Picks and Pans Review: Spotlight On...
A PLACE IN THE FUN
SITCOM CHARACTERS USED TO SPEND most of their time in the living room with daffy relatives or wacky neighbors—or at the office with zany colleagues. Now, thanks to the proliferation of ensemble comedies about urban singles, these people often convene at some favorite hangout—with nutty friends. No kids, no mortgage, and all the city for a playground—why not go out? Everyone on Seinfeld eats at a Manhattan diner called Monk's. That establishment, jokes Carol Leifer, Seinfeld writer and coproducer, "is like what the beach is to Baywatch. If it wasn't for Monk's, none of the cast would ever leave Jerry's apartment." Still, keeping tabs on who hangs where can be a chore. May we help you?
Seinfeld (NBC) Hangout: Monk's Diner Inspiration: Tom's Restaurant on Manhattan's Upper West Side (seen in Monk's exterior shots) House specialty: The Big Salad Atmospheric touch: Those prop menus are actually from the '30s (a tuna-fish sandwich costs 10 cents).
Friends (NBC) Hangout: Central Perk Inspiration: Any gen-X coffee joint Specialties: Central Jolt Java; bad folk music.
Atmospheric touch: The same balding blond guy is usually steaming milk behind the counter.
Ellen (ABC) Hangout: Buy the Book coffeehouse/bookstore
Inspiration: "It's a hodgepodge of L.A. coffeehouses," says Eileen Heisler, executive producer.
Specialties: Biscotti, muffins Atmospheric touch: If you look closely at the shelves, "we have an excess of travel books," says Heisler.
Martin (Fox) Hangout: Nipsy's Inspiration: TGI Friday's Specialty: Chili-cheese fries Atmospheric touch: Signed pix (i.e., Isaac Hayes, Pam Grier) line the walls.
The Simpsons (Fox) Hangout: Moe's Tavern
Inspiration: TV joints like Cheers Atmospheric touch: Homer Simpson and his fellow losers plus, in the corner, a Love Tester machine. "Cheers was a place where everybody knew your name," says executive producer Josh Weinstein. "Moe's is a place where everybody calls you a name."
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