I took a little break from my blog because I moved and started a new job, but it only took the utterance of one name to piss me off enough to put finger to keyboard.
A manager I work with brought up a name that any self respecting film buff would grimace at, Kirk Kerkorian.
Manager A was asking Manager B to Google him, so B could learn about him. I stood there and gave the proper spelling to the last name while it was tapped into the computer and A said, “You know who that was?”
“He was a great man, he did a lot for this town.”
Then my (correct) smart ass said, “And he destroyed MGM Studios.”
Manager A…well, mostly everyone I work, with is unaware that I have a VAST knowledge of Old Hollywood. So, Manager A pulled me aside to school me on how great and wonderful a man Kirk was. I thought it was nice that he was a fine client, but that does not negate the fact that he personally tore down the most famous studio in Hollywood and sold the back lot off to become disgusting track houses.
Roger and I took the most, sad ass studio tour of the now Sony Pictures lot (formerly Metro) for one of my birthdays. They haven’t won any awards in decades, it’s mostly a TV studio now…and the tour guides are pitiful. It was like Norma Desmond in tour form, so, so sad.
This manager didn’t see how selling off the lot was bad. Kirk was a business man, he said, and it made him money to sell off the back lot and priceless pieces of Hollywood history. He then explained to me how Kirk owned MGM three times…I love hearing shit I already know, nothing thrills me more.
I argued that Los Angeles is an industry town and MGM was one of the biggest and most glorious pieces of that history. If history means nothing, and money is all that’s important, why not sell off the Smithsonian, or raze the Colosseum to make room for condos?
The discussion turned to, “Well he was Armenian and a very nice man.” Uhh….who gives a damn about that? I’m sure there were people that considered Rockefeller and other rich tyrants to be amiable people in their personal lives. I dropped the issue because I had work to do and I knew I was right. Manager A didn’t drop it, I got flustered over something much later and he said, “Oh you’re still frustrated about the Kerkorian deal, it’s ok that you’re wrong. You know, if you’re into Hollywood, I can introduce you to some people.”
Are you EFFING kidding me? Are.You. Effing.Kidding.Me?!?!?
I questioned reality momentarily. Was I in the damn Twilight Zone?
So, I Googled Kirk myself…
The first things I found was an article from the LA Times called: Billionaire Kirk Kerkorian destroyed MGM. Why was he honored at the Oscars?
And then an obit, entitled: RIP Kirk Kerkorian: The Man Who Killed MGM and UA
Manager A will never admit that I’m right, but that’s ok…I am, and that NEVER gets old.
A few days later I got a flyer in the mail for the new Academy Museum, asking me for money. At last year’s TCMFF I had to listen to a speech by one of their directors and homeboy truly didn’t /doesn’t know how to present Old Hollywood history. I always hate having to listen to a sales pitch during the breakfasts at TCMFF….I already paid 2k for my ticket, let me eat my damn eggs in peace while I discuss gossipy shit from the day before with my friends. Gesh.
The combination of the Kirkorian talk and the Academy Museum’s money begging made me think of the Debbie Reynolds’ auction of 2011. You can see how passionate she was about preserving Hollywood history in the documentary, Bright Lights. (I went to see some of her collection at the Paley Center, here’s the link to my old blog post talking about it.) I’ve also found a video of the Auction, obviously Debbie is very present in the clips.
Although she is gone, it seems like she was one of the few in Hollywood who really understood what it would take to preserve it. So, instead of remembering how that douche Kerkorian destroyed the best parts of Hollywood, remember how much Debbie and those like her loved it.
This song is a great example of MGM in it’s prime…and it’s where my blog gets it’s name from: