Chinese Theater: Hollywood Heritage member Mann Theaters is continuing their restoration of the worldís most famous theater. Improvements for this year will include the finishing of new electrical systems for lighting, allowing all 3,000 auditorium lights to be working for the first time in over 50 years. New electrical systems along with those installed last year will make it possible to recreate the original multi-colored light show that preceded the feature film. This was a well-remembered highlight by those who saw it in the theaterís golden age. New wiring and historic light fixture repairs will allow for all of the side chandeliers in the auditorium to be fully operational as well.
Finally, the drapes along the side walkways will be replaced with new acoustically treated ones, improving the appearance and sound of the 1927 auditorium. Also included will be the main curtain in front of the screen. As planned, the new one will not be the standard red material, but will be multi-colored with elaborate Chinese patterns approximating the design and colors of the original curtain removed in the late 1950s.
Hollywood Heritage is working with Mann Theaters to create an exhibit on the history of Sid Graumanís amazing theater to be displayed in the lobby area of the adjoining Chinese Six-plex. This will promote the theater, its restoration, and the involvement of Hollywood Heritage in pushing forward the restoration.
Special thanks to Mann CEO Ben Barbosa, Jeff Hicks and Bill Hertz for their ongoing extra effort to keep the Chinese Theater at its best.
Henry Fonda/Music Box Theater: This 1927 legitimate theater was leased out last fall to a group led by Thaddeus Smith, Mario Roy, and Burt Nelson who have revamped the theater into a hit venue. Sitting idle for most of the time prior to their involvement, concerts, plays, parties, dinners (including this yearís AFI Tribute to Denzel Washington) and even boxing matches are now keeping a constant flow of crowds at the historic theater.
Originally opened as the Music Box Theater, it had several other names until becoming known as the Henry Fonda in the late 1980s. The new group has combined both names and has been restoring the theaterís interior and technical equipment.
A highlight is the restoration and reopening of the rooftop dining and performance space and structure. For over 50 years only pigeons had performed and dined there--now it is a popular and unique space harkening back to 1920s Hollywood. A more detailed article on the theaterís ongoing restoration and the hardworking group behind it will appear in our next newsletter. Meanwhile check www.henryfondatheater.com for more information.
CBS Television and Radio Studios (Columbia Square): As described in our last issue, CBS was planning to leave Hollywood and sell off its 1938 landmark studio at Sunset and Gower. This had been announced by CBS to consolidate operations outside of Hollywood, probably at their Studio City facility, and also take KCAL-TV (Channel 9) along with KCBS, as it is now temporarily housed at the Sunset Boulevard studio.
Hollywood Heritage had strongly protested this move, as it would leave only KTLA-TV in Hollywood, where once all Los Angeles television stations were located. This became more urgent as earlier this year KCOP, Channel 13, and KWHY, Channel 22 left Hollywood for Westwood and Burbank respectively, after having been in Hollywood all of their existence.
An immediate response came from Hollywood Heritage member, and City Councilman for the area, Eric Garcetti. He stressed the work being done to keep the entertainment industry in Hollywood as well as bringing in new business. Further discussions with his staff and the CRA have shown a renewed interest in keeping CBS and KCAL at their landmark site, offering support to improve and expand their facilities (over half of the site is currently vacant), so as to meet their needs.
The Los Angeles Business Journal, in its June 30 story on KCOP-TV leaving Hollywood, stated that the situation might be changing at CBS. Pat McClenahan, senior vice-president and station manager at the studio said that there are no immediate plans to move the stations.
Hollywood Heritage applauds these efforts now being made by all concerned. We offer our assistance and support to Councilman Garcetti and to KCBS/KCAL-TV to expand their facilities while restoring the landmark studio. The decision to stay is not final, so we will continue to push for the correct solution.