Hollywood Bowl Lawsuit. The Hollywood Heritage lawsuit to stop the demolition of the 1929 orchestra shell continues into the appeals process. Attorney Lawrence Teeter is working on the legal briefs for the Court of Appeals, where they will be filed soon. Supervisor Yaroslavsky, who has led the way for the demolition, interestingly enough put an illustration of the 1929 Orchestra Shell on the cover of his Christmas card. Apparently even he has to admit that it is the most famous icon of Los Angeles County. Also, I recently noticed that the "Official Seal of Hollywood," included in a bronze plaque in front of the Hollywood and Highland placed by the Chamber of Commerce, contains the images of the Hollywood Sign, the Capitol Records Tower, and the 1929 Hollywood Bowl Orchestra Shell.
Why are we having to go to court to defend an architectural and cultural icon that even those pushing for its demolition depend on for their very identity? It is still not too late for Supervisor Yaroslavsky to be willing to re-evaluate his position and work to restore and renovate the existing shell into one that meets all of the performance requirements that he has demanded. Taking a second look is why we have today such restored theaters as the Wiltern, the El Capitan, the Egyptian, and Grauman's Chinese. Similar rational thought is now leading to the restoration/renovation of the Greek Theater (see below).
Meanwhile, the newly opened Kodak Theater in Hollywood is a beautiful facility with sound problems galore. The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra sounded much better in the 1929 Hollywood Bowl orchestra shell than it did at the Kodak. Hopefully this will lead to acoustic improvements and not its demolition.
Maybe the Supervisor would like to be a hero to people around the world, as well as here in Hollywood, and really do the right thing for our history, our tax dollars, and our performing arts. He still has the chance to make good and not go on a wild ego trip. Otherwise check our website for the latest court information.
Pacific's Cinerama Dome Theater. As reported in the Hollywood Heritage Winter/Spring 2001 newsletter, Pacific Theaters was moving forward with the installation of 3-projector Cinerama into the theater and the striking of a new, partially restored, print of This is Cinerama. A key element of this was the installation of a new louvered screen for the 123° curve, which had been louvered until 1973 (when replaced with a smooth sheet curved lenticular screen).
This was needed to balance the screen's illumination for both Cinerama and regular films over the approximately 85-foot wide screen, and to help sharpen focus and partially correct the keystone effect (where the center image is lower than the sides). This was imperative for quality Cinerama presentation, and very important for all other screenings. It had been agreed to by all parties and was in the theater renovation budget.
At some point in October, a decision was made to go back to the smooth screen (the much better lenticular screen is no longer made). Based on a number of faulty assumptions and mistakes by the staff at Pacific, the louvered screen was dropped from the project. Hollywood Heritage, Doug Haines of "Friends of Cinerama," the American Society of Cinematographers (asc), the American Cinema Editors (ace), and such respected Cinerama experts as John Harvey, Dan Sherlock, and Dave Strohmier immediately fought the change, beginning in October. A final approval was made in late December.
Our joint efforts were also sent to the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), which is building the 1700 car parking structure for the new complex and has approval power over the construction permits of the landmark theater, as well as being a "financial partner." In early January, Kip Rudd of CRA agreed to withhold approval of the new screen until a meeting with all parties could be held, as soon as possible, to resolve Pacific's concerns. Cinematographers John Hora, asc and Allen Daviau, asc have both agreed to be present at the meeting with Hollywood Heritage, Doug Haines, and Dan Sherlock (Mr. Daviau's work will be one of the first films in the reopened Dome with the 20th anniversary reissue of Steven Spielberg's E.T.: The Extraterrestrial later in the Spring). (see update on page 2.)
Hollywood Heritage sent a letter to Pacific's Chairman of the Board, Michael Forman outlining our concerns over this issue, and it is available on our website. It would be very unfortunate that after spending the effort and money to bring back This Is Cinerama and to make so many improvements to the Cinerama Dome that this change in the screen would be allowed. This would noticeably reduce the quality of presentation that everyone had been led to believe would be among the best in he world at Pacific's Cinerama Dome Theater.
The Greek Theater. This 1931 landmark is currently going through the approval process with the City of Los Angeles (which owns the facility) for the Nederlander Organization to extend their current lease by 10 years.
At the annual membership meeting of Hollywood Heritage on November 13, a presentation of the proposed restoration/renovation of the 71 year-old outdoor amphitheater was made, led by attorney Adam Burke, aided by a team of architects and planners. Mr. Burke, representing the Nederlanders through the City approval process, presented an improved project over the one presented to Hollywood Heritage last Spring. Changes, several suggested by Hollywood Heritage had been made to better scale down new structures and give the landscaping a more rural and less "civic plaza" look. The previous plans to restore the main building were still excellent and additional mitigation measures had been added to deal with the impacts of noise and traffic on the surrounding neighborhood and Griffith Park (in which the theater is located).
Along with additional income to the City, this gives an overall superior project for historic preservation, the performers, the audience, the neighbors, and the taxpayer. Our letter of support for this project is on our website.
The Hillview Apartments. This 1917 structure was built by Paramount Pictures co-founder Jesse L. Lasky at the center of Hollywood Boulevard at Hudson Avenue to provide housing for actors (who were still given a jaundiced eye by landlords). Mae Busch, co-star of several Laurel and Hardy comedies lived there, and actors were still residing there right up until 1994, when subway tunneling damaged the front of the building.
After prolonged legal hassles between the owners and the subway builders, the building was finally sold. Several groups had offered to buy and renovate the building for everything from low-income housing to a high-end hotel.
The current owners had been slowly starting building renovation when a fire broke out on January 1, 2002, damaging areas of the fourth floor. A meeting between the owners' representatives, city officials, Hollywood Heritage, Historic Resources Group, and the Los Angeles Conservancy was held at the site. The discussion covered plans the city had to abate any dangerous conditions in the building, while still maintaining its historic integrity.
An agreement was reached to remove the section of brick wall on the fourth floor where the roof was burned off (about one third of the fourth floor). This would later be rebuilt with the new roof. The main area of architectural importance, the front façade, was not damaged and the new walls would be rebuilt to match the original.
Whether the current owner or one of several that are attempting to buy this landmark (part of the National Register Historic District) move forward with it, it is hoped that this fire will lead to tighter security and expedited progress for its restoration.