Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Frenchies Next Door, Explained

The house next to ours sat vacant for quite a while, as the real estate flipper/owner got caught up in the real estate downturn. While he did not buy the house at the peak of the market, he clearly jumped in too soon in putting in $1 million or more in upgrades. Unable to sell the property, he tried renting it out, but at $15,000 a month, there were no takers. After dropping the rental to $12,000 a month, or perhaps more, he finally found a renter summer before last, at least for four and a half months.

Now we still wondered what kind of person would pay that kind of rent, and only for a four month period. The family, husband, wife, small child and dog, were French speakers, and the husband introduced himself as Michel. However they kept to themselves, and indeed the husband wasn't around particularly much. My best guess was that the husband was in Los Angeles temporarily on business, perhaps in the entertainment industry. They had a couple of parties with loud music, once with French music and another time with 70s and 80s oldies, with the parties ending at a decent hour. (This was in contrast to parties thrown by the real estate flipper/owner, which typically started after midnight with rock music blasting and lasting until dawn, sometimes blocking the street with parked cars and taxicabs ferrying guests from the Hollywood clubs after closing.)

After four or five months the Frenchies were gone, and I never had any better indication of who they might have been. Then, a month ago I was flying back from New York on Jet Blue, watching the late night telecast from WNBC-TV with Jay Leno interviewing Jean DuJardin, the star of the movie "The Artist." While I enjoy watching Leno, I'm never up late enough to watch the Tonight Show on Los Angeles time, so this was a treat for me. DuJardin recounted how the movie was shot entirely in Los Angeles, that he had never visited Los Angeles before, and how he became accustomed to the daily commute from the large house he had rented in Los Feliz to various locations in Los Angeles where "The Artist" was filmed. Immediately bells rang. Was the Frenchie next door in town for four months to work on The Artist? That prompted me to try to find out more about the shooting of "The Artist" in Los Angeles, but information was sketchy. The City of Los Angeles did give an award to "The Artist" early this year for being the best movie shot in Los Angeles, but the news story referred to the movie being shot in Los Angeles over a "seven week period". That created some doubt in my mind, though it's possible that with pre-production and post- production periods, somebody involved in the movie might have had to stay in Los Angeles for four months.

However, the solving of the puzzle seems to have come from the telecast of the red carpet pre-Oscar show before the Academy Awards. I'm not one to watch red carpet shows, and indeed I can't recall watching more than a glimpse of any such show. Plus, I was actually at work when the telecast began. But it so happened that my son's girlfriend was fortunate enough to have been invited to attend the Oscar show at the theater formerly known as the Kodak Theater, prior to Kodak's recent bankruptcy filing. So I decided to tape the show to watch later to see if she might have been caught on camera while milling around the red carpet. No such luck, but there was another interview with Jean DuJardin, where he proclaimed his affection for Los Angeles based on his four to five month stay (he actually said "five or four months") in the city shooting the movie. Which means the Frenchie next door, Michel, was probably Michel Hazanavicius, winner of the Best Director Oscar for "The Artist."

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