Monday, March 17, 2008

L.A. Times Reporters Move Into the Spotlight

When a film crew hits The Times' newsroom to re-create a story from its pages, reality gets a little weird.

Robert Downey Jr., center, stars as columnist Steve Lopez in “The Soloist.”

By Marjorie Miller, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

When film producer Gary Foster walked across the frayed green carpet into the Los Angeles Times newsroom for the first time, he encountered an expanse of cluttered desks walled off by journalistic kitsch: notebooks stacked against Mao statues and Elvis paintings, Mexican piƱatas hanging above mounds of legal briefs, old photographs of Richard Nixon and Saddam Hussein.

The deeper he penetrated the reporters' sanctum, the weirder it got. There was the Lego Statue of Liberty over by the Web desk, half a surfboard in Foreign. But where others might see squalor, Foster saw inspiration. "I thought, 'This organized chaos is gorgeous,' " he said.

The artistic directors Foster brought in with him agreed, which is how the paper's newsroom last month became the set for "The Soloist," a film about the formerly homeless violinist Nathaniel Ayers, whose life on skid row has been chronicled in the Times by columnist Steve Lopez since 2005 and who will be the subject of a soon-to-be-published book. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

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