Filming History Before It's Demolished--Where RFK Was Killed





Over Sunday dinner at his home last spring, Martin Sheen, the star of "The West Wing," casually mentioned to his wife, Janet, and son Emilio Estevez that he had been lobbying members of the Los Angeles school board to proceed with the demolition of the old Ambassador Hotel, where Senator Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1968 on the night he won the California presidential primary.

Officials were planning to replace the long-shuttered grande dame of Wilshire Boulevard with a school big enough for 4,000 students, many of them immigrants and minorities, who would otherwise have to keep riding buses across town. One of the project's backers was Ethel Kennedy, the senator's widow, who saw it as a fitting tribute to her husband.

Now his son--and other filmmakers--are scrambling to shoot scenes at the hotel before it's demolished.

If the school district's contractors are busily erasing a tremendous chunk of this city's glittery history, Mr. Estevez is seeking to revisit and preserve one of the darkest days in Los Angeles's past.

"Bobby" is being made for between $5 million and $10 million, and it does not yet have a domestic distributor, but Mr. Estevez has assembled a roster of stars worthy of "The Towering Inferno." Along with Mr. Sheen and Mr. Estevez, the cast includes Anthony Hopkins, Demi Moore, William H. Macy, Harry Belafonte, Sharon Stone, Laurence Fishburne, Helen Hunt, Elijah Wood, Lindsay Lohan, Nick Cannon, Heather Graham, Ashton Kutcher, Freddy Rodríguez and Christian Slater, none of whom are receiving anything like a normal fee.

Mr. Estevez was able to shoot a few days at the Ambassador, 48 hours ahead of the wrecking crew, before shifting locations to another faded hotel dressed to look like it.



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