Sunday, June 26, 2011

Vacation Tip: Where to find writers

I read articles all the time about where tourists visiting Los Angeles can see stars. There are also maps to the stars homes (although Jack Benny and Lucille Ball have moved to more permanent residences. ). But what about all those millions of visitors who come to Tinsel Town just to catch a glimpse at writers? There’s yet to be an article about that….

Until now.

So for those of you scribe groupies hoping to see an actual TV or screenwriter this summer vacation, here are some places to go:

NATE N’ AL’S – This perennial Beverly Hills delicatessen is officially Broadway Danny Rose west. Here is where old comedy writers go to die of heart failure. Usually in tables of five or more, piled high with pastrami sandwiches (“I’m hungry now that I’ve quit smoking!”) the old sitcom guard holds court, trading stories of the good old days when Elizabeth Montgomery was a doll to work with but that Cosby kid was a handful. (“Two comedy albums and suddenly he knows funny!”) Morning meetings between writers and agents, managers, or producers start about 9. The ones that are over by 10 are working writers, the ones that go on til 11 are not.

THE AMC THEATRES, CENTURY CITY – weekday matinees only. Usually in pairs. Listen for the keywords: “Who greenlit this shit?”

THE FARMERS’ MARKET FOOD COURT – weekday mornings, early. They have coffee, read the trades, bitch about their fantasy baseball teams, and get the hell out before all the tour busses arrive.

Every STARBUCKS and COFFEE BEAN on Ventura Blvd between Vineland and White Oak. They’re easy to spot, sitting in front of computers, nursing one $3.00 ice blended for eight hours.

ART’S DELICATESSEN – Studio City. The San Fernando Valley equivalent of Nate N’ Al’s. Close to CBS Radford with oversized artery clogging triple deck sandwiches that include pastrami AND chopped liver. The one-time popular haunt of all the MTM writers so it’s kind of a shrine.

CEDARS SINAI HOSPITAL – West Hollywood. Home for all reunions of GRACE UNDER FIRE, CYBILL, and ROSEANNE writers.

THE SMOKE HOUSE – Burbank. Across the street from Warner Brothers studio. The bar area. Leave it to writers to think a good place to pick up chicks is at an old style red booth restaurant that’s been around since John Barrymore used to pass out there. Historic note: Captain & Tennille were discovered playing the Smoke House lounge – thus adding even more to the hip factor.

THE AROMA CAFÉ – Cute little coffee house with cute outdoor patio. On Tujunga Blvd in the valley mere steps from where Robert Blake had the love of his life whacked.

RESIDUALS – A bar in the valley that used to let writers pay for drinks with residual checks that were under a dollar. They eventually had to stop that practice because they were getting too many. I myself have received a check from THE SIMPSONS for one cent. And I’m sure it cost $5.00 to process and mail the check.

THE BRENTWOOD COUNTRY MART – Westside smaller version of the Farmers’ Market Food Court. Writers and news anchors hang out here. You’ll have no trouble telling which is which.

THE OAKWOOD GARDEN APARTMENTS -- Burbank. See recently divorced writers.

Any coffee shop above Hollywood on Franklin – Lots of guys trying to write the next PULP FICTION. Or MIKE & MOLLY.

Happy hunting. One rule though: no handing out spec scripts! Let me repeat that:


Either working writers will be pissed or non-working writers will give you theirs.


Mary Stella said...

If only you'd blogged this before I came to LA for the RT Bookreviews Magazine Convention!

Cantara said...

Who was it who said "Los Angeles is hell with great restaurants?"

Please Don't Eat Me said...

Here's some brilliance for you, me and four or five other writers were sitting outside of a Starbucks when some guy walks up and says, "You must be the writers, mind if I join you?"

To a man, without looking at the guy we say, "No." or correctly, more like, "Fuck no, we're full here." Or words to that effect.

We hear the guy shuffle off. About two minutes later, another one of our regular brethren walks up and says, "Hey fellas, I just saw to Bill Goldman in the parking lot. Hellova guy."

MikeFab said...

In the late 70's I was with the LAPD and assigned for about a year to Hollywood Division where I occasionally worked a foot beat on Hollywood Blvd. Your celebrity "hang out" list reminded me of the many times that tourists would approach us, (we were in uniform), and ask us where they could go to see actors and such. With a complete deadpan face and attitude, we would tell them that the unemployment office would be a good bet. No one ever laughed, but I think we thought it was funny. Cop humor.

The sad thing is that it was mostly true. I'm not sure if it applied to writers though.

Tod Hunter said...

Hate to quibble, but the Captain and Tennille were discovered at the now-razed-and-replaced-with-an-office-building Encino Smoke House, which was at the corner of Balboa and Ventura.

I was managing the Wherehouse in Panorama City and I heard people marveling at the electronic wizardry of the duo, who worked with (gasp) $5,000 worth of equipment. We sold their self-produced single for a while.

Your column brightens my mornings. Thanks. If you ever make return trip to Porn Star Karaoke, say hi.


Verification word: Denting. Due to a computer malfunction, a real word has slipped in. We regret the error.

By Ken Levine said...

Hate to quibble with your quibble but I saw Capt. & Tenni at the Burbank Smokehouse. I never was at the Encino version.

chris mcdermott said...

Oooh you nudged my memory - on the southwest corner of Coldwater and Ventura (kitty korner from the Sportsman's Lodge) there was a place (demolished now) called, I think..."The Cock and Bull" - I was drinking there with one of Gene Reynold's former assistants at MTM - over at the next table was an early 80's version of "The Green Room" with Paul Provenza. Without that tweeter guy, of course. Betty White has some cute stuff in one of her earlier books about sneaking to Art's with Mary Tyler Moore...and speaking of Art, in the early 90's I was in vegas at the old desert inn, playing blackjack and when a pit boss asked me where I was from (Studio City) he said so was Art, of art's deli fame...high roller he said. I immediately thought, no wonder his sandwiches are so frinking expensive. Take care Ken, always LOVE the blog.

John said...

I'm assuming we can expect the Chuck Lorre wing at Cedars Sinai to be dedicated in the next couple of years, especially if this "One-and-One-Half-Plus-One Men" this draws ratings on CBS Monday this fall.

My favorite Hollywood celeb-eating-food spotting story's still going into a McDonald's in 1973 and seeing Mason Reese's mom stuffing another Big Mac down his mouth so he'd retain that obese gnome look that had taken the TV commercial world by storm. Mom could feel the footsteps of Rodney Allen Rippy close behind her.

Kimberly said...

Shot in the dark, but if I don't ask my chances of getting a 'yes' decrease substantially. Will you read my comedy pilot? I'd love to get your opinion on it.

You can contact me back at

John said...

Almost forgot -- Question for next Friday: Is it kind of weird this weekend broadcasting a Mariners' home game where they're not the home team, since the series with the Marlins was moved to Seattle due to U-2's "Irish Income Tax Avoidance" tour dates in Miami?

I tuned into the game on XM last night expecting to hear the Seattle feed, but got the Marlins' broadcast instead, and wondered why for a couple of seconds until remembering it's technically a home game for Florida. As an announcer, especially in a close game in the late innings, I'd think you'd have to keep reminding yourself that even though you're in Seattle and the Mariners' fans are rooting for a late-inning comeback, Florida's got the last at-bat in the game.

Emily Blake said...

Then there's the Bourgeois Pig, where lots of writers you've never heard of tap away on their keyboards until TV celebrities show up to play pool.

BigTed said...

You have to be careful -- writers are everywhere. I remember making fun of a silly TV show playing on the monitors at my gym -- then someone told me that the guy two exercise bikes over had written that episode.

cadavra said...

Chris: Not that my memory is much better, but I think the restaurant was called "Tail of the Cock."

Tom Michael said...

Residuals (now Maeve's Residuals) still honors residual checks for a free drink, but I understand they've limited it to one per visit. They have several checks framed on the wall by the rest rooms.

RCP said...

The Oakwood Garden Apartments, eh? That will be my first stop on my next visit to LA!

Anonymous said...

There were two Tail 'O the Cocks. One on La Cienga the other on Ventura and Coldwater,the one frequented by many "Hollywood Drinkers". The Cock and Bull, another famous "Hollywood Drinkers" spot was on Sunset near San Vicente (now a Jaguar dealership), a regular hang out of Jack Webb.

Breadbaker said...

I was at the game, and was actually a little disappointed the Mariners didn't play with the situation a little more. Other than that which was necessary--Marlins in home uniforms, batting last and pitchers batting--they really didn't do anything different. I was hoping they might move the hydro races to Biscayne Bay, play "Cheeseburger in Paradise" in lieu of "Louie Louie" at the 7th inning stretch, etc. It actually might have kept a rather staid crowd, very spread out because season ticket holders' seats weren't occupied, on their toes somewhat.

Nancy B said...

Want to meet a celebrity? Head out to the far reaches of a couple of local private country clubs, and simply pick up a wayward drive in the rough. You'll be chased by a celebrity in record time.

Anonymous said...

But Emily, the Bourgeois Pig IS a coffee shop on Franklin, as Ken pointed out.


Tod Hunter said...

I stand corrected about which Smoke House Captain and Tennille played.

Eyewitness trumps 30-year-old secondhand reporting from somebody who was drinking at the time.

Thanks for the info.


Check word: cavatica: A new musical about the exciting world of dentistry.

chris mcdermott said...

Yes! memories jogged...right on all three...tails, bulls, and (ahem)cocks. thanks folks! - Chris