After 12 years of varied theater and comedy work in New York, and eight in Los Angeles, Denny Dillon has had the satisfaction of living in California while portraying a brassy New Yorker--secretary Toby Pedalbee on the HBO series "Dream On." "People are more direct in New York," she says. "They tell you if they love you or they tell you to get the hell away from them. People in L.A. are harder to read because everybody's cheerful. Cheerful but restrained. When I get recognized in New York, people jump up and down and yell 'Yo, Toby.' Out here they smile and quietly say, 'Loved last week's episode.' "
Some New York transplants remain immune to the charms of Los Angeles, however. Richard Lewis moved here in 1976 for a part on one of Sonny and Cher's TV shows. He's been here ever since, but still has trouble calling Los Angeles home. "I'm not comfortable yet. I'll never be comfortable in L.A. In fact, I have a house full of uncomfortable furniture, to remind me how uncomfortable I am here. I worry that if I ever took a nap on a nice sofa, I'd never wake up. That's the way I feel about L.A."
Ask Lewis, who stars in Fox TV's series "Daddy Dearest," what exactly bothers him about Los Angeles, and he responds with his signature manic rant, picking up speed as it careens along. "People in L.A. make plans a year in advance--'Hey, you want to get Chinese a year from tomorrow?' I ask someone where they live and they say, 'You know where the canyon hits the falls?' That's it for me. I'm not using four-wheel drive to have a hamburger somewhere. And there are actually wild animals in the city--I'm afraid of house cats.
"I bought property here and it's all vertical. I can't have a back-yard party unless I invite bats and goats. I go for invigorating walks in New York, but if you go for a walk in L.A., you either get a ticket or attacked by a dog."
Lewis has managed to find at least one enjoyable pastime in L.A. but even that is tainted. "I love to got to Angel games, but I still don't know how to exit Anaheim Stadium without winding up in Utah."
Longtime Angeleno Belzer says he's achieved a perfect bi-coastal balance in his life. "I'm in both cities a lot, and I love both places. I'm not one of these New York snobs that feels the need to detest L.A. New Yorkers talk big, but there are a lot of great things happening out here too."
And Kevin Meany has embraced his adopted hometown, but says there are some ties to the East that can't be broken. "I love living here, and I plan on being here a while. But my parents still call me all the time and say, 'You better be careful with those crazy earthquakes. And we hear it's Stage 2 with the smog today, Kevin. You better stay inside.' "