Monday, May 14, 2007

My "Adventure in Dreamland"

Today, I was reading an article about a New York Times film critic's "Adventure in Dreamland" about his family's trip to tinseltown and was disturbed by his comment about his trip to the Hollywood Entertainment Museum:

"We began with the Hollywood Entertainment Museum, which occupies a handsome Art Deco building that used to house the Max Factor makeup company. As I bought tickets, Justine pointed her digital camera at a poster in the lobby — an advertisement for the museum itself — and was immediately accosted by a man who seemed more like a junior production executive than the security guard he apparently was. “Ma'am, I'll have to ask you to erase that picture,” he said, explaining that “everything in this museum is a copyrighted piece of intellectual property.”

He didn't even mention the complete Cheers bar (look for where the stars carved their initials in the bar during the final episode) or that his kids were able to sit in the captain's chair of the original set from Star Trek: The Next Generation. He also didn't mention the series of interactive demonstration rooms that teach various tricks of filmmaking where, according to Frommer's guide, "visitors can create Foley soundtracks for a movie segment, test their skills at digital editing, and try out other fun, educational procedures."

I wonder if the rather rude reception his family received by the "security" guard left such a bad taste in his family's mouths that their enthusiasm for the museum's efforts were noticeably dampened. When I was there right after the facility opened in 1996, no one cared if you took pictures. I fear this is an example of the tact the MPAA is taking with all of the work they perceive as being so-called "protected" by copyright. Apparently they have learned nothing from the ridiculous antics of the music industry's RIAA and their attempted prosecution of "violators" as young as 12 years old. What a shame.

I was also saddened to hear that the place has become such a disorganized jumble of pictures and artifacts. At least when I was there I remember admiring some of the Egyptian miniatures used in the filming of the Ten Commandments and, of course, as a "Trekker" I got quite a thrill out of sitting in Captain Picard's chair and uttering "Make it So!". (The picture at left is me at the engineering console. At right I wait to consult with Captain Picard in his ready room). Time goes by so fast I guess I didn't realize that many of today's young people hardly remember "The Next Generation" since there has been three other series since then and the last, "Enterprise" had a relatively small viewership and has already passed into syndication on the Sci-Fi Channel.

I was also shocked by the price ($42) Warner Brothers charges for a less-than-two-hour backlot tour according to Mr. Scott's article. In 1996, I paid not much more than $46 for an entire day's pass to Universal Studios Hollywood. As I had already visited Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, I was not as overwhelmed as I was on my first visit but I enjoyed the Waterworld show with the costumed "smokers" on jetskis and rode the "Jurassic Park" ride five times including once in the dark after dinner. (Fortunately, it was very hot so getting soaked by the water spouts and the final four-story plunge into a pool was refreshing.) The "Twister" tornado experience was interesting but short as was the "Backdraft" fire sequence. Of course, the Hollywood park also has the "Jaws" shark ride which is always fun even if you've done it before. I wish they would have had the "Revenge of the Mummy Ride" finished when I was there but I'll have to see it some other time.