The 6.6 earthquake that struck L.A. and the effect on Hollywood
From Beatty to Bennett, 'Melrose' to Burbank, the 6.6 quake turned Tinseltown on its side. Its famed inhabitants took it like troupers.
Alana Stewart, of all people, may have put it best: “Why does Hollywood have to be here?” It’s a question many started asking that mid-January morning when Los Angeles was struck by a 6.6 temblor. It’s a question many more have been pondering in the wake of approximately 3,500 aftershocks. While the rest of the city tries to put itself back together, here’s how Hollywood is coping.
TV production took the biggest direct hit, with NBC suffering the worst damage. Virtually all of its series were shut down for the week. Seinfeld‘s stage at the CBS/MTM lot in Studio City has been been declared unsafe and is being reconstructed. A dearth of enough new episodes in the can forced NBC to broadcast a 1991 Seinfeld repeat (”Phone Message”) after the quake, but new shows will be aired during the crucial February sweeps, and filming resumes Feb. 8. ”We’ll still do the 22 episodes we had to deliver,” assures Tom Cherones, Seinfeld‘s director and supervising producer.
Among other NBC series, The John Larroquette Show was on earthquake hiatus for two weeks. And fans looking forward to Greg Kinnear’s Feb. 14 debut as Bob Costas’ successor on NBC’s Later will have to wait until, well, later. The quake caused preproduction glitches, delaying the launch to Feb. 28.
CBS and ABC shows also got pounded; the latter’s Lois & Clark will get a new Daily Planet lobby, complete with a cappuccino bar, since the old newsroom was waterlogged. Two Fox series really bore the brunt. Watch for an inordinate number of on-location scenes on Melrose Place. Its Santa Clarita set, located near the Jan. 17 quake’s epicenter, was severely damaged. On Beverly Hills, 90210, the Peach Pit and portions of the college campus — actually located in three Van Nuys warehouses — got trashed. Both programs lost seven days of shooting.
Celeb homeowners also woke to major damage. Among them: Warren Beatty, Liza Minnelli, NYPD Blue‘s David Caruso and Nick Turturro, L.A. Law alumnus Harry Hamlin, Evening Shade‘s Elizabeth Ashley, Coach‘s Jerry Van Dyke, Married With Children‘s David Faustino, and Walter Matthau, who told Daily Variety that he canceled his earthquake insurance three months ago and is now saddled with at least $5 million worth of damage. Denzel Washington’s and Debbie Reynolds’ chimneys crashed, while Shari Belafonte’s Yorkshire terrier got crushed to death in her kitchen.
As movers and shakers come to realize they can’t control everything, some are rumbling about leaving L.A. for such far-flung film centers as Toronto, Vancouver, and Wilmington, N.C. ”You can’t get out,” argues director John Frankenheimer (The Manchurian Candidate). ”If you work here, as I do, you can’t.” Others are joking about it (Who’s the new mayor? Barney Rubble). But many of the famous have endured the hardships quite resourcefully. To honor them, we present this tribute to the most remarkable adapters in the Year of Living Anxiously:
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR Larry Fortensky. Elizabeth Taylor was in Saint John’s Hospital in Santa Monica with a dislocated hip when the quake struck, knocked out power, and shattered the windows in her room. Within 30 minutes of the 4:31 a.m. temblor, Fortensky arrived and, with two bodyguards, whisked his wheelchair-bound wife down four flights of stairs to his car. ”Elizabeth told me it was one of the most frightening experiences she’s ever been through,” says a spokes-man, ”but she hasn’t said she’s going to leave L.A.”