×

Barry Diller Eyes $30 Million Gondola to Hollywood Sign (EXCLUSIVE)

Barry Diller and his wife, Diane von Furstenberg, are mulling a plan to fund a $25-30 million gondola that would ferry tourists to the Hollywood sign, Variety has learned.

The philanthropists — who contributed $35 million toward the construction of the High Line in New York — first floated the idea to L.A. city officials approximately three years ago. The idea went nowhere at the time, but has recently gotten renewed attention. The project is being spearheaded by von Furstenberg’s son, Alexander, an investor who serves as a director of the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation, according to sources familiar with the talks.

The project would carry tourists from the parking lot of the L.A. Zoo up to Mount Lee, where it would afford a close-up view of the Hollywood sign. In the early discussions, Alexander von Furstenberg has emphasized the parallel to New York’s High Line project, even referring to the gondola as the “Sky Line.”

In order to become a reality, the project would have to win approval from David Ryu, the councilman who represents Hollywood. Ryu’s office has had discussions with representatives for Alexander von Furstenberg, and encouraged them to gain support from neighborhood groups around Griffith Park. The project would also have to undergo an environmental impact report, a costly and time-consuming endeavor.

Ryu’s office has been studying how to alleviate traffic in the Hollywood Hills, where streets are often choked with tourists in search of the perfect selfie spot. The gondola has been included in a range of options recently presented to an advisory committee — though the identity of the funder has been a well-kept secret.

“There’s nothing definitive at this point. It’s just an idea,” said Leron Gubler, president and CEO of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, who added that the Chamber supports the idea. “If you had a gondola coupled with a visitor center, we think something like that would truly work to get people out of the neighborhoods.”

In May, Mayor Eric Garcetti mentioned the idea in an interview on KABC-TV. Garcetti did not identify a funding source for the project.

Diller has been trying for years to build Pier 55, a $250 million floating park on the West Side of Manhattan. The project has generated substantial controversy, and Diller recently announced plans to revive the concept after it appeared all but dead.

The billionaire mogul has similarly conceived of the gondola project as a philanthropic gift to the city. However, it may well face serious obstacles, such as neighborhood complaints and concerns about impacts to Griffith Park. Ryu, who was elected in 2015, is acutely sensitive to neighborhood objections to new development.

In an email, Alexander von Furstenberg declined to comment on the project.

“I wish I had more info to share with you but I don’t at this time,” he wrote.

Diller’s representatives also declined to comment.

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Led Zeppelin Stairway to Heaven

    Department of Justice Backs Led Zeppelin in ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Copyright Case

    The U.S. Department of Justice has weighed in on the next big music copyright case on the horizon following the Katy Perry “Dark Horse” decision, and taken Led Zeppelin’s side in the long-running copyright dispute that pits the writers of the group’s anthem “Stairway to Heaven” against the publishers of the earlier song “Taurus” by [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein

    Harvey Weinstein Prosecutors Make Last-Minute Move to Bolster Case

    The Manhattan D.A.’s office is making a last-minute bid to strengthen its case against Harvey Weinstein, who is set to be tried next month on charges of rape and sexual assault. Prosecutors notified the court on Tuesday that they will seek a new indictment. The D.A.’s office wants jurors to hear from Annabella Sciorra, the [...]

  • Jeffrey Epstein

    Jeffrey Epstein's Autopsy Rules That He Died by Suicide

    Jeffrey Epstein’s death earlier this month has been ruled a suicide by hanging. The New York Times reported on Friday that the city’s medical examiner has officially made the ruling six days after Epstein was found dead in his jail cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. According to the Times, which cites a [...]

  • America Ferrera Eva Longoria

    America Ferrera, Eva Longoria and More Sign Letter to Latinx Community: 'We Will Not Be Broken'

    America Ferrera, Eva Longoria and more have signed a letter published in several media outlets on Friday standing in solidarity with the Latinx community. In response to the heightened tension surrounding President Trump’s immigration agenda, the El Paso shooting that targeted Latinx people and the ICE raids in Mississippi, the letter addresses the language used [...]

  • Research Firm Screen Engine/ASI Acquires TicktBox

    Screen Engine/ASI Acquires TicktBox, an Entertainment Marketing and Ticketing Startup

    Screen Engine/ASI, a market research firm that specializes in focus-group testing of movies and TV pilots, has acquired ticktBox, which operates a digital marketing and ticketing platform used by movie distributors, exhibitors, and TV networks. Terms of the deal, which closed Aug. 9, weren’t disclosed. With ticktBox, SE/ASI will have one of the largest databases of [...]

  • NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST

    Eric Reid, Jemele Hill – and Colin Kaepernick? - Take Jay-Z to Task Over NFL Partnership

    When news of the presumably lucrative entertainment and social-justice deal between Jay-Z’s Roc Nation and the NFL leaked on Tuesday, initially there was a surprising lack of public reaction or outcry. But after a press conference where Jay and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell officially announced the deal at Roc Nation’s New York offices yesterday — [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content