"A feature film is a sprint, but a television series has peaks and valleys," says Gale Anne Hurd, producer of AMC’s horror show The Walking Dead. "You’re constantly juggling crises. It’s just like the restaurant business." Yes, Pasadena is a far cry from the zombie apocalypse, but those two worlds — TV and restaurants — consume Hurd’s life right now. Like any producer (she’s also responsible for The Terminator, Aliens, and The Incredible Hulk, among many other films), she has her mitts in multiple projects at any one time, zipping from her Hollywood office to studio lots then back to the restaurant she owns and operates, Vertical Wine Bistro. "I eat all over town. I have to. It’s a survival tool," she tells Grub Street. This includes red-eye breakfasts over Arsenal matches at home, opulent sushi in the Valley, and the occasional quick tostada at her desk. See what else fuels Hurd’s days in this week’s edition of the L.A. Diet.
Wednesday, March 28
I get up early, and I’m one of those people who likes to sit and have a quiet breakfast, read the paper — the actual paper kind not the digital kind — and have a vanilla soy latte. That’s my very California drink of choice. I generally eat the same thing every day. Today, I had egg whites scrambled with spinach, some mixed fruit — berries, apple, pineapple, and watermelon — and whole-meal toast. Someone told me that it’s great to drink hot water with lemon, so I have that every morning.
Drive to the Valhalla office. I answered emails, returned phone calls, and then met with twelve college students from my alma mater, Stanford, and did a Q&A; about the movie business. For lunch, I went to Capital Grille at the Beverly Center with Tom Sherak, president of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. I had a Mediterranean salad with chicken and an iced tea.
Back at the office, I had a lot of calls — one with AMC to discuss The Walking Dead: Season 2 DVD a lot with my lawyer. I have this weird obsession, those Sea Snax, and dark chocolate. Not really together. So I was snacking on Sea Snax that afternoon.
For dinner I ate at home. Our housekeeper, Max, loves to cook, and if I’m not eating out, I like to eat light. He makes a fantastic chicken and vegetable soup. And he makes a ginger tea from ginger root. And then work continues, scripts to read, and my newest obsession is Whitechapel, a TV series on BBC America.
Thursday, March 29
Woke up and had some oatmeal with flax seed and cinnamon, also the latte and some fruit. I worked out for about an hour, then I met with a writer in the office about a project we have set up at another network, prepped for the reality pitch we’re doing that afternoon, and every Thursday, we have a Walking Dead producers call, and we talk about sets, casting, scripts.
For lunch I went to Asanebo with the writer/director, Scott Derrickson. My favorite thing there is halibut sashimi with black truffles — we had two orders of that. And they have this spinach with sesame sauce that’s fantastic. We also had some toro sashimi, seaweed salad, and a dish that they make with peppers, but I can’t remember what kind of peppers.
I had a meeting in Santa Monica, and drove back, which took an hour and a half. I had dinner at Vertical with my husband and the author and writer/director, Michael Tolkin, and his wife Wendy. I had our English split-pea soup, which was a special, and roast chicken with Brussels sprouts. I didn’t drink because I had to go back and read more scripts. When I don’t drink I have a cranberry and soda. When I do, it’s generally a Cabernet or any red wine. We live in a condo near downtown Pasadena and we can walk everywhere. And after all that stress of driving all day, it’s nice to be able to walk everywhere.
Friday, March 30
I got up early and had a breakfast meeting with an agent at Hugo’s in West Hollywood. I have to say they make a fabulous vanilla soy latte. And I had their Go Green frittata, which is the weirdest looking thing I’ve ever seen. It looks like dark green mush, but it tastes really good. Full of green vegetables and topped with apple-mango-mint sauce.
Back in the office after that. On Fridays, we have our development meeting and go through every project on our slate. What’s happened recently, what’s happening next, so everyone’s on the same page. The meeting often runs into lunch, and I ate at my desk: A chicken tostada from Poquito Mas and an iced green tea.
In the afternoon, the folks at Sony had a demonstration of their brand new camera, so I went there and sat through the two-hour demonstration. And then I realized they have a Yogurtland on the Sony campus and I tried to walk by it, but couldn’t. I had a dark chocolate and mint frozen yogurt. It’s my new favorite thing.
I went to a screening of the season finale of Spartacus Vengeance at CAA, and they had an after-party at Craft, but it was too late for me. I went home.
Saturday, March 31
I got up very early because I’m a fanatical soccer fan. I had my standby oatmeal, fruit, and vanilla soy latte. I support Arsenal, a team that plays in the British Premier League. They had an early match — they lost and broke my heart. I can’t live without FOX Soccer Channel.
Ran a bunch of errands, and then my husband and I met up, and we went to Euro Pane. I was really craving the salmon eggs Benedict, but they were out. So I had a vegetable frittata, another vanilla soy latte, and berry tea.
I read the rest of the afternoon, then went across the street to the Arclight and watched The Raid. I had a light dinner at home, just a couple of steamed artichokes and served it with some ghee. And then I watched a DVD of Sherlock on BBC America.
Sunday, April 1
I’m a creature of habit. I had my usual breakfast: oatmeal, fruit, and latte. I read both the Los Angeles Times and New York Times, worked out, and then ran errands, which included my favorite mani-pedi place, DeLacey Beauty Shop in Old Town. A part of my ritual is stopping at Bird Pick next door, and I get an iced lychee-oolong tea. It’s fantastic.
I met a friend for lunch at Akbar Cuisine of India on Union. They have this great lunch deal, even on the weekends: chicken tikka masala, daal, rice and naan. You can’t beat it.
Back at the condo, talked with my daughter, who’s at college at Princeton. Some friends were in from out of town, and we went out to The Huntington Library and had tea in the Rose Garden tea house, and they have a little buffet for scones, sandwiches.
Back home, I read another screenplay. Then had dinner at a new Spanish place, Ración. It’s fantastic. They have pintxos: Basque tapas. I had calamari with melted onion and lemon aioli on bread, a chicken-and-jamon croquette with goat-cheese mousse, and a salad of spring peas with shaved fennel. For dessert, chocolate cake with caramel ice cream. It’s great.
Monday, April 2
Had my oatmeal, fruit, and latte. And had the usual stuff in the office. And then I drove to Brentwood for lunch at Toscana with a friend from one of the studios. I had their spaghetti calamari e salvia, it’s my favorite thing there. Back to the office and looked at a lot of video clips, and read the new Walking Dead comic book.
For dinner, I took the L.A.-based cast members from the show — Jon Bernthal, who we sadly killed off last season, and his wife and kid, Scott Wilson, and Steven Yeun — to Osteria Mozza. We had a lot of stuff from the mozzarella bar, and then I had the halibut with mushrooms.
You know, last year, we had dinner around the same time and no one recognized us. This time, at least five different groups walked up to say how much they loved the show, and to get photos. Everyone was so gracious. It’s amazing to see the difference a year makes.