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LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Here in Hollywood, it's not news when an aging star has a little work done. Or a lot. But this is different. October marks the comeback of a showbiz veteran whose career includes Emmys and Grammys and playing host to showbiz legends: the Hollywood Palladium.
The venerable Sunset Boulevard hall, one block east of Vine, is reopening after a major year-plus restoration. Concert biz headliner Live Nation in June 2007 inked a long-term lease to run the Palladium, and work began soon after.
The renovation is a multimillion-dollar project that includes a new stage house, the refurbishing of the original chandeliers, new ambient lighting in the original art deco style and upgraded amenities including new bars and restrooms.
"The Palladium will be a flagship for Live Nation in Los Angeles," said Rick Mueller, president of Live Nation California.
It's also part of Los Angeles' grand plan to reclaim some of Tinseltown's faded luster. The hall is in the heart of Hollywood -- pop "hollywood, ca" into Mapquest, and the red star just about lands atop the Palladium marquee -- and its surrounding area is a major focus of the restoration, including work on the Pantages Theater and the massive mixed-use Hollywood and Vine project.
"The Palladium is part of the renaissance under way in Hollywood," Los Angeles City Council president Eric Garcetti said. "We are working to bring exciting new shops, restaurants, housing, entertainment and hotels to the neighborhood, while at the same time preserving Hollywood's rich history."
The venue's place in Hollywood lore is secure. It started out as a hugely popular dance spot and later became a TV studio and host of major awards shows.
But the 4,000-capacity Palladium has been best known for the past 40 years or so as one of Los Angeles' most enduring concert halls. Led Zeppelin, James Brown and the Clash played there. So have the Stones, the Who, the Police and Metallica.
It has never lacked for superstar bookings. The Palladium opened 68 years ago this week with a concert by the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, which featured a rising young singer named Frank Sinatra. The band was flying high on the long-running No. 1 single "I'll Never Smile Again."
Click ahead seven decades, and one of this generation's most iconic stars will rechristen the hall October 15. Rapper Jay-Z happens to be riding a chart-busting single of his own in "Swagga Like Us" -- and he'll be backed by a big 12-piece band.
Live Nation said the renovation will address the venue's two major flaws: its rough sound and, in the past decade or so, the endless lines to get inside created by the tough door security, which often has left journalists pleading for permission to bring in a pen.
"Sound experts are revamping the acoustic treatments on the inside of the venue," according to Live Nation. As for the lines, "The Palladium is under new management, and we will be operating a fan-friendly venue," Mueller said. "We will have proper staffing in place to get patrons into the venue quickly so they can enjoy the show."
Despite its place in pop-cultural history, for a while the venue appeared to have a date with the wrecking ball.
Garcetti, whose district includes Hollywood, said that when he first was elected in 2001, the venue's then-owners approached him several times with proposals to redevelop the site. "I always said that any project that would take down the Palladium was off the table as long as I was a City Council member," he said.
A Los Angeles native, Garcetti was motivated by matters beyond the strictly professional. "I've been to many concerts at the Palladium over the years," he said, "but one of my favorites was seeing the Violent Femmes when I was in high school. In many ways, it was classic '80s. Of course, I didn't realize it then."