The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
on entertainment and media

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Hollywood Shocker: Movie producer takes the bus to work!

September 29, 2009 | 11:59 am

We all know that movie producers are just as status conscious as any movie stars. They worry about what car they drive, what interior decorator does the remodel on their house and what restaurant they're seen in, not to mention what table they're seated at. I know one big-shot producer who'll only make a reservation at the Grill in Beverly Hills if he can get one of the eatery's prized booths. If all they have is a nondescript table in the vast wasteland in the middle of the restaurant, a table that could be landed by any BH matron coming in right off the street, he promptly has his office make a reservation elsewhere.  

I mention all this as a way of saying that when I finally put aside all of the Roman Polanski news and managed to catch up on my weekend reading, I came across a delightful piece in the Wall Street Journal about the hideous perils of using public transportation to go sightseeing in Los Angeles. It took Stan Sesser, who wrote the story, two hours and 37 minutes--longer than a Judd Apatow movie!--to get from the Getty Villa to Watts Towers, an odyssey that involved a Getty shuttle ride, two different bus trips and an excursion on the Blue Line light rail.

Sesser's story is chockful of cheerful testimonials from public transportation enthusiasts, even including one from former Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis. However, one person insisted on talking about his public transport experiences only on the condition of anonymity--a Hollywood film producer. Apparently, if word got out that he'd left his BMW at home, or god forbid, didn't have a car at all, his standing in the industry would be irrevocably damaged. Here's how Sesser described it:

"It's a preconceived idea that if you take the bus, you're a failure," the producer said. He ticked off things he likes about the bus. "I can read, I can get up to date on my IPhone, I can watch videos on my IPod. There's a lot that can be done with someone else driving." He warned me repeatedly not to reveal his name. "In the entertainment business, if they knew I took the bus, they'd never talk to me," he said, explaining that he hires a care and driver when going to a studio.

I know what you're thinking. Isn't Hollywood the home of environmental consciousness, where using public transport should be viewed as a wonderful example of reducing your conspicuous consumption and carbon footprint? Sadly, until TMZ captures Leonardo DiCaprio hopping on the 305 bus to West Hollywood, it looks like status consciousness trumps eco-consciousness every time.

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