Out Foxed?

Its do-or-die time for Fullertons venerable movie palace

Photo by Steve MayedaRemember the scene from It's A Wonderful Life in which George Bailey has one frantic afternoon to convince his customers to keep their savings in his bank so Old Man Potter can't foreclose? That's close to the atmosphere this weekend in Fullerton, as the Fullerton Historic Theatre Foundation races against Old Man Time.

The foundation needs to raise approximately $300,000 by Tuesday if it hopes to save the venerable Fox Fullerton movie palace from demolition. If the foundation succeeds, the Fullerton City Council has indicated it will increase the city's financial involvement in the effort to turn the abandoned theater into a multimillion-dollar cultural-arts center in the heart of downtown Fullerton's renaissance.

"This is our make-or-break weekend," says foundation president Jane Reifer. "The council will decide on Tuesday whether to give us additional help to make the project happen, but it's going to depend on how much we raise before then."

It will cost about $3.5 million to buy the dilapidated building from its current owner. This summer, the council agreed to pony up a $1.65 million grant if the foundation could raise a matching amount. To date, the foundation has collected about $700,000.

"But if we can show on Nov. 2 that we have $1 million in pledges, the city may consider covering the rest of the gap," Reifer said. "That would allow us to move forward and purchase the option before escrow closes on Nov. 8."

Should the effort to save the Fox fail, the 1925 architectural landmark will be razed, with apartment buildings taking its place.

That's why Fox hounds have deemed this the most important weekend in the theater's long, storied history—and are mounting the following events in hopes the shows will go on:

•Public March and Rally to Save the Fox begins at Fullerton Historic Theatre Foundation, 131 W. Commonwealth Ave., and concludes at Fox Theatre, 512 Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, (714) 607-0884; www.foxfullerton.org. Thurs., Oct. 28, 7 p.m. Free. •Book Sale to Benefit the Fox at 2529 Littleton Place, Costa Mesa, (714) 557-9115. Sat., 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Free, but buy something! •Last Chance Pizza Pledge Party at Fullerton Historic Theatre Foundation, 131 W. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, (714) 607-0884; www.foxfullerton.org. Mon. 7-10 p.m. Free. •The Most Important Fox Meeting Ever: Fullerton City Council, acting as the city Redevelopment Agency, considers whether to increase its financial commitment to the project. City Hall, 303 W. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton. Tues. The council has an afternoon session that begins at 4 p.m. and an evening session starting at 7:30 p.m. Call the City Clerk at (714) 738-6311 and ask which session will include the Fox matter. Pro-Fox forces will gather at Fullerton Historic Theatre Foundation, 131 W. Commonwealth Ave., about an hour before the appointed meeting time.
 
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