GIVING STARS THEIR DUE; ASSOCIATIONS PRESS MTA TO PRESERVE HOLLYWOOD ICONS.
It's enough to make Bob ``Thanks for the Memories'' Hope wonder who's in charge of preserving his.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority wants to demolish the Hollywood Walk of Fame stars for Hope and 121 other entertainment icons as part of the agency's subway tunneling project.
The MTA plans to remove each performer's bronze name, medallion and star, and later reset them in new terrazzo tile, but preservationists say the agency should stand by an earlier promise to carefully remove and store each 3-foot-by-3-foot plaque.
The original tiles, presumably touched and knelt on by the stars themselves, have a certain aura and patina that should be saved, the preservationists argue.
``They are destroying a part of history and they should preserve these as they have promised,'' said Robert Nudelman of Hollywood Heritage Inc. ``The MTA should live up to its commitments.''
Among the big-name stars whose memorials would be affected are Mickey Rooney, Johnny Weissmuller, Danny Kaye, Martha Raye, Jack Klugman, the Smothers Brothers, Basil Rathbone, Leslie Nielsen, Jose Ferrer, Jose Feliciano and Duke Ellington.
The stars drew a reprieve Wednesday when the city's Cultural Heritage Commission voted to delay allowing the demolition for at least two weeks on the portion of the walk on Hollywood Boulevard between Vine and Cherokee streets.
While sympathetic to the preservationists' concerns, MTA officials said it's a matter of money, an important consideration for an agency that has come under intense scrutiny for its financial operations.
Preserving the entire star would result in additional costs of almost $159,000 - $1,200 for jackhammering the terrazzo compared to $2,500 for saving the entire plaque, said James Sowell, MTA's manager of environmental compliance.
The agency already has removed and stored more than 300 of the sidewalk blocks that include the brass medallions and the terrazzo pad in which they are placed.
Councilwoman Jackie Goldberg, who represents the area, said she was torn over the concept but was reluctantly agreeing with the MTA.
``We aren't losing the historic part,'' Goldberg said. ``The terrazzo part has broken down in other areas and we replace that. We're just talking about colored cement.''
But, she added, she will be closely watching the work the agency does to ensure the replacement is of the same quality.
``I'm like everyone else when I go walking around Hollywood,'' Goldberg said. ``I'm always looking at which star is there.''
Linda Dishman of the Los Angeles Conservancy, however, said the MTA had agreed when it first began removing the stars to preserve them and she wants the same treatment for the new stretch of stars along Hollywood Boulevard.
``These people were all there when the stars were unveiled,'' Dishman said. ``The terrazzo was there. There is a certain patina to it now that won't be there if they just pull out the medallions.''
Photo: (1) Robert Nudelman of Hollywood Heritage Inc. opposes a transit plan to tear up Walk of Fame stars.
(2) The Metropolitan Transportation Authority seeks to pull up, and later replace, 122 stars during tunneling on Hollywood Boulevard.
Phil McCarten/Daily News