Hollywood prop vendors sell off pieces of Tinseltown

first_imgA handful of North Hollywood-based prop rental companies put Tinseltown memorabilia on sale to the public Saturday for the first time, in an effort to stave off the effects of the seven-week-old writers strike. With no resolution in sight and the Writers Guild and producers not even at the bargaining table now, eight longtime prop vendors who have already been forced to lay off employees said they hoped the sale would help them recoup some of the lost revenue. The parking lot of History for Hire prop rentals boasted eclectic items ranging from furniture, research books, Sears catalogues from the 1920s to 1970s, a Coca-Cola billboard from the 1950s used in the movie “What’s Love Got to Do With It?,” wooden crutches, mannequins, fake fur, WWII posters, picture frames, Barbie dolls from 1966, old rotary telephones and oil lamps. “Prop houses are notoriously close with things, and we don’t sell them. To have a garage sale is pretty unique,” said Jim Elyea, owner of History for Hire. “It’s devastating. The best plan is to prepare for the worst and be hopeful that we’ll be pleasantly surprised.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan ClarksonWhat has made all of the business owners and non-guild professionals fear for their livelihoods is not knowing how long the strike will last. Elyea, who’s had his business for 23 years, said he has laid off six part-time employees – out of 18 – since his business has suffered a 40 percent decline during the strike. “The most important thing is that both sides not stop bargaining until they strike a deal,” Elyea said. “To put thousands of people … out of work and not be in the same room bargaining until it’s resolved is unconscionable.” Corri Levelle of Sandy Rose Floral Inc. in North Hollywood has been doing floral prop work for shows like “Ugly Betty,” “The Tonight Show,” “Desperate Housewives” and “Days of Our Lives.” She’s had to lay off all of her nine employees, and according to her calculations, she won’t be able to remain open beyond April. For now, she cleaned out her warehouse and was selling vases and props like wreaths and floral decorations. “The fact they’re not even negotiating – that’s the most frightening part of it,” Levelle said. “If I knew they were talking, I’d be less bitter about it.” Even the Los Angeles City Council got involved last week, asking the Writers Guild of America and producers to return to the bargaining table to resolve the dispute. The local economic impact of the writers strike is now pegged at $400 million to $2.5 billion, with the strike having affected about 15,000 workers directly in the entertainment industry. Harvey Schwartz has been in the prop business for 35 years and said if the strike isn’t resolved by March 1, he will have to auction off his company and “walk away.” The owner of 20th Century Props laid off six of his 24 employees Thursday, and another six will go part time in January. All he wants is a speedy resolution so he can bring back his employees, who now don’t have jobs or health insurance. “Both sides are being very selfish and they’re thinking of themselves only,” Schwartz said. “The writers aren’t asking for anything outrageous, but the corporations are playing a game.” A towering angel used in a “Batman” movie loomed over silver screen bric-a-brac Schwartz had collected over the decades. Even the angel was for sale – for $4,500. “You’d never be able to buy these things before,” Schwartz said. “It’s pretty horrifying. “It’s pretty bad that all these things are going away, to be lost.” naush.boghossian@dailynews.com 818-713-3722160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img