IN THE 1910s, 1920s and 1930s, L.A.'s Broadway District pulsated with entertainment. In its dozen still-standing theaters, Lily Langtry, Sarah Bernhardt and Lillian Russell sang, and the Marx Brothers, Bob Hope and Jack Benny made people laugh. Wyatt Earp and Albert Einstein were in the audience, among others.
Today, these theaters are vacant. In New York, meanwhile, 6 million people flock to theaters and inject more than $4 billion into the city. Yes, $4 billion.
Broadway is the No. 1 reason tourists head for New York City. They stay in hotels and dine and shop till they drop. Theater is also why many people visit London and, increasingly, Las Vegas.
How do we do this in Los Angeles? Start with Billy Crystal's one-man show about his father, scheduled to open in January at the Wilshire Theatre in Beverly Hills. He should have opened it on Broadway, and could still move it there later. With guaranteed ticket sales, any theater owner will upgrade to top standards. Cut to 100 years from now and a celebration to commemorate the historic moment that L.A.'s Broadway again became Broadway. The moment Billy Crystal's play about his dad opened. Not a bad legacy, huh, Billy?