Monthly Archives: June 2008

SAG readies for war…

The leadership of the Screen Actors Guild might be saying publicly that talk of an impending actor’s strike is a “distraction” during their difficult ongoing negotiations with the AMPTP, but if you ask me, SAG created this distraction on their own, and they are loving every minute of it.

But if the rumors are true, and SAG truly is readying their troops for war, then why not just call a spade a spade and get on with it. Ain’t no shame in your game, SAG, just come out with it already!

Sure, another major strike right now would suck, but if you ask me, I say burn that mutha down, actors! After watching the DGA, my beloved WGA and even SAG’s crazy-eyed sister-union, AFTRA literally take it up the ass from the studios, I’m aching for someone to take a real stand against those greedy bastards.

And who better to do it than the biggest guild out there? SAG has 120,000-plus members, which is like ten times the size of the WGA. That is some serious union muscle, baby! And while the studios are always quick to undercut writers and directors, if they skimp on actors, well, they’re gonna feel that burn pretty quick.

With the ratings for last year’s TV season pretty much demolished by the WGA strike, I’m guessing the AMPTP might actually give this guild what they want this time. And, if it takes a strike to do it, then strike away, amigos. Like I’ve said before, I know a lot of writers who will be out there supporting your pretty faces on the picket lines every day, and, trust me, we have plenty of red t-shirts.

So, do what you gotta do when that deadline hits, Mr. Rosenberg — SAG’s current deal ends at midnight tonight — and know that whatever happens, we got your back! Go, union!

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Kitchen 24, Hollywood

Several of our east coast friends have complained over the years about the lack of truly great 24-hour cuisine here in L.A., and though old stand-by’s like Canter’s Deli and The Original Pantry are good in a pinch, we usually end up at Bob’s or one of the two “homeless Denny’s” in Hollywood.

So, when we heard that a spanking new all-nite eatery called Kitchen 24 was opening in the heart of Hollywood’s bustling “Cahuenga corridor”, man, were we excited! Unfortunately, Kitchen 24 leaves much to be desired…

Sure the über hip dining room is cool — those crazy silverware lamps (below) are worth the price of admission in my book! — and the service was great, despite the fact that they had been open less than a week when we ate there, but some of the food we ordered was just plain bad.

My Ruben sandwich (below) was kind of skimpy on the meat, but decent, and the Seasoned French Fries were amazing, but Christine’s Turkey Pot Pie was straight-up disgusting. It might have looked awesome on the outside — pot pie served in a miniature cast iron skillet, ingenious! — but the inside of that pot pie looked and tasted like dried clay.

I’m not kidding, it was so bone dry that every bite was a chore. It was almost enough to turn you off pot pies for life…and if you know me at all, that is really saying something! Yikes…I don’t care how cheap that shit is, you can get tastier pot pies in the frozen foods aisle at the 99-cent store. So, I’m warning you now, avoid this culinary train wreck at all costs!

That said, the drinks were very good — they have a full bar in the rear of the restaurant — and the location could not be cooler. Surrounded by scads of hip new clubs on Cahuenga and neighboring Hollywood and Sunset Blvd., Kitchen 24 is literally walking distance from Amoeba Records and The Arclight.

So, at the end of the day, even though our food mostly sucked, Kitchen 24 is so cute and charming that I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt this time and try them out again in a few months. Christine wants to try breakfast next time, and to be fair, the breakfast menu sounds way better than most of what ate. And Lord knows it can’t be worse, so…I’m game.

Until then, see ya at Bob’s…

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“The X-Files: I Want To Believe” countdown begins…

Yes, the first movie sucked hard, but despite that cinematic misfire, and the fact that it’s been six long years since Mulder and Scully last graced our airwaves, I am still dying to see the new “X-Files” movie when it comes out on July 25th.

I should note here that Christine is also mildly excited about the movie, but, seeing as she’s not usually as insanely fanboy-ish about stuff as I am…well, she’s not dying to see it as badly as I am. But, hey, that’s OK, I still love her.

And speaking of love, even non-fans of the original series have got to admit that “The X-Files” is totally responsible for many of the super cool TV shows that we all love so much today, I mean, seriously, do you think there would have ever been “Buffy” or “Angel” or hell, even “Lost” without “The X-Files”? Hell, no!

Series creator Chris Carter and company broke major ground with “The X-Files” and even though it lost focus a bit when David Duchovny left the show, Gillian Anderson held down the fort quite admirably for those last couple of seasons, so, rock on Agent Scully!

Story-wise, there is not much to report about the new movie yet, as, true to form, the producers are keeping the plot details of “The X-Files: I Want to Believe” a closely-guarded secret. But the online trailers do give you some rather juicy clips to look forward too. And when that classic “X-Files” theme kicks in, forget about it…goosebump city, baby!

Anyway, having watched/dissected the different trailers way too many times for my own good, I can tell you exactly three spoiler-free things about the upcoming “X-Files” sequel…

One, it takes place somewhere really cold and creepy looking. Two, Mulder and Scully act like they have not seen each other in a while, which is a bit odd considering how the series ended. And finally, three, the supporting cast — Amanda Peet, Billy Connolly, etc. — looks really cool and yes, that is rapper Alvin “Xzibit” Jones playing an FBI agent. Wow…who knew?

Oh yeah, and the movie’s official website is finally up and running, so check out the trailers for yourself, read up on the cast and crew, add an “X-Files countdown widget” to your blog — I tried and it just looked weird — or if you’re like me, just keep checking the site every few hours to see when those sweet-ass desktop wallpapers are ready to download.

Whoa…did I just write that? Lord in heaven, I really am a geek…

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“Swingtown” on CBS

Summer time on CBS has traditionally been good for exactly two things…round-the-clock repeats of “CSI”, and three weekly episodes of “Big Brother”. And though “Big Brother 10″ is still a few weeks off — we’re counting the days, Chenbot! — the “Tiffany network” has really shaken things up this summer by airing the shockingly- good original series, “Swingtown”.

Set in the candy-colored world of key-party-loving 70’s suburbia, the show seemed destined to fail from the outset. I mean, whoa…that title alone sounds a little more HBO or SHOWTIME than CBS. But for whatever reason, stodgy old CBS is airing this show and we could not be more thrilled about it!

I know it sounds like a one-note concept — “The Ice Storm” lite, if you will — but “Swingtown” is packed full of fresh, funny, and richly-imagined characters and enough complex subplots and drama to sustain the show through at least three or four seasons. And surprisingly, the best stuff on “Swingtown” has little or nothing to do with the swinging!

Sure, the sexy title got you in the door for the first episode — or at least it did us! — but three episodes in, “Swingtown” has revealed itself to be a pretty kick-ass TV show. Calling to mind some of the more nuanced, character-driven series of the past like “My So-Called Life” and “Freaks and Geeks”, “Swingtown” is, at its core, a beautifully crafted, often hilarious, show about people and relationships. I know, a good show airing in the summer? Shocking!

But maybe a slot on the CBS summer schedule is just what this show needed. With other networks churning out crap like “America’s Got Talent” and “Celebrity Circus”, ‘Swingtown” has the cool adult dramedy category pretty much all to themselves. So rock on, Swingers!

Centered around a trio of vastly different families — two of which have teenage children — the show spends just as much time developing the relationships between the kids as it does the adults, and the payoff is spectacular. I am not exaggerating when I say that there has not been a family drama this good since the late, great “Once & Again” left the airwaves.

Another thing “Swingtown” has going for it is humor. Like “Freaks and Geeks”, the show’s sly, deadpan humor is sometimes so painfully realistic that you’ll find yourself wincing through the laughter. There was a subplot recently about the boys selling their father’s Penthouse magazines to their friends that I swear could have been lifted directly from my childhood. Although, if memory serves, my Dad was more of a Playboy man…and, trust me, my brother and I would have never sold those gems to anyone!

Anyway, um…back to “Swingtown”. Despite what our friends at Because We Love It might say, if the super cool characters and crackling good dialog doesn’t win you over, then surely the costumes and set design will. I can’t tell you how many times Christine and I have paused just to stare at the groovy stuff in these folk’s kitchens and living rooms and shout out: “We had that!” Hilarious.

And just when you think the nostalgia factor couldn’t get any higher, there is the music! Swirling disco classics giving way to awesome 70’s rock and folk, hell, half the time you’re wondering how they even afforded these songs. In last week’s episode, they actually played the Rolling Stones “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” in it’s entirety. Do you know how much that song alone probably cost old Les Moonves? Wow!

But seeing as last week’s episode was the first to feature full-length opening credits, perhaps CBS has decided to throw some more money at the show since it’s pulling in halfway decent ratings. Whatever the reason for the support, we just hope they keep this amazing show on the air through the summer and hopefully beyond. Yep, it’s that good!

“Swingtown” airs Thursday nights at 10PM, so, toss your car keys in the bowl by the door and check out this rocking good show for yourselves.

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Kojak’s House of Ribs, Tampa

Christine and I returned from our trip to Tampa and St. Petersburg almost two whole months ago, so this post is a little late in coming, but trust me, Kojak’s House of Ribs is worth the wait!

Nestled under a thicket of giant live oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, Kojak’s is housed in a converted Southern bungalow-style home just a few blocks from the beach in South Tampa. And while I had read a review of the restaurant in one of my guide books before flying out to Florida, I actually stumbled upon Kojak’s House of Ribs quite accidentally.

Christine was busy at her MSA Conference that day and my Mom and Courtney weren’t due to arrive till later that night, so, with ribs on my mind, I set off in my rental car to find some sweet Southern BBQ. And since the picking were decidedly slim near our hotel downtown, I ended up crossing the bridge into South Tampa.

After cruising down the shoreline dotted with beautiful older homes and groovy 70’s-era condo towers, I took a random right turn at the end of the road and ended up literally smack dab in front of Kojak’s. Yeah, for once my mapless wandering pays off!

It was kind of late in the afternoon when I pulled up and there were only three other diners there — which usually worries me a bit — but the place was so damn cute (there are ceiling fans on the veranda!) I knew the minute I saw it that I was gonna eat me some Kojak’s.

In case you were wondering — I know I was! — the name Kojak’s comes from co-founder Bill J.W. Forney’s nickname. Forney was the Chief of Detectives in Midwest City, Oklahoma for years and even when he left the force to open his first BBQ joint in the early 1970’s, the “Kojak” moniker stuck. So when Bill’s brother Bud Forney decided to open his own BBQ shingle in Tampa a few years later, he took the family BBQ sauce recipe and the name Kojak’s with him. And thirty years later, this South Tampa institution is still going strong!

Parking out front, I headed inside and ordered the rib dinner pictured above. This mouth-wateringly good combo platter consists of a generous portion of Kojak’s spare ribs and two sides. I got the parsley potatoes and the baked beans, and though the beans were just alright, those potatoes were so buttery and delicious I kinda wanted to marry them. Amazing!

And the ribs…holy smoke, were they good! Dipped in the spicier of the two Kojak’s BBQ sauce choices on the table, that meat was fall-off-the-bone spectacular! Just incredible…

But the highlight of the meal was the Key Lime pie. I don’t know if it’s the proximity to the Florida Keys, the fact that they make the pie fresh daily in the Kojak’s kitchen, or those sweet almonds baked into the crust, but that was one of the best pieces of pie I have ever had anywhere! I’m not kidding, man, that almond crust alone will haunt your dreams!

In fact, the pie was so good, I knew I had to share it with Christine, so I ordered a second piece to go. And even though she ended up eating it with a spoon from a Jerk Chicken Shack downtown — in my pie haze, I forget to ask my waiter at Kojak’s for a fork! — Christine too kind of wanted to marry that Key Lime pie!

And according to the Kojak’s website, the pie isn’t even their most popular desert! Something called “Mama’s World Famous Chocolate Cake” holds that title. So, if nothing else, it gives me one more reason to head back to Tampa in a few years and try it out…yum!

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Back-to-school shopping @ “The American Mall”

With a nifty new Clean & Clear “The American Mall” premiere party sweepstakes already in the works on the movie’s official website, MTV announced plans this week for a massive promotional tie-in with Sears. Yep, you heard me…Sears!

Being a long-time Sears shopper — when we were kids, it was the only place my Dad had a credit card at, so we wore a lot of Sears brand finery in our day — I was kinda thrilled to learn that Sears stores nationwide would be pushing “Mall” hard in the next few months. I mean, hey, what better place to promote my mall movie than the place where I learned to shop. Cool, huh?

Timed to coincide with the crazy-profitable back-to-school shopping season, Reuters is describing the Sears partnership as: ”A multi-layered integrated marketing campaign built around the movie target[ing] the core MTV audience on-air, online and in stores — in time for the back-to-school shopping season.” Wow…you said it Reuters!

And let me tell ya, Sears isn’t missing a beat with this one. The Associated Press is reporting — yes, clearly I’ve been kind of over-googling lately — that Sears even has a new tagline for the back-to-school push: ‘Don’t just go back. Arrive”.

And even though they also announced a special website for the promo called the “Sears Arrive Lounge”, I was not able to load it this afternoon, so…not sure if it’s up and running yet.

And the Sears “Mall” mania doesn’t end there, folks. The venerable retail institution will also be featuring “Mall” cast members in their TV, radio, and print ads, distribute special VIP access cards to teens nationwide and even incorporate something called “Sears in-store experience zones”, which will feature “Mall” character looks as created through consultation with the movie’s costume designer, Cynthia Summers. Rock on, Cynthia!

But perhaps the coolest element of the Sears tie-in is that they’ll be releasing scads of officially-licensed “The American Mall” merchandise and a special edition of the DVD (available only at Sears!) with an entire bonus disc of exclusive material. Whew…good thing I didn’t pre-order my DVD at Amazon yet!

Anyway, I know it’s totally lame to be geeking out about all this, but, I gotta admit that I am a little excited at the prospect of shopping for clothing inspired by my characters at my local Sears. I guess the biggest thing I have to worry about now is whether or not Joey’s super cool “janitor coveralls” come in a XXL…

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Mr. Sulu takes a husband!

Both Christine and I have been stoked to see gay marriage mania sweeping the state the past couple of days, but nothing hit home more than the news that “Star Trek” and “Heroes” star George Takai — who, John Cho aside, will always be the one true Mr. Sulu to me! — and his longtime partner, Brad Altman registered for a marriage license yesterday in West Hollywood.

Go, Sulu! Wow…I mean, I’m happy for those old ladies in San Francisco and watching Robin Tyler and Diane Olson exchange vows “live” on yesterday’s news was very sweet, but the wedding I’m really dying to see is Mr. Sulu’s!

Takai has said he and Altman won’t marry until September, so that gives me plenty of time to nerd out over the Trekie wedding to be…hmmm…

I think things should start off with Mr. Sulu kindly encouraging everyone in the church to set their phasers to stun, I mean, hey, you don’t want any interstellar violence interrupting the big day, right?

And while Kirk flirts with all the blue-skinned hotties at the no-host bar, Uhura should be strumming that big old “Star Trek” harp (above) and of course the highlight of the ceremony will be when Mr. Spock — who should totally officiate if you ask me! — wishes the happy couple well and urges them to “live long and prosper”! Awesome!

But hey, even if Takai and Altman elect to have a more traditional ceremony, the fact that Mr. Sulu is marrying his main dude is still pretty cool in my book. So, rock on Trekie love birds!

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