As a lifelong New Yorker, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip's Amanda Peet wasn't sure about Los Angeles - until she grew fond of the oil rigs on La Cienega, found a good deli, and conquered her fear of parking structures.Photograph by Yariv Milchan
She originally came to Los Angeles to do a television series, and now Amanda Peet is back on TV, where she started. Peet's new NBC series, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (created by The West Wing's Aaron Sorkin), is a backstage television drama about a Saturday Night Live-style late-night comedy sketch show. But one thing is different: Between her arrival in 1999 as an ingenue and her new series now, Peet became a star. Along the way, she drove Bruce Willis to distraction in The Whole Nine Yards, became the fantasy of Kieran Culkin as a languid beauty in Igby Goes Down, and made Jack Nicholson's heart palpitate in Something's Gotta Give.
Born in New York, Peet tentatively left Manhattan for the wilds of Los Angeles - at least at first. She was a city girl with a bachelor of arts degree in history from Columbia University, and she lived the typical New York actor's life, auditioning endlessly for daytime television gigs while moonlighting as a waitress and restaurant hostess. "When I was in New York, I was hostessing, and I was going on four subways to make four different auditions for commercials in one day," she remembers. But then, after winning a starring role in the WB's 20-something romantic comedy series Jack and Jill, Peet moved to Los Angeles, and the city opened its fickle arms wide. Here's a weekend with the transplant that bloomed in the sun.
So we're going to talk about L.A. What do you think? Well, if seven years ago you had told me I was going to be doing an "I Love L.A." piece, I would not have believed you. I think back then I would have said it is not a real city, first of all. But just because you can't go get a bagel at the corner deli at three in the morning doesn't mean it's not a city.
Is there an equivalent of the corner deli in L.A.? There's Canter's, Nate 'n Al's, and Jerry's Deli - the one on Beverly. I go there a lot.
You were born and raised in Manhattan. Do L.A. delis get it the same way? It's very close. I love the matzo-ball soup at Jerry's. It's not oily or greasy; everyone's always really friendly there, and it's really easy to get to. They always put a lot of matzo balls in the soup. I don't see that many Hollywood people when I'm there, but I don't know … I don't know if they are there. But we did go to Nate 'n Al's on Christmas, and we saw quite a few Hollywood people.
Whom did you see? Just heads of studios, you know. I think I saw a couple of other actors, and we ran into a lot of people - before going to a two o'clock movie.
That's Christmas in Los Angeles? Yeah.