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TV Ads Will Press Hollywood Secession

Election: A pair of commercials running on Adelphia cable channels focus on key issues identified in survey: love of diversity and dislike of filthy streets.


Hollywood secession leaders said they will launch two 30-second advertisements on cable television today, one emphasizing the diversity of the Hollywood city council candidates, the other the gap between the area's glamorous image and its trash-strewn streets.

The ads, which will run on Adelphia cable channels in Hollywood, mark the start of a five-week media campaign that could feature as many as eight different commercials, secessionists say.

Mike Wilczynski, regional vice president of Adelphia, confirmed that the campaign had purchased time, but would not divulge the cost or the size of the buy.

Bob Jimenez, a consultant for the secession campaign, said it has contracted for 5,207 airings in Hollywood and nearby areas, such as the south San Fernando Valley and Silver Lake, which share cable systems with Hollywood.

He declined to say how much the campaign is spending. Most showings will cost less than $100 each, said Adelphia's Wilczynski. They will appear on a range of cable channels, including ESPN, Lifetime and CNBC.

Most of the money for the spots came from Hollywood secession leader Gene La Pietra, who already has spent $1 million on the campaign and has vowed to spend "whatever it takes" to win. But La Pietra took pains to point out that his funds were no match for the millions that anti-secessionists, led by Mayor James K. Hahn, would soon start spending on citywide advertising. Secessionists say they probably can't afford to air ads across Los Angeles.

Secession measures for Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley will appear on the Nov. 5 ballot. To win, they need majority votes in their own areas and in Los Angeles as a whole. The Valley campaign has yet to start advertising.

"It's not the best way to reach voters," said Kam Kuwata, Hahn's strategist, when told of the Hollywood campaign's cable plans.

The campaign chose the ad themes after reading nearly 400 response cards from a mailer sent to 30,000 Hollywood residents. Many cited diversity and the area's history as what they liked best about Hollywood, and "dirt" and "filth" as what they liked least.

Jimenez, a former KFWB-AM (980) reporter whose wife Sharon is the campaign's press secretary, produced the two ads. The first cost only about $1,500 in editing fees because it is made up entirely of footage from local news broadcasts about the campaign.

The ad features quick cuts of Hollywood images, from Grauman's Chinese Theatre to Marilyn Monroe, which fly by to the tune of the Hollywood campaign's theme song, "Hey L.A., Set Hollywood Free." La Pietra, a nightclub owner who hopes to be mayor of the new city, appears in a clip.

"You drive around Hollywood and it breaks your heart to see what Hollywood has become. It has been neglected and ignored by City Hall for the last 75 years, and we're not taking it any longer," he says, accompanied by images of sidewalk trash and an abandoned couch. The ad continues with upbeat campaign scenes, mostly from the day the Local Agency Formation Commission officially put Hollywood secession on the ballot.

Jimenez said the fast-paced ad (which includes the words "STRONG RENT CONTROL" flitting past on the screen so quickly they're almost imperceptible) is "designed for a younger audience."

The second ad, which cost about $10,000, features five Hollywood city council candidates with ethnic origins ranging from Thailand to Armenia to Central America--appearing separately and then crossing a street, arm in arm. They are filmed at night, mostly in front of the lights of Hollywood theaters.

"I'm Pashree Sripipat. I stand for diversity in the new city of Hollywood," says the publisher of a Thai-English newspaper.

"I'm Rosa Martinez for improved education," says a teacher who immigrated to the States from Central America.

La Pietra appears with his arms open, speaking over the closing strains of "America the Beautiful."

"We owe it to our glorious past to create a new future for the city of Hollywood," he says. Then the candidates are shown together, arms linked.

"On Nov. 5, make Hollywood its own city. Vote yes on H. Vote yes for leadership," intones Jimenez, who serves as narrator.

The ad campaign starts gently, but will pack more punch down the road, said Geoffrey Garfield, campaign manager for Hollywood Independence.

"First we sell the vision. Then we attach that vision to personalities, which gives it the human touch. We say, 'We want a better Hollywood.' Then, 'These are the problems. We think we can solve them with a separate city.' Then, 'These are the kinds of people who are going to be running a separate city.' We define ourselves for ourselves, but then we define" the city of Los Angeles, he said.

"I don't talk about attack commercials. I call them 'distinction.' What's the distinction between us and [the city of L.A.]?"

He said future "distinction" ads likely will focus on such topics as the criminal investigation of the Entertainment Industry Development Corp., a sore subject for the mayor because he sits on its board. The secession campaign equates the EIDC situation with Enron and has dubbed it "Filmgate."

In recent weeks, campaign workers have held up pro-secession signs at major Hollywood intersections. Hollywood secessionists have also begun turning up at the mayor's news conferences to loudly critique him. They say they also plan to do joint television ads with Valley secessionists.

Garfield said he also expected the mayor's anti-secession team to help the secessionists' campaign.

"I think they're going to be heavy-handed. When you're in power, you're in the comfort zone. You've got buffers of staff and money," he said. "They're talking to each other. They're not talking to the people."


Times staff writer Kristina Sauerwein contributed to this report.

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