Who's Who in the New Hollywood

Article excerpt

Along row of sleek stretch limousines and other high-end cars begins dropping off elegantly dressed passengers at the chic Hollywood eatery Georgia.

The Academy Awards telecast has just ended and celebrities, both Black and White, are flocking here to party with host Debbie Allen at the popular restaurant partly owned by her husband, Norin Nixon, and actor Denzel Washington.

Although it is located in the trendy Melrose District of Los Angeles rather than Beverly Hills, Georgia attracts a virtual Who's Who of Hollywood. And it is not insignificant that a Black-owned restaurant specializing in solid food is the most glittering example of Hollywood's new social order. For the days when a few black-tie restaurants in Beverly Hills and on West Hollywood's Sunset Strip attracted all the town's principal movers and shakers are long gone.

The New Hollywood also differs from the past in the number of influential Blacks who are considered a part of the upper echelon of powerbrokers in the entertainment industry. Superstar Michael Jackson, Motown founder Berry Gordy and entertainment mogul Quincy Jones have become powerful forces in Hollywood. They have been joined by executives like Dennis Hightower, president of Walt Disney Television and Telecommunications, and Dolores Robinson, who manages a number of celebrities and numerous music industry executives. Though big-name stars puff in megabucks at the box office, it is those who operate behind the scenes who are most likely to caucus and brainstorm over dinner with powerful White studio and network chiefs and icons like Steven Spielberg.

And Beverly Hills, long considered the most prestigious address for a home, whether one was Black or White, is no longer the hottest place to live. Some of the biggest showbiz names have shunned it. For example, Whoopi Goldberg has a home near the ocean in the Pacific Palisades section of L.A. and a second place near Santa Barbara; Janet Jackson lives on the beach in Malibu; Denzel Washington's home is in the San Fernando Valley; Lionel Richie and Della Reese reside in Bel-Air. O. J. Simpson's attorney, Johnnie L. Cochran Jr., lives in the Los Feliz section of L.A. Queen Latifah and Mario Van Peebles have homes in the Hollywood Hills.

Actually, the Hollywood Hills, part of the massive Santa Monica Mountain chain, house far more celebrities than Beverly Hills or Malibu. The Hollywood Hills offer sweeping, breathtaking views of the city and, in some cases, are not easily accessible to curiosity seekers. For many stars, that is a plus.

There are elegant, secure neighborhoods all over the L.A. region and many celebrities look for more than just a prestigious address. However, Beverly Hills is still a draw and is home to luminaries such as Luther Vandross, Marilyn McCoo, Kenny (Babyface) Edmonds, Earvin (Magic) Johnson, Berry Gordy and Holly Robinson.

Director John Singleton shuns those areas altogether, preferring to live in Baldwin Hills, known in Los Angeles as the "Black Beverly Hills."

Some of the biggest stars avoid Los Angeles altogether and instead live in cities like New York, Atlanta and Minneapolis, heading to Lala Land only when work requires them to do so. Their ranks include such names as Danny Glover (San Francisco), Anita Baker and Aretha Franklin (Detroit), Eddie Murphy and Whitney Houston (New Jersey), and Barry White (Las Vegas).

Rap superstars are a relatively new force in Hollywood. Some have soared to the top of that controversial music genre, hammered out their own deals and even founded their own companies, raking in millions of dollars in the process. Their ranks include Warren G., Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg Dogg. Some, like ice Cube and Ice-T, have found success as both rap artists and screen actors.

These artists have put communities like South-central L.A. and the suburbs of Compton and Long Beach on the map. Some of them, like Warren G. …