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WESTSIDE WATCH

Marina del Rey's 10 Minutes of Fame

July 25, 1993

Ready for prime time: Once again, network TV is turning to the Westside for the setting of a series. Marina del Rey gets the honor this time, but if viewers blink, they may miss the community's moment in the spotlight.

"357 Marina Del Rey" will be an element in the Fox network's "Danger Theatre," a spoof of the action/adventure genre of the 1970s and 1980s. "Danger Theatre" consists of two 10-minute elements each week. Fox has ordered seven episodes, but it appears unlikely that more will be ordered.

"357 Marina Del Rey" will make its debut, and possibly its farewell, on Aug. 22. A sendup of "Miami Vice," it is about two detectives who "care more about looking good than fighting crime," executive producer Bob Wolterstorff said.

"Danger Theatre" airs Sundays at 7:30 p.m. Its July 11 premiere got just a 3.8 rating, tied for 88th among the 97 programs broadcast on the four major networks that week.

But hey, it still means the marina joins the ranks of Beverly Hills, Malibu and other Westside venues as a setting for a series. Over the years, Beverly Hills has probably been the most frequently shown, with such shows as "Beverly Hills, 90210," "The Beverly Hillbillies," "Down and Out in Beverly Hills," "Leo & Liz in Beverly Hills" and "Bachelor Father."

Malibu has been close behind with "Baywatch," currently in syndication; last season's steamy CBS prime-time soap opera "2000 Malibu Road"; "Malibu U," a 1967 ABC summer-replacement musical series that starred Rick Nelson, and "Malibu Run," a 1961 CBS entry about two divers who moved to Malibu Beach to set up an aquatic sports shop.

Drivers going north on Pacific Coast Highway could pass the trailer that private detective Jim Rockford (James Garner) called home on "The Rockford Files." En route, they could stop in Santa Monica to be treated by "Marcus Welby, M.D."

Even L.A.'s Pico-Robertson district had a series it could call its own. Like many a real-life business, the private detective firm in "Beverly Hills Buntz" sought to use that city's fabled name but was actually located in Pico-Robertson, a considerably lower-rent "Beverly Hills-adjacent" neighborhood.

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Helicopter history: What would Harry Culver, founder of Culver City, have thought of Sony Pictures Studios' request to shuttle celebrities to and from its complex via helicopter?

The question swirls with historic intrigue: Culver, who died in 1946, was enthralled by helicopter technology, and as far back as the late 1920s talked of placing a helicopter landing pad atop his Culver Hotel on Culver Boulevard.

Does that mean it's safe to assume Culver, were he alive today, would enthusiastically support Sony's request to land helicopters on its property?

Not necessarily, suggests Culver's daughter, Pat Culver Battle of Sunland.

Told that Sony's proposal has drawn the ire of many residents concerned about noise and safety, Battle said, "I don't know if he would want it now in the middle of town--probably not."

She noted that the skies were a lot emptier when her father proposed his idea--an idea that never got off the ground, incidentally.

"Thinking about it then is different than thinking about it now," she said. "He certainly wouldn't want anything disturbing."

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Police presence: City Hall regulars are still talking about the way Santa Monica's usually low-key mayor, Judy Abdo, flew off the handle earlier this month at the sight of a cop in uniform at the back door of the council chambers.

Police Chief James T. Butts was on the podium answering questions about the advisability of closing the city's parks overnight when Abdo lost her cool.

Looking straight at the chief, Abdo demanded to know just whose bright idea it was to bring in what to her was a looming police presence when none was warranted. She went on to all but order the officer out of her sight.

"I would prefer that he be wherever he should be fighting crime," she said. "We don't have a problem here."

Eventually, City Manager John Jalili persuaded her to simmer down, and the meeting proceeded. Abdo later explained that she was angry because she thought the presence of uniformed officers might provoke problems after what had been a calm hearing on the park closure law. During that hearing, many homeless people had warned the council that the law would essentially give police a license to harass them.

Abdo said she was worried that the sudden presence of the officer (there were actually two of them) might be too hard on the homeless people in the audience.

"There shouldn't be a police officer in uniform blocking the doorway while we were doing something difficult for homeless people to hear," she said.

Butts appeared stunned by Abdo's barrage. After his stint at the podium, he went outside the chambers, thanked the officers for coming and told them it was OK to leave. He explained that it was not unusual to dispatch officers to meetings where a large crowd and an emotional issue could turn into a volatile mix, which the officers' presence could defuse.

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