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Reader Comment : The Tiffany's Troubles

January 12, 1986

When, finally, can one expect an evenhanded and accurate picture from The Los Angeles Times?

In June of 1985, we finished construction on the Tiffany Theaters, two of the better small theaters in Los Angeles that in design and concept were in complete accord with the guidelines and imitations set down by Equity's Waiver rules.

The union's Western Regional Director arbitrarily and incorrectly denied Waiver status to these theaters, refusing to meet with the owner, the architect who designed them, the attorneys representing them, and ultimately refusing to listen to Equity's own members, who tried to point out that such behavior was not in the interest of the membership.

After a problem-ridden opening, and for almost four months, these two wonderful theaters were essentially unusable for anything but a vanity production ("Rain") unbothered by the union's threats by virtue of their lack of professional affiliation.

The behavior of Actors Equity was deemed inappropriate, damaging and without legal or factual basis by two state court judges, a federal judge and a state court of appeals. It took each of these tribunals only a mater of minutes to assess the evidence and rule on behalf of the Tiffany Theater, granting it by virtue of an injunction against the union what it was entitled to simply by virtue of prevailing rules.

For this reprehensible behavior on the part of the union--illegal, costly, shortsighted, contrary to the interests of its own membership--has any of the union's leadership been criticized by The Times? For forcing a new theater owner to spend a ridiculous amount of time, energy and money just to be treated with some degree of fairness, has anybody from The Times examined the culpability of the Western Regional Director or Equity's board?

But on Thanksgiving, Lawrence Christon disapproved of the monies expended--not by the union-- by the theater in legal fees, despite the fact that without the protection of the court system, the theaters were essentially useless. Then on New Year's, Sylvie Drake bemoans the fact that the theaters have not lived up to their potential, underscored by Dan Sullivan's parting shot at the two shows that he did see at the Tiffany.

I am very proud of these facilities. I am proud of their concept, their design and the contribution they make to small theater in Los Angeles as venues where performers and audience can concentrate on productions free of the distraction of discomfort. I am also very proud to have had the production of "Fatty" at the theater. It was an original work-in-progress and despite its flaws had something to offer. I am filled with admiration for the cast of the show, who behaved with courage and dignity in the face of both a union and a press who seemed unable or unwilling to distinguish between the issue of Equity/non-Equity productions and the cost of the carpeting. (My understanding is that Art Metrano remained with the show as he had agreed throughout almost the entire run, until such time as he had to leave for Canada to meet a commitment for "Police Academy 3.")

I am also very proud of my association with Patricia Glaser of Wyman, Bautzer, who reminds me that a court victory should be reward enough, and that I should not look for understanding or approval on the part of the press.

This is, nevertheless, my own Humbug Award, shared equally by a union whose own members congratulate me daily on ultimately not having been stomped upon and by your very powerful paper, who occasionally seems content with the parting shot here or there rather than an honest assessment of a difficult situation.

PAULA HOLT

Executive Director

Tiffany Theater Corp.

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