Red Line Tours (in conjunction with Partnership for Los Angeles Schools) hosted a field trip on Feb. 16 for a group of 200 at-risk youth from Carver Middle School in South Los Angeles. The students are part of the Advancement Via Individual Determination Program. Many of the children have been — or are currently – homeless; and most have never ventured outside of their own neighborhood. The film history-themed trip took the students to the historic Los Angeles theatre in downtown LA, whose marquee pays tribute to the late Whitney Houston, as well as tours of The Chinese and Egyptian Theatres.
The students then visited the Kodak Theatre, where they were photographed with Academy Award winning actor George Chakiris (West Side Story) and his Oscar statue. Hanna Montana actress Romi Dames was also present to visit with the students. This is the second field trip that Red Line Tours has hosted as part of an effort to create an ongoing outreach for Los Angeles’ at risk youth.
Randy Haberkamp of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences shared history and fun facts about the Academy and its ultimate tribute – The Academy Award (aka Oscar). Tony Hoover, the event co-coordinator and owner of Red Line Tours, then welcomed the students and teachers to the Kodak Theatre and gave a little background on the structure itself. He then introduced Romi Dames, who received the warmest welcome from the students who immediately recognized her as the snotty Traci Van Horn on Hanna Montana. Dames even slipped into her character’s trademark nasal voice.
“This man is the definition of a triple threat. He can act, sing and boy can he dance,” Dames said in introduction of George Chakiris as he joined her on stage.
Chakiris shared a story from his early years about walking down Hollywood Boulevard from his apartment to his dance classes everyday. The trip allowed him to pass Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and contemplate the glorious history of films that had premiered there and the glamour of those whose foot- and hand prints would forever grace the cement in the theatre’s forecourt.
“I couldn’t have imagined that one day I would be attending a film premiere of my own here,” Chakaris said, referring to West Side Story, a movie for which he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
“The honor I recently received, along with my friends Rita Moreno and Russ Tamblyn, by placing our foot prints along with my idols at Graumans makes me feel like my career has come full circle.”
The placement of the hand and foot prints just earlier that day was particularly meaningful, when he realized that they had been placed next to West Side Story co-star, Natalie Wood. After investigating the theatre forecourt for other classic and current talent, the students were drawn to the foot, hand- and wand prints from the cast of Harry Potter, they ventured indoors to watch the current release of Adventure 2.
Chakiris, whose has gone from performing on the silver screen to designing his own line of Sterling Silver jewelry, took great pleasure in allowing each and every student the opportunity to hold and to be photographed with his own 1962 Academy Award.
“Receiving this award brought me great pride, but being able to share it with the boys and girls from Carver Middle School offered a sense of joy that can’t be expressed in words,” he said.
The joy of sharing a special day with Los Angeles school children was not his alone.
“I just loved talking to the students,” Dames said. “They had a million wonderful questions and think I have 200 more Facebook friends now.”
Red Line Tours Hollywood Behind the Scenes is one of Hollywood’s most popular and enduring attractions and has become part of Hollywood’s modern history. Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt used Red Line Tours Downtown LA tour to help prepare for his role in 500 Days of Summer and Clare Danes toured with founder Tony Hoover as part of a piece on her early days in theatre.
The Partnership for Los Angeles Schools is a unique collaboration between the City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Unified School District to turnaround the city’s lowest performing schools and to create a model for doing so district-wide. It is one of the largest public school turnaround projects in the nation, serving nearly 17,000 students across 22 schools in some of the city’s poorest communities.