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Monday, 10 September, 2001, 08:45 GMT 09:45 UK
British town crier stars in Hollywood
Hollywood Boulevard
Businesses are trying to upgrade Hollywood Boulevard
A British man is living out an American dream as the official town crier of Hollywood.

Michael Wood, the town crier of the East Riding of Yorkshire and world champion, has taken his bell and frock coat to Hollywood Boulevard.

And the 47-year-old has proved a hit in Tinsletown, with tourists lining up to be photographed with him.

Mr Wood, from Hull, said: "It has been fantastic. The sun has shone every day, which is a little bit better than Yorkshire weather, and lots of people have come up to me every day."

I'm cultivating myself as a sort of street celebrity. People feel as though they have met someone, and the kids are always in awe

Michael Wood

Mr Wood, also the British champion town crier, saw the need for his skills when he visited Hollywood as a tourist.

He said: "It really was a disappointment, as a tourist, as nothing was gelling together.

"With Hollywood as a background, there was so much more they could do."

He wrote to bosses of the local business improvement district, a partnership which aims to publicise the area and encourage tourists.

He was rewarded with a contract to spend the summer on Hollywood Boulevard greeting visitors.

Mr Wood said: "It is a hell of a thing to come to Hollywood, where they wrote the book on entertainment, and show them what I do."

New robes

The stint, which ends this month, is to improve the image of the boulevard, which had become an area with X-rated cinemas and few family attractions.

Kerry Morrison, executive director of the business improvement district, said: "One of the things we realised was we had no centralised ambassador or greeter in the district.

Michael Wood
Hear Ye, Hear Ye: Michael Wood in his robes

"He creates a focal point for people to feel welcome and special."

Mr Wood needed little practise for his role but needed a new set of robes.

His normal outfit of frock coat, lacy-collared shirt, leg breeches and hat, were not designed for the hot Californian summer.

He said: "I had to get lightweight clothing. They are in green and red, the corporate colour of the East Riding of Yorkshire."

At least nine million people are attracted to Hollywood Boulevard each year, to visit the home of cinema and in the hope of seeing a star.

Mr Wood said: "I'm cultivating myself as a sort of street celebrity. People feel as though they have met someone, and the kids are always in awe."

The former soldier does not just ring his bell and shout "hear ye, hear ye", but talks to people, offering them advice on what to see - and even how to spot a star.

British export

At least 100 people are photographed with him each day although some mistake him for a pirate.

He said: "Not one single person in America has said anything stupid or sarcastic.

"There are people from all over the world here and they all want to meet me - it is great to export a bit of Britishness."

He is discreet about which stars he has met, but said: "I got a signed photograph from Nicolas Cage."

See also:

29 Aug 01 | Film
Hollywood slump hits UK film
07 Mar 01 | Budget 2001
Budget boosts UK film industry
24 May 00 | Entertainment
Spielberg calls for UK film 'leader'
02 May 00 | UK
22m boost for British films
05 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Winslet backs British talent
02 Feb 00 | Scotland
Boom times for Scots film industry
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