Disney spots hollywood logo?

Rohit Khare (khare@w3.org)
Wed, 6 Nov 1996 18:07:49 -0500

Dogfight Looms Over Disney Bid to Put Spots on Landmark Sign=20

By LARRY GORDON, Times Staff Writer

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0The landmark Hollywood sign could be breaking out in giant=
black spots
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 Don't suspect fungus or graffiti on the 45-foot-high lett=
Instead, anticipate a proposed marketing stunt for the Nov. 27 opening of=
movie about a big bunch of two-toned canines.=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 And expect a snarly dogfight over the possible use of Los=
Historic Cultural Monument No. 111 to promote the live-action remake of
"101 Dalmatians."=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 Those ever-eager marketeers for the Walt Disney Co. hope =
to decorate
the world-famous white sign with vinyl or magnetic metal blotches for fiv=
days in connection with the film's premiere at the El Capitan Theatrejust
down the hill.=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 While Hollywood-area business leaders are cheering, nearb=
y homeowners
and some city parks managers are reacting as if the evil Cruella DeVil ha=
nabbed their puppies.=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 "It is simply unreasonable to use the sign for commercial=
purposes to
promote movies or anything else. One would hope Los Angeles would finally
get a little bit of class and protect its historic monuments," Edward
Cohan, vice president of the Hollywoodland Homeowners Assn., declared in =
letter this week to city officials.=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 The sign, Cohan asserted, has as much symbolism for Los A=
ngeles "as
the Eiffel Tower has for Paris and Big Ben for London."=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 Disney representatives presented their plans Tuesday to t=
he Hollywood
Sign Trust, the nonprofit organization charged with protecting the
73-year-old sign in Griffith Park. The trust and the related Hollywood
Chamber of Commerce, which controls the sign's copyright, will look kindl=
at the spots if the city's Recreation and Parks Department does.=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 "It's a great idea," trust Chairman Chris Baumgart said. =
It matches,
he suggested, the trust's other goal of promoting Hollywood as a center o=
the motion picture industry.=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 City approval, however, is not a sure thing. And if the s=
pots provoke
too many howls, the Burbank-based entertainment company "is more than hap=
to walk away" from the proposal, stressed Terry Curtin, Disney's senior
vice president of publicity.=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 "We think it's a lot of fun and it's cute. But certainly =
relationship with the Hollywood community is one we value," Curtin said.=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 Besides, the sign spots would not be a crucial element in=
the massive
advertising and merchandising campaign for the remake of the 1981 animate=
classic, she said. As retail tie-ins, everything from roller skates to
luggage to pajamas will sprout spots.=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 In a formal letter being sent this week to the city Recre=
ation and
Parks Department, Disney is expected to pledge that the spots would not
harm the metal sign, created to advertise an upscale real estate
development known as Hollywoodland (The syllable "LAND" was removed from
the sign in the '40s.) Disney promises to protect the neighborhood from
lights, noise and security problems during the Thanksgiving weekend.=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 But that won't mollify residents who say they enjoy the B=
Canyon neighborhood for its serenity and views.=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 In recent years, the sign has been altered repeatedly by =
pranksters and occasionally by film firms with permits. Among the outlaw
spellings that canyon residents have awakened to see were "HOLLYWEED,"
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 The loudest uproar came four years ago, when the city app=
roved a
Paramount Pictures stunt for the forgettable film "Cool World." The sign'=
letter "D" was topped for five days with a 75-foot-high cartoon character
named "Holli Would." In a resulting court battle, residents complained
about fire dangers and the extra tourist traffic on the canyon's narrow
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 Instead of changing the sign again, put Dalmatian spots o=
n City Hall,
Hollywoodland activist Christine O'Brien half-jokingly suggested Wednesda=
"Or have Mayor Riordan dress up like Cruella DeVil," she said.=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce receives and denies abo=
ut two
requests a month to alter the sign, according to chamber Executive Direct=
Leron Gubler. Yet if the city allows the spots, the chamber probably woul=
too, because Disney has been such a good citizen in restoring the El
Capitan Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard, Gubler explained.=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 Three months before the "Cool World" episode, the state s=
ettled a
lawsuit it brought against the Hollywood Chamber over alleged financial
mismanagement. All royalties for the copyright now must be used for the
sign's upkeep.=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 Disney has not determined how to attach the spots to the =
sheet metal
letters, although magnets or appliques are being studied as the least
harmful, Curtin said.=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 Unless the Disney spots are treated as an emergency issue=
, city Board
of Recreation and Park commissioners are not likely to debate the matter
until their Nov. 20 meeting, officials said. In the meantime, parks
department staffers are joining the opposition.=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 "We all know it began as a commercial sign, but it has gr=
own to
something beyond that," said Linda Barth, a senior management analyst for
the department's Griffith Park division.=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 "If we say yes to Disney, who else do you say yes to?" sh=
e asked. "It
boggles the mind how to draw the line on who can or cannot put their
message on the world's most famous billboard."=20

Copyright Los Angeles Times=20