Ambassadors Descend on L.A. for Hollywood-Centric Diplomacy

The State Department this week is hosting 48 foreign ambassadors based in D.C. on a trip to Los Angeles this week, in an itinerary that includes a breakfast on “Hollywood and social change” at CAA and a lunch on the “internationalization of film” at Warner Bros. on Thursday as well as meetings with studio officials.

Among the topics expected: Wooing location film production to their own countries.

But on Tuesday night at an opening reception dinner at the Getty Museum, Hollywood pitched itself, via a film short, “City of Dreams,” from exec producers Barbara Glazer and Richard Kaufman. It makes heavy use of clips of movies shot in L.A., most prominently best picture winner  “The Artist.” It was the only film among all of hte best picture nominees shot entirely in Los Angeles. Also included were clips from “Chinatown” and “L.A. Story,” while the makers steered clear of the apocalyptic visions of recent megapics like “Battle: Los Angeles” and “The Day After Tomorrow.”

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, fighting off the flu, addressed the diplomats with a mix of boosterism and a tinge of politics, telling them, “This is a city that doesn’t care who your father was. In my case, they didn’t care that I didn’t have one, and with the new federal court decision on marriage equality, they don’t care if you have two of them.” It drew extensive cheers from the crowd, which also included Lisa Ling, Geena Davis and Kareem Abdul Jabbar, the latter recently appointed as a cultural ambassador for the State Department.

The visit — which today included a trek to the Inner-City Arts program — is part of the State Department’s Experience America program, designed to boost the government’s use of soft diplomacy. Show biz was a theme of the film short, but the visit also includes treks to the Fashion Institute of Design and an event from the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.

Capricia Marshall, U.S. chief of protocol, said, “This is a sector of our great American society that they want to engage with, primarily, I will say, for business purposes. They are there to network and meet people to bring interest back to their country, to engage in relationships between both countries.”

One ambassador, Gilles Alexandre Noghes of Monoco, was quick to remind that his country was the locale of Alfred Hitchcock’s “To Catch a Thief.” (The embassy in Washington includes portraits of star Grace Kelly, who married Prince Rainier and became princess). Of course, he said he’d welcome another classic.



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