Cirque has Kodak moment

Inks 10-year deal for $100 mil show

Cirque du Soleil has found a new home in Los Angeles with the creation of a Hollywood-themed production that will be based at the Kodak Theater beginning in 2010.

The performance company has signed a 10-year agreement with CIM Group, the owner of Hollywood & Highland, to use the 3,400-seat theater for a $100 million show featuring a cast of 75.

The company will hold 368 shows a year, though the performance will go dark for a month during Oscar season in the run-up to the Academy Awards. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is in its sixth year of a 20-year agreement with CIM to house the Oscar ceremony.

Although few details were revealed Monday during a late morning news conference, Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte did say that the show would focus on Hollywood's place in cinema history.

"Hollywood movies are important in so many ways, artistically, culturally and socially," Laliberte said. "They've changed the way we think and the way we live, and they've certainly had a positive influence on Cirque du Soleil."

The creation of the Los Angeles show serves as a homecoming of sorts for the performance company. Cirque du Soleil's international career began in Los Angeles in 1987 with a show titled "We Reinvent the Circus."

"At the time, we were broke," Laliberte said. "We literally had no money to put gas in our truck to go back home if we failed."

Since then, the company has brought nine touring shows to the area, with more than 3 million people attending 1,360 performances. It also performed at the first Oscar ceremony ever held at the Kodak in 2002.

"For 23 years, Cirque du Soleil's trademark brand of imaginative entertainment has captivated audiences around the world," said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who also was at the news conference. "Now the circus is coming to our town, and the people of Los Angeles can't wait."

Cirque du Soleil, which employs nearly 4,000, performs 15 different shows worldwide.