First world problems…
From Hollywood Reporter: More than 10 million tourists flock to Hollywood’s Walk of Fame each year, but in the early morning hours of Oct. 27, James Otis wasn’t there to snap a selfie. The political protester instead wielded a sledgehammer and pickax to obliterate Donald Trump’s star. “I thought if I took that symbol away, it would help a lot of people understand that what Trump said [about Latinos and other groups] wasn’t right,” Otis told THR. His pulverization, which netted international headlines, quickly was followed by work to repair Trump’s star.
But most damaged stars, many bearing far more of the cultural symbolism Otis cited, receive lesser treatment: One-fifth of the 2,500-plus stars are in disrepair after decades of neglect, THR has found. Longtime Hollywood Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Leron Gubler acknowledges this figure matches a city review conducted in the 2000s. Neither he nor any other Walk steward disputed THR’s findings.
Touching every era and genre of entertainment, the damage ranges from minor cracks (Charlie Chaplin, Aaron Spelling, Aretha Franklin) and broken brass inlays (Al Jolson, Chris Rock, Edith Head) to large gouges (Irving Thalberg, Myrna Loy, Paul Rudd). Stars in the worst condition include those honoring Cecil B. DeMille, Ginger Rogers, Neil Diamond, Lucille Ball and Billy Wilder.
It’s troubling,” says Oscar-nominated actress Terry Moore (1952’s Come Back, Little Sheba). “We earned our stars.” Adds Don Murray, who debuted opposite Marilyn Monroe in 1956’s Bus Stop: “If I were a member of the chamber, I would hope I’d be bothered.”
Actor Tab Hunter also points a finger at the chamber. “The Walk of Fame is a registered trademark of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce,” he says. “They must be raking in the bucks. I wonder what they’re doing with it.”
Indeed, the disrepair is hard to reconcile with the roughly $1 million in annual revenue that the chamber — which selects honorees and stages the ceremonies at which stars are bestowed — appears to generate from the Walk. Along with the two dozen or so new stars added annually, each of which comes with a $30,000 “donation,” licensing fees — from key chains, shot glasses and T-shirts sold in local tchotchke shops — amount to “six figures” annually, says Gubler.
The degradation of the Walk is far from new. In 1986, the head of the chamber noted that decay had begun a decade earlier, as the neighborhood itself went into decline. (The official’s plan at that time was to fund a significant restoration, to the tune of $500,000, funded with an extensive merchandising pact that saw 170 celebrities, from Kirk Douglas to Charlton Heston, agree to allowing products bearing their starred names to be sold at local souvenir shops.) Yet even as gentrification has swept through the surrounding blocks in recent years — Charlize Theron sold her multimillion-dollar penthouse in a renovated loft building at the southwest corner of Hollywood and Vine earlier this year — the Walk remains a wreck.
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