Saturday, March 31, 2012


Wasn’t it just a month or so ago that all of Hollywood was falling all over itself, showering praise and awards on Hugo and The Artist, two movies directly concerned with preservation of the collective memory of the movies? One hopes that the same people who were so eager to honor these Oscar-winning attempts to make motion picture history and accessible to general audiences will be among the throng gathered tomorrow to protest the potential destruction of the legendary Pickfair Lot in West Hollywood, which was once home to Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and a host of filmmakers who helped create Hollywood magic there in the earliest days of the movies.

Director Allison Anders and a whole bunch of other important, influential and just plain concerned folks have been mounting an effort to save Pickfair from what appears to be certain destruction (or at the very least significant alteration and elimination of historically significant buildings), and it's hard not to want to shout praise for their efforts from the tallest Los Angeles skyscraper, none of which themselves are in any danger of being torn down, by the way. Those who want to join the protest can find all the information here, including suggestions for where to park your car while you are hoisting signs and making your voice heard. The protest begins at 1:00 pm off of Santa Monica Boulevard at Formosa Avenue, where the Pickfair offices are located; participants will gather in the hour or hours before then. Anders herself will be in attendance to lead all supporters, a group which is likely to include many high-profile faces as well as we average Joes and Janes who give a damn about what stands to be lost through this all-too-typical act of aggression against the landscape of Hollywood history.

Unfortunately, the plans to decimate Pickfair add up to just another example of the city of Los Angeles not being mindful of its own history and global cultural contributions, a symptom of a culture where nothing—not history, not art, not sentiment—means as much as the potential for profit. Whether or not you make it out to the protest, you can still sign the petition to make your voice heard and continue to follow developments in this latest attempt to disregard the legacy of the movies on the very ground that is synonymous with them. The battle to save Pickfair and other sites that may find themselves in the path of indifferent executives and their bulldozers is an uphill one, and it will surely remain one after tomorrow, but it’s one worth participating in actively in whatever way possible. The alternative is easy lip service to Hollywood history, the kind paid by taking the Universal Studios tour, or renting tributes to the bygone era of silent film and waxing nostalgic while yet another piece of our treasured past crumbles.



Kimd said...

Thank you very much.Love the slide show even though it makes me very sad.

Joe Dante said...

The Pickford Building is now history--as I left the lot tonight it was pretty much leveled, as well as the tall jacaranda tree that used to stand in front of it.

I've had an office on the lot so long that when I moved in there were still remnants of the backlot where things like The Fugitive were shot.

Next to go is Dubbing Room A, where I mixed the first Dolby SR soundtrack (Innerspace)in 1987.

Think of it as a metaphor for the 35 mm industry we grew up with.