Sex and the Mag

How Los Angeles has fared on screens big and small

Photograph by Craig Blankenhorn/New Line Cinema

In Sex and the City the movie, Los Angeles magazine has an ever-so-fleeting role on a wall at Samantha’s office. There you’ll find a blow-up of a fake cover of the magazine, featuring Samantha’s beau, hunk o’blond actor Smith Jerrod, tossing a martini shaker in the air under the headline: “25 Coolest Nightclubs in the City.” The entertainment clearance office that handles such requests asked permission to mock-up a cover for the film (they used our February 06 Movie Issue featuring George Clooney as a template), then failed to send us the phony cover to approve. When we did see it, it came with an apologetic note that read: “Isn’t he just the cutest thing ever?!” Yes, he is, and we were happy for the free publicity. Though we’re stewing a bit—turns out the fake Entertainment Weekly hogs up far more screen time, that upstaging bi-otch. The bogus cover lines on our issue are at least semi-true-to-form (“Best Beaches at Dawn” is enterprising, kids), unlike others in recent memory. For highlights of the types of roles the magazine has filled on screens large and small, read on.

Starring role:

In this summer’s Tropic Thunder, which we haven’t seen (and we could have ended up on the cutting-room floor), Ben Stiller plays an actor who, when swept up in a war zone, supposedly uses a copy of Los Angeles with his own picture on the cover as shelter in the rain. When we last saw the phony cover, Stiller was dressed in some kind of short robe and the blurbs had something to do with Best Spas (were it up to us, we would consider Stiller for our annual Best Shvitzes cover). Meanwhile, in Steven Soderbergh’s little-seen verite experiment Full Frontal, the magazine was a major player (see below) and Brad Pitt, playing himself, was featured on a couple of poster-sized covers, one with the kind of headline we throw around the office all the time: “Brad Pitt Wants to Boil Your Bunny” (using our then-font, CG Gothic—so 2002!), and another with Pitt, legs crossed and in Buddhist-looking garb, above the headline “Brad Pitt Takes a Vow.”


Workplace for same-sex heroine, or ink-stained wretch:

In the aforementioned Full Frontal, David Hyde Pierce plays Carl Bright, a 42-year-old staff writer at Los Angeles who reported those Brad Pitt cover stories and wakes one morning to realize his articles “have no effect on anyone,” only to be fired that day by his boss after he says he prefers to drink his beer out of a glass (“I want this magazine to drink from the bottle,” says the editor, played by producer Jerry Weintraub). The film was shot at the magazine’s offices over a weekend, using our actual employees (and at least one employee’s relative who flew in for the occasion) as extras. As for added décor, the filmmakers went with what they got, down to the bathroom (finally we women staffers got a peek into the men’s room—nice decorative tile border in there, guys). Pierce, Soderbergh, and several other crew members came through the office beforehand for some insider tips, so we kind of knew what to expect. When we received a request five years ago for the magazine to be featured on Showtime’s The L Word, we had no idea that one of the main characters, Alice Pieszecki, would work as a full-time writer here on the show, or that she would utter cringy lines of dialogue like this from season one: “I was eavesdropping at L.A. Magazine. Do you guys know they want me to do a story on the 45-minute orgasm? As if?” Yeah, as if. That would be Cosmo, sweetheart. She later groused about a knitting assignment. As if. We have so moved on to crochet.

Bit player, bland distraction:

In Domino, Jacqueline Bisset can be seen reading a semi-legendary jewelry cover story we did in 2004 as she suns by the pool. (Don’t hold your breath waiting for a SAG Card from that performance, L.A. Mag!) In one forgettable episode of Joey—but weren’t they all?—somebody hides her face behind an issue (good career move). For the upcoming Sam Raimi horror film Drag Me To Hell, we recently gave permission for a character to thumb through an issue while hanging out in a Silver Lake apartment. Let’s hope they get through the Buzz section at least before they get hacked to pieces. We had a really good “Free Advice” in that issue!

Honorable (?) mention:

It was the “D-Girl” episode in the second season of The Sopranos, one of the finest that season, and we’d say that even if we hadn’t been cited, when Christopher the budding screenwriter comes to L.A. to pitch ideas to Jon Favreau, who is playing himself. When Favreau meets him onset, he asks, “What were you doing before you started writing for Los Angeles?” Christopher looks confused. “Oh, oh, I’m sorry, I thought you—there’s a guy from Los Angeles magazine coming down here to do a story on my favorite place for breakfast.” (Offend us? Fuhgettaboutit.) Cable producers are obviously well represented within our subscriber base—Sex and the City dropped our name at least one time before during its HBO run, when Samantha came through on a promise to her hotel mogul client—and boyfriend—Richard, after some wild nights in the sack: “The spreads in Los Angeles magazine? Signed, sealed and delivered.” Now you know how stories evolve.

Free set dressing:

After a tour of the offices, the Just Shoot Me crew mimicked a wall from our art department that features the current issue in miniature for their show. For the pilot episode of Fox’s tabloid tale Dirt, some poor P.A. actually came by to pick up empty magazine boxes for set decoration. In the upcoming I Love You, Man, starring Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, and Jaime Pressly, a character owns a trendy shop called ZHD in Silver Lake in which a fictional Los Angeles magazine article about the store might, just might, hang on the wall by the cash register. You take what you can get.

Method actor’s retreat:

Those who come by to tour our offices are not only Japanese students bearing fascinating snacks as gifts. We’ve had a bunch of actors and writers stop in while researching a role or a screenplay. The Ugly Betty bunch came by last year to chat with the editor (and no doubt pick up some fashion tips—tweed is back!); the writer/director Billy Ray, prepping for his film Shattered Glass about the whole Stephen Glass/New Republic debacle, sat in on an editorial meeting (oh, the drama he must have seen there); and when Andy Serkis, aka Gollum from The Lord of the Rings, wanted the skinny on how to be an editor-in-chief for his role in the Jennifer Garner film 13 Going on 30, he spent a day with us (what a nice fellow). Our cheeks flushed when we heard our protégé Serkis ape our words in the film, demanding “New heds! New deks!” of his staff. You go, Gollum, you go!