Chicago Openings: The Southern Mac & Cheese Store, Magnolia Bakery, Miko’s Flipside Cafe

The Southern Mac and Cheese Store (Loop) – Cary Taylor parks it in the Loop with his mac ‘n’ cheese to go. ● Magnolia Bakery (Loop) – We thought we were over cupcakes. Then this guy arrived. ● Miko’s Flipside Cafe (Bucktown) – Finally, a reason to look forward to cold weather.

New York Openings: Magnolia Bakery, Dos Toros, Island Burgers & Shakes

Magnolia Bakery (Upper East Side) – Dubai’s favorite little cupcake shop drops another NYC location. ● Dos Toros (Upper East Side) – Bicoastal burritos mash CA expertise and NY bull. ● Island Burgers & Shakes (Upper West Side) – Malibu surfer shack got lost in Hell’s Kitchen, eventually branched out uptown.

Germans Deem New York Nothing More Than a Land of Cupcakes

This is totally Sex and the City‘s fault. Sarah Jessica Parker, Magnolia Cupcakes, we blame you. McDonald’s in Germany are now offering a series of cupcakes named after New York City neighborhoods — Central Park, Soho, Chelsea, and East Village. Because, really now, what is New York now but a series of cutesy cupcake shops?

The East Village cupcake is cappuccino-flavored because, according to German McDonald’s, “Here come from the most famous artists in New York” and also something about Andy Warhol that doesn’t quite translate. A dude in a floppy hat and corduroy pants stands alongside the E.V. cupcake on the German website.

Chelsea is chocolate because it “was once terribly hip, sometimes not, and then again.” It’s paired with a dude in baggy jeans and a rumpled button-down. So un-Chelsea. McD’s, get that guy in some G-Stars.

Soho gets stuck with a vanilla cupcake and a chick who looks like a cute nurse because the only reason to go to Soho and throw some elbows on the sidewalks is Uniqlo.

Central Park gets a strawberry cupcake and a cool chick in jeggings and a vest whose style is more downtown than uptown. German McDonald’s explains that Central Park is where “all of New York hangs out.” Who knew?

Bryant Park vs. Lincoln Center: Out with the Old, in with the New

Last night the “fashion set” bid the tents at Bryant Park adieu and turned the runways into 1Oak– a look that came complete with dancing models, Moet and Ronnie Madra. I put “fashion set” in those very convenient quotations because partiers were more of the “drinking set,” as apparently none of the people who had spent the most time under the big top- the fashion editors, designers and front row stars- could muster the nostalgia necessary to say goodbye. That and Calvin Klein was having his party somewhere else.

(‘DiggThis’)In any case, a big stink has been made about what will happen to NYFW when it moves to Lincoln Center in the fall, farther away from the Garment District and all of those downtown fashionistas. Will more designers choose to show off site? Will downtown-dwelling stars and fashion mags decline to travel all the way to the Dakotas? Will New York as a fashion capital lose its international cred from the lack of a centralized location if said designers continue to show independently? Will the Lincoln Center give fashion credibility as an art form? Deep stuff, right?

These are all really important questions that I’ll leave to be answered by the Sunday Styles (or teen bloggers writing from Arkansas who seem to have just as much validity). I’m more interested in figuring out how the “fashion set” will defile transform the UWS nabe into fashion land, what tequila hole Michael Kors will turn to for a pre-show blackout, what hotel the cast of Jersey Shore will take over, what unassuming quaint pub Kate Moss will put on the map, if they do so choose to journey north.

Hot spot for over-worked fashion editors to cry it out after getting snubbed by the Wintour. Old: Ruby Tuesday. Distance: Just over a block from Bryant Park, on 7th Avenue. Why: The food chain provides many carb options, something the editor has been abstaining from for half their life, and an atmosphere one can be sure is totally free from fashion peers. Let the floodgates open- Fashion Week is tough, but easier with cheese, breaded and fried. New: Central Park. Distance: One block east of the Lincoln Center. Why: What better place to run to in a fit of rage and “why me?” than freaking Central Park? The editor will feel as if they’re starring in a weepy Woody Allen film; scorned woman turning away from all she knows to find answers in the woods of Manhattan! The drama! Bonus as an ego boost when they find smirking at tourists in flip-flops easy from their perch on Prada pumps.

imageHot spot for models to gorge between shows. Old: Crumbs 42nd Street. Distance: In Bryant Park. Why: If you’re making up for a week’s worth of calories, you should at least be eating something pretty and within walking distance from your next call time. New: Magnolia Columbus. Distance: 4 blocks north of Lincoln Center. Why: The fact that they are Carrie cupcakes (for models still infatuated with SATC) makes the walk to gorge worth it. Besides, models never make call times.

imageSpot for designers to have a pre-show stiff one. Old: Cellar Bar @ the Bryant Park Hotel. Distance: Pretty much on top of Bryant Park. Why: Cellar Bar is a sophisticated rager, perfect for sophisticates in need of numbing nerves and their publicist’s front row choices. New: Candle Bar. Distance: Roughly 8 blocks north, or one subway stop from the Lincoln Center. Why: Gay dive that’s a nice counterbalance to the frat-tastic bullshit of the Upper West Side. And we all know how progressive the fashion world is.

imageCheesy fashion-themed bar big with tourists. Old: Stitch Bar and Lounge Distance: 3 blocks south, 2 block west of the Bryant Park tents. Why: They have cocktails named Anna Wintour, Silk Scarf and Stiletto. This place screams “Girl’s Weekend!” New: None, yet. Maybe Rosa Mexicano will change her name to Rosa Cha of the occasion? Why: While there are quite a few Jazz or Opera themed bars, the UWS is prime for fashion to make its mark. Right locals? Anna Win-tini could be on the menu at any given bar hungry for tourists.

Hot meal ticket that is completely booked come fashion week. Old: Aureole Distance: Nestled between Conde Nast and Bryant Park. Why: Charlie Palmer’s house of indulgence is right next to Vogue. This is a quick dinner on-the-go for a busy Voguette. imageNew: Bar Boulud. Distance: Just past Broadway, right in the Lincoln Center’s wheelhouse. Why: “Location begs Lincoln Center spillover, i.e. middle-aged Philharmonic fans and ballet families.” Replace this i.e. with middle-aged fashion editors and PR families.

Photo: Gothamist

New York: Top 10 Bakeries for Red Velvet Cake

For those who would happily eat a pile of dead leaves, were they slathered in cream cheese frosting.

Babycakes (Lower East Side) – For the vegan red velvet lover (they pull it off, in spite of the fact that real cream cheese frosting is key to any successful red velvet cake). ● Crumbs (Greenwich Village) – For the more mainstream experience, and the convenience of multiple locations. ● Solomon’s Porch (Brooklyn South) – Recently renovated soul food spot serves up blues and famous red velvet cake Bed Stuy style.

Billy’s Bakery (Chelsea) – Famous bakery uses family recipes exclusively. ● Atlas Cafe and Bakery (East Village) – Also vegan, with a wide variety of delicious entrées in addition to their extensive baked goods. ● Magnolia Bakery (West Village) – Longtime downtown favorite is known for its cupcakes (coconut cream is a close second to the red velvet). ● Sugar Sweet Sunshine (Lower East Side) – Rivington bakery has great 60’s / 70’s vibe but don’t worry, no armadillo cakes, here. ● Buttercup Bake Shop (Midtown East) – Midtown bakery delivers deliciousness all over the city. ● Cousin John’s Cafe and Bakery (Park Slope) – Brooklyn institution offers delectable cookies and great coffee as well. ● Cake Man Raven (Brooklyn South) – This legendary Fort Greene bakery is billed as “The Official Home of the Red Velvet Cake.”

Thomas Moffett Shrinks Hollywood Down to Size

Thomas Moffett is a new face in the game, with only Steve Clark’s recent directorial debut, The Last International Playboy, under his screenwriting belt. His second script, Shrink , is a star-studded take on individuals facing depression and emotional ruin in Los Angeles and the broken people the film industry attracts. Pretty good for a guy who’s just broken into Hollywood. The film stars big-screen heavyweights Kevin Spacey and Robin Williams, with Saffron Burrows, Mark Webber, and famed novelist Gore Vidal; it releases this Friday, July 31.

When did you start writing? I’ve always written … it’s the only thing I’ve ever really wanted to do or been semi-good at. I grew up in Indiana, and I always wanted to live in New York ever since I read Catcher in the Rye and Franny and Zooey and all those Salinger stories. I went to NYU and then worked as an assistant for George Plimpton, editor of the Paris Review. During that time, I started writing screenplays, and then a few of my scripts got close to being made. I started thinking, “Maybe I can do this.”

Have you spent a lot of time in Los Angeles, where the film takes place? No. When I knew I was going to write the script, I spent about two months house-sitting for the producer of the film in the Hollywood Hills. It was this amazing place to just soak everything in. I spent two months trying to get a feel for things, which helped a lot in terms of the characters the movie.

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What’s the premise of the film? The movie’s about a therapist who practices in LA and has a lot of clients who are in the movie industry. I wanted it to be about these people who happen to live and work in Hollywood, but their problems are the kind of problems that you could have anywhere. They’re just magnified because of the narcissistic nature of Hollywood. I really wanted to avoid making it like Entourage, so I think the fact that I live in New York and not in LA helped me look at things from a more objective view and not get caught up with making it about LA. I wouldn’t have been able to do that very well.

How’d the concept come about? One of my best and oldest friends is an actress named Pell James, who’s in the film. She’s married to a guy named Michael Burns, who’s the producer of the film. He approached me and said, “I have this idea and it involves these types of characters and this setting. Maybe you could find something to do with it?” So, I stared at it for three months and I couldn’t figure out how to write something that didn’t seem Entourage-y. I had a breakthrough when I started thinking about the therapist character, played by Kevin Spacey. I started thinking, what if he’s going through a breakdown that’s worse than his patients? It started organically that way, and then all the LA stuff came later. Once we got Kevin on board, the whole movie started coming to life, and the other actors started signing on. He just threw himself into the character, and the film and worked for a fraction of what he usually works for. He really lead us all by example.

Do you have a personal relationship with psychiatric help? I went to therapy for the first time five years ago. I was really depressed and just felt overwhelmed and had a lot of anxiety and panic and all these different things. I have a bit of obsessive compulsive disorder, which one of the characters also has, so it was fun to take elements of things that I’ve gone through and write about them in a way that was kind of cathartic. I think the saddest things can be really funny and the funniest things can be really sad.

How was Robin Williams involved? He came and did three days of work with us, and that was the highlight for me. The director and I were just standing there and watching Kevin Spacey and Robin Williams do a scene on the second or third day of filming. It felt like a dream come true. I was lucky as a writer to be on the set every day which was unusual. Jonas [Pate] was really generous as a director and very collaborative.

What’s Robin’s character like? Robin got involved and said he was interested in one character. I rewrote the character with him in mind. It was really cool that he was game for that because the character is dealing with some problems and going through a divorce and some things that were going on in Robin’s life. In one of the scenes between him and Kevin, Kevin got to a very vulnerable spot. It’s a very intense scene and Robin Williams has this smile, this very sad smile that breaks your heart when you see it.

How many times did you have to shoot that one? A couple of times but not because anything went wrong. Only because Robin and Kevin would play around, and Robin would improv these amazing lines. There’s this scene where he’s at a press junket. Robin plays an actor in the film, and we just let him go in terms of improv-ing. He’d make these great riffs about the fake movie. In it, he plays a Viking, and there’s a really funny poster in the background of him in a Viking beard. Robin went off making all these jokes about long axes and how he couldn’t have guns because it would have been a short film, and the women had hairy armpits. We were all in awe of him.

Did you have actors in mind while you were writing the script? I definitely had Kevin in mind, but it was very much wishful thinking. When you’re writing a script and sitting alone in a room, you have no idea if anyone will ever see it. But you get these fantasies of different actors playing the characters, and Kevin was someone who early on we all talked about.

And for the other characters? I wrote this character named Daisy for my friend Pell. In the first draft of the script, Daisy’s in her late 20s and starts dating another character in the film, but then Pell became pregnant partway through the process of pre-production. I really wanted her to be in the movie, so I rewrote the character as pregnant, which was definitely a challenge because I had to then tell the love story of her and this struggling writer. We also knew that we wanted Keke Palmer to play the young girl. She was 15 when we were shooting. She’s in Akeelah and the Bee. She has her own show on Nickelodeon, and she’s got a rap album. She makes you feel like such an underachiever.

Was it a constant comedy on and off set? Well, Kevin can do fantastic impressions of different actors. He can do an amazing Jack Lemmon, Johnny Carson, Christopher Walken, Al Pacino. He’s constantly slipping into a Marlon Brando voice to keep the crew entertained. We did one scene with the writer Gore Vidal and Kevin. Later, Gore had all of us over to his beautiful house for drinks. Gore was great friends with Johnny Carson and would go on The Tonight Show all the time back in the 70s. There was this wonderful moment in Gore’s living room where Spacey starts being Johnny Carson and pretending to interview Gore, who started doing a routine on present-day topics like Sarah Palin and talking about the election.

What was it like having this at Sundance? That was incredible. We were in the Eccles Theater, which holds 1,300 people, and we were oversold both the first night and the next morning. It was cool to see it with an audience because we were in such a hurry editing that none of us — myself, the director, Kevin — had seen it on anything other than our computers.

What’s next for you? I did an adaptation of a play that Liev Schreiber proposed to me. He and a friend had a one-act that they put on at Yale and had been trying figure out a way to expand into a film for years. It’s an amazing play, and I just fell in love with it. Liev gave me open reign to expand it from a one-act that takes place in a single kitchen to something that takes place all over New York.

What are your spots in New York? I love this vegetarian restaurant called Counter in the East Village. And I love The Mermaid Inn. I also like this cupcake place called Babycakes. It’s like the Magnolia Bakery for vegans.
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