PRODUCER SAVES VIDIOTS, SAYS IT WILL STAY “AS IS”

It was like nothing so much as a Capra movie in which the good guys seemed to have lost, but were saved at the last minute by a generous stranger.

Earlier this week, the owners of Vidiots, a unique and cherished Santa Monica institution that didn’t just rent films, but stocked 50,000 of the best movies ever made, including rare and out-of-print treasures, announced that they were closing in April..

“But, as The Hollywood Reporter’s Chris Gardener wrote, “Time to press rewind on the Vidiots tale — thanks to
Megan Ellison.

“The iconic Santa Monica movie rental store — located at 302 Pico Blvd. — was preparing to shutter, with co-owner Cathy Tauber announcing this week that the store would close in April after 30 years in business. However, there was always the option for a last-minute Hail Mary from a wealthy benefactor, Tauber told reporters. (The store operates as a nonprofit through the Vidiots Foundation).

“Enter Ellison and her Annapurna Pictures. Ellison, who keeps a low-profile in the press and declines interview requests, teased that she could be that wealthy benefac-
tor, when she tweeted ‘yeah…maybe not’ in response to a story in the Santa Monica Daily Press that the store
would not close after all.

 On Friday afternoon, ID PR’s Bebe Lerner, who reps Ellison and her Annapurna Pictures, confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that Vidiots is stay-
ing open. ‘Annapurna is helping out to keep the doors open,’ Lerner said.

“She would not confirm any additional details about management or money, offering only that the Santa Monica institution will stay ‘as is.’

“Ellison, the daughter of Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, is
an Oscar nominated producer who has made a huge splash
in the business during the past few years. She produced American Hustle, Her and Zero Dark Thirty, all of which were nominated for best picture Oscars. She also produc-
ed Foxcatcher and the upcoming Terminator reboot.

“Ellison had hinted at a role in saving the store, writ-
ing ‘be kind rewind’ on her Twitter account on Thursday.
‘Be kind rewind pic.twitter.com/ej6GZnXOBP
— Megan Ellison (@meganeellison) January 29, 2015’

VA PLEDGES TO HOUSE ALL L.A. COUNTY HOMELESS VETS THIS YEAR

When Bobby Shriver became a member of the Santa Monica
City Council, one of his major concerns was the plight
of homeless veterans.

He worked with Julie Rusk and other City staff members, acquainting himself with existing programs,and develop-
ing some new policies. He also met with regional, area
and national politicians, soliciting their support.

Years ago, a “homeless care provider” told him about
empty houses on the vast West L.A. VA campus. He sub-
sequently won a promise from the then Secretary of
Veterans Affairs to renovate and convert one of the
closed up houses on the West l.A. VA campus into a residence for homeless veterans.

But time passed, and nothing happened. Ultimately,
Shriver and others filed suit to compel the VA to
keep its promise.

This week, the Department of Veterans Affairs Robert
A. McDonald annunced a legal settlement that will,
according to the Los Angeles Times, “transform its
sprawling West Los Angeles campus into a center of permanent housing for homeless veterans and curtail
the controversial practice of leasing VA facilities
to corporations and other non-government entities…
The VA and its legal opponents must also create a
written document by Feb. 13 to end homelessness among veterans in Greater Los Angeles. That plan, the VA
said, would focus particularly on veterans who are chronically homeless, female, aging and severely dis-
abled.”

McDonald said he had “no question” that local and
federal officials could end veteran homelessness in
the county by year’s end.

“This can be done.” he said. “If we don’t fix it in
Los Angeles, it’s not going to be fixed.”

BRAVO, BOBBY!

“STATE OF CITY” SPEECHES TO BE AIRED ON CITY TV

The principal speeches at the recent Chamber of Comm-
erce “State of the City” event were given by Mayor
Kevin McKeown and retiring City Manager Rod Gould.

City TV taped them, but chose to run them on YouTube,
not CityTV. It has now scheduled them on CityTV, chan-
nel 16.
.
Airtimes will be Friday, 1/30, at 8 pm, Saturday, 1/31,
at 10 am and 8 pm, and Sunday, 2/1, at 7 pm — all on Channel 16.

The mayor’s speech will be run first, followed by Gould’s remarks. .

JOURNAL FILM CRITIC MOURNS LOSS OF VIDIOTS

LAObserved story

Wall Street Journal film critic Joe Morgenstern is
quite disturbed by the coming closure of Vidiots,
the popular Santa Monica video store. He writes at
the WSJ (no subscription required) that it “feels
like an impending death in the family—in the family
of film lovers that extends, in fact, to readers of
my reviews.

Vidiots is my local video shop in Santa Monica, but
it’s the Alexandria library of video shops, a reposi-
tory of 50,000 DVD’s and tapes, many of them rare
and unavailable anywhere else, including the Inter-
net. For the almost 20 years I’ve been reviewing
movies for the Journal, I’ve cherished the shop,with
its all-knowing staff, as an indispensable resource

“I can’t count the times I’ve called them for a quick memory jog, or jumped in the car close to midnight on deadline night to pick up a film I needed to see for
a specific visual reference, or to make sure it was
as good as I recalled before listing it as a video tip.
Never once have they let me—or my readers—down.These
days people believe that everything is available on
the Web, though nothing could be farther from the
truth.I came to believe that everything was available
at Vidiots, and damned if it wasn’t true, every time.

“What has also been available, at no extra cost and
with no late-return fee, is wisdom. In the grand tra-
dition of Quentin Tarantino, the quintessential video-
shop clerk turned auteur, the people behind the counter
at Vidiots love to talk about movies, and to give ad-
vice whenever it’s sought. And not just casual recommen- dations for a current action adventure to be consumed
with beer and pizza, but advice that qualifies as cholarship—the shop’s racks include whole sections de-
voted to stars long dead as well as currently ablaze,
and to directors like Andrei Tarkovsky whose work is seminal, though not what you’d call wildly commercial.”

Morgenstern notes he has moderated public Q&As at the
store with Anjelica Huston, Nicole Holofcener in hopes
of keeping Vidiots viable. “The feeling of a family gathering was strong on both evenings, but everyone
knew the end was near,” he concedes. Morgenstern was
on KCRW’s Which Way, L.A.? last night talking about
Vidiots.

INGLEWOOD MAYOR JAMES BUTTS REFUSES TO APPEAR ON KCRW

Inglewood Mayor James Butts chose, at the last minute,
not to appear on KCRW’s “Which Way, LA?” Wednesday.

According to the Morningside Park Chronicle, Butts, who
was once Chief of Police in Santa Monica, learned a few hours before the broadcast that several Inglewood resi-
dents who opposed the proposed football stadium would appear with him on the program

According to a show spokesman,”Inglewood mayor James Butts and Hollywood Park executive Gerard McCallum agreed to appear on our program tonight, but when they heard that stadium opponents would also be on the program, they both dropped out.”