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Santa Monica Has Made a Mess of Investigating Last Spring’s Public Safety Disaster

Not only did Santa Monica police lose control of public order during a chaotic day of looting last May, according to new information that has surfaced since Los Angeles published a detailed expose of the debacle, the oceanside city has made a considerable mess of the aftermath, too.

Documents obtained via public records requests and new interviews reveal that Santa Monica hired two seasoned veterans of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, now working as private consultants, to conduct a postmortem and recommend corrective action within weeks of the police department ceding control of large swaths of the city to opportunists who ransacked hundreds of storefronts with impunity. An underprepared and understaffed police department had focused its attention on a largely peaceful Black Lives Matter protest near the oceanfront and failed to respond to emergency calls from hundreds of panicked residents elsewhere who were fearful for their property and their personal safety.

The veteran sheriff’s deputies soon found serious flaws in the Santa Monica police leadership from the lieutenant level up, according to a source familiar with their findings, and were particularly concerned with the performance of a captain who deputized for the chief for several days while she was out of town. The consultants also saw serious problems with the department’s intelligence gathering, planning, and deployment.

Until now, though, none of their findings about the events of May 31—or even the existence of their investigation—have seen the light of day.

The consultants, operating under the name Field Command, typed up their findings and shared them with a lieutenant reporting directly to the police chief. Under the terms of their contract, this was exactly how they supposed to write the post-mortem (known officially as an “after-action report”)—in conjunction with the police department. But the details of their findings never made it into a draft report that the lieutenant submitted to city leadership in early August, either, according to a number of sources close to the situation, because they were considered too damning to commit to writing, or because city leaders were worried about legal exposure, or both.

When the city’s top executive, interim city manager Lane Dilg, saw the heavily truncated draft report, she found it so poor she “threw up all over it,” according to one person she confided in. That person, who requested anonymity to protect his relationships, says Dilg didn’t just reject the report, she suppressed it altogether. Interviews with several of Santa Monica’s seven elected council members make clear that they were never told about the report, nor were they told that Dilg’s staff had approved spending of up to $25,000 for a postmortem many of them had been clamoring for and would now never see.

At the time, Dilg and her staff blamed the police department and its then-chief, Cynthia Renaud, for failing to pull together the after-action report they had been promising since June. The reason, council members (and this reporter) were told, was that the department was overwhelmed with the day-to-day challenge of performing its core duties at a time of continuing public unrest and a surge in the COVID-19 pandemic. As relayed by Terry O’Day, then the city’s deputy mayor, the department found it couldn’t “build the plane and fly the plane at the same time.”

This was, however, untrue.

The breakdown in communication was most painfully apparent at a council meeting on August 25, when three council members demanded an independent review to do a job that, as far as they were aware, the police department had failed to do. Sue Himmelrich, who led the initial charge for a quick accounting of what went wrong on May 31 and has since become the city’s mayor, told the meeting it was important to “get some people in there to get it done”. She specifically called for outside experts to help the police pull together their information and reach some initial conclusions.

Neither Dilg nor George Cardona, the city attorney who had approved the hiring of the two former sheriff’s deputies as a member of the city spending review committee, let Himmelrich know that the very thing she was demanding had already happened. In her public comments that day, Dilg said: “It’s important the community have transparency and accountability around what happened.” Yet she offered no transparency at all about the investigation she’d just quashed.

Dilg refused to give point-by-point answers to a list of questions from Los Angeles. Instead, her office issued a carefully worded general statement that acknowledged the hiring of the outside firm—saying it was Chief Renaud who made the call—but provided few other details. Asked if she had misled council members or the public, Dilg offered no reply. (Dilg has announced she will be leaving her job in the spring, for unrelated reasons. Chief Renaud, meanwhile, was pressed into early retirement last October.)

Santa Monica’s handling of the aftermath of its public safety disaster has been thrown into sharp relief by the reverberations from the violent takeover of the U.S. Capitol on January 6. It has not gone unnoticed in Santa Monica government circles that the chief of the Capitol Police and the sergeants-at-arms in the House and Senate quit right away—not five months later as Renaud did. Nobody gave the Capitol Police a “strong A” for their performance, as Dilg gave the SMPD, and nobody came out the next morning to declare “a bright and beautiful day,” as city officials did in a jarring news conference at the entrance to the Santa Monica Pier on June 1.

The greatly increased threat of far-right extremist violence around the country has also underscored the urgent need for Santa Monica, like other jurisdictions, to get its security house in order. The Proud Boys, implicated in the charge on the Capitol, made appearances in Santa Monica in 2017 to harass a Committee for Racial Justice set up in the wake of the violent white supremacist march in Charlottesville, so the city has specific reason to worry.

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The retired sheriff’s deputies from Field Command, Sid Heal and Richard “Odie” Odenthal, both had solid reputations and broad experience as emergency operations managers when Chief Renaud approached them in mid-June. But their hiring also raised questions. Heal acknowledged that he and Renaud were personal friends, and he asked at the outset if hiring him was appropriate.

“The chief didn’t blink an eye,” Heal said in an interview. “We had an agreement, that there would be no sacred cows…She didn’t care what the answers were but she wanted to know.”

It may not have worked out so smoothly in practice. According to Heal, Renaud was more than happy to receive verbal briefings but was skittish about what would appear in writing. In an email written in late June, Heal proposed Field Command’s standard template for analysis: identifying issues one by one, presenting a detailed discussion of each, and concluding with recommendations. Soon after, though, the firm heard via their main point of contact, Lt. Joseph Cortez, that this format was not going to work.

“The impression we had was that [the city] might not want to have it said right out there, in case what we wrote was used to sue the city,” Heal said. “We had pages and pages of notes we’d crafted… . In some cases we had names of people who were involved. Typically in after-action reports they leave out names. In this particular case, though, it was obvious [who was at fault].”

Heal and Odenthal gave the notes to Cortez, who “paraphrased” them, in Heal’s parlance, to such a degree that the end result was all but useless. The source familiar with Dilg’s thinking said she found the report to be “garbage.” “It wasn’t thorough. It didn’t have tight reasoning. It was just piece of puffery,” the source said.

Dilg did not take issue with this characterization—and neither did Heal. “I don’t know about the puffery part, but otherwise I would agree with that,” Heal said. “Joe [Cortez] did the paraphrasing, and he did it at the direction of somebody.” Heal said he did not know who directed Cortez, but he added: “I know he talked to the chief a lot.”

Renaud could be reached for comment.

cynthia renaud santa monica police
Former police chief Cynthia Renaud

Santamonica.gov

Dilg, in her statement, said that Field Command’s materials had been forwarded to the OIR Group, the independent organization now working on a fuller and more expensive report on the events of May 31. That report is not expected before April—11 months after the events in question. It is not clear, however, if Dilg ever saw Field Command’s detailed notes alongside the “paraphrased” report she found so badly wanting. If she did, it is also unclear why she chose not to publish those findings in response to considerable pressure from council members and an unnerved Santa Monica public.

One problem may have been that Field Command was too willing to lay blame on Renaud’s deputy, Captain Darrick Jacob, and not willing enough to blame Renaud, who left town to attend her daughter’s high school graduation and did not return until the morning of May 31–three days after the graduation ceremony. The city’s fire chief and head of dispatch were also out of town, despite safety concerns associated with protests that had continued to grow all week across the Los Angeles region. Another issue may have been a reputation Dilg has in certain quarters for holding her cards close to her chest, even in less fraught circumstances. “Lane is singularly defensive on these things,” said a former Santa Monica city official who worked closely with her in her previous job as city attorney. “I’d say that being more forthcoming is more honest… and more credible than the stonewall. Part of the stonewall is also protecting some people underneath the chief.” (A different city official took issue with this characterization of Dilg, preferring to describe her as someone who believes in “thoughtful transparency”.) Field Command ended up receiving $22,000 for its services. Renaud and Cortez were still sending each other edits of the report in late September, but by then Heal and Odenthal were long gone. “I remember thinking, what’s up with that?” Heal said. “It wasn’t going to cost them any more to let us finish. They could always throw the report away then.”

With Renaud now out of the picture—and replaced on an interim basis by her predecessor, Jacqueline Seabrooks—the spotlight is now more squarely on the ranks below chief, the ones of most concern to Heal and Odenthal.

Los Angeles sought to obtain email and text correspondence from Santa Monica’s four captains on the days around May 31, only to learn that a search of the city server had come up empty in all categories except their official city email. A prior request for Chief Renaud’s communications revealed evidence of text traffic involving the captains, suggesting they may have failed to upload their personal texts to the city server as required by the city in accordance with the California Public Records Act.

Los Angeles asked if the city was considering disciplinary action against the captains for violating the rules on the retention of electronic communications, but the city did not reply.


RELATED: Inside the Santa Monica Police Department’s Botched Response to May’s Looting Spree


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The Standard, Hollywood Is Closing—but Giorgio’s Will Live On

Yet another iconic L.A. institution is shuttering its well-designed doors for good. The Standard, Hollywood hotel, the first of Chateau Marmont hotelier Andre Balazs’s trendy boutique hotel chain (which he departed in 2017), is closing up shop permanently today, after 22 years in business.

With serious celebrity cred, the Standard, Hollywood—which had original financial support from the likes of Leo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz, and Benicio del Toro—was the six-hotel chain’s flagship (the chain’s other L.A. outpost, on Flower Street downtown, is currently closed due to COVID). The interiors of the Sunset Strip location were created by one-time set designer Shawn Hausman, cementing the hotel’s entertainment biz bona fides. It became a hangout for celebs like Jennifer Lopez, Uma Thurman, Rose McGowan, Matt Dillon, and Gloria Estefan, and its almost eight-year-old weekly disco party Giorgio’s—started by entrepreneur Bryan Rabin and DJ Adam Bravin—often had major VIP drop-ins, like Mick Jagger, Lupita Nyong’o, and almost every famous international fashion designer you can think of.


Balazs, who still owns the Chateau across the street on Sunset, stepped down as the chairman of parent company Standard International, in 2017; the Standard’s lease has been held by the Ferrado Group, a real estate investment firm based in Spain with a location in Newport Beach. A rep for the hotel didn’t return a requests for comment, but an announcement on the chain’s Instagram says: “It is with a heavy heart that we must announce the closure of The Standard, Hollywood…Despite 22 years of unconditional love for our hotel, our guests, our team and our community, the hotel was unable to prevent a significant increase to its lease, which makes operating the property impossible.”

Regardless of extenuating circumstances perpetuated by the pandemic, the holder of the hotel’s lease apparently decided to bump up the lease price in 2019, and a Standard International rep told the Los Angeles Times that the increase has “rendered it unsustainable to operate the hotel.” She said the hotel had tried to renegotiate, without success.

Meanwhile, Bryan Rabin announced on Instagram that Giorgio’s will relocate. “When the pandemic is over,” he posted, “Giorgio’s Disco will rise again. We will dance to the gods! Dress to the nines and continue to spread glamour and chicness to all who enter.” Thanking the staff and all the many live performers (Dita Von Teese, Jody Watley, Joey Arias, Giorgio Moroder), Rabin ended the post with a much-needed optimistic note: “PROMISE WE WILL DANCE AGAIN AS SOON AS COVID IS OVER!! GIORGIO’S DISCO FOREVER!!”

In uncertain times, it’s nice to know some things will be here on the other side.


RELATED: An Ever-Growing List of L.A. Restaurants That Have Closed Amid the Pandemic


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Updated! All of L.A.’s Pop-Up Drive-In and Outdoor Movie Nights

There may be a pandemic, but you don’t have to give up outdoor movies–or at least not entirely. Clever pop-up series have shifted from crowding parks with viewers on picnic blankets to setting up massive parking-lot screens inspired by classic American drive-in movie theaters. These pop-up drive-in movie series might just be the biggest entertainment events of the season.

Under the “limited stay-at-home” and curfew order effective November 21, non-essential businesses must close by 10 p.m. Please check with event organizers for cancellations or schedule updates. Currently, drive-in movie theaters are allowed by both Los Angeles County and California health restrictions, but that status is subject to change.


Hollywood Legion Post 43 Drive-In

Hollywood

American Legion Post 43 in Hollywood is establishing this 30-car drive-in with plans to show films seven days a week. The theater is set up with a state of the art 4K projection system–under the loving care of the Hollywood Legion Theater’s chief projectionist–and there are plans to screen 35mm analog film, beloved by cinephiles, in the future.

January 22, 7 p.m. The Dark Knight Rises
January 23, 7 p.m. Intersteller
January 24, 7 p.m. Dunkirk
January 25, 7 p.m. Tenet
January 27, 7 p.m. Elvis: That’s the Way it Is Special Edition
February 4, 7 p.m. Hidden Figures
February 5, 7 p.m. Do the Right Thing
February 14, 5:45 p.m.The Shop Around the Corner
February 14, 8:20 p.m. When Harry Met Sally


Drive-In Theatre at the Hollywood Roosevelt

Hollywood

Enjoy throwback film screenings at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, a possibly-haunted, definitely-glam Old Hollywood hotspot. The series offers both general and VIP tickets; refreshments will be available from a converted Airstream trailer bar.

January 24, 5:30 p.m. Mean Girls
January 24, 8:30 p.m. Clueless
January 30, 5:30 p.m. The Hunger Games
January 30, 8:30 p.m. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
January 31, 5:30 p.m. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
January 31, 8:30 p.m. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
February 7, 5:30 p.m. Pretty Woman
February 7, 8:30 p.m. Notting Hill
February 12, 5:30 p.m. Breakfast at Tiffany’s
February 12, 8:30 p.m. When Harry Met Sally
February 13, 5:30 p.m. Singin’ in the Rain
February 13, 8:30 p.m. Dirty Dancing
February 14, 5:30 p.m. Casablanca
February 14, 8:30 p.m. The Notebook
February 21, 5:30 p.m. Coming to America
February 21, 8:30 p.m. The Wedding Singer
February 28, 5:30 p.m. Black Panther
February 28, 8:30 p.m. Black Panther


Drive-In Movie Nights at Pizzeria Da Michele

Hollywood

You can now enjoy dinner and a movie at Pizzeria Da Michele. Roll your car into one of their free film screenings and order food to be car-hopped right to you while you watch. Each night’s selection will be a surprise, but expect some holiday-centric and generally feel-good films. Nightly after sunset, starting December 9.


Rooftop Cinema Club Drive-In

Santa Monica

Rooftop Cinema Club had to scrub their typical open-air screenings due to the pandemic, but they’ve come back with car-based showings at the Santa Monica Airport.

January 22, 5:30 p.m. Captain Marvel
January 22, 8:30 p.m. Pretty Woman 
January 23, 5:30 p.m. The Sandlot
January 23, 8:15 p.m. The Lion King
January 25, 5:45 p.m. Jumanji: The Next Level
January 25, 9 p.m. Guardians of the Galaxy
January 26, 5:45 p.m. The Secret Life of Pets
January 26, 8:30 p.m. La La Land
January 27, 5:45 p.m. Fantastic Mr. Fox
January 27, 8:15 p.m. Dirty Dancing
January 28, 5:45 p.m. Up
January 28, 8:30 p.m. Clueless
January 29, 5:45 p.m. Sing
January 29, 8:30 p.m. Back to the Future
January 30, 5:45 p.m. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
January 31, 5:45 p.m. Beauty and the Beast
January 31, 8:15 p.m. Labrynth
February 1, 6 p.m. 10 Things I Hate About You
February 1, 8:30 p.m. The Breakfast Club
February 2, 6 p.m. Shrek
February 2, 8:15 p.m. Love Jones
February 3, 8:30 p.m. 500 Days of Summer
February 4, 6 p.m. The Little Mermaid
February 4, 8:15 p.m. Dazed and Confused
February 5, 8:45 p.m. Friday
February 6, 6 p.m. Aladdin
February 6, 8:30 p.m. A Nightmare on Elm Street


Electric Dusk Drive-In

Glendale

One of L.A.’s favorite pop-up drive-ins—one that predates the pandemic—is back with a new Glendale location atop the old Sears parking garage at 236 N. Central Avenue.

January 22, 5:30 p.m. Tenet
January 23, 5:30 p.m. The Shining
January 24, 5:30 p.m. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
January 30, 5:30 p.m. Fargo
January 31, 5:30 p.m. Happy Feet


Weekend Drive-In at the Roadium

Torrance

The 15-acre Roadium in Torrance opened in 1948 as a drive-in cinema, but by the ’80s the space was mostly used as a swap meet (specifically, the swap meet where, legend has it, a record seller introduced Eazy-E to Dr. Dre). Now the space is going back to its roots for occasional pop-up movie nights.

January 29, 6 p.m Uncle Buck
February 5, 7 p.m. Lady & the Tramp
February 12, 7 p.m. The Notebook
February 19, 7 p.m The Parent Trap
February 26, 7 p.m. Ghost
March 5, 7 p.m. Spy Kids
March 12, 7 p.m. Stand By Me
March 19, 7 p.m Men in Black
March 26, 7 p.m. Mean Girls


The Frida Cinema Drive-Ins

Anaheim

Orange County’s non-profit art house cinema is hosting drive-in nights. Check out Frida’s “virtual cinema” streaming fundraiser, too.

January 22, 7:30 p.m. Basket Case / Brain Damage
January 23, 7:30 p.m. Twilight
January 26, 7:30 p.m. Taxi Driver
January 28, 7:30 p.m. The Graduate
January 29, 9 p.m. Fist of Fury / The Way of the Dragon
February 2, 7:30 p.m. Blue Velvet
February 5, 7:30 p.m. Repo Man
February 12, 7:30 p.m. The Rocky Horror Picture Show
February 13, 7:30 p.m. Kill Bill Vol. I / Kill Bill Vol. II
February 14, 7 p.m. Harold and Maude
February 16, 7:30 p.m. My Bloody Valentine
February 19, 7:30 p.m. Akira 4K
February 20, 7:30 p.m. Donnie Darko
February 26, 7:30 p.m. Black Panther


Starlite Drive-In Movies

Brea, Westminster, & San Clemente

This O.C. screening series brings drive-in movie nights to the parking lots of three local shopping malls. Check event website to confirm screening location and other details.

January 22, 7:30 p.m. Mrs. Doubtfire
January 24, 6 p.m. Trolls World Tour


Street Food Cinema

Santa Monica

Screenings normally take place at King Gillette Ranch in Calabasas and Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, but for February move to the Santa Monica Airport. Check listings for details.

February 11, 5 p.m. Cinderella
February 11, 7:45 p.m. 10 Things I Hate About You
February 12, 5 p.m. Mulan
February 12, 7:45 p.m. 500 Days of Summer
February 13, 5 p.m. Aladdin
February 13, 7:45 p.m. Clueless
February 14, 5 p.m. Lady and the Tramp
February 14, 7:45 p.m. When Harry Met Sally
February 19, 5 p.m. Toy Story
February 19, 7:45 p.m. Who Framed Roger Rabbit
February 20, 5 p.m. The Princess and the Frog
February 20, 7:45 p.m. Say Anything
February 21, 5 p.m. Good Burger
February 21, 7:45 p.m. Psycho
February 26, 5 p.m. The Sandlot
February 26, 7:45 p.m. Step Brothers


PREVIOUS POP-UPS 

Poolside Dinner and a Movie at JW Marriott

You’ll be out of your car and seated on the roof pool deck of the JW Marriott at L.A. Live for this series. Tickets include a two course meal plus popcorn, full bar service is available.

Rooftop Movies at the Montalbán

This popular rooftop (non drive-in) screening series is returning for a shortened, socially-distanced season. You’ll sit in designated chairs, spaced out from other groups, and must consent to temperature reading and mask requirements–but otherwise, it’s largely the classic summer tradition you remember.

PCH Movies & Moonlight

A bummer about all these pop-ups? They sell out fast. This Long Beach pop-up drive-in, which is parking itself atop the Whole Foods parking deck at the 2nd and PCH shopping center, offers stand-by tickets on a first-come, first serve basis. Note that times vary based on sunset.

Sony Pictures Drive-In Experience

Presented by Porsche, this series will take place at the Sony Pictures lot in Culver City, with space to accommodate around 75 cars per showing. Attendees will need to agree to COVID-19 safety rules and sign a waiver to participate.

ArcLight at the Drive-In

Your favorite walk-in(?) theater chain is heading outside, hosting films at the Vineland Drive-In. Sponsored by FIJI Water, the series focuses mostly on new-release indie flicks. Some showings include appearances by cast and crew.

Outfest L.A. 2020 Drive-In Movie Screenings

The annual film festival celebrating LGBTQ+ cinema is back in a hybrid online and in-person form. Binge dozens of movies on their online Outfest Now streaming platform, and turn out for a selection of drive-in screenings at Calamigos Ranch in Malibu.

Amazon Presents A Night at the Drive-In

Curated by actor Michael B. Jordan (and featuring several of his starring roles) this Amazon-sponsored series of double-features takes place at City of Industry’s full-time drive-in movie theater, the Vineland Drive-In. Refreshments are on Amazon, all purchased from diverse-owned local businesses.

Cinema Pop-Ups

This national series has announced two SoCal locations, San Juan Capistrano and Woodland Hills, which schedule a limited run of films. Check the website for announcements of additional dates.

‘A Marvelous Night at the Drive-In’ Presented by Amazon Prime

Love Amazon Prime’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel? Then you’ll want to head to the Grove’s rooftop parking deck for this series, produced by Street Food Cinema and presented by Amazon Prime. Each screening night will feature episodes of the show, snacks, cupcakes, gift bags and more–and it’s all free with online registration (limit: two guests per car).

Sagebrush Cantina Movie Night

Sagebrush Cantina is offering micro-drive-in nights outside its Calabasas restaurant. In addition to a $25 pass for the car, you’ll need to spend at least $15 on food and drink from the restaurant during the show.

Melrose Rooftop Theater

Not actually a drive-in series (more of a walk-up?) but we’re including here as it’s one of the very few outdoor movie options this summer that aren’t vehicle-based. In an attempt to comply with COVID protocols, a small number of guests will be able to purchase seats for these screenings, and the seats will be placed several feet apart. Additional protocols and guidelines can be found on the website. As in previous years, the series takes place on the roof at WeHo’s E.P. & L.P. and includes food and drink upgrades available for purchase.

Malibu Film Society

Gather near the Malibu Country Mart at the site of Malibu’s annual Chili Cook Off for these community events on a three-story-tall screen. Online reservations are required; tickets are offered on a “donations requested” basis.

Carson Drive-In Flix

Held at Dignity Sports Arena in Carson, home of the L.A. Galaxy, this new series benefits the Boys & Girls Clubs. When you buy a ticket for your own car ($50) you can also opt to donate one to a family in need. The set-up already accommodates 200 cars, but organizers say they may be able to expand capacity soon.

L.A. Zoo Drive-In Movie Nights

The L.A. Zoo is using its ample parking lot for a family-friendly drive-in series. They’ve grouped their sections into three themes: “Hair-Raising Halloween,” “The Brilliant Betty White,” and, naturally, “Animal Adventures.” Films are accompanied by pre-show entertainment featuring videos of zoo animals and other fun add-ons. For Halloween screenings, participants are encouraged to come in costume or decorate their car for the occasion.

San Fernando Valley Drive-In Nights

For the last few summers, this pop-up series was already offering the drive-in experience, so we’re happy to see they returned this year. The films are typically Valley-centric in content or filming locations. Screenings take place at the Westfield Fashion Square mall in Sherman Oaks.

Laemmle Theaters at the Roadium

Local art house cinema chain Laemmle has adapted to the current moment by taking screenings to the Roadium drive-in theater in Torrance. Expect quirky new indie films, some accompanied by filmmaker talk-backs.

Drive-In at the Park 

Country music festival Tailgate Fest may not have happened in August as originally planned, but the organizers put their car-partying expertise into a new venture: a series of drive-in movie nights.

Fairmont Poolside Cinema

Get out of the car and sit in a distanced deck chair by the pool at this swanky Santa Monica hotel. Sunset films offer a romantic date night option or fun family outing. Tickets are free with a $25 food and drink minimum; full service from FIG Restaurant is available.

Lexus Culinary Cinema

Downtown 

This special dinner-and-a-movie event series pairs beloved indie-leaning movies with meals crafted by top chefs. Your ticket includes admission to the film, screened on the event deck at L.A. Live, along with a three-course (plus beverage) meal for each person, overseen by Lexus Culinary Masters.

Cinemauto

Chinatown

Designed as an “immersive” movie-going experience, this drive-in series in Chinatown incorporates film, food, local designers and retailers, music, and charity, all in one. Each feature will be shows along with curated shorts, music videos, and additional programming; NTS Radio will provide DJ sets.

Cinespia at the Greek

Griffith Park

The ultimate authority in outdoor movies has finally popped back up in this most unusual of film-going seasons. For now, that means a three-screening run as a drive in at the parking lot of the Greek theater. Tickets cover up to four guests inside the car.

Regency Theaters: The Plant Drive-In

Van Nuys

The Regency Theaters chain has opened this Van Nuys drive-in movie theater offering screenings under the stars. A full concession stand is available, orders can be placed in advance online to minimize wait time.

Come See: Drive-In

Woodland Hills

The Village at Westfield Topanga shopping center hosts this holiday-themed screening series, so you can can combine a movie and some gift shopping for a festive outing.

Level 8 Drive-In

Enjoy the views from atop the garage of the Grove at these screenings. Tickets include a dinner package, with classic dishes and holiday-themed treats.

The Sunset Strip Presents Late Night Drive-In at the Andaz West Hollywood

West Hollywood

The Andaz hotel on the Sunset Strip has partnered for this series with YEA! Impact, a group that organizes entertainment industry professionals to work for social justice causes. In addition to film screenings, some events feature live performances; food and beverage is available to order.

Ventura Movies In Your Car

Ventura

Located at the Ventura County Fairgrounds, this series is run by the same organizers who are also using the venue for drive-in concerts from Third Eye Blind, Fitz and the Tantrums, and other acts. More showings to be announced.

American Cinematheque & Beyond Fest Road Trip

Montclair

American Cinematheque, normally based in Hollywood, and Beyond Fest have teamed up to curate occasional nights at the Mission Tiki Drive-In Theater located in Montclair. It might be a bit of a hike, but Cinematheque devotees probably won’t mind.

L.A. Arts Society Drive-In Cinema

Gardena

The L.A. Arts Society has always staged screenings for fellow cinephiles–they just look a little different this year. Showings are staged at the “backlot” of the indie Gardena Cinema theater; some include in-person appearances by talent.


RELATED: Movie Theaters Are Still Closed, but These Drive-Ins Are Open for Business


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Southern California Is Having a Pandemic Real Estate Boom

Bargain-basement mortgage rates and people with more money than living space drove a surge in Southern California home sales and prices last month compared to December 2019’s numbers, continuing a residential real estate boom in an otherwise pandemic-crippled economy.

According to data released Friday by real estate firm DQNews, the median home sales price in the region rose by 10.1 percent from December 2019 to $600,000 in December 2020, with sales rising by 29 percent over 2019, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Housing experts say the upswing is largely due to people whose finances have remained relatively stable throughout the crisis, and who were likely to have bought a home anyway—especially people looking for more space after their workplaces have shuttered.

“The number one thing I am hearing is that ‘We need more space—we are all at home now,'” Rex brokerage agent Kara Birkenstock told the Times.

Another factor in the real estate rise are record-low interest rates, partially due to a Federal Reserve policy aimed at energizing the economy.

Government controlled mortgage lender Freddie Mac reported on Thursday that the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage dropped by 3.6 percent from last year, hitting 2.77 percent this week.

According to a Redfin mortgage calculator, someone buying a $600,000 house with a 20 percent down payment at last year’s average rate would have a monthly mortgage payment of $2,892, including property taxes and insurance. By today’s rate, they’d pay $2,675, saving $217 a month.

With such deals to be had, though, prospective buyers are finding out that rising demand has made home sales very much a seller’s market, where bidding wars ensue.

Some industry watchers predict that this year’s sales will see a smaller bump than in 2020, when prices jumped by double digits in recent months. One indicator of the slowing trend is the fact that December’s median price didn’t budged from November, and both months fell 2 percent short of September’s all-time high.

Still, some experts say it’s too soon to gage whether the market will actually lose steam, since prices rise and fall from month to month, and it’s certainly not unusual for real estate agents to boast about bidding wars.

Selma Hepp, an economist at CoreLogic, tells the Times, “It continues to be a very strong market.”

John Burns Real Estate Consulting also forecasts a robust future for home sales in major SoCal markets this year, predicting price increases of 7 percent to 10 percent, compared to 2020’s estimated increases of 9 percent to 14 percent.

While some California renters are enjoying the benefit of slightly lower rents while vacancies rise,  as a whole, news is bad: eviction cases are expected to double statewide over the next year.


RELATED: The Essential Guide to L.A.’s Post-Pandemic Real Estate Roller Coaster


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Spread Some Local Love with Los Angeles Magazine

The pandemic has been devastating for small business. One study in 2020 projected that 60 percent of businesses in the United States that had to close at some point during the pandemic were never able to bounce back, at one point averaging 800 indie operations permanently shuttering each day. And Los Angeles has been a particularly tough environment, with high rents and costs of doing business and rapid displacement threatening many small operators even before the region became the epicenter of COVID’s deadliest wave.

We at Los Angeles know that these small businesses are essential to what makes this city unique and important, so we’re using this platform to highlight some local shops, restaurants, and other businesses that finds themselves struggling in these difficult times.

Check back each week for our Local Love spotlight, and be sure to share the love on Instagram. Know of a biz that could use a special shout out? Let us know here


Delicias Bakery & Some

Family owned and operated, Delicias has been offering delicious conchas, tortas, and more in Highland Park since 1990. It boasts that it was the first panaderia in L.A. to start baking vegan pan dulce, and has been a neighborhood favorite for decades.

Now the bakery is struggling to stick around, dealing with both the pandemic and the rising costs of doing business in a rapidly-changing neighborhood.

“We have considered moving location, but Highland Park has always been home to Delicias, and we will continue to serve you for as long as we can,” writes Roxanne Sanchez on a GoFundMe page seeing help for her family business.

Delicias is hoping to raise $60,000 in crowdfunding to cover rent and immediate expenses to help them stay afloat. The bakery is also selling gift cards, and is open for walk-up orders Tuesday through Sunday, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Delicias Bakery & Some, 5567 N. Figueroa St., Highland Park

Donate: GoFundMe


Stories Books & Cafe


This Echo Park bookshop and cafe has been a neighborhood landmark for more than a decade. The cozy shop has been a favorite place to browse for books, catch a live performance, or sit for hours on the back patio. But now, the shop is in trouble.

“Any business is like the proverbial shark, keep moving or drown,” the business owners write on their GoFundMe page. “To make it this far, we’ve taken on tons of new, interest-bearing debt, utilized the PPP loans, and done some fancy ass acrobatics that got us back to a sustainable place.”

Nonetheless, the small business continues to struggle, and a sluggish holiday shopping season has made things more dire. Now they’re seeking $150,000 (nearly $50,000 raised so far) in crowdfunding to pay employees and cover expenses.

Stories Books & Cafe, 1716 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park

Donate: GoFundMe
Shop Online: storiesla.com


RELATED: Some of L.A.’s Most Beloved Institutions Are Threatened with Extinction


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An Ever-Growing List of L.A. Restaurants That Have Closed Amid the Pandemic

Local restaurants and bars are what give our neighborhoods their distinct character. As the months pass, we’re seeing numerous restaurants closed permanently, watching as the pandemic decimates the hospitality industry, and wondering what Los Angeles will look like when we get to the other side (whatever that ultimately means).

This list is just a slice of the restaurants that have closed, and we will be continuing to add to this page often. Know of a closure in your neighborhood? Let us know here.

Restaurants Closed Amid the Pandemic

Downtown L.A.

Preux & Proper

After five years, Josh Kopel’s Southern-style eatery in downtown L.A. has called it quits. According to a post on social media, the team already has another project in the works.

Plum Tree Inn
After more than 40 years, Plum Tree Inn has shuttered. Chinatown was among the first of L.A.’s neighborhoods to see a dramatic drop in patronage, and those diners have yet to return.

Bon Temps
Less than a year after opening, Lincoln Carson’s soaring Arts District concept shuttered for good. It was the third restaurant to give it a go in the space in the span of just a few years, none of which were able to make it work for long.

Terroni DTLA
Locals report that the downtown location of the Toronto/L.A. chainlet has shuttered for good, as has the attached Dopolovoro Market from the same team. The Beverly location of the Italian fave remains open.

Patina

Iconic chef Joachim Splichal’s flagship gave downtown white-tablecloth, French-inspired fine dining with elegant tasting menus, vintage wines, and even a water sommelier.

Broken Spanish
Chef Ray Garcia’s popular modern Mexican restaurant has called it quits after five years. It won’t be the last you’ll see of Garcia; he’s launching a new take-away project called MILA.

restaurants closed pandemic
Broken Spanish

Photo: Andrea Bricco

Bad Son Tacos
A popular taco joint inside the Little Tokyo Marketplace, Bad Son’s chef, Elvis Prado, once told the Los Angeles Times that he wanted to make food that reminded guests of “grandma’s cooking.”

Bäco Mercat
Credited with ushering in a new era in DTLA dining, Bäco Mercat, the Spanish-fusion by chef Josef Centeno, has permanently closed. Centeno’s restaurants Bar Ama and Orsa & Winston are still open.

Preux & Proper
New Orleans-inspired Preux & Proper ended its five-year run as a bustling downtown spot on August 31. Owners had hoped to be able to pivot to catering or other projects and eventually reopen, but ultimately made the call to permanently close.

Beverly Grove

Dominique Ansel Bakery Los Angeles
The Cronut creator has shuttered both his eponymous bakery at the Grove and the upstairs 189 restaurant.

Bibo Ergo Sum
An elegant cocktail bar known for elaborate drinks served in a theatrical setting, Bibo Ergo Sum was owned by ArcLight Cinemas heir Tait Forman.

Swingers
Throughout its 27-year run, Swingers was the perfect place for post-bar trips and late-night hang sessions. So long, Swingers. We’ll miss you. Following initial publication of this article in spring, and in spite of statements from ownership that the shutter would be permanent, Swingers has returned! The diner began serving again in November 2020.

Mixtape
Jeremy Fall’s Mixtape was not long for this world. The restaurant, which boasted an A-List roster of music industry-linked investors, had opened less than three months before COVID-19 began to spread in L.A., and never had time to find its footing and audience.

Somni & the Bazaar
Both of the José Andrés-connected concepts inside the SLS Hotel will close. The company that owns the hotel is suing Andrés’s ThinkFoodGroup, alleging TFG failed to abide by the owner’s “cost-cutting measures”; TFG calls the suit “baseless” and says the company’s actions are what torpedoed intentions to reopen after the initial shutdown.

somni
Vienetta with almond ice cream and chocolate coquant at Somni

Photo: Misha Gravenor

Beverly Hills

Villa Blanca
Lisa Vanderpump’s first restaurant, Villa Blanca lacked the reality show caché of her other concepts.

Roxbury Cafe
Readers report that this small neighborhood spot was popular with doctors and nurses from nearby health facilities until it closed several months ago.

East Hollywood

Wah’s Golden Hen

After 50 years spent slinging Chinese takeout in Virgil Village, Wah’s Golden Hen closed on December 30. Owner Lena Louie said on Yelp, “Though it is bittersweet to say farewell to this labor of love, we look forward to our next chapter: enjoying a quiet retirement. We will spend our time gardening and cooking at home with our family.”

Cuties

Cuties, the popular LGBTQIA+ coffeeshop in East Hollywood has closed, citing a lack of revenue. In an Instagram post, co-founder Virginia Bauman said “continuing to accumulate debt in an environment that shows little promise of operational safety in the near future is unwise…. moving forward, all of our efforts will be online.”

West Hollywood

Aburiya Raku

Mitsuo Endo’s deeply Japanese izakaya in West Hollywood dazzled with its charcoal-grilled skewers of meat and vegetables. The sake list and the chalkboard specials with top-tier seafood made every meal feel even more special.

Hollywood

101 Coffee Shop 

This beloved diner (and famous ’90s filming location) shuttered for good over New Year’s weekend, after being closed since March. There’s an active GoFundMe campaign to help out displaced employees.

Auburn
One of the city’s most creative fine-dining restaurants closed down after just a year in operation. Chef-owner Eric Bost announced the news in April, stating that “it was just too much risk to continue to try to finance.”

The Pikey
This British-inspired pub established itself as one of the favorites during its nearly eight-year stint in Hollywood. Memories of the live performances and raucous late nights will remain.

Trois Mec
The tiny project that made Ludo Lefebvre a big star has shut its doors, but the chef’s other properties are operating.

Silver Lake

Cliff’s Edge

Beloved Sunset Boulevard patio brunch spot Cliff’s Edge shuttered for good in October 2020, after 16 years in business. “We hope our paths will cross again in another place in another time,” an Instagram announcement read.

Donut Farm
Vegan doughnut fans have one less option with the closure of this spot. The brand’s original Bay Area locations remain active.

Caffe Vita
This Seattle chain announced the closure of its sole L.A. location on August 28. The owners attributed the shutter to a “shocking and unexpected increase” that began in 2019 but, when COVID hit, became impossible for the cafe to sustain.

Mh Zh
One of L.A.’s true gem restaurants, this mostly sidewalk-seating Mediterranean-inspired neighborhood spot has been sorely missed since closing in April.

Vive la Tarte
San Francisco-based Vive la Tarte expanded to this Sunset Boulevard storefront in 2019, but failed to really develop a foothold in the cafe-saturated stretch. Shortly after pandemic hit, the doors closed. The brand’s Noe Valley shop in S.F. remains.

Ma’am Sir
Charles Olalia announced the closure of his beloved Filipino spot on Instagram, writing “It was a pleasure to have welcomed you once upon a time. There will come a time when I can welcome you again.” Olalia, a veteran of the French Laundry and Patina, opened the restaurant to acclaim in 2018.

best filipino food los angeles ma'am sir
Lumpia with sea urchin at Ma’am Sir

Courtesy Ma'am Sir

Los Feliz

Vinoteca and Tropicalia
Two of the three concepts in this Los Feliz cluster said goodbye in late August. “The uncertainty of this year has led us to the difficult decision to stop operations,” owners wrote in a statement. The third branch of the business, Italian standby Trattoria Farfalla, remains open for takeout.

Echo Park

Elf Cafe

Last December, the Echo Park Ownership is still hoping a successful crowdfunding campaign can help them stick it out: “It is our greatest desire to see the spirit of Elf live on. We would like to hang on to our little home on Sunset Boulevard so that it may yet be a place of community and family. Even in the best of times, Elf just managed to support itself and during difficult times, it has often been a struggle.”

Koreatown

Beverly Soon Tofu
Monica Lee’s Koreatown staple, open since 1988 in its current Olympic Boulevard location, is shuttering. “It was a really hard decision,” Lee’s daughter JJ Lee told Eater L.A. “My mom was giving 110 percent to this restaurant. The pandemic just called her to action and we just had to make this decision.”

Dong Il Jang
A staple for more than 40 years, owners feared their make-at-your-table KBBQ concept might be unsustainable, even as restaurants inch toward reopening.

Jun Won
Considered one of L.A.’s best Korean restaurants, Jun Won was simply not able to weather the pandemic downturn. Even offering takeout, losses were piling up, and at 74-years-old, chef-founder Jung Ye Jun decided the risks of continuing had become too great.

Here’s Looking at You
The closure is, technically, “temporary,” but HLAY owners have made clear it’s unlikely they’ll ever bounce back. For now, they’re focused on their still-open project, All Day Baby.

Heres Looking at You

Photo: Dylan + Jeni

Long Beach

Federal Bar – Long Beach
Federal Bar’s owners have found themselves stuck between a rock (operating a bar and live music venue) and a hard place (another business owning a record label and promoting concerts and fests), getting doubly hit by the downturn. North Hollywood’s Federal Bar is still open.

Pasadena

Lincoln Pasadena
One of L.A.’s best bakery-cafes, Lincoln was famed for its exceptional pastries and cakes. After six years, chef-owner Christine Moore made the difficult decision to call it quits.

Du-par’s Pasadena
Owner Frances Tario has been open about how hard the downturn hit Du-pars, describing days with total sales of $4.95. For now, the Original Farmers Market location remains open, keeping an 82-year tradition alive.

Cafe 86
Cafe 86 has shuttered its Old Town Pasadena location, sending fans of Filipino-inspired treats to other outposts around the region.

Playa del Rey

The Tripel
Top Chef star Brooke Williamson’s westside gastropub was a popular neighborhood hangout with destination-worthy burgers.

San Fernando Valley

The Bistro Garden
The pandemic put an end to the 30-year run of The Bistro Garden, a popular spot that popped up in many film and TV productions over the years.

Four ‘N’ 20
Both locations of this retro diner–particularly famous for its pies–have shuttered, after a run of over four decades.

Krimsey’s Cajun Kitchen
Krimsey Ramsey’s vegan Cajun spot, which closed in June, may return in the future; until then, fans can whip up dishes at home thanks to an online cookbook.

The Bellwether

This beloved Studio City spot was the neighborhood restaurant that every neighborhood deserves. Ted Hopson’s menu was packed with shareable and absolutely craveable all-over-the map plates: crudos, pastas, pozole verde, avocado hummus, Vietnamese-style ribs, and what might have been the city’s best fries.

San Gabriel Valley

Din Tai Fung – Arcadia
The global dumpling chain’s first location in the U.S was this one, opened 20 years ago in Arcadia. Though the SGV outpost is shuttered, all other locations remain open for now.

Torrance 

Alpine Village Restaurant & Bar
After 51 years, the Oktoberfest favorite has poured its final stein. Sources say the business was struggling before pandemic hit and unable to survive the shutdown. Other parts of the Alpine Village complex, including a Bavarian market and bakery, are open.

Venice

Sunny Spot
Brunch favorite Sunny Spot was beloved for its, well, sunny patio, and cheerful dishes. The space shuttered early on during the pandemic, and has since been replaced by a new business, Nueva.

Yours Truly
Vartan Abgaryan blended cultures and upended Abbot Kinney expectations with revelatory dishes like avocado hummus, potato cacio e pepe, and Nashville hot shrimp. Venice was lucky to have this kind of verve.

MTN
MTN, which brought $20 ramen to an architecturally arresting spot on Abbot Kinney, has permanently closed. The space is currently operating as a Oaxacan pop-up called Valle.

mtn venice restaurants closed pandemic
Pork ramen at MTN

Photo: Ashley Randall

Culver City

Sunny Spot
Brunch favorite Sunny Spot was beloved for its, well, sunny patio, and cheerful dishes. The space shuttered early on during the pandemic, and has since been replaced by a new business, Nueva.

La Dijonnaise
A charming French cafe and patisserie, La Dijonnaise closed permanently in July after 22 years of flaky, buttery treats.

Glendale

Granville Cafe
While other locations are still in business, the Granville at the Americana has shut its doors for good.

Santa Monica

Dialogue
Dave Beran’s tiny restaurant hidden inside a Santa Monica food hall featured tasting menus that connected to the seasons and were accompanied by stories with very specific reference points. A winter dish known as “caviar and coffee,” for example, was inspired by the flavor and aroma of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee.


RELATED: Is It OK to Eat at a Restaurant During the Pandemic?


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COVID-19 Has Changed How We See Movies—and There’s No Going Back

For better or worse, theatergoing as we’ve known it for the past 100 years looks like it’s pretty much over. It’ll be months before most of the general public starts getting inoculated for COVID-19, and by then the damage may be beyond repair. According to a September letter pleading for aid to the industry—signed by James Cameron, Clint Eastwood, and a bunch of other heavyweights—69 percent of small and midsized movie theaters will be forced into bankruptcy without federal help. In late December, Congress finally passed a deal on a COVID-19 relief package that included $15 billion in aid for smalller movie theaters and live-entertainment venues, but the major chains will not be eligible for the aid—and they need help even more. After reopening some theaters in August, Regal, which operates more than 500 screens in the U.S., closed them again in October. Last summer, the largest chain, AMC, which has also been shuttered through the pandemic, announced in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission report that it was about to run out of cash and had “substantial doubts” about its future.

The studios certainly see the writing on the wall. In December, Warner Bros. announced that it would be releasing its slate of pushed-back films—including Matrix 4, Dune, and Wonder Woman 84—on HBO Max. The decision was met with howls of discontent. “Some of our industry’s biggest filmmakers and most important stars went to bed the night before thinking they were working for the greatest movie studio and woke up to find out they were working for the worst streaming service,” Tenet director Christopher Nolan said.

Theatergoing as we’ve known it for the past 100 years looks like it’s pretty much over.

Other studios have been tiptoeing in a similar direction, with Universal dramatically shrinking its window between theatrical release and Video on Demand and Disney releasing some of its content—like Mulan—on Disney Plus. Even some of Nolan’s fellow A-list filmmakers have been bailing on the big screen: David Fincher just signed a four-year deal with Netflix while Martin Scorsese, who shot The Irishman for Netflix, will be making his next movie for Apple TV Plus.

To Nolan and his ilk, all this heralds the end of an art form. And maybe there’s a kernel of truth to their laments. There is indeed something to be said for the collective experience of sharing a movie with a theater full of strangers. But it’s also true that cinema will survive even if theaters don’t. And it’s possible that Nolan and others are clinging to antique, idealized notions of moviegoing that bear about as much resemblance to reality as rom-coms do to actual dating. With a few notable exceptions, like the Chinese Theater, the Vista, and El Capitan, the gilded movie palaces of yore barely exist anymore; they’ve been bulldozed and replaced with sticky-floored multiplexes that radiate all the romance of a DMV field office.

Not surprisingly, a big chunk of the audience had already abandoned theaters long before stepping into one became life-threatening. Attendance has been dropping sharply for decades, with 2017 ticket sales sinking to a 25-year low. Meanwhile, the average TV-set size in American households has more than doubled over the last 20 years, from 23 to 47 inches, and it’s expected to increase another three inches by the end of 2021. And the bigger they get, the cheaper TVs become; these days you can buy a 50-inch screen for around $500, half of what it cost five years ago. Granted, you can easily blow another $100 a month paying for streaming services, but that’s still thousands of films for what a family of four might spend on tickets and snacks to just one Gal Gadot flick in a theater. Plus, you can stream in a Snuggie, which is pretty much priceless.

Theater companies have known for decades that most viewers would prefer to watch movies at home—it’s the very reason they’ve fought so bitterly for so long against narrowing the window between theatrical release and VOD. Up until the pandemic, theater chains have had the leverage to keep the studios in line. But now that those windows have been shattered, it’s hard to imagine the world going back. Hollywood, after all, is in the business of giving people what they want, and what they want isn’t crowded, dirty theaters filled with annoying strangers texting on their phones. That may be a bummer to Christopher Nolan and other screen-size-obsessed auteurs. But the truth is, any director who insists that his or her masterpiece can only be truly appreciated on a 50-foot screen probably hasn’t made such a hot movie anyway.


RELATED: How Did the Vaccine Rollout Become Such a Wreck?


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Morning Brief: As Drought Conditions Return, Much Needed Rain Is in the Forecast

» SoCal has been sliding back into drought conditions, but some valuable rain is in the forecast. Expect showers and cooler temperatures through the weekend.  [KTLA]

» Eagle Hospitality, the operator of the Queen Mary, has filed for bankruptcy. The ship itself is owned by the City of Long Beach, which will now have to determine next steps for the popular attraction. [ABC Los Angeles]

» A specific batch of Moderna vaccine that had been temporary pulled from distribution after a cluster of possible allergic reactions has been deemed safe to go back into circulation. The state’s top epidemiologist concluded there was “no scientific basis” for concern over the doses.  [Los Angeles Times]

» President Biden wants his administration to be tougher on employers who allow workers to be exposed to COVID-19. OSHA has been ordered to look into setting a new ’emergency temporary standard’ regarding the pandemic. [HuffPost]

» Amazon cannot be forced to offer web hosting services to extremist app Parler, a judge has found. Parler was booted from Amazon Web Services after the company concluded that the app was used to share violent content. [CNBC]


TOP STORIES FROM L.A. MAG

» Trump’s Last-Minute Pardon of a College Scandal Dad Has ‘Supporters’ Scratching Their Heads USC trustee Tom Barrack and billionaire businessman Sean Parker were named in Robert Zangrillo’s pardon—but both say they weren’t involved

» LAPD Reports a Sharp Increase in Violent Crime. So What’s Behind It? There’s no consensus, but analysts have some theories

» 3 in 10 People in L.A. County Still Don’t Wear Masks Around Non-Household Members, Study Finds Still, those stats indicate we’re being more cautious than the country as a whole


ONE MORE THING

women restaurant owners re:her women food festival los angeles socolo seafood
Baja Seafood Platter at Socalo (Photo by Anne Fishbein)

Women Restaurant Owners in L.A. Band Together for a Festival–with Takeout Specials Galore

A group of women restaurant owners and other hospitality businesses in L.A. are getting together to help each other address the crisis at hand–and prepare to bounce back even stronger. RE:Her kicks off with a food festival you can enjoy from home right now, with tons of special dishes and collaborations to sample.

 [FULL STORY]


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Things to Do at Home or in the Car This Weekend

Looking for ways to stay occupied (and safe) this weekend? Here are a few things to do.


The Evil Dead with Life Commentary from Bruce Campbell

Saturday, January 23

On Saturday at 6 p.m., horror icon and extremely funny person Bruce Campbell hosts a screening of Sam Raimi’s 1981 classic The Evil Dead. The actor provides live commentary throughout and will even answer some viewer questions while he’s at it. Tickets are $25. [More info and tickets]

10 Days RE:Her Food Festival

January 21-30

RE:Her, a new organization for women restaurant owners, is launching with a festival in Los Angeles running January 21 to 30, including online conversations, classes, and experiences featuring culinary luminaries. The festival also includes dozens of special menus and dishes at local restaurants available to order for takeout. [More info]

Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope Virtual Exhibit

January 21-May 31

Drawn from a book of the same name Pulitzer-winning New York Times op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof and Pulitzer-winning former journalist Sheryl WuDunn, with stunning photos by Lynsey Addario, this virtual exhibit presented by the Skirball Center introduces viewers to Americans struggling to stave off disaster driven by social and economic factors in communities throughout the country—including Kristof’s own hometown of Yamhill, Oregon. Admission is free. [More info]

Richard Tuttle: Nine Stepping Stones, Joel Mesler: Surrender, and These lacustrine homes at David Kordansky Gallery

Opening January 23

David Kordansky Gallery debuts three new exhibits this weekend: a series of new assemblages by legendary artist Richard Tuttle, paintings and works on paper by Joel Mesler; and a group show curated by Valentin Carron, Isabelle Cornaro, Karin Gulbran, Matthew Lutz-Kinoy, and curator Mai-Thu Perret. For safety, the gallery is only admitting one party at a time according to pre-arranged time slots. [More info and time slots]

Couriers of Hope

Through February 28

Port City Creative Guild is bringing together ten Long Beach museums and galleries and more than 80 artists for this group show of art pieces created on new or found mailing envelopes. The exhibit is viewable virtually on the PCCG’s website and at the Psychic Temple of the Holy Kiss in Long Beach. [More info]

Electric Mile

Ongoing

The folks behind Electric Daily Carnival and a slew of other EDM fests are getting in on the family-friendly, COVID-friendly drive-through experience game with the trippy, light-tastic Electric Mile at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia. The experience—which maybe you’ve already seen in your friends’ Insta feeds—kicked off earlier this month, channeling a warehouse rave, minus the elicit substances. Visitors—up to eight per vehicle—cruise through seven different glittering worlds, including “Nocturnal Wonderland” and “Escape Halloween.” Tickets start at $69.99 per carload. [More info and tickets]

WeHo Night Market

Ongoing, Friday-Sunday

Each week, local chefs and shops are setting up on the outdoor patio at Employees Only for the pickup-specific WeHo Night Market. Vendors include: Jazzy Sauce by Jitlada, Orso Pasta, La Sorted’s, De La Nonna Pizza, Tagalog Takeover, Gemini Bakehouse, and more; employees Only slings bottled cocktails. Pickup available from 4 to 10 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. [More info]

Pop-Up Drive-Ins

Ongoing

The holidays are over and theaters are still closed, but there’s still plenty of fun stuff to see at pop-up drive-ins throughout the region. This weekend’s offerings include Dunkirk, Mean Girls, and The Lion King. [More info]

Chishi Morimura Aimai

Through February 20

Corey Helford Gallery is hosting a “virtual opening” for its latest show, a series of paintings on driftwood by Japanese artist Chishi Morimura. Of the exhibit’s title, which means “ambiguous” in English, Morimura says, “I thought Aimai is a word that has a double meaning with a similar duality and possibility as driftwood. I often feel that few people in the world are aware of the happiness [that can be found] in life. This time, I added a sense of strong hope to the artwork to make it a brighter theme. In addition, a new society has been born, such as ‘stay at home’ and doing work remotely around the world, and the boundary between outside (society and others) and inspired (home) have become ambiguous.” [More info]

WILDwatch Live

Ongoing

Missing travel and the great outdoors? Make a plan to log onto WILDwatch Live. Twice a day, professional safari guides at wildlife reserves in South Africa take cameras out on live, three-hour ‘game drives’ to get up close and personal with stunning wildlife. The first 45 minutes of each day’s second drive is designed for younger kids; they can submit their animal questions in advance for the experts to answer on screen.  [More info]

Happy Place the Drive Thru

Through January 18

Not even a deadly pandemic can stop social media-optimized immersive experiences from proliferating! Following two successful runs in L.A. in 2017 and 2018, respectively, Happy Place returns as a drive-thru experience at Westfield Century City. Cars will cruise through 18 immersive environments—windows down, masks on—including a giant, car-operated piano; a candy-filled wonderland; and the fan-fave Super Bloom, which features 40,000 handmade flowers. Tickets start at $49.50 per car, and entries are timed throughout the day and evening through January 10. [More info and tickets]

Vineland, Paramount, and Mission Tiki Drive-Ins

Ongoing

Movie theaters are still closed and all of those pop-up screenings sell out fast, but the L.A. area’s stationary drive-ins don’t require advance tickets and have plenty of great movies to check out—and double features galore. It’s a throwback that’s become very welcome during the era of social distancing.

Stream away…

Ongoing

It feels like we’re living through one interminable Monday under this global house arrest, but it technically is the weekend. So why not take a break from the news and the glitchy Zoom meetings and watch something fun? Check out what we have in this week’s roundup of streaming recommendations because sometimes the best things to do are the most low-effort of all.

Looking for even more things to watch, eat, and do during the COVID-19 outbreak? Check out our Inside Guide.


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What to Stream This Weekend: ‘The White Tiger,’ ‘Search Party,’ and More

No matter what’s going on outside, staying safer at home is always a good idea. Our weekly roundup of what to stream has the shows and movies that will keep you entertained while you flip on the platform of your choice and chill.


What to Stream This Week

Search Party: Season 4

When the new season of thriller-comedy-satire Search Party starts, Dory Sief (Alia Shawkat) is being held hostage–but her friends are initially a bit too distracted with their own lives and social media accounts to notice. Eventually they catch on and go searching for her.  HBO Max.

Euphoria: Part Two, Jules

The conclusion of a dramatic mini-arc in between seasons one and two of super-hit series Euphoria finds Jules (Hunter Schafer) on her own, having run away from her family and suburban life, and separated from her girlfriend, Rue (Zendaya), who is struggling with substance abuse. HBO Max.

Spycraft

A new documentary series focuses on the world of real-life espionage and, in particular, the high-tech gadgets that have helped intelligence agents around the world. Netflix.

The White Tiger

Based on the award-winning novel of the same title, The White Tiger is a “crime-tinged rags-to-riches parable,” according to The New York Times. The story centers a chauffeur (Adarsh Gourav) who makes his up out of poverty in a complex and often cruel environment. The film is produced by Ava DuVernay, Priynka Chopra Jonas, and Mukul Deora. Netflix.


Other recent recommendations…

Locked Down

Produced entirely during the pandemic, and taking London’s COVID-19 lockdown as its setting, this jewel heist rom-com stars Chiwetel Ejiofor and Anne (sorry, that’s Annie) Hathaway as a troubled couple who attempt to sneak some bling out of an empty Harrods. HBO Max.

Night Hunter: The Hunt for a Serial Killer

The story of Richard Ramirez terrorizing California during the sweltering summer of 1985 may be familiar to many Angelenos who lived through it. For those that weren’t around, or anyone hooked on true-crime docs, this Netflix series may have you checking the locks on your doors. Netflix.

WandaVision

This new series starts where the blockbuster Avengers: Endgame concluded, and finds Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) dropped into a Nick-at-Nite-era retro sitcom setting with a superhero twist. Disney+.

Some Kind of Heaven

Co-produced by The New York Times and filmmaker Darren Aronofsky, this impressionistic documentary visits with the residents of the largest retirement home in the U.S., The Villages. Billed as “Disneyland for retirees,” the 30-square-mile complex outside of Orlando is home to hundreds of unusual residents. FandangoNow, Google Play, iTunes, Amazon Prime.

Tiger

This two-part documentary from Alex Gibney–the Oscar-winning filmmaker behind Going Clear–promises a “revealing look” into the life, family, and career of golf phenom Tiger Woods. HBO Max.

Sylvie’s Love

A swoony mid-20th-century period piece, Sylvie’s Love follows the romance of woman striving to build a career and live for herself as individual first, and her jazz musician lover. Tessa Thompson and Nnamdi Asomugha star.    Amazon Prime.

One Night in Miami

Directed by Regina King and riding a wave of awards buzz, One Night in Miami is a fictional story based on a real historical event: the February, 1964 evening when Muhammad Ali (Eli Goree), Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.), Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), and football player Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge) met up to celebrate an Ali win.  Amazon Prime.

I’m Your Woman

Set in the 1970s, filmmaker Julia Hart’s mafia drama focuses the attention on a character who is often a side-note in the genre: the mobster’s wife. Here, that wife is played by Rachel Brosnahan (Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), a woman on the run after a betrayal.  Amazon Prime.

On Pointe

It’s been a big season for youth ballet content: Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker, the new Tiny Pretty Things debuting on Netflix this week, and this original documentary series landing on Disney+. On Pointe‘s six episodes follow students at the elite School of American Ballet in New York City, as they prepare to dance The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center.  Disney +

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Adapted from the August Wilson play about real-life blues legend Ma Rainey, the story grapples with the friction between Black artists and white capitalists who seek to control them. This lush Netflix original features Viola Davis in the title role, and Chadwick Boseman giving his final performance as an ambitious trumpet player in the band. Netflix.

A Suitable Boy

The first primetime drama from the BBC to ever feature a primarily Indian cast, this adaptation of a 1993 novel about India in the 1950s was helmed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Mira Nair (Salaam Bombay, Monsoon Wedding). It sparked some controversy when it aired in the UK; members of India’s ruling Hindu nationalist party even called for a boycott because an interfaith love story. Acorn TV.

Giving Voice

While you’re waiting to watch Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, dive into August Wilson’s other works with this documentary, which captures talented young actors as they prepare for a monologue competition based on the playwright’s powerful work, and catches up with stars who have played his iconic characters, including Viola Davis and Denzel Washington. Netflix.

Let Them All Talk

Largely improvised, the Steven Soderbergh-directed Let Them All Talk puts the audience aboard a luxury cruise (for real: the film was largely shot aboard a Cunard Lines passage across the Atlantic), spending time with bantering frenemies played by Meryl Streep, Candice Bergen, and Dianne Wiest.  HBO Max.

Selena: The Series

The life of Selena Quintanilla continues to fascinate, decades after her tragic death. This long-anticipated original series tells her story with greater depth and detail than the iconic 1997 biopic that we’ve all seen hundreds of times.  Netflix.

Sound of Metal

The New York Times declares that “Riz Ahmed gives one of 2020’s best performances” in this intimate indie film about a musician who descends into panic when he discovers he is losing his ability to hear–and eventually finds himself forced to adapt to a new reality. Amazon Prime.

Great British Baking Show: Holidays

A third mini-season of Great British Baking Show‘s festive spin-off hits Netflix on December 4. This edition, aired last year in the U.K. but just now getting a U.S. release, features a guest appearance by the cast of Derry Girls.  Netflix.

The Hardy Boys

Poised to be this year’s Riverdale, this original series based on the classic teen brother detectives finds the titular boys hunting down a dark mystery in their new suburban town.  Hulu.

Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker

This new documentary captures choreographer Debbie Allen as she prepares the young dancers at her Los Angeles conservatory for their annual Hot Chocolate Nutcracker holiday show. “She was one of the women, one of the female forces in the world out there who made me feel like I could be whatever I wanted to be,” producer Shonda Rhimes told People. “I hope that when people watch the documentary, they will see the power and the force and the magic that is Debbie.” Netflix.

Happiest Season

This holiday rom-com is packed with star power, including Kristen Stewart, Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, and Dan Levy. The plot centers on Stewart’s character planning to propose while visiting her girlfriend’s parents for Christmas–only to find out her girlfriend hasn’t come out to her conservative family, causing hijinks to ensue. Hulu.

Between the World and Me

Ta-Nehisi Coates’s 2015 best-seller is structured a kind of long-form letter to his own son about his lived experience as a Black man in contemporary America. This film version, filmed over the summer of 2020, incorporates dozens of voices, Angela Bassett, Mahershala Ali, Phylicia Rashad, Mj Rodriguez, Angela Davis, and Oprah Winfrey. HBO will make the film available for free to non-subscribers November 25 to 30. HBO Max.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

A Charlie Brown Christmas might be the iconic Peanuts movie of the season, but before you go full-steam into Vince Guaraldi territory, take a moment to enjoy this charming chestnut from 1973. Amazon, PBS SoCal.

Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square

If there is one person who can bring this country together, it’s Dolly Parton. The musical icon, theme park mogul, philanthropist, and biotech investor (she’s a financial backer of promising COVID-19 vaccine research!) will drop her first holiday album in 30 years for this strange season, and is accompanying the release with this all-new movie musical, choreographed by Debbie Allen.  Netflix

No Man’s Land

In this eight-episode drama co-created by Ron Leshem of Euphoria, a French man travels to Syria to search for his sister, whom he believes has joined the YPJ, an all-female, mostly Kurdish paramilitary organization.  Hulu

Small Axe

Originally produced for the BBC, this anthology series from artist and filmmaker Steve McQueen highlights “little known stories of Black pride and resilience” from British history, particularly the West Indian community in London. The ensemble cast includes John Boyega (Star Wars), Letitia Wright (Black Panther), and Robbie Gee (Snatch). Amazon Prime

The Right Stuff

Based on the same 1979 nonfiction book by Tom Wolfe about the early days of the U.S. Space Program that inspired a 1983 film of the same title, this new version spins the Mercury 7 mission out into an eight-part series.  Disney+

Bombshell

This 2019 film about the inner workings of Fox News in the era of Roger Ailes earned Oscar noms for Charlize Theron and Margot Robbie, playing two of the three women–Megyn Kelly, Gretchen Carlson, and a fictional female producer–at the center of the story.  Amazon Prime

The Crown

Season four of The Crown picks up with the British royal family in the late 1970s. Gillian Anderson appears as Margaret Thatcher and Emma Corrin as Princess Di in what some critics are calling the best season of the show so far.  Netflix


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