“Peg Entwistle: The Life and Death of An Actress,” Now Available for Sale or Rent on Vimeo

July 10, 2014 § Leave a comment

My new release consists of two short films: a biographical documentary featuring interviews with Peg Entwistle’s surviving family, as well as previously unpublished photos and artifacts; and a silent black-and-white feature about her fateful walk to the Hollywood Sign in 1932. It’s available as a download for the first time; $4 to rent; $9 to buy.

Here’s the trailer:

For more about Peg Entwistle, my ebook Peg Entwistle and The Hollywood Sign is available at Amazon and other ebook sellers:

My Documentary Feature, “Under the Hollywood Sign,” Is Now Available On Demand

April 24, 2014 § Leave a comment

Poster by Nathan Church/ Copyright Hope Anderson Productions

Poster by Nathan Church/ Copyright Hope Anderson Productions

The documentary that inspired this blog is now available as a download, either for purchase ($18) or rent ($5). Under the Hollywood Sign explores the history and present-day life of Beachwood Canyon in historical pictures, new footage and interviews. Here’s the link:


To purchase a DVD, please go to: http://www.underthehollywoodsign.com

My Painting for the Walpole Bay Hotel in Margate, Kent

December 3, 2013 § Leave a comment

"The View From My Window" by Hope Anderson, Copyright 2013

“The View From My Window” by Hope Anderson, Copyright 2013/All Photos Hope Anderson Productions

On my recent trip to England I spent a weekend in Margate, a lovely old seaside resort on the southeast coast. (I was invited there by the playwright Heath Woodward, whose musical about Peg Entwistle “Goodnight September” was in rehearsals, one of which I attended and greatly enjoyed.) Margate is famous for several reasons, the most important of them having to do with art. The great landscape painter J. M. W. Turner painted in Margate throughout his life, producing about 100 canvases there. Many of them are seascapes whose dramatic clouds I thought were exaggerated until I saw them for myself and realized that Turner took no liberties.

Margate Seascape 10/12/13

Margate Seascape 10/12/13

Then there’s the T.S. Eliot connection. Readers of “The Wasteland” will remember the passage in Part III: On Margate Sands/I can connect/Nothing with nothing. Perhaps the most moving expression of alienation in modern poetry, it was written in Margate when Eliot was recovering from a nervous breakdown in 1921. While staying at the stylish Albermarle Hotel in Margate’s Cliftonville district, Eliot worked on his masterpiece at the Nayland Rock Shelter, a three-sided glass pavilion on the Promenade. But the Margate Sands were already famous: while other English resorts have pebbled shorelines, Margate’s beaches boast the kind of golden sand associated with Italy and Spain.
Margate Beach 10/13/13

Margate Beach 10/13/13

The Albermarle is long gone, but the Walpole Bay Hotel, where I stayed, is a worthy successor. A graceful Victorian-era landmark just off the Promenade, the Walpole Bay features cream teas, Sunday lunches and a museum of Victorian and Edwardian artifacts collected by its charming owner, Jane Bishop.

Cream Tea at the Walpole Bay Hotel

Cream Tea at the Walpole Bay Hotel

The Dining Room Before Sunday Lunch

The Dining Room Before Sunday Lunch

There’s also a gallery of artwork drawn on the hotel’s linen, a tradition begun when a guest started sketching on his napkin in the dining room. One of the contributors to the Napery is the Turner Prize-nominated conceptual artist, recent CBE and all-around badass Tracey Emin, a Margate native who stays at the hotel during her visits, but most aren’t as famous, or even necessarily visual artists. I found the collection fascinating, and when Jane presented me with a napkin at the end of my stay I knew exactly what I would do. The result is pictured above: the view of the Hollywood Sign from my upstairs window, painted with acrylics.

Just Published: My eBook, “Peg Entwistle and The Hollywood Sign”

October 29, 2013 § 3 Comments

Peg Entwistle and the Hollywood Sign/Hope Anderson Productions

Peg Entwistle and the Hollywood Sign/Hope Anderson Productions

My new eBook contains previously unpublished writing about the actress’s life and death, as well as essays that have appeared on this blog. It also features photos and film stills from my short film, “Peg Entwistle’s Last Walk,” one of which appears on the cover.

Peg Entwistle and The Hollywood Sign is available from Amazon, Barnes and Nobel and other eBook sellers for $9.99.


Variety on the Hollywood Sign’s 90th Birthday

September 27, 2013 § Leave a comment

Photo by Hope Anderson Productions

Photo by Hope Anderson Productions

I’m featured in this article, if somewhat misquoted.


On “Blade Runner”: Four Essays

August 28, 2013 § 3 Comments

blade_runner1That’s the title of my new eBook, which is available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon, among other eBook publishers. Two of the essays appeared here in somewhat different form. Two longer pieces–a comparison of the film and the book on which it is based, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and an exploration of Japanese influences in the film–have never been published before. Here’s a link:


Blame the Documentarian: The Hollywood Sign, Tourism and Me

March 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

The Sign from a Safe Distance/Courtesy Ken Pries

From late 2006 until early 2009, I conducted interviews and shot footage for “Under the Hollywood Sign,” my documentary on the history and culture of Beachwood Canyon. Some of that footage showed the Hollywood Sign, whose history I traced from its beginnings as a billboard in 1923 to its rebuilding in 1978 and beyond. I also filmed, with the permission of the Hollywood Sign Trust, at the Sign itself. During the 2 1/2 years I worked on this project, I worried that my neighbors would object to the attention my work might bring to the area. But  no one ever did–until last Tuesday night’s meeting of the Hollywoodland Homeowners Association. 

As the meeting ended, a woman approached me and said, “Hope, I’ve heard your video encourages people to climb to the Sign.” “That’s absolutely untrue,” I said, explaining that while I had documented people climbing to the Sign, I was a bystander who had nothing to do with their decision. (On one occasion, I showed up at a legal spot to shoot b-roll and was amazed to see three people at the base of the Sign, and a couple on their way up.) But what I was thinking was, if I had made a documentary about Afghanistan, would she accuse me of promoting warfare? And shouldn’t she have watched it before insinuating this?

I might have pointed out that “Under the Hollywood Sign,” which to date has not been broadcast, has been seen mostly by people who live in the neighborhood, and that it clearly states that climbing to the Sign is illegal. While additional viewers have seen my YouTube channel, my clips show up alongside many other people’s videos of the Hollywood Sign, including some that promote climbing to it. 

Nevertheless, it’s true that in the 5 years I’ve lived in Hollywoodland, tourist traffic has increased noticeably. My opinion–shared by many–is that the ubiquity of GPS and the recent advent of small, open tour vans are the main causes. Previously, tourists without cars would take the Starlines trolley bus as far as Beachwood Village. Now they can take a van up the residential streets near the Sign where they stop for pictures–and create gridlock.

On Saturday, I recounted the incident to Jim Hollander, a Beachwood resident and journalist. He said, “”That happens to reporters all the time. They write about someone or something small and unknown, and then suddenly it’s a big deal, and people feel as though they have been put at a loss. These people must think documentaries are the devil’s work!” Coincidentally, that very day the Times ran an article about the problems of tourist traffic. Because it focuses on Beachwood Canyon, I’m hoping the Times will share in the blame.  http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-0305-tourbus-noise-20110305,0,6673141.story

The Big Parade Hits the Belden Stairs

June 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

Hope Anderson and Dan Koeppel at the Belden Stairs/Photos by Hope Anderson Productions

The Big Paraders stopped at the Belden Stairs on their way to the Hollywood Sign this evening; I was there to greet them. It was fun to talk about the origins of the neighborhood as well as recent developments concerning the Hollywood Sign.

Taking Pictures of the Stairs

Organizer Dan Koeppel did a great job of planning the route; that and the cool weather resulted in a much fresher Parade than last July’s, which took place during a heat wave. Congratulations to Dan and all who participated!

The Big Parade: Year Two

June 11, 2010 § Leave a comment

The Belden Stairs/Photo by Hope Anderson Productions

Dan Koeppel’s amazing LA walkabout enters its second year this weekend. Saturday’s tour begins at downtown at Angels Flight and goes through Echo Park and Silverlake. Sunday’s walk begins at the Music Box Stairs in Silverlake and continues west through Los Feliz and Beachwood Canyon, ending at the Hollywood Sign.

As I did last year, I’ll be giving a brief talk at the Belden Stairs (Beachwood Drive at Woodshire.) This should take place around 6:30pm Sunday. For more information, go to www.bigparadela.com

See you there!

Hef Saves the Hollywood Sign–Again

April 28, 2010 § 1 Comment

Monday’s announcement from the Trust For Public Land–that Hugh Hefner had donated the final $900,000 needed to buy the Cahuenga Peak parcel–marks the publisher’s second time as savior of the Hollywood Sign. The first came in 1978, when he conceived the fundraising campaign to tear down and replace the original Hollywood Sign with the replica that stands today. Although a number of individuals and studios eventually contributed to the cause, the idea–as well as the initial donation–was entirely Hefner’s.

Two years ago, when I interviewed Hugh Hefner for my documentary “Under the Hollywood Sign,” I asked whether any city officials had approached him about saving the Sign, which by the 1970s was in ruins. “No,” he said. “Nobody cared.” He went on to say, “Clearly the town had forgotten it, or it wouldn’t have been in such terrible disrepair.”

In June of 1978, a party at the Playboy Mansion kicked off the campaign. Within four months, Hefner had raised more than $200,000 for the new Sign. Unlike the original, it was anchored in bedrock and engineered to withstand wind and earthquakes. Work began on August 8th and was completed on October 30th, ahead of schedule and under budget. The new Hollywood Sign has held up beautifully, enduring the Northridge earthquake without damage and not budging in the three decades since its completion.

Hugh Hefner and Me, Post-Interview/Hope Anderson Productions

Our interview took place at the Playboy Mansion, a Holmby Hills estate that boasts no views beyond its own lush grounds. Given these surroundings, the fact that Hugh Hefner would care at all about the Hollywood Sign was striking to me. That he has continued to care in the 30 years since it was rebuilt seems proof of his remarkable generosity.

That day, Hugh Hefner spoke movingly of the Sign. “Hollywood is the city of dreams,” he said, “and the Hollywood Sign represents those dreams.”

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