close to the stage, even far back in the audience. Some pics:
Among refreshments on sale in the courtyard: Golden Road's Point The Way IPA.
View from the balcony of opening act Shafiq Husayn and The Dove Society performing on stage
Shafiq Husayn and The Dove Society
The First Unitarian Church stage