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Newport Beach's Backhanded Compliment to `O.C.' Actors

Handprints of the show's stars finally have a home--but it's not part of the original plan.

September 13, 2006|Roy Rivenburg | Times Staff Writer

Two years after a star-studded event launched the Newport Beach Walk of Fame, the cement handprints of cast members from "The O.C." have a new home -- leaning against an office wall inside an RV park.

It isn't the fairy-tale ending planners had scripted. In October 2004, city bigwigs rolled out the red carpet for the Walk of Fame's first seven inductees.

Surrounded by throngs of screaming girls and paparazzi, five actors and two executive producers from the TV series "The O.C.," set in Newport Beach, received keys to the city and squished their palms into wet cement.

Perhaps the first omen of trouble came in a remark before the ceremony by then-Mayor Tod W. Ridgeway: "It says they're getting the keys to the city of Newport Beach, but it's actually a beer bottle opener."

From there, plans to permanently install the handprints at the Balboa Pavilion fizzled for reasons city leaders can no longer recall.

The cement blocks instead wound up in limbo at the headquarters of the Newport Beach Conference & Visitors Bureau.

Until a few weeks ago, two of the handprints were displayed in the bureau's lobby window, and the rest were lined up along the bottom of a conference room window.

Tourists lay on the ground outside the windows, in position to pose for snapshots, said Jessica Roswell, marketing and public relations manager for the visitors bureau.

Although the Walk of Fame drew about 200 visitors a month, the search for a permanent home languished, Roswell said.

Finally, on Aug. 29, the Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort came to the rescue.

The 100-acre RV park and marina on Backbay Drive began displaying the celebrity handprints on a tilted wooden rack next to a pay phone in the main office.

"We've had a few tourists come in to see them," Tasha White said while working the front desk this week. "But I'm not sure a lot of people know about it yet."

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roy.rivenburg@latimes.com

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