By Liz Schindler Johnson
Recently, I caught up with Lee Sweet, Manager at the Warner Grand to talk about what’s going at the Theatre. Many of you who know and love Lee know he is a dedicated City of Los Angeles employee, highly intelligent, with an offbeat and original sense of humor.
Here’s what I found out:
Elizabeth Schindler Johnson (ESJ): How many shows have you canceled?
Lee Sweet (LS): Only one – the PV Land Conservancy’s Earth Day movie. All the rest have been postponed. Seven events have been moved to August or next year. Nothing is for sure though.
ESJ: How long is the Warner Grand officially closed for?
LS: Until the end of June, for now. (Possibly longer.)
ESJ: When will you know otherwise?
LS: When our General Manager (of the Department of Cultural Affairs) Danielle Brazell is told by the Mayor.
ESJ: How many audience members would have come to the Theatre during this time period?
LS: About 3000-4000.
ESJ: What is going on with your staff?
LS: They were paid through April 4 and they were all laid off and filing for unemployment.
ESJ: You said you have meetings all day today. What are they about?
LS: I know one is a presentation by the Department of Public Health on Best Practices when we reopen.
ESJ: Do you know anything more about the Mayor’s comments on no large gatherings until next year?
LS: No, I only know what I read in the paper.
ESJ: Do you know if the funds for the Warner Grand Theatre renovation are secure?
LS: I think so but I am really not sure. You might have to ask my boss.
ESJ: I will ask. What are you doing with yourself?
LS: I am reading my bills.
ESJ: What else?
LS: I’m providing reports every 3-4 hours to my supervisors. You never know what they will ask for or when. I have to be on my toes.
ESJ: Where are you working?
LS: I am working by myself at the Theatre. I couldn’t imagine being home all this time. I would have hung myself.
ESJ: I’m glad you are going to work and staying sane.
LS: Well one out of two ain’t bad.
ESJ: Have you ever been tempted to watch a movie at the theater?
ESJ: Is Sacred Grounds open?
LS: Yes, Dave (the owner) stands around without much to do. Depressing. He gets about 5-6 people a day. But they are selling bulk coffee and it is excellent.
ESJ: Please say hello to Dave for me and to all the Sacred Ground regulars that I know.
LS: Oh I don’t talk to them. I just pass by with my hand over my mouth. I look like the French Lieutenant’s Woman.
(ESJ Note: I had to look this up. It’s a reference to Meryl Streep wearing a hooded cloak she keeps closed with her hand.)
ESJ: Thank you so much, Lee.
LS: Thank you and give my best to Alan (my husband) and the dogs. (Louise and Winnie)