The Window at 425 Rose Avenue, Venice, is a super casual, walk-up burger/chicken sandwich/salad/fries stand where you can get a really tasty, nicely turned out cheeseburger for a mere $5.95 and quick. Not much in the way of seating or atmosphere, but if you’re in the mood for something cheap, fast and really delicious, this is the perfect spot. The coming sit-down restaurant next door, American Beauty, promises to be a full service steak and fine dining experience opening this June. The Window is open from 11 to 7 pm daily. They also deliver. Vegetarian options, too! For more information visit http://americanbeauty.la/. More photos are available here: flickr.com/joybennett.
Last night I was invited to an exciting showcase for a new comedy series MILFriend, starring Judy Jean Kwon and a huge, colorful cast. It’s a new show about moms in a gentrifying Venice Beach, California. The show was created by Judy Jean Kwon, an actress and comedian; and Richard Henkels, director and producer who is also married to Ms. Kwon.
The showcase was held in the elegant and chic AKA Serviced Residences in West Hollywood, California in their private screening room off Sunset Blvd. There were drinks and nibbles served, and you could also meet and mingle with the stars, cast and crew, who to a person were all friendly and enthusiastic.
Ms. Kwon plays a quirky, punkish Korean-American named Pepper who is struggling to survive in LA. She unexpectedly gets pregnant and has to deal with the uptight moms in gentrifying Venice Beach, who won’t allow even a grain of sugar to pass through their progeny’s lips.
It’s a funny, fast-paced and unique show. For more information about the show, cast and crew, visit www.milfriendcomedy.com. More photos from the showcase are on my Flickr page here: flickr.com/joybennett. Best of luck to Judy and her crew, I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more from this talented bunch!
Last Saturday, I attended the 9th Annual Sugar and Stilettos Charitable Foundation’s Bake Sale Extravaganza. This organization benefits the Westside Food Bank, a wonderful food provider for agencies throughout Western Los Angeles County. No one should have to go hungry, and the Westside Food Bank turns every dollar they raise into five pounds of nutritious food. In 2017, the food bank was awarded the California Non-Profit of the Year.
At the bake sale, you could purchase delicious treats, donated items, breads, jams, jewelry, etc. with all profits going to the food bank. It was also a delight to stroll the grounds of this beautiful home in West Los Angeles. Lots of celebrities were present to support the cause, including actors Kurt Fuller and Ed Begley, Jr. For more information, visit sugarandstilettos.com, to see more photos of yesterday’s fun event, see my Flickr page here: flickr.com/joybennett.
Westside Food Bank also has a brunch fundraiser coming up next Saturday, May 18th with wonderful chef-created specialties, delicious mixed drinks, and more celebrity guests. For tickets and more information, visit wsfb.org.
I was very happy to attend the West Coast Premiere of the outstanding film Shepherd: The Story of a Jewish Dog at the Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival last night. This sold-out screening tells a moving and engaging story of a brave, intelligent dog Kaleb who is taken from his Jewish owners and is forced to work for the Nazis. Although this is a dramatic work, it is based on real history where Nazis often heartbreakingly forced Jews to give up their family dogs in wartime Germany.
If you love history and dogs, you will love this one. Often filmed creatively from the dog’s point of view, in actuality five dogs were used to convey the one role of Kaleb, based on each dog’s strengths and abilities. This is a well-told adventure story, with strong, heartfelt emotional impact.
After the screening, there was a fascinating director’s talk with writer/director Lynn Roth, led by Festival Director Hilary Helstein. Roth said she was always told not to work with kids and dogs. Here she did both! They had a very small budget, shot it in Hungary, on natural (not built) sets. Roth said consequently the film was very hard to make, but so worthwhile. August Maturo and other cast members also participated in the discussion.
August is an 11 year old actor who plays the dog owner. He is an outstanding actor, very natural, and despite his age, he carries the film.
Lainie Kazan, a good friend of the director’s, was kind enough to introduce the film. She is a well-known actor who appeared in My Big Fat Greek Wedding and many other roles on stage and screen.
All in all, a very entertaining and moving evening. The Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival continues on through May 9th. For more information and tickets, visit lajfilmfest.org. For more photos of last night’s film screening and discussion, visit flickr.com/joybennett.
Last night I was thrilled to attend the Opening Night Gala of the 14th Annual Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival. I arrived a bit early at the Ahrya Fine Arts Theater in Beverly Hills, site of the evening’s festivities. It’s a lovely theatre in Beverly Hills. I bounced around taking pictures, nibbling treats from Factor’s Deli, and waited excitedly near the red carpet area. Soon the guest of honor arrived, Peter Bogdanovich, the famous director of The Last Picture Show, Paper Moon, and many other outstanding, award-winning films. He was awarded the Marvin Paige Hollywood Legacy Award later in the evening. Next it was time to sit down in the theatre where Hilary Helstein, Festival Director, opened the festival. She remarked that that very day was Holocaust Remembrance Day, very fitting timing.
She introduced Peter Bogdanovich, who recounted some amusing stories from his Hollywood experiences, including doing drop-dead imitations of both Alfred Hitchcock and Jimmy Stewart.
Afterwards, the film Carl Laemmle premiered, by writer/director James Freedman, also in attendance. This film is a fascinating true story of the incredibly influential Carl Laemmle, who founded Universal Studios, produced hundreds of films, and was instrumental in creating the film industry that we know and love today. Even more remarkably, Mr. Laemmle also rescued over 300 families from Nazi Germany. Some of the descendants were in attendance at the festival. A fascinating story, highly recommended to anyone interested in the history of Hollywood and also the tireless efforts of Mr. Laemmle in helping hundreds escape oppression.
After the screening, writer/director James Freedman had a lively discussion with Stan Taffel, an actor and President of Cinecon Classic Film Festival about his film. Carl Laemmle is making the film festival rounds now and will be distributed this fall for general release. Mr. Freedman is also the director of Glickman, about the noteworthy athlete and sports broadcaster.
The Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival is a well-curated, highly recommended festival that runs now through May 9th. Tickets and more information are available here: lajfilmfest.org. Lots more photos from the event are available on my Flickr page here: flickr.com/photos/joybennett.
I will also be attending the film Shepherd: The Story of a Jewish Dog on Saturday, May 4 at Laemmle’s Music Hall in Beverly Hills. If you should spot me there, come up and say shalom!