To announce Los Angeles’ Red Carpet Summer, LA Inc, the city’s convention and visitors bureau, hosted a media reception to highlight the inventive possibilities coming to the City Of Angels hosted at the immense and glorious manor of Candy and the late Aaron Spelling.
The Spelling Manor, which is located on 4 1/2 acres in the exclusive Holmby Hills area just off the Wilshire Corridor, is one of the most exclusive of all homes and relatively hidden, much like the Playboy Mansion which is located next door. One would never know its location with its seemingly tranquil surroundings but without the need to drive up the essences of Mulholland to reach its precipice.
Spelling, who has recently put the Manor on the market for 115 million dollars, looks to be moving onto the next step. She is on the board of directors for LA Inc. and is their ambassador of goodwill. In her husband’s former screening room in the front of the house which is undeniably grandoise as a screen rises from the floor and pictures lift from the walls to reveal a projection booth, one realizes the extent that Spelling’s empire encompasses.
Patti McJennett, Sr. VP of Marketing for LA Inc., spoke that Los Angeles’ biggest draw is still tourism and that the international market takes up a great percent of that. With destinations like Korea, China and Japan from the Far East as well as UK, Germany and France, the lure of foreign visitors continues to dominate the marketplace.
Representing different companies of interest in the Los Angeles area, three specific outlays were brought forth.
The first was Thomas See, VP Of Sales for Universal Studios Hollywood, who announced the opening of the new King Kong 360 3D attraction, being created by Peter Jackson which is set to open this summer. It replaces the original attraction which was destroyed in the massive fire some years back which decimated this ride as well as much of the backlot. The attraction involves, at one point, the tram being surrounded on all sides by 3D screens on Skull Island stuck being a fighting Kong and a T-Rex. Jackson’s WETA did much to all of the 3D work on the Cameron opus “Avatar” so the effects and technology involved should be groundbreaking. The backlot is also reopening with the classic NY street back intact but with new modern brownstones being availed as well.
Jeff Rudolph, CEO of the California Science Center, announced the opening of the new wing: “Ecosystems” which offers a different range of interactive experiences. The promotion video shown spoke more than a passing comparison to Epcot’s former “Living Seas” pavilion at Disney World Florida. In addition to this attraction, no matter what any theater owner would have you hear, the Science Center boasts the true IMAX at 7 stories tall. Currently and progressing into the summer, “Hubble 3D” will be playing. Rudolph reflects that the journey through the galaxies million of light years away through actual images will astound.
Lastly, Philip Ferentinos, Director Of Starline Tours, spoke of the popularity of the Celebrity Homes tour. The Starline Tours date back to 1935 when Sid Grauman thought that it would be a great idea to show people around to where the stars lived. It wasn’t something he could bring to bear but his driver Bud, who knew where everyone lived, could. He bought a couple limos and began making the progress.
In the 1960s, a fellow entreprenuer who worked in the parking garage next to the Chinese Theater decided to take over the business and grow it. Currently as Ferentinos jokes, the vans are now “topless” and everyone has a personal headset as to not distract the residents. In a list of most requested homes to look at, Michael Jackson is at the top. His home was in the same Holmby Hills district as Spelling’s and the reality is that a Starline Tours bus was there when he was taken to the hospital. Many of the videos of that moment was taken by tourists on the tour. Other star homes that are of interest that they pass by are Jennifer Aniston, Tom Cruise and, of course, Spelling Manor.
Candy relates that Aaron sometimes would go out and see the tour buses and even jump on. The reasoning is that it was those fans on the bus that put him where he was and that should not be forgotten. Ferentinos mentions that just this week Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler, who were shooting their new film at Gucci in Beverly Hills, waved to passengers. Because they are so ingrained and constantly on tours, the drivers tend to know where things are going on in the city at any given point.
After these elements, a brief tour through the house was given. The multiple alcoves provided undeniable possibilities with all kinds of art covering the walls although impressionism seems to have taken a center seat. The small group we were part of was led by none other than Rick Hilton himself, father of Paris. He lives very close by and apparently (it seems) is involved in some way in helping to sell the house. His conversation while showing the house is that in terms of buyers (they have had interest), all aspects are negotiable including keeping some specific furniture in the house as well as the projection room.
Some of the very interesting rooms include Aaron’s office on the main floor which contain alot of his scripts and the main foyer where pictures including Victorian costumes of his daughter Tori as well as pictures in the room of Candy and Aaron with Prince Charles are extremely poignant.
Heading downstairs into a whole other world, the hobbies and fun of the Spellings come forth. One room is completely Candy’s doll collection which is impressive with everything from burlesque to turn-of-the-century to a doll that can actually smoke, all encased behind glass. The main room coming out of this sanctuary is a lithe pool room, slick but light in its decor. Heading down the next hallway which is made more specific by dog painting (specifically one with a dog head on a human body), a side door leads into a fully operating arcade game room which includes Ms. Pac Man. At the end of the downstairs corridor, a bowling alley, still fully operational, makes itself known. On the back wall lined by a wraparound couch is many of Aaron’s awards and nominations including many certificates for Golden Globes which was lost on many of the HFPA members who were in attendance on the tour. The People’s Choice glass awards line the side wall in full view reflecting Aaron’s thought process that the fans were infinitely important.
Leaving the property and returning to the streets around Holmby Park, one realizes the power of what this kind of estate represents especially in sharing it in part with the people of Los Angeles. It shows what is possible and what you think might be far away is right there under your nose.
The essence of Berlin has been one of the fall of the Communist power in the perception of the West but the effervescent ability of its people to recapture lost ages seems to have taken on a whole new perception with a vitality that seems waiting to be explored.
This celebration was kept in extreme focus through a night of revelry situated around the W Hotel in Westwood, CA and functioned as a hark back to the old days when things were different but no less exciting from an excessive point of view.
As pointed out by more than a few people a couple days before, the aspect of the Roaring Twenties from either burlesque (which in New Orleans and underground LA) to the ultra chic 20s style (like the Chelsea Hotel in Atlantic City) is becoming all the rage again. The fact that kids today can get everything and do everything they want will balance elements out quite ironically into a cyclical motion. Kids want what they can’t have. Right now there is lack of elegance on the scene which will become the golden facilitation of the new thought, granted with different social rules of conduct.
What Berlin begins to show in its new promotional campaign is how these clubs, both burlesque and cabaret, are popping up all over the city bringing back a time before the onslaught of the Iron Curtain and the Nazi movement. The dress code is strict and a certain demeanor is required. There are old ballrooms standing in original style, still intact after the bombings of World War II. Add to this, the mysteriousness of a newly opening Spy Museum and a trip filled with intrique and lust are sure to follow depending on the mood created.
To bring this into focus was a performance of Max Raabe & The Palast Orchestra at UCLA’s nearby Royce Hall. Where groups trying to recreate the feeling of cool from the old Cotton Club usually get it wrong because they don’t get the style of smooth and sexy needed to pull it off, this group gets it. Granted certain points with vaudeville don’t meld as great to this time but the sheer instrumentation is allowed to shine as it should. One of the things the great Kitty West, known as one of the most famous burlesque performers in America outside Blaze Starr, says is that the key to a good show is creating an angle of elegance and debauchery. You got that feeling with this performance indicating immense talent but with a bit of fun chicanery going on behind the scenes. This is of course mounted in good effective dialogue and singing by Raabe himself whose precisely placed and executed transitions make the event all the more authentic.
While aspects of Cole Porter and Gershwin are interrelated as far as standards, it is the more obscure pieces maybe not known as well in the States that are interesting because they feel more haunting and vivid as if they came out of “The Shining” which, comparatively as a movie, made you feel at times that you were there as well. That is what these destinations with Berlin are inherent to offer: authenticity. With that low voice and dry wit peppered with sexual innuendo ushered in through the undeniability of a sultry violin or sax quartet, the set here has been staged.
Berlin, within the evening, was able to create a canvas for a very specific kind of experience which is unique specifically both because of its history but also in reference to its culture and geography. It will be interesting to see how its possibilities play out in real time.