Sunday, May 12, 2013

Vacation tips: 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.  The smart ones are by Bob's Donuts.  Worth the trip just for one of those sinkers. 

Every STARBUCKS and COFFEE BEAN on Ventura Blvd between Vineland and White Oak. The scribes are 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.  Toni is now 71 (but looks great). 

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 discontinue 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.   Just last week I got a check from THE JEFFERSONS for sixty cents -- probably my royalty from 100,000 DVD's sold. 

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 MINDY PROJECT.

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.



Anonymous said...

Wayne Satz's memorial service was at Residuals. Like open mike night but with grief.

Eddie Gordetsky and pals used to hang out at that place across from the Gelson's on Franklin.

Jest Jake said...

Gosh, Ken, you left out a place where writers hang - well, one anyway - the broadcast booth at Mariner's games.

You haven't given up writing have you?

Mike in Seattle said...

Anybody remember the two veggie delis? This goes back a few years, They were run by a family. One was, I think, on Melrose, the other was on Ventura near Radford in a strip mall. Geez they had good food for veggie stuff. Got a very nice hello and smile from a very pregnant Markie Post in the former. Tells you how long ago that was. Said hello to Albert Brooks in the latter.

vernonlee said...

Totally true about Farmer's Market by Bob's.

There's a regular group that meets Tuesday mornings: I don't recognize all the faces but have seen Paul Mazursky and Richard Kind there.

cb said...

there are no Trades anymore. Sadly.

Phillip B said...

Some of the great overheard conversations in these places - remember trying to order breakfast while listening to a a heated analysis of the intentional lack of pathos in NewsRadio.

Mary Stella said...

It would be total name-dropping to bring up the pleasure and fun when my friend Beth Ciotta and I had lunch with you and Lee Goldberg in L.A. during the RT Convention.

Yep. Total name-dropping. Did it anyway.

Tom Michael said...

Residuals will still give out a free drink for a residual check. But I think there's a limit of one per person per night. Great place to play trivia on Tuesday nights between 6 and 8, as everyone playing can win up to three drinks.

Mike said...

No mention of any public libraries. Not for the meetings, but for the writing. Are such places illegal in LA? The public aspect that is. And the libraries.

John said...

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

You can get out of Starbucks for $3? I can't even do that with a vanilla blonde roast.

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

Chuck Lorre's been successful enough in the past decade he should've donated a wing there by now, if only for those who didn't make it out alive.

Craig L. said...

When I saw "Toni (Tennille) is 71, I had to check. Wikipedia and IMdb agree: "born May 8, 1940". She just had her 73rd birthday (and still looks great). She didn't even look her age when she had her first hit records in the '70s - that's why I had to check.

When I lived in L.A. as an aspiring writer, I hung out at Public Libraries more than Delis. Now I realize that was my biggest mistake.

Bryce said...

I've been rewatching some Cheers episodes on Netflix, and one question I have regards beer. Usually everyone is swilling down nameless drafts from mugs, but every so often someone requests a Becks or you see a Heineken. Were these brands just pulled from thin air, or were they a favorite of a writer, or ? A second question involves liquor. I heard the draft beer was really tea, but when they made certain drinks with a liquor, did they use real liquor to get the color right, or did someone have to labor over tinting prop bottles with food coloring until they got the right shade? Thanks, I just found your blog this week, but have read many articles from the archives, they're very enjoyable!

Tom Galloway said...

True story. In the mid80s I was living in LA. One night I was grocery shopping and noticed that the shopper in front of me was wearing a jacket that only writers for the then airing Twilight Zone revival had. It occurred to me that I either knew every writer on that staff or knew what they looked for one. Whose other work pre-TZ I'd enjoyed.

So I went up and asked if they were who I thought, and they were. I explained how I'd figured out who they were and complimented them on their work and moved on.

A few years later, I told the above on a newsgroup and a mutual friend put the TZ writer and I in contact. He remembered our meeting...and said something similar had happened a couple of weeks later in a different store in the same strip mall!

MJEH said...

A residual check for 60 cents!! I love it!!

Ronald said...

Dupars on Venture Blvd. Best hot cakes in the world

Hollywoodaholic said...

And near the beach, the best place to spot writers fishing for starlets with their hard copy screenplay... the Rose Cafe.

Carol said...

Would writers mind if I said something like 'I'd love for Character A to do such-and-such someday. Any chance of that happening?'

TravelingDP said...

I love going to Nat N' Al's when I'm in town. The food is good and I love the history surrounding this place. I met David Issacs and Peter Casey at the WGF 2 years ago. It was a very inspirational meeting. Since then I've been going back and watching the entire series of the shows you guys have worked on. I like the new stuff but it's good to know where we came from too.

As far as food, I always buy some Bagel chips for the road trip back home. Great snack.