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Entertainment
Johnson honors amputee community with 'Skyscraper'

NEW YORK — Dwayne Johnson hopes to honor the amputee community by playing a former FBI agent with a prosthetic leg in the new action thriller “Skyscraper.”

In the film, Johnson plays the security consultant of a Hong Kong skyscraper who must save his family and the city from harm when it becomes engulfed in flames. The problem is intensified when he’s framed for starting the blaze.

“I was honored to play an amputee, and to make sure that I did right by them,” Johnson said on the red carpet for the film’s U.S. premiere Tuesday night. “The research was very extensive. I spent a lot of time with amputees.”

One of those he consulted joined Johnson at the premiere: Jeff Glasbrenner, a Paralympian who became the first American amputee to successfully climb Mount Everest in 2016. Johnson called him “an amazing man.”

Of the film, he added: “There’s two sides to this. One is a big spectacle, big summer fun. The other side is making sure that we paid homage and respect to amputees around the world.”

The film’s writer and director Rawson Marshall Thurber called it “incredibly important” to represent the amputee community.

“There hasn’t been an amputee as the lead of an action film, ever, as far as I know. And I thought it was high time, and I hope we’re not the last. I think Dwayne worked really, really hard to represent that community and honor that community. And I think he did a fantastic job,” Thurber said.


TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE 

The Hollywood sign is seen from the Hollywood & Highland Center's Babylon Court in Los Angeles. 


National
AP
A selfie-seeker's delight: Studio explores tram to Hollywood sign

LOS ANGELES — Residents of the hilly neighborhoods surrounding the famed Hollywood sign — the symbol of Los Angeles’ signature industry — have long blamed the attraction for worsening traffic, parking nightmares and disruptive tourists.

Now one of the movie and television business’ biggest players, Warner Bros., says it has a bold solution.

The 95-year-old studio this week told city officials it would foot the bill for an aerial tramway to transport visitors to and from the Hollywood sign, starting from a parking structure next to its Burbank lot.

The effort, dubbed the Hollywood Skyway, would cost the studio an estimated $100 million, according to a person close to the company who was not authorized to comment. The tramway would take visitors on a six-minute ride more than 1 mile up the back of Mount Lee to a new visitors center near the sign, with pathways to a viewing area.

The purpose, the AT&T-owned entertainment company said, is to give selfie-seeking visitors a way to see the famed letters without driving and hiking through residential neighborhoods, such as Beachwood Canyon.

Seeking relief

The traffic problem has worsened in recent years with the rise of social media photo-sharing sites such as Instagram, ridesharing apps including Uber and Lyft, and navigation services such as Waze.

Similar solutions in the past have been shot down over concerns that they would lead to the commercial exploitation of Griffith Park. The Warner Bros. proposal will surely face tough questions from locals and a lengthy review process to assess the effects on the environment. Many have also voiced concerns about how such a project would affect wildlife in the area.

“There’s going to be a lot of people pushing for the tram for the relief it will provide the local residents,” said Gerry Hans, a board member for the nonprofit group Friends of Griffith Park. “But at the same time, there are going to be people wanting to preserve Griffith Park for the great urban wilderness it is.”

Warner Bros. facilities head Jon Gilbert, who is leading the effort, said the company had taken pains to make sure the proposed project would minimize the effect on wildlife and avoid obstructing views of the sign from elsewhere in the city. Solving the seemingly intractable problem will take innovative thinking, he said.

“This requires a bold solution,” Gilbert said in an interview. “If we really want to make a difference ... it’s got to be something compelling. Partial solutions are not going to do the trick, and people will continue to inundate the neighborhoods.”

Providing a means to access the iconic sign could also help lure more tourists to Warner Bros., which in 2015 invested $13 million to build a new set of interactive attractions and exhibits on its Burbank backlot to grab a larger share of L.A.’s tourism business.

History

The idea of an aerial tram to the Hollywood sign has been floated numerous times over the years as a way to draw tourists away from the residential areas and raise revenue for the city.

Mayor Eric Garcetti revived the concept in May 2017, saying a gondola could come from the Universal Studios area. Investor and philanthropist Alex von Furstenberg, son of fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg, is spearheading another effort to build a Hollywood sign gondola that would begin from a location that has yet to be determined.

In the past, tramway proposals have been scoffed at by community members, Hollywood Chamber of Commerce President Leron Gubler said. But the notion has gained traction as GPS navigation systems have sent more tourists into nearby neighborhoods. A private company recently proposed a similar system to take passengers to Dodger Stadium from Union Station.

“Warner Bros. coming out with a concrete proposal increases the feasibility and brings it some credibility,” Gubler said. “It should be able to reroute a significant amount of people going up into the neighborhoods.”

The offer comes as city officials are searching for solutions. A January report commissioned by Councilman David Ryu suggested creative ways to solve the Hollywood sign-related traffic problems, including an aerial tram. It also proposed such measures as extended shuttle routes and designating ridesharing zones at popular viewpoints. An audacious idea to build a second sign on the opposite side of the mountain was ultimately shot down.

The sign — first erected in 1923 to read “Hollywoodland” — remains a powerful draw for tourists but is notoriously difficult to visit up close. The controversy over the sign flared up last year when the city cut off access to a Beachwood Drive gate leading to a popular trail near the sign. But efforts to restrict tourists’ access from certain prime locations have done little to keep visitors at bay.

Some longtime residents have questioned how effective proposed trams would be, wondering why tourists would choose to pay to see the sign when they’re used to having free views from parts of the city. But local resident Christine O’Brien said she supports the idea, in theory.

“On paper, it sounds good,” O’Brien said. “We desperately need something.”


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AP
Today in History

Today’s highlight:

On July 12, 1909, the House of Representatives joined the Senate in passing the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, allowing for a federal income tax, and submitted it to the states. (It was declared ratified in February 1913.)

On this date:

In 1543, England’s King Henry VIII married his sixth and last wife, Catherine Parr.

In 1812, United States forces led by Gen. William Hull entered Canada during the War of 1812 against Britain. (However, Hull retreated shortly thereafter to Detroit.)

In 1817, author, poet and naturalist Henry David Thoreau was born in Concord, Massachusetts.

In 1862, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill authorizing the Army Medal of Honor.

In 1957, President Dwight D. Eisenhower was flown by helicopter from the White House to a secret mountaintop location as part of a drill involving a mock nuclear attack on Washington.

In 1960, the Etch A Sketch Magic Screen drawing toy, invented by French electrician Andre Cassagnes, was first produced by the Ohio Art Co.

In 1962, The Rolling Stones played their first-ever gig at The Marquee in London.

In 1967, rioting erupted in Newark, New Jersey, over the police beating of a black taxi driver; 26 people were killed in the five days of violence that followed.

In 1977, President Jimmy Carter defended Supreme Court limits on government payments for poor women’s abortions, saying, “There are many things in life that are not fair.”

In 1984, Democratic presidential candidate Walter F. Mondale announced his choice of U.S. Rep. Geraldine A. Ferraro of New York to be his running-mate; Ferraro was the first woman to run for vice president on a major-party ticket.

In 1994, President Bill Clinton, visiting Germany, went to the eastern sector of Berlin, the first U.S. president to do so since Harry Truman.

In 2001, Abner Louima (loo-EE’-mah), the Haitian immigrant tortured in a New York City police station, agreed to an $8.7 million settlement with the city and its police union.

Ten years ago: Former White House press secretary Tony Snow died in Washington, D.C. at age 53. Former All-Star outfielder and longtime Yankees broadcaster Bobby Murcer died in Oklahoma City at age 62. Angelina Jolie gave birth at a hospital on the French Riviera to twins Knox and Vivienne, making a family of eight with Brad Pitt.

Five years ago: Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced her resignation. A train carrying hundreds of passengers derailed and crashed outside Paris; at least six people were killed and dozens injured. NSA leaker Edward Snowden emerged from weeks of hiding in a Moscow airport, meeting with Russian officials and rights activists. The Texas Senate passed sweeping new abortion restrictions, sending them to Gov. Rick Perry to sign into law after weeks of protests and rallies that drew thousands of people to the Capitol.

One year ago: President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the FBI, Christopher Wray, told a Senate panel that he did not believe that a special counsel investigation into possible Russian ties between Russia and the Trump campaign was a “witch hunt,” as Trump had characterized it. Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was found guilty of corruption and money laundering and sentenced to almost 10 years in prison.

Today’s Birthdays: Movie director Monte Hellman is 89. Actor-comedian Bill Cosby is 81. Singer-musician Christine McVie is 75. Actress Denise Nicholas is 74. Singer-songwriter Butch Hancock is 73. Fitness guru Richard Simmons is 70. Singer Walter Egan is 70. Writer-producer Brian Grazer is 67. Actress Cheryl Ladd is 67. Country singer Julie Miller is 62. Gospel singer Sandi Patty is 62. Actress Mel Harris is 62. Actor Buddy Foster is 61. Rock guitarist Dan Murphy (Soul Asylum) is 56. Actress Judi Evans is 54. Rock singer Robin Wilson (Gin Blossoms) is 53. Actress Natalie Desselle Reid is 51. Actress Lisa Nicole Carson is 49. Olympic gold medal figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi is 47. Country singer Shannon Lawson is 45. Rapper Magoo is 45. Actress Anna Friel is 42. Rhythm-and-blues singer Tracie Spencer is 42. Actress Alison Wright is 42. Actor Steve Howey is 41. Actor Topher Grace is 40. Actress Michelle Rodriguez is 40. Actress Kristen Connolly is 38. Country singer-musician Kimberly Perry (The Band Perry) is 35. Actor Matt Cook (TV: “Man With a Plan”) is 34. Actress Natalie Martinez is 34. Actor Bernard David Jones is 33. Actress Ta’Rhonda Jones is 30. Golfer Inbee Park is 30. Actress Rachel Brosnahan is 28. Actor Erik Per Sullivan is 27. Olympic gold medal gymnast Jordyn Wieber is 23. Nobel Peace laureate Malala Yousafzai (mah-LAH’-lah YOO’-suhf-zeye) is 21.

Thought for Today: “The tragedy is not that things are broken. The tragedy is that they are not mended again.” — Alan Paton, South African author (1903-1988).


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Today's birthdays

Movie director Monte Hellman is 89. Actor-comedian Bill Cosby is 81. Singer-musician Christine McVie is 75. Actress Denise Nicholas is 74. Singer-songwriter Butch Hancock is 73. Fitness guru Richard Simmons is 70. Singer Walter Egan is 70. Writer-producer Brian Grazer is 67. Actress Cheryl Ladd is 67. Country singer Julie Miller is 62. Gospel singer Sandi Patty is 62. Actress Mel Harris is 62. Actor Buddy Foster is 61. Rock guitarist Dan Murphy (Soul Asylum) is 56. Actress Judi Evans is 54. Rock singer Robin Wilson (Gin Blossoms) is 53. Actress Natalie Desselle Reid is 51. Actress Lisa Nicole Carson is 49. Olympic gold medal figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi is 47. Country singer Shannon Lawson is 45. Rapper Magoo is 45. Actress Anna Friel is 42. Rhythm-and-blues singer Tracie Spencer is 42. Actress Alison Wright is 42. Actor Steve Howey is 41. Actor Topher Grace is 40. Actress Michelle Rodriguez is 40. Actress Kristen Connolly is 38. Country singer-musician Kimberly Perry (The Band Perry) is 35. Actor Matt Cook (TV: “Man With a Plan”) is 34. Actress Natalie Martinez is 34. Actor Bernard David Jones is 33. Actress Ta’Rhonda Jones is 30. Golfer Inbee Park is 30. Actress Rachel Brosnahan is 28. Actor Erik Per Sullivan is 27. Olympic gold medal gymnast Jordyn Wieber is 23. Nobel Peace laureate Malala Yousafzai is 21.