Photo courtesy of the office of Sup. Michael D. Antonovich, L.A. County Board of Supervisors.
Godzilla Week: 10th Anniversary
by Armand Vaquer
Next month will mark ten years (!) since a piece of Godzilla history took place in Los Angeles, California.
In July 2000, G-FEST 2000 took place at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel with movie screenings taking place at the Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Blvd. This convention had the largest guest line-up ever in G-FEST's history.
But days before G-FEST 2000, an event to celebrate the convention as well as the first wide release of a Godzilla movie in fifteen years to U.S. theaters, Godzilla 2000, took place at the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting on July 11. It was at that meeting that the Board declared July 10 - 16, 2000 as "Godzilla Week." The declaration was sponsored by L.A. County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich.
That year was the first year I handled publicity duties for G-FEST. The idea for "Godzilla Week" was to garner publicity for the convention as well as for Godzilla 2000, released by Sony/TriStar in August 2000.
Unfortunately, all did not go 100% smoothly for the "Godzilla Week" ceremony. At that time, Masaharu Ina was the general manager of Toho Co., Ltd.'s Los Angeles office in Century City. I had developed a good working relationship with him and when I proposed the ceremony with him, he was enthusiastic. He was instrumental in getting the Toho executives' cooperation in shipping a Godzilla 2000 event suit to Los Angeles for the ceremony. This would have been a great publicity event. G-FAN publisher J. D. Lees flew to L.A. several days early to participate in the ceremony.
However, the fly in the ointment was a lady at Sony/TriStar named Jaime Geller, who decided to take over the planning of this event. Since Sony/TriStar had the theatrical rights to Godzilla 2000, any publicity involving it had to be under their purview, or so she said. I tried to work with her on this, and it seemed that things were going good.
About a week or so before the scheduled event, a meeting was to take place at L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich's office with Geller, Mr. Ina and Antonovich's staff to plan how the appearance of Godzilla at the meeting would happen. Mr. Ina and I arrived at the same time and Mr. Ina had a somber look on his face. He said that when the crate containing the Godzilla event suit was opened at Sony, they looked at it and decided that it detracted "from the grandeur of Godzilla" and nixed the suit's appearance. Although shocked, we decided to go ahead with the ceremony anyway, with "rumble and roar" Godzilla toys representing The King. Each county supervisor received one from Toho.
While the ceremony went fine, the cancellation of the Godzilla event suit killed our chances for media coverage. When word reached fandom about Sony killing the appearance of the event suit, the "fit hit the shan." Many even called Sony's offices to raise hell with them. The fans were steamed (to put it mildly)!
Along with Ina and Lees, others participating in the ceremony were Toho Sales Manager Tetsushi Sudo, Richard Pusateri, Mrs. Mike Antonovich and their son, and me. Many fans showed up to attend the ceremony. A scroll was presented to Mr. Ina.
Above, the G-FAN article on the ceremony along with a photograph of the scroll.
After the ceremony, several of us gathered in Little Tokyo for Japanese lunch at Weller Court.
It is hard to believe that this event took place ten years ago next month. We had to wait four years later to see an authentic Toho Godzilla event suit at a ceremony.
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