OCT 2008

It’s always great to see theatre that isn’t afraid to push the limits, challenge traditional societal mores, and explore the dark side of civilization. Sound like a good time to you? Then get yourself to the Imagined Life Theatre on San Vincente to see Need Theater’s production of Fatboy by John Clancy. Check out their website for more information on the production. The press has been eating it up, so reserve your tickets now, you won’t be disappointed.

I had the wondrous pleasure of meeting the playwright shortly after last Friday’s performance to discuss the play, and another little project he founded: The NYC International Fringe Festival, one of the premiere theatre events in this country. John and his wife Nancy Walsh were kind enough to recount some stories from the inception of FringeNYC. Much that was said was valuable food-for-thought (in addition to the great food for digestion at WeHo’s Silver Spoon diner).

Fatboy itself was a recipient of the “Fringe First” award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Indeed John Clancy has attended the Edinburgh Fringe on numerous occasions, frequently leaving with awards for his work (five in total).

Thanks to Matt Wells and the good folks at Need Theater for a great evening.


OCT 2008

I suppose it’s not exactly common for your heart to jump with joy when the IRS calls.

Expressing this to the IRS contact overseeing the approval process for our tax exempt application, she mused: “yes, usually people are pretty excited when they hear from me.”

Excited indeed. This represents a big leap for us. After hours and hours slaving away on the epic form to apply for tax exemption, we received the official notification today. If you give money to Los Angeles’ first Fringe Festival, you can write it off on your taxes (deduct it from your gross earnings to lower your tax liability).

OK, so on the surface, that doesn’t exactly sound earth shattering. In reality, this designation represents the keys to the kingdom for many of the plans we have brewing. Many grants won’t even listen to you if you don’t have this little baby. Additionally, a lot of financially-savvy individuals (who worry about things like tax write-offs) are significantly more compelled to donate to a tax-exempt institution. And finally, this certification provides a sense legitimacy and gravitas to the organization. Always, good….

Having this far advance of the festival’s premiere is a big boon for us. Without a decent financial and legal apparatus behind us, we could hardly achieve our goals. Special thanks to fringers Bryan Burgess and Dave McKeever for making this a reality. Many evenings parsing IRS regulations (not exactly fun like fiction) lead to this day.

(Hatchery Arts, a tax-exempt non-profit does business in California as the Hollywood Fringe Festival)


SEP 2008

A quick update today to announce the Hollywood Fringe newsletter courtesy of our friends at Mailchimp. We conducted a major investigation into the best software to support this very important addition to our communications arsenal. Mailchimp provides the most options as far as flexibility…and as their website says, they actually manage to make email list management fun (perish the thought).

We’d like to use this new tool to keep our Fringe community updated on the progress we are making on the festival.

You can subscribe to the newsletter directly from this website, so give it a go!


SEP 2008

Most articles written on the history of Hollywood tell tale of the burgeoning movie industry of the golden age and the “idea” that is Hollywood: Entertainment capital of the world. Hollywood is truly one of the major brands of the world, and its “logo” is probably recognizable by more citizens of the Earth than the facade of the White House. Once you begin to peel back the layers attached by world perception, we can perceive the real Hollywood as the neighborhood itself. That’s the subject of this article.

Most tales of this historic settlement begin with a lone Adobe house in 1853. It was the beginning of a flourishing agricultural community producing grains, pineapples, and bananas (the latter two now sold in full deliciousness at the Sunset and Vine Smoothie King). All this changed when a gent named Harvey Wilcox bought 160 acres of land south of the foothills and amidst the Cahuenga pass in a great real estate scheme designed to lure Midwesterners to “winter” on the coast. Having recently moved from the onslaught that is Midwestern winters, I sympathize. It was Wilcox that paved Prospect Ave, which later became the famed Hollywood Blvd and the “Walk of Fame”.

Other stories link the birth of Hollywood to a man named H. J. Whitley, the so-called Father of Hollywood. A Midwestern real estate baron himself, he and his wife reportedly came up with the village’s name on their honeymoon. Whitley also built the Hollywood Hotel, the first of its kind in the area and on the same lot now used by the Kodak Theatre. In any case, both Wilcox and Whitley managed to get streets named after them.

Contrary to what you may have heard, Hollywood was not originally called “Hollywoodland” – the original signage on the foothills overlooking Hollywood. Indeed, this was the name of a real estate community built by Whitley associates Woodruff and Shoult, who marketed their development as a “superb environment without excessive cost on the Hollywood side of the hills.”

The entertainment industry roared into the neighborhood in 1910 with the entry of D. W. Griffith and his Biograph Company. Accompanying him was an acting company featuring a young Mary Pickford. The first full-fledged studio to set up shop was New Jersey-based Centaur Co at the corner of Sunset and Gower (yes, there is still studio space there). 1914 brought the first feature film made in a Hollywood studio: The Squaw Man, directed by Cecil B. DeMille. By 1915, Paramount, Warner Bros, RKO, and Columbia all had a major presence in the burgeoning film capital.

And so the golden age of Hollywood began.

The 1940’s and 50’s saw the rise of television and Hollywood was the place to be. The music recording business began its trek towards Hollywood as did radio. With radio, film, television, and music colliding, the neighborhood solidified its reputation as the unchallenged entertainment capital of the world. As decades progressed, the spirit of Hollywood busted past its borders. Major studios moved out of the neighborhood that gave them birth and spread across Los Angeles. The term “Hollywood” no longer referred to geographical place, per se, as much as an idea or even more abstract: A promise of the American dream.

The 80’s and 90’s were rough for this gilded neighborhood, as it saw itself begin to decay. The word “seedy” replaced “glitzy”, industry and tourism withered as crime took over. This wasn’t the end, though…

The 2000’s represent nothing short of a rebirth for the fabled neighborhood. Tourism picked up, and the Hollywood & Highland shopping complex was built on the grounds of Wilcox’s old Hollywood Hotel. Industry began to return as did investment capital, shops, bars, restaurants, night clubs, music venues, and theatres. It is now one of LA’s premiere leisure spots as anyone looking for parking on a Saturday night will attest.

Earlier this decade, the Hollywood Media District was formed that amongst other things, established “Theatre Row” – a collection of 15 or so theatre spaces dotted up and down Santa Monica Blvd and Highland Ave. And it is here that we set our scene.

In 2010, we hope to add our own chapter to the storied history of this epic neighborhood. Hope to see you there.


SEP 2008

All great endeavors require mascots: The Orioles Bird, Uncle Sam, The Keebler Elf (cookie-making counts as a “great endeavor”).

We at the Hollywood Fringe didn’t plan on a mascot…it never occurred to us. Until one morning I received an email from our graphic designer Gavin Worth. He had been working on some branding ideas, one of which appeared to be a street corner with a whole bevy of freaky-type characters. It also include a disparaging note about one of our mothers (identities hidden to protect the guilty).

For some reason, it stuck and we have been plastering our new friends – the “Fringe Freaks” – on much of our promotional materials. Who knows, you may see these little guys walking up and down Santa Monica Blvd come Summer 2010.

So without further introduction, I bring you The Freaks themselves: