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Hollywood - its life and times

Hollywood is one of the best-known names in the world: but where is Hollywood exactly? Why is it so successful? And how did it begin? Linguapress looks at the answers to these and other questions.
Hollywood USAWalking with the stars
        At the start of the 20th century, a new city was beginning to grow on some flat land near the sea in southern California; its name was Los Angeles - the name of the old Spanish mission that had been there for many years.
    At the same time, a new industry was just being born; the cinema. In America, they talked of "motion pictures", but this soon became shortened to "movies".
    America's movie industry began life in New York; but by 1910, movie-makers were moving to Los Angeles. In New York, everything was too expensive; workers, land, taxes. Worse than that, it was difficult to make movies in winter, because it was too cold.
    By contrast, the Los Angeles region was full of advantages. In California, they could make films all through the year; and everything was cheaper. In particular, there was lots of land for sale.
    The movie-makers found what they needed a few miles outside Los Angeles; and before long, large new studios were being built in an area called Hollywood, at the foot of some small dry hills.
    Movies quickly became very popular, particularly after "talkies" first appeared in 1925. Nevertheless, movies were expensive to make, and movie companies needed money - lots of it. For this reason, Hollywood rapidly became dominated by a small number of big companies such as MGM, 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros. and Paramount.
    Since then, the big companies have had their ups and downs, but most of them are still there. Some old names have disappeared, but some new ones have appeared, companies like Walt Disney and Columbia.
    Naturally, Hollywood has changed a lot in over 100 years! Today the biggest studios belong to huge international firms. For instance, 21st Century Fox is part of the Disney empire, and owns dozens of film and media companies across the world..
    It is only huge companies like Fox that can afford to make today's very expensive films; and for Titanic - which was at the time the most expensive film ever - Fox had to get help from another big company, Paramount!
    Once Hollywood could make films just for America; today it has to make them for the world. The suburb of Los Angeles has become the headquarters of a global dream-machine. Perhaps we dreamed differently in the past. Today, thanks in part to Hollywood, people everywhere have similar dreams.
     We now live in the age of global culture. Hollywood did not invent this culture - but for better or for worse, it has become one of the most powerful elements in it. Like it or not, we all now live on planet Hollywood.

Word guide
monastery, missionary centre - advantages : good things - for sale: being sold - area : place - ups and downs: good moments and bad moments - huge: enormous - afford to: have the money to - suburb: peripheral area of a big city - headquarters: principal centre - global: planetary

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Student Worksheet

Hollywood, its life and times

Interactive exercise - Here are some half sentences: can you complete them, so that they reflect the information that you can find in the article. Text boxes will expand to contain what you write
1. American film-makers left New York

2. Land was

3. Hollywood is situated

4. Only big film companies could

5. MGM is

6. The Disney empire owns

7. Paramount and Fox

8. Hollywood is successful today because


For teachers:

For general techniques for using reading texts in class, see ► Reading texts - a model lesson plan
Expressing time: Have students note all the ways in which time is expressed in this article. There are a lot of them:
    At the start of / At the same time / soon / by 1910 / in winter / all through the year / before long / in 1925 / since then / still / in 80 years etc.
See how these expressions relate to tense usage: most of them serve to situate a historic event in the past, therefore fulfil a historic narrative function, and are accompanied by a verb in the preterite or the past progressive. Some however have a perfective function - notably the last 3 of those listed above. Make sure that pupils see the difference in tense usage that is required.

Other ideas?
EFL teachers: Help develop this resource by contributing extra teaching materials or exercises.
To contribute click here for further details This teaching resource is © copyright Linguapress 2000 - 2022.
Revised 2022 . Originally published in Horizon, the low-intermediate level English newsmagazine.
Republication on other websites or in print is not authorised

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Level - Intermediate.
CEFR LEVEL :  B2 intermediate
IELTS Level : 
Flesch-Kincaid  scores
Reading ease level:   63  Easy  
Grade level: 8
Intermediate level EFL resource
Level: intermediate
Target readers : teenagers, young adults

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