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Westside Watch

Glimpse of a Futuristic LAX Can't Erase the White Zones

March 13, 1994

In 2194, it turns out, LAX will have several things in common with today's airport.

For one, there will still be constant recorded announcements about the white zones along the curbs in front of the terminals. But instead of banning parking, they will warn against hovering.

And, like today, there will be a customs office snagging import law violators and handling travelers' passport problems. Only in the future, the officers may be half-machine (sometimes they seem that way today).

Such are the visions of Ken Estin, executive producer of "LAX 2194," a Fox Broadcasting sitcom pilot to be filmed this week (on a sound stage, not at the airport). We won't know till May, however, if it will be on Fox's fall schedule.

Most of the action of "LAX 2194" will take place in the airport's intergalactic customs office, where five regulars who come from different backgrounds blend into a family.

The characters in Estin's project include a part-man, part-machine cyborg; a Texan cryogenically frozen in 1994 and thawed in the 22nd Century, and a Japanese-Mexican woman representing the bond between the planet's most powerful economic powers.

Estin will use the show for social commentary, such as zinging today's inflated salaries of entertainers and athletes. In his future, they will make minimum wage while people such as sewer workers will earn top dollar for their hard work.

That's nice. But couldn't he have done something about the white zone?

*

TOUGH INTERVIEW: Job interviews are bad enough. But imagine having one in public.

The Beverly Hills City Council understands the concern. But, under a new provision in the state's open public meetings law, interviews for appointments to city commission posts will have to be conducted in public effective April 1. The council's choice would be selected in a public vote too.

And council members are worried that the glare of the spotlight will make people shy about applying. Presumably, fans and foes of the appointees could comment on the applicants' qualifications and personal habits during the public comment portion of a council meeting.

Mayor Maxwell Salter said he could envision a scenario much like the Senate confirmation hearings of John Tower, whose nomination for secretary of defense in 1989 was scuttled amid charges he embarked on frequent drinking binges.

"Imagine what would happen in a small community like Beverly Hills," Salter said.

Council members now privately review applications and submit their choice of commissioners to the city manager, who announces which applicant received the majority vote.

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NO JAILBIRD: The dignity of the Santa Monica courthouse, already strained by drastic repairs forced by the Northridge earthquake, was soiled even further recently by the intrusion of a pesky blue jay.

With the ceilings removed for asbestos abatement, the avian intruder proved to be no friend of the court, said staff assistant Brian Hamilton.

It disrupted the goings-on in several courtrooms, he said, and even buzzed a jury room or two.

An animal control officer was called, complete with net, but the bird proved to be a flight risk, evading capture.

Finally, Hamilton said, "We left some birdseed near an open window . . . He hasn't been heard from since."

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