Steve Bochco, Arts District doc, Sinclair goes fake news

llama-blessing.jpgThe annual Blessing of the Animals was held Saturday at El Pueblo Historic Park around the Old Plaza. Follow LA Observed on Instagram for more pics from around the city and beyond.

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Steven Bochco, 74, TV drama pioneer

The television producer whose breakthrough series' "Hill Street Blues" and "NYPD Blue" reinvented the police drama genre died Sunday at home. He was 74 and had leukemia. Bochco also created "L.A. Law," "Cop Rock" and "Doogie Howser, M.D.," among other shows.

Brian Lowry's obit for CNN:

The recipient of virtually every imaginable industry award over his prestigious career, Bochco was nominated for an Emmy 30 times in his capacities as producer and writer, winning 10.

In 1999, the Producers Guild of America honored Bochco with its David Susskind lifetime achievement award, describing his record of quality programs as "the standard all television producers strive for."

Despite working behind the scenes, Bochco enjoyed a high public profile before it was necessarily fashionable for TV showrunners to do so. This was in part because of his willingness to go to battle for his shows, both with the network and occasionally talent. In one of the more public examples, David Caruso left "NYPD Blue" after its first season, but Bochco replaced him with Jimmy Smits, and the show ran another decade.

Bochco maintained that his fights with network censors had to do with seeking a heightened level of realism in his programs, especially with some of the cop shows for which he was known.

Hollywood Reporter, Variety, LA Times

Obit from last week: Judge Stephen Reinhardt, 87

New Arts District documentary

Ruscha-americanmural.jpgPhoto:Stephen Seemayer

There's a terrific new LA history documentary running through Thursday at the Downtown Independent. Tales of the American tells the origins of what we now call the Arts District through the hotel at the corner of Traction Avenue and Hewitt Street — it has gone under various names since it opened in 1905 as the first LA hotel for African Americans, but the name that has stuck is the American Hotel. It's been a center of African American night life, including the site of jazz clubs, and a Japanese American corner when Little Tokyo extended into the area. After the Japanese were interned during World War II, that part of LA became Bronzeville, home to thousands of black workers from the South.

The film documents the social and ownership changes through the years, but the driving energy is the story of the American as the vortex of the first Arts District east of Alameda Street — and as the home from 1980 to 2001 of Al's Bar, the legendary punk venue where a lot of Los Angeles musical history took place. Filmmakers Pamela Wilson and Stephen Seemayer, former residents and veterans of the first Arts District, gathered dozens of former residents and Al's Bar regulars to tell stories. The film picked up a new executive producer, the mystery novelist Michael Connelly, after the director's cut was screened last year. The final version includes interviews with photographer Gary Leonard, artists Richard Duardo, Colette Miller and Kent Twitchell, musicians who played Al's Bar, ex-bartenders and downtown fixtures. John Rabe of KPCC narrates the documentary.

This is the building where Pie Hole is located, across the street from Wurstkuche, and both symbols of the new gentrified Arts District came in for hissing from the opening night crowd of friends and family. But if you wondered why the street corner is named for the late Joel Bloom, and why there is a mural of Ed Ruscha on the side of the hotel, and why people still come looking for Al's Bar, "Tales of the American" will explain it for you.

Speaking of documentaries: Big Voice, a film about Santa Monica High School's vaunted choir program and choral director Jeffe Huls, is airing this month on PBS SoCal.

Designer's last day

Chris Ledermuller, page designer at the Southern California News Group until last week, tweeted about his final front pages for the rapidly contracting chain.

Chris also tweets some favorite headlines and more. Go check out his farewell string.

Related: Meet Julie Reynolds, the journalist tracking Digital First Media’s hedge fund owner and how it mined profitable newspapers to cover other transactions.

Sinclair pimps out its news anchors

This hasn't hit KTLA yet, but it's coming. Sinclair Broadcasting, which has an agenda to make America more conservative, has begun requiring its local TV anchors around the country to parrot Donald Trump's dishonest rants about the news media. The directive comes from the Sinclair head office and is detailed down to what colors the women should wear when they stand up and act their lines about bias and "fake news." People who live in cities have alternatives, but there are many parts of the country where Sinclair's politically correct slant on reality is all the news they get on local TV.

It looks ridiculous when you see it mashed up together, so Deadspin did just that.

Journalists at stations all over the place are horrified at the ideological meddling by Sinclair, the nation's largest local owner of TV stations. It puts the station news people in an awful situation. Here's Brian Stelter's report at CNN Money.

Meanwhile, Trump had dinner Friday with his most obedient Fox News shill, Sean Hannity. They golfed together on Saturday. On Sunday, he tweeted a loony tirade about DACA that indicated either he doesn't understand what the policy is or is confident his more easily conned believers won't know the difference.

Media notes

CBS2 and KCAL anchor-reporter Andrea Fujii anchored the news on both stations Sunday evening. Then she signed off of Los Angeles television for now. Fujii is moving to New York, where husband Whit Johnson has joined ABC News as a correspondent. Johnson left KNBC 4 a few months ago. Meanwhile, regular watchers tell me that Rick Garcia, the CBS2 and KCAL anchor, hasn't been seen on the air for awhile. No tweets since March 9, though he had been quite active previously. He's still listed on the station website, but FTVLive reports, citing unnamed sources, that Garcia is likely to be replaced in the evening by morning anchor Jeff Michael. Reporter Suzanne Marques is doing a lot of fill-in anchoring for the duopoly at the moment... CBS LA also has two new weekly podcasts: CBSLA Uncut goes deeper into interviews and stories, and In the Air With Stu Mundel has the Channel 2 and 9 airborne reporter talking with "newsmakers, celebrities and personalities."

Fox News finished 2017 as the most-watched basic cable network in both primetime and total day counts, according to Nielsen via CJR... Also from CJR: Wall Street Journal staffers circulated a letter crying censorship over the editor's suppression of a story about the uneven gains in the decade since the last financial crisis... Charles H. Rivkin, the ambassador to France for President Obama, is the new chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America... The death of Unity: Why a collaboration between journalists of color collapsed...

This week's Artbound on KCET looks at LA Raza, the Eastside newspaper whose staff's photos are the subject of that totally worth seeing exhibvitions at the Autry Museum of the American West. "In East Los Angeles during the late 1960s and 1970s, a group of young activists used creative tools like writing and photography as a means for community organizing, providing a platform for the Chicano Movement in the form of the bilingual newspaper/magazine La Raza. In the process, the young activists became artists themselves and articulated a visual language that shed light on the daily life, concerns and struggles of the Mexican-American experience in Southern California and provided a voice to the Chicano Rights Movement." Airs first on Tuesday night at 9 p.m.

The New York Times is coming into LA April 10 for a subscriber event: A conversation about the state of dining in California with cookbook author Melissa Clark and chefs Jessica Koslow, Niki Nakayama and Susan Feniger... Los Angeles Times editor Jim Kirk is meeting with newsroom retirees and other alumni for lunch on Wednesday in Burbank.

Good reads of the week

As California governor Jerry Brown slides toward his actual, final, for real retirement, he's the subject of profiles in the California Sunday magazines delivered this weekend and in The New Yorker. In The Last Days of Jerry Brown, writer Andy Kroll says that after more than 40 years in public life (beginning on the first elected Los Angeles Community College District board), Brown "is as combative and contradictory as ever — and still trying to save the world from itself." In the New Yorker, Connie Bruck's profile is framed as Inside California’s War on Trump: "As the state resists the White House on issues from immigration to climate change, Governor Jerry Brown is determined to avoid a pitched battle."

Not for reading — just listening — and totally worth it, a fascinating Design & Architecture segment on KCRW last week about the undersea cables that connect California to the Internet and the rest of the world. Locally, a major cable site is in Hermosa Beach and producer Avishay Artsy and host Frances Anderton take you to the exact manhole cover. They also explain how the cables get laid under the ocean and report on One Wilshire, the former office building downtown that is now home to nothing but telecommunications and Internet equipment. Bridges and Walls

Media people doing stuff

Joy Press, the author of "Stealing the Show: How Women are Revolutionizing Television," is joining Vanity Fair as television correspondent. Sonia Saraiya of Variety is joining as TV critic... Lynell George and photos from her new book, “After/Image: Los Angeles Outside the Frame," were featured on Sunday's LA Times op-ed page... Photographer Ken Karagozian has been documenting the Regional Connector Transit Project underneath downtown LA... Yvette Cabrera joined the HuffPost as environmental justice reporter based in the Bay Area... Journalist Daniel Heimpel chronicles his campaign to change foster care... Bay Area baseball writers Susan Slusser and Daniel Brown are married and compete on the same beat. There are challenges, he writes... Emily Green posted a nice tribute to Karen Bugge, the blogger behind Altadena Hiker who died recently of cancer and who may have been 63... Jose Del Real, one of the new correspondents in the New York Times bureau here, tweeted Sunday night, "Finally settling into my new apartment, and I've realized I have eight wine glasses but nothing to drink water out of."

Also: Actress-turned-conservative commentator Stacey Dash isn't running for Congress in the LA area after all. She has a public rationale for the change, but most political novices who impulsively jump into a race don't end up running for real.


For the Compton Cowboys, Horseback Riding Is a Legacy, and Protection - New York Times

As China puts the brakes on overseas investment, Los Angeles' development boom takes a hit - LA Times

Police commissioner Shane Murphy Goldsmith speaks - Future of Cities

LA will overhaul these 6 major streets over the next year - Curbed LA

'Dolores' film seeks to re-think labor leader Dolores Huerta - again - LA Taco

Selected tweets

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