Max About: The Lasky-Demille Barn

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Photo taken and edited from the Hollywood Heritage Museum website.

By: Max Tarlton

Throughout my time in Los Angeles thus far, the most fascinating thing to me, believe it or not, was a barn. Coming from Nebraska, trust me, I have seen plenty of barns. But, this was a bit different – this barn has become an iconic place in the history of Hollywood, California. It’s The Lasky-Demille barn, and has become arguably one of the coolest barns I had ever been to. Besides the original “Ben Hur” gladiator boots on display, the miscellaneous historic film making memorabilia, and a personal interaction with the paranormal, there were some parts of the barn that really hit close to home.

The Lasky-Demille barn was built in about 1895 in Hollywood, California. Located on the southeast corner of Selma and Vine Streets, it was originally used to house horses, store feed, and other farming supplies until it was sold in 1904. About 10 years after it was sold, the barn became the Burns and Revier Studio and Laboratory in March of 1913. In December of the same year, Cecil B. DeMille and Jesse Lasky began leasing the studio for $250 a month. They established the Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company, and in 1914, produced the first feature film to be produced in the Hollywood area, entitled The Squaw Man.

After being moved around the area numerous times, the barn has found its current home at 2100 North Highland Avenue, in Hollywood. The restored barn features photos from historic Hollywood, original Hollywood films being streamed, photos of actors and actresses, and archived memorabilia from the early days of Hollywood. It was very interesting to step into the lives of the actors and filmmakers during the birth of Hollywood. Not only was this interesting because of the technology that was used about 100 years ago, but because of how massive the entertainment industry has grown over the last century.

In the center of the ancient barn, maybe a bit off to the left, was a double-sided 4-foot wall-like structure with pictures of actors and actresses who came to California at the turn on the 20th century. Most of whom went on to become successful actors in the early years of Hollywood. It featured actors who fled to Hollywood from all over the world. China, Russia, Japan, New York, Chicago, and there was even an actor, Harold Lloyd, who came from Nebraska. Growing up in Nebraska, I immediately looked to see what city it was – but, I had absolutely never heard of the place in my entire life. I thought

“Wait. What? Burchard, Nebraska? I’ve… never even heard of that place. I don’t even know where it is? I’ll ask Sammy since she’s from Nebraska too.”

After I asked, she had no idea about the place either. So, I looked it up. Apparently, Burchard, Nebraska is made up of less than 8,000 square feet of about 10 intersecting streets with a train station at the southern-most point. About 25 miles southeast of Beatrice, Nebraska and about 10 miles north of the Kansas border, it was bizarre to know I had been that close to the birthplace of an original Hollywood actor. It boggled my mind, nearly 100 years ago, a person from a small town in the middle of Nebraska could pack up and head west to Hollywood and make it in the entertainment industry.

I looked at the Harold Lloyd and read the things he had done in his career. Ranking along side Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton in popularity as one of the most influential comedians of the silent film era. With over 200 comedy films made, many of them featured thrill sequences and extended chase scenes which he became known for. He was  best known for his “Glass” character who was very success-driven and in tune with the modernism of the 1920’s, and of course, being an actor at the Lasky-Demille barn. 

The old, historic barn really put things into perspective for me. Growing up in Nebraska diving into entertainment industry in L.A, it’s easy to think you’re a little fish from a pond trying to swim with all the big fish in the ocean. Hollywood still today is a place that people see as a place where they can fulfill their dreams, where they can create a new beginning and a better future for themselves, like Lloyd and I. I also just found it fascinating that someone from the first motion picture filmed in Hollywood happened to come from a small town in Nebraska. It puts a whole new meaning to the term “small world.” I can relate to Lloyd’s desire to want to leave the plateau life of Nebraska and pursue his dream and it motivates me to create a Hollywood success story of my own.

The Market for Serialized Shows Optimistic Because of Netflix

By: Lizzy Buczak

As consumers, we are constantly bombarded with an abundance of TV programming. Serialized shows continue to compete with the success of procedurals, especially in the syndication process, which is where most of the money is made. J.J Abrams produced shows Lost and Alcatraz; both heavily serialized with a huge focus on mythology. One show did exceptionally well and one tanked, but neither has had an easy time finding a home in syndication.

Serialized shows include characters, story lines and themes that develop over a period of time. They build up towards a gradual climax, usually leaving viewers with a suspenseful finale.  Procedural shows introduce a new and specific circumstance that the characters must solve by the end of the episode. They can be aired and viewed out of order and they are specifically good for leisurely and mindless watching. Procedurals are often big competition for serialized shows, which must be viewed in sequential order to prevent the viewers from getting confused and losing pace with the plot and character development.

The ratings say it all. Although Lost was a heavily serialized show, requiring the viewer to commit on a week-to-week basis, viewers proved they enjoyed the more complicated form of storytelling. The series premiere of Lost drew in about 18.6 million viewers in 2004. On its series finale in 2010, it drew in 13.57 viewers.

Drawing in 10 million for its two-hour premiere, Alcatraz was unable to match the value of Lost’s success and lasted only one season. For the season finale of Alcatraz only 4.7 million viewers tuned in. The two-hour finale also fell 6% from its previous week, which made the show end on a complete low. “Viewers will make the investment if the show is top quality; if not, they won’t and the show will be more likely to get cancelled early on,” said Phillip Swan, president and CEO of TV Predictions, Inc.

Procedurals do great in syndication on both prime time and cable networks because they have proven to be more likely to get viewers to tune in, regardless if they’ve skipped an episode or two.  Networks avoid serialized shows because they generally do poorly in syndication, especially when played out of order. Grey’s Anatomy, which is a mildly serialized show, pulled in 1.2 million per episode in syndication on the cable channel Lifetime. Shows like Lost and Heroes, which were heavily serialized only pulled in about $500,000 per episode. Procedural shows like CSI make as much as 2.5 million an episode in syndication. Netflix and other digital platforms bring new hope for studios and serialized shows giving them a new medium for syndication.

Netflix has no restrictions to program viewing, which is great for people who like to binge watch a series.  “ If the show is not discovered instantly it can be discovered a year later. People can watch one right after the other to catch up on a series,” said Shauna Phelan, director of the television department at Varsity Pictures. Watching the show at ones leisure makes viewers more likely to tune into the next season when it airs on TV and creates buzz around the show, giving it a longer shelf life. Swann agreed, “More people will give shows a spin after they originally aired on their networks which will help ramp up ratings for future seasons.”

Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime started a new independent model that could become potentially hurtful to networks, yet really beneficial for serialized shows. “Netflix is creating original shows at the same quality and content as networks like ABC, but there is no network attached to it. They are bypassing the TV space and going straight to consumers, which s really an important shift,” said Phelan. Netflix has created the demand that you have the whole show on the spot. “This is what I want to watch when I want to watch it. That’s the mindset Netflix is setting for consumer,” said Phelan. There is no guarantee that people will keep coming back week to week, but if its out there all at once, their more inclined to watch.

Netflix has a strategic advantage for content licensing of serials. While other television network competitors are competing for the same sitcoms and procedural shows, Netflix has struck up deals with hard to syndicate serialized shows. According to Swann, “Netflix and Amazon and other new creators of original shows will become players in syndicating shows but I expect they hold to their exclusivity a bit longer than networks tend to do.” Networks like The CW, who might not otherwise get multi-million dollar syndication deals, can put their shows on Netflix, different networks and box the seasons as DVD’s, creating the ultimate money making package.

El Capitan Theater: Beautiful in Architecture, Rich in History

By: Joachim Jocson

In many big cities there is always an old classic movie theater. In Los Angeles however I have seen so many theaters both vintage and modern.  One such theater has always caught my eye for two reasons, one it reminds me of an old school theater house and two because it’s owned by Disney.

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The El Capitan according to their website was developed after the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and three themed theatres were created. It was created by Sid Grauman who made Egyptian, the Chinese, and the El Capitan. All three of these theaters are along Hollywood Boulevard and within close proximity between each other.

The Theatre opened May 3, 1926 and was known as Hollywood’s First Home of Spoken Drama. When you enter the theater, you’ll be welcome by colorful lights as an almost opera theater like atmosphere with an organist playing just before your performance. The organist is playing Disney music from past and present.

According to the El Capitan website between 1926 and 1936, more than 120 live plays were produced at the El Capitan Theatre, including “No, No, Nanette,” “Anything Goes,” and “Ah, Wilderness.” In 1941, Orson Welles’ Academy Award winning Citizen Kane premiered at the El Capitan before it was closed for remodling. A year later, it made a name change and was called the Hollywood Paramount, it was known as a sleek, new “art moderne” movie house.

In 1989, The Walt Disney Company joined forces with Pacific Theatres to begin a two-year archeological dig, which led to a museum-quality restoration of the legendary palace. Under the supervision of the National Park Service’s Department of the Interior, and with guidance from conservator Martin Weil, architect Ed Fields, and renowned theatre designer Joseph J. Musil, the certified national historic site was restored to its former grandeur and reopened to the public in June, 1991, with the world premiere of Walt Disney’s The Rocketeer.

The El Capitan Theatre was an early participant in Hollywood’s recent revitalization efforts. In 2001, the Hollywood & Highland entertainment complex which houses the permanent home of the Oscars at The Kodak Theatre opened directly across the street. As an exclusive first run theatre for Walt Disney Pictures, The El Capitan Theatre hosts live stage shows, world premieres, and other special events that have helped restore showmanship to Hollywood Boulevard.

Before every movie Showtime an organist plays for the audience using a 4/37 Wurlitzer according to the Disney website. It was the last of five magnificent “Fox Specials” built in the 1920’s, and is considered the top of the line in theater organs and was designed with all the “bells and whistles” for movie palaces. Every year they try to improve and fine tune the instrument for better quality and for the enjoyment of the audience.

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The El Capitan’s “Mighty Wurlitzer,” which is the name of the organ, was originally installed in 1929 at the World Famous San Francisco Fox Theatre and subsequently purchased

What the future holds for The El Capitan Theater consists of Oz the Great and Powerful opening weekend, the Iron Man 3 premiere and opening weekend and Monsters University. Disney still plays movies both previous and current hits. Plus next door is The Disney Soda Fountain and Studio Store with food and Disney Memorabilia. Also the theater has hosted many Disney movie premieres. Just recently Oz the Great and Powerful hosted their premiere at El Capitan Theater. Coming in April they will play host to the premiere of Iron Man 3. Disney and the El Capitan will have a long standing relationship that will last for years to come.

From The Earl Carroll Theater to Nickelodeon

by: Lizzy Buczak

The grandiose supper-theater offered “two famous orchestras, a CBS broadcast and a chance to dine on superb dishes created by world-renowned chefs,” according to an old advertisement.  All that for just $3.50. Talk about fine living! With more lives than a cat, the theater, located on Sunset Boulevard just east of Vine St. was entertainment heaven, with a sign that read, “Through these portals pass the most beautiful girls in the world.” This theater was the magnificent and glamorous Earl Carroll Theater, opened in 1938 by Earl Carroll.

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The club had the mostdistinctive façade, swings that came down from the ceilings, extravagant staircases, and of course the most beautiful girls in the world. The front wall of the theater displayed a portrait in neon of Beryl Wallace, an avid entertainer and Carroll’s companion. While the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre attracts tourists with handprints and autographs on the sidewalk, The Carroll Theater had a wall dedicated to celebrity signatures. The plaques were posted next to the entrance of the theater, aptly named, “The Wall of Fame.”

When Carroll did something, he did it big. He figured out that if you give off the impression that something’s worth it, it will be, despite the depression affecting the country. This theater was the definition of old school, Hollywood glamour; the kind you can only catch snippets of in books, movies and black and white pictures. Attracting the biggest names in town at the time, no nightclub or venue has been able to live up to the theaters extravagance and success. Unfortunately, in 1948 Carroll and Wallace died in a United Airlines crash above Pennsylvania. The theater struggled to stay afloat and was sold in 1953 to Las Vegas resident Frank Sennes.

Sennes had a vision to make this space, a taste of Vegas while preserving some essence from its predecessor. The Moulin Rouge became the largest theater and restaurant in the world, after Sennes remodeled the inside. Sadly, when the venue went head to head with competing venues in Vegas, Sennes found it hard to attract big names to the establishment, while paying them competitive prices and that was the end for The Moulin Rouge.

The theater than went onto become the home for many Rock n’ Roll fans, changing its name to The Hullaballoo Theater, which got its named from a popular TV show. The place where you used to see the most glamorous and prestigious names in Hollywood, you now saw the youngsters of Hollywood, lightly resembling the children of the hippie era. Many people weren’t pleased by the transformation even stating that in the dictionary hullaballoo meant a disturbance or uproar.

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In 1997, the building was acquired by the children’s cable station Nickelodeon. The theater was splashed with the colors orange and green to give it that Nick feeling, covering up quite a bit of its history. After seeing the building on our tour of Sunset Boulevard, I was pretty thrilled to see the studio that produced many of the shows that shaped me as a teen (All That, The Amanda Show, Drake and Josh, iCarly, Victorious.) After finding out all this history behind the building, I could not help but feel a little disappointed that the historical landmark (protected in 2007 by The City of Los Angeles Historic Preservation Board) is just Nickelodeon.  I’m pretty sure that if Carroll were alive he would agree with me that the space has the potential and magic within it to be something better. With such a grand location, across from The Hollywood Palladium, the theater could well in fact open up to be another Moulin Rouge. With the success of movies like “Burlesque” and “Chicago,” we know that people are still dying for a bit of that old fashioned Hollywood glamour. This becomes even truer after watching The Oscars and seeing that Broadway musicals are making a huge return.

Those times in “What Makes Sammy Run,” are gone and when I close my eyes I can envision Sammy going to this theater after a long day in the world of show biz with his cigar in one hand, a lady on his other arm and Al following in tow. Its unfortunate that while Hollywood has been expanding and becoming bigger than itself, it has lost a lot of its glamour and devilish innocence. The stars of Nickelodeon, although charming, are far from being the “most beautiful girls in the world.”

BeansTalk Previews The Oscar Jewels

By Samantha Saiyavongsa
BeansTalk Contributor
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Celebrity stylist and host Michael O’Connor predicts that colored gemstones will be one of the red carpet trends to watch for this year. (Photo by S. Saiyavongsa)

Academy Award nominees, attendees, celebs and stylists dazzled at this year’s StyleLab Jewelry Preview in Beverly Hills in anticipation for the 85th Academy Awards this past weekend. Held over two days before Oscar weekend, celebrity stylist and host Michael O’Connor helped guests select one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces for the red carpet last weekend.

O’Connor’s curated selection of exquisite platinum jewelry features world-renowned jewelry designers, including Farah Khan, Takat, AGTA Collection, Argyle Diamond Collection and more. Pieces were valued from $4,000 to $175,000. (In case you were wondering, a Jeffery Daniels Unique Designs for Gem Platinum statement necklace featuring 35-carats of diamonds is worth that much!)

Guests to the intimate preview arrived in appointments for individual consultations with O’Connor, picking out the most flattering pieces for their face shapes, gown styles and hair color. O’Connor’s personal favorite? A Farah Khan ring featuring a 20.12-carat Zambian emerald surrounded by 2.79 carats of diamonds, worth $25,886. “I’m surprised nobody has picked it up, yet, even I would wear it!” he said slipping it onto his ring finger.

ImageBeansTalk reporters and Columbia College of Journalism students Alessandra Incandela and article reporter Samantha Saiyavongsa flank red-carpet stylist and jewelry expert Michael O’Connor of StyleLab’s Jewelry Preview.

While we were there, we spotted Anne O’Shea, last year’s Oscar nominee as executive producer for The Kids Are All Right. Stars from Life of Pi, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, and Lincoln were also in attendance. Brandi Glanville from the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” also selected jewelry from O’Connor for the red carpet.

Of course, guests couldn’t leave the suite empty-handed even as the jewelry collection began thinning toward the end of the final day. Each guest went home with a strand of freshwater pearls as a gift.

Justin Timberlake Live at the Hollywood Palladium

“The 20/20 Experience: Live At The Hollywood Palladium- After Grammy Spectacular”
by: Lizzy Buczak
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It doesn’t matter if you are or aren’t a Justin fan, you basically know he’s making a comeback. His newest single “Suit and Tie” feat. Jay- Z has been skyrocketing on the charts, despite its unique sound. He graced the stage for the Superbowl pre-party, The Grammys and threw an after Grammy’s concert at The Hollywood Palladium, exclusively for fans.  I was one of those lucky fans that got to attend the intimate gathering February 10, 2013.
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The man of the hour appeared on stage around 11:30, after fans waited since the mid-evening in line.  Bigger and better than ever, Timberlake performed his long time hits,  Cry Me A River, What Goes Around, Senorita, Like I Love You, etc. amidst his newest songs off his album “The 20/20 Experience” debuting March 19, 2013. You can pre-order the album on Itunes for a low price of $10.99. The comeback show was full of energy as Timberlake danced, swayed and crooned his way into the hearts of L.A’s finest. I took this opportunity to make my very first iMovie with the videos that I took off my little phone camera. Although the sound is a little skewed and the video footage a little blurred, its still a fun little peak at what’s to be expected from Timberlake when he does announce his tour. Special guests included Jay-Z and Timbaland. Check out the link below. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. No, trust me, I really enjoyed it. Really.