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Statement Regarding the Current Plight of our Host, the Hollywood Theater

Posted by Chris on January 20, 2018 at 10:30 AM

Fellow Browncoats:


As you are no doubt aware by now, the Hollywood Theater, the home of Can't Stop the Serenity Pittsburgh for the past four years, was recently purchased by an organization known as the Theatre Historical Society of America (THS), which claims to be Pittsburgh-based, but has only been operating in the area for about a year now and has its actual headquarters in Illinois.


Most of the recent reports of the sale in the news media have attempted to characterize the sale as some sort of rescue operation, citing statements by THS that the Hollywood was struggling to maintain its operations and that the building was in danger of being sold to a buyer who wanted to shut the theater down. At the open forum that was held at the Hollywood on Wednesday evening, January 17, the Friends of the Hollywood Theater (FOHT) made it very clear that nothing could be farther from the truth.  The FOHT has, in fact, been operating comfortably, and were even attempting to raise the capital to purchase the building themselves.  They were unaware that the owners had been secretly negotiating with THS right up until the point where they were informed of the sale.


As FOHT indicated in a public statement on January 19, "Of immediate consideration is Richard Fosbrink’s (Executive Director of THS) known and stated goal to show second-run films at the theater, as well as Joe Masher’s (Board President of THS) role in programming from afar." In other words, THS plans to turn the Hollywood into a single-screen version of a "Maxi-Saver Cinema" that shows movies that are about to become available on demand through cable providers or subscription services like Netflix and Hulu!


While it is easy to think that this might be a case in which, as Shakespeare would say, "Present fears are less than horrible imaginings," there are more than enough reasons to believe that THS has no intention of maintaining the unique programming and community connections that FOHT has worked to build through the years. Comments by former THS president and current member Karen Colizzi Noonan, which can be read in the Hollywood's statement of January 19, warn of "... a seismic shift in the operations and values of the organization..." and admit that it "...has steered away from the values and camaraderie under which THS was founded."


If that isn't enough of a red flag, consider this statement from THS' own website (emphasis is mine):


(THS Board President Joe) "Masher hopes to steer the direction of the Theatre Historical Society to be more of a business, so that it can sustain itself on revenue. He adds, “Our Theatre Affiliates Program is one way we are providing outreach to the exhibition community. It is our hope that they will, in turn, become affiliates of THS and provide us with historical information on their buildings. Once built, we will potentially guide that program to be a resource for vendors and suppliers.”


Hmm ... Sounds a lot like Alliance talk to me.


So, what impact can we, a fan group that is admittedly as loosely woven as it is tightly knit, hope to have on such a situation? Well, as Mr. Universe says in Serenity, "You can't stop the signal." We need to make our voices heard if we want to help preserve the Hollywood not only as a host site for our city's CSTS charity screenings for Equality Now, but also as a movie theater that is, in the words of FOHT's January 19 statement, "... the type of theater that hosts ‘His Girl Friday’ with a fantastic breakfast, a documentary about kangaroos, a Norwegian horror film, and a child’s birthday party all in the same week."


To that end, as the organizer of Can't Stop the Serenity Pittsburgh and an active member of the Rivers & Bridges Brigade of the PA Browncoats, I am urging you to do any or all of the following:


1. Write letters or send postcards to Mr. Brian Kelly, Hollywood Partners, c/o Kelly-Rielly-Nell-Barna Associates, 3535 Boulevard of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15213 and Mr. Richard Fosbrink, Executive Director, Theatre Historical Society of America, 461 Cochran Road, Box 144, Pittsburgh, PA 15228. Tell them that you are a friend of the Hollywood Theater and that you oppose the sale of the building to Theatre Historical Society of America. In your own words, be sure to tell them why.



2. Post about the sale on social media, especially Facebook and Twitter. Use the hashtag #SaveTheHollywood. Be sure to let them know you oppose the THS plan to turn the Hollywood into a 2nd run cinema. If you feel as strongly about it as I do, make it clear that you will never attend a movie at the Hollywood Theater again if THS follows through with that plan!



3. Forward this message to anyone you know who is a member of a geek fan group of a lover of classic movies.



4. Sign the change.org petition calling on THS to be more transparent and authentic in its communication, both with the public and with its own members: https://tinyurl.com/y8n66lep" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://https://tinyurl.com/y8n66lep



5. Boost the signal! Tell your friends in Starfleet, the local chapters of the 501st Legion and the Rebel Legion, the Pittsburgh Ghostbusters, local Whovians and Potterheads, and any other local fan meet-up group to get involved. We need to be united on this. If the Hollywood as we know it ceases to exist, we all lose.



Thanks for being on board.


Keep flyin',


Chris Tobias (Organizer, CSTS Pittsburgh)

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