Celluloid Dreams Nearing Reality amid Eco-Opposition

By Daniel B. Wood, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, January 8, 1996 | Go to article overview

Celluloid Dreams Nearing Reality amid Eco-Opposition


Daniel B. Wood, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


LOS ANGELES Mayor Richard Riordan (R) says it "sends a message to the world that Los Angeles is back." Gov. Pete Wilson (R) says, "to say I'm pleased and proud would be a terrible understatement...."

But some environmentalists and native Americans are crying out: "Don't tread on us."

The "it" that has angered some but put smiles on most recession-weary politicians here is the first major, Hollywood film studio to be built in 60 years. Announced last month by three of the biggest names in entertainment - Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen - construction on the 100-acre studio campus is scheduled to begin on oceanfront property here in June.

The trio's 14-month-old company, DreamWorks SKG, will make movies, TV shows, records, and multimedia products from new buildings and refurbished airplane hangars once used by billionaire Howard Hughes.

"The symbolism of this for Los Angeles at this crucial moment cannot be overstated," says Joel Kotkin, senior fellow at the Center for the New West in Denver. There has been an exodus of Hollywood film production to other locales in recent years, and many had speculated that DreamWorks would settle in Seattle, Phoenix, or elsewhere. Now that the group has chosen L.A., Mr. Kotkin says, "it signals that not only will the city remain a world hub of entertainment but will stay at the cutting edge of the new digital era whose companies might have migrated elsewhere."

The high-profile threesome first turned heads at the end of 1994, when they announced they would pool their resources to start their own studio. The group's first offering, the TV comedy "Champs," produced from Amblin Entertainment headquarters on the back lot of Universal Studios, airs tomorrow night. But Amblin czar Mr. Spielberg has long pined for larger digs from which to spin bigger dreams.

"When we decided to form a movie studio, I realized we had to have a physical studio," Spielberg said last month. …

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