Emmy Finally Gets a Home of Its Own : Television: The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ new permanent location in North Hollywood will allow access to public.


They should really call it Emmy Plaza.

Stretching skyward from the grounds of the handsome new 22-acre development--at Lankershim and Magnolia boulevards in North Hollywood--is a gleaming, 18-foot, gold-plated, bronze replica of the Emmy, symbol of TV achievement.

On Friday, after years of being a poor cousin to the movie industry, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, which presents the Emmy Awards, finally quits its transient existence and begins moving into its new, permanent, two-story home on the plaza, which is keynoted by the Emmy statue.

What this means to the general public and visiting tourists, the academy says, is future access to the history and memorabilia of television in an attractive site--with outdoor, life-sized sculptures and bas-reliefs of TV greats, facilities to view shows and perhaps festivals as well.


“Now we’ll be available to the public,” says Academy President Leo Chaloukian. “You can’t be available to the public when you’re on the seventh floor of an office building.”

Until now, the TV academy essentially has been a private organization, run by and for the industry--with little public involvement except for occasional events such as the Emmy Awards and Hall of Fame broadcasts honoring the medium’s top names.

It seems odd that an organization that represents the most public medium of all, and is located in a town that is absorbed with show business, should have such little contact with the public. But raising money, strangely, has been a major problem despite the many millionaires created by TV, academy officials claim.

Now, Chaloukian hopes, “It may be easier to get people donating money when they can see what they’re contributing to. It’s time for them to put something back in the industry.”

The mission of the new TV academy site is significant for Los Angeles. The 22-acre, $350-million entertainment-and-business complex, which is using The Academy as its name and theme, is the hub of an attempt by the Community Redevelopment Agency to upgrade the area.

With three major freeways--the Hollywood, Ventura and Golden State--providing handy access, the TV academy also has the chance to create a new attraction in an already-popular tourist area, with the Universal Studio tours just down the road.


There is no guarantee of success. If The Academy development--which will include other businesses such as a hotel, an apartment structure, restaurants and offices--doesn’t deliver up to expectations, it could have a negative impact on the Community Redevelopment Agency’s hopes.

And although many TV workers live nearby in the San Fernando Valley, will the trip be off-putting to the deep-pockets of the show business industry who live on the Westside?

One tip-off may be the weekly attendance when a splendid, 600-seat, $7-million theater at the new site opens in May or June and TV academy screenings are switched there from the Directors Guild on Sunset Boulevard.

Another unanswered question is whether ABC, CBS and NBC--already slashing costs--will overcome their anger that Fox outbid them for the Emmy Awards broadcast, and give the television academy the kind of financial support it needs to do what it would like to do.

“Fox’s license fee for the Emmys (the price to broadcast the annual awards show) pays for our day-to-day operation,” according to Chaloukian.

In any case, the academy will celebrate the opening of its new headquarters--a stylish, free-standing, two-story building--with dedication festivities for the industry the weekend of May 4-5.


Past and present officials of the academy agree that while the dream of a home had been considered for years, the new location became a reality principally because of the vision of the organization’s late president, John Mitchell, and the persistence of Chaloukian.

Mitchell, onetime president of Columbia Pictures TV, is credited with choosing the site for the new academy headquarters and for creating the Hall of Fame. (A Hall of Fame Plaza, featuring the sculptures and bas reliefs of TV legends, will be a highlight of The Academy development.)

Chaloukian, president of Ryder Sound Services, doggedly steered the entire project to its conclusion, first as head of the academy’s building committee, then as president.

“John wanted to leave something really positive after him for the youngsters and students who would come,” says Mitchell’s widow, Pat. “And he wanted to provide a home for the academy. He wanted an archive and a library, a theater and a Hall of Fame Walk (now the Hall of Fame Plaza). He wanted the TV academy to have the same visibility as the motion picture academy.”

Among the earlier locations considered for the television academy, she recalls, were the current site of the American Film Institute and Preview House on Sunset Boulevard.

“John loved his industry,” says Pat Mitchell. “A lot of people talk about doing things, but they don’t do it.”


Now the TV academy must get the money to complete the dream. While the theater and Hall of Fame Plaza will soon be realities, the public-access library and archive--which will be located on the first floor of the academy building--must await funding. That could take a year, says a spokesman.

ABC mogul Leonard Goldenson has already contributed $1 million. But the academy, now renting the second floor of its new headquarters, is seeking $6 million to buy the building and complete all the planned facilities.

“There will be at least 10 or 12 booths in the archives for people to watch videotapes of old shows,” probably for a nominal fee, Chaloukian says.

The academy will also manage the new theater until it can buy it, says the spokesman. In the meantime, the theater will be used for various purposes, including this year’s Emmy nominations ceremony.

Aware of the success of the annual TV festival held here by the New York Museum of Broadcasting (now the Museum of Television and Radio), Chaloukian says he would like to stage similar events. It takes money. The New York museum, founded by the late CBS founder William S. Paley, is well-funded by the industry. The TV academy is not.

In the past, sources say, the academy has been so absorbed with the Emmys that it has not devoted enough energies to tapping Hollywood brass for money, as the New York museum does. The fat cats of Hollywood make fortunes from a single television series. It would be disgraceful if they don’t put something back into the pot.