Flirting with disaster

Variety editorial

Hollywood loves flattening cities in the name of blockbuster summer entertainment, and perhaps no city has endured as much abuse as Los Angeles.

The latest indignity comes courtesy of NBC, whose two-part disaster miniseries “10.5,” depicts a rash of monstrous earthquakes that carve a new coastline for Southern California. It posted the highest ratings for a network movie in years.

Billboards have begun appearing around town to promote Fox’s dystopian tentpole pic “The Day After Tomorrow,” in which the city gets squashed by tornadoes.

Tim Lahaye and Jerry B. Jenkins’ apocalyptic blockbuster “Glorious Appearing,” the 12th in a series of books in which the world is destroyed by earthquakes, fires and hailstorms, has rocketed to the top of bestseller lists. The saga has sold 60 million copies.

All this comes at a time when weather conditions in L.A. have turned stifling, with a blistering heatwave sparking an early start to the annual official wildfire season.

Southern California seemed like Shangri-La to the pioneers of the motion picture business. They moved here for the warm breezes, the acres of cheap land and the sunlight.

These days, the world seems to be rooting for Los Angeles to fall into the ocean. Or is it simply that producers are subconsciously trying to tap into the anti-Hollywood sentiment apparently rife throughout the country and, indeed, the world?

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