AP/Shutterstock As the pandemic wears on, New York and Los Angeles have never felt farther apart—and it seems likely that even more distancing, both social and cultural, will be the unhappy drill for years to come.

In truth, the two great sister cities have never been as close as you might think, at least in movie and media terms. Rather, they were a polarity, tightly linked, but often frustrated with and suspicious of each other, and rarely on the same page. When Louis B. Mayer and MGM were all about entertainment in Culver City, Nicholas Schenck and fellow owners at parent company Loew’s in New York were focused on finance. At Paramount, Adolph Zukor, who died at age 103 in Los Angeles, suffered the same rift with East Coast counterparts and unhappy backers on Wall Street. Later, David Begelman, at Columbia’s studio in Burbank, had it out with corporate overseers back on Fifth Ave.

Ever was it thus. When Hollywood went commercial in the blockbuster era, New York, inevitably, swung toward art and the indies. At Disney, Harvey Weinstein and Michael Eisner were fighting a fresh version of the old battle, East versus West, as the 21 st Century dawned.

It was never really about money. The underlying issues were always personality, expectations, point of view. After all, New York and Los Angeles are a disparate life experience. To presume a shared outlook from the two is foolish. Having worked as a Los Angeles correspondent for New York-based publications—Forbes, The Wall Street […]

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