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Are Studios Getting Free Pass In 'Supergraphic' Crackdown?

Are Studios Getting Free Pass In 'Supergraphic' Crackdown?
Photo by Ted Soqui

It's a question asked by The Wrap this week: Why isn't the Los Angeles City Attorney's office going after Hollywood studios -- often the beneficiary of such advertising -- in its crackdown on those illegal "supergraphic" ads draped down tall buildings?

Over the weekend the City Attorney's office threw a building co-owner in jail after such an ad appeared on an edifice at Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue just in time for the nearby Academy Awards. But no one from Paramount Pictures, the distributor of the film being advertised ("How to Train Your Dragon"), saw time behind bars.

A Paramount statement released to The Wrap states the studio "was assured that the site had all the appropriate permits and [they] have promptly investigated any necessary steps to be in full compliance with all applicable laws."

After filing suit against 27 sign companies, sign installers and property owners last month, the City Attorney's office has promised to continue cracking down. "We are aware of other locations," deputy City Attorney David Berger said ominously to the Curbed LA blog this week.

According to Curbed, the businessman on whose building the Hollywood supergraphic stood before being pulled down this week in a deal with the City Attorney's office said he did not know who paid to have it put up. We repeat, he said, through his attorney, he did not know who gave the building money to have the ad displayed.

" ... We don't know who arranged this," Berger said. "That's the missing part of the puzzle."

Hmm. Who wrote that check? Who cashed that check? Mysterioso.

Meanwhile, Dennis Hathaway, president of the Coalition to Ban the Billboard Blight, tells The Wrap that as many as 80 percent of such illegal advertisements in L.A. are for movies and television shows. He suggests the City Attorney's office is afraid of tackling the notoriously lawyered-up studios over the issue:

"I think that's legally more than the city attorney wants to bite off right now."

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