Downtown’s Doomsday Scenario
At the corner of Figueroa and Olympic in the middle of rush-hour traffic jams, the Michael Jackson movie, This Is It, premiered at the new Regal Cinemas. Access was a complete mess. Parking was non-existent. Limousines, town cars and SUVs clogged the streets finally dropping off clients wherever they could find a curbside.
Every inch the star that she is, Paula Abdul, with her high style in a designer gown, wiggled her way through the crush of more than 5,500 premieregoers for the documentary patched together by director Kenny Ortega from 100 hours of concert rehearsals.
Love letters poured forth from reviewers for Michael’s formidable talents, but what was a looked-forward-to event became a parking fiasco. (Michael’s estate, since his death from a drug overdose in June, has earned more than $90 million, and This Is It will bring in millions more – opening day boxoffice figures tallied around $12 million from 18,000 screens worldwide.)
Besides the premiere with its 5,500 invitees, hundreds of lookee-loos jammed the area, according to Klaus Puck of the Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill. The Lakers, attracting 20,000 loyal fans, were playing at the Staples Center (the opening game also was their “ring ceremony”), and a concert at Club Nokia brought in a humongous crowd. All well and good, except for the dangerous traffic snarls with arrogant, lane-switching drivers, cumbersome road work (tractors parked on Olympic Boulevard wiped out a lane), with parking becoming frustratingly impossible.
Rejected were any number of premieregoers by “please go away, we’re full up” parking lots. We were willing to pay a $20 fee, plus a bribe of ten bucks, but no dice. Ultimately we gave up, and to our great regret missed the movie, which is running for two weeks. All in all, a harrowing experience.
Scott Downie of Celebrity Photo and staffers from the downtown Canadian Consulate report that various parking lots, knowing they had a cash cow, demanded $60 and $50 bucks, corrupt as that is. The Lakers, Clippers and Kings will be playing their seasons at the Staples Center throughout the year, and this doesn’t argue well, does it, for the grim parking situation in the future.