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Grauman's Makeover


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The following is an excerpt from The Scene Invasion about this year's festival



"I’m sitting in the TCL (formerly Grauman’s) Chinese Theater for the closing night of the fourth annual **TCM Classic Film Festival,* and the crowd is very unhappy with longtime Turner Classic Movies host and event emcee Robert Osborne. But it's got nothing to do with Osborne (twinky as ever) or with the festival (excellent as usual), or with that night's screening of Buster Keaton's most celebrated film, The General (movie magic in its purest form). *{color:white}e Turner ovies host and event emcee{color:white} {color:white}(movie magic in its purest form).


No, these classic film aficionados are upset because Osborne has just informed us of the historic theater’s [{font:}impending renovation|http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/envelope/cotown/la-et-ct-chinese-theatre-goes-imax-20130411,0,2203702.story], which will turn the movie palace that opened in 1927 into one of the biggest IMAX theaters in the country. To this crowd, the news is more than just a disappointing step towards the crass commercialization of yet another Old Hollywood landmark – it’s an affront to their identity as participants in the preservation of cinematic history."



Unfortunately, I could not agree more with *Scene Invasion*. It will be an entirely different (and in my opinion, diminished) experience from anything we've had in the past, and folks need to be prepared for the psychological shock next year. I can remember the first time I went to Grauman's at the 2010 Festival. I was awestruck with the beautiful artwork and the expanse which allowed me to see all the other attendees. I remember seeing Eli Wallach come in -- he required the assistance of a walker for stablity, and other, elderly celebrities who used canes. I had the privilege of sitting next to Mickey Rooney for Cabaret last year. He had the assistance of a wheel chair and rolled down to my aisle. Lucky me ! Not that the new TLC theater (or whatever it's called) won't be ADA compliant, but TCM should anticipate that it will be more challenging for elderly celebs to navigate the new structures. Fans should be glad if they were able to attend one of the previous TCM showings in the older mode. This experience, regrettably, will never again be possible.



Edited by: cinecrazydc on May 13, 2013 9:54 PM


Edited by: cinecrazydc on May 13, 2013 10:04 PM

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Here's some information on the minimal changes coming to Grauman's:




I have a friend who is on the Board of Hollywood Heritage, the preservation group that is responsible for saving Grauman's fifteen years ago (and involved in the changes taking place now) and she shared the information that I've been sharing with people since the FF.


The one big change will be the steps that lead down into the theater. Those will go away (they aren't original to the theater). The slope of the theater will be altered with the addition of stadium seating but the slope has been altered more than once since the theater opened back in the 1920s. The owners are following federal standards.


The IMAX screen and the new sound system is said not to alter the interior except for the changes already mentioned by me and Curbed LA.


Hollywood Heritage saved Grauman's fifteen years ago when Hollywood and Highland was being built. They were the ones responsible for getting both the interior and exterior restored to what it looked like when it opened.


They are watching this very closely and will step in, if need be, to keep the owners and leasee from destroying the interior or the exterior.


From my Film Festival thread:


For those who don't know, TCL, a Chinese television manufacturing company, has the branding rights to Grauman's for five years. They are working with the owners of the theater to install an Imax screen. The changes to the interior are supposed to be minimal with the loss of the stairs that lead down into the theater. They will relight some of the interior lighting that hasn't been lit in over seventy years. They are keeping the projection booth and the projection equipment as well.


To see what the changes will look like: http://la.curbed.com/archives/2013/04/see_the_changes_coming_soon_to_the_tcl_chinese_theatre.php


Hollywood Heritage is the preservation group that fought the destruction of Grauman's fifteen years ago when the Hollywood and Highland complex was being built. They are also the group responsible for Hollywood and Highland completely restoring not only the interior of the theater but the facade and forecourt. So, it sounds like Hollywood Heritage has its eye on the project and won't let TCL or the current owners destroy anything.



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Thanks for the update and additional information, much of which I was not aware. I will reserve judgment and hope for the best. It sounds like the right people (viz., Hollywood Heritage) are keeping an eye on things. It's just that I'm skeptical whenever a developer says something like, "Don't worry -- we're going to take care of everything !" That's about as reassuring as when a heavy in a gangster movie says something like: "Don't worry -- we're going to make sure you get *exactly* what's coming to you." Then when they screw things up, they go on a charm offensive -- kind of like what BP is doing with its "Ya'll come on down to the Gulf" commercials. Anyway, I do hope you're right and that the changes will be minimal. It's not just for me -- I want future festival goers to be able to have the same great experience I did in 2010.


Much obliged -



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  • 3 months later...

Here's the scoop on the makeover that Grauman's went through. Sounds like everything we love about the theater is intact, including the curtain.


The big change besides the IMAX screen is the slope of the theater and the stadium seating. The slope of the theater prior to the makeover was not the original slope so they didn't destroy anything. It sounds like they took pains to make the stadium seating fit in with the decor and it sounds much more comfortable.



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  • 3 weeks later...

My fears have been somewhat allayed by what I believe was presented as the new Grauman?s interior (the place will always be that to me, TCL notwithstanding) that was shown as part of the *Wizard of Oz* promotional. If the promotional is to be believed, the inside does look impressive, without any major changes to the motifs. According to SueSue, the place is not on the National Historic Register (why not is beyond me), but it will always be an iconic location for classic film fans. Here?s hoping Historic Los Angeles will continue to do due diligence on such things.



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I have heard reports back from people who have seen Grauman's interior and they report that the interior looks almost the same (though new seats, new screen, new sound system and new slope) and in some ways, improved. Seems they put LED lighting in the ceiling and that helps bring out some of the details that have been hiding in the shadows.


All in all, I think the majority of Festival goers will be very pleased with the job done.

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