Man arrested for posting Dreamworks billboard in Hollywood

Dreamworks’ How To Train Your Dragon got a little unintended publicity this weekend in Hollywood. A man alleged to have put up a large, “supergraphic” billboard in violation of Los Angeles city law was arrested and held on $1 million bail over the weekend.

The massive movie ad was draped over a 1927 building on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue, property co-owned by Kayvan Setereh, the man arrested. The ad was strategically positioned to be seen by the throngs attending next week’s Academy Awards ceremony, both in person and on television. According to the L.A. Times, “the city outlawed such signs in August, arguing they are unsafe for pedestrians below and that they could prevent firefighters from entering buildings in an emergency. Critics also decry them as visual blight.”


  • Bob

    A brand new trailer for the above advertised movie comes out but it’s nowhere is it mentioned or seen on Cartoon Brew but a misplaced ad gets a mention. You people really have the finger on the pulse of animation industry.

  • Pedro Nakama

    “Critics also decry them as visual blight.”
    If they really cared about Hollywood they’d get rid of the homeless visual blight in Hollywood.
    On a related note it was okay to change the HOLLYWOOD sign to SAVE THE PEAK, a movement against real estate development in the area. But yet the HOLLYWOOD sign was originally HOLLYWOODLAND, a real estate advertisement to sell land in Hollywood.

  • EHH

    I hope this doesn’t damage the movie’s image.

  • http://robcatview.blogspot.com robcat2075

    $1,000,000 bail for misdemeanors? That’s gotta be an 8th amendment violation.

    Why did the reporters not seek comment from Dreamworks in those articles?

  • Tedzey

    Thats alot of money put to waste on dreamwork’s behalf!

  • CMB

    Dreamworks should bale him out.

  • http://www.animatedbeaver.com AnimatedBeaver

    There is something to be said for seeking out permits…

    That, plus these days I would kinda question the wisdom of decorating a buildingside with a giant, flaming hole :\ (I work in Austin, about a mile away from the IRS building that dude flew a plane into last week)

  • http://amandazima.blogspot.com Amanda

    Would Dreamworks bail the guy out? :S

  • ZigZag

    Not since the Aqua Teen Hunger Force bomb scare two years ago in Boston have I seen the press give so much extra coverage for something in the animation industry.

    I guess the publicity worked. D’works better not only pay the bail, but for all court costs as well. I feel badly for the marketing pro who OK’d this one.

  • Sylvain

    Typical Cartoon Brew, how about mentioning the new trailer ?

    I would comment more about this, but I fear it could be perceived as “unnecessarily antagonistic”, which is your new filter for “doesn’t suit our sponsors”.

  • Isaac

    Bob, trailers are very rarely news. You’re thinking of PR.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    I’m only amused they would have an advertisement that big at all. I wish they stopped doing the ones on the buses that drape right over ‘em. Those things are annoying. :-)

  • John MV

    The novelty of this sort of physical blanket advertising wore off years ago.

  • Adam

    Nothing wrong with news like this! It’s different and much more interesting than just posting a boring trailer (which every other animation site will probably do anyway).

    This is quite an interesting bit of news for the fact that it raises questions as to how far a large company will go to raise the publicity stunt barrier. 1 million bail plus fees is cheaper than a worldwide ad campaign (and practically the same thing…after all, most people watch or read the news and not everyone sees a trailer or poster)

    Hurrah for CartoonBrew reporting! Keep up the good work (and I think that there is plenty of positivity in your articles, for the record. You want to try the British press, then you’ll realise how much balance you have!)

  • http://tillmyhands.blogspot.com Adam VM

    You can be arrested for murdering someone in los angeles and pay lower bail than that.

  • BoMenja

    This story is real fishy. If he’s really interested in the ownership of that building then why didn’t he post something more suitable for the cause, which brings me to: where did he get that kind of a High resolution spread from? and this is a good one “The city attorney’s office said Setareh was warned via letter and e-mail not to post an unpermitted supergraphic on the building.” really? So the guy sent out a heads up letter?
    I don’t know, maybe I’m too cynical.

  • amid

    Sylvain: Making misinformed and rude comments like the one you did do nothing to enhance the quality of discussion on the Brew. Our comments moderation guidelines, including the words “unnecessarily antagonistic”, have been in there for quite a few years, in fact almost from the moment we initiated comments on the Brew. Furthermore, our opinions never have been, and never will be, influenced by any sponsor. That’s something that should be clearly evident from our long and established history of editorial independence. Back to the topic at hand…

  • ellio7t

    I live in the L.A. county and know of the billboard/super graphics blight. There are tons of illegally placed adds on a regular basis. So much to the point that the city has no way of back dating many offenders. The profit being made at the cities(citizens) expense would blow most peoples mind. The fine once was less then 5% of any add revenue profit.
    It good to know major corporations are finally being held accountable. This just shows the post production financing that goes into modern animation over paying talent.

  • http://www.enigmation.de slowtiger

    I like that story. Visual littering of cities and landscapes is a world-wide phenomenon which only recently in some spots is taken care of. Sao Paulo is the most famous example, banning big billboards entirely.

    In Berlin we had an overkill of building-sized posters over the last years, even Brandenburg Gate and Fernsehturm have been abused that way. Last year some of the rules have been changed, but not much.

    I’d like to introduce a “horizon tax”: you would still be able to advertise big way, but you’d have to pay an enormous sum defined by from how far away and by how many people the poster is visible. The same would go for oversize company neon signs and so on. The money earned through that is badly needed …

  • someguy

    Dear Pedro,

    I live in Hollywood. It’s actually pretty clean despite it’s very colorful locals. whatever “homeless” visual blight there was in the last few decades have moved on. Granted there are still a few homeless people around but there aren’t nearly as many as there have been. It’s also very disrespectful to call downtrodden people a visual blight. Seriously, that’s pretty callous. There are so-called ‘upstanding citizens’ I’d rather see swept away than the homeless, many of whom are friendly and well known in the neighborhoods.

    I look forward to seeing this movie, but I agree that these billboards are getting out of hand and actually are a detriment to the quality of life in the surrounding areas.

  • http://animationinventory.blogspot.com/ Teodor

    Why is this mentioned? Is Katzenberg arrested?

    Cartoon brew better to change the name in Cartoon garbage
    This become place for things about Plymton and eu trash

  • Justin

    heck, Jeffrey Katzenberg can pay the bail with his pocket change.

  • Adam

    Hey Teodor, I’m interested why you think Brew is garbage?

    I’m guessing you mean Bill Plympton and his oh so terrible pioneering film making career. And when you say EU trash, I’m assuming you mean the kind that those useless students at Gobelins and SUPINFOCOM produce..? Not to mention all the downright rubbish you see at euro trash festivals like Annecy, Trickfilm, etc?

    Maybe I missed something, but I don’t hear anyone else slagging off other areas of the world because they’ve got a chip on their shoulder. You got any links to things you don’t consider trash?

    Why do we need crass sensationalism like a big company figurehead to be arrested for it to warrant being relevant news?

    Feel free to explain.

  • Gobo

    What a weird story. One man was arrested? Somehow I doubt that some dude, all on his own, covered an entire building in LA with a billboard. What company did he work for? What ad agency paid for it? What crane company did they rent to help? etc.

  • Korova M.B.

    Teodor & Sylvain > DW fanboys can’t get enough of the ‘tude, right ?
    Well I’d love to see a blog managed by you guys, it would be full of princesses, eyebrows higher than the others and poop gags…
    …can’t wait for that!

  • Grant

    Nothing against the movie, which I haven’t seen. But that poster, aside from being the visual blight it is, is an unappealing, VERY unclear idea. No clear silhouette’s to attract the average passersby attention. And if you were driving, you’d have to take your eyes off a very busy street to even BEGIN to understand what the poster was about. It’s a terrible poster.

  • http://jessicaplummer.blogspot.com Jessica Plummer

    They missed a great opportunity with this billboard – should have had the exposed ruins and guts of the buildings superimposed in the smoldering hole they’re flying through!

    Actually…yeah that’s way to friggin’ big.

  • http://animationinventory.blogspot.com/ Teodor

    Adam:
    last wekend brewers had story about eu trash.
    and look at latest brew’s stories.

    I stood on the side which Jerry called eu trash.

  • Donald C.

    Seems like an awfully hefty punishment.

  • Bill Turner

    I’m looking forward to “… Dragon”, but I’m glad the guy was arrested and hope he rots in there. These supergraphics are a danger to motorists and plain ugly. Same with digital billboards. I feel there should be separate large fines for the building owner, the ad company and the sponsor. Sure, there is no such thing as bad publicity, but if the sponsor were fined, say, a million dollars a DAY, they might stop using them. The signs should also be removed by the city (expenses billed to all the above) and destroyed.

    On the other hand, this reminded me of the supergraphic for Armageddon (or one of the other ‘Earth destroyed by asteroid’ movies) that actually did look like a hole was punched through the building bordering the 405 freeway. This was before 9/11, but it still upset so many people it was ordered to be taken down.

  • Rio

    This actually should help the film.

  • Thomas Dee

    There is an anti-brew element here lately, and I’d like to remind them that they don’t have to show up and comment on every thread. They can go be rude somewhere else.

    This is brew news because it’s both funny and connected to animation today. If you think this is a slam at DW you’re a fool: That dragon movie has received some of the most positive posts on CB this year.

    Go be jerks somewhere else and leave Amid and Jerry to their business.

  • http://www.sportingnews.com/blog/mjf7583 Michael F.

    Bill – I saw an Armageddon billboard like that in Chicago back when I lived there! I take it that board was authorized and permits were ready for it and that wasn’t the case for this one. Or rules in LA are different than in Chicago, I’m not sure.

  • Ethan

    The law exists only since August ?
    It’s about time, I wish we had that law where I live…

  • Ethan

    I think a few people here misunderstood what happened. This has nothing to do with any large corporation, and it isn’t an attack on Dreamworks.

    1. A studio hires ad companies for billboards.
    2. The building owner sold advertising-space to the ad company.
    3. Said building owner didn’t have a permit to do so, and was arrested.
    4. The 1 million bail is not a fine, just a bail so he isn’t in jail pending the trial.

    Still, thanks to the fanboys here for the info about the new trailer, I hadn’t seen it and it’s super cool.

  • http://www.bishopanimation.com FloydBishop

    The trailer is quite nice, and is available here: http://www.howtotrainyourdragon.com/

  • http://animationinventory.blogspot.com/ Teodor

    I saw trailer yesterday.he is realy nice.
    I hope that after this movie Chris Sanders will return to Kiskaloo.

    Korova:
    Same answer as for Adam.
    and you can click on my name and and you can see more big noses. Nothing ambitious,
    just more trashes

    Thomas:
    I start day with cartoon brew and some other places.
    other places have news also.
    Everyone makes mistakes.brewmasters also.

  • DNo

    Hefty fines like this are the only way to crack down on violators.

    This town is looking more crappy everyday with all these billboards. There are so many of them, after awhile it’s just a sea of ads.

  • Sylvain

    Amid, I’m sorry I overreacted. I’m sure you guys simply forgot to post the trailer, and putting this news instead is just a coincidence. It happens so often, these coincidences are now predicted in advance.

    You are right, this site was the last of a few incorruptible animation blog sites. With all my rude and grumpy attitude, I still read it because there’s nothing else like it.

  • Melissa

    So much for freedom. I don’t see the big deal. I am sure the the city could find a better way to spend their money.

  • http://www.weirdyworld.com Ryan Whearty

    I was wondering why the right side was missing. Loooks like they have already started taking it down.

  • Ethan

    About the trailer, was that the first one with the actual score ?

    I was just told they were recording the score about two weeks ago, it sounds like a very tight production schedule !

  • Jon Reeves

    I drove past this about an hour ago, and there was a giant boom truck working on the Highland side of the building. I thought they might be taking it down, but looking at the picture now, I wonder if they were just adding another piece to it.

  • http://www.spiteyourface.com Tony Mines

    Those of you actually *asking* that Cartoon Brew descend into a mire of PR, announcing every trailer and one-sheet release like it’s actually news – please take yourselves elsewhere. You have bought into a false politic of back-flipping for dangled carrots, and are destroying culture one day at a time. There is a place for that sort of thing, and that place is AICN.

    I for one would much rather see a continuation of this sort of ‘human interest’ story instead.
    Though I would like to know Dreamworks official stance on this and why other news sources haven’t sought that out.

  • http://www.clubzone.com/me/blackle4ps3 Michael Eugene Branum

    so there they don’t have big LCD billboards,japan is loaded with them, there like giant TV’s on the street

  • http://kirbydream.com/ Leirin

    Disappointing- the display is beautiful, too.

  • Jon Reeves

    OK, it was definitely coming down yesterday. It’s all down now. There was an article in Monday’s L.A. Times about it (which included a photo of the completed poster).

  • Ryoku

    The million bailout is a bit much, if I saw a post like that on my house I wouldn’t have anyone arrested, I’d just demand its removal and have a talk with the culprit.