By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
Press spokesperson Bustamante says that Davis’ aides are on call to help out wherever major natural disasters occur. "These are real zones of opportunity," he noted.—Harold Meyerson
Are the 1,000 bumblebee-yellow-and-black ABC-TV banners touting the Disney-owned network’s fall season about to come down, at last? Will the vinyl versions of Drew Carey, Jenna Elfman and Camryn Manheim fly no more? Last Friday, city officials ordered Howard Furst, whose AAA Flag & Banner company was paid more than $100,000 by ABC to install the minibillboards, to remove the "banners by or before Friday, September 17, 1999." City law makes it illegal to "install any street banner of a commercial nature," and, after a monthlong review, the Department of Public Works investigation has "revealed numerous commercial banners throughout the city." Gee!
What Public Works found, as a Weeklyinvestigation had before it, is that the city is plastered with illegal banners, belonging to, not just ABC, but the Dodgers, Kings and Lakers, the MTA and a few local business districts. So, now that the city has discovered that its own bureau of street services routinely violated regulations by issuing banner permits to commercial enterprises, can we expect to see our city streets cleansed of the offending merchandising?
"Damn right they will," said Assistant City Attorney Chris Westhoff. "If they ever expect to get any other banners up, they’ll be taking these down."
But at this late date, ABC has gotten exactly what it wanted, by cloaking L.A.’s prime real estate, its streets, right into the fall television season, which started this week with Monday Night Football. The premiere lineup includes Dharma & Greg, Spin Cityand The Practice. Keeping ABC’s roadway backdrop aloft straight through this week’s Emmy Awards, hosted by Elfman (a.k.a. Dharma), and big win by David E. Kelley (a.k.a. best drama The Practice), was a PR coup.
In fact, a coup d’état, since it was the bungling L.A. City Council that, after the banner brouhaha first broke, imposed a 30-day moratorium on putting up any new banners and — here was the really big favor to ABC — on hauling any of the offending ones down. This favor was accomplished with unrivaled largess: The city also returned ABC’s $46,000 fee, presumably to underscore the point that the commercial banners should never have been issued a city permit in the first place.
It now remains to be seen if ABC will comply with the city’s order. Craig Furst, son of AAA Flag owner Howard, told the Weeklyhe’s not removing the banners just yet. "We’ll have to wait and see," he said. "I’ll let ABC handle it. They’ve got a lot more pull with the city than I have."—Greg Goldin
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