Japan House LA celebrates Japan 47 Artisans

At Hollywood & Highland JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles celebrates the diversity of Japan’s prefectural through a collection of art, crafts, and design created by 47 young artisans. Now through January 5, 2020, the gallery on Level 2 exhibits 47 ARTISANS displaying contemporary crafts that embody the character of their hometown.

IMG_8209JAPAN HOUSE is an innovative, worldwide project conceived by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Besides a location in Los Angeles, there is also a Japan House in London and Japan House in São Paulo.

The new Los Angeles gallery exhibit nurtures a deeper understanding and appreciation of Japan. Visitors will learn about different prefectures, each with its own unique history, resources, and relationship to the environment.

The collection of works in this exhibition IMG_8216exemplifies the respect and beauty of Japanese crafts that have been carried for centuries.

In 2012, “d47 MUSEUM,” opened in Shibuya, Tokyo, to introduce a restaurant and a store displaying each of the unique 47 prefectures in Japan. Japan’s four main islands are Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu. Japan’s prefectures were created in the early Meiji Period to replace the old feudal domains. Prefectures are akin to other country’s states.


Mitsuko Matsuzoe the D&DEPARTMENT PROJECT Executive Vice President andIMG_8211
47 Artisan Museum Producer launched the “Long-Life Design” projects. In Japan this project extends to retail, food and beverage, publishing and tourism.

The exhibition showcases a philosophy that advocates the use of objects with an enduring universal design that can be passed down through generations, linking the past to the present. Read more about the exhibition.


During the evening reception in the Japan House Salon, refreshments and Japanese delicacies were served.


This exhibit is complimentary. The items displayed are not for sale. To learn more, go to D&Department. 

Marvel Studios “Avengers: Endgame”

Arriving at the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX for the Marvel Studios “AVENGERS: ENDGAME” handprints in cement ceremony, So Cal’s top female radio host Ellen K of the Ellen K Radio Show on KOST 103.5 FM welcomed over 150 fans. Ellen K started at 102.7 KISS-FM co-hosting with Rick Dees morning show from 1990 to 2015. Then she worked On Air with Ryan Seacrest until receiving her own show.


Ellen K introduced film critic and film historian Leonard Maltin who last night attended the premiere of “AVENGERS: ENDGAME”.

He shared how the “movie audience feels the emotions that go with each movie.” As a film historian, he shared how when Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige was a young boy “he grew up as a fan boy” with movie posters hanging in his bedroom wall, and now he runs a world class movie studio. “Kevin is also a USC Cinema grad and is very supportive giving back to the school and students,” said Maltin, who is supportive and teaches at USC.

The audience learned “It all started with Flash Gordon as a comic strip in the 1930s. “It showed every Saturday in motion picture theaters for 13 weeks,” said Maltin.


This Avengers has been a 10 year journey filled with risks and taking chances. “Kevin took enormous risks in hiring directors and casting each movie. Now we really care about the characters embodied by these talented characters,” said Maltin. “Avengers: Endgame” is the epic conclusion to twenty-two films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This movie embraces cultural and society changes “they are not following, but leading cultures,” said Maltin. “It also takes major filmmaking steps with a female protagonist and females behind the camera.”

Movies lead our thinking of the real world, as well as give us a form of escapism.

Next Maltin introduced Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner and Kevin Feige. “They are making Hollywood history, handprints in cement has been an event since 1927,” said Maltin, “In So Cal, this is our history.”

“Avengers: Endgame” is based on the Marvel Comics Super Hero team the Avengers, produced by Marvel Studios and set for distribution by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It is the direct sequel to 2018’s “Avengers: Infinity War,” a sequel to 2012’s Marvel’s “The Avengers” and 2015’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” and the 22nd film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

In the film, the grave course of events set in motion by Thanos that wiped out half the universe and fractured the Avengers ranks compels the remaining Avengers to take one final stand.

The film is directed by Anthony and Joe Russo with a screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely and features an ensemble cast including Robert Downey Jr.Chris EvansMark RuffaloChris HemsworthScarlett JohanssonJeremy RennerDon CheadlePaul RuddBrie LarsonKaren GillanDanai GuriraBradley Cooper, and Josh Brolin.


Bohemian Rhapsody Will Rock You!

Last night in Hollywood there was a crowd of people dressed as Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of the rock band Queen. These look-alikes entered a contest in the courtyard of the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX, as Halloween festivities swelled along the sidewalk on Hollywood Blvd. Prizes awarded to the contestants included TCL Big Screen TVs, Bohemian Rhapsody-themed Record Players, and collectible purples koozies.


“BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY” opens tomorrow, Friday, Nov. 2, yet I was invited on Halloween to a sneak peek screening to learn about how this band “rocked” the world.

The TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX is an ideal movie theatre for watching this biographical film about the British rock band Queen. The massive screen and state of the art sound systems lends to a rock concert atmosphere. This movie focuses on Mercury’s life, leading up to Queen’s final performance together at Wembley Stadium during Live Aid in 1985.

For those who remember this fundraising concert for Africa, Freddie Mercury strutted onto the stage and sent the crowd into frenzies of communal singing. The band was very instrumental in lighting up the phone banks with callers donating money for the worthy cause.

Queen’s music has become anthems at sporting events as the soaring chorus of “We Are the Champions,” is played when a team wins. We all feel the urge to stomp our feet at the heart-stirring beats of the iconic “We Will Rock You.”


It’s been over 25 years since Mercury’s death to AIDS, yet Queen’s music lives on.  Years later after he died, Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor appeared as guests on the eighth season of American Idol. When they met contestant Adam Lambert while he performed with the eventual winner Kris Allen “We Are the Champions,” it led to a collaboration with Lambert and Queen. Lambert’s vocal range and mannerisms are similar to Mercury.  

Appearances and tours led to a cross-generational, multicultural and global phenomenon. My daughter and I saw Queen with Adam Lambert perform at the Hollywood Bowl two summers ago. It was a phenomenal show. With their success, the band with Lambert created “The Crown Jewels” show and was invited to the Park Theater at the MGM in Las Vegas to perform 10 nights last September.


Now, Emmy®-winner Rami Malek (Mr. Robot) twirls around in furs and skintight Harlequin catsuits taking on the role of the creative king of pop rock in Bohemian Rhapsody. It’s a foot stomping celebration of Queen’s music and lead singer Freddie Mercury’s extraordinary life. The audience doesn’t learn much about the other band members, who with Mercury’s pizzazz rose to meteoric heights as mega-watt rock stars.


Here’s 5 fun facts you will learn while watching Bohemian Rhapsody:

  1. Mercury was born of Parsi descent in Zanzibar. Her grew up there and in India before moving with his family to Middlesex, England when he was 18.
  2. Freddy Mercury loved his cats.
  3. The song Bohemian Rhapsody was six minutes long, that’s three minutes longer than the standard formula song. It was recorded in a barn on a bucolic farm with the sounds surrounding them, providing inspiration to the mesmerizing operatics. They wanted the song to be an epic poem, with the wit of Shakespeare.
  4. The band encouraged their audience at concerts to sing aloud, stomp and sway to their music. You will find yourself doing this too throughout the movie.
  5. Mercury died from Bronchopneumonia complications from AIDS at the age of 45.

Starring alongside Malek is Lucy Boynton (Murder on the Orient Express) as beautiful, patient and concerned Mary Austin. Gwilym Lee (Jamestown) as guitarist Brian May is excellent, as is Ben Hardy (The Women in White) as drummer Roger Taylor.

Other stars in the movie includeJoe Mazzello (Jurassic Park) as bass guitarist John “Deacy” Deacon; Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones) as Queen’s first manager John Reid; Tom Hollander (The Night Manager) as the group’s lawyer-turned-manager Jim “Miami” Beach; Allen Leech (Downton Abbey) as Paul Prenter, who started off as Reid’s assistant and became Freddie Mercury’s personal manager; Aaron McCusker (Shameless) as Freddie’s longtime boyfriend Jim Hutton; and Mike Myers (Austin Powers) as EMI Records’ Ray Foster.

Anthony McCarten (Darkest Hour, The Theory of Everything) wrote the screenplay, from a story by McCarten and Peter Morgan (The Crown, The Queen). The film is produced by Graham King (The Departed, The Aviator) and Jim Beach (The Krays, The Hotel New Hampshire) and directed by Bryan Singer (X-Men, Superman Returns). Arnon Milchan (The Revenant, Gone Girl), Denis O’Sullivan (Tomb Raider, World War Z), Justin Haythe (Red Sparrow, Snitch), Dexter Fletcher (Eddie the Eagle, Wild Bill) and Jane Rosenthal (The Wizard of Lies, About a Boy) are executive producers.

CPK Keeps Getting Better

DSC_0079In 1985, attorneys Rick Rosenfield and Larry Flax opened a bright yellow casual pizza restaurant on Beverly Drive. It was located on a block in Beverly Hills that didn’t get as much foot traffic as the Beverly Drive north of Wilshire Blvd, however within a year the street became more of a social hub as locals and visitors flocked inside to try a unique barbecued chicken pizza and wickedly good chicken tequila pasta dish.

In 1992, with CPK at its height opening many new restaurants nationwide, PepsiCo bought the company for almost $100 million. Unfortunately, the restaurant changed. Regulars noticed the difference in quality and service. Flax and Rosenfield were not pleased and in 2003, this dynamic duo resumed control of CPK.

In 2011, hospitality expert GJ Hart became the CEO of California Pizza Kitchen. First, he renovated the flagship Beverly Hills restaurant, revitalizing the success of CPK’s future. It was received so favorably, that Hart and his team have planned similar makeovers at 80 CPK locations nationwide to celebrate the restaurants 30 year anniversary this year.

One of the most recent renovations is at the lively Hollywood and Highland location. The interiors have been transformed with reclaimed wood floors throughout and warm colors with a hint of the trademark yellow. Near the entrance is an herb garden and Restoration Hardware-style wine case. Artwork on the walls are photographs telling a story about Hollywood with its classic and whimsical architectural highlights.

The new Callfornia Pizza Kitchen’s menu is by chef Brian Sullivan, Senior Vice President of Culinary Development. Working at CPK DSC_0081for almost 30 years, he has kept many of the signature favorites, yet upped the menu with steaks and seafood.

Some of the new dishes are featured in Sullivan and Paul Pszybylski CPK’s Senior Director of Culinary Innovation cookbook – CPK “Taste of the Seasons.” It’s a collection of flavorful and wholesome salads, meals, desserts and drinks.

I really enjoyed the 10 oz. USDA Ribeye sprinkled generously with homemade Pinot Noir sea salt. It rests for 24 hours to tenderize before being grilled and served. With a dollop of creamy bleu cheese butter, it’s served with delicious crispy roasted fingerling potatoes sprinkled with sea salt and an arugula salad. The price point on this steak is half of the high-end steak houses in town, yet just as good or maybe even better.

There is also a hearth-roasted piece of white halibut served with slightly sweet butternut squash, crunchy farro, baby kale and grilled asparagus.

DSC_0076Soups include a new baked potato with bacon and Farmers Market with squash and a variety of vegetables with a touch of cream.

The seasonal California field salad has cubes of sweet watermelon and slices of strawberries with mixed greens, a sprinkling of feta cheese and California pistachio. It glistens with a housemade Champagne vinaigrette dressing. Guests can add grilled chicken, shrimp of sauteed salmon to this salad.

The General Manager Michael Palaski and Assistant General manager Matthew Ross circulate the dining room and try to touch each table checking on guests. They are pleased with the new renovations and feel the open dining room allows management and servers to offer better service to each guest.

Pasta dishes include eight different varieties and pair nicely with the seasonal harvest sangrias or 18 oz. draft beer. Wine flight of three – 3 oz. pours include California whites, California reds and adventurous wines with a pink Moscato.

Of course they still have hearth baked pizza made with a hand-tossed crust on the menu. In fact there are 19 varieties of pizza pies, including a Jamaican Jerk chicken and roasted artichoke. The new Tricolore salad has caramelized onions and large shavings of Parmesan cheese. It’s a pizza and salad on one plate with greens tossed in Dijon balsamic dressing.

They have five flat breads that include a new Maine lobster with fresh herbs. It’s similar to an open face lobster roll, DSC_0085yet had too much mayonnaise for my liking.

Save room for the desserts in a glass jar. They are fantastic.

For midday diners, the lunch duos on the menu offers a lunch size 7″ pizza with a salad or soup for $10.95. The half-sandwich with salad or soup is $8.95. Lunch specials are available Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Come see the new and improved CPK in the heart of Hollywood.

$$ 6801 Hollywood Blvd. 2nd Level (323)460-2080.

This article was featured in the Beverly Press 2015 Dining and Entertainment Guide.