EXTRA! EXTRA! Hollywood Given Life: Connections (#4)

Santa Barbara Courthouse

Jesse James Hollywood Mug Shot 2005

I spent this past weekend with my wife in Summerland, California, a charming enclave full of antique stores with a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean. We stayed at the Summerland Inn, a quaint-looking Inn that seems to have been uprooted from a Grimm’s fairy tale. We ate mostly at the Summerland Beach Cafe. Great food, great service. The cute, petite waitress, in response to my request for more coffee, actually said: “Okie-dokie artichokie.” Gotta love it!

Sunday evening we ventured a few miles north to Santa Barbara and had dinner with a friend who is probably the preeminent time-lapse cinematographer in the country. We had a lovely dinner at ROY, and then he and his wife took us on a walking tour of the downtown area. One of the places we saw was the truly magnificent Spanish-style City Hall complex including the Criminal Courts Building and what was once the Old Jail.

I was reminded of the conviction of Jesse James Hollywood less than 10 days before my visit. Convicted of the murder of 15-year-old Nicholas Markowitz, Jesse James Hollywood was sentenced to life without possibility of parole on February 5, 2010 in Santa Barbara Superior Court. This concluded nearly 10 years of legal proceedings, during which Hollywood disappeared for nearly 5 years. Hollywood was the central figure in a world of drugs, kidnapping, greed and murder in the mountains above Santa Barbara, California, and inspired the motion picture “Alpha Dog.”

I worked as an uncredited post-production consultant on “Alpha Dog” with the writer-director Nick Cassavetes and production executive Mike Marvin with A-Mark Entertainment. Marvin and I produced the A-Mark logo through special effects supervisor Richard Kidd’s company Catalyst Media. The logo is a distressed gold bar flying through space and coming to rest full screen and then being hit by a hammer held by a human hand and morphing into a perfect gold bar with indented 35mm sprocket holes and the words “A-Mark Entertainment” imbedded in it. This elegant logo in 2:40 aspect ratio precedes the body of this big screen film which grossed 30.8 million worldwide over its six-week release.

At Universal City Studios after I negotiated the end of my contract I occupied an office across the street known as the “motel,” and one of my neighbors was Nick’s father, John Cassavetes who directed the theatrical film “Faces,” released in 1968 by Universal.

The A-Mark logo is reminiscent of Great Britain’s Hammer Films Productions logo and the Mark VII logo that preceded Jack Webb’s TV-series “Dragnet,” for which I photographed the “This is the City…” mini-documentaries that preceded most of the episodes in the years 1969 and 1970.


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