Shrek merchandise spells cash for DreamWorks

DreamWorks Studio is seeing green with “Shrek 2,” a big green money machine that is.

Shrek 2

Shrek 2

The product marketing push is the largest in the studio’s 10-year history. DreamWorks has licensed about 80 companies to make Shrek items from watches to skateboards, bed sheets to backpacks, and toothpaste to computer games. Promotional partners include PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay unit, which is offering its Cheetos snack in a version that turns tongues green. Hewlett-Packard Co is selling Shrek computer products, M & M’s are being packaged in super-Shrek size and fast-food chain Burger King has Shrek collectibles. Even the United States Postal Service is getting into the act, with Shrek and Donkey promoting premium products like Express Mail and Return Receipts.

“Where are the Shrek shoes?” asked my four-year-old son when we went to purchase new sneakers last week.

Believe it or not, the poor kid had to settle for another green hero, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Originally published in South Coast Beacon on May 27, 2004.

Shrek 2

More human than the entire cast of “Troy,” everyone’s favorite animated green ogre is back — in “Shrek 2” — and just as charming and funny as ever.

Shrek 2

Shrek 2

A true piece of entertainment for the whole family, my husband and I laughed every bit as hard as our four-year-old son and his five-year-old buddy.

But we laughed at different things.

No huge surprise, the kids liked the endless fart jokes, the preening Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) and the Eddie Murphy-voiced Donkey, who reached new comedic heights with his version of an “are we there yet?” shtick during his trek with newlyweds Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) and Shrek (Mike Meyers) to the castle to meet the parents.

My husband’s biggest yuks came during Shrek’s awkward first meeting with Fiona’s judgmental father, King Harold (John Cleese) and prim mother (Julie Andrews). Saucy Puss-in-Boots (Antonio Banderas) was also a favorite.

My favorite moments were the throwaways: Tom Waits, drawn like Captain Hook, singing “Little Drop of Poison” in the diviest bar this side of the Sportsman; Princess Fiona’s poster of “Prince Justin” Timberlake; Joan Rivers giving an Academy Award style play-by-play of a party at the castle and the Disneyland-meets-Caesar’s-Palace entrance to the kingdom of Far, Far Away.

With enough harmless innuendo to keep even teenagers giggling (while going over the heads of little ones), this is truly a movie the whole family can enjoy.

Originally published in South Coast Beacon on May 27, 2004.

Where We Live

The South Coast’s housing prices have taken a toll on the community’s critical workforce. Leslie Dinaberg reports on the cost of spreading ourselves too thin.

We all know the South Coast’s cost of housing is skyrocketing, but what about the other “costs” that are incurred when our critical workforce can’t afford to live here?

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St. Vincent’s project gets $6.7 million more

The Sisters of Mercy had their prayers answered on Tuesday, when the City of Santa Barbara approved an additional $6.7 million in redevelopment funds for St. Vincent’s housing project, which will provide 170 affordable units (95 designated for low-income seniors and 75 for low-income families) on the site at 4200 Calle Real.

Housing and Redevelopment Manager Dave Gustafson described the project as a precedent setting joint effort of the Redevelopment Agency, the county and the city. This is by far the largest affordable housing project these groups have ever undertaken, with a total cost estimate of $50 million, $11 million of which will come from Federal HUD funds.

Approximately $10 million will be dedicated to infrastructure and area upgrades near the project site, which the city annexed from the county specifically for development of the St. Vincent’s project. The developers will make improvements to the nearby Cieneguitas Creek, including bank stabilization, habitat restoration and enhanced public access with a new bridge. There will also be new roads, extensive grading, streetlights, sidewalks, utilities, drainage, landscaping and a bike and pedestrian path put in along Highway 154, which borders the project on the east.

A primary factor in the increased cost of the St. Vincent’s project is a worldwide increase in the cost of steel. This has also been a driver in cost overrun estimates for the Granada Parking Garage project.

While the City Council voted unanimously to approve the increased funding (with Roger Horton absent), it was not without expressing some concerns about the cost and the implications for funding of future redevelopment projects.

“I’m thrilled this is happening. I’m not so thrilled steel is going up,” said Mayor Marty Blum.

“This is a great project. But these are staggering numbers,” said Councilwoman Iya Falcone.

Construction on the project will begin this summer. Housing Developer Benjamin Phillips said he is hoping residents can begin moving in within two years.

“From the very beginning, there’s been a profound and palpable commitment from the city to make this happen,” said Sister Amy Bayley. “It’s been a source of encouragement and inspiration to us. The citizens of Santa Barbara should be very proud.”

Originally published in South Coast Beacon on May 20, 2004.

The Generation X Homebuyer



Once pigeonholed as “slackers,” members of Generation X are now in their mid-20s to mid-30s and having a significant impact on home buying and building trends. Though the high cost of housing on the South Coast makes it difficult for Gen X to break into the market, when they are able to buy — through IPO bonuses, good old fashioned savings, 100 percent financing or help from mom and dad — they want different things than their parents did.

Quality is important. “They are happier with one good thing rather than three average things,” said Greg Nester, owner of Greg Nester Construction & Development and President of the Home Builders Association of the Central Coast. Their dream house might be smaller than their parents’ house, but not necessarily less expensive. “They want the best product they can get for the money they spend,” said Nester.

It’s all about value. This is a generation that has seen dot bombs and the stock market roller coaster. That uncertainty leads to more cautious spending. “Where wealthy boomers might brag about how much they pay for something, Gen Xers relish talking about how much they managed to save — and that applies even to those in the top income brackets,” said a recent survey by marketing-strategy firm Reach Advisors.

Homes should fit their lifestyles. “Gen X are goers, they’re not sitting at home. They come home in the evening and would prefer to have less of a burden as far as maintenance goes,” said Nester. For example, they don’t’ want elaborate kitchens because they say they don’t cook that often.

Flexible interior spaces. “They want media rooms and functional areas that replace the classic dining room and formal living rooms. Secondary to home theater and media rooms are rooms that are more computer and study oriented,” said Nester. They’re also not afraid to embrace new styles like concrete countertops instead of traditional tile. Stained and glazed concrete floors are becoming more common as well as more modern plumbing fixtures. Xers like to be able to customize their living spaces, said Nester.

They’re not running to the ‘burbs. “Many Xers prefer inner city living. … They are purchasing properties that may have mixed use with retail below and a condo above for residential,” said Nester. While many Santa Barbara suburbanites can’t understand why anyone would want to live above a business, this fits in well with city plans for infill development.

Originally published in South Coast Beacon on May 20, 2004.

Trish Dupart was one of City College’s Strongest Supporters

One of the sunniest smiles on the Santa Barbara City College campus faded away recently, when Trish Dupart passed away on May 11, from an extremely rapid form of acute monoblastic leukemia.

Dupart had recently retired after 30 years of dedicated service to the school and attended the Board of Trustees & President’s Retiree Recognition Reception just a few days before her death. “She delighted everyone with her charm and wit and proudly showed off her new state-of-the-art prosthetic leg (due to diabetes complications). It was typical of Trish to face life’s challenges with humility and humor,” said SBCC President John Romo.

She began working at SBCC in the library in the early 1970s after her husband, J.P., took a job here as a groundskeeper. In the early 80s she moved over to the Learning Center in the Humanities Building. When the Learning Resource Center was built in the late 80s, she was made a supervisor, a position she held until she retired in December.

Dupart was president of the local chapter of the California School Employees Association for a number of years. She also served as President of the Association of California College Tutorial and Learning Assistance and as the regional representative for the California Reading and Learning Association.

“Trish took a personal interest in the lives of students, staff and faculty. Her work in the Cartwright Learning Resource Center was not just a job, it was a calling,” said Jerry Pike, Assistant Professor and Director of the Learning Assistance Center. “Trish lent a familial presence, remembering the details of students’ lives and encouraging or admonishing them as the situation warranted.”

Dupart was particularly supportive of the school’s athletic teams. For many years she volunteered her time at basketball tournaments and she would also invite teams over for barbecues at her house.

“She had a special interest and a special passion for the student-athletes, helping them succeed academically and making sure they got a good meal now and then,” said Marsha Wright, Director of EOPS (Extended Opportunity Programs and Services) and a close friend.

“Trish’s passing is a tremendous loss to the college and to everyone who knew her. She will be greatly missed,” said Romo.

Dupart is survived by her husband of 38 years, J.P., daughter, Danielle and grandchildren, Alyssa and T.J.

An informal gathering of remembrance was held at the college last week. There will be no funeral service.

The family is requesting no flowers. Those who wish may send donations to either Sansum Diabetes Research Institute, 2219 Bath Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93105; The Endowment for Youth Committee, 1136 Montecito Street, Suite 2, Santa Barbara, CA 93103 or a favorite charity.

Originally published in South Coast Beacon on May 20, 2004.

Summerland lands on June 1

Surf will be up in Summerland on June 1 on the WB Network’s new show, which shares a name with our fair burg. SummerlandThe show stars Lori Loughlin as 30-something fashion designer who inherits her sister’s three kids when their parents are killed in an accident. They live in a hip beach community, natch. But it’s the fictional community of Playa Linda, said Andrea Gruber, Publicity Manager for the WB Television Network. “Summerland is just the title of the show basically because it’s a summer series,” she said.

Gruber, who grew up in Montecito, predicts tourists will still trek to Summerland to try to spot Lori Loughlin and her ensemble of beach-worthy co-stars. When “Dawson’s Creek” was hot, the show was set in the fictional town called Capeside. There happens to be a real city of Dawson in the Yukon Northwest territories of Canada, and Gruber said they had oodles of tourists who were fans of the show, as did the coast of Massachusetts, where the fictional Capeside was supposed to reside.

Of course, “Dawson’s Creek” ran for years and built up quite a following. “Summerland” has a commitment from the network to run for 12 weeks, from June 1 until the end of August, on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. After that, the jury’s still out on the show.

Loughlin came up with the original concept for “Summerland.” The network then paired her up with Executive Producer Aaron Spelling, of “Love Boat,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “Melrose Place,” “Beverly Hills 90210,” “Dynasty,” and “7th Heaven” fame. Also involved with “Summerland” as executive producers are Remi Aubuchon, Stephen Tolkin and Spelling’s partner E. Duke Vincent.

Originally published in South Coast Beacon on May 13, 2o04.

Passions run high as controversial condos approved by city

More than 150 people filled City Hall Tuesday night, where the Santa Barbara City Council unanimously voted to approve a controversial mixed-use condominium project near De la Vina and Calle Laureles Streets, rejecting an appeal by the neighbors.

Architectural firm DesignArc had proposed renovating an office building for itself, along with five condominiums. The council approved the project at 29 W. Calle Laureles, but with the addition of a rental unit designated for employees, more parking and the promotion of alternative transportation.

Passions ran high at the hearing, with 21 people speaking in favor of the project (in addition to members of the Planning Commission who gave it a unanimous approval) and 15 people against. In a neighborhood that has recently shouldered the additional burden of Trader Joe’s where a less robust business had been, parking and traffic were the issues of most concern.

“We are very glad to be your neighborhood drug store … we are very afraid to become your local parking lot,” said Bob Dooley, manager of Long’s Drug Store, one of the appellants.

“If you believe this is going to have no effect on our neighborhood — baloney,” said neighbor Kelly Griffin, quoting television’s Judge Judy.

Arguing that the project was the least possible weekday parking demand that could be on that site, DesignArc Principal Michael Holliday said, “The only parking and traffic threshold that this project exceeds is perception.”

Council members expressed concern about some of the misleading information that had been circulated in the neighborhood. “This flyer looks like we’re going to build Wilshire Boulevard along De la Vina,” said Councilman Das Williams.

“I don’t think that this project should be the scapegoat for all of the frustration,” said Councilwoman Helene Schneider.

The controversy over the project should have at least one positive impact on the neighborhood. Councilman Roger Horton made a direct request of the transportation department to improve the parking and traffic situation. “It seems to me that that’s our responsibility,” he said.

“I think it was actually a win-win for ourselves, trying to provide infill housing and for the neighborhood. I think we really spurred on action from city to solve problems that are far beyond our project,” said Bruce Bartlett, a founding partner of DesignArc.

The office construction will begin in two months, with the condos shortly afterward. DesignArc hopes to move in by the end of the year, said Bartlett. “It wasn’t quite the welcome wagon we were expecting, but we plan on being good neighbors.”

Originally published in South Coast Beacon on May 13, 2004.