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Commentary

A Place of Dreams Shouldn't Endure a Bureaucracy

October 11, 2002|BRUCE HERSCHENSOHN | Bruce Herschensohn teaches foreign policy at the Pepperdine University School of Public Policy.

I have lived in Los Angeles since the early 1940s. For the last 18 of those years I have lived in Hollywood. I think.

The reason that I am unsure is because the borders of Hollywood have always been disputed. There's a new map now, and it looks like I'm included, but a lot of people don't like the new map. It depends on whom you talk to.

I generally believe that the best government is the one that is closest to the people. That philosophy made me, instinctively, sympathetic to the secession of Hollywood, to be voted on in November. I probably would be in favor of Hollywood's secession if Hollywood were a place with sharp boundaries and a defined population. But it isn't. And it never has been.

"Hollywood" is the name of a fantasy of laughter and tears and romance and dreams and happy endings. Hollywood is directors and writers and musicians and singers and dancers and actors from Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe to Tom Cruise and Britney Spears, and few of them have inhabited or worked in the geographical entity defined on the ballot. The artists of Hollywood more often lived in Bel-Air or Malibu or Beverly Hills or Encino or, yes, even Van Nuys.

Even most of the Hollywood movie studios aren't in Hollywood. The old Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio, now Sony Pictures, is in Culver City. The old 20th Century Fox was mainly in what is now Century City. Paramount Pictures and the old studios of RKO Radio Pictures are probably in Hollywood, but there has been some argument about that.

Leave well enough alone. Hollywood gets along extremely well with its honorary mayor, Johnny Grant, who is known throughout the world and captains Hollywood for what it is: a magnificent, distinctive and appealing idea that is becoming as glamorous as its name implies.

Within the last few years, the business section of Hollywood Boulevard has been undergoing a metamorphosis without bureaucratic governing. Grauman's Chinese Theatre, with its forecourt of handprints and footprints, has been renovated to live up to its reputation, and the Walk of Fame has taken on a significance that identifies the people who created the legend of the Hollywood name.

Hollywood is a place with people who have talent, imagination and passion. Those dream-makers should not have to endure a governmental bureaucracy. Those who consider themselves Hollywoodians wouldn't understand such bureaucracy, and Hollywood doesn't need one. Unless we want Hollywood to be like any other place. I live there, and I don't.

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