11.10.2005

Julie Takes Fountain

A reporter once famously asked Bette Davis if she had any advice about Hollywood. “Take Fountain,” she barked, invoking the name of the less traveled route running parallel to both Sunset and Santa Monica Boulevards. She herself lived and died overlooking the avenue, ensconced in what I can only imagine to be the turret of a glamorous old apartment building near the one that doubled as Catherine Oxenberg’s family manor in Dynasty.

I don’t know why the location of the off-Fountain enclave of little Hollywood bungalows where I live—whose vintage Craftsman cottages visitors have variously described as Pleasantville, Munchkinland and the Technicolor Village—feels like such a strong reason to fight the Greedy Foreign Landlord and his illegal eviction. I can’t really afford to live in Hollywood at all without the benefit of rent control—and “Julie Goes To Silverlake” “Echo Park” or “Koreatown” were starting to seem like really stupid character names. Let’s face it, though—my dramatic need to be Norma Rae, Erin Brockovich, Karen Silkwood and whoever it is Charlize Therone is playing this year in a pathetic bid for another Oscar was really behind my decision to stand and fight. This is my life story, after all, and that’s what the heroine does.

Which is why it’s with so many mixed feelings I announce that a deal has been struck. Persuaded by my Type A Lawyer Sister to avoid both her wrath and that of the Department of Housing—Greedy offered a large enough cash settlement for me to live on for the next couple of months. This means no more silly temp job at the Legendary Hollywood Trade Paper, where the puffy little woman I got stuck replacing during her fourth annual pregnancy is about to return anyway. It means finishing my spec, writing a Big Hollywood Book Proposal and polishing that script a Certain A-List Actress “loves, loves, loves.”

It means, in short, one last chance.

In some wildly implausible Hollywood twist of fate, yesterday I discovered yet another vintage hamlet, where I am going to be living as of Sunday. I’d never before noticed the hidden village despite living only blocks away for the last nine years. Its sky-high front gate gives way to a cloistered courtyard, shaded by hundred-year-old oak trees—and flanked on either side by attached patio homes with storybook front stoops and original wooden awnings. It must have provided housing for the old Charlie Chaplin studios, now the Jim Henson Studios, also in the neighborhood.

Hollywood was little more than a sprawling orange grove when Chaplin built his landmark lot, with its Colonial clapboard cottages and Tudor mansion fa├žade. During the TV craze of the 1950s, CBS took over the space to house The Adventures of Superman, The Red Skelton Show, and Perry Mason. It was later the headquarters of A&M Records, where so many musical legends gathered to record Michael Jackson’s "We Are the World."

My nearby unit was recently vacated after many decades when they carted some poor old guy off to the nursing home. I hope I go like Bette Davis, chain smoking Vantages smeared with red lipstick, enunciating every last word as though it Begins With A Capital Letter. What I can’t get out of my mind is the scene at the end of the 1992 film Chaplin, where Robert Downey, Jr.’s exiled Charlie finally returns to town to take one last look at his legacy. Having somehow managed to stave off my own exile at the top of my rousing third act, I guess now all that’s pretty much up to Kermie and me.

25 comments:

  1. Great post!

    First of all, that "Take Fountain" quote has always been a fave of mine. I just quoted it to someone last week.

    Secondly -- Congrats! That's an awesome development to get a settlement like that. My roommate and I have been praying our landlord decides to sell this building. We know if he does they'll tear it down and build condos, meaning they'll have to pay US off!

    Looking forward to following the progress you make.

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  2. Gratz Julie! It's always grand when the third act starts to come together.

    JDC

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  3. Charlize Theron is starring in AEON FLUX this summer. No Oscars there, most likely.

    SuperGirlfriend and I were looking at the poster on the way out of the theater the other day (we saw GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK, and were good and disappointed by it) and I remarked to her that Angelina Jolie must have wanted too much money to do the part.

    SuperGirlfriend agreed that it seemed unlikely Charlize was the first choice for the part. Still, it's clearly an eye candy movie, and Charlize makes excellent eye candy... and it will have to be better than that thing where she was sleeping with a different guy every month because she had cancer and Keneau Reeves fell in love with her.

    I mean, it has to be, right?

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  4. I never heard "Take Fountain" but that's such classic LA. Both times I moved here I was stunned by the fact that routing is to Angelenos what the weather is to Iowans.
    "So, what do you do?"
    "I get on the 405 at Sepulveda and slip off at Sunset before it gets bad. Then I take Benedict Canyon."

    "No kidding? Me too! Benedict gets bad on Wednesdays, though. All the landscapers."
    "It's very nice to have met you."
    "You too. Call me."

    Congratulations on a good outcome. I know you and the frog will be very happy.

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  5. when I get out there I'd like to hire you to find me a place to live... but I can only pay in lifetime supplies of your fave coffee beverage on weekend meetups (smiles) glad to see you found a place

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  6. Congratulations, unexpected money is the best kind. Especially if it can buy you out of drudgery for 6 months.

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  7. Shucks, guys, thanks for all your good thoughts. Doug, you have quite the ear for dialogue. Highlander, I was talking about Charlize's North Country , the gripping story of a coal-mining supermodel whose face is dirty.
    :-) JGTH

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  8. Anonymous12:54 PM

    Congrats on your cash/next chance.

    I have to disagree with John, though - I think you're at the start of your second act. You know, everything's going swimmingly, the plan finally falls into place, you're having fun with your premise... Hopefully this second act lasts twenty years, and then you'll be ready to deal with that third act complication.

    Jeff

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  9. Congratulations on the new digs and the cash settlement and all that. Your new location also puts you right near one of my favorite Hollywood landmarks, Crazy Girls. I think it's safe to say that Kermit is tipping his Little Tramp hat to the lovely ladies across La Brea.

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  10. Things must have changed since Bette's day -- Fountain generally sucks. Congrats on the settlement with GFL and the new digs. Good luck with A-list babe and the spec script.

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  11. Oh, you mean Charlize Theron does NORMA RAE meets COAL MINER'S DAUGHTER, right? Yeah, I love to look at Charlize but even I avoided that one like a particularly virulent form of avian flu.

    I don't know, though. I'd have watched it if they'd written in a sequence where Gary Sinise threw darts at Ben Affleck. I'd watch episodes of QUEER EYE FOR THE STRAIGHT GUY if they'd just splice in some Affleck abuse. Heck, I'd like to pitch that as a reality show... BEATING BEN AFFLECK. Each week a different contestant gets to take a shot at him with a different blunt instrument. I think it would get huge ratings. Or even if it didn't, it would be a lot of fun to produce, anyway.

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  12. I was just on Fountain this evening at 6 PM. Headed east on Fountain, then south on La Brea to the Carl's Jr drive-through. Fountain was busy, but it moved better than Sunset. You need to stay in the right lane, though, to avoid the a*holes trying to make left turns.

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  13. Congrats Julie! My wife worked at A&M for five years and was there when it closed. It was a sad time because the whole place just felt like history. I loved looking at old photos of the place when Chaplin owned it and today.

    It looks like things are starting to come together and that's because you kept chipping away. You'll sell that script sooner than you think. Meanwhile, let me get back to finishing my work for Hal. lol

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  14. Sounds really cool Julie. I'm going down a Hollywood path myself. Best of luck to you...and me...and everyone else!

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  15. Thanks for all your good thoughts. Even the strip club guy who hasn't figured out that Kermit is a queen. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

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  16. . . . a queen?

    *sigh*

    another shred of childhood innocence falls away.

    although, i don't know, i think his clothes would be . . . tighter, ya know?

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  17. Honey, they all were. Didn't Burt and Ernie strike you as unusually close? How about Speed Racer and Chim Chim. Wait, Chim Chim was a monkey. Never mind.

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  18. I remember when Disneyland was surrounded by orange trees, and Knotts Berry Farm was pay-as-you-go. *sigh*

    The only people I know in the biz are animators, and that was from 20 years ago at CalArts in Valencia/Newhall. Hmmm... I may have to start digging out old photos and stories ...

    Keep it up, break a leg - or a pencil - uhm, keyboard?

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  19. I liked the Bette Davis story--and I've enjoyed reading over your blog. And congrats on the good deal!

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  20. Any and all So Cal memorabilia welcome, DDDragon. Also, thanks for writing, Actonbel. You guys sound like first timers and I hope you come back.

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  21. Hello, I'm visiting via blogexplosion, because you've blogmarked me ... I'll be back! :)

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  22. odocoileus9:17 AM

    Miss Piggy was just a beard? OMFG!

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  23. Gosh, Julie, you're even moving on the same day that I am. Oooh, scary.

    I'm wishing you the best on your project that the A List actress loves. I only see such people once a year at the Toronto International Film Festival, where I go to forget my IT life and catch good movies. Even from a distance, many of the A Listers remind me of W (lost without their handlers). I hope that your A Lister is different or, at least, sincere in her love of your work and powerful enough to make it happen.

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  24. Being a beard is always better than having one.

    Don't be silly, Comfort Addict, nobody is sincere in Hollywood. Most days sober is as much as you can hope for.

    :-) JGTH

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  25. My wife used to work as an assistant at the Jim Henson company. We live not too far from where you are, near the Sunset-Gower Studios. I just found your blog, I'll enjoy reading more.

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