Neighbors alarmed as entertainment titans battle to run Greek Theatre
A clash of entertainment titans is underway over control of Los Angeles’ Greek Theatre, as two sets of companies vie to run and maintain the coveted attraction in Griffith Park.
As a city commission weighs whether the theater’s management should change hands, homeowners in the area have become alarmed about whether noise and other nuisances will surge. Scores of people showed up at a meeting Wednesday at nearby Friendship Auditorium to urge parks and recreation commissioners to hold off on the decision.
The Greek is nestled near the entrance of the vast park, accessed by roads that wind through an affluent residential stretch of Los Feliz. Last year, the theater brought in nearly $23 million in gross receipts, yielding $1.6 million in revenue-sharing payments for the city, according to the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks.
Parks officials have recommended giving the contract to Live Nation Worldwide, which recently staged the Made in America festival downtown. Doing so would pull control of the theater away from the company that has operated it for decades.
That company, Nederlander, bid to continue running the theater with a new partner, AEG Live. Nederlander representatives argue that the selection process has been flawed, with too little information provided for the public and too little time to review it. They also contend their bid is better for the city.
Neighborhood groups such as Friends of Griffith Park have weighed in, arguing that Nederlander has been a good neighbor. Many residents said the company should keep running the theater.
With the current company in charge, “we feel safe. We don’t have beer cans anymore. We don’t have condoms anymore,” said Joan Moseley, who has lived in Los Feliz since 1947. “This new group I know nothing about.... Do you know what their safety record is?”
Live Nation officials, in turn, point to the fact that an evaluation panel unanimously recommended choosing their company. In a written report, parks officials touted Live Nation’s “all-inclusive approach” to managing the theater and “innovative ideas for engaging the surrounding community” and under-served ones.
“The scores were not even close at all,” said Victor De la Cruz, an attorney representing Live Nation.
“You have a 40-year incumbent who does not want to go ... and we understand that the community has valid concerns about a new operator,” De la Cruz said. However, he added, “we intend to prove them wrong.”
After a lengthy hearing, the parks commission decided to postpone any decision until next week so commissioners and the public have more time to get and review information about the plans put forward by the companies. The existing agreement to run the Greek expires at the end of October 2015.
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