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Gee, It Sounded Like a Good Idea : 'Cute' Real Estate Ad in the Hollywood Reporter Generates Complaints

March 12, 1994|ROBERT W. WELKOS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"Schindler's List" may be drawing raves this year, but Schindler's Listing is drawing mostly outrage in Hollywood.

Schindler's Listing?

It is a real estate advertisement for a $7.9-million Los Angeles estate that appeared Friday in the entertainment trade paper the Hollywood Reporter.

A number of people in the movie industry were upset because the ad seemed to be a tasteless spoof of the much-heralded Steven Spielberg drama about the Holocaust that has garnered 12 Oscar nominations, including best picture and best director.

The ad, in an obvious take-off on the film, claims that "Schindler's Listing" also has received "12 nominations."

But rather than best picture or best director, the ad says that the "nominations" Schindler's elegant residence has received include: best house in Los Angeles; best original architecture; best interior design; best pool design and best mountain, city & ocean views, not to mention best use of glass.

It didn't take long before a real estate firm involved in the sale started getting angry calls from the Hollywood community.

"They were saying, 'This is a disgrace!' and 'You shouldn't use this!' " said an employee at Stan Herman, Stephen Shapiro & Associates, who asked not to be identified. "We're getting complaints from everywhere."

One employee said that many of the complaints came in from virtually every major studio, including Disney, Paramount and TriStar, with most the callers saying how tasteless they thought the ad was.

*

The title refers to a list of Jews working for Oskar Schindler who would be transported to his factory in Czechoslovakia, and thereby saved from likely death. Stephen Shapiro, whose real estate company has the listing along with Fred Sands Estates, said what many callers failed to realize was that a man named Schindler--European publisher Peter Schindler, to be exact--is the actual seller and, "When you take a listing on a house, it's called a listing."

The real estate executive said that he was surprised at the negative reaction the ad generated, noting that the ad appeared in the real estate section of the trade publication--not in the pages where ads for movies normally run.

"It was meant to be something cute and in the real estate section and draw attention to a special house," Shapiro said. "It was not meant to be offensive . . . to any race, creed or religion. We're not poking fun. We're trying to draw attention to a fabulous house."

Shapiro said that the ad was a joint creative effort involving the real estate firms and the Beverly Hills public relations firm of Bragman, Nyman and Casarelli. He said Peter Schindler "understood what was going in."

Public relations executive Howard Bragman said what people should understand is that among "certain people in the real estate industry" the house already is commonly referred to as "Schindler's listing."

An employee at the Shapiro firm, meanwhile, said that the original asking price for the estate was $12 million.

As for the controversy over "Schindler's Listing," she wondered if there would have been any flap at all if the seller's last name had been, say, Piano--as in "The Piano," the Jane Campion film that has also received Oscar nominations this year.

"Would they be saying the same things about 'Piano's Listing'?" the employee asked.

After the company received complaints all morning, one employee at the firm quipped: "(The house) will be lucky if it's standing at the end of the day."

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