Hollywood’s new era

“I’d like to add another theater in Hollywood,” James Nederlander Sr. told me on the phone from the New York Nederlander Theater offices.

Jimmy, 85, was not out here this week for the announcement of the $400 million-lease deal of Nederlander property adjacent to its Pantages Theater but he’d been negotiations for the finale and son Jimmy, Jr., 47, was on hand. He was also looking at “Wicked” on the Pantages stage until March 31, 2008 and checking current acts at their Greek Theater before returning to the N.Y. offices. Nederlander, pere, started in the biz as a boy working in the boxoffice of the Shubert Lafayette theater in Detroit “for $25 a week,” he reminded me. And son Jimmy told me he dropped out of Boston College to also start working in the boxoffice of a Nederlander theater.

The Nederlanders  own 26 theaters, including three in London and nine in N.Y. where the largest, the Gershwin, is playing “Wicked” to a $150 million boxoffice to date.

Jimmy Sr. told me he’d been asked to take the theater being built in the then-new Hollywood and Highland complex which became the Kodak and the Academy’s home for Oscar on a 20 year lease. Nederlander didn’t like the theater, saying it was more like “an opera house.” Instead he put $10 million into rejuvenating the Pantages which had been a home to the Oscars as well the site for many Hollywood premieres — many of which I’d m.c’d. Nederlander bought the Pantages on the recommendation of Ed Lester, who headed the L.A.’s Civic Light Opera at the Biltmore theater, advising him to bring big theater to Hollywood. He did — and does. Nederlander, 85 says “I plan to keep working — that’s the only way.”

I spoke with Sid Ganis, Bob Rehme and Bruce Davis, the Acad’s President, Chairman of the Academy’s Musuem building committee and its Executive Director respecively about the Hollywood additions. They are all excited about them — they  will give visitors to Hollywood — and the Academy Museum — places to stay and even walk to the Museum.

Ganis expects it to open in 2011. The perimeters are Vine Street, Cahuenga, DeLongpre and  Fountain Avenues — all within easy walking distance from the Clarett Group’s Blvd 6200 buildings on the Nederlander property. They all promise that this new — Billion-$ — area will bring glamour back to Hollywood Blvd.’s east end. The western front is still a war zone, a haven for tattoo parlors and schlock shops. But I’m told they too will disappear and glamor palaces will replace’em.

Stay tuned.

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