By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Block, the famous sexologist who started her television career in public access, later starred in her own HBO specials, and now offers erotica on her Web site, www.drsusanblock.com, says her sexually explicit show will be ripe for getting the ax. “I’m constantly worried about censorship,” says Block. “I’m a sexologist. People have a need or desire to get this information. But some people would consider this not necessary or improper.”
Dutton sees herself as “a little gnat” who has “irritated people in power.” She doubts those same people will allow her to broadcast without some kind of editorial pressure to conform. “Who’s going to decide which programs air?” Dutton asks. “Someone from the Mayor’s Office?”
Councilman Cardenas is already conceding, “I don’t see a council meeting aired at night, then followed by someone’s content with people in the nude.”
Should it really be up to political careerists like Cardenas or Garcetti or Villaraigosa to decide how the public-access channels are used — not to mention future council members and mayors who may take an even harder line on public criticism and moral values?
Fabian Nuñez pooh-poohs these reactions to his law, telling L.A. Weekly, “The public-access folks are upset now, but eventually everything will get worked out.”
But David Hernandez, a community activist and public-access producer who infuriated the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors by suing them for removing the tiny Christian cross from the county seal, is considering suing the city.
Hernandez states what is obvious to many, if not to Fabian Nuñez: The City Council is not going to try very hard to save programs “critical of city government.” Having heard Cardenas and other council members publicly “making the case that they were powerless” to protect public-access TV, Hernandez scoffs, “That’s far from the case.”
A few weeks ago, John Walsh, the excitable co-host of the public-access show Neighborhood Point of View, attended a City Council meeting in downtown and confronted Councilman Bill Rosendahl during a public-comment period.
Walsh wanted to know if Rosendahl, a self-professed “passionate” supporter of public access who climbed to political power almost entirely on the strength of his shows on Adelphia Cable, was doing anything to keep the 12 citywide cable TV studios open. For Walsh, it was important — a substitute teacher, he doesn’t have his own studio or equipment, like Dutton or Block. He often produces his show at Time Warner’s Hollywood public-access studio, where he recently appeared covered in fake blood in protest against the studio’s imminent closure.
After his two minutes allowed for public comment was up, Walsh returned to his seat in the back of the John Ferraro Council Chamber. Within minutes, Rosendahl walked over and boasted, “I got Time Warner to give a one-year extension to public-access studios.” He didn’t say if studios would be preserved in Hollywood, South L.A., Eagle Rock, or any other specific location. But Walsh says he took Rosendahl at his word, thinking some kind of victory was at hand.
When L.A. Weekly contacted Rosendahl, the councilman played coy, referring our queries to Time Warner. After several phone calls to Time Warner, a spokesman finally came back with the news. “There is no deal with the city to extend the time of keeping the studios open,” Darryl Ryan of Time Warner said.
Ryan then broke out a new spin on the underlying reason for AB 2987: “The law was enacted so municipalities could control and produce their own content,” he claimed.
Judy Dugan can only laugh at the Time Warner line. “That’s crazy,” she says with a chuckle of disbelief. “That sounds like something a public-relations flack came up with out of thin air. That’s ridiculous. The city may want to control content — but they certainly don’t want to pay for it.”
She’s right. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the Garcetti-led council have been caught flat-footed by the economic crisis after ignoring warnings that the region was about to get hammered by the housing downturn. City Hall is broke.
But the city may not have to pay a dime. Any number of groups and people who pass the government’s smell test might be willing to foot the bill for ready access to 600,000 living rooms in the media capital of America.
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org.