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Valencia Site May House UCLA Film, TV Archive

Education: A nonprofit foundation plans to build the facility, which would contain the collection now kept at four locations.

January 11, 2002|RICHARD FAUSSET | TIMES STAFF WRITER

With the help of a wealthy film buff, UCLA is planning to consolidate the country's second-largest media collection at a campus to be built in Valencia, university officials said Thursday.

The proposed 60-acre site for the UCLA Film and Television Archive was purchased by the Packard Humanities Institute, a nonprofit foundation in Los Altos headed by computer heir David Packard. Escrow on the land, bought from the Newhall Land and Farming Co., closed last month.

The nonprofit plans to build a new UCLA Film and Television Preservation Center on the site in the next few years to house the archive's 27 million feet of newsreel footage and 220,000 films and TV programs.

The collection is currently spread among four sites on UCLA's Westwood campus and at the old Technicolor building in Hollywood, on Cahuenga Boulevard, archive officials said.

The new facility would bring the collection together, and give its 63 employees a single, state-of-the-art place to work on film restoration and preservation, said Tim Kittleson, the archive's director. It will also host a new master's degree program in "moving image archiving studies," which university officials said would be the first of its kind in North America.

Scattered Collection Is Tough to Maintain

"We've got a lot of wiggle room when it comes to space," Kittleson said. "But when you try and maintain and conserve this collection, to have it this [spread out] makes it very tough."

The proposed campus will be at McBean Parkway and Rockwell Canyon Road, between the CalArts campus and the two-year College of the Canyons. A delighted Santa Clarita Mayor Frank Ferry on Thursday referred to the site as "university row."

Ferry praised UCLA's choice of Santa Clarita for the 17-year-old archive, which is second in size to the Library of Congress in Washington. The area is currently home to a number of post-production companies and nearly 20 sound stages, and its rugged terrain has long been a favorite locale for the old horse operas that the archive keeps.

"We have such a history here," Ferry said. "Pictures were shot in Santa Clarita back in the days of John Wayne and Glenn Ford."

Packard, son of Hewlett-Packard computer pioneer Bill Packard, is a former classics professor at UCLA who fell in love with old movies about 20 years ago and has likened early Hollywood output to the Greek classics.

He operates a vintage movie house in Palo Alto and purchased at least 2,500 silent films from Hollywood's Silent Movie Theater in the 1980s and 1990s for donation to the archive.

Packard Would Like Open Space Retained

Reached by phone Thursday, Packard offered few details about the new campus but said he'd like to see about three-quarters of it preserved as open space. He says he is considering building a public screening room.

"We should really talk about my true crusade," he said, "to get more people to watch Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, not all of this new junk."

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