The rift in Hollywood between industry powerhouses in the Los Angeles mayoral race between longtime Democratic lawmaker Karen Bass and developer Rick Caruso intensified this week with an open letter from Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos urging his local “friends” to vote for the law-and-order candidate.
In his letter, Sarandos writes that Caruso “is the Democrat I have been waiting for, one with a plan and a track record of accomplishing impossible tasks in California and Los Angeles…The city is at a turning point. This election is the most important in living memory.”
Sarandos and his wife Nicole Avant, former ambassador to the Bahamas under President Barack Obama, have been vocal supporters of Caruso’s campaign and have now urged other industry insiders to back the businessman, writing, “If you’re tired of the homeless living inhumane lives in this city, of the filth not being cleaned up, of corruption at City Hall, of shrinking law enforcement, of rising crime, and of the threat of even higher taxes now, vote for Rick Caruso.”
The letter makes no mention of the tragedy that befell the Avant family on the morning of December 1. That’s when violent criminal Aariel Maynor smashed a glass door window at 2 a.m. in the home of Nicole Avant’s mother, Jacqueline. He then opened fire with an AR-15 rifle, killing the civil rights activist. When police arrived, her husband, music producer Clarence Avant, was holding his wife’s lifeless body in his arms, according to court documents.
The mayoral election pits a political outsider against an LA official, and the divide in Hollywood resembles the close race that pollsters had predicted. While Sarandos trumpets his support for Caruso, his Showtime counterpart, David Nevins, backs Bass. Celebrities like Shonda Rhimes and Ariana Grande are firmly in Bass’ camp, while Team Caruso is backing Snoop Dogg and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Maynor, who had already fled the scene by the time police arrived and fired another shot that wounded the family’s security guard, had a long history of violent crime and had been paroled two months earlier. He was arrested that same morning after breaking into a second home in the Hollywood Hills; he shot himself in the foot during that attempted robbery.
Bass was also the victim of a burglary, according to the LAPD. In September, her home was broken into and the burglars stole two guns that she said she had “safely stored” in a locker. No other valuables were taken, but two men were arrested in connection with the crime, which has raised many questions about Bass’ stance on gun control that remain unanswered.
Caruso has close ties to Hollywood and promised on Variety’s Strictly Business podcast to work to bring more productions to the city.
“A vibrant Hollywood is incredibly important to the Los Angeles economy. It’s also incredibly important to the branding of Los Angeles. This is a land where dreams come true,” he told the audience. “We need to do a better job in the city. As mayor, I’m committed to keeping content creation in the city of Los Angeles. We lose way too much outside the city. It’s also about creating the jobs here in the city of Los Angeles and not losing them to neighboring cities or cities across the country.” On Tuesday, however, the owner of a proposed film studio, Television City, asked if Caruso wasn’t talking out of his ass when it came to supporting entertainment productions. This came after representatives of The Grove shopping center, in an effort to delay construction, sent a 374-page letter of opposition questioning the studio’s expansion, citing everything from the lack of Native American involvement to the historic discovery of a woman’s prehistoric skeletal remains in the Tar Pits in 1914, Variety reported.
- Caruso for mayor has the support of the co-CEO of Netflix in an open letter to Hollywood
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