Deconstructing Pop Culture

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The Capitol Tower

September 30th, 2006 by David Kronemyer · No Comments

Well, it’s official – after years, nay, decades of speculation, EMI Group is selling the Capitol Records tower located in Hollywood, California, Vincent, R., “Capitol Records Tower to Be Sold,” Los Angeles Times (Sep’t 29, 2006). Having been a denizen of that fine structure for a decade or so in the 1980s, I view this with some alarm. OK, at least it’s a sale-leaseback, they aren’t going to re-purpose it for “lofts,” or whatever. Architecturally, the best feature of the Tower (as we ubiquitously referred to it) was the large sluice down the central elevator shaft. That way, when management of the company wanted to replace personnel, all they had to do was open the giant water mains on each floor, and the no-longer-desired employee(s) simply were washed out onto the street.

I was especially heartened to read that the proceeds will be used for “A&R, marketing and the development of the digital business,” according to David Munns, chairman and CEO of EMI Music North America. Gallo, P., “EMI flexes tower power,” Daily Variety (Sep’t 28, 2006). One of the last companies to do this successfully was 20th Century Fox, which sold off its obsolete back lot between Pico and Santa Monica Blvd. in Los Angeles. It used the proceeds to fund the movie “Cleopatra,” which, in 1963, was nominated for nine Academy Awards, and won four (though not Best Picture).” According to Wikipedia, it originally was budgeted at $2 million, however, the actual cost rose to $44 million – the equivalent of more than $270 million today, making the movie the second-most-costly ever produced. Apocryphally, it is said that 20th Century Fox still carries the negative cost as an asset on its books, meaning that it hasn’t yet recouped.

The back lot went on to become Century City.