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Protesters Fear Redevelopment Plans May Strip Studio Of Silent Film Era Roots

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WEST HOLLYWOOD (CBS) — A storied Hollywood movie studio may soon become history if protesters don’t get their way.

The owners of the site known as The Lot on Santa Monica Boulevard and Formosa Avenue said they will work to preserve the studio’s historic value amid plans to build a new 93,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art office building on the site.

The 11-acre lot first opened in 1919 and was owned in the 1920s by silent film stars Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks — a couple that director Allison Anders said embodied the height of Hollywood achievement for any couple in the business.

“They were a married couple, they were living the dream, in love, had their own studio,” said Anders. “They were the ‘Brangelina’ but they bought a studio.”

The pair along went on to form United Artists with D.W. Griffith and Charlie Chaplin, whose famous mustache inspired at least one protester on Sunday.

“I was able to just throw this together,” said the man dressed in Chaplin’s signature black bowler hat and bowtie. “I thought it was an important symbol of what we’re trying to say…a lot of people recognize Charlie Chaplin, so it may help them understand what’s at stake here.”

West Hollywood officials have never taken action to formally designate The Lot as an historical landmark.

Owners CIM Group said some re-development is essential for the whole campus to be competitive when demolition work is expected to begin in a few weeks, but pledged to leave all buildings designated as historic untouched.

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