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In this town, it's who you know

Producer Joel Silver managed to pull some strings and snag a spot in the booked-up Disney Hall to premiere the latest 'Matrix' film.

September 12, 2003|Mike Boehm | Times Staff Writer

Although many performers and presenters would love to command the stage of L.A.'s celebrated new venue, the landlord of the Walt Disney Concert Hall says there won't be much room, at least for a while, for events and performances that haven't already been booked by the hall's two main tenants, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Master Chorale.

"We get inquiries, but we're trying to be cautious in the first season," Howard Sherman, vice president of operations for the Music Center of Los Angeles County, said Thursday. "It's a new building, it's a complicated building, and we all need to learn it."

The idea, he said, is to leave ample down time so that any unforeseen maintenance or repair to the hall can be accomplished without squeezing or disrupting the 179 performances, plus rehearsals, scheduled from the hall's Oct. 23 opening through the end of May.

One exception, however, is Keanu Reeves. Sandwiched between the Schubert and Liszt of Evgeny Kissin's piano recital Oct. 26 and the Mozart, Beethoven and Bach that the Baroque orchestra Academy of St. Martin in the Fields will perform Oct. 28 will be the premiere of "The Matrix Revolutions." The film is the final installment in the slam-bang science fiction action trilogy that stars Reeves as Neo, a futuristic savior of a humanity enslaved by machines.

Agents for acoustically oriented pop acts and sponsors of corporate events are among those interested in filling gaps in the hall's schedule whom Sherman says have been told to be patient.

But Reeves and company had a special in: Joel Silver, producer of the "Matrix" series, is a friend of the building's architect, Frank O. Gehry.

Gehry was shepherding the producer on a tour of Disney Hall last spring when Silver mused that it would be a great place to premiere "The Matrix Revolutions."

"He immediately jumped on the idea as something he could make happen," Silver said Thursday. "We just lucked out. It's such a maze of activity, with so many performances and rehearsals scheduled in there."

Gehry's curving, futuristic-looking, stainless-steel-clad building -- designed using advanced computer technology -- is a good fit for a sci-fi picture like "The Matrix Revolutions," Silver said. About 1,800 premiere-goers will watch the film on a screen hung in front of the pipe organ built into the hall's back wall.

The hall was designed for natural acoustic sound, but Silver said that for the premiere, Gehry plans to put up some sound-absorbing drapery to make it less reverberant and more suitable for the Warner Bros. film's soundtrack.

"He said, 'We've got to hang some schmattes.' "

Sherman said he's happy to have "The Matrix" premiere at Disney Hall, continuing the link to Hollywood established when its older sister venue, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, regularly was the site of the Academy Awards. (Those ceremonies decamped to the new Kodak Theatre in Hollywood in 2002.)

Sherman said the Music Center hasn't even set rental fees for Disney Hall; charges and other logistical details for the "Matrix Revolutions" premiere remain to be worked out in discussions with studio representatives. The basic nightly rental at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion is $3,500, he said -- not counting fees for personnel and other extras.

"We're trying to set a rate structure for Disney Hall that makes it very available," Sherman said -- once it is properly broken in.

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