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Will Quake Shake an Exodus Out of Hollywood? : Aftershocks: Severe property damage and general anxiety make industry people wary of living in Los Angeles. However, the majority say they aren't planning to pull up stakes.

January 31, 1994|TERRY PRISTIN DANIEL CERONE and ELAINE DUTKA | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Two years ago, a bridge leading to the Malibu Canyon community of TV producers Joel Shukovsky and Diane English, the husband-and-wife team who created "Murphy Brown" and "Love and War," was washed out by floods and wound up in their back yard. Last November, when fires raged through Calabasas and Malibu, 130 acres of their ranch in Hidden Valley burned up.

Today, Shukovsky and English are working out of boxes in converted garden apartments across the street from their flooded offices at CBS Studios in Studio City. The surrounding area has nearly been reduced to a ghost town after considerable damage from the Jan. 17 Northridge earthquake.

A little weary from life in Southern California, Shukovsky and English are finally taking stock of their options.

"This is not going to go away," Shukovsky sighed. "We're going to repatch and re-stucco, and six months from now or a year from now we could have the Big One. There's a buzz going around town now with people saying, 'Where else can we produce TV shows other than Southern California?' And this is not idle chatter."

In Hollywood, as everywhere else in the area, the 6.6 quake did far more than rattle buildings and disrupt the practical side of life. A young industry couple, Marc Yobs, 32, an executive with a sound and special effects company, and Karen Osterholt, 30, a receptionist at a television production firm, lost their lives.

Some homes, including those belonging to Norman Lear, Warren Beatty and Annette Bening, Kirstie Alley, Walter Matthau, Jerry Van Dyke and UA motion picture production executive vice president Rebecca Pollack and her husband, HBO vice president Hutch Parker, were heavily damaged. Like Shukovsky English Entertainment, many companies, including the Santa Monica-based Sanford-Pillsbury Productions ("Love Field"), had to evacuate their offices. Damage to offices and studios has delayed production for weeks on a number of television series, including "Seinfeld," "Dave's World," "Second Chances" and several soap operas. As everywhere else, countless numbers lost valued possessions, and many more saw their sleep patterns disrupted.

Not surprisingly, many people have come to see the temblor as the latest "payback for living in Shangri-La," as screenwriter Stanley G. Weiser ("Wall Street") put it, and wonder if they are getting an even deal.

Dick Wolf, executive producer of NBC's "Law & Order," said filming in New York has never been more tempting. "When the quake was going on, my wife turned to me and said, 'Can we leave now?' " said Wolf, a native New Yorker. "We've seen the four seasons of L.A. now--riots, fires, floods and earthquakes. I don't know what else is left."

Despite the anxiety, few people are actually planning to pull up stakes. "I think Hollywood was paralyzed for more than a week," said producer Howard Rosenman ("Father of the Bride"). The randomness of the destruction was especially unnerving for an industry populated by "control freaks who think they can control everything," he added. "But, with time, you become more and more complacent. You become desensitized."

In the end, most people are likely to agree with producer Arnold Kopelson ("The Fugitive"), who is willing to incur a bit of sleeplessness in exchange for good weather and the area's other attractions. "I like it out here," he said. "The day after the quake, the sun was shining. I felt good. So, it's back to our games, I guess."

Unlike most people, many Hollywood luminaries call more than one place home, and a number of celebrities look upon Los Angeles as just a place to draw a paycheck. "Most of them (stars) spend their time here when they're working," said publicist Pat Kingsley. "When they're not here, unless their kids are in school, they are in their other homes." Kingsley's client Goldie Hawn has been able to repair to Colorado, for example, while Bruce Willis and Demi Moore are in Idaho, she said.

For those left behind, "the earthquake has allowed Hollywood to gossip about something other than whose movie bombed," said screenwriter Shane Black ("Lethal Weapon"), who was in Seattle when the quake struck. "A lot of people are waving their arms, freaking out and relating their stories to each other. At the end, they'll go back to stepping on each other and digging the knives in as though nothing had happened."

But TV producer Aaron Spelling believes the quake has brought out the best in Hollywood. "I'm kind of proud of the way most of the industry has taken this, and the help they're giving each other," said Spelling, who put up 18 employees and relatives at his 56,000-square-foot Holmby Hills chateau--which is built on rollers--right after the quake. The producer said he has no plans to move the production facilities for Fox's "Beverly Hills 90210" and "Melrose Place" out of the San Fernando Valley.

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