Just wanted to chime in here and say just got this drive today and having the EXACT same problem as the OP! Can't update firmware via utility (on the disc that came from the drive) OR manually.
chef, curious why you're saying this update isn't for this drive? The firmware updating utility that comes with the drive detects that it is, but there are no further details (reads as BD-R Prodisc 6x Support); it downloads, tries to apply, and fails for no real given reason. The manual file runs but doesn't see the drive. The version the OP as well as myself found for the manual method is simply the same version the firmware updater suggests (1.01-D0).
If this update isn't for this drive, I'm fine with that; just confused where you saw that or how you figured it out (and thanks for any clarification you can provide!).
(Other things I've tried by the way; safe mode installation; setting SATA to emulate IDE temporarily, etc. - nothing makes a difference as far as I can tell. I haven't tried switching to another SATA controller, but I'm not sure that's a reasonable option, and my computer sees the drive perfectly otherwise).
Maybe we're overthinking this and this is just isn't meant for us, but LG's utility shouldn't detect that it is if that is the case.