Archive for Entertainment

Known as one of the most popular fast casual spots in the city of Los Angeles, many celebrities, shows and books have paid homage to Zankou Chicken. The restaurant is best remembered for the perfectly crispy rotisserie chicken they sell, which is seasoned using a combination of local spices. This process takes several hours, so workers are often up well before the restaurant opens.

That’s probably why a sense of pop-culture has developed around Zankou. It should be no surprise that Zankou has also been referenced in actual media too.

Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Palestinian Chicken

curb-your-enthusiasm-zankouIn the popular show Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David wrote a scene that took place inside a restaurant that was a not so subtle nod to Zankou Chicken. Although it’s not actually called “Zankou” by name, all the signs are there. One inconsistency: the Iskendarian family serves Lebanese recipes, not Palestinian chicken. Still you can see the yellow shirts and red-block writing, smell the pita and taste the garlic sauce.

Beck’s “Debra”

The song “Debra” features a not-so hidden mention of everyone’s favorite chicken spot. Supposedly, Beck is a regular at Zankou, getting it whenever he has the opportunity to do so. Although we don’t know what his favorite dish is, our guess is it’s the rotisserie chicken.

Other Mentions

If you’ve ever seen the show “Man vs. Food”, then you know the name Adam Richman. He’s among several celebrities who call Zankou Chicken one of their personal favorites. In fact, Zankou’s first Los Angeles location was in Hollywood to cater to the city’s population of starving artists, aspiring actors and ambitious screenwriters.

Los Angeles is full of great and inexpensive food spots, like Zankou, that are perfect for anyone on a budget. Take a quick food tour of the city of angels.

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Sawtelle

Sawtelle is colloquially known as “Japantown”, and it isn’t Little Tokyo. It’s a small street in Santa Monica where the Japanese population in Los Angeles settled and decided to bring a few tastes from back home. Sawtelle is made up of many restaurants so it’s up to you to find whatever suits your tastes for the day. You can start with some curry or ramen, then move on to sushi once you’ve had your fill. Definitely save room for Beard Papas. The cream puff shop offers something light and fluffy for dessert.

Burbank

Burbank is full of excellent food, and you’ll find yourself returning frequently once you’ve been there. When you’re looking for something healthy and inexpensive, there’s really only one choice though. Zankou Chicken, which has locations all over Los Angeles, offers healthy and perfectly roasted chicken. Their garlic sauce is absolute bliss, and the side dishes seal the deal. Why Burbank and not the original location in Hollywood? The simple answer is the décor, but hardcore fans will tell you it just feels better eating there. The flagship location is beautiful and the food is prepared fresh.

Silverlake

Silverlake has undergone a bit of a facelift, and the end result is tasty food and cool spots to kick it with friends. Right by the Echo and Echoplex, for instance, one can find a variety of vegan and vegetarian spots nestled among taco trucks. Two Boots Pizza offers a selection of gluten free pizzas with toppings that include shrimp, sausage and a variety of veggies too.  Bulan Thai offers vegan and vegetarian Thai food, but Sage offers desserts too.

By Phineas Upham

In the pantheon of legendary clubs, New York’s 300 Club occupies a spot very near the top of “classiest booze joint”. This club catered to the rich and glitzy crowds of New York City, and its lead emcee was a woman named Texas Guinan.

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Mary Louise Cecilia Guinan was born in Waco, Texas, and spent her adolescent years in Colorado. In Denver, she learned how to play the organ for her local church and acted in several plays. That was foundation for an intriguing career in the entertainment business.

In 1906, she moved to New York where she got her true start as a chorus girl. She quickly moved into the rising art of Vaudeville Theater, where she was well received as “Texas” Guinan.

Her 300 Club was a haven for alcohol during the height of the prohibition, and she was arrested several times for serving liquor to her guests. She always avoided prosecution. Although her establishment also hosted 40 scantily clad girls dancing for men, during a time when such things were strictly forbidden, she would claim the size of the building made it impossible for a proper stage. Guests with liquor? They’d brought it with them when they came. How was she to know?

She had attitude, greeting her patrons with “Hello Suckers!”, and referring to the richer patrons as “butter and egg men”. She was a key player in the prohibition-era underworld, and appeared in several films before her death in 1933, exactly a month before the repeal of prohibition.


Phineas Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phin on his Phineas Upham website or Twitter page.

By Phineas Upham

Irving Penn was born to Russian-Jewish parents in Plainfield New Jersey in 1917. Penn was artistically inclined and studied at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art. There, he became adept at drawing, painting, graphic and industrial art. His teacher was Alexey Brodovitch, who’s connections at Harper’s Bazaar would prove advantageous to the fledgling artist.

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Brodovitch helped Penn get his start by publishing his drawings in Harper’s,which kickstarted his career as a freelance artist. Brodovitch, meanwhile, became art director for Saks Fifth Avenue. Penn became an accomplished fashion photographer and published a few photographs of his own. When Brodovitch stepped down from his position with Saks, Penn was all too eager to fill the role.

After a year with Saks, Penn traveled to Mexico and across the United States seeking inspiration. Upon his return, he took a job for Vogue that was offered by Alexander Lieberman. Penn focused on painting while at Vogue, but Liberman insisted he try his hand at photography.

Penn’s first cover was for the October 1943 issue of Vogue, which kicked off a lifetime career with the magazine. During the 1950s, he branched into still life photography and portraits. When he was ready to found his own studio by the end of the 1950s, he was poised to become a major advertising photographer. By the close of his career, his clientele would include General Mills, DeBeers and Clinique.

Penn married the Swedish fashion model Lisa Fonssagrives, and the two had one son. Fonssagrives passed away in 1992, and Penn died in 2009.


Phineas Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phin on his Phineas Upham website or Facebook page.

Summary: A productive rehearsal can keep pacing on set fast and ready for shooting.

When you’re filming a production, it’s important for actors to have some time to work together on their scenes and run lines. Rehearsing helps everyone get acquainted with the space, and for other actors to build some camaraderie and anticipation on set. Rehearsal time tends to be more limited on film or television, but it’s an important part of stage acting and direction.

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Script Time

Actors need to know lines, but they should have a keen sense of flow for the scene too. While you’re preparing the camera or setting the stage, actors should be on their feet and blocking scenes. This should happen naturally, even if they are sitting and running through lines with each other.

If an actor under reads, meaning they have not studied the script enough, then blocking and rehearsing will give them some much needed prompts before stepping in front of the camera. However, this might be unacceptable to you as a director. Actors like to approach the story with fresh eyes, but that’s not always the most professional decision to make. As director, you need to make yourself responsible for actors learning lines, and a table read or blocking session can be a good time to make sure that’s getting done.

Table reads are to hear the tone of the scenes, not a time to hash out specifics. Try to keep in mind that actors are like tools to get the job done. You should also have a feel for what you want.


 

Bio: Charles Matthau is a director, producer and storyteller who runs The Charles Matthau Company in Los Angeles. Charles Matthau is best known for his adaptations, which include “The Grass Harp” and “Freaky Deaky.”

Written by: Charles Matthau

Summary: Think a book is un-filmable? These tips might make you reconsider.

As a first-time director, or even someone with a movie or two on their demo reel, you will find yourself in a position where you take whatever project comes your way. One of the trends you’ll find is that many of these are, or were, books and short stories. Studios purchase rights to these projects all the time, but they end up sitting “on the shelf” waiting to get made. Watchmen, the film based on Alan Moore’s comic book of the same name, is a great example.

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The rights to Watchmen were purchased in 1986, but the film didn’t see the light of day until 2009. All sorts of problems cropped up related to production. Alan Moore didn’t want to write the script, but a rewritten script completely changed the iconic and poignant ending. Terry Gilliam was attached to direct at one point, but dropped the project because he stated the comic was ultimately “un-filmable.”

The film “Watchmen” was eventually made, and it was made using this important tip.

Change the Source Material

Any hardcore fan is probably conjuring expletives and counter arguments, but don’t be afraid to change elements of the plot to suit your needs. This is not license to completely alter the plot, the theme or the characters (although it’s certainly been done before). Both Watchmen and Blade Runner made significant changes from the source material, but did so because the film version demanded that level of insight.

When the director investigates source material, he or she should be looking for key elements that make the story pop. Distill those beats into the barebones of your script, then begin writing for the screen. Always remember that books give us insight that movies cannot. You have to be willing to pull the essence of your subject matter into the script.


 

Bio: The Matthau Company is a production company that recently released “Freaky Deaky,” an adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s story starring Christian Slater and Crispin Glover. The Charles Matthau Company is best known for the adaptation of Capotes “The Grass Harp” Starring Walter Matthau and directed by Charlie Matthau.

There are certain elements that make a good indie film great. Indie films are passion productions that frequently feature engaging scripts and excellent camera work. Talent is another crucial component, but securing great talent can be quite the challenge. You can devote long stretches of time to searching for an actor that is just right, or you can use some of these tips to try and get ahead of the game.

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Have a Distribution Strategy

When you’re seeking funding, you have to talk about the full scope of your project and include details about what you hope the film will do. If you’re approaching bigger talent, you may want to talk about some of your plans for the film, where you intend on releasing and how you plan to distribute. This show’s you’re serious about the business side of filmmaking, and that you have a vision for the completed project.

Have Someone Important Attached

There will inevitably come a moment when you’re asked “who” is involved with the project. The “who” in question should be someone recognizable, even if they are a b-list actor. Plenty of talent that doesn’t get mainstream attention still draw fans. Have a vision for this person and a convincing way to sell them on a picture. Some actors, for instance, are highly motivated by interesting characters or challenging roles. Knowing your actor or the partners you want to work with is just as important as getting everything else right.

Casting on Your Own

If you plan to go the solo route, save yourself the trouble and ditch Craigslist. Start your recruiting at local playhouses and universities. You’d be surprised at the up and coming talent studios haven’t dug up yet.


 

Bio: Charles Matthau is the owner and operator of Charles Matthau Company. Matthau Company is based out of Los Angeles, and is the source for productions involving the Matthau family.

The 2015 South by Southwest (SXSW) film and music festival is scheduled for March 13-22 in Austin, Texas. Began in 1987, the festival and the conference is a celebration of film, music, any many more run by the SXSW, Inc.

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This year’s planned festival will feature 145 feature films which is an all-time high for the festival and include the last minute addition of Furious 7, Spy, Get Hard, The Final Girls, Moonwalker, Trainwreck and many more. In documentaries line up includes Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, ExMachina and Brand: A Second Coming and appears to be fan favorites too.

In the music category more than 2,000 artists and groups are scheduled to play for free. Some of the scheduled notables include three women ukulele playing group, The Prettiots. The festival provides a venue for young artists to showcase their talent and get the attention of the industry deal makers. Music industry big names attending the festival and performing include John Legend, Spoon, and Snoop Dogg while three time attendee Kanye West will be a keynote speaker. Some television show hosts including Jimmy Kimmel Live are expected to broadcast from the venue. Show appears to be gaining momentum since its debut 28 years ago.