Nokia Knocking on Oscar's Door
Only days after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences told the Kodak Theatre in late December that it would not automatically renew its option to present the Oscars there after 2013, an aggressive suitor with deep pockets has emerged. AEG, which operates L.A. Live and the 7,100-seat Nokia Theatre, already is in discussions with Academy officials, a source tells THR. The downtown Los Angeles venue is offering a lease comparable to what the Academy pays CIM Group, owner of the 3,400-seat Kodak, but with a perks package that includes more seats, better infrastructure and more ancillary facilities for parties and press. "The opportunities are so much greater at the Nokia," says Ron Semiao, senior vp at ESPN, which in 2008 moved its annual ESPY Awards from the Kodak to the Nokia. And while both are great places to put on a TV show, Dick Clark Productions president Orly Adelson says the Nokia offers easier access: "The Kodak has only one entrance to load in and load out [sets]. At the Nokia, there are two. That's crucial on the American Music Awards because we change sets every three minutes." Also expected to bid are L.A.'s Shrine Auditorium and Music Center -- both of which have hosted the Oscars -- but they are smaller, and neither matches AEG's marketing muscle. The value of the Kodak lease is unknown, but the money at stake is significant: Academy tax records show the group spent $21.4 million to put on the 2010 Oscars, plus another $1.6 million for the Governors Ball.
DEVELOPMENT IN HOLLYWOOD IS UNDER THREAT: The legal foundation of Hollywood's recent revival is about to come apart. The California Supreme Court on Dec. 29 affirmed the state Legislature's ability to abolish redevelopment agencies, the mechanism that made possible the Hollywood & Highland complex, the ArcLight/Cinerama Dome and other showbiz-supported developments that have reshaped the once-dingy section of Los Angeles. Now several real estate projects that would have been aided by the city's Community Redevelopment Agency are in doubt. Among the victims are such historic movie theaters as the Westlake and the Reseda that were slated to receive aid from CRA/LA, which uses property tax money to work with developers on improving blighted areas. "It's impossible to say what will happen without the agency or something like it, but it will certainly make it much more difficult for some projects to go forward," says David Bloom, spokesman for CRA/LA, which will disband Feb. 1. For now, one of Hollywood's most high-profile projects, the Academy's planned outdoor movie theater on 3.5 acres it owns on Vine Street, seems safe. AMPAS administrator Heather Cochran says the Academy is moving ahead with the project, even if it can't complete a planned purchase of a roughly 8,700-square-foot vacant parcel that abuts its property and is owned by CRA/LA. That sale now appears threatened. -- Daniel Miller