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Movie Billboard Opens, Closes on Same Day After Bad Review

Times Staff Writer

A billboard meant to pique interest in a mockumentary-style movie about the role of Mexicans in California did just that -- and then some.

Installed early Friday in a Sav-on Drugs parking lot in Hollywood, the block-lettered ad read: “On May 14th there will be no Mexicans in California.” A Web address directed passersby to a mock news page for the coming movie, “A Day Without a Mexican,” which was co-written and directed by Mexican filmmaker Sergio Arau.

The flick, which opens May 14, surmises what would happen if all the Mexicans in California suddenly disappeared."It is a Mexican movie made by Mexicans, and we just want to entertain,” said Eckehardt von Damm, chief executive of Mexico City-based Televisa Cine, which produced the film. “Of course there’s a message: We are here; we are part of the country.”

But by 9 a.m. Friday, a complaint had been lodged at the Sav-on and forwarded to Televisa Cine and Viacom Inc.'s Viacom Outdoor unit, which owns the ad space.

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“A customer came in, and they told us [the ad] was very offensive,” said Karen Ramos, a Sav-on spokeswoman. “We contacted the billboard company and asked them to remove it.”

By 1 p.m., workers had started taking down the $10,000 sign.

Viacom Outdoor spokeswoman Jodi Senese said the company “tries to be a very responsible citizen, and if there is any advertising that is inappropriate ... we try to rectify the situation.”

Whether more rectifying will be needed remains to be seen. Viacom said it plans to relocate the ad about three miles away on Cahuenga Boulevard at Broadlawn Drive. More teaser ads, meanwhile, are scheduled for bus stops and billboards. And a Spanish-language version of the billboard is up in Van Nuys.

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