By TAMMY MINN


She might be one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood, but Scarlett Johansson still enjoys a good snack. She recently introduced one of her favorites—popcorn—to her adopted city of Paris by opening Yummy Pop.

“My hope is for Yummy Pop to become a Parisian snacking staple and a symbol of friendship between my two most beloved cities, Paris and New York,” says Johansson, 32.

Founded by Johansson and her French husband, Romain Dauriac, the popcorn was created in collaboration with New York Chef Will Horowitz. Flavors range from savory to sweet, with truffle and Parmesan reportedly being Johansson’s favorite. While Johansson is busy with films, the shop will reportedly be managed by her sister-in-law.

It’s a good thing. Johansson has a busy schedule coming up.

In addition to playing mom to toddler Rose, Johansson has several films on her agenda. This spring, she stars in Ghost in the Shell, a science fiction action film directed by Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman).

Based on the Japanese manga, similar to comic books, by Masamune Shirow, the film is about cyborg counter-cyberterrorist field commander The Major (Johansson) and her task force that thwarts cyber criminals and hackers.

Some balked when Johansson landed the lead role, arguing that it should have gone to an Asian. But in Japan, most fans of the story were surprised at the backlash. Sam Yoshiba, director of the international business division at the Tokyo headquarters of Kodansha (the company that holds the rights to the series and the characters), didn’t see a problem. “I think Scarlett Johansson is well cast. She has the cyberpunk feel. And we never imagined it would be a Japanese actress in the first place. This is a chance for a Japanese property to be seen around the world,” he said.

The film’s director, Rupert Sanders, agreed. “There are very few actresses with 20 years’ experience who have the cyberpunk ethic already baked in. I stand by my decision—she’s the best actress of her generation,” he said during a launch event in Tokyo.

She’s also one of the highest earners, according to Box Office Mojo, owned and operated by IMDb, a highly rated movie website. The company estimated that through 2016, she has grossed $3.3 billion at the domestic box office in her lifetime, more than any other actress in history.

Ranked No. 10 in the 2015 survey, she came in behind Harrison Ford ($4.8 billion), Samuel L. Jackson ($4.6 billion), Morgan Freeman ($4.4 billion), Tom Hanks ($4.3 billion), Robert Downey Jr. ($3.9 billion), among others. After Johansson, the next highest-grossing actress on the list is Cameron Diaz at No. 19 ($3.0 billion).

While the money is nothing to sniff at, the fact that there were nine males ahead of Johansson speaks to the issue of gender wage equality, which Johansson addressed in an interview with Cosmopolitan.

“I am very fortunate, I make a really good living, and I’m proud to be an actress who’s making as much as many of my male peers at this stage,” she said, adding, “I think every woman has [been underpaid], but unless I’m addressing it as a larger problem, for me to talk about my own personal experience with it feels a little obnoxious. It’s part of a larger conversation about feminism in general.”

Johansson has been acting since she was eight years old when she appeared in the off-Broadway play Sophistry. Since then, she has made a name for herself in films that include The Horse Whisperer, Lost in Translation, The Black Dahlia, The Other Boleyn Girl, and Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

In 2010, she brought to life Natasha Romanoff—the Black Widow—in Iron Man 2. Though she wasn’t a huge fan of the superhero genre, she knew it was a great opportunity.

“I always like [producer] Jon Favreau’s stuff,…but I wasn’t a big comic book fan growing up,” she tells a reporter. Still, she thought Robert Downey Jr.’s work in Iron Man was “groundbreaking.”

“I loved Iron Man. It captured my attention as a person that isn’t normally a fan of that genre,” she says. So when the opportunity to be a part of the franchise arose, she jumped on it.

She has reprised the role of Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow in The Avengers; Captain America: The Winter Soldier; Avengers: Age of Ultron; and Captain America: Civil War.

Johansson has embraced the role, welcoming the opportunity for fans to see her as something other than a sex symbol.

“There was this label put on me as this bombshell. While it’s been flattering to be someone who is sexy, there’s something very confining about that. It implies that your strength comes from your sexuality,” she says.

This summer, Johansson takes a break from sci-fi with the comedy Rock That Body about a bachelorette party that goes very wrong. Kate McKinnon, Zoë Kravitz, and Demi Moore also star.

For 2018, Johansson is rumored to be signed on to revisit her role as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow in Avengers: Infinity War which also stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Brie Larson, and Chris Hemsworth.

Will Black Widow be getting her own film someday? That remains to be seen. “She’s got really rich story lines,” says Johansson. There are many directions a stand-alone film could explore.

As for her popcorn, you’ll have to sample it in Paris. While there are no U.S. stores currently planned, that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

“We do not have plans for a U.S. store at the moment, but possibly in the distant future,” according to her publicist, Samuel Yu of True Public Relations.     




By Jeanne Boyer

Actor-Director Cheech Marin, who gained fame in the 1970s as part of the “Cheech and Chong” comedy duo, is also recognized for developing the most extensive private collection of Chicano art in the United States, featuring nearly 1,000 artworks. Part of that collection is coming to the Riverside Art Museum in February.

“Papel Chicano Dos: Works on Paper from the Collection of Cheech Marin” presents 65 artworks by 24 established and emerging artists. Their work demonstrates a myriad of techniques from watercolor and aquatint to pastel and mixed media, dates from the late 1980s to present day, and offers iconic imagery with influences ranging from pre-Hispanic symbols and post-revolutionary nationalistic Mexican motifs to Chicano movement of the 1960s and contemporary urban culture.

Marin started collecting in the 1980s, noticing that Chicano art was not widely represented in museums or galleries. As part of his goal to cultivate a wider audience for Chicano art, he frequently sends items from his collection on touring exhibits nationwide.

Marin himself will appear at a reception for the exhibit, which runs Feb. 2 through May 7, although the date and details are still being arranged. He’s a busy guy, with a number of business interests.

Marin is a “brand ambassador” and consultant for Tres Papalote Mezcal, and contributed the artwork for the brand’s distinctive bottle. Marin and longtime comedy partner Tommy Chong also have a line of men’s grooming products with Razor MD.

Riverside Art Museum plans additional activities connected to the artworks display. For details about the art exhibit and reception with Marin, see riversideartmuseum.org.  



Morongo Casino Resort & Spa

An AAA four-diamond resort, the 27-story hotel features 272 guest rooms, 32 suites, and six casitas with private pools, separate living areas, and shaded verandas. In addition to luxury hotel accommodations, the property includes 150,000 square feet of gaming options, a variety of dining experiences, rejuvenating spa treatments at Sage and many nightlife choices. 49500 Seminole Dr., Cabazon; 1-800-252-4499, (951) 849-3080, morongocasinoresort.com

The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa

A beloved treasure in downtown Riverside, the Mission Inn, a AAA Four Diamond Award-winning hotel, is a National Historic Landmark and member of the prestigious Historic Hotels of America. The hotel features 238 guest rooms, 27 suites, and six award-winning restaurants and lounges. Kelly’s Boutique features Mission Inn souvenirs, fine cigars, casually elegant resort wear, handbags and luxury gifts. Relax and rejuvenate at Kelly’s Spa, which offers 12 treatment rooms, including two private villas, as well as two rooms specifically for therapeutic baths, a nail salon, gender separated retreats with eucalyptus steam rooms, two relaxation rooms and outdoor pool and Jacuzzi. 3649 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside; (951) 784-0300, missioninn.com

Pechanga Resort and Casino

Located in the Temecula Valley near Wine Country, Pechanga Resort and Casino is a AAA Four Diamond Award-winning property that was named “Best U.S. Casino” by USA Today in 2015. Also in 2015, the resort, which includes more than 200,000 square feet of gaming space, broke ground on a $285 million expansion that includes a new 568-room hotel wing, a two-story spa, resort-style pool complex, two new restaurants and 70,000 square feet of additional meeting and event space. The resort currently offers numerous amenities, including a range of well-appointed rooms and suites, both fine and casual dining options, a spa and fitness center, a pool, golf course, headliner entertainment and nightlife. 45000 Pechanga Parkway, Temecula; 1-877-711-2946, pechanga.com

For the complete list, view the February issue of Inland Empire Magazine.



Dawn of a New Era

The global debut of the all-new Lexus LC 500 takes the luxury brand into the future.


When the Lexus LF-LC Concept debuted at the 2012 North American International Auto Show, the press, loyal customers, and enthusiasts wondered if the concept’s arresting styling and dramatic proportions could ever evolve into a production 2+2 coupe. Today, four years after the debut of the breakthrough concept that inspired it, Lexus has revealed the all-new LC 500 luxury coupe. This provocative, athletic flagship coupe makes the strongest statement yet about the brand’s future product direction, according to Lexus officials.

The LC 500’s visual appeal is defined by an athletic aerodynamic shape, with sensual curves. The interior design is influenced by the luxury theme of the exterior with a layout that is both cockpit-focused and elegant. The power delivery to the rear wheels is handled by a new, very well matched set of components that maximize output to the wheels. The heart of the new LC 500 is derived from the proven, high-revving 5.0-liter V8 that is found in the RC F and GS F. The naturally aspirated V8 was selected for its smooth, linear throttle response and emotional engine sound. The all-aluminum, 32-valve V8’s output targets 467 HP and 389 lb.-ft. of torque. The vehicle also targets a 0 to 60 mph time of less than 4.5 seconds.

For more on the LC 500, see lexus.com or your local Lexus dealer.




PUCK’S PROGRESS

Celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck brings his modern culinary vision to the desert.


Wolfgang Puck introduces his newest restaurant concept, WP Kitchen + Bar, in Palm Desert.

“Palm Desert has always been a special place to me, so when we had the opportunity to open a restaurant here, I didn’t hesitate,” Puck says. “The way people are dining today is different than just a few years ago, so my idea with WP Kitchen + Bar was to create a more relaxed environment, expand the number of seasonal and healthy options on the menu, and share a piece of how I like to eat in my own home.”

Matt Leverty, previously sous chef and kitchen manager of Spago Las Vegas, is executive chef. Shareable dishes include Smoked Salmon Bruschetta with watercress, apples, radish, pumpkin seeds and a horseradish cream, and a Kale and Spinach Salad with farro, goat cheese and a citrus vinaigrette. Desserts include Salted Caramel Pudding with crème fraiche whipped cream and brown sugar, and Molten Chocolate Cake with chocolate ice cream. Cocktail highlights are Smoke & Salt with Zicaru Silver Mezcal, Chamuscos Silver Tequila, white crème de menthe and oregeat syrup, and the Desert Bloom with Buffalo Trace Bourbon, maple syrup, sage and lemon.

Other new desert eateries include Palm Springs’ stylish 849 Restaurant & Lounge in the Uptown Design District, and cozy Italian bistro Gioia in Rancho Mirage’s revamped The River shopping center. • • • The new seasonal menu at Yard House, available through early January, includes Lobster Mac N Cheese. Made with sun-dried tomatoes, asparagus, and fried wild mushrooms, the dish is tossed with campanelle pasta and melted cheddar and Parmesan cheese, then drizzled with white truffle oil.

Yard House’s Banana Berry Rum Macadamia Nut Crumble features fresh banana and strawberries mixed with rum, brown sugar and cinnamon, baked with a macadamia nut crisp topping, crowned with toasted coconut ice cream and a mint sprig and lightly dusted with powdered sugar.

Special beverages include Ruby Sparkler with prosecco, elderflower liqueur and framboise; and Rum Pumpkin Mule.  



PINBALL WIZARD

Seize your chance to score a perfect game at Banning’s Museum of Pinball during Modernism Week.


By Jeanne Boyer


Ever wondered where all those old pinball machines went? Turns out hundreds of them were hauled to Banning, where their gaudy game boxes have been restored to ball-flipping beauty on an 18-acre, mid-century modern campus.

But you can’t just drop in anytime to play a little pinball. For now, you need to visit during various special events throughout the year. This month, you can take a bus trip to Banning as part of Modernism Week in Palm Springs. For $125 you’ll get an evening to play with both vintage and modern pinball machines, sip classic cocktails, and munch on gourmet hot dogs.

At Banning’s Museum of Pinball, more than 1,100 pinball machines and arcade games in 40,000 square feet of space will eventually be joined by even more games. The museum also plans to develop five acres of the site as a retro trailer hotel with 20 or so refurbished vintage vehicles.

Modern pinball traces its origins to British inventor Montague Redgrave, who moved to the United States in the 19th century and made game tables in Cincinnati. His improvements with spring launchers used for the pinballs and design developments helped popularize the games. But both New York City and Los Angeles banned the machines for decades because they were sometimes associated with gambling. The bans were overturned by the 1970s, and the game flourished.

Pinball suffered a setback when early video arcade games became popular a few years later, but pinball is now seeing a renewed interest, with new games themed to current movies and comic characters.

For more about the pinball experience, see museumofpinball.org or modernismweek.com. A separate event, Arcade Expo, takes place March 17 to 19.





GOOD MEDICINE - Pictured, Deborah Deas, M.D., M.P.H. Dean of Medicine, UC Riverside School of Medicine

Future doctors find a home at UC Riverside’s School of Medicine, where they’re training to meet the needs of Inland Empire patients.


By Sepideh Nia


Every aspiring physician has something that pulls him or her to health care. It could be the unfaltering desire to cure disease or the drive to make great technological leaps in modern medicine. It could also be the hefty sum of money many physicians make. For some, however, it is the service of helping patients.

While in its infancy, The University of California, Riverside’s School of Medicine is staying true to its mission: To improve the health of the people of California and, especially, to serve Inland Southern California by training a diverse workforce of physicians and by developing innovative research and health care delivery programs that will improve the health of the medically underserved in the region.

It is the school’s commitment to its mission that has inspired students, faculty and staff to join the UCR School of Medicine. “I feel honored to be a part of a school whose mission lines up with my own ambitions as a physician—to serve the underserved and have a strong community-based presence,” said Jaire Saunders, an Inland Empire native who just completed his third year at the School of Medicine.

UCR created a program in biomedical sciences in 1974. The program had students enroll in their first two years of medical school at UCR, then complete the final two years of their medical training at UCLA and earn their medical degree from its David Geffen School of Medicine.

According to the UCR School of Medicine, between 1974 and the opening of the School of Medicine in 2013, approximately 850 students went through the program, renamed the UCR/UCLA Thomas Haider Program in Biomedical Sciences in 1997.

It was the success of this program that served as the catalyst for today’s UCR School of Medicine. The 58,000-square-foot School of Medicine Research Building was constructed in 2011, while the School of Medicine Education Building was renovated from an existing structure on campus. The projects together cost about $59 million to complete. In August 2013, 50 students arrived at the newly minted School of Medicine. Saunders was one of those students.

“Being part of the inaugural class means a lot to me; ultimately, it was one of the major reasons I decided to matriculate at UCR School of Medicine,” says Saunders. “Many students go through medical school and come out physicians, but not many students can say that they took part in laying the foundation for future medical student classes.”

While the student population grows every year, so does the staff. The school currently employs about 100 faculty members and 250 staff. Deborah Deas, M.D., M.P.H., became the UCR School of Medicine’s Dean of Medicine in May 2016. While she is still new to the campus, she hopes to expand the student and faculty population in the coming years.

“We started at 50 [students] a year, and now we have 60. My goal is to double the number of students. That requires space, but we will continue to gradually increase over time,” Deas says, acknowledging that with a growing student body there will need to be an increase in qualified faculty members. “By increasing the faculty, it puts us in a position to provide the necessary care to the people of the Inland Empire.”

If the school’s overall commitment to its mission and the chance to be a part of the School of Medicine’s legacy are not deciding factors for incoming students, the full scholarships might be. Annie Le just finished her first year as a medical student at the School of Medicine. She is one of roughly two dozen recipients of the full “mission” scholarships, which cover the cost of all four years of medical school.

“It was my junior year of undergrad [University of California, San Diego] that I really started looking into medical school and came across UCR and was really excited about how its mission combined my own passions,” says Le, a San Diego native.

The “mission” scholarship provides an incentive for students to avoid medical school debt if they remain in the Inland Empire for at least five years following medical school and residency training. If a recipient should choose to practice outside of the region, the scholarship will become a repayable loan.

“I knew I wanted to go into primary care and it’s so helpful to have that scholarship so I won’t have to be in that amount of debt that other students have to deal with in their specialty decision making,” Le says.

According to a NerdWallet survey, in 2012 the average medical school debt was $166,750. Primary care physicians usually end up making an average of 65 percent less than other specialties. This is a very likely deterrent for many students who want to pursue a career in primary care.

Deas acknowledges the current scarcity of primary care physicians in the Inland Empire. “We have a shortage in the area. Our school wants to address this. We want to educate and train a diverse physician workforce. We want to meet the needs of the population,” she says.

Deas hopes that by offering scholarships the school will be able to cultivate a growing population of well-qualified physicians to live and work in the Inland Empire.

The School of Medicine practices two additional strategies to help capitalize on the primary drivers of where physicians practice: where they grow up and where they complete their residency training. The first is a string of pre-med pipeline programs designed to stimulate interest in the medical and health fields among students in the Inland Empire. The programs reach about 1,100 students in the area.

Secondly, the school partners with hospitals to offer post-M.D. residency training. There are currently programs in family medicine, internal medicine, psychiatry, primary care pediatrics, general surgery and a fellowship in cardiovascular medicine. As of July 1, 2016, there are about 160 resident physicians in these programs.

The School of Medicine has worked to set itself apart from other medical programs in the area. One example is the Longitudinal Ambulatory Care Experience (LACE) program. “With LACE, we get exposed to clinical medicine with a community physician during the first weeks of medical school as opposed to the more traditional medical school [experience] where clinical exposure does not occur until year three,” Saunders says.

Because UCR School of Medicine does not have its own medical center, students complete all of their clinical rotations during their third year at community-based hospitals. “I believe that brings us as a medical community closer to our patient population,” Saunders says. 

Deas says she believes the new school has the potential to make a “giant” impact on the Inland Empire. “There are a lot of potential patients out here who do not have access to care. Health care is so intertwined with other social issues: poverty, jobs, employment. All of the things we call social determinants of health,” she says.

Deas explains that when people are missing some of those social aspects, it could impact their quality of life, and in turn, their health. “We are very engaged with the community. My goal is engagement. Not just engagement within the UCR walls, but outside those walls with the communities.”

Each primary care physician has an estimated economic impact of about $1 million, according to UCR figures. Each physician that comes to the Inland Empire has the same impact of a small business by hiring medical assistants, nurses and other health care professionals, school administrators say. In the long term, UCR’s School of Medicine anticipates that the research conducted at the medical school will branch off into new innovations to treat diseases and keep people healthier.

As Saunders prepares to set his sights on residency programs throughout Southern California, his end goal is to work in the Inland Empire. Saunders wants to continue to build on his network of support and the relationships he has made. “There is a large need for physicians to work locally; that was the main driving force behind opening this medical school and something I plan to honor when I complete my training,” he says. 

“I feel that this school and community has contributed to my professional and academic growth. I have a responsibility to give back.”