TCM Backs Campaign to Preserve Site of the Hollywood Sign
Turner Classic Movies is joining the effort to help raise awareness of “Save Cahuenga Peak,” a campaign organized to preserve the surrounding area where the iconic Hollywood sign, known the world over, has rested for many years.
As some may remember, the whole mountainside where the famous sign stands was once part of a realty development known as Hollywood Land. Industrialist Howard Hughes purchased the surrounding land in 1940. Hughes had intended to build a home for movie star Ginger Rogers, whom he had planed to marry. Even though that relationship ended, Hughes kept the land, and it wasn’t until 2002 that his estate sold it to the investors who now own it. Those investors in turn placed the land on the market for $22 million, but have failed to attract a buyer. Currently, the area is zoned for four luxury home sites.
So, the Hollywood sign itself is under no physical threat. It is specifically the area surrounding the historical landmark that is in grave danger of being developed in a way that could impair the sign’s appearance and irreparably impact the view that tourists, as well as locals, have come to enjoy over the years. TCM host Robert Osborne expressed the network’s enthusiasm for the preservation campaign, stating, “As we’re about to celebrate the history of Hollywood with our first-ever TCM Classic Film Festival, we are eager and proud to help preserve an important aspect of that history through this important initiative.”
The Campaign to Save Cahuenga Peak itself is an ongoing initiative to buy and preserve land surrounding the Hollywood sign. The Trust for Public Land (TPL), one of the partnering groups on the campaign, needs to raise $12.5 million by April 14 in order to buy the 138 acres on Cahuenga Peak located behind and to the left of the “H” in the sign. It is the goal of the trust to add the purchased land to the existing preserve of Griffith Park, therefore protecting it from any future development plans. President of TPL, Will Rogers, expressed his pleasure over Turner Classic Movies joining the campaign, noting, “Nothing says Hollywood like the Hollywood sign, and for people who care about the movies, TCM is the first place they turn. We look forward to working with TCM and its fans to protect the view of the sign. And we will continue our efforts to protect open spaces in Los Angeles, which has long been the movie capital of the world.” In addition to the TPL, the Cahuenga Peak partnership includes Los Angeles City Council member Tom LaBonge, the Hollywood Sign Trust, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, the Los Angeles Parks Foundation, and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.
TCM’s efforts to raise awareness for the Campaign to Save Cahuenga Peak include featuring updates in the on-air reports of TCM’s Classic Movie News, a regular reappearing segment on TCM that covers the latest news about classic cinema. In addition, TCM’s weekend daytime host, Ben Mankiewicz, will present an online message that will be posted at tcm.com and savehollywoodland.org. Included in the message will be details about the campaign and information on how to donate to the cause. The promotional message will also run on TCM’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. Furthermore, TCM’s homepage will feature a banner about the campaign which will include a link to the organizations website, www.savehollywoodland.org. And for a more personal appeal, TCM is encouraging its Facebook friends to post pictures of themselves posing in front of the Hollywood sign – an easy enough task to do for those living in the Los Angeles area that will offer a tremendous show of support.
And to top off their efforts, TCM is donating 10 passes to the first-ever TCM Classic Film Festival to TPL. The passes will be auctioned off in order to raise money for the campaign. Each pass provides access to the more than 50 TCM Classic Film Festival screenings; admission to Club TCM, the location of the festival headquarters, a lounge, a boutique, live panel discussions, social events and a poolside screening, entrance to the Opening Night welcome party on Thursday, April 22 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, admission to Friday and Saturday night pass holder gatherings, attendance at the Closing Night event on Sunday, April 25, and a special commemorative festival program. Whew! No doubt, TPL will receive some substantial bids for such generous passes to TCM’s inaugural effort into the festival world. With support like that, I’m sure the Hollywood sign will continue to bask unobstructed in the hills of Tinseltown for many years to come.