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The Biz

More Women at Mann's?

March 22, 1998|JANET KINOSIAN

So where are Demi, Julia, Jodie and Barbra?

Granted, not every deserving movie star can have hand and footprints immortalized in the pavement in Mann's Chinese theater's famed forecourt, but take a look at these figures.

Since Ted Mann bought Grauman's Chinese Theater in 1973, 28 men, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Tom Cruise, Eddie Murphy, Jack Nicholson and, most recently, Denzel Washington in January, have been enshrined in cement at the Hollywood Boulevard landmark.

The same period has seen four women thus honored: Meryl Streep, Whoopi Goldberg, Mann's wife, actress Rhonda Fleming, and Nichelle Nichols from the '60s TV "Star Trek" crew.

There have also been two androids (R2-D2 and C3PO) and one cartoon duck (Donald).

"Women have been decrying the lack of good, hefty female roles for a long time," comments Stacy Endres Behlmer, co-author of "Hollywood at Your Feet," a history of the legendary 70-year-old theater. "Perhaps this is fallout?"

The selection process is somewhat mysterious. Rumor notes that until Sid Grauman's death in 1950, a number of his friends made the cut--a cut that is much harder to make than the Hollywood Walk of Fame, where celebrities from many media--television, music, publishing--are chosen by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. But there might be a change in sight. Jeffrey Lewine, president and CEO of Westar Inc., which bought the Mann's chain in December, says he was unaware of the skew toward male stars in recent years. "It's unfair, certainly," he says, "and we hope to even things out."

But first, he is drawing up a list of stars missed in the past, "hoping to nab them before it's too late," and filling in the gaps in film history. He says Warren Beatty, Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau are all to be honored in upcoming ceremonies.

As for women, Lewine says his company recently invited Julia Roberts to do her prints, but she declined as her schedule wasn't clear. "But that doesn't mean we can't get her for the future," he says.

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