By Audrey Rock
(collaborators: Judy Shields & Valerie Milano)
Hollywood, CA (The Hollywood Times) 10/4/17 – The past, present, and future of the city of Los Angeles intersected Monday night at the Hollywood Roosevelt, with producers and hosts from KCET walking the red carpet and hosting a high end reception and screening of three important programs exploring the history and progress of Los Angeles. And although the mood was slightly muted due to the recent tragic events in Las Vegas, hope still shined through with the celebration of education and bright futures.
“Solutions With a World View” became the tagline, and guests were booked. 13 episodes have been filmed, and according to Blue, so far the audience has been “really great.” “We’re so excited about it,” she said. “We just think that in today’s environment, where there’s so much polarized discussion, we’re nonpartisan; and it’s objective, and the conversations are fun. It really gives people who want to know what’s going on in Los Angeles a nice, quick view of what’s going on.”
The second program being presented, Lost L.A., hosted and produced by historian Nathan Masters, takes a look at L.A.’s past through a treasure trove of extensive historical collections. “The fact that Los Angeles was a Latino city first, and now it is again today, pretty relevant to current events; we’re gonna highlight things like that,” he said. “Also, L.A.’s position on the Pacific Rim, politically, we’re part of the U.S., but socially, culturally, economically, we’re part of the Pacific Rim, we’re part of Latin America, too, so we’re going to try to bring in some of those threads, and talk about why that’s important, too. We’re just trying to sort of expand the borders of what’s considered L.A. history.” Masters said it was nice that after a 3-episode pilot season in 2016, and now a full season, he could finally sit back and enjoy the series’ success; although he joked that he’d still have to give a speech in the ballroom.
Lastly, Val Zavala, host of SoCal Connected, told THT about her time interviewing socio-politically influential citizens of Los Angeles for her series. Some, she says, are easier than others. All have made a huge impact on the community.
“Some are more of a challenge to have them be charismatic and high energy,” she said. “People who are naturally high energy are going to be great, because you know they are going to be animated and excited, like Barbara Boxer, she is a pro and she was great. People like Jeanie Buss, she is also full of energy and charismatic. Steltzner the head of the Marsh Project 2020, he is a natural performer, so those folks are easy. The only thing you have to do is watch the time, because the time will go fast and you may not get to all your questions. The ones that are tough, are the ones that are more intellectual, more soft spoken, they themselves might be nervous or a little shy and how do you make them feel really comfortable and bring out the best in them, that is really the two categories of people.
Zavala is a seasoned interviewer, but says she still takes a little time to “go in ahead of time and talk a little to them” before the interview. “If I’m comfortable, and I send a vibe, they’re going to relax. If I say something like you are going to have plenty of time, if something goes wrong, you can start again, to take the pressure off, it’s not live and for them to just be themselves. That helps them to relax,” she said.
“Our tag line is ‘we are always questioning’ we are going to ask the tough questions when necessary,” Zavala told THT.
Many other personalities were on the red carpet before the sneak peek screening began, including Chief Creative Officer Juan Devis, KCET CEO Michael Riley (former ABC Family President), model Helena Seymour, Globe Trekker host Brianna Barnes, and “Once Upon a Time’s” Raphael Sbarge, a longtime supporter of KCET who has also collaborated with the network. Anticipation was high for the new series.
“I am so excited to be here for KCET,” said Brianna Barnes. “I’m also very interested to see what they do with Lost L.A., and finding out how L.A became L.A.”
The Hollywood Roosevelt was the perfect setting for the place to screen documentary-style programs about Los Angeles–the first Academy Awards ceremony was held in the hotel’s ballroom in 1929. “We’re absolutely thrilled to be launching our new 2017 fall slate from such a prestigious location,” said Riley to applause. “Tonight, we’re ;proud to carry on that very tradition. Celebrating storytelling, and more importantly, shining a light on Los Angeles. The way only KCET and public media can do.”
KCET certainly did that. And the Roosevelt was an impeccable backdrop, to both remember the past, and pay tribute to a bright future.