One Hollywood Sign, Many Views

The industry hasn’t exactly aced its history lessons of late. Last year’s dominant Oscar contenders, Argo, Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty, all centered on true stories and all were hammered for their veracity (though Argo marched unimpeded to a best-picture win). Tom Hanks, who plays the real Capt. Richard Phillips, understands the lure of fact-based stories and the pitfalls of telling them. “These stories answer what humans can do in certain situations,” he says. “But it still has to fit within a cohesive story, which may mean deciding what part you want to get right.” What’s right is another matter, even in non-fiction films. Several members of the Maersk Alabama, the hijacked vessel, are suing the shipping company, alleging Phillips ignored radio warnings of potential piracy. In a court deposition, Phillips countered that the ship would be attacked regardless of any warnings. The case is scheduled for trial in December. Hanks, who also played astronaut Jim Lovell in 1995’s Apollo 13, says Hollywood usually takes its lumps over accuracy because of ulterior motives, such as awards and sequels. The best a film can do, Hanks says, is respect history, not interpret it. “A lot of stories take a real event and try to create a straight antagonist or protagonist out of it, or try to take an editorial position. I don’t like that kind of history.

Submit a Letter to the Editor

The Times’ article Wednesday on the latest salvo by residents in their struggle with tourists who crowd their narrow hillside streets drew reactions from readers ranging from serious to satirical. Most (eight of the 13 letters we received) had little sympathy for the complaining Beachwood Canyon and Hollywoodland dwellers. One reader sided with the locals, and another suggested a new home for the Hollywood sign. Here is a selection of those letters. — Paul Thornton, letters editor A typical reaction was Porter Ranch resident Frances Sikorski’s: “Here we go again. “First people complain about living near an airport; now others complain about living near the Hollywood sign. Were the complainers there before the sign? Probably not. “Take down the sign and I bet their property values would drop. I was born in Hollywood and love the landmark.” Victoria Carlson of Burbank sympathizes with the locals: “I walk dogs in the Beachwood Canyon area. Every day I witness gaggles of tourists who double park or park in red zones and then make the mad dash into the middle of Beachwood Canyon to pose for photographs featuring our iconic Hollywood sign in the background. “Seems a lot of these tourists have little regard for their own safety. It’s all about getting that award-winning shot, after all. “I spend a lot of time in the Beachwood area, so I know how to navigate those twisted, narrow canyon roads. I’m always mindful of other vehicles as well as urban wildlife.

John Lennon’s star on Hollywood Walk of Fame defaced by vandals

The nearby stars honoring  Lennon’s fellow Beatles - Paul McCartney, Ringo Star and George Harrison -- were left untouched.

“I yelled out, ‘Help, we really need somebody!'” she joked Tuesday, confirming that a worker returned the star to its pristine condition Monday. “This is history. It’s a historic monument and should be respected, not desecrated like that.” George Stroud/Getty Images The star was defaced with markings over the weekend – just days before what would have been Lennons (pictured in 1969) 73rd birthday. Martinez, who produces the Walk of Fame ceremonies for the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, said she learned about the vandalism Sunday night after a tour guide discovered the markings Saturday and alerted Beatles journalist Steve Marinucci, who in turn reached out to her. I saw it and just thought, ‘What morons did this?’ It was just so tacky,” tour guide Gillian Lomax told The News Tuesday. “Maybe John would have liked it if it said something funny, but it was stupid teenage crap.” RELATED: ONO! YOKO ACCUSED TO STYLE PLAGIARISM Lomax visits the Vine Street location regularly for her Beatles-based “A Magical History Tour” and said the adjacent stars for fellow Beatles George Harrison, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney were untouched. She said it looked like multiple people were involved because the scribbles, which included a cartoon mushroom and smiley face, appeared to be in different handwriting styles. MICHAEL THURSTON/AFP/Getty Images The nearby stars honoring Lennons fellow Beatles – Paul McCartney, Ringo Star and George Harrison — were left untouched. I bent down to try to get some of the stuff off, but it wouldn’t budge,” she said. “I was worried we were in trouble.” PHOTOS: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF JOHN LENNON Martinez said she immediately contacted the Hollywood Historic Trust, the nonprofit that maintains and repairs the stars, and they were able to get the contractor making the star for Kenny (Babyface) Edmonds’ ceremony on Thursday to respond. The Edmonds ceremony is taking place just a couple blocks away, and the contractor sent someone to clean, polish and re-seal Lennon’s star within hours, she said. She said she’s now waiting for Capitol Records to review security footage to see if the vandals were caught on a surveillance camera. The Walk of Fame is a state-registered landmark, she said, and its supporters won’t let it become a destination for taggers the way the gravesite of Doors singer Jim Morrison has in Paris. I want people to know they can go to jail for this,” Martinez said.

New book looks at Hollywood choreographer

Matteo Guidicelli and Migs Villafuerte reveal their feelings for Sarah Geronimo

Due to an oversight, Romero received no screen credit on that movie, so legend has it that Elvis himself choreographed the dance. While Elvis made some level of contribution, it was under heavy supervision. It was Romero who tapped into Elvis Presley’s very natural ability. Romero balks at the idea of his initially attempting to do a standard Hollywood musical number, only to be corrected by Elvis. In fact, Romero liked the rock and roll sound and had a keen enough vision to realize Elvis had a certain raw talent that could be cultivated. He patterned the song’s movements after Elvis Presley’s natural responses and the result was a harbinger for the MTV music videos that followed decades later. A dancer whose career dates back to vaudeville, Alex Romero’s recollections are filled with fascinating anecdotes about Elvis, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, and others, from his experiences working on such classic movie musicals as “Take Me Out To The Ball Game,” “On The Town,” and “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” Among the many intersting stories Romero tells author Knowles, is his recollection of James Cagney whom he worked with on the movie “Love Me or Leave Me.” Playing a disabled person in this picture (whose nickname is “the Gimp”), Cagney does no dancing. But he attended every dance rehearsal, and tap danced with Romero just because he enjoyed it. “He was the first guy to ever call me Mr. Romero,” Alex recalls. The memories of people who worked with some of Hollywood history’s brightest stars can be alternately moving and disturbing.