The final installment in a series on Plymouth Rock Studios seeking West Coast support for its East Coast plans.
Two months ago, Plymouth Rock Studios Co-founder David Kirkpatrick navigated a red convertible through Los Angeles traffic on his way to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, and tried to explain the phenomenon of smog to a Massachusetts native with teary eyes.
Somewhere above, on a hill, through the Los Angeles smog stood the “HOLLYWOOD” sign, drawing worshipers to its fringes like the Delphic Oracle.
Harnessing that power was a primary objective of Plymouth Rock Studios’ weeklong stint in Los Angeles earlier this spring. This week it became a cause for celebration.
“I am delighted to say we have acquired it, and ‘HOLLYWOOD EAST’ belongs to Plymouth,” Kirkpatrick said Thursday morning. “This is huge for what we’re trying to accomplish in Massachusetts. The trip was worth it just for that purpose alone.”
It was President of the Studio Group for Plymouth Rock Studios Earl Lestz’s idea to broker a deal with the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce for use of the HOLLYWOOD sign to create a new icon in the east.
Lestz, who was President of Paramount Picture’s Studio Group for 21 years, served as vice chairman for the Hollywood Trust and also serves on the board of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.
“This is a great deal, as two places I love – Hollywood and Plymouth – both end up winners,” Lestz said.
Plymouth Rock Studios will pay an annual licensing fee and the agreement also involves revenue sharing on merchandizing.
“We are delighted to be working with our sister chamber and Plymouth Rock Studios,” Hollywood Chamber of Commerce CEO Leron Gubler said. “We know they will take great care using the Hollywood sign image to promote the studio.”
The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce has signed a long-term license agreement with Plymouth Rock Studios, Gubler said.
“We want to create a production coalition across Massachusetts that will allow everybody in motion picture production to use it in Massachusetts,” Kirkpatrick said. “It will create a Hollywood East Chamber of Commerce that will run across the whole state, from Boston to P-town.”
The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce deal caps off an action-filled year for Plymouth Rock Studios, which is hoping to site a 350-acre movie studio campus in South Plymouth, complete with 14 sound stages, back lots, temporary housing for actors and crew, recreation fields and parks. If all goes according to plan, this studio will be the first LEED-certified production campus in the world, on the cutting edge of environmentally sensitive growth.
Years and many smog-filled days ago, Kirkpatrick probably couldn’t have imagined where his stint as a story editor at Paramount would lead him. He worked in a suffocating office without air conditioning, drove a beat mobile and had no idea his 20-something opinion of the script "Raiders of the Lost Ark" would propel him into the Hollywood stratosphere.
He spent 17 years at that studio, where he rose to president of the motion picture group. Kirkpatrick became the first person in the motion picture industry to hold two studio production chief jobs simultaneously when he ran both Walt Disney Studios and Touchstone Studios. He was the force behind more than 200 blockbuster movies including "Witness," "Forrest Gump," "An Officer and a Gentleman," "Ghost" and "Ordinary People."
Looking back on his April trip to Los Angeles (he’s taken two more since then), Kirkpatrick considers his mission accomplished.
“We got the summation on the Los Angeles outreach, and ended up with the Hollywood sign and a lot of stuff in the can,” Kirkpatrick said.
That “stuff” is film to promote a project he hopes will crown his career and leave behind a legacy of inspiration.
But for all the accolades, Kirkpatrick is a humble guy who treats everybody the same, whether you’re grabbing his luggage or negotiating a deal. He and fellow Plymouth Rock Studios Co-founder Thom Black, along with Lestz, take nothing for granted and are hoping they can bring the best of Hollywood to Hollywood East.And leave the smog behind.