Advertisement

Chamber Fails to Take a Shine to a New Star

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Oasis Christian Center hoped to draw attention to its beliefs by placing the name of Jesus Christ on a Wilshire Boulevard sidewalk star--the start of a new Walk of Faith a la the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

However, the church instead wound up drawing some unwanted attention Wednesday over possible trademark infringement.

The star, installed July 17 outside the center, is similar to the pink terrazzo stars on Hollywood sidewalks. But instead of entertainment industry symbols, the star for Christ features a sword in front of an open book and bears the words “The Son of God.”

That was too similar for the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which administers the Walk of Fame and tightly controls the sidewalk stars’ trademarked image.

Advertisement

In a statement Wednesday, the chamber said: “There is nothing wrong with creating a Walk of Faith or with the church honoring Jesus. The question is whether they should have created a star similar to ours without first checking with us.”

The chamber has authorized replications of the Walk of Fame star in the past, but in each case, according to the statement, permission to do so was sought. “We feel confident that this matter can be brought to an amicable conclusion,” the chamber added.

Oasis Pastor Philip Wagner also said he hoped things could be worked out. The chamber’s statement, he added, displayed a “nice attitude.”

“We don’t want to make any enemies,” he said. “The issue could be partly because we’re a church and because we talk about God. That seems to be a sensitive issue.”

Advertisement

The Jesus star is the first in what Oasis leaders hope will be their Walk of Faith on Wilshire in the church’s neighborhood between Highland and La Brea avenues, where it is renovating its new home in the former Four Star movie theater.

No matter the outcome of the controversy, the church was planning to add stars later that would be smaller than the Hollywood versions and not appear so similar.

The church unveiled the star two weeks ago during a fund-raiser attended by former Dodger Steve Garvey, actor Edward James Olmos and other celebrities.

The idea for the Jesus star came to Wagner after he saw a Walk of Fame plaque near Mann’s Chinese Theatre for the Rev. Billy Graham, who won fame for his broadcast sermons.

Advertisement

“That’s someone we could respect and relate to,” Wagner said. “I thought, ‘Why not have one for Jesus Christ?’ ”

The other stars on the Walk of Faith will honor people “who make a great contribution in life, who maybe don’t get credit because they’re not celebrities,” he added. For example, some might honor single mothers who raise children and send them to college.

The same company that produces the Walk of Fame stars sought to make the Jesus star with enough design differences to avoid legal issues, according to the pastor. “I hope this is just a legal issue, and not a religious issue,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Hollywood chamber Friday will honor Academy Award-winning actor Nicolas Cage, some of whose screen characters could not be mistaken for Jesus.

Advertisement


Advertisement