Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, September 25, 2001

The September 11th attack
Hollywood studios beefing up security

USA Today

LOS ANGELES — At the entrance to the 20th Century Fox lot, an intricate new setup of plywood sawhorses and orange cones slows arriving vehicles.

A limo has to negotiate its way up the palm-lined driveway toward the guard shack. Security guards make the driver of a silver Mercedes convertible open the trunk for an inspection. Tourists stop to take pictures of the scene.

For the past two weeks, Hollywood has been watching terrorism unfold from thousands of miles away. Now it's coping with being named as a potential target.

Over the weekend, security was noticeably beefed up — guards were added, gates were closed, metal detectors were set up and cars were searched — at major movie studios and production companies. This after an FBI warning issued late last week that "an uncorroborated threat" stated "a film studio in California could be the target of a terrorist bombing attack in retaliation for any possible bombing attacks by the United States against Afghanistan."

But nobody's panicking yet, says publicist Stan Rosenfield, whose clients include George Clooney and Kelsey Grammer. "You assume Hollywood's a target because it's a visible symbol of America. That seems to be what was targeted — visible symbols of America whose destruction could also yield major economic consequences."

While one trade paper reported that some talent agencies and publicity firms were advising their clients not to take meetings at studios, Rosenfield says, "I'm not going to tell them what to do."

Harry Thomason, executive producer of NBC's "Emeril," filmed in Studio City, Calif., says an increase in security "is better than letting something stupid happen."

The show was proceeding with its taping before a studio audience Friday, though some sitcoms have temporarily taped in empty studios. Thomason says: "We're going to do things the same way."

As for why the studios might be a target, he says, "I would think it was the image of Hollywood as the center of everything decadent about Western civilization."

Memos issued by high-ranking studio chiefs were quickly circulated to employees, outlining security steps. Disney president Robert Iger sent a memo saying the company was taking "extraordinary precautions." At Sony, security officers have been added, and local police are patrolling more often. By Friday afternoon, concrete barriers had been placed in the driveway of a Sony office building.

While some employees said the additional security added to the general jittery and nervous feeling, others said it just added to the hassle of getting into work.

Jeffrey Godsick, a Fox executive, says: "We ask people have patience to deal with frustration."

Overall, though, he says the security hassles have become "a bonding issue and community builder."