“My District” gives NCSL members a chance to tell us about life in the places they represent, from high-profile events to the fun facts only the locals know.
Hollywood is, as ever, ready for its close-up.
California Senator Benjamin Allen (D), near right, and Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D) represent what have to be two of the most colorful legislative districts anywhere—home to Hollywood, the nation’s entertainment industry and, on Sunday, the worldwide broadcast of the 93rd Academy Awards program.
Honoring the best films of 2020 and early ’21, the show will be held at both the Dolby Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard, which has been the Oscars’ home since 2002, and Union Station in downtown Los Angeles to allow for social distancing. The event is taking place two months later than originally planned because of COVID delays.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presents the Oscars, which are considered the most prestigious awards in the film industry. Winning one of the golden statuettes can be a huge career boost. The awards began in 1929 when Douglas Fairbanks hosted a private dinner at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. The academy has given out 3,140 Oscars since then.
We connected with Bloom and Allen to ask what Hollywood and the Academy Awards mean to their communities.
What are the pros and cons of holding the Oscars in your district?
Bloom: Historic Hollywood is the symbolic home of our massive film industry. From craft tables to sound stages, “the business” (as it is colloquially known along with television, music and the entire creative arts sector) is the single most important economic driver in my district and it plays a huge role in California’s economy, providing hundreds of thousands of well-paying jobs. So, hosting the Oscars, the preeminent event celebrating cinema, is a natural and essential fit. In other words, there are no cons!
What should every tourist visit in your district?
Bloom: My district is a tourist mecca that has long drawn visitors from around the world. The lure and mystique of the entertainment industry literally feeds the hospitality sector. Visitors won’t want to miss landmarks like the Hollywood Walk of Fame and its adjacent Chinese Theatre. The latter serves as a monument to Old Hollywood.
As they move west through the district, they’ll enjoy the glitz of Beverly Hills, hip West Hollywood, the Original Farmers Market in Beverly Grove and, of course, the historic Santa Monica Pier and Third Street Promenade in my hometown of Santa Monica. Last but not least, no one should miss our great hiking trails in the spectacular Santa Monica Mountains or the beautiful sandy beaches lining the gorgeous Santa Monica Bay.
Allen: That’s so hard to answer because there’s so much to see and do in my district! But I love taking people on long walks or bike rides down to Palisades Park to see the beautiful views of the bay, beach and mountains, the Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica Beach, and then walking down to Venice Beach to soak in the very different cultural vibe there.
Name three of your favorite films and why you like them.
Bloom: I’ve always been a sucker for the wartime romance “Casablanca.” The storyline is enduring and the cast is topnotch. It features some of the most memorable lines ever uttered on film: “We’ll always have Paris!” “Here’s looking at you.” And a favorite for politicians, “I’m shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!” Timeless! Other favorites are “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Schindler’s List” and “The Matrix”—all of which used great scripts, direction and casts that keep the audience transfixed throughout the entire film.
Allen: Let’s do three great Los Angeles films: “La La Land” (love the landmarks and the joy), “Boyz n the Hood” (breakthrough film that opened people’s eyes to the tough realities of life for many Angelenos) and “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” (evocative vision of the city as it was and laugh-out-loud funny at times). But I love movies, so here are some more of my favorites with no rhyme or reason: “Amores Perros,” “Lawrence of Arabia,” “Match Point,” “Star Wars,” “The Silence of the Lambs” and “Get Out.”
Who should play the part of you in a film?
Bloom: Jeff Goldblum! He’s funny, likable and—totally off-point but meaningful to me—has a great band called the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra. In other words, he’s multitalented in a way I wish I could be! I met Jeff in Sacramento last year (see photo at right) where he was lobbying in favor of an environmental bill. He asked me, “What else can I do to help?” and I am sure this is what he meant. Get his agent on the line!
Allen: Hopefully someone a lot better-looking. Ben Affleck?
What else should we know about your district?
Bloom: Assembly District 50 is a diverse district with a citizenry that is highly engaged. We routinely are among the top voter turnout districts in the state, which says a great deal. People from all over the world are drawn here to pursue their artistic talents and contribute to the culture of our economy. As a result, we are home to some of the most progressive and creative minds of our generation, and being able to serve as their representative has been a great honor and privilege.
Allen: My district is a beautiful place to visit, with lots of great food and cultural offerings, too, including incredible galleries and museums—the Getty, L.A. County Museum of Art and the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits prominent among them. We have academic powerhouses like UCLA and Loyola Marymount University, and a spectacular coastline from Catalina to Palos Verdes to the Palisades.
Bruce Goldberg is a Denver-based freelancer. These interviews have been edited for length and clarity.