ONWARD & UPWARD
CONTENTS 03. BOARD CERTIFIED
Meet your new Board of Directors.
04. MEDIA DISTRICT DISH All the latest gossip from the BID.
06. SEWARD STREET A look back and the road ahead.
10. FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Nourishment for those in need.
12. SPOTLIGHT ON STORYFILE One of the BID's newest businesses.
14. CLEAN & SAFE REPORT
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esults from the election held on January 27 are in and the Hollywood Media District is thrilled to announce its 2022 Board of Directors and Executive Committee. There were eight vacancies on the board filled by six incumbents and two new members, Brian O’Shea (The Exchange) and Michael Namba (Namba Group).
Executive Committee Miguel Padilla, President Jeffrey Luster, Immediate Past President Brian Scane, Vice President Thor Lee, Vice President David Bass, Treasurer Stephen Burn, Secretary Martha Demson, Community Relations
Miguel Padilla (953 N. Sycamore) will lead the Executive Committee as its newly elected President. He replaces Jeffrey Luster (1220 N. Highland) whose thoughtful leadership and guidance helped navigate the BID through two years fraught with uncertainty. We thank him for his time and service.
Jackson Brisette Ashlee Gardner Ron Groeper Rick Howard Chris Kapov Alex Massachi Jacques Massachi Michael Namba Brian O’Shea Sam Pan China Short Ferris Wehbe Aaron Wilder
Brian Scane (Paladin Group) joins Thor Lee (Schneider Family Trust) as Co-Vice President, Stephen Burn (Los Angeles LGBT Center) has stepped into the Secretary position, and Martha Demson starts her role as Community Relations Officer. Past President David Bass (7000 Romaine Holdings LLC) will become Treasurer for the BID.
Hollywood Media District staff: Dianna Eisenberg, Executive Director
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Congratulations to our newly elected members! We look forward to teaming up with you in 2022. z
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MEDIA DISTRICT DISH Your inside source for the BID's hottest gossip
uess which Hollywood heavyweight is ready to be seen around town with a whole new look? We don't mean just a few touch-ups either. This icon got a total top-tobottom redo. Honestly, we wouldn't be surprised if you passed this freshened-up face on the street and did not even realize it.
Of course, we are talking about the new Hollywood Media District logo. Last year, a decision was made to refresh the organization’s branding and Executive Director Dianna Eisenberg spearheaded the make-over. “The Media District has evolved over the past few years,” said Eisenberg, who collaborated with the Marketing Committee, the Board of Directors, and others to create the final design. “We wanted an eye-catching, modern logo that reflected our current brand and purpose.” Based on a television’s SMPTE color bars—a television test pattern for NTSC video referred to by The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (or, SMPTE) as Engineering Guideline 1-1990—the new logo gives a stylish nod to the District’s many production companies, content creators, and other media-forward businesses. Sources familiar with the redesign say we can expect to see the logo pop up throughout the District soon, including on public safety uniforms, BID vehicles, the website, social media, and other collateral. z
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edged between Las Palmas and Cahuenga, the entirety of Seward Street runs just a few short blocks between Melrose Avenue and Sunset Boulevard. Yet, despite its modest footprint, Seward Street—and its various inhabitants over the decades—have occupied a sizable place in Hollywood history.
Seward’s story begins in 1878 when former United States Senator Cornelius Cole settled on a newly purchased 500-acre ranch in the Cahuenga Valley. He called the surrounding territory Colegrove (his wife’s maiden name) and dubbed many of its thoroughfares—Cole Street, Willoughby Avenue, and Eleanor Street—after members of his family. Following this tradition, Cornelius named Seward Street after his eldest son, one of the city’s pioneer real estate dealers. A few decades passed before Hollywood truly got into the business of making pictures, however, when hordes of filmmakers moved west to escape a litigious Thomas Edison and his patents. By 1915, Hollywood had become the epicenter of entertainment and Seward Street one of its main addresses. A 1991 Los Angeles Times article described Seward as “part of the real Hollywood. The working Hollywood, that is—not the glamour side and not Hollywood Boulevard, with its strange nocturnal life forms. Seward Street is a street you’d more on page 8 >
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SEWARD STREET Holly wood M ed ia Dis tr ic t / 7
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IT IS PRONOUNCED
probably never have any reason to drive down unless you were getting some film reels developed.” Thirty years later, the notion that Seward remains more behindthe-scenes than center stage may still ring true, but it undercuts the marvelous design and renewed excitement bubbling up along the street today. Constructed in 1925, during Hollywood’s Golden Age, “The Seward House” at 729 Seward Street has sheltered some of the industry’s most innovative companies. Bob Clampett Productions—the animator and director who designed Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, and Tweety Bird—leased the entire building during the 1960s as a production house for his popular cartoon series, Beany and Cecil. More recent tenants of the building—which was remodeled in 2014—include L1N Pictures and Funny or Die! The 1949 red velvet nudes of Marilyn Monroe that appeared in the inaugural issue of Playboy were taken at 736 Seward Street, the site of Tom Kelley Photography Studio. Over the course of his career, Kelley would photograph a constellation’s worth of stars that included Ingrid Bergman, Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Henry Fonda, James Cagney, Jane Russell, Carmen Miranda, and Gene Kelly. Picrow currently occupies the beautiful ivy-covered building at this address. The imposing, brutalist design of the Hollywood Vaults next door (742 Seward Street) makes sense for a climate-controlled, disaster-proof fortress that houses some of the industry’s most important memorabilia. Its owner has a familial more next page >
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connection to the team behind Churchill-Wexler Film Productions, a company that once inhabited 801 Seward Street (now D’Ziner Sign Co.) and created many of the educational films shown in schools from the Fifties through the Eighties. Technicolor—who once occupied 823 Seward (the current home of film production company, Smuggler, Inc.)—now resides a few doors down at 861, a building with a history colorful enough to make the company proud. Harman-Ising Studios made many of their Happy Harmonies here before Disney occupied the location in 1938. The latter studio needed a space for its Bambi animators during its Burbank studios' construction. A decade later, Woody Woodpecker’s creator, Walter Lantz Productions, moved in. After a devastating fire destroyed its Melrose Avenue plant in 1929, Consolidated Film Industries built a massive processing facility at what is now 933 to 959 Seward Street, the modern glass and steel structure currently home to post-production audio powerhouse, Formosa Group. The Harlow, located at 1001 Seward Street, is one of the District's newest builds and perfectly bridges the street's past and future through both its purpose and design. This ultramodern structure evokes the sweeping design of an old Hollywood soundstage and boasts more than 100,000 sq. ft. of office space developed for the digital content creators who now lead the industry. Whereas Seward may not be the star at the top of Hollywood’s well-lit marquee (there are plenty of other streets in competition for that title), it remains one of the city’s most vital and hard-working supporting players, a role it has held humbly and proudly for many decades and likely will for many more to come. z
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PHOTOS: page 7: 823 Seward Street; page 8: 959 Seward Street; page 11: The Harlow at 1001 Seward Street (top), The Hollywood Vaults (bottom).
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FOOD FOR THOUGHT Hollywood Harvest nourishes our neighbors in need
A Hollywood Harvest volunteer packs bags of food for delivery.
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t would be easy only to see the negative impact the last two years have had on our lives, but, as is often the case in dark times, some light manages to shine through. For our neighbors who struggle with food insecurity—a number that includes nearly half of all seniors—Hollywood Harvest has been one of those beacons.
Started by the Central Hollywood Neighborhood Council and KinderUS mutual aid app, Hollywood Harvest helped leapt into action during the earliest days of the pandemic. In fact, during the eight weeks that followed the initial March 2020 lockdown, the organization delivered more than 16 tons of food to 703 area seniors. The success of these early efforts came thanks to numerous donations and the help of 150 volunteers who called thousands of area seniors and assessed their food needs. At the time, the Hollywood Schoolhouse—located in the Media District—opened its space as a central bagging station for groceries before being delivered by volunteers, the L.A. Conservation Corps, and LAPD officers. “By bringing that food to [those seniors’] doors, we’ve built relationships with our participants while nourishing the soul of our community,” said Ferris Wehbe, one of the food bank’s board members. “Our participants anticipate our arrival on Saturday afternoons, and their gratitude confirms the necessity of our work.” Last year, Hollywood Harvest set its sights on opening a neighborhood-serving food co-op—a community grocery and delivery service that would connect low-income Hollywood residents to not only food but other services. “Early investment enabled us to transform an abandoned pawn shop into a world-class food rescue hub that saves 30 to 40 tons from the landfill each week,” said Wehbe. “Since July, Hollywood Harvest has brought the best fruits and vegetables from that inventory to the homes of nearby seniors.” Having identified a need in the community and demonstrated an efficient way to meet it, Hollywood Harvest expects to quadruple its distribution this year, but the organization needs to ensure they have the equipment, systems, and supplies to support those 15,000 extra deliveries. “[Our donors’] generosity has helped hundreds of seniors stay fed in Hollywood,” explained Wehbe. “With continued support, we can extend that security to everyone.” Visit HollywoodHarvest.org for more information. z
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SPOTLIGHT on STORYFILE
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ave you ever wished you could sit down with someone extraordinary—a distant ancestor, a Holocaust survivor, a beloved celebrity, or, even, Santa Claus— and have a personal conversation with them about their life and experiences? Thanks to the team at StoryFile, conversations like these are not only possible, they are available to everyone today. In 2010, StoryFile CEO and Co-founder, Heather Maio-Smith had been tasked with recording intergenerational testimony for an exhibit on the Holocaust. As she spoke to survivor Rose Schindler, Smith lamented the fact that future generations would be robbed of an interactive dialogue with someone whose story is so important to hear firsthand, so she set out to create a solution. Seven years later, Smith—along with Co-founders Stephen Smith, Ceci Chan, and Sam Gustman—launched StoryFile, an automatic, cloud-based platform that allows everyone the opportunity to record meaningful, personal stories to be retold later as interactive conversations. “StoryFile is committed to recording history so we as the human collective are not doomed to repeat it,” said Smith. “If we don’t record and tell the stories from the people who live through it and experienced it, the stories will get twisted and told differently.” The company uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to process and present its subjects’ recordings without manipulating the material in unintended ways. In other words, a computer doesn’t splice together snippets of dialogue to produce answers, but rather listens to a question and then offers up a response from the archived footage. The technology offers innovative business applications as well. Companies can create engaging interactions that answer sales questions, provide customer service, or for training purposes. Anyone interested in experiencing one of these conversations can visit the company’s website and ask Ricardo Negron, a survivor of the Pulse Nightclub massacre, how that tragedy impacted his life, hear Star Trek veteran William Shatner (photo, left) explain how his acting career began, or ask first-responder Nancy Rosado what she remembers about 9/11.
Actor William Shatner records a StoryFile
“Imagine your great-great-grandchildren being able to talk to you,” said Smith. “StoryFile makes that possible. People all over the world will soon be able to interact and communicate with each other through natural conversation video.” z
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reating a safe, welcoming environment for everyone who lives, works, and visits the Media District tops the BID’s list of priorities, and thanks to its Public Safety team, some significant strides have been made in this area. Service calls throughout the District were up 27% in December from the previous month for a year-end total of 1,598. Incident reports (5) remained steady for a total of 137 in 2021. However, reports of vandalism doubled from November to December, leaving 57 total incidents recorded over the course of the year. Whereas the city of Los Angeles saw a significant increase in homelessness in 2021, the Media District’s Public Safety team reduced the BID’s unhoused residents by nearly half during the same 12-month period. Several city, county, and private agencies have praised their efforts. Public Safety Captain Bill Stankiewicz attributes this success to a change in the team’s approach when engaging with the District’s homeless population. For instance, in December, Public Safety officers passed out bottles of water and mylar blankets among the unhoused in order to build a rapport with the community. Stankiewicz expects to further decrease the BID’s unhoused population in 2022 “by offering real solutions in a kind and compassionate way.” Its efforts have already shown some results. After the last District census, seven unhoused persons submitted requests to the L.A. Homeless Outreach Portal (LA-HOP) for public assistance. In 2021, the Public Safety Team established also eliminated vehicles in lieu of bike and foot patrols. Not only did this reduce fuel and maintenance costs, it also made officers more approachable to stakeholders, visitors, and the general public. This will continue as part of the team’s new Ambassador Program that rolled out for 2022. For its part, CleanStreet received 92 service requests via the Media District’s online portal during December 2021. The team collected approximately nine tons of pedestrian trash, 10.5 tons of sidewalk and street sweepings, and 150 oversized or bulky items were removed. The team also carried out 32 hours of pressure washing in an effort to clean up District bus stops, sidewalks, and encampments. z
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CLEAN & SAFE REPORT
REMOVAL: 9 TONS
STREET CLEANING: 10.5 TONS
GRAFFITI ABATEMENT: 90
OWER WASH: 32 HRS.
KY ITEMS: 150
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CONTACT US: 948 N. Sycamore Avenue, Suite 217 Hollywood, CA 90038 323.371.7438 email: BIDadmin@mediadistrict.org MediaDistrict.org