Motion Pictures and The Culture of Los Angeles


Warner Bros

For our September session of LASA, we gathered first at The Huntington, where we reacquainted ourselves with one another, introduced some new students and interns to the group, and reviewed our summer institute and its themes.  We then took our LASA bus over to the studios of Southern California Public Radio in Pasadena, where we were greeted by our host, John Horn.  John showed us around the studio, we got listen to newscaster Shirley Jahad as she read the morning’s news on air (and then meet and chat with her afterwards).  John took us upstairs to the newsroom, where we learned how stories are assigned, reported, and broadcast.

Then John took us into the forum space at the studio, where we engaged in an hour-long discussion with him about his new show, The Frame, an arts and entertainment segment broadcast each weekday morning and later by podcast and blog.  John spoke of his time at the LA Times, where he was a veteran reporter on the film industry, and he talked with us about the ways the film industry works, how films are brought to screen, and the mysteries of hits and flops.  It was a splendid introduction to the heartbeat of Hollywood for all of us: informed, informal, lively.  The Q and A from LASA students was terrific, too.

After lunch at the studio, our bus rolled us over to the Warner Brothers studio and lot, where we fanned out into three groups for tram tours of the lot, the sound stages, the museum.  This is a regular LASA destination –we’ve gone each of the last three years – and always a hit.  There’s something for everyone: sets from well-known television shows, possible star sightings, great film and t.v. cars on display, lots of Harry Potter this and that, Batman paraphernalia, etc. etc.

A fine day of thinking about what film and the film industry means to Los Angeles and how that might be changing.

October: business, entrepreneurialism, high-tech manufacturing, and a dollop of “how to think about your application to college.”

William Deverell, Chair
History Department, USC