Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg are among the Hollywood royalty trying to save the landmark Hollywood sign from encroaching developers poised to erect four mansions or a hotel next to the 45-foot (13.7 m) tall "H" letter in the Hollywood hillside.
Falling short one million dollars by the deadline spells trouble for a grassroots campaign to preserve the surrounding land. The so-called McMansions would enjoy spectacular vistas of Los Angeles but the construction would ruin the popular view of tourists and other problems.
Film studios and Los Angeles residents have contributed to the $11 million raised to purchase the endangered 138 acres. Even America's luxury retailer Tiffany & Co. will provide half a million in a matching grant toward the effort.
The original landowner was Howard Hughes. The current owner, a Chicago real estate firm, agreed to extend the deadline to buy the property another 16 days.
"Like any great movie, we need a surprise twist to give us that happy Hollywood ending," said Will Rogers, president of the Trust for Public Land, the conservation group behind the "Save the Peak" campaign, in a press conference Wednesday.
Also present at the event was American Idol contestant Alex Lambert and fellow cast members of a web-based reality show "If I Can Dream." If the remaining million dollars is raised, the land will be donated to adjacent Griffith Park.
Ironically the sign was originally an advertisement for a development in the foothills. It was restored in 1978 by donors such as rocker Alice Cooper, Hugh Hefner, and Warner Bros Records. Danish architect Christian Bay-Jorgensen has come up with an idea to turn the sign into a hotel, which in effect could solve all the money/land issues. The plan calls for the famous letters to be enlarged to double the size, building them out from the back, allowing guests to stay inside the Hollywood sign itself.