A Man About Town

By Phillip William Sheppard

In my first column, I thought I would share with you how my recent novel, The Specialist: The Costa Rica Job came to light. Some of my inspirations in the book came from the people I have met and the places I have visited.

As The Specialist, was conceptualized by me a few years ago and debuted on national television, when I was a contestant on the show, Survivor, in February 2011.  After my first season on the show, I formed a creative collaboration with my brother, Charles Peterson Sheppard

I commissioned him to write a novel based upon my experiences and persona as a Former Federal Agent with several government agencies.  We also incorporated my services as an U.S. Army Retired Veteran.

As The Specialist, I travelled extensively, worked on special projects and had classified clearances within the National Crime Information Center, the Defense Investigative Service, Naval Investigative Service and The Office of Counter Intelligence.

Now, it is my good fortune to be the Specialist for the Neworld Review. Living in Los Angeles County, CA affords me the opportunity to be a part of a great city that has tremendous diversity of cultures.  I often start my days with a visit to RD Kitchen Breakfast Bar or Peets Coffee, to catch a meal with the hope and intent of meeting and learning from other people around town

I enjoy meeting people, and exploring their perspectives on world events, and finding out what’s happening on their social calendars.  I often engage with the regulars at my favorite coffee shop.  My friend, Ed O’Neill, a well-known actor on the hit TV show, Modern Family, offers unique perspective on many different subjects including travel, movies, plays and novels

He’s a great conversationalist and storyteller. Our morning group includes Neelam Batra, the International award-winning chef, who had many on her syndicated cooking show.  I love hearing perspectives from bankers, teachers, lawyers, and others talking about current events.  Mostly, we discuss the great food and cultural events the city has to offer.


Walking into Dan Tana’s Restaurant for its fiftieth year celebration was an incredible experience.  Dan Tana’s, known for its fine Italian food, is also a destination spot for celebrities.  Matt Damon, Ben Affleck George Clooney, and Gwyneth Paltrow are regulars.

Naturally, The Specialist has to participate in all the star-studded party.  I mean, this is Hollywood, after all! Maybe they could serve as a backdrop for future novels or movies?

This celebration in West Hollywood recently allowed me to say hello to Jerry West, Cameron Diaz, A-list actors, directors, and local patrons who have gone there for years.  It was such a blast and reminded me that I am very lucky to be A Man Around Town in LA.

Aside from the celebrities, the food is delicious.  The steaks and seafood are considered the best in the whole country, and I can attest to that. The festivities and band were incredible.  Dan Tana's is located at 9071 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA 90069.

The Aero Theater in Santa Monica and the Egyptian Hollywood are a couple of my favorite locations to catch a movie.  As an annual member I am fortunate to attend private screenings and meet the cast and directors of the films shown there.

I recently met Kevin Costner, star of Black and White, Eddie Redmayne, the star of The Theory of Everything, and director, and Michael Mann.   It was a pleasure to meet Ralph Fiennes, star of The Grand Budapest Hotel, who delivered a stellar performance.

However one of the high lights was meeting Norman Lloyd. This man’s career has spanned over 75 years.  He provided deeper insight into the camera shot used to create the iconic scene whereby his character is falling from the Empire State Building in Alfred Hitchcock’s, The Saboteur, filmed in 1939.  This scene is in my opinion is one of the most iconic scenes in cinematic history.  At 100 years old, it was inspiring to see that he is still passionate about the industry, physically vibrant and mentally acute.

One of my favorite events is to do walking tours of LA.  There are several books and apps that you can download which are excellent.  I recently did a walking tour with a friend, and the app provided wonderful pics and history of a few of the buildings.

I appeared twice on Survivor in the last four years and it has afforded me the opportunity to attend many venues.  I have also participated in charities such as Reality Rally, which helps raise funds for women coping with breast cancer.  Sometimes you need to get down and dirty to raise money: check out this video on youtube for a worthy cause. Reality Rally provides funds and psychological support for women to get the care and necessary treatment they need as they battled the disease.  It is held each year in Temecula CA in the heart of the wine country in Southern CA

The reality show community is also deeply involved and often participants from Survivor, Big Brother, Amazing Race and fans come together to support these women and give back and be thankful for the blessings we all have. 

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