After a night in Vegas, it was goodbye Neveda and hello again to Los Angeles as I drove 4.5 hours to Hollywood.
I caught sunset during the journey from Vegas to Hollywood, hence the drive was accompanied with beautiful views like this:
It was already dark when I reached Hollywood so nothing exciting to greet me except a nice comfortable big bed at The Hotel Hollywood, a cosy and clean boutique hotel that Marilyn Monroe stayed at a long time ago. It only cost me USD 59 a night for a big King-sized bed which I shared with my Mum and there was simple breakfast of fruits, bread and cereal too. Located about 15 minutes from the main area of Hollywood (where the Chinese Theatre, Kodak Theatre etc. is), I think this hotel made a pretty good steal! For those driving there, public parking is available around the hotel at USD 20 for overnight parking.
My day started with me taking an unexpected morning jog when I ran after this matte black Fairlady Z.
I heard it first, then it zoomed past me when I turned to see what car it is. I wanted a shot of it so I ran after it and thank goodness there was a red light that it had to stop at, giving me time to catch up. I was running, with my bag and thick coat and all, and adjusting my camera settings at the same time! *Phew*
The tours for Hollywood are pretty standard – Movie Stars’ Homes Tour at Beverly Hills, Madame Tussauds Hollywood museum, Kodak Theatre, Chinese Theatre, Hollywood Walk of Fame, Rodeo Drive… or go out a little to Universal Studio or Disneyland at Anaheim. The main area of Hollywood on the Hollywood Boulevard is where you find Kodak Theatre, home of the Academy Awards…
… as well as the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre where its forecourt holds many handprints of iconic celebrities and is often used as a venue for major movie premieres and events:
Along the same stretch you have Hard Rock Cafe…
… and of course, the Hollywood Walk of Fame..
The Hollywood Walk of Fame is this ‘line’ of stars embedded in the sidewalks along fifteen blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street. There are over 2,400 of these stars currently and they serve as permanent public monuments in recognition of names from the entertainment industry (across a mix of actors, musicians, directors, producers, musical and theatrical groups, and even fictional characters). The stars are spaced at 6-foot (1.8-metre) intervals and made of coral-pink terrazzo rimmed with brass (not bronze) inlaid into a charcoal-colored terrazzo background. There are also “Special Category” stars forcontributions by corporate entities and service organisations.
Nominations are given to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Walk of Fame Selection Committee by anyone, including fans – As long as the nominee is active in the field of entertainment and the nominee’s management is in agreement with the nomination. Nominees must have a minimum of five years’ experience in the category for which they are nominated and a history of charitable contributions. At a meeting each June, the committee selects approximately 20 celebrities to receive stars on the Walk of Fame during the following year. Upon successful induction, a fee (currently USD 30,000) is then collected to pay for the creation and installation of the star. This fee is usually paid by the nominating party, which can be a fan club, a film studio, record company, broadcaster, or other sponsor involved with the nominee. Some people ask why there are certain big screen names missing from the Walk of Fame – one reason is because some celebrities when nominated, declined the nomination.
I was just thinking – in Chinese superstition, it is unlucky to have people step on your name. But so far, of all the thousands of these stars, only one is mounted vertical on a wall of the Kodak Theatre – that is boxing ace Muhammad Ali’s star, which he requested that his name not be walked upon.
I spent a full day in Hollywood – first taking a 2-hour tour with Starline Tours that took me to Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, Mulholland Drive and West Hollywood – that hosts all the entertainment spots, including El Pollo Loco which was the restaurant that Brad Pitt used to work for as a chicken mascot as one of the odd jobs he took in his early pursuit of an acting career in Hollywood.
Many of these clubs and restaurants are owned by some of the stars and time to time you will spot some of them eating out here.
I was taken on a tour around the homes in Beverly Hills next and the guide was pointing out the different homes belonging to the different stars.
I was snapping away but later I realised that I couldn’t remember which house belonged to who. Here are the ones that I did remember:
Simon Cowell – someone made a remark that his house is just like his character; black and white with no grey areas
Jackie Chan – see the initials ‘JC’ in the gate?
David and Victoria Beckham (the one at the top) – Bought for USD 22 million in 2007
Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes – their residence is near the Beckhams’ and all you can see from the road of their place is just the chimney and the flag
This mailbox supposedly inspired the Dreamworks logo
There were a lot more movie stars’ homes I saw and the guide was spewing out figures of the costs of these homes – yeah, all the in millions of course. It’s not just a celebrity world at Beverly Hills, but doctors, lawyers and other professionals live at Beverly Hills too. It was Rodeo Drive next, where all the high-end luxury brands are…
The famous Bugatti owned by the late designer Bijan Pakzad is parked in front of the House of Bijan boutique (most expensive store in the world by appointment only) on Rodeo Drive as a tribute to Bijan.
Located at the South end of Rodeo Drive is the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel from the movie Pretty Woman..
… but some might argue that the Pretty Woman movie’s official hotel should be the Las Palmas Hotel, where Richard Gere went to get Julia Roberts back in the final scene.
The last stop was at Mulholland Drive in the mountains, named after Los Angeles pioneer civil engineer William Mulholland. It offers great views of the Los Angeles Basin, the San Fernando Valley and the Hollywood Sign.
For more of my Hollywood photos, view here.