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It was pretty simple. The goal, from the relaunch of The Hollywood Reporter seven weeks ago, was to create some kind of issue this week devoted to our 80th anniversary. We made story lists, thought about concepts, imagined guest editors and envisioned special columns we could run detailing our history. Admittedly, it was all a bit self-congratulatory. Then we had an epiphany: Let’s not make it about us. Let’s make it about Hollywood. After all, we are, as our name states, the reporters. The observers.
So what began as an initial call by a staffer to one of the major studios asking whether we could get some of its execs, past and present, to sit for a photograph soon snowballed into something much larger. Our “Legends” issue was under way.
With great relish, the staff began brainstorming, coming up with storied names in the industry we wanted to photograph and the accompanying ideas that would go with them; senior writer Leslie Bruce began keeping a meticulous list of who was in, who was out and who was being approached. On his front, senior editor Gregg Kilday began working with every last studio to have the industry component covered. Always thinking of what could be on the cover, I asked Leslie and Gregg to track down every major living talent over the age of 80. And they did. (Confession: Three seventysomethings did manage to squeeze in: Debbie Reynolds, 78; James Earl Jones, 79; and Larry Hagman, 79).
Within days, photographer Art Streiber shot a group of talent legends as a cover here in L.A. The only problem? Another group of talent legends in New York wanted to participate. So we went ahead and had photographer Wesley Mann shoot them as well (he even used his family as stand-ins the day before to compose the shot just right).
Then, compounding matters — in a good way — was the sudden participation of the extraordinary Sidney Poitier, whom we had a dream of shooting with Halle Berry. Amazingly, Berry was in town. And, as luck would have it, Peggy Sirota, on one day’s notice, was available to photograph the pair at the actor’s home. Now, on page 48, you can find a gorgeous photo of the two, representing in these pages the first African-Americans to win Oscars for best actor and best actress.
As of press time, creative director Shanti Marlar and photo director Jennifer Laski, along with their amazing and tireless teams, completed a dizzying 20 shoots in just six days. And, in what is known in magazine-speak as a “split run,” we are proud to have three amazing covers representing this week’s issue. Depending on which you received, you might have on your cover our group of L.A. legends, our New York legends or our one of Poitier and Berry. Hopefully you’ll have a chance to see and appreciate them all.
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