Kirk Douglas, leaning on a cane, spoke the first words to be heard on the stage at the new Kirk Douglas Theatre tonight in Culver City. Douglas told humorous stories from his career then watched as (among others) Lily Tomlin, CCH Pounder, Brian Bedford and The Mums performed to dedicate the theatre. Gordon Davidson's Center Theater Group took over and renovated the former Culver Theatre movie house, with a $1 million gift from Michael Douglas and a bunch of other millions. The Culver's old neon marquee and pylon sign were relit tonight as well. The space on Washington Boulevard is going to be used mostly to stage new plays.
On the flip side: the former Valley Music Theater, opened in 1964 with backing by Bob Hope in a failed effort to bring culture to the west Valley, has been sold by its latest owner, the Jehovah's Witnesses. The theater in the round hosted a series of fairly memorable rock concerts, as well as boxing matches, after the Valley culture thing didn't work out. It's been a church hall since 1980. Plans call for theater to be replaced with condos and retail stores.