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Thursday, Nov 30, 2023

LA.Direct Taking Publication to Other Side of the Hill

Having succeeded in reaching its targeted readership in the San Fernando Valley, the team behind LA.Direct magazine is taking its publication to the other side of the hills. The magazine is now available at about 200 businesses in the Hollywood and West Hollywood areas, with Santa Monica eyed as the next area for distribution. “In the first month a lot of our distribution points have been empty and it calls for having to print more (copies),” Publisher Oren Levy said. Levy and editor Josh Sternberg readjusted distribution of LA.Direct in the Valley to make available the 5,000 copies sent to other parts of the city. The pair initially considered starting a new publication but then figured that advertisers preferred being in one magazine that could be built and expanded to represent the entire city, Levy said. Both Levy and Sternberg were hands-on in choosing the placement of the distribution racks, taking to the streets to scout locations on weekend afternoons. They were fortunate enough to convince one business on Sunset Boulevard to make LA.Direct the only free publication distributed from inside in custom designed stainless steel racks as compared with competing publications outside, Levy said. “Why we like to be in on talking with the distributors is that it is crucial to create that relationship to get the better distribution and keep ahead of the competition,” Levy said. The childhood friends founded LA.Direct in 2003 and made Toluca Lake west to Sherman Oaks the initial coverage area. In expanding the distribution area, Levy said Burbank was considered but that more interest was generated from the other side of the hills by advertisers. With its content focused on young celebrities “American Idol” contestant Katherine McPhee and socialite Kim Kardashian have made cover appearances being in Hollywood and the surrounding nightclub corridors made all the more sense. No drastic change is expected for the content although a more conscious effort will be made for stories emanating from over the hill, Levy said. An additional 200 distribution points to get another 5,000 copies of the magazine to readers is expected by the end of the summer. Future plans are to start branches of the magazine under the “Direct” brand in Orange and San Diego counties, Levy said. Nilsson Doc Screening Studio City-based filmmakers John Scheinfeld and David Leaf will screen their documentary about the late singer Harry Nilsson on July 14 as part of the “Mods and Rockers” film festival at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. In fact, for the time being festivals are the only way to see “Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?).” Now that the pair’s first theatrical release “The U.S. vs. John Lennon” – is behind them and now available on DVD, they can give extra attention to get wider distribution for the Nilsson doc. “We’ve had some interesting proposals come our way and there is one on the table that is a good proposal,” Scheinfeld said. “But we’re also talking with Sony because they own Harry’s catalogue. We’re hoping they will get involved in a significant way.” The film hasn’t been screened in the Los Angeles area since last August, when it played to a packed house at a Santa Monica theater. Distributors did attend the Santa Monica screening and a group of them has been invited to come out to Hollywood, Scheinfeld said. The biggest challenge, however, to get the film in front a wider audience is that Nilsson, who had a handful of hits (“Without You,” “Coconut”) and died in 1994, is a cult figure, Scheinfeld said. In talking about the film, Scheinfeld found that people know Nilsson’s name, recognize the title of his hits yet know little about the man himself. Cable News Packages Time Warner Cable will expand its local content offerings with on-location segments about events in its coverage areas. Currently the cable provider runs 5-minute interview segments shown throughout the day on CNN Headline News (Channel 60 in Woodland Hills). The expanded segments, or news packets, feature an anchor person and reporter on location outside a studio setting. “That is another way to bring our customers closer to the communities they live in; give them information that matters to them and show them what is happening that they can learn from,” said Patti Rockenwagner, vice president of communications. The interview segments, featuring public officials, businesspeople and others actively involved in the Valley, debuted in February. TW Cable contracts out the interviews which are done in the company’s studios around Southern California. Segments are also filmed for the Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys featuring interview subjects from those areas. The beauty and power of cable, Rockenwagner said, is that the interviews can be zoned to specific areas. Likewise, an interview with a state official can run in all areas served by TW Cable. The segments air during Headline News because it is a widely viewed channel. Staff Reporter Mark Madler can be reached at (818) 316-3126 or by e-mail at mmadler@sfvbj.com .

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