Hollywood Heritage is continuing a major rebuilding process started two years ago under the direction of Erik Stogo. Erik has served as Hollywood Heritage, Inc.s president the past two years steering it through some baseless, yet malicious, attacks that attempted to destroy Hollywood Heritage, Inc.
These accusations were primarily made by former Hollywood Heritage, Inc. board members and candidates who lost the 1996 election. Strangely enough, their accusations primarily concerned the period of their own leadership, prior to the new boards election in 1996. Attacks were made without documentation or evidence, and often sent anonymously. Some even had cut out letters pasted together to form words, similar to ransom notes in old "B" movies.
Bizarre as these claims may be, the city, county, and state became obligated to perform audits of Hollywood Heritage, Inc. going all the way back to the early 1980s in one case. In all cases, Hollywood Heritage, Inc. was cleared of all "charges" made by our accusers.
It wasnt cheap or easy though to perform all of the audits and other tasks that were required to answer these accusations, no matter how ridiculous. Close to $25,000.00 was spent on legal and accounting fees. Erik Stogo and I spent hundreds of hours in meetings, preparing documents, working with our attorney and accountant, as well as government officials to make certain all their questions were answered accurately. Former Hollywood Heritage, Inc. presidents and founders generously gave their time and support, including Bob Birchard, Fran Offenhauser, Richard Atkins, and Christy McAvoy. Wattles Mansion director Steve Sylvester put in many hours of help as did board member Glen Brown in helping to sort though and reorganize years of paper work as it was required.
Erik, in particular, being an attorney, saved Hollywood Heritage, Inc. thousands of dollars through his legal expertise, generosity, and determination. All of this in addition to his many regular duties as president of Hollywood Heritage, Inc.. Even when Eriks health problems forced him to close his legal business over a year ago, he continued to donate an enormous amount of time and expertise to pull Hollywood Heritage, Inc. though the attacks. As the one who was closest to the battle, I can safely say that Hollywood Heritage would not exist today had Erik Stogo not stepped up to the plate to right the wrongs hurled at Hollywood Heritage, Inc. Whatever good continues to come from Hollywood Heritage, Inc., will only have been possible because of Erik and the dedication and sacrifices he made. He will continue to help Hollywood Heritage, Inc. as board member / treasurer.
There was, of course, a silver lining to these clouds. We have strengthened our relationships with the county, especially with our neighbor and landlord, the Hollywood Bowl. The Bowl has even taken over maintenance of the Lasky-DeMille Barn / Hollywood Heritage Museum lawn and trees, including finishing the rebuilding of the sprinkler system. And thanks to the Hollywood Bowl grounds crew, led by _______________, the landscaping has never looked better. A special thank you is deserved to Edgar Tom, general manager of the Hollywood Bowl, who has led the way in rebuilding the relationship between the Bowl and the Barn to a new peak.
Erik, myself, and everyone else at Hollywood Heritage, Inc. would much rather have the money and time spent on the Hollywood Heritage Museum, Wattles Mansion, or other Hollywood Heritage, Inc. projects. This has caused delays in getting out newsletters, finishing the museum, and other activities.
But we are now moving forward as the articles in this newsletter will show. Our newsletter will now be going out quarterly, the magnificently restored Hollywood Heritage Museum is open on weekends with new exhibits being prepared, our website is coming together, our fundraising will be creating exciting opportunities and events, the Silent Society of Hollywood Heritage has wonderful and rare films scheduled at UCLA and the Paramount Ranch, restoration at Wattles Mansion continues, a special lecture series is being prepared for this fall at the museum featuring Hollywood Heritage, Inc. board members and friends giving talks on Hollywood and the movies, and our revived work on historic preservation activism continues to show results.