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Saturday Letters

A Hollywood Landmark Debut

November 17, 2001

Although I do not long for an architectural critic who is merely a hometown booster, I do expect Nicolai Ouroussoff to review the Hollywood & Highland project in terms of its impact on the urban fabric of Los Angeles in addition to expressing his opinion as to its architectural merits ("Grand Illusion," Nov. 9).

Having visited the project several times over the opening weekend, I can attest to the fact that Hollywood & Highland has single-handedly created the feeling of a city where none existed before. The crowds were not only immense but obviously proud that Hollywood has an exciting new center.

And while some may denigrate the presence of stores such as the Gap and Banana Republic, as a resident of the Hollywood Hills, I am thrilled to have stores in which to shop without driving to Pasadena.


Los Angeles


The huge white elephants that sit perched high atop the courtyard of Hollywood & Highland represent an omen prophetic of this architectural monstrosity's future more than they hearken memories of Hollywood's illustrious past. Times Architecture Critic Nicolai Ouroussoff was too kind in his justifiably lengthy thrashing of the project.

Sadly ruined in the making of this $700-million Hollywood disaster epic is the once grandiose courtyard of the Chinese Theater. As if afraid a real star might steal the scene, designers of the Hollywood & Highland project have sterilized the legendary courtyard and destroyed its unique ambience. Gone are the neon dragons. Gone are the bigger-than-life marquees. Gone is the red canopy and ticket booth. And gone too were the throngs of tourists milling about in awe of real Hollywood history Sunday afternoon as the now sanitized site seemed hardly worth noticing next to its new neighbor, an oversized and over-hyped new Hollywood wannabe.


Los Angeles


Nicolai Ouroussoff's review of Hollywood & Highland and Pasadena's Paseo Colorado were far more revealing as exposes on the author's strongly held prejudices against contemporary American culture and consumerism than valid architectural critiques.

His primary assault regarding both Hollywood & Highland and Paseo Colorado are that these projects are in fact, oh my God, malls! And if you eliminate everything he condemned (chain stores, both high- and low-end eateries, cineplexes, parking structures and the 3,500-seat Kodak Theatre--because it's only bait anyway), what are you left with?

In particular, had Ouroussoff followed the news for the last five years as Hollywood & Highland went through planning with the city and community groups, he would realize that the whole point was to lure back to Hollywood the very chain stores he derides, which had deserted the area decades ago.


West Hollywood


We suspect that it is Mark Swed who has the "tin" ear, as we, discerning musicians, thoroughly enjoyed the opening concert at the new Kodak Theatre with tenor Russell Watson ("A Tin Ear for Acoustics at New Kodak Theatre," Nov. 12). The acoustics are brilliantly realized, the sound in perfect clarity, making our evening quite glorious.



The Kodak Theatre is beautiful and the sound system is great. I think the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra might have found a new "winter" home.


Los Angeles


Voicing His Surprise

I was surprised to see in Diane Haithman's article ("After a Rocky Year, L.A. Opera Reworks Top Administration," Nov. 12) the suggestion that some of the operas I programmed for 2000/2001 did not achieve what was expected at the box office.

I think you will find that the box office over the year exceeded targets by $276,000, with "Peter Grimes" in particular $57,000 ahead.


Founding General Director

Los Angeles Opera


Stop the Stomping

Too bad. Los Angeles could've been home to an amazing and thriving community of dance artists, dance audiences and dance presenters. To my personal dismay, I doubt it will ever happen. Lewis Segal's mean-spirited review of Dwight Rhoden's extraordinary dance company ("Complexions Troupe Puts on Its Best Face," Nov. 3) can easily be pointed out as evidence of how the L.A. Times systematically contributes to sabotaging the possibility for any claim that "dance is alive and well and living in Los Angeles."


Beverly Hills

Dwight Rhoden is a gifted and visionary choreographer who will long survive Segal's pathetic review. In years to come, I assure you, he will be a giant in dance circles.


Los Angeles

Dance critic Lewis Segal is correct when he suggests ("Lack of Context Limits Persian Program," Nov. 5) that we need to invest more effort "enlisting the Islamic community as a whole in projects that illuminate the beliefs and traditions of a complex, misunderstood religion." We would alter but one word, from "religion" to "region." For the Middle East is extremely diverse ethnically and religiously, and its cultural products are as often about the arts as they are about a particular faith tradition.

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