If El Portal Theatre looks familiar, that's because it probably is. The legendary space has starred in Modern Family, Glee, and Last Comic Standing, and has guest starred in dozens of piano-recital nightmares. Built as a vaudeville house in 1926, the venue has earned its celebrity status, welcoming performers such as Jason Alexander, Bea Arthur, and The Manhattan Transfer to its stage over the years. After an extensive renovation, El Portal now boasts three stages that host everything from small comedy shows to Broadway performances.
Amid the bustle of Hollywood Boulevard stand two monuments to the silver screen. One, the TCL Chinese Theatre, oozes with history— imported Chinese stone lions, a 90-foot-tall copper roof, and concrete blocks that bear the handprints of Hollywood luminaries from years gone by each memorialize the celebrated role the building has played in Hollywood for more than eight decades.
Next door, Chinese 6 Theatres is a tribute to the cutting-edge. Six theaters, some with 3D capability, immerse viewers in ultra-realistic picture and sound better than sitting inside Steven Spielberg's android brain. Beyond the plush theater seating, a bar slings cocktails for in-movie sipping and a restaurant serves a full menu for cravings after the show. The service schedule varies for the bar and the restaurant but both will be open during Summer 2013. Whether they opt for the historic cinema or the ultramodern theater, visitors can catch a full slate of acclaimed new releases on their chosen big screen.
The storied history of TCL Chinese Theatre rivals those of the more than 200 celebrities whose handprints, footprints, and autographs are cemented into the theater's forecourt. Erected in 1927 and declared a historical and cultural landmark in 1968, the iconic theater stages movie screenings, premieres, events, and red-carpet ceremonies. Today, moviegoers walking through the theater's main courtyard can revel in the same opulence of those 1920s screen idols, craning their necks upward to take in the looming pagoda that frames the entrance. Inside, the theater's original 1927 screen towers high above the plush red-velvet seats, surrounded by wooden panels that rise to a ceiling with flowing Chinese-style drawings. This classic Hollywood setting is one of the reasons why the theater, in an echo of its origins, hosts celebrity-studded premieres, such as the 2012 opening for Life of Pi and the 2013 opening for Beautiful Creatures.
At twin cinemas in Hollywood and Santa Monica, American Cinematheque preserves the thrill of classic films and introduces the newest works by modern auteurs. A relic of the glamorous past, the Egyptian Theatre was built in 1922 and inspired by the search for the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. From its first showing of Robin Hood until today, it has operated as a movie house, and now sends 60-foot-wide images and crystalline sound flashing through the ornate mirage of its interior.
Today, the screens' ever-unpredictable and constantly changing lineup can include anything from the lightweight whimsy of Citizen Kane to the modern masterpiece Spaceballs, and frequent festivals focus on themes from world cinema to film noir.
At both cinemas, modern works are often further illuminated by their creators, with events and post-show discussions featuring the directors and actors.
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As Karie Bible strides across Hollywood Forever Cemetery, the hem of her mourning gown absorbs dew from the gravesites of Douglas Fairbanks and Jayne Mansfield. She tours the cemetery for a living, leading groups to crypts and monuments that mark the remains of deceased celebrities. Whether recounting the legacy of actress Marion Davies or kneeling at the spike of grass that marks Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer's final resting place, she immerses tour-goers in Hollywood history. Each tour lasts about two hours and sheds light on cherished stars, as well as lesser-known entertainers and community members.
Executive chef Kareem Shaw is no stranger to creating memorable fine-dining experiences. He's cooked for governors, senators, congressmen, and even President Barak Obama. At Frame 128 Restaurant, he lends his expertise to menu of fine American fusion food. Here, Shaw crafts a variety of dishes with influences from all over the globe, including appetizers of escargot and oysters, wild boar and kobe beef burgers, and ahi tuna. The menu even includes a selection of flatbread pizzas. To complement bites of filet mignon and wild New Zealand king salmon, the bartenders muddle and swirl a selection of signature cocktails.
The menu's bold flavors and detail-oriented craftsmanship call for an equally swanky environment. To that end, the restaurant's dining rooms and lounges, which are spread over two stories, are characterized by sleek, modern decor. The downstairs Blue Lounge offers clusters of plush couches and round low tables for intimate exchanges, while the upstairs Red Lounge facilitates views of the courtyard, accented by neon-lit surroundings.