Los Angeles Maps

April 28, 2007

If you’re traveling, you need maps.  Cellphone is great.  GPS is great.  And, of course, The Movieland Directory, and whatever other addresses and maps you create from the TMD website.

But, in addition, we like maps.  For traveling in Los Angeles, you can’t beat The Thomas Guide.   If you can’t pack that, I received an excellent referral for quality maps.  I exchanged email with Angus Weller at Weller Cartographic, who builds beautiful maps.  I ran into Angus while looking for a detailed map of Nicaragua.  His was so by far and away the best I found online, that I went to him to see if he had yet built one for Costa Rica.  No luck there, but he did refer me to this site, which has an exhaustive collection of Los Angeles maps and guides.

 If you are a traveler, or just like to see maps as art, check out Angus’ work at Weller Cartographic.

Entourage Tour

April 23, 2007

This story on an LA tour of sites tied to HBO’s Entourage highlights all the reasons we like our tours to be uncommon.  Or, better yet, “common” in the way that they tell us more about the places and the natives.  You can take the Entourage tour offered by the Hollywood Entertainment Museum, or do-it-yourself.  We prefer DIY…see our DIY links in the right margin.  Pick and choose the sites you want and then find more uncommon addresses in those neighborhoods using The Movieland Directory.  You can search on street names, or people.  The Movieland Directory is primarily about where people lived and died.  It is not a list of typical tourist locations.

Here is the ForbesTraveler.com link to Entourage addresses referred to in the MSNBC story.   Have another “uncommon” tour you want to share?  Send along the URL, whether it be an article, or a collection of addresses you put together in Google or Yahoo.  Send it to tonyf@movielanddirectory.com

John Wayne and The Importance of Place

April 20, 2007

As people who muck around in this celebrity real estate and Movieland history world, we appreciate more than some the importance of “place”.  We’re not architecture wonks, nor anti-progress.  But too much of what passes for progress these days is crap.  Too often, it’s about ego or lining someone’s pockets.  Again, neither of which we have a problem with.  But, this well-researched L.A. Times piece on Newport Beach honoring the 100th anniversary of John Wayne’s birth highlights the importance of “place”.  Significant places like his home, and incidental locations like bars, restaurants, boats and boat slips.  Without care, they slip away.  And, some of the magic of visiting a place like Los Angeles, which is so much about the places of Movieland history, slips way when that history is not preserved.  There are some quality John Wayne links in the article, including this one to a town that appreciates the importance of an historic home.

In this March ABC 7 piece, featuring cameo appearances from John Wayne, himself, and featuring friend Scott Michaels from FindADeath, imagine no…places.  Not everything old and interesting should end up in a museum or stored digitally.

We’re happy people visit The Movieland Directory.  But, there is no substitute for walking, as on a tour with the Los Angeles Conservancy, or riding in person.  As the LA Times story notes, houses get torn down or remodeled and streets (and boat slips) get renumbered.  Feel free to contact us if you use us to plan any of your personal tour of LA and find things bearing no resemblance to our directions.  Click here to see a long list of Movieland addresses related to John Wayne.


April 16, 2007

Hi all.  E.J. again. 

The research and writing for my next book continues.  It is a biography about Paul Bern, who was a famous MGM director in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s and close friend to Irving Thalberg and almost everyone in Hollywood.  Everyone loved Paul Bern; he was kind of a mentzch who was kind to everyone, but Hollywood was still stunned when he and Jean Harlow announced in June of 1932 that they were getting married.  They were even more shocked two months later when he was found dead in the house in Benedict Canyon that they shared.  The listing in the Directory is at 9820 Easton Drive.  What nobody outside of MGM knew was that Paul had a common-law wife – Dorothy Millette (actually Mellett, but the Millette spelling survives) – from a decade earlier who had been institutionalized since 1921.  Her medical bills were paid for by Paul.   

For reasons nobody understands, at about the time Paul and Jean announced their engagement, Dorothy “woke up” and began pestering Paul to meet.  He finally relented and she came to visit him during the Labor Day weekend.  The next day, she was gone and Paul was dead on the bathroom floor with a bullet in his brain.  He had apparently been killed while undressing and drying after a dip in the pool.  MGM knew that Paul being labeled a bigamist would have ruined Jean, so they arranged the scene to look like a suicide and directed the press coverage depicting Paul as a duplicitous scumbag who beat Jean.  She knew the truth but could never say anything and to this day people still think he killed himself.

It’s a great story and should be done by the end of summer.

Thanks for visiting.  If you have any questions for me please don’t hesitate to ask.



April 16, 2007

Hi all.  E.J. here.  With Tony gone for two weeks and my inability to post original thoughts even if I had one it was twigs and seeds here for a while.  Sorry about that.  Tony scolded me and has given me a tutorial so I’ll try to be better about posting.

I made my daily visit to one of my favorite sites, my Mama’s Realestalker site today and she had a quick story about a house on Sunset Plaza being sold by Suzanne Rico – some CBS talking head – and her live-in, Ethan Dubrow.  Young Ethan is an interesting story.  Like most young “producer types” in L.A., his father is somebody, which is how one gets to be a “producer type” most of the time.  He had gopher-type jobs on a few films and than was Executive Producer for The 13th Warrior.  His mother Donna was married to John McTiernan, a director (Die Hard, Predator, The Hunt for Red October, etc.) who was caught in the 2006 Anthony Pellicano wiretapping scandal.  He pled guilty to lying to FBI agents investigating Pellicano when he told them he didn’t hire Pellicano to wiretap producer Charles Roven (Batman Begins, Three Kings, Scooby-Doo, etc.).  In fact he apparently had.  Oops.

McTiernan and Roven were working together on a stinker called Rollerball and fighting over who was really the boss although it was supposedly about “creative control.”  According to stories they’re both kind of porky in general, but McTiernan took it to another level by hiring Pellicano to listen in on Roven’s phones.  He would not have been mentioned except his ex-wife ratted him out after a pretty ugly divorce.  McTiernan told the FBI he didn’t know anything about Pellicano but they found out from Donna that he had indeed been using Pellicano since the late 90’s.  She was pissed because she also knew that her ex-husband paid him $100,000 to spy on her during their divorce.  Nice guy.  I do love a love story.

Young Ethan apparently inherited his father’s love for his fellow man which led to a problem and Pellicano’s alleged involvement.  In the early 90’s Donna and the elder McTiernan were still together it seems, and young Ethan lived in a house in Hollywood.  I think it’s at 9219 Robin Drive in Hollywood, according to later zoning meeting notes, but I’m not sure.  In 1993 Ethan had some friends over for a dinner party and thought it would be a good time to show everyone his new shotgun, which was loaded.  That’s what you do when you have a shotgun in Hollywood, those coyotes and black bears the problem that they are in the hills.  As you would expect with a young Hollywood Mensa meeting, the gun went off and killed a friend named Adam Scott, which is sad.  I don’t mean to make light of that at all.  It’s very sad.  Interestingly, Scott’s father was the President of Pasadena City College and a State Senator but apparently in Hollywood you get one GET OUT OF JAIL CARD if you kill someone even if they’re related to politicos.  It was this case that prompted McTiernan to allegedly hire Pellicano to intimidate witnesses a few years later for some reason, that according to the still-angry Donna.  Ethan pled out to involuntary manslaughter, but I’m not sure what sentence he got.  Probably 4 hours of Community Service and a $50 fine.

LA Hooks Everywhere

April 16, 2007

No blog entries for a couple of weeks.  I just returned from vacation.  Staying with our great host in Los Altos, and jumping off to points around San Francisco.  Then off for a few days drive down the PCH from Monterey to San Simeon.  That drive lives up to the hype. 

Of course, The Movieland Directory and LA history can’t be too far removed when traveling in California. 

The first LA hook was on the flight out.  Friend Bob Strunck, a lawyer on the Murder Task Force of the Cook County Public Defender’s office, recommended this book published in February about that group: “Defending the Damned: Inside Chicago’s Cook County Public Defenders Office“.  If you enjoy reading on the law, lawyers, crime, capital punishment, the mentality of people who commit heinous crimes, or Chicago history, that book has you covered.  Chicago’s Public Defender office was the second in the nation.  Per the book, the first city to offer this service to those unable to afford a lawyer was Los Angeles, in 1916.

Of course, the Hearst Castle at San Simeon is Los Angeles (and California) history hooks galore.  The most obvious Movieland hooks come via William Randolph Hearst’s long and open affair with actress Marion Davies.  The hilltop home, fifteen years in the making, hosted Hollywood royalty of the Golden Age.  Certainly one of the most interesting Hearst-Davies stories relates to the death of famous actor-director-producer Thomas Ince, which I’ll crib word-for-word from this entry at IMDB: In 1924 Ince was one of several Hollywood people aboard the yacht of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst when he was suddenly rushed off the ship and taken to a hospital, and Hearst spokesmen said he had suddenly taken ill aboard the yacht. Ince was eventually taken to his home, where he died. The morning papers headlined “Movie producer shot on Hearst yacht!” The evening papers would not carry that headline and the rival Hearst paper would print the next day that Ince died of acute indigestion. One of the stories surrounding Ince’s sudden and mysterious death–and believed to be the most plausible by many who knew Hearst, Ince and the others aboard the yacht that day–is that the bullet wasn’t meant for Ince but for Charles Chaplin, whom Hearst had long suspected of carrying on a secret affair with Hearst’s mistress, actress Marion Davies. Supposedly, Hearst inadvertently walked into Davies’ cabin and caught her and Chaplin in bed together, pulled out his gun, Chaplin jumped up and ran outside the cabin, Hearst chased him and fired several shots at him, missing Chaplin but hitting Ince, who happened to be standing on deck at the time. As this story goes, columnist Louella Parsons was also on board that day and witnessed the shooting, and in exchange for keeping quiet about it, Hearst promised her a lifetime job as the Hollywood reporter for his newspaper chain (she did, in fact, go to work for the Hearst Corp. shortly after the incident as its entertainment reporter, and remained there for the rest of her life).

You could spend a great travel day visiting Marion Davies and William Randolph Hearst home sites in LA using The Movieland DirectoryClick here for Davies addresses.  And, click here for William Randolph Hearst addresses.  (Click here for other sites related to Hearst family members).

Chicago Meets LA

April 3, 2007

OK…this has nothing to do with travel in LA, but there is an LA hook… 

Spending the last 25 years in Chicago, I have developed a certain respect for Sam Zell.  The guy just knows how to make money in buckets, has stayed scandal-free, and…well…he looks as if it would be fun to spend time with him.  The motorcycles.  The jeans.  And, now he’s gone and bought the LA Times, and the rest of the Tribune Company.  Let’s ignore the other media assets and ponder the newspaper.  Except for the burdgeoning Real Estate section busting to contain the cascade of property for sale piling up around here, you could barely line a bird cage with the Chicago Tribune these days.  For international and national news and sports, they have conceded defeat – wisely, I think – to the Internet.   Is it the same in LA with the Times?  I read that only online.