Dominant industries pt. 1: Hollywood

I think I’ve turned my rose-tinted glasses toward LA…

Returning here is showing me just how deeply the entertainment industry infiltrates all of the others – the way tech does in SF. I always knew that movies and TV were this city’s bread and butter, but the longer my friends and I are in the work force, the more I see what that really means. Law firms are more likely to serve clients in show biz, for example, PR to veer toward “publicist.”

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Hollywood (the industry, not the place) is the pumping heart of LA, a fact I once resented (“Ugh, so superficial”) but that now intrigues me. When film crews and caterers monopolize the parking lots downtown, or extras bustle around hotel lobbies before their scene, I realize I’m seeing the back-end of a business famous everywhere else for its face. Where else is it common to have both your home and school location-scouted for a TV show?

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But Hollywood is also history, a storyline built into the brick of LA’s oldest buildings and commemorated on scuffed plaques. I love this part. This week, on another one of our excursions downtown, my mom and I strolled up to Angel’s Knoll, a public park used for a scene in “500 Days of Summer.” We ran into a woman from out of town who was a huge fan of the movie and touring its downtown locations. She explained that the park had been shuttered due to lack of maintenance funds, plus someone had stolen a plaque noting the movie’s use of it. Then she suggested we check out the Bradbury Building where the movie’s final scene was shot.

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We took her tip and sauntered over a bit later. And… It was gorgeous.

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The Bradbury Building is apparently an experienced movie set, having hosted “500 Days,” some Demi Moore title I can’t remember, even “Blade Runner.” There was another probable movie buff roaming the first floor, too, and security guards to tell us we were free to look and wander – but not past the first floor and into the offices. This wasn’t the first time I’ve wandered onto a former movie set (as I said, it’s LA after all), but the light filtering through the skylight, ornate railings, still and muted silence, and huge surprise of it all made for quite the cinematic experience. Pun intended.

I’m no historian, but boy do I get sentimental at historical things. I love when stories jump off the page – I mean frame – and become tangible all around me.

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Related industries, downtown architecture and sanctioned landmarks are all helping me appreciate an industry I poo-pooed just a few years ago. Maybe I’m drinking the Hollywood Kool-Aid. Maybe I’m falling in love with LA all over again.

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