LABJ’s LA Stories
As if they didn’t have enough to deal with.
Adelphia Communications, the largest cable provider in Southern California, is trying to woo customers to TV5 USA, a 24-hour French language cable channel.
The cable system, operating under bankruptcy protection, teamed with the network, whose home base is not a big favorite in the U.S. lately, for a month-long promotion.
Besides offering a 50 percent discount on the first month of service, they are kicking in dinner for two at the elegant La Cachette restaurant to those who sign up by Nov. 20.
Are subscribers ready to embrace the network? Diane Blanco, marketing manager for Adelphia, said the response has been positive. “It’s generated a lot of phone calls, many more than I would have anticipated,” Blanco said. “When it comes to politics, we don’t have any opinions on the subject. It’s our business to serve our customers, and more people than you think would probably like to see some French programming.”
Adelphia has carried TV5, which features commercial-free news, sports, drama and children’s programs, as a premium channel for about a year.
No word on whether its cooking shows feature recipes for Freedom Fries.
Ready for another celebrity magazine?
The publishers of the Malibu Times, a weekly local paper, hope to cash in on the small city’s celebrity cachet with a glossy new bimonthly, Malibu Times Magazine.
The cover story in the November-December issue, available free at local newsstands, features Jane Seymour talking about her new line of bed linens, appropriately named “The Malibu Collection.” Actor Stacy Keach also gives a tour of his mansion.
Then there’s that three-part series on the history of Malibu.
Lawyer Arnold York, who bought the paper in 1987 with his wife Karen, said he wanted to do longer stories that were hard to get into the newspaper. “Malibu is an exciting place with some very interesting people like Jane Seymour,” York said. “Not only is she a star, she’s an artist and she has a clothing company.”
Five alternative fuel transportation projects in Los Angeles County were among the recipients of the California Energy Commission’s Clean Cities Awards, sharing part a $2.5 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy.
The commission aims to replace 20 percent of the state’s on-road fuel consumption with alternative fuels by 2020, and awarded grants of between $100,000 and $250,000 to local applicants.
Most of the recipients are using the money to defray the cost of vehicles using compressed natural gas.
One, Clean Energy Fuels Corp. of Seal Beach, received $100,000 to subsidize the purchase 40 new CNG shuttle buses by Supershuttle.
“The natural gas vans cost $2,500 more, and the grant money pays for the difference,” said Barbara Johnson, a grants specialist at Clean Energy. “Over the past five years, we’ve secured over $50 million in similar grants for our customers nationwide.”
All That Glitters
The opening of Walt Disney Concert Hall offers an opportunity for a discussion of firsts. One of the firsts, as it happens, is not.
Real estate developer Gerald Katell, president of Katell Properties LLC, and Laura Saylor were to be married Nov. 2 on the hall’s main stage in front of 180 guests.
The developer is a member of the Music Center’s board of governors. His previous wife died in 1999.
The couple, business partners in Lite-Pop LLC, a San Diego-based confection company, also share an interest in the entertainment business.
Katell, a principal of production company Katell Productions, has appeared “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” and “The Retrievers.” Saylor’s credits include TV appearances in “Caroline in the City,” “Full House,” and “Bay Watch.”
While various family members will be performing music at the ceremony, the event will be pricey. “There’s a $75,000 budget on the whole thing,” Katell said.
The Roving Eye
No Flash in Pan
Celebrities often divide photographers into two categories: necessary and evil. While pesky paparazzi fall into the later category, one of the necessary has been Alan Berliner, a former restaurateur now celebrating his 30th year as a Hollywood photographer.
In 1973, looking to escape the drudgery of running Berliner’s, his family’s downtown L.A. eatery, he signed up for a night photography course at Fairfax High School. At 41, he wasn’t expecting it to lead to a second career snapping shots of Frank Sinatra, Michael Eisner, Gwyneth Paltrow and other members of Tinseltown’s elite.
Photographs of a model he was dating led to Women’s Wear Daily, which brought him on for freelance gigs. He moved into the celebrity realm when Paramount commissioned him for publicity shots.
His most memorable customer? Sinatra, who hired him for several assignments, including the last portrait the singer sat for, the cover of 1984’s “L.A. is My Lady.” Berliner managed to convince Sinatra to stand for 30 shots. “Frank said, ‘If you didn’t get the shot now, you never will,'” Berliner recalled.
These days, he leaves most of the work to his son, Alex, and a crew of seven full-time and freelance photographers, while managing a syndication firm that represents 15 photographers.
At a fundraiser held recently at L.A.’s Century Plaza hotel, where Gov. Gray Davis partied with Jack Nicholson and Bruce Willis. “He looked like he was having fun then,” said Berliner; “and he’s probably having even more fun now.”