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In the television business, you are where you eat as much as you are what you eat.

TelevisionWeek Managing Editor Melissa Grego is tapping into Hollywood's penchant for the working meal with her TVWeek.com feature, Mel's Diner. Ms. Grego sits down with television industry players at their favorite restaurants, giving readers a window into the minds -- and appetites -- of industry heavyweights.

As each Mel's Diner guest dishes about what they're working on, planning and thinking about, Ms. Grego provides a unique view of the television business from the insiders perspective.

TVWeek.com invites fans of Mel's Diner to report back in the comments section on the meals, deals, or anything at all that is eating them about what the featured players have to say.

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Mel's Diner



Mel's Diner: Rick Feldman

March 14, 2007 3:15 PM

Who: Rick Feldman, president-CEO, National Association of Television Program Executives
Where: Pizzeria Mozza, Los Angeles
When: Monday, March 5, lunch

Dined On: I made it to Mozza!

The new pizzeria collaboration from L.A. restaurateur Nancy Silverton and chef and Food Network personality Mario Batali is one tough place to get into.

I was skeptical, but it did not disappoint.

At first when I walked in I thought, What on Earth is the big deal? Best pizza in L.A.? Seriously?

The atmosphere struck me as neither here nor there. It’s busy and crowded and orange.

As it turns out, the service was attentive.

The pizza, well, it was great. The star of the show really.

A simple salad to start and lemon dessert were good book-ends, but the minute I tried my pizza—“funghi misti, fontini, taleggio and thyme”—I understood the draw. Delicioso!


NATPE honcho Rick Feldman, who has the pull to get that 1 p.m. Monday reservation, shared some of his pizza with fennel sausage, panna and red onions. It was good, not necessarily my thing, but a repeat order for him.

He’s from the Bronx, but is not one of those “only New York has good pizza” people, he said. He’d definitely come back for the sausage pizza.

Neither of us was willing to put a “best pizza in L.A.” stamp on this. Not that we didn’t love it.

“It’s gourmet,” as Rick put it, not the place to pop in for one classic slice.

Would love to hear readers rec’s on the best place for the best classic slice, though. Please cast those votes in the comments below.

The Dish: Hollywood, of course, is all about power and money.

NATPE, a non-profit for programming people “doesn’t have power or money, so it’s about being nice and depending on the kindness of strangers,” said Rick Feldman, the org’s boss since 2003. “You just have to listen well to find what people want.”

What he’s hearing: News flash! NATPE-goers don’t love the schlep between the exhibition floor and meetings in hotel suites.

That’s the most common beef in some 750 surveys NATPE just got back about their January gathering at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

Not that Rick and his own sore feet didn’t know it already.

For years, syndicators spent gobs of money putting on big displays on the exhib floor of NATPE. In recent outings, several companies opted to conserve costs and hold meetings in hotel rooms. So attendees have to run back and forth between suites and the exhibition.


Rick’s already talking to folks about next year. It’s all part of his annual listening tour, which starts as soon as NATPE wraps and continues for about six months (not that “listening” ever stops for this guy).

This means keeping track of NATPE’s 8,000 or so constituents. A challenge to say the least.

Still, in a way Rick has it easier than his friends operating studios, he said.

“They are dealing with all these rights, which ones to hold, making long term deals into the future when they don’t know what things will look like or what will work,” he said.

Everybody who owns content is concerned about deciding “whether to give it away to a Google, a YouTube,” he said.

He questioned why any creator would “ever give your stuff away.”

“The amount of money you will make I think from sharing revenue with a third party doesn’t mitigate against driving people to your Web site,” he said. “That’s a big battle.”

TV stations retransmission consent is another big battle. Rick, a local broadcasting veteran, said he is dedicated to making NATPE helpful in sorting these types of issues out.

“I really consider NATPE a sort of public trust,” he said.

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Comments (12)

Mike:

No question, Mel: Casa Bianca is by far the best in all of Los Angeles. Read about it here.

Rick Schaeffer:

Ravanelli's in Northridge (8456 Reseda Blvd.) might have the best blue-collar pizza in the L.A. area.

RP:

Rocco's, conveniently located practically across the street from TelevisionWeek, isn't bad for a slice in a pinch.

Emily:

GIve me Johnnie's over Mozza anyday. Perhaps the artistry is just lost on me, but it's like an oily cracker with melted cheese and standing puddles of olive oil. Nancy's chopped salad, however, is deee-lish.

Albert Clementine:

Caioti Pizza Cafe on Tujunga in Studio City is the perfect place for gourmet if you're gourmet and good cheese pizza if you're feeling down home. Truth is, it's thin crust but all great pizza really is thin crust... otherwise it's just a slobber of an experience. http://www.caiotipizzacafe.com/

Hey Mel -

Great read once again. Now I will offer what I strongly feel is the best pizza in West LA, at least. Drum roll .... Nagila Pizza on Pico and Rexford. Yeah, it's a Kosher place, but you don't have to wear a Yarmulke to get in. Though it's not marketed as such, stay with the thinner crust when you grab a slice or three :) and it is so good (they do have thick crust by the slice but who needs all that dough?). Solid pizza joint - Nagila.

p.s. there is no mixing of meat and dair so your best bet is the mushroom or cheese slices ....

Keep up the great work ...

Todd:

I second Mike's Casa Bianca rec. Sausage and fried eggplant, or sausage and roasted garlic. I voluntarily made the drive from Brentwood to Eagle Rock on a Friday night in the rain for this stuff - it's that good.

If you're not up for such a journey, Lamonica's in Westwood has very good slices and garlic knots.

Rounding out my top three is Abbot's Pizza, mostly for their "bagel" crust, which gets seeded like a bagel before baking.

Can't wait to see what's next on your eating tour of L.A.

Curt:

Tony's Bella Vista on Magnolia in Burbank.
It's the best pizza west of Chicago!

Mel, I appreciate your readers recommendations and look forward to tracking them down. But to properly judge pizza we'll have to reset your tastebuds to the gold standard: the brick oven, thin-crust variety to be found only on Wooster Street in New Haven Connecticut. I prefer Frank Pepe's, home of the sacred white clam pizza (shared by Jan and Michael Stern of ROADFOOD fame on their very first date.) Others swear by the somewhat thicker and softer slices at Sally's. Never mind a rainsoaked drive to Eagle Rock. These pies are worth the airfare!

Thank you all for sharing your pizza passions!
I'm do like the thin crust stuff myself from time to time.
But my favorite will always be Buddy's on the East Side in Detroit.
True, feasting on the thick, almost carmelized crust they make in decades-old iron skillets does amount to a slobber of an experience, as Albert calls it.
But it's worth it. Plus you can always work it off with a game of Bocci Ball in the adjacent court. How's that for full service?
Someone told me they've closed the original Buddy's down. That would break my heart.
If anyone in Detroit knows for sure that that's just a terrible rumor, please do set my mind at ease!
Mel.

Mike E. Boi:

I can take you to the 10 WORST pizzerias in NY that will totally open cans on whup-ass on LA pizza. Sorry Mel, but its true.

deanna:

If you are ever in Portland - Appiza Scholls and Ken's Pizza. I just had to put my two cents in for the So Ca transplant who emigrated to the pacific NW. I am getting kind of jealous Mel that you are dining on the man weekly ; ) ! Bring you company credit card to PDX!

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