In a decidedly somber mood, Hollywood returned to work Wednesday with studios, agencies and production shingles opening doors that had been closed the previous day. It was, however, hardly business as usual.
As execs discussed how to proceed on projects in light of Tuesday’s tragic events, conversations between colleagues were qualified with phrases like “This may not be the appropriate time for this.”
In many offices, business was conducted with CNN droning in the background.
“Every once in awhile there is a weird business call, but most people are just sitting around watching TV,” a senior exec at a high-level production company said. “It certainly puts everything in perspective.”
Studios such as Disney and Universal upped the security efforts on their respective lots, while Warner Bros and Sony said their usual security precautions were sufficient.
Some companies in town chose not to comment on the record about their safety measures. “We are doing what’s appropriate under the circumstances,” one studio rep said.
With car lines longer than usual, the Sony lot was clearly tightening security with photocopied signs clearly posted everywhere that only employees with ID would be allowed onto the lot.
The same notices at Sony also asked employees to refer all media calls to corporate representatives.
At Fox, cars also backed up as security personnel checked credentials of those entering the lot.
Though the town’s major talent agencies were all open for business, most were being more cautious, requesting visitors sign in before proceeding to reception desks or agents’ offices.
Even though agents turned up, most spent the day calling their clients to reassure them, inquiring after their friends and loved ones and sending emails informing one another about events that had been postponed or canceled in the wake of the disaster.
The Mouse House also heightened security at its Orlando and Anaheim-based theme parks.
“Our focus remains on our employees and guests and the human side of this tragedy, on people’s safety and well-being” Disney spokeswoman Christine Castro said.
Disney topper Michael Eisner issued a memo via email Tuesday night addressed to “fellow cast members” condemning what he termed the “catastrophic act of violence.”
Eisner thanked all employees “who are understandably upset, normally confused about our complicated world and tolerably angry — for being calm and calming to our guests,” at the company’s hotels. He also praised ABC News, WABC-TV in New York and ABC Radio for their work.
“Finally let me say our company around the world will continue to operate in this sometimes violent world in which we live, offering products that reach to the higher and more positive side of the human equation,” signing the memo simply “Michael.”
Eateries’ biz down
The mood of Hollywood’s senior dealmakers was reflected in the lunch and breakfast trade of the town’s top restaurants, normally the mainstay of business for entertainment execs.
Michael Goddard, manager of the Grill, said business was “slow on the day of the tragedy,” but the restaurant still saw such regulars as Spike Lee, Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Calley and Mike Medavoy. Business was even slower on Wednesday, he said.
Spago Beverly Hills and Barneys Green Grass closed their doors on Tuesday and Spago saw a raft of canceled reservations on Wednesday — including a party that HBO had booked on Sunday in honor of the Emmy Awards.
“It is a little quiet,” said Spago manager Ricardo Martinez. “It’s a pretty somber day.”
While lunch numbers were also down at Ca’Brea, dinner reservations for Wednesday night had picked up considerably, per manager Carol Williams.
“I think people want to be together and spend time with their family and friends right now,” she said.
(Jonathan Bing contributed to this report.)