5th Council Race a Major Screen Test for the Candidates

TIMES STAFF WRITER

As divided as it is over who should win the Oscar for best picture, Hollywood also is split over who should be elected to what could easily be described as the "Council District of the Stars."

Extending from Westwood through Bel-Air to Studio City, the Los Angeles City Council's 5th District is home to many in the entertainment industry, as well as such businesses as Fox Studios.

With 11 candidates vying in the April 10 election, former state Sen. Tom Hayden, who is married to actress Barbara Williams, has attracted by far the largest crowd of top entertainers.

Those backing Hayden with money or endorsements include Hollywood power couples Warren Beatty and Annette Bening, and Sean Penn and Robin Wright, singers Barbra Streisand and Bonnie Raitt and actors Richard Dreyfuss, Ed Asner, James Garner, Mike Farrell, Alfre Woodard, Anjelica Huston and Sally Kellerman.

Hayden also has received campaign contributions from musician John Densmore of the Doors and comedians Garry Shandling and Paula Poundstone.

"Tom is a pretty high-profile person. He has been active on the national stage for many years so it is not surprising he would attract this kind of support," said Parke Skelton, Hayden's campaign consultant.

Donna Bojarsky, who represents Dreyfuss, said many of the endorsements in the race have come because the candidates and the celebrities have known each other for years.

"A number of these people have personal relationships with the candidates and have worked with them on issues," said Bojarsky, who noted Dreyfuss has also acted with Hayden's wife.

Beatty and Bening lent their names to a fund-raising mailing from a group calling itself the Progressive Caucus for Tom Hayden. "We hope Tom shakes up City Hall so that L.A. wakes up and lives up to its promise," the mailing said.

Hayden is not alone in getting such backing.

Westwood activist Laura Lake also has backers from the industry, including actors John Lithgow, Eva Marie Saint, and Alex Karras and Susan Clark, who are married. Rock musician Don Henley contributed $500 to Lake's campaign, but a spokeswoman said he has not endorsed in the race.

Lake said the involvement of celebrities can heighten voter interest in elections.

"I think people like to know celebrities know a candidate," Lake said. "These are friends and neighbors who have a shared social conscience."

Lake said Lithgow lives nearby in the district. "Our kids went to nursery school together," she said.

Saint was a member of Lake's group Friends of Westwood and Henley sits on the board of another Lake group, Americans for a Safe Future, which was formed to block dumping of nuclear waste at Ward Valley.

"She's been a good advocate for the west part of town and she knows our problems," said film producer Jeff Hayden, Saint's husband. He is not related to Tom Hayden.

Former federal prosecutor Jack Weiss, another candidate, said backers include producer Norman Lear and former game show host Monty Hall, who held a fund-raiser at his home for Weiss. Weiss' campaign co-chairman, David Kohan, is co-creator and executive producer of the NBC show "Will and Grace."

Kohan said he is hoping to organize an event for Weiss to be attended by members of the cast.

Candidate Steve Saltzman, whose grandfather was "Wizard of Oz" producer Arthur Freed, also has strong backing from entertainment industry figures, including actor Jeff Bridges, who was a classmate of Saltzman's at University High School.

"There are a lot of people who work in the industry who live in the 5th District," said Jill Barad, another candidate, who downplayed the significance of celebrity backers.

"All it does is they are able to write nice large checks, but I don't think it matters to the average voter," said Barad, who said she does not regret the fact she does not have any stars in her camp.

RIORDAN LEGACY--With less than four months left in office, watch for Mayor Richard Riordan to step up new initiatives in the San Fernando Valley.

That's what he will be doing Tuesday on the corner of Ventura and Sepulveda boulevards, where he will announce a new space-age system that will allow people waiting for buses to view an electronic screen telling them when the next bus will arrive.

Riordan has selected a 16-mile stretch of Ventura Boulevard for the new high-tech system, which will be keyed to the Rapid Bus line running along Ventura Boulevard, said Peter Hidalgo, a spokesman for Riordan.

"This is a first-of-its-kind system using new technology," Hidalgo said, adding that such innovations will help the next mayor grapple with what has remained a major issue in the Valley--traffic congestion.

PORTER RANCH--Long after work began, the massive development of housing and commercial buildings in Porter Ranch remains a major paycheck for City Hall lobbyists trying to work out changes in the project.

A new report by the Los Angeles Ethics Commission said the Porter Ranch development was the fourth-most expensive lobbying effort last year at City Hall, with developers paying $421,000 to registered lobbyists.

The stalled proposal to demolish the Chase Knolls Apartments in Sherman Oaks represented the seventh-most lobbied issue, the report said, with owners of the property spending $343,000 on unsuccessful efforts to get city permission to raze the complex.

The top three lobbied issues involved Internet access to cable franchises, the Playa Vista development and efforts to get city permission to install cellular telephone antennas throughout Los Angeles.

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Celebrity Endorsement

The following are some of the celebrities who are backing candidates in the 5th District council race, either with money or endorsements.

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Barbra Streisand: Contributed $500 to Tom Hayden

Garry Shandling: Contributed $500 to Tom Hayden

James Garner: Contributed $250 to Tom Hayden

Warren Beatty: Endorsing Tom Hayden

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Don Henley: Contributed $500 to Laura Lake

John Lithgow: Endorsing Laura Lake

Eva Marie Saint: Endorsing Laura Lake

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Monty Hall: Endorsing Jack Weiss

Norman Lear: Endorsing Jack Weiss

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Jeff Bridges: Contributed $300 to Steve Saltzman

Researched by PATRICK MCGREEVY/Los Angeles Times

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