Two years after moving to Texas, the Cheese Fry was feeling "homesick" for Southern California. By chance, our office hired a new temp worker with dreams of moving to Los Angeles to pursue acting. And so we got to play the role of wise industry mentor and seasoned Hollywood sage (whether the temp worker liked it or not), which culminated in us preparing for him a list of things he had to do as soon as he made the move west in late 2015.
We present the list below with the understanding while its validity may have faded in the last four years, it would serve as an essential document for any new Angelino resident in 2015.
* See a movie in the Arclight Hollywood Cinerama Dome.
* Look for celebrities at the Grove outdoor mall on Fairfax (especially inside the Barnes and Noble bookstore).
* Take the Warner Bros. VIP studio tour (it's pricey, though - wait for family to come visit - but you see everything on the lot).
* Eat at Fatburger (make sure you find one that can charbroil - some just have the griddle), Zankou Chicken (the garlic paste is amazing - comes with the chicken but ask for extra), El Coyote and El Cholo (great Mexian at both places), Astroburger on Santa Monica in West Hollywood, Islands (get the mushroom burger), and Jerry's Famous Deli (the biggest menu we've ever seen). For seafood, there's the high-end Gladstones (great view where the PCH meets Sunset) and the low-end Reel Inn (on PCH north of Gladstones).
* Use TVTickets.com to go see a talk show or sitcom taping (tickets are free so they go fast).
* Walk on the Santa Monica Pier at dusk.
* Drive the Sunset Strip at night.
* Visit the Samuel French bookstore on Sunset Blvd. - packed full of acting/directing books and plays.
* See a game at old-school Dodger Stadium (just don't wear any team gear but Dodgers team gear), not the new-money Angels Stadium.
* Watch a Dodger game on TV called by Vin Scully before he dies.
* Take in the view of L.A. basin (on a clear day - if you can find one) from the Griffith Observatory.
* Watch an old movie at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood.
* Spend a day or weekend in Big Bear up in the mountains east of L.A.
* Experience the hippie weirdness of the Venice Boardwalk.
* Get a drink at the Cat and Fiddle Pub on Sunset, the Pig n Whistle on Hollywood, or the retro (dark wood, red leather booths, no windows) Musso and Frank on Hollywood.
* Prepare to pay to park no matter where you are - valet, meters, garages, none of it's cheap. Give yourself extra time to decipher the parking signs.
* See a concert at the Hollywood Bowl.
* Use the word "the" when referring to the freeways (Texans say "635," but in L.A. it's "the 10" and "the 405").
* Avoid the freeways whenever possible (you can always break the ice with someone by asking how traffic was or how they got somewhere - people are proud of their shortcuts). Use side streets and get creative.
* See the handprints and footprints at Grauman's Chinese Theater.
* Read Deadline.com and either Variety.com or THR.com as often as you can to know what's happening in town.
* Make sure your apartment has working air conditioning that blows cold and hard.
* Stay off the city buses, but the Metro subway can be a fun way to do special-occasion trips (there's a station right next to the Chinese Theater on Hollywood).
* Remember that Hollywood is a very small factory town - everyone may not know everyone, but everyone knows someone who knows someone.
* Work the room and be extroverted.
* Get a part in a major motion picture.