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WESTSIDE WATCH

29th District: The Story That Had to Be Told

September 05, 1993

How others see us: "The Westside: the term was not much used 20 years ago, but is now shorthand for what might be the biggest and flashiest concentration of affluence in the world. It is the heartland of one of America's most productive and creative industries . . . show business."

So begins a profile of Rep. Henry A. Waxman's 29th Congressional District in the new "Almanac of American Politics 1994," a guide to who's who inside the Beltway put out every other year by the National Journal. Some of the liveliest prose in the 1,500-page tome is in its portraits of each of the nation's 435 congressional districts.

The 29th District profile--actually, it's more of a diatribe--acknowledges that not everyone who lives on the Westside is in the entertainment industry, but it nonetheless dwells on the subject at length. Some excerpts:

"Show business (has) moved far beyond movies, which reached their peak attendance in the early 1950s. It has never regained the gift it had, under the great studio bosses in the 1930s and 1940s, of capturing the American spirit in a way that was universally accessible: commerce and art combining to produce great popular culture.

"(Today) the Westside's . . . willingness to exploit appetites for vicarious violence and sex is undisciplined by the restraint (heeded by) the great studio bosses. As new technologies proliferate, its products no longer have a universal appeal. And there is something solipsistic about the Westside: Its denizens are increasingly interested in themselves and astonishingly ignorant of the world beyond. The great studio bosses . . . mostly of Jewish immigrant stock, were acutely aware that they could prosper only by touching a chord in the American people. Today's show business people, who have in common no one ethnic origin but rather share values skeptical of tradition and moral restraints, seem increasingly interested in depicting the lives of people like themselves--and of proselytizing others to be more like them. . . .

"Show business, rich beyond imagination (and) almost unanimously enthusiastic for liberal Democrats . . . has the pleasure of seeing its favored politicians control the White House and Congress, arguably for the first time ever. But this triumph occurred just as show business' hold on American minds seemed to be slipping, partly because of technological change, partly because of Westside self-absorption."

Oh, well, at least one thing hasn't changed since the era of the great bosses: There's still no business like show business.

*

How others see us, Part II: Beverly Hills residents are all too aware that the city is contending with a budget crunch, municipal layoffs, a high vacancy rate in commercial real estate and crumbling schools. But the city seems to retain some luster when viewed from afar.

The NBC soap opera "Days of Our Lives" is in the midst of a story line that brings Bo Brady (Robert Kelker-Kelly) and Billie Reed (Lisa Rinna) from the fictional Midwestern town of Salem to Beverly Hills.

"The rest of the country thinks of Beverly Hills as being chic, trendy and upscale," said Jim Reilly, the show's head writer. "It's sort of like a fantasy shopping trip and a dream spot for our characters to experience."

Billie visited various Rodeo Drive boutiques and jewelry stores, while Bo also went clothes-shopping for himself. During their stay in Southern California, Billie and Bo will also experience several other Westside tourist staples: Mann's Chinese Theatre, the Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach.

*

Tale of the Tape: Michael Radcliffe pipes up a lot at West Hollywood City Council meetings. On Aug. 16, for example, he spoke five times.

It was one too many.

Now Radcliffe's business group, the West Hollywood Community Alliance, has lost a founding member and headlining city business, the Warner Hollywood Studios.

Early in the evening, Radcliffe got up to warn the council that talk of a possible East End redevelopment had scared away interested businesses--five to be exact. Later, while speaking against a hotel-tax increase, he was asked who else knew about those five firms. Radcliffe dropped the name of Jack Foreman, Warner's vice president and general manager and an influential West Hollywood player.

It wasn't true; Foreman knew of only one or two such businesses. After watching a videotape of the meeting, the studio exec promptly quit the group, complaining Radcliffe had misrepresented him.

"Our studio cannot be a member of an organization where the leader . . . plays footloose with facts," he wrote in resigning.

Radcliffe was apologetic for speaking out of turn, saying he simply goofed on what Foreman knew. "I would not lie and I certainly wouldn't use Mr. Foreman's name in a lie," he said.

But Radcliffe said the studio, recently granted city permission for a major renovation, had been under city pressure to leave the alliance, which is regularly at odds with City Hall and the local Chamber of Commerce.

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