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LEO SMITH

Ojai Couple's Multimedia Partnership Is a Marriage of Talents

June 30, 1998|LEO SMITH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas is a supercharged mix of glitz, blaring noise, flashing lights and material concerns. The Getty Center of Los Angeles is a peaceful blend of scholarly work, historical and artistic images and intellectual pursuits.

The two tourist attractions are worlds apart--with little in common except the crowded parking lots. And the livelihoods of husband and wife Andrew Behar and Sara Sackner.

Along with being marriage partners, Behar and Sackner are business partners, co-owners of the Behar Sackner Multimedia company of Ojai. It is in this latter role that they have found themselves jetting between the Getty and the MGM on a regular basis.

Behar Sackner Multimedia served as lead contractor on the recently completed multimillion-dollar renovation of MGM's "City of Entertainment," a flashy structure featuring a 184-foot-diameter dome. The project called for the firm to create about 500 short films, combining video, laser, lights and sound, to be shown around the clock on a 26-by-40-foot screen and two 20-by-30-foot screens.

The company also was involved in the installation of an 80-screen video wall and an interactive slot game using 48 machines at the hotel and casino. And last week, Behar Sackner put the finishing touches on a fountain and light show at the entrance.

At the Getty, Behar and Sackner's skills have been put to use in creating "The Virtual Reality Model of Trajan's Forum in Rome" and a 16-screen video wall with programs detailing the museum's works in "Researching Aphrodite" and "Researching Hercules."

Aside from having to travel with two sets of clothing to meet with officials of these two sites, Sackner and Behar said working on the projects simultaneously has been no problem.

"The Getty is consumed with content and context, and the MGM is mostly concerned with being this most fabulous piece of entertainment," Behar said. "They are both at the high end of their respective worlds, and it takes a lot of creativity and planning to get all these complex systems to work and work well."

Behar and Sackner have been refining that creativity since they formed their business partnership in New York in 1981. Their marriage came a year later.

For their first project, the couple worked together on a multiscreen laser, light and sound show promoting Federal Express at the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville, Tenn. It was that work that launched their reputation for multimedia, multiscreen talent.

The couple, who work with contractors throughout the country to create their products, also have produced two feature films. "Tie-Died: Rock 'n' Roll's Most Dedicated Fans," looks at Grateful Dead followers, and "Painting the Town" is the story of a dedicated party crasher.

"We've always been very focused, a boutique, creative production entity," Behar said. "We've been up [for jobs] against companies with 600 employees and people have gone with us. They've said, 'We knew Andy and Sara were going to work on the project.' "

Behar Sackner Multimedia soon will begin putting together a film documenting for posterity the exhibits at the Getty.

"These exhibits are not permanent," Sackner said. "Like all exhibits, they change."

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