LACMA film show will go on

Program was to shut down in October

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art's film program, which was to be shut down in October, has been granted a stay of execution.

The program will continue to operate until at least June thanks to a grant of $150,000 from the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. and Time Warner Cable in a partnership with Ovation TV.

LACMA said last month that it was closing the weekend film program, a staple at the museum during the past four decades, because it had lost $1 million during the past 10 years. It also said Ian Birnie, the program's director for 13 years, would become a consultant.

The decision provoked an outcry in Los Angeles' film community.

The HFPA, which produces the Golden Globe Awards, and Time Warner Cable, along with Ovation, are giving the museum $75,000 apiece so the program can continue without interruption through the museum's current fiscal year.

It is unclear what role Birnie will have under the extension. A museum spokeswoman said Wednesday that the parties "are still in discussions."

Additionally, TWC and Ovation will embark on a $1.5 million marketing effort to promote the program across their multiple media platforms locally and nationally.

"In a tight budget year when many programs were reduced, we suspended the weekend film series in order to rebuild its foundations," LACMA director Michael Govan said. "We've been incredibly impressed by the public outcry of support for film at LACMA."

He added, "Our goal is to create a field-leading film department that captures the ever-growing importance of film and moving images in the history of art."

Govan is meeting next week with members of the Los Angeles film community who launched an online petition to save the program. It has gathered more than 2,600 signatures.

LACMA said its hopes to find sustainable philanthropic support to create a new "film department within the curatorial sphere of the museum that will be charged with critical thinking about the history and future of film as art as well as film's increasing importance in the larger narrative of art history."