BRINGING BACK THE UNITED ARTISTS THEATRE
When I was asked to do a story about the history of the United Artists Theatre on Broadway in downtown L.A. I assumed the piece would be short and simple. But the more I learned about the magnificently over-the top theater, with its movie star murals, ornate organ grilles, and encrusted stalactites dripping from the ceiling, the more intriguing that history became.
From its construction as a flagship for the fledgling film studio founded by silent film stars including Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin, to its days as home to eccentric preacher Dr. Gene Scott, who was immortalized in Werner Herzog’s documentary God’s Angry Man, to its current incarnation as the Theatre at Ace Hotel, the building has been an evolving reflection of cultural trends, L.A.’s downtown district, and the ambitions of some larger-than-life characters.
A longer version of this story was presented live at Ace Hotel in 2016 as part of WeTransfer Presents How We Do: LA. This version aired on KCRW's "Design and Architecture" a few months later. (There's a blog post with lots of images here.)