The Academy Museum of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is arguably one of the hottest spots in town for movie premieres and parties, and it’s about to get even hotter this summer with the launch of an Old Hollywood Style supper club called “Hello, Gorgeous.”
The museum is still buzzing among the city’s cinephiles for its nightly film program, previously featuring Q and A’s with Hollywood heavyweights Francis Ford Coppola, Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, and Guillermo del Toro—a gangster film fanatics’ dream. Of course, the museum houses the obligatory bookstore—filled to the brim with cinema merch—and the art deco dining experience that is Fanny’s restaurant.
The supper club’s inaugural date is Saturday, June 18, and its sure to bring Ciro’s, Macambo and Café Trocadero vibes. The museum is full of Barbra Streisand homages, with Fanny’s serving as a nod to Fanny Brice—whom Streisand elegantly and popularly played in Funny Girl.
Guests can expect a one-of-a-kind menu from chef Raphael Francois and this month’s artist-KCRW favorite hybrid, chanteuse Danielle Ponder. Serving up tracks in the room will be the series’ music director Jason Bentley, former music director of KCRW and host of Morning Becomes Electric. Bentley will not only book the cabaret-style talent, but direct the evening’s musical content and stand behind the booth to DJ after each set.
LAMag caught up with LA’s iconic and notorious musical persona (and still the host of Metropolis on KCRW) to get all the deets.
LAMAG: How did you first get involved with the Academy Museum’s new supper club? How was it conceived?
JASON BENTLEY: The idea came from a lunch meeting a few months ago with Academy Museum President Bill Kramer, Los Angeles style editor Merle Ginsberg, restauranteur Bill Chait, and restauranteur Carl Schuster. Merle arranged for me to meet Bill Kramer; I was really taken by his energy and enthusiasm. He has been an absolute angel in bringing this idea to fruition. The same goes for everyone at that first lunch—Merle, Bill Chait, and Carl—who have all been ardent supporters of this leap of faith.
LAMAG: Is it true you were the person to come up with the name “Hello, Gorgeous” – Are you yourself a fan of Funny Girl?
JB: A big part of being a music supervisor is amplifying the story you’re telling to the audience. Knowing Fanny’s connection to Funny Girl, I revisited the film and the idea hit me immediately. It’s the opening line in the film starring Barbra Streisand, and it’s the first thing she said accepting the Oscar for Best Actress in 1969. It’s one of the great lines in film history and makes a fitting name for our musical exploits today. Funny Girl’s success signaled a new era in Hollywood: an era of more progressive inclusivity. I felt that this idea can also inform the direction of our music series.
LAMAG: When it came to booking artists—who have to be able to perform within a restaurant space—how did the Danielle Ponder booking happen?
JB: Danielle is co-managed by my longtime friend and KCRW colleague Chris Douridas, who sent me her music a while back. I love her story and sound. I also went to see her perform at a showcase to get a better sense that she could translate in the unique setting we’re planning at Fanny’s – and everything felt really good. I want to make sure that the artists we’re presenting at Hello, Gorgeous are authentic and exciting. It’s a special moment for Danielle in particular, with her debut album coming out in August.
LAMAG: Tell us a bit about Danielle Ponder’s background and sound.
JB: She had been working as a public defender for the indigent and homeless in Rochester, New York up until late last year, cultivating her music career on the side. Her songwriting is stellar; you can really feel her life experience informing her art. Her voice is powerful and unique, and the sound is sort of a throwback vintage Soul-Hip Hop hybrid. It’s one of those things where you hear her and it resonates straight away. It’s like, ‘Ok I get it. ‘
LAMAG: What do you expect the “Hello, Gorgeous” crowd to be like?
JB: I hope people embrace the moment to enjoy what we have created. I don’t think there’s anything quite like it—a supper club with a distinctive menu, terrific atmosphere, and inspired music programming.
LAMAG: You’re in charge of the music before and after her performance. If Hello Gorgeous is emulating old Hollywood, are you going to play all stuff from that period?
JB: I will play to the sense of old Hollywood early on, and then open it up to leading-edge dance music after the live performance finishes.
LAMAG: What are your favorite songs or albums right now?
JB: I love the new ‘Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ single. Angel Olsen, Jungle, Sault, Arcade Fire, and a whole lot of progressive electronic and dance music.
LAMAG: Any chance of Barbra Streisand, a donor to The Museum, showing up?
JB: Well, if she happens to read this, she is most welcome!
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