View Blog Posts About: San Diegans in the Spotlight

One Olympic Participant from San Diego Who Is Not Being Covered in the Local News


There are many locals competing in the 2012 Olympics in London. In fact, there are over 80 Olympians from San Diego who are receiving great coverage from the Union Tribune.

However, there is one San Diegan who the local media isn’t talking about but she’s the one getting most of the air time on NBC.

That person is NBC sideline reporter Alex Flanagan. She’s the one interviewing the Olympic winners after their competitions. For quite some time, Alex has been the sideline reporter for NBC’s broadcasts of Notre Dame football games and their Sunday Night NFL Games. She also served as an NBC host during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

A few months back I met her husband Kevin who’s just launching an interesting business…selling shoes made from recycled materials. You can read more about The People’s Movement, which is based in Solana Beach.

Actors from San Diego – Can you guess who I am?


Lyceum Theatre in San DiegoA lot of famous actors and actresses got their start in San Diego. I’ll provide a background description on some of the more famous actors from San Diego and let you guess who they are.

1. After graduating from Julliard, I came out to San Diego to start my career with a three year internship performing at The Old Globe in Balboa Park. I would eventually become the star of my own TV sitcoms. Who am I?

2. My father was an aerospace engineer who moved us to La Jolla when I was two years old. I would eventually become Miss La Jolla, which was my first step to stardom. In 2010, I released my auto-biography and philosophy for life. Who am I?

3. We recently interviewed on ABC’s TV show, The View, during which we began reminiscing about first meeting at the Comedy Store in La Jolla. We’ve gone on to great success as stand-up comics and performing in major films. One of us used to work as a dishwasher at a venerable San Diego restaurant and then eventually help start the San Diego Repertory Theatre. Who am I? Extra bonus: Who was the other person on The View who occasionally returns to San Diego to ride a bike in charity events?

4. While growing up as a kid in La Jolla and watching so many planes flying around the area, I was inspired to become a pilot. I was personally selected by John F. Kennedy to fill an important movie role. In 1968, I won an Oscar. In 2005, my beachfront home in La Jolla sold for $16.5 million. Who am I?

Theatre in La Jolla5. My dad owned a pharmacy in La Jolla, right at the corner of Girard and Prospect. I made my way to Broadway before I eventually ended up in Hollywood. I would eventually win an Academy Award in 1962. While in Hollywood I missed performing on stage in front of a live audience. So, I brought my fellow Hollywood stars to La Jolla for the summers, where we started our own theatre company. Who am I?

6. I too grew up in La Jolla. I starred in such films as Forrest Gump and Princess Bride. Until 2010, I was married to another famous actor. Who am I?

7. I was voted ‘most likely to succeed’ at Helix High School. I interned as a stagehand at the La Jolla Playhouse and performed with the San Diego Junior Theatre and Old Globe Theatre. I went on to become a well-known actor, writer, and director, earning two Academy Award nominations, including one for supporting actor in Hoosiers. Who am I?

8. I moved to San Diego when I was 7 years old, attended Patrick Henry High School and Mesa College, during which time I performed with the San Diego Junior Theatre and Old Globe Theatre. I went on to earn four Academy Award nominations. I’m currently married to a famous actor, who I starred with in a movie remake about two star crossed lovers who had agreed to meet at the top of the Empire State Building. Who am I?

So, go ahead and post your guesses below. I’ll be curious to see if anyone can name all eight actors (and actresses) from San Diego described above.

Update: Thank you to the Facebook fans of the San Diego Junior Theatre, who came up with 5 of the 8 answers. Below, you will see Shannon correctly guessed all eight Hollywood Actors from San Diego. However, I’m still looking to see if anyone can answer the bonus question on #3. I reveal another hint in the comments below.

Three La Jolla Homes in the National Spotlight


What do Mitt Romney, Troy Polamalu, and MTV Real World have in common? They all have homes in La Jolla that are in the process of getting national attention.

Mitt Romney’s La Jolla Home

After dropping out of the 2008 Presidential election, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney bought a $12.5 million La Jolla home near Windansea Beach. It’s next to a home actor Cliff Robertson used to live in, which a friend of Romney purchased in 2005.

I mention this during my sightseeing tours of La Jolla but have always wondered how much time he spends at his La Jolla home. I’ve seen him in TV interviews on a few occasions, which show him as coming in on a satellite feed from San Diego. I’ve also had guests from Massachusetts mention he sold his home there. Well, it turns out where Romney lives has become a point of contention as he makes another run for a Presidential nomination.

Romney has continued to call Massachusetts his official home and votes in Massachusetts elections. However, a fellow GOP contender accused Romney of illegally voting in Massachusetts suggesting Romney has been spending more time in La Jolla and should consider himself a permanent resident of California. Recently, it appears Romney has been cleared by the voter registration board in Massachusetts but I wouldn’t be surprised to see this issue arise again as Romney continues to gain momentum for his presidential bid. So, stay tuned.

Troy Polamalu’s La Jolla home

I feel bad for last year’s NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Troy Polamalu plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He’s the safety with long hair sticking out of his helmet and has caused the Chargers a lot of headaches. Well, he purchased a $2.3 million home in La Jolla in 2009, upgraded the house for another $2.45 million, and then watched his backyard slide down the south side of Mount Soledad.

Polamalu is suing the previous owner, accusing him of filling in the backyard without the proper permits and inspections. This is another example that reinforces the concept of Caveat Emptor – Buyer Beware. Again, stay tuned for the results. [As a side note to reinforce the concept of Caveat Emptor, my cousin went into escrow on a pricey home in Austin, TX last month only to find out upon extra inspection (above and beyond typical protocol) that the pool house had been built without permits and sits illegally over a public utility right of way. He obviously backed himself out of that home closing only to see the owner re-list the home at the same price waiting for an unsuspecting buyer.]

MTV’s Real World La Jolla home

They’re back. MTV’s long running reality TV series (26 seasons) Real World is back in San Diego. A few years back they were in Mission Beach. This time they are in the south end of La Jolla. It’s caused quite a ruckus because they seemed to arrive unannounced in a quiet Bird Rock neighborhood. Once neighbors caught wind of what was going on, it’s been the source of heated debate in local community meetings.

Things seemed to have settled down as the production company and the neighborhood have recently come to a compromise that includes steps to keep local looky-loos away while the show continues filming. They haven’t announced yet when the season filmed in La Jolla will be shown but I’ll be sure to update this post and tweet it when they do.

60 Minutes’ Steve Kroft goes for ride of his life with J. Craig Venter up Torrey Pines Rd


I love it when La Jolla gets publicity. I figure the more publicity for La Jolla, the more visitors and conventioneers staying in downtown San Diego will want to join me for tours to La Jolla and Torrey Pines.

J. Craig Venter has been in the international spotlight quite a bit for his work in deciphering the human genome and always seems to take the opportunity to show off La Jolla. (He and his staff sequenced the human genome in a fraction of the time it took the federal government to do the same thing. There was a bit of controversy surrounding the race between Venter and the government to see who could sequence it first but they finally agreed to publicly call it a tie when Venter and then President Bill Clinton shared the stage as they announced their findings to the world.)

A while back I tweeted a Wall Street Journal article profiling Venter, a UCSD grad. The article feature’s Venter’s La Jolla home and quotes him saying, “This is longest that I’ve been in one place in 30 years, I’m saying ‘no’ to more and more events because it’s so nice here.”

Venter had another opportunity to showcase La Jolla when he was interviewed by Steve Kroft for 60 Minutes episode shown last month. The segment starts with Kroft riding in a convertible Aston Martin, screaming up the steep grade in Torrey Pines followed by the views Venter enjoys from his home overlooking La Jolla Shores and the Pacific. Hmm, I wonder if I should trade in the charter bus I use for sightseeing tours and replace it with the Aston Martin?

I’ll post the video below for those of you who haven’t seen it. You may also be interested in reading a previous series of  blog posts I wrote introducing a variety of the research institutes in Torrey Pines, including Venter’s non-profit, the J. Craig Venter Institute. I learned from the 60 Minutes episode that he also runs the for-profit Synthetic Genomics, which is across the street from the Torrey Pines Golf Course driving range.

So, I ask all other famous people living in La Jolla, ‘keep promoting La Jolla’!

Watch for these San Diego Super Bowl Connections


From Super Bowl Ads to the playing field, San Diego will have a huge presence this Sunday. Here is a rundown of what to look for:

Super Bowl Pre-Game

Carlsbad based Callaway Golf will sponsor the pre-game show from 2 – 2:30PM PST, introducing their 2010 golf products. (Callaway CEO George Fellows talks about the Super Bowl ads in an MSNBC interview.)

The world’s #2 ranked golfer and Rancho Santa Fe resident Phil Michelson will have a role during one of the pre-game segments. He is expected to predict the outcome of the Super Bowl.

San Diego resident Amanda Cameron is one of two finalists for the position of the NFL’s Director of Fandemonium. The winner will be announced during the pre-game.

Qualcomm’s Flo TV will run their 1st commercial around 2:30 PST with CBS Commentator James Brown promoting their TV on a cell phone service.

Super Bowl Ads

Miller High Life is buying Super Bowl commercial time for four small companies, including Dan Engelbrecht’s Del’s Barber Shop in Escondido. You can watch the commercial, which has already started airing in the past week.

Qualcomm’s Flo TV will run two more ads, one feature CBS commentator Jim Nantz and the other featuring pop singer from the Black-Eyed Peas. You can get a sneak peak (only a snippet) of the Super Bowl ads at the Flo TV web site.

The Big Game

The whole reason we watch the Super Bowl is for the game so let us not forget about the players with San Diego connections. Our area seems to have a strong preference for the New Orleans Saints because of these close ties:

Drew Brees - The former Chargers quarterback is still loved by the community and has gone on to inspire the people of New Orleans back to their feet after Hurricane Katrina with his continued Pro Bowl worthy performances.

Reggie Bush – Helix High alum and Heisman Trophy Winner who still keeps quite involved with the San Diego community.

John Carney – The former Chargers kicker and long-time San Diego resident, who was recently voted one of the top 50 Chargers of all time, kicked for New Orleans during the early part of the season while their starting kicker was on suspension. Carney now serves as the kicking consultant for the Saints. Let’s hope this Super Bowl brings nail-biting excitement requiring a last-second field goal to win the game.

Lynell Hamilton – Former San Diego State Aztec has rushed for a couple touchdowns this season for the Saints.

Freddy Keiaho – Another San Diego State Aztec who plays linebacker for the Indianapolis Colts.

So, when you watch the Super Bowl on Sunday, keep any eye out for these San Diego players and businesses to make a splash in front of a worldwide audience.

Is San Diego once again the Auto Racing Capital of America?


The 1st auto racetrack in America was built in Lakeside. It opened in 1907 starring the most famous car driver at that time, Barney Oldfield. By 1915, as the nation’s attention was turned towards a major auto race on the streets of Point Loma, the Los Angeles Times noted “San Diego is now the automobile racing capital of America“.

Auto racetracks no longer hold prominence in San Diego. The track at Lakeside has been replaced by a community park surrounding Lindo Lake while the streets of Point Loma have developed a daily hum of traffic serving a community that has grown severalfold since the days of serving as a race course.

San Diego still has its fair share of unique auto racing events from the classic cars speeding around the Naval Air Station each September in the Coronado Speed Festival to fancy sports car road races for those who own a Lamborghini, Ferrari, or Porsche.

However, San Diego continues to be in the national spotlight when it comes to auto racing. We are no longer known for race tracks but we are certainly becoming known for our auto racing drivers. (And, I’m not talking about the kind you see everday on our local freeways.)

This weekend San Diego-raised drivers won several major auto awards. The most notable was won by El Cajon’s Jimmie Johnson. He became the first driver in NASCAR history to win four consecutive NASCAR Series Championships. That’s quite impressive considering NASCAR is generally seen as being dominated by drivers from the Deep South, where most of the races take place. (Congratulations Jimmie!)

San Diego drivers, led by the McMillan’s who won the top prize, also brought home several trophies from the Baja 1000 races in Mexico this weekend.  For those not familiar with the Baja 1000 (I had not heard of it until I moved out West), it’s the most grueling auto race in the world that makes its way through about 1,000 miles of the Mexican desert. The race is best captured in a documentary called ‘Dust to Glory’, which is shown on VERSUS once in a great while. You can also find it at Amazon.

Although San Diego is no longer a major auto racing venue, our area has certainly groomed some amazing auto racing drivers.  The famous auto racing venues in Indianapolis and Daytona may have their speedways but San Diego is producing the top drivers. I think this gives us a legitimate right to consider ourselves the 2009 Auto Racing Capital of America. What do you think?