Hollywood is a land of sunshine dreams, glamorous red carpets, and the magic that happens when a great story is nurtured along by the right creative hands.
It’s also a place where brutal business decisions make and break careers — and where the bottom line can supersede artistic choices.
Since its beginnings in 1886, this singular neighborhood of Los Angeles has been defined by the push-pull between beauty and the bottom line. Even its founder, Harvey Henderson Wilcox, was seduced by the California sun, then used that affection to turn a profit.
Still, it’s hard to resist the spell of a place that’s so iconic. Hollywood landmarks are recognized around the world: Melrose Avenue, Sunset Boulevard, Griffith Park, the Hollywood Bowl, Grauman’s Chinese Theater, the Walk of Fame, Universal Studios. Tinseltown has become the gold standard for glamour and success around the globe.
In this episode, we take a dip into Hollywood history, discuss the times the Oscars ceremony went (gloriously) off the rails, and recommend five books that transported us to the movie capital, including a primer on storytelling from a master screenwriter, a journalist’s view of why we’re drowning in superhero movies, and three novels with distinctly different looks at the lives and loves of film stars.
And here’s the romanticized version of Grauman’s that lives in Mel’s head:
The Hollywood Walk of Fame website lists all the stars and upcoming ceremonies!
Harvey Henderson Wilcox moved with his wife Daeida to California in 1886 and bought a big swath of land near the Cahuenga Pass. Not too long after, they dubbed it Hollywood.
There are 31 places around the world named Hollywood.
Get the scoop on actuality films.
Edward Curtis (1858-1952) was an American photographer and ethnologist whose work focused on the American West and Native American people. Smithsonian Magazine has a nice piece about his epic project to photograph Native Americans — and here’s our post about the Morgan Library in New York. J.P. Morgan was a backer for Curtis’ project.
Yma Sumac is buried at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery; we talked about her unique singing voice in our Peru episode.
The Academy Awards have made for some genuinely uncomfortable moments; David outlined a few in our show. Here are the videos; watch if you dare.
In his book, Which Lies Did I Tell?, William Goldman explains how he decided not to write a movie about the 1911 theft of the Mona Lisa. We talked about that theft in our Paris episode.
Exciting news: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is being adapted into a series, and Taylor Jenkins Reid is writing it.
Author Ben Fritz talked to the Realignment podcast about the fight for the future of movies during and after COVID.
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