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‘Smithee’ hits detour in Santa Monica

While Alan Smithee may have more credits than most directors in Hollywood, the name still doesn’t have the juice for a reservation to film at Chinois on Main in Santa Monica.

The producers of the Joe Eszterhas-scripted “An Alan Smithee Film” sent out letters last week to various industry figures, asking them to participate in the filming of a lunch scene at Chinois earlier this month.

While the prod had gotten permission from the restaurant’s owners to film at the popular eatery, when they went for the city permit they were informed that the city of Santa Monica has a moratorium on filming each year that lasts from the day before Thanksgiving until Jan. 2.

According to a staffer at the public works office, which issues permits for the city, the ban is for all commercial areas during the holiday season.

Because the city of L.A. has no such measure in place, the film’s location manager, Mike Fantasia, said the production subsequently moved their reservation to Drai’s in Beverly Hills.

Easing the way

“The city has really come around in recent years,” Fantasia said. “They make contacts with neighbors who may be hostile and ease our way.”

“Smithee” has shot at more than 50 locations around Los Angeles, including Paramount Studios, the L.A. Athletic Club, the Queen Mary bungee tower, the Rose Cafe in Venice, the homes of Joe Eszterhas and Robert Evans and the USC campus.

Friday “Smithee” will shoot at another L.A. hot spot: the Inglewood Forum during the Lakers’ game against Portland.

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Los Angeles supervisor Michael D. Antonovich will replace Gini Barrett as chairman of the board of the Entertainment Industry Development Corp., the nonprofit permitting agency of Los Angeles city and county.

Antonovich, the EIDC’s first vice chair since its inception in 1995, was elected by the 45-member committee during its annual meeting.

The agency’s bylaws mandate that all officers rotate annually. Barrett, senior VP of the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers, will continue to serve on the EIDC board.

Additionally, the 45-member board also elected L.A. city councilman Hal Bernson to serve as first vice chair. Frank Scherma, national president of the Alliance of Independent Commercial Producers and president of @radical.media, will fill Bernson’s spot as second vice chair.

The EIDC board consists of 22 industry executives, Mayor Riordan, all five county supervisors and all 15 city councilmembers.

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Minnesota governor Arne Carlson and members of the Minnesota Film Board were in town earlier this week to promote the state’s feature film industry. On Dec. 9, Carlson co-hosted with Gramercy Pictures a screening of “Fargo” for the “Ice Pack,” 500 native Minnesotans working in the L.A. entertainment industry.

The screening also served to draw attention to the re-release of “Fargo” in New York and Los Angeles to generate Oscar noms. At the event, held at the AMC Santa Monica multiplex, Carlson honored the filmmakers, Joel and Ethan Coen, with an official certificate of appreciation.*

The most popular film locations in the Los Angeles area, according to an informal poll of the EIDC’s permit coordinators, are: Los Angeles City Hall, the Lincoln Heights jail, Queen of Angels Hospital, Park Plaza Hotel, Ocean Front Walk in Venice Beach, the old Herald Examiner building downtown, Griffith Park, the Barker Brothers building and the 2nd Street tunnel, both downtown.

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