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News

20th Century Prop: Latest Victim of Hollywood Bust

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Burbank's 20th Century Prop Shop Out of Business, photo via ATIS547 on Flickr
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I was driving back from the Costco in Burbank one afternoon when my boyfriend turned to me and asked "Why in God's name is there a custom hat store on Magnolia? Who wears hats anymore?" I thought a second, laughed, and said -- "Hollywood!" Movie-makers will always need milliners and other manufacturers of specialty props -- right??Maybe not -- the New York Times is running a compelling story today about the failure of legendary Hollywood prop shop 20th Century Props (yes, another example of how the Gray Lady somehow manages to cover L.A. better than the LAT):

On Tuesday, Harvey Schwartz stood amid it all, in tears, wondering how his prop shop, which offers a vast inventory of items to be used in film and television productions, became the latest victim of a rapidly changing Hollywood. Mr. Schwartz, the owner of 20th Century Props, plans to go out of business next month and auction the inventory. Battered by the surge in out-of-state movie production and the demise of scripted programming on network television, the once-thriving business — one of a handful of its type remaining — is failing.

“I ran out of money three months ago, and I don’t know what else to do,” he said softly. “It’s terrifying. I’ve devoted my entire life to something that is over.”

Set decorators are equally upset. “The closing of 20th Century is a disaster for us,” said Melinda Ritz, who won three Emmy Awards for her work on “Will & Grace.” “Harvey is a great person, and it’s one fewer place that offers one-stop shopping.” She added, “The fabric of Hollywood is fraying so fast that it’s scary.”

The closure of 20th Century Props will no doubt be a financial and cultural loss for Los Angeles. The shop is a literal museum of Hollywood history -- morgue artifacts from "The X-Files," chandeliers from "Miracle on 34th Street", and giant champagne glasses used in Beyonce performances will all be auctioned off next month.