The Orlando Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles is hidden treasure of sorts. This European-style boutique hotel is centrally located, and immaculate. It’s not surprising when you stay there to learn they recently underwent a $6 million renovation of the hotel. Trendy but not pretentious, The Orlando offers so much for its guests. The Lobby Lounge is hip cool to hang out at. Wifi is available throughout the hotel, which really came in handy for this journalist. There is also a full service spa and fitness center, and a salt-water pool outside which had the weather been better, I would’ve taken full advantage of. Location-wise, it’s hard to do better. It’s easy to walk around downtown L.A. from the hotel (I had breakfast at Ralph’s) and it’s fairly close to The Grove, The Staple Center, and other L.A. landmarks. Affordably priced, attentive staff, and clean, spacious rooms propel this above other area hotels. I highly recommend.
Me standing out the legendary Mann’s Chinese Theatre
It’s no wonder Starline Tours have been around since 1935. They’re the best of the best. I took their legendary Movie Stars’ Homes Tour while in Los Angeles last month, and found the trip all I expected it to be. The tour guide whose name sadly escapes me was so well-educated on all things Tinseltown, and kept the two-hour-plus trip moving along at a nice speed with funny jokes and even good-natured raps – yes raps. Among the celebrity homes visited were Michael Jackson’s final home (the guide discussed working the day of MJ’s death where ambulances were called to the house mid-tour), Johnny Depp’s pad, and Charlize Theron’s crib. The Movie Stars’ Homes Tour is more than what the title suggests. Along the way, it was cool to see hot spots that live in Hollywood infamy from Hugh Grant’s prostitute booty call spot to a Lindsay Lohan infamous fender bender. The tour also incorporated cool tidbits like where Britney Spears gets her spray tan on, which restaurant Jennifer Aniston and Gwen Stefani frequent, and which hotel Cameron Diaz owns. The tour was always informative and the tour guide had no problem dropping knowledge whether he was driving along Rodeo Drive or Beverly Hills. This tour is a must for any pop culture junkie who has spent their entire lives watching, reading, living and breathing all things Hollywood.
As an aside, Starline Tours is launching a new TMZ tour later this month. They recently started one in Malibu. Kick ass indeed.
Stay tuned next week for coverage of Anaheim, Los Angeles, Santa Monica and more! Aw sit!
By Jon Chattman
Loni Love is everywhere – on TV anyway. The E! Entertainment Television host (Wildest TV Show Moments, Most Outrageous Moments) is seen doing that as well as her stand-up, and guesting on Chelsea Lately. I spoke to the Detroit native recently, and became an instant fan. Continue reading
By Jon Chattman
With apologies to Joel Fleishman, I have a new favorite thing to come out of Alaska. Kate Earl is a beautiful singer/songwriter, who grew up in Chugiak, AK, and is about to break out like a pimple on your younger brother’s face. The artist is a raw blend of everyone from Cat Power to Fiona Apple but less angry, and dare I say it, more peppy and talented. Plus, she plays the harmonica and that’s pretty bad ass. Currently living in Los Angeles, Earl took time out to chat with me. You can pick up her appropriately titled new EP “Introducing Kate Earl” on Amazon and iTunes by the way.
Her songs appear fairly regularly on “Grey’s Anatomy,” but don’t hold that against her. Whereas that medical drama is often hard on the eyes — what with the over-the-top sappy storylines and bottomless bits of melodrama (stay dead Denny), Meiko’s tunes are easy on the ears – honest, melodic gems that prove once again that we’re living a golden age of guitar-playing female singer/songwriters.
Billy Joel has been milking the final drips of the cow nipple that is his career for years. Without a new album since 1990’s “River of Dreams,” all that guy does is tour off of music he made back in the day. I say that, because it’s time for some new piano-driven music that doesn’t suck. Thankfiully, The 88 have arrived and they ain’t playing in no bar with a jar on their pianos. They’ve got a piano-fueled sound and I like it like snow during Christmastime.
The L.A.-based group, which has Keith Slettedahl on vocals/guitar, Anthony Zimmitti on drums, and Adam Merrin on – what else- the piano, has an eclectic sound to it. It’s no surprise they’ve toured with acts like Smashing Pumpkins and Matt Costa. It’s also not surprising they used to serve as Elliott Smith’s backup band. Their songs have appeared on everything from The OC to Grey’s Anatomy so it’s clear everyone loves them. Us, too.
Anyway, we spoke with Merrin recently and asked him about the band’s unique sound, and how they came to be. Continue reading
By Jon Chattman
It’s quite fitting that thecheappop.com starts off the Jewish New Year with an exciting interview with a fellow Hebrew: Darren Grodsky, co-writer and co-director of the new indie flick Humboldt County. The St. Louis native and partner/long-time friend Danny Jacobs are the brains behind that winning indie flick, which opens this Friday. The story centers on UCLA med student Peter (Jeremy Strong), a straight-laced young man whose professor flunks him, and as a result, ends up stranded with free spirit Bogart (Fairuza Balk) after he shacks up with her one night. The plot thickens when he meets her eccentric family of pot farmers. We chatted with Grodsky last week, and asked them the thinking process behind the film. Smoke ‘em if you’ve got ‘em, and read on. Continue reading