The Real La La Land - Day 1
I arrived late Sunday night after the insane shuttle ride, to the peaceful district of Los Feliz in East L.A. This was my home for the next two nights with my good friend Aliethea and her son. Los Feliz and neighbouring Silverlake are two of my favourite districts in LA. Very residential, very laid back and full of artists - see the picture below for some of the local talent. The Casbah Cafe on Sunset is a personal favourite and there's no where better to sit outside, enjoy their beautiful homemade cakes and watch the world go by.
My visit to Aliethea's was tinged with sadness as recently her beautiful Siberian Husky, Beastie, was stolen, right on the street while her son was walking him. To say they are devastated is an understatement. They have campaigned, made the local news, and even singer Sia put out a plea via Instagram. But sadly, there has been no news, and they are trying their best to move on and heal. My friend Aliethea is one of the strongest women I know. She is a director. Passionate about her art, passionate about people and always wanting to develop her skills and put them to good use. She's also hilariously funny and I find myself often curled up in laughter in her company. So to spend my first night back in LA with her was just a joy.
So Monday morning I waltzed out into the LA rain (never thought I'd use those two words in a sentence) and head off for my meeting at The Jim Henson Company in Hollywood. I have to say, walking into the Henson lot is a bit like walking into your childhood. There are muppets and puppets everywhere and even Kermit the Frog greets you at the gate dressed as Charlie Chaplin - this of course being the same lot that once belonged to Chaplin and his studios.
This little gem is not open to the public but I've been very lucky to visit here before and was super excited about going back. As I walked into the reception my smile broadened as I spotted the giant cabinet full of blinding gold awards including Emmys and Saturns. Then, the holiest of holies, 'Labyrinth' was playing on the TV in the reception area! I jokingly told the receptionist to cancel my meeting with Brian Henson as I was staying right there!
The one thing that strikes me about the Henson lot is that everyone seems very happy to be
working there. And why wouldn't you be? There's fun and character around every corner and the setting itself is like a little village, full of positivity, vibrance and even a London red phone box! When you nip to the bathroom Kermit the Frog is there at the mens and Miss Piggy at the ladies - far too cute! Brian Henson himself is possibly one of the nicest guys you could ever want to meet. Clearly motivated and passionate about the work and company his father created, he also comes across as open and encouraging. And if that wasn't enough - he's married to Ferris Bueller's girlfriend. Respect where it's due people!
After my meeting I headed down La Brea and over to The Grove to meet my good friends Michael and Tina. That sentence sums up things I love in LA - The Grove, Michael and Tina. The Grove is a great shopping area full of high end stores and also high street favourites - including Topshop! Just next to The Grove is the original Farmers Market - hugely popular in LA, the Farmers Market is full of great food stands, gift shops, quirky personalities and even a coffee and donut stand run by a guy called Bob - 'Twin Peaks' follows me everywhere!
Michael and Tina are two of the company members of Fairytale Theatre: 18 and Over which I co-produced with Michael at the 2015 Edinburgh Festival. Michael Feldman is the creator of Fairytale but recently he hit the headlines with another creation of his. A short film titled 'What It's Felt Like Since The Election'. This vid features many of the Fairytalers and was made for Michaels friends. But this thing has gone bat shit viral crazy with over 3.7Million views, 56K shares and thousands and thousands of comments. Even the Huffington Post got their hands on it!
If you haven't seen this priceless film then here it is - pay attention to the end cause that's the point. There's no doubt that the election result is what's dominating everyone's minds over here and I can see why. In the UK, we see what the media wants us to see, but here, I'm seeing and hearing it all. I have heard stories that have shocked me to my core and had me on the brink of tears. But rather than being divided the people here are uniting and doing their best to pull together and resist the horrendous, illegal and downright immoral acts that are being carried out by President Cheeto-Dust face - thanks to Ashley Judd for that one.
My friend Tina Huang is one of my favourite things on this planet. She's a strong, passionate, kind woman with a generous spirit and a wicked sense of humour - with a scientist for a husband! Tina spent four years playing a scientist herself (yes really) on popular lady cop show 'Rizzoli & Isles', but she pounds the audition circuit more than anyone I know and in fact had just joined us after an audition. She is also smart enough to know that if there isn't a lot of work around - make your own work, and indeed has just started a film production company with her good friend Karla Mosley (she of 'The Bold and the Beautiful') and they have just completed their first short film. So you see London pals, LA is not that different from London - everyone trying to make it in the best way they know how.
I headed back to Aliethea's, jet lag fully setting in, and we raided Trader Joes for some dinner. We in the UK have yet to experience the joy that is Trader Joes as our neighbourhood grocery store, but this is the store that all grocery stores want to be when they grow up. The food is fresh, innovative and really really good. Shopping there is a joy and I always end up bringing half the store home!
And so I hit the hay after a busy first day back in LA (didn't mean that to rhyme!) and I actually slept!
More tomorrow folks!
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