For decades, the entertainment and retail industries have been finding growing synergies. No one has done more to extend this relationship to the shopping experience than real estate mogul Rick Caruso. The design of his mega-mall complexes at the Grove in Los Angeles, the Americana in Glendale and the Commons in Calabasas has been largely informed by showbiz.

“A lot of what we do has been inspired by the film industry and the idea of having a living set,” says Caruso. This is true especially at the Grove, where TV entertainment news show “Extra” is shot.

“The old studios had gates, and once you passed through those gates, you entered into sort of a better time,” Caruso adds.

Caruso’s company, Caruso Affiliated, not only called on traditional sources like the company’s VP of architecture David Williams, who designed the properties in collaboration with Downtown Disney creator Elkus/Manfredi, but also Hollywood talent, including production designers Richard Tom Sawyer (“Three Amigos”) and Kelly Van Patter (“Survivor”).

Caruso also enlisted retired Walt Disney imagineer George McGinnis, who created rides Space Mountain and Indiana Jones, to design the malls’ double-decker trolley cars. The faux snow that’s become holiday tradition at the Grove was devised by Adam Williams of MagicSnow, who was once an amateur magician at the Magic Castle.

Although art critics have turned up their noses at the juxtaposition of architectural styles in his developments, Caruso points out real cities are built over time in a jumble of architectural styles.

Besides, “at the end of the day, in my business, just like with a movie, people vote with their feet,” Caruso says. “The Grove has 20 million visitors a year, so people are voting that they like it.”

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