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LAT In The Limelight: It Ain’t Pretty

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Former LAT Jerusalem bureau chief Marjorie Miller writes about the Spring Street newsroom’s strange relationship with the Hollywood movie crew that took over for a few days during the filming of The Soloist, which is based on a series of Steve Lopez columns about formerly homeless violinist Nathaniel Ayers.

It’s as telling about the current state of local media as it is about what it’s like to have a film crew show up at your workplace:

Orson Welles apparently got it right when he said a writer needs a pen, a painter needs a brush, but “a filmmaker needs an army.” With so many actors and extras milling about in the wake of many staff reductions at the paper, one editor grumbled, “We haven’t seen this many people in the newsroom since 1978.”

One of those layoffs is captured in the movie, when a security guard comes in to “escort” an actor-reporter out of the building. The real reporters, having been through many similar scenes, craned their necks and asked, “Who’s getting canned now?” That one was just for the cameras, but days after they pulled down the lights another real staff reduction was announced.

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