Los Angeles has served as backdrop for hundreds of movies, but few films make a star of the city like "The Black Dahlia" does. The mystery from Universal Studios about the 1947 murder of an aspiring actress reinforces L.A.'s image as the city of dreams albeit dangerous ones.
Even before the movie opened on Sept. 15, its Web site featured a map of the city with scenes from the movie organized by location. Echo Park, the Crenshaw district, and a Hancock Park mansion get center stage. Another section of the site, titled "L.A.: Then & Now," compares historical and contemporary photos of city hall, Larchmont and Sunset Boulevard. The Los Angeles Times launched a separate site filled with the actual articles about the murder from the Times in 1947.
But apparently "Dahlia" won't boost L.A. the way "The Night of the Iguana" made Puerto Vallarta. Vahid Sapir, president of Starline Tours in Hollywood, said the Black Dahlia figures in two tours, but neither has had much of an uptick since the movie came out. "Tour of the Stars" remains as popular as before, while the "Haunted Hollywood" tour has gained only a few more believers.
Brian Sapir, the paranormal investigator who leads the "Haunted" tour, claims he had a personal experience with the ghost of Elizabeth Short, aka the Black Dahlia. He was conducting a tour through the Roosevelt Hotel at the time Steve Hodel's book "Black Dahlia Avenger" came out in 2004. As the group stood in front of a locked glass display case showing upcoming hotel events, the door suddenly swung open. While everyone gasped, Sapir looked inside the case and saw the name "Black Dahlia" prominently displayed to promote an event for the book's launch.
"We go by some of the infamous places where she hung out," said Sapir, referring to Short. "I haven't seen the movie, but it has made the Black Dahlia more of a mainstream name."
The Sapirs weren't expecting the movie to generate droves of new tour fans. In its opening weekend, "The Black Dahlia" placed second with underwhelming gross receipts of $10 million.
Are You Ready, Alvin?
Just in time for Christmas, the high-pitched warbles of Alvin, Simon and Theodore are coming to cell phones near you.
L.A.-based Bagdasarian Productions and Classic Media have signed with InfoSpace Inc. to bring some famous classic movie and TV stars to mobile, including Alvin & the Chipmunks, Rocky & Bullwinkle and a host of others.
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