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Screen Savers

June 23, 1996

Thanks to Chris Willman for the affectionate tribute to L.A.'s surviving single-screen theaters ("Kings of the Big Screen," June 16).

Having seen Buster Keaton's "The General" last year at the magnificently restored Orpheum, enveloped by the laughter of 2,000 other delighted movie lovers, I know this is a distinctly different experience from that obtained at today's state-of-the-art but emotionally cold theaters. But how can one drag the typical moviegoer away from their neighborhood googolplex, where the latest mega-hit is screening every 15 minutes on 12 screens?

Here's a thought: Present an upcoming guaranteed blockbuster ("The Lost World" springs to mind) exclusively at the Orpheum, the State and the Los Angeles for one week before its wide release. Such a stunt would expose tens of thousands of average fans to the grandeur of the old palaces and, not so incidentally, would generate loads of free publicity for the movie.

Whattaya think, Mr. Spielberg? If you can bring dinosaurs back from extinction, why not take a crack at resurrecting the lost world represented by these theaters?

ERIC WILLIAMS

Glendale

*

We were honored to see our Vista Theatre on Willman's list of L.A.'s 20 Coolest Movie Theaters. Since his visit, our Egyptian sphinxes have been meticulously restored to their gold beauty. In fact, we are in the midst of a complete renovation to be completed in time for a 75th-anniversary celebration in 1997. Multiplexing is not part of the project.

LANCE C. ALSPAUGH

Director of Operations

5 Star Theatres, Los Angeles

*

Willman points out that our Fine Arts theater rivals Disney's glitz-factor on its two theaters, and there's a reason.

When I was given the assignment to oversee its restoration, I immediately sought out the person responsible for the "in-your-face" decor of the Crest and the El Capitan. My search led me to Joe Musil, an amazing man who exudes enthusiasm for a lost era of showmanship.

Three of L.A.'s jewels were designed by Joe Musil, and the city is all the richer for his talent and passion.

ANNA GROSS

Vice President

Cecchi Gori Pictures, Los Angeles

*

Willman omitted one of our finest hidden treasures: Melnitz Hall at UCLA. Big screen, short throw, wonderful acoustics, deceptively comfortable seats, spacious garage next door and rich, eclectic programming. Plus, most important, that certain something --"ambience" doesn't quite capture it--that can only be earned through time and affection.

MICHAEL SCHLESINGER

Director, Acquisitions

and Repertory Sales

Columbia Pictures, Culver City

*

As I'm sure you're aware by now, if the Silent Movie ever showed a Fritz the Cat cartoon the audience would have a collective heart attack. Felix the Cat, however, would produce no such effect.

PERRY SHIELDS

Redondo Beach

*

Count me in as another film lover who is eagerly awaiting the reopening of the wonderful Warner Grand in San Pedro and the release of the refurbished "Vertigo." It will surely be the event of the film year, as was the resurrected "The Wild Bunch" at the Cinerama Dome.

PAT SWEENEY

Long Beach

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