The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel offers a pandemic break

For those getting COVID fatigue, the iconic Hollywood Roosevelt may just be the answer to renew your spirits. The L.A. landmark built during the luxury Golden Era of architecture has reopened. According to General Manager Don Jacinto, the hotel has pivoted its current offerings and operations to accommodate guests, while maintaining the highest levels of health and safety.

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Photo courtesy of the Hollywood Roosevelt

Named after the 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, the historic hotel used to be home to actress Marilyn Monroe, writer F. Scott Fitzgerald and actor Montgomery Clift while filming “From Here to Eternity.”

Now pandemic weary leisure travelers can escape to an urban destination and reserve a “Work From Home Rockstar” special package offered this summer.  Spend the day in a poolside Cabana Suite starting at 9 a.m., and receive a plethora of perks.

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Cabana Suite – photo courtesy of the Hollywood Roosevelt

This early access to your suite package includes complimentary parking for one car, Wi-Fi, and plenty of coffee, tea and water to drink. Make a reservation to use the gym for complimentary access (based on availability and Los Angeles City and County COVID-19 mandates, reservation basis to limit the amount of guests). After working in your new environment, take a refreshing swim in the David Hockney mural Tropicana pool. You can invite a friend, as the rate includes access for one guest. Rates start at $159 for a Cabana Garden or Balcony room, available Monday-Wednesday. If you want to make it a staycation, extend for the night for $50.

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Photo courtesy of the Hollywood Roosevelt

For those looking for the freedom to drive, become a “Road Trip Warrior” reserve a two night or more trip to explore the heart of Hollywood. In partnership with fashion influencer DJ Lola Angusta, guests can enjoy access to a custom Spotify playlist from Lola and an comfortable room starting at $249 per night. Enjoy complimentary valet parking, and lunch to-go for two guests. Roadtrippers are guaranteed reserved spots at the Tropicana pool relaxing on the socially distanced lounge chairs. A two-night minimum stay is required.

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Tropicana Pool – photo courtesy of the Hollywood Roosevelt.

 

Universal CityWalk Hollywood reopens

Universal CityWalk Hollywood has excitedly reopened the about 40% of their dining venues and shops. Guest parking is complimentary right now, and each visitor will enter the Jurassic Park parking garage to have their temperature taken. Guests are required to wear face coverings throughout their visit.
A friendly staff member with an EXTECH non-contact forehead InfraRed Thermometer allows guests without a temperature to enter. Guests with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or greater will not be admitted.
IMG_9103The staff have been trained to aggressively cleaning and disinfection procedures and will be frequently cleaning all of the high touch services. All team members undergo temperature checks and wear face coverings and gloves.
IMG_9102 2Social distancing floor markers are placed throughout the area. Visitors are asked to stand on the floor markings until the group in front moves forward. Health and safety signage and audio recorded messages are broadcasted frequently throughout the area. 
IMG_9099Buca di Beppo just in time for Father’s Day on June 21, celebrate the World Greatest Dad in your life by ordering two great Buca di Beppo packages starting at only $12 per person. 
IMG_9132-2Each package comes with our fresh baked house bread, choice of salad, choice of pasta or entrées (depending on the package) and chocolate chip cannoli. Dad will also get a Sweet Treat & a “World’s Greatest Dad” Koozie. 
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The Portland based Voodoo Doughnut is now open at Universal CityWalk offering sinfully delicious, unconventional delectables such as their classic Bacon Maple Bar, Grape Ape and Voodoo Doll doughnuts. Wedding ceremonies are performed here. Guests wait outside and are welcomed in for social distancing ordering to order and take home an iconic pink box. 

Other dining establishments include Johnny Rockets, Blaze Pizza, Starbucks Coffee, Crepe’ Cafe, KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut. Stores that have reopened include Shoe Palace, Skechers and Guess Accessories. More to reopen soon.

IMG_9138Guests are encouraged to wash their hands with soap and water often for at least 20 seconds. Hand sanitizing machines are strategically placed around CityWalk.City Walk is open daily from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Check back for updated hours. 
Universal Studios Hollywood theme Park remains temporarily closed as they enhance sanitization procedures and implemented additional measures for distance spacing and screening. Click here to check on reopening dates.

Digital Lottery opens March 10 for Hamilton at the Pantages Theater

Producer Jeffrey Seller announced a digital lottery for HAMILTON in Los Angeles at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre will begin in conjunction with the show’s first performance, Thursday, March 12,

HAMILTON is the story of American founding father Alexander Hamilton, told through a score of hip-hop, jazz, R&B and Broadway show tunes.. It’s become a revolutionary moment in theatre, having a profound impact on culture, politics, and education.

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Now for a second run at the Pantages Hollywood, a select number of $10 tickets will be sold for every performance. Seat locations vary per performance, with some seats located in the front row. The digital lottery will begin two days prior to each performance.

Heres how to enter:

 1.  Use the official app for HAMILTON, now available for all iOS and Android devices in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store (HamiltonBroadway.com/app).

2. Visit www.HamiltonMusical.com/Lottery to enter.

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The digital lottery opens at 11 am, on March 10, for tickets to the Thursday, March 12 opening night performance.  Subsequent digital lotteries will begin two days prior to each performance. The lottery will close for entry at 9 am PT the day prior to the performance.

Winner and non-winner will receive notification at approximately 11 am PT the day prior to the performance via email and SMS (if mobile number is provided).

 Only one entry per person. Repeat entries and disposable email addresses will be discarded.

Tickets must be purchased online with a credit card by 4 pm PT the day prior to the performance using the purchase link and code in a customized notification email. Tickets not claimed by 4 pm PT the day prior to the performance are forfeited.

Lottery tickets must be picked up at the will call window beginning 3 hours prior to the performance with a valid photo ID. Lottery tickets are void if resold.

Limit 1 entry per person, per performance. Multiple entries will not be accepted. Patrons must be 18 years or older and have a valid, non-expired photo ID that matches the name used to enter. Tickets are non-transferable. Ticket limits and prices displayed are at the sole discretion of the show and are subject to change without notice.

Lottery prices are not valid on prior purchases. Lottery ticket offer cannot be combined with any other offers or promotions. All sales final – no refunds or exchanges. Lottery may be revoked or modified at any time without notice. No purchase necessary to enter or win. A purchase will not improve the chances of winning.

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HAMILTON is based on Ron Chernow’s acclaimed biography, with book, music, and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, direction by Thomas Kail, choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler, and musical supervision and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire,  Hamilton has won Tony®, Grammy®, and Olivier Awards, the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and an unprecedented special citation from the Kennedy Center Honors.

HAMILTON features scenic design by David Korins, costume design by Paul Tazewell, lighting design by Howell Binkley, sound design by Nevin Steinberg, hair and wig design by Charles G. LaPointe, casting by Telsey + Company, Bethany Knox, CSA, and General Management by Baseline Theatrical. The musical is produced by Jeffrey Seller, Sander Jacobs, Jill Furman and The Public Theater.

 For information on HAMILTON, visit www.HamiltonOnBroadway.comwww.Facebook.com/HamiltonMusical,www.Instagram.com/HamiltonMusical and www.Twitter.com/HamiltonMusical.

Celebrate The Year of the Rat at Universal Studios

The “Year of the Rat” celebration is now at Universal Studios Hollywood through February 9, 2020. Guests with birthday years that correspond with the “Year of the Rat” are said to be intelligent, witty and charming. Festive red banners list the years of each Chinese zodiac animal, as the theme park celebrates with this annual Lunar New Year event.

A Mandarin-speaking MEGATRON from “Transformers: The Ride-3D” greets guests under the Happy Lunar New Year arch before entering Po’s Village in Universal Plaza.

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At no additional cost, guests can learn some Kung Fu Panda moves from Po, take an art class at Feng The Palace Artist Stand to learn how to draw Po, the Dragon Warrior with an artist from the fabled Jade Palace.

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Make a wish and attach it on one of the blossoming pink wishing trees. Pose with Tigress for photos in front of a Chinese background.

Only for this special celebration, meet Po’s adoptive father, Mr. Ping and have a chat before enjoying some of his delicious noodles and other food options from his nearby Noodle Shop.

Be sure to see the immersive “Kung Fu Panda Adventure” Attraction across the way.

Hello Kitty and Illumination’s Entertainment Minions are all adorned in custom-designed Lunar New Year Attire. The Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride will add to the festivities, entertaining guests in their brightly colored traditional Lunar New Year attire.

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The world-famous Studio Tour is available in Mandarin at select times throughout the day. Featuring expertly-trained Mandarin-speaking tour guides, the experience provides insight into the world of movie-making magic as guests enjoy behind-the-scenes access to one of the largest production studios in the world. In-language park maps are also available for guests.

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Guests can continue their Lunar New Year celebration at Universal CityWalk’s Dongpo Kitchen restaurant which features upscale and modern Sichuan cuisine. Inspired by China’s premier restaurant Meizhou Dongpo, Dongpo Kitchen offers the comforts of a casual dining environment with both indoor and al fresco seating and caters to an eclectic palate with a variety of signature dishes.

Lunar New Year is included in the Price of Admission to Universal Studios Hollywood from Thursday, January 23 through Sunday, February 9. More information is available at www.UniversalStudiosHollywood.com. Mandarin-speaking guests can learn more about the Lunar New Year event at www.ush.cn.  Information is also available on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTubeand Weibo @好莱坞环球影城.

Rockin’ Fun ROCK OF AGES in Hollywood

In 2005 Matthew Weaver created the multi-genre entertaining musical Rock of Ages. It debuted as a new kind of musical in Los Angeles at the King King club on Hollywood Blvd. With its success, it was made into a motion picture, and also opened on Broadway. After performing over 2,350 shows, Rock of Ages earned 5 Tony nominations, and branched out to 20 productions worldwide. It appeals to all ages who appreciate classic rock. This show spotlights 30 hit songs from the 80s.

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Dave Gibbs, who played in the original Los Angeles and Broadway productions of Rock of Ages, is the music supervisor for the Rock of Ages Hollywood, now at The Bourbon Room. Music Director/ Keyboard Jonathan Quesenberry sits above drummer Kevin Kapler, setting the pace of this immersive show.

During previews, I walked up to the dark entrance of the Bourbon Room, and mentioned Rock of Ages to the doorman. As he opened the door, he placed a paper bracelet on my wrist and granted me access to proceed up the stairs. A rocker with an electric guitar greeted me while strumming as part of the pre-show upstairs on the lounge.

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The bar offers a rock themed drink menu with names that include, ‘Pour Some Bourbon On Me”, “Oh Sherry”, and “Hit Me With Your Best Shot.” Snacks and bites include corn hush puppies, chicken tenders and a juicy Bourbon burger. A new food menu will be offered soon.

Rock n’ roll posters and photos hang on the walls in a lively atmosphere. After ordering a rockin’ Motorin cocktail, I was escorted to my seat inside the specially built theater. There are tables for 2 to 4 people that are pushed together for parties of 8 or more.

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There are multiple performance stages named after venues on Sunset Blvd. At the center of the show is The Bourbon Room. There is also the iconic ROXY sign in red neon lights, Chateau Marmont, The Whiskey, and Girls, Girls Girls! On the back wall are multiple MTV-style screens displaying popular music videos by Van Halen and other rock bands.

Director Kristin Hanggi earned a Best Direction Tony nominee for Rock of Ages in 2009. She has a stellar Rock of Ages cast in Hollywood who gyrate all over the room, while singing rockin’ songs from Styx, Asia, Journey, Bon Jovi, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister, Steve Perry, Poison and Europe.

This is the type of show where audience members dress in 80s’ rock n’ roll attire to be part of the immersive experience. On the tables there are lighters with LED lights to flick on during favorite songs. Be prepared to have cast members dance and sing right next to you, they might even sit in your lap.

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The night I saw the show, actress Callandra Olivia who plays “Sherrie” took the night off, so swing actress Marisa Matthews stepped in. She was fabulous as a sweet blonde dreamer hoping to make it big in Hollywood. She shined singing “More Than Words” by rock band Extreme, and also when she sang with Ian Ward playing “Drew,” an aspiring rock star. Ward has a golden voice and rocks the house at the end signing ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ and “Oh Sherrie” by Journey.

Other stand out performances were Frankie Grande as “Franz Klineman,” son of the villain real estate developer ‘Hertz Klineman” played by Pat Towne. Klineman wants to tear down The Bourbon Room and redevelop Sunset Blvd., from Doheny to La Cienega. Soon the cast sing a rockin’ version of “We Built This City On Rock  n’ Roll” by Starship that caused the lighters to be held up high flickering.

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Photo courtesy of Rock of Ages

Grande’s fan club was sitting at the front tables cheering him on throughout the night. Not only did he star as this character Franz on Broadway, he is a well know reality TV personality and social media mogul. As a stand-out finalist on the hit CBS series, “Big Brother 16,” he was also a judge on MTV’s “America’s Best Dance Crew” and houseguest on “Celebrity Big Brother” in the U.K. Grande shines on the stage and is one of the most lovable characters, especially during his scene with Berkeley environmentalist Stephanie Renee Wall as “Regina” singing “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” by Pat Benatar.

The audience swooned over actor Sean Lessard’s physique, as lead singer “Stacee Jaxx.” Full of himself, he is ready to leave his hit band Arsenal and go solo. His arrogance is hysterically funny. When he sings “Wanted Dead or Alive” by Bon Jovi, he has every audience members full attention.

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Photo courtesy of Rock of Ages

Other electrifying numbers include when the entire cast sing Foreigner’s “I Want To Know What Love Is” and “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake. As the cast disperse into the audience, lighters are held up flickering again.

Nick Cordero as The Bourbon Room owner “Dennis” and Matt Wolpe as Dennis’ loyal sound set up man “Lonny” are a hysterical comic duo from the beginning of the show to the end. Their scene “I Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore” by REO Speedwagon had the audience laughing out loud.

Regina Levert as “Mother” at the Venus Club invites Sherrie to work as one of her dancers. Lavert has a sensational voice singing “Harden My Heart” by Quarterflash and “Anyway You Want It” by Journey with Matthews. “Mother’s” dancers put on quite a sexy show for the audience.

At Rock of Ages you will sing aloud with the people you arrived with and in harmony with those sitting around you. Everyone has a rockin good time!

Director: Kristin Hanggi. Cast: Tony Award Nominee Nick Cordero  as “Dennis,” Rock of Ages alum: Regina LeVert  as “Justice Charlier,” Frankie Grande as “Franz Klineman”, Sean Lessard as “Stacee Jaxx,” Tiffany Mallari, Chuck Saculla,  Marisa Matthews,  Callandra Olivia  as “Sherrie,” Stefan Raulston, Justin Ray as “Joey Primo,” Pat Towne as “Hertz Klineman,” Zoe Unkovich, Stephanie  Renee   Wall  as   “Regina,” Ian Ward  as “Drew,”  Matt Wolpe  as “Lonny,” and  Neka Zang  as “Constance.”

Musicians: Music Director/ Keyboard Jonathan Quesenberry, Greg Coates at Bass, Kevin Kapler at Drums, Seating in the venue is based upon the ticket price tier. All seats are table seating. Go to http://rockofageshollywood.com for tickets,

The show is about 2 hours and 10 minutes, including a 15-minute intermission. Rock of Ages Hollywood can be seen every day except Monday & Tuesday when the theater is dark (and available for private event rentals, btw). Performances are Wednesday thru Saturday at 8pm, 2pm matinee on Saturdays and Sunday evening at 7pm. Note that kids under 12 may be too young for the content.

The Bourbon Room is located at  6356 Hollywood Blvd, 2nd floor. Tickets: https://www.rockofageshollywood.com.

THIS REVIEW WAS FEATURED on ONSTAGE BLOG on January 16, 2020.

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.

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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.

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

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

2019 HOLLYWOOD BOWL FOOD + WINE

Last night I was invited to step onto the stage of one of the largest natural amphitheaters in the world, the Hollywood Bowl. In the summer it is home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

This outdoor theatre seats nearly 18,000 concert-goers presenting some of the finest artists from all genres of music under the stars. It remains one of the best deals anywhere in Los Angeles with $1 seats at the top of the Bowl for many classical and jazz performances.

Venezuelan conductor and music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Gustavo Dudamel, announced a run down of some musical acts this summer which include John Legend on Opening Night; Earth, Wind & Fire; Andrea Bocelli; Tony Bennett; and Cyndi Lauper.

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Chef Suzanne Goin. Photo courtesy of Lucques

The Hollywood Bowl is synonymous with summer music, food and beverages. The program has been enhanced with now a four year partnership with The Lucques Group and Sodexo. James Beard award winners Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne’s culinary history has defined Los Angeles tastes since 1998 when they opened their flagship restaurant Lucques.

Returning for the 2019 season are the fan-favorite Winemaker Wednesdays and Sunday Market Tastings – an eight-week program of complimentary wine tastings at the Plaza Marketplace with guest winemakers, importers, sommeliers, and breweries hand-selected by Caroline Styne.

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Hollywood Bowl Food + Wine’s offers pre-ordered picnic boxes and a full-service dinner delivered to your box seat. For private events, Hollywood Bowl Food + Wine also provides catering at several locations for groups both large and small.

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Supper in Your Seats is available by pre-order online up to 4 p.m. the day before a performance. It’s a curated three-course dinner or customized meal from à la carte selections delivered right to your box seats. Menu Highlight: The 101 – red and green little gems with cucumbers, Meyer lemon, cherry tomatoes, and basil buttermilk; choice of strozzapreti pasta with tomato, pancetta, parmesan cream, and garlic breadcrumbs or chicken under a brick with sweet corn succotash and cherry tomato brown butter; and ricotta cheesecake with blueberries and lemon curd for dessert.

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Newly available Supper in Your Seats items for 2019 include a Moroccan chopped salad with kale, chickpeas, golden raisins, and charmoula.

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Ann’s Wine Bar by a.o.c – Showcasing a wine list personally curated by Caroline Styne, Los Angeles’ favorite wine bar has a wine-friendly menu to pair with artisanal cheese and charcuterie. There are signature vintner’s and farmer’s plates, grilled flatbreads, market-fresh salads, and a.o.c.-style fish and meats. Craft brews and farmers’ market-driven cocktails are made with soju and other wine-based liquors. New items include grilled flatbread with asparagus wilted leeks, tallegio, mint, and pistachio; prawns with yellow tomato confit, sofrito, and parsley aioli and halibut with green rice, rajas, crème fraiche, and squash blossoms. 

the backyard offers an al fresco dining area, adjacent to the amphitheater. There are two large wood-burning grills for fresh fish, seafood, organic chicken, chops and steaks. The seasonal market-driven menu of summer salads include a seafood cocktail with avocado, chips, and backyard hot sauce; swordfish with turkish couscous salad, pistachios, and charmoula, and rib-eye steak with tomato toast, capers, olives, and ricotta salata.

Picnic Boxes – All five of Suzanne Goin’s complete picnic boxes can be pre-ordered a day before a concert and picked up at the Plaza Marketplace or delivered to your box seats. Menu Highlight: The All American – fried chicken with buttermilk dressing; summer bean and cherry tomato chow chow; potato salad with mustard and scallions; cornbread with honey butter; and cornmeal shortcake with summer berries and mint. The Kitchen 22 is made-to-order beef and veggie burgers, Suzanne’s spanish fried chicken, grilled comté cheese on larder sourdough, and savory sandwiches anchor the Hollywood Bowl’s tribute to american classic fare.

There are 3 Marketplaces –  Plaza, East, and West – specializing in “grab-and-go” salads, hot entrées that include rotisserie chicken, mac ’n’ cheese, as well as other picnic-style sandwiches and cheese plates. The west-side Marketplace includes a sushi bar where chefs prepare premium sushi, available for pre-order or to purchase on-site.

Lucques at the Circle is a full-service dining experience for Pool Circle subscribers, showcasing a seasonal made-to-order menu and exceptional wine list styled from the award-winning cuisine of Lucques. Menu Highlight: scallops with arroz negro, cherry tomato sofrito, scallion, and rouille.

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Street Food and Snacks – Authentic street foods can be found throughout the grounds of the Hollywood Bowl, including a diverse range of multi-cultural foods of Los Angeles, from street tacos, gourmet pizzas, BBQ, house-smoked brisket, honey cornbread, and gourmet sandwiches to confections and signature desserts at the Sweet Shop.

Visit Hollywood Bowl Food + Wine for more information about the food and wine experiences available at the Hollywood Bowl.

Saying Goodbye to the Cast of The Big Bang Theory

The cast of television’s number one comedy, “The Big Bang Theory” filmed their last show on April 30, 2019. The following morning they arrived together at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood to make history. Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Keley Cuoco, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch put their handprints and signed their names in wet cement.

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While attending the ceremony I learned it’s the end to a successful run, with a record-breaking 279 episodes. The cast was emotional, exhausted, teary and appreciative of Executive Producer and co-creator Chuck Lorre. They thanked the writers, their cast mates and fans.

The TCL Chinese Theatre handprints ceremony is rich in tradition. In 1927 Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks were the first stars to put their prints in wet cement. This site is one of the most visited spots in Los Angeles. Over six million people visit the courtyard each year to place their own hands and feet in the hard prints of their favorite stars and celebrities.

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Executive producer and co-creator of The Big Bang Theory Chuck Lorre was introduced by KOST 103.5 radio host Ellen K. She announced that the show earned 52 Emmy nominations, 10 wins to date, and 7 Golden Globe nominations. As Lorre took the stage he shared how 40 years ago he used to sneak into the nearby Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in a bathing suit and flip flops. He pretended he was a guest to use their pool.

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While introducing his cast, each star walked up to the podium and shared a story. Mayim Bialik told the audience how she grew up within walking distance from the TCL Chinese Theatre. It was a place she came to as a child and she used put her hand and foot prints in the handprints of legends in the industry. She also used to go to sleep to the sounds of the circus that set up across the street from the Hollywood Bowl.

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Melissa Rauch shared how she called her mother ready to give up, not too long before she was cast as Bernadette in The Big Bang Theory. She said she called her parents from the back of a sports bar, telling her mom “Why did you let me follow my dreams? You guys are absolutely out of your minds.” Today with her parents in attendance to watch their daughter place her hands in wet cement, she thanked them for being “out of their minds” and believing in her, when she didn’t believe in herself.

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Kunal Nayyar thanked the five people in attendance with him today. First his parents who sacrificed everything for him to be here. Next his brother who he loves more than words could say. He gave a big thanks to Jason his agent, who took a chance on him 13 years ago while he was just a grad student. He said he represented a “hopeful and relentless young boy full of false bravado.” Last he lovingly thanked his wife “who stuck by me while my internal world was crumbling.” Kunal ended with “I wish all of our hands could be in that cement, but they can’t, so I will use his hands to keep our family name going higher and higher.”

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Keley Cuoco thanked Chuck Lorre for changing her life. She told her fans that she has been with her team since she was 14 years old. She shared that she took two art pieces and a couch from the set after the last show.

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Funny man Simon Helberg kept his sunglasses on throughout the ceremony due to emotions. He shared with the fans that he had no idea “Hooters” was directly across the street “This really is a great day.”

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Jim Parsons thanked his mother, nephews, sister, brother-in-law and husband Todd who were all attending the ceremony “They have been for me the cement under this entire experience with this show. It’s a wild and crazy ride and without them it wouldn’t have been nearly as healthy as it has been for my sake.” Jim Parsons believes this ceremony to memorialize the show is an unbelievable experience.

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The TLC Chinese Theatre was the first place star Johnny Galecki visited when he first came to Los Angeles at 11 years old. After thanking Chuck Lorre, the writers, the cast and his sister, with tears in his eye he quoted Winnie the Pooh, “How lucky I am to be so sad to say goodbye to something.”

Fans can watch the one-hour finale on CBS on May 16, 2019.

This article is featured in JustLuxe

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.

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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.

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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.

 

Hogwarts Castle illuminates this summer at Universal Studios

During Spring, I attended a preview of “Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle” inside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood. The illuminating projection show during the summer is a little darker and even more spectacular than their traditional Christmas projection show.

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Now through August 11 on selected nights, Hogsmeade village is open for guests to explore shops, see the multi-media show and experience the land’s signature rides, “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” and “Flight of the Hippogriff.”

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Enjoy hearty Scottish fare, Butterbeer and Gilly Water, as well as Sticky Toffee Pudding.

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Tickets are available at Universal Studios Hollywood.

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Pleasing Peruvian plates at Los Balcones Hollywood

New chef Michelangelo Aliaga at Los Balcones in Hollywood incorporates proteins with Peruvian staple ingredients – corn, potatoes, peppers, quinoa, rice and beans to create authentic and hearty South American fare.

Raised in Peru by Italian parents who immigrated to South America, I learned that Chef Michelangelo’s grandfather inspired him to become a chef. After training and working in Spain and Italy, he came to California and worked in a variety of kitchens including Cecconi’s in West Hollywood and Primo Italia in the South Bay.

What makes this restaurant unique, is that it’s attached to one of the most iconic jazz clubs in Hollywood – The Parker Room LA. This small and lively lounge is a great place to meet friends, enjoy a cocktail and some bar menu items before a night in Hollywood or seeing a moving at the nearby Cinerama Dome and ArcLight complex.

It gets its name from the 1940s iconic bebop pioneer, saxophonist, and composer, Charlie Parker. He played here when it was one of the first jazz clubs in the country to have black and white musicians playing together on the same stage.

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Sitting inside the main dining room, I noticed almost everyone was drinking the Peruvian national cocktail, a Pisco Sour. At Los Balcones they serve it in a short Old Fashioned glass. It’s made with La Caravedo by Porton pisco, lime juice, simple syrup, and a pour of angostura bitter in a pretty design on the frothy egg whites. They also make a Maracuya Sour made with the same ingredients plus passion fruit juice. Pisco is a colorless brandy produced in the winemaking regions of Peru by distilling fermented grape juice into a high-proof spirit. While ordering one of each, our server delivered a bowl of crispy plantain chips with a pleasing garlic verde dip to enjoy with our drinks.

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Looking around the dark room, the tables are close together and the walls are lined with bold yellow and red Inca symbols painted on top of reclaimed wood panels. It offers a fun atmosphere and was packed with people the night I dined.

We started with a mixto bowl of ceviche that had cubes of sashimi grade marinated striped bass, shrimp, octopus and squid with sliced purple onions, choclo (Peruvian corn) and chopped bright and flavorful Peruvian rococo pepper.

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Peru is known for their popular anticuchos grilled street food. On the Los Balcones menu, you can order a tasting plate by choosing three different proteins. For those more adventurous, order the most popular is beef heart. We chose the smokey deep red Peruvian panca pepper marinated chicken; balsamic glazed portobello mushrooms, and tender grilled sea bass belly with sliced green onion and sesame.

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For entrees the Arroz con pollo arrives on a plate with cilantro rice that has peas, carrots and corn alongside salsa criollo (onion relish). Yellow streaks of huancaina, a Peruvian staple made from boiled yellow potatoes, provides a creamy and slightly spicy sauce to enhance the crispy baked chicken leg and thigh.

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Next a plate of Seco de Carne had a thick and tender piece of slow cooked short rib in a cilantro beer broth. It was on top of Peruvian lima beans with sliced purple onions, and peppers.

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Desserts are the weakest items on the menu. We found the picarones (Peruvian sweet potato beignets) too greasy. The aftertaste of the tropical passion fruit syrup poured on top stayed with me for hours. I did like the flavor of the Lucuma (imported from Peru) ice cream. Lucuma looks like an avocado, yet has yellow flesh that is similar to a sweet potato. It’s flavor offers the essence of maple syrup, yet it’s not as creamy as regular ice cream and almost has the consistency of cooked egg yolk.

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Chef Michelangelo came out of the kitchen to deliver to us a new menu item he created, a lamb shank on a bed of polenta with crispy green beans and cilantro. He told us that he is so excited to be at Los Balcones and hopes to recreate many of the dishes that he loved to eat while living in Peru. Within in the few weeks, this talented chef will add additional dishes on the dinner and brunch menu. As the weather warms up, the restaurant offers al fresco dining on the front patio.

A new Los Balcones just opened in Studio City at the former Girasol location with a different chef, menu, and atmosphere.

The hours at the Hollywood location are Monday through Thursday 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. The restaurant stays open until midnight on Friday and Saturday and until 10 p.m. on Sunday. Brunch is available on the weekends starting at 10 a.m. $$ 1358 Vine St. (323)871-9600.

This review was also featured in the Beverly Press on March 21, 2019 – Los Balcones.

“The LEGO® Movie 2: The Second Part,” Pop-Up in Hollywood

Now in theaters nationwide the heroes of “The LEGO Movie” are in a new action-packed adventure to save their beloved city.  Fans of all ages can immerse themselves in a one of a kind interactive experience. The LEGO® Space Hollywood, at Vine Street and Hollywood Boulevard stays until February 10, 2019.

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The fully enclosed 6,000 sq. ft. Wonderland features colorful visual and musical experiences that includes Emmet’s brick-built house.

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Get a sheet of stickers and decorate the white sticker room. There is music and spinning turntables for dancing, a LEGO room to build your own creations, and favorite characters such as Unikitty and LEGO Batman to pose for photos.

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My favorite was stepping inside a giant DUPLO® heart confetti booth for photos that can be emailed to you.

Admission is FREE when you log onto The LEGO Space Hollywood.  There is a standby line for visitors without a ticket to enter. This pop-up closes on Sunday, February 10 at the hours listed below. It’s located at the corner of Hollywood Blvd and Vine Street in the heart of Hollywood, where previous fan attractions included “Little Foot” – https://patch.com/california/hollywood/small-foot-takes-over-hollywood-vine

Open on Sat. Feb. 9 and Sunday, Feb 10 at 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

 

 

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