Maybe it’s the rumbling of the subway. Or perhaps all those tourists. Whatever the cause, the stars on several blocks of the Hollywood Walk of Fame have been fading … well, crumbling is more like it.
Now, the stretch in front of the Hollywood & Highland Center, featuring stars such as Tony Curtis and Gilda Radner, is undergoing a roughly $1 million reconstruction.
Damage there was first noticed in 2006, just five years after the sidewalk was rebuilt to coincide with the opening of the Hollywood & Highland mall in 2001. The cracking was so unexpected that repairs stalled as a cause was sought.
“Everyone was pointing their fingers at each other, but nothing was getting done,” said Jeff Briggs, a member of the Hollywood Historic Trust, an affiliate of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and the principal group responsible for maintaining the walk and its 2,400 stars.
Many thought the Metro Red Line, which passes underneath, was a likely cause, but nothing was proved. However, the transit agency pledged $1.5 million to help fund the repairs there as well as elsewhere along the 2.5-mile walk.
But even with that money, the trust is short since it has identified some $4 million worth of repairs the walk needs. So it sought corporate sponsors, with Swedish distiller Absolut Company AB and French cosmetics company L’Oreal SA each agreeing to kick in six-figure donations a few years ago. In exchange, the companies received Friend of the Walk of Fame plaques in the sidewalk near the shopping center, though not on the walk itself.
Reconstruction work started early this month when a portion of the walk at Highland Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard was torn up. Work will halt before the Feb. 24 Academy Awards and resume in March.
However, the trust is not done raising money. Its main source of income is Walk of Fame ceremonies, which cost honored celebrities $30,000 and net the trust about $350,000 annually. But the trust still figures it’s about $1.5 million short, so it is seeking three or four more corporate sponsors.
“We were absolutely delighted to partner with them,” said Absolut spokeswoman Sarah Bessette.
– Bailey Brewer
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