And so, another year has passed in Hollywood East, and with it, a ton of projects, developments, and other news items that captured our interest throughout 2011. Let’s take a look back at what made headlines in Hollywood East over the past year.
A bevy of big budget productions pranced their way through the Bay State, bringing with it a steady stream of big name stars. I Don’t Know How She Does It brought Sarah Jessica Parker, Christina Hendricks, and “Cheers” alum, Kelsey Grammar. Ted brought Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, and Seth MacFarlane. Here Comes the Boom brought Kevin James, Salma Hayek, and Henry Winkler. I Hate You Dad brought Adam Sandler, Adam Samberg, and Leighton Meester. And finally, R.I.P.D. brought Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Bacon, and Kurt Russell.
We were excited to see all the films that debuted this year that filmed in Boston in whole or in part in the past year or two. Films like The Zookeeper, Moneyball, I Don’t Know How She Does It, and What’s Your Number showed movie-goers across the country why the Bay State makes such a beautiful backdrop for major motion pictures.
There were also updates on the state of the MA film tax credits, with some changes taking place. The Office of Travel and Tourism took over the responsibilities previously looked after by the Massachusetts Film Office, with Lisa Strout taking over for Nick Paleologos.
In more disappointing news, it seems the Plymouth Rock Studios project has been put on permanent hold.
Culled from our own backyard, we spoke to local stars of film, TV, and music. Brighton-based band Gentlemen Hall made us lend an ear and a cheer as we watched these talented youngsters make their live national television debut on the Billboard Music Awards.
We were lucky enough to get invited to a sneak peak of the Footloose remake, and got to talk to home-grown star, Kenny Wormald on how he brought a little bit of Boston to the new version of this 80s cult classic.
Reality TV continues to make headlines year after year. In 2011, we watched with excitement the adventures the infamous “Deathwish Movers” went through each week, and cheered on local stars on “Top Chef: Desserts”, “Chopped”, and the “Expedition Impossible” who did New England proud. The genre even inspired the hilarious web-series, “Real Housewives of South Boston”, which we sincerely hope to see more of in 2012!
The culinary world even captured our attention, with it’s Hollywood East Connections. Our favorite homeboy, Mark Wahlberg, surprised us all by venturing into the culinary world, opening the aptly named Wahlburgers in Hingham. “Hell’s Kitchen” star, Jason Santos, opened Blue Inc., and “Top Chef; All Stars” contestant, Tiffany Faison, opened the ever so cutely named BBQ spot, Sweet Cheeks.
These are just a few of the fabulous and fascinating stories that kept us connected in Hollywood East this year. Here’s hoping 2012 brings with it more excitement in TV, movies, and music across the New England states!
Twenty-six year old high school culinary teacher, Joel Gargano, walked onto the set of “Rocco’s Dinner Party” as the underdog. He walked off as the winner of twenty thousand dollars.
The Guilford resident, who teaches culinary arts at West Haven High School, and works nights at Madison’s Bar Bouchee in Connecticut, competed against New York restaurateur King Phojanakong, in a 5-course cook-off and party planning competition. The young academic sealed his victory with a perfectly seared duck breast that received rave reviews from famed chef, Rocco DiSpirito, the host of the show.
DiSpirito first burst onto the television scene in 2003, as the star of the NBC reality series, “The Restaurant”. The handsome Italian American has gone on to make appearances on shows like “Rocco Gets Real” on A& E, NBC’s “The Biggest Loser: Couples”, ABC sitcom “The Knights of Prosperity”, and “Dancing With The Stars”, as well as Bravo’s other well-known food-focused series, “Top Chef”. In addition to graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in 1986, he also received a bachelor’s degree in business from Boston University in 1990.
The brand new Bravo show is another product of the New York-based Notional, a multimedia production company responsible for the popular Food Network show, “Chopped”. In March, the company debuted “Deathwish Movers” on the Travel Channel, a reality show about the iconic Boston movers who transport the stuff that everyone else won’t touch. “Rocco’s Dinner Party” debuted on June 15, and has been airing weekly in the 10 p.m. time slot. Each week, 3 chefs are asked to cook a meal to impress DiSpirito, who then chooses 2 of them to move to the final round. In that round, the chefs are each given a budget and the ability to choose a room within DiSpirito’s New York loft, and, along with a party planner/decorator, are tasked with building the perfect dinner party, to be enjoyed by DiSpirito and his guests, which often include special guest stars.
Gargano’s whimsical terrace party, along with his masterful entrees, combined with his ability to engage his guests by presenting them with an ice-breaker activity on individual chalkboards, combined to catapult him to the win. Gargano will be using his winnings to pay off student loans, and dreams of eventually opening up a restaurant with his wife.
Have you ever had to get up, go to work, and hoist a 165 pound Great Dane into the upper floor of a Back Bay apartment? No, never? Well get ready to meet the boys who make stuff like this happen everyday in Beantown with the debut of a new reality series on the Travel Channel. “Deathwish Movers” is about the iconic Boston firm of the same name, known for moving impossible objects.
The 30 year old Boston company has gained a cult-like following over the years for its no-nonsense approach to helping people on one of the most stressful days of their lives–moving day. Known as “the guys who move stuff other people can’t or won’t”, they’ve likewise earned the respect of their fellow movers–who often carry around “Deathwish” cards to pass on to customers that they themselves aren’t able to help. This new Travel Channel series follows the crew that makes up the Deathwish Movers company as they undertake impossible task after impossible task for people around the Boston area.
“Had it not been for the production guys being so good at what they do and being so nice, it wouldn’t have happened. None of my employees wanted anything to do with being on TV. This is real, these guys genuinely don’t want to be famous. But the crew was really polite, really considerate, and they didn’t ask us to do things twice. As it kept going on, it got easier,” said Greg Keane, co-owner of Deathwish Movers.
“I’ve worked in this business for 20 years, and I can honestly say I love this show on the highest level possible. Part of the appeal is working with guys who never wanted to be on TV. It makes for different performances…Greg’s had the right attitude about this all along. He gets up in the morning and moves stuff. All of these guys were telling us constantly they would rather go home and have dinner with their wives than to be put on camera at the end of the day. Now they are seeing online promos, and they’re getting a little excited,” said Christopher Stout, producer and creator of the show, and of the production company Notional, most well-known for their popular Food Network series, “Chopped”.
In addition to featuring authentic Boston-bred guys, the show itself is sort of a love-letter to Beantown.
“Boston is a character in this show. It hasn’t really had its own reality show before. It has the most history of any major city, the people are hysterical–between the accents and the attitudes, the neighborhoods…it just a fun city to shoot in, and its very difficult to move in,” said Stout.
Make sure to check out “Deathwish Movers” when it premieres Wednesday, March 16th at 10PM on the Travel Channel.
On January 18, the Food Network debuted a new episode of their successful reality competition series, “Chopped” where professional chefs from restaurants and kitchens around the country compete to win $10,000. Starting with 4 contestants, the chefs are given a different “mystery basket” full of ingredients in each round, which all must be used in order to prepare either an appetizer, an entree, or a dessert, depending on where they are in the competition.
Laura Henry-Zoubir, the culinary director of a restaurant group in boston the includes the Regal Beagle in Brookline, and Church, in the Fenway neighborhood, was one of the contestants, who eventually went on to win the $10,000.
The talented chef shows her skills in all three rounds, dealing with some rather difficult ingredients. In the appetizer round, the four contestants opened their baskets to find speck (a type of smoked ham), toybox squash, marrow bones, and fontina cheese. Henry-Zoubir made an appetizer dish of bone marrow with a sprinkling of speck and fontina cheese, with roasted squash on the side.
After moving on to the main entree round, Henry-Zoubir and the found yuzu marmalade, dungeness crab, chicory, and dried blueberries in their “mystery baskets.” Despite only having 30 minutes, Henry-Zoubir used her ingenuity to make a dungeness crab risotto, with a dried blueberry yuzu brown butter, and a sauteed chicory salad.
For the final round, Henry-Zoubir and the other last remaining contestant opened their “mystery baskets” to find pineapple, sunflower seeds, red curry paste, and neopolitan ice cream with which to prepare their desserts. Henry-Zoubir took a risk and won despite not using all 3 flavors in the neopolitan ice cream (she used just the vanilla) with her pineapple clafoutis, sunflower and red curry paste bark.
After the judges informed her that she was bringing a victory back to Boston as well as a $10,000 check because she “beat a lot of cities today,” Henry-Zoubir told the judges “Boston is number 1 for me.” She then shared that she would use her winnings to go visit her husband’s homeland and family in Morocco.
The night of the original airing, Church held a viewing party, where guests were invited to pay a $15 entry fee at the door, which was donated in part to Kids Can Cook. Kids Can Cook provides inner-city middle schoolers with an innovative and educational out-of-school experience designed to teach important life skills through cooking. The evening’s festivities included $5 drink specials, mini portions of her “mystery basket” dishes, and DJ Paul Foley spinning tunes during commercial breaks.
★ Jessica Simpson gets engaged to Needham, MA born, Yale University educated NFL star Eric Johnson.
★ TLC’s “Cake Boss” comes to Connecticut.
★ On a recent interview for E News regarding her successes on “Dancing With the Stars”, Bristol Palin confirms the story that first broke early last year; that she was named in part for the town in Connecticut ESPN is based in.
★ New Englander Tom Bergeron appears on “Chelsea Lately.”
★ A first look at the promotional poster for the Kennedy biopic, starring Katie Holmes and Greg Kinnear.
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