Fox Redondo Theatre

300 Diamond Street,
Redondo Beach, CA 90277

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Showing 101 - 125 of 146 comments

Schrader on December 27, 2004 at 8:16 pm

Thanks, Bruce Berns, for writing again about our big old favorite ghost ship! I can’t wait to hear more. I am thinking the cigarette smoke might have helped mask the smell of the chemicals and dead mice.

Sally1949 on December 27, 2004 at 7:54 pm

I spent all my weekends during the late fifties at either the Fox or the Strand, and I don’t remember mice or a weird smell. Ah, the ignorance of youth! I’m waiting to hear Brucie’s next story … .

BruceBerns on December 27, 2004 at 1:45 pm

Ha! That’s funny. Yes, I’m pretty sure. There were never any other pests either, though I would have expeted roaches and other insects. Considering all the unused, cold, dark, underground rooms, I’m surprised that there were no cobwebs and such.

Manwithnoname on December 27, 2004 at 9:02 am

Are you sure? Some of those Raisinettes looked suspicious now that I think back.

BruceBerns on December 26, 2004 at 3:31 pm

To manwithnoname: Have no worry. The hot dogs were kept frozen in a deep freeze backstage. Surprisingly, there was never a sight of rodents in the candy storage room, nor droppings. I guess there was so much to feed on in that crawl space under the seats, that they didn’t need to seek out new territory.

Manwithnoname on December 26, 2004 at 8:04 am

Oh man, I’m glad I didn’t know that when I was eating those hot dogs in the ‘60s! :–)

BruceBerns on December 25, 2004 at 8:46 pm

As I wrote earlier, I was a fixture at the Fox Redondo for about 13 years, starting at age eight in 1954 as the “official” popcorn box folder…for free admittance. I stole the job from an 18 year old comic book geek, mainly because no one had ever seen boxes folded so quickly, especially by such a cute little kid, and I could fold a case of 500 boxes in about 10 minutes when showing off. I would often have races with older kids, the teens that were working there. I never lost…ever. It was my only champion feeling. I suppose that made me as much a geek as the prior fellow. Normally I would just sit in the storage room, and while staring with drooling awe at hundreds of cases of candy, I would fold up the whole week’s delivery of boxes at once. Thus, I earned the right to enter the theatre at will..and to even bring a friend! I considered myself a pretty important little boy at that time. So did my friends!

Not long after earning entrance privileges, I had the run of the place, especially in the early hours before opening to the public, when I could explore the dark and dangerous bowels of the building and even crawl between the walls and ceilings, walk the catwalks and explore the hidden rooms, and even the multi-level rooftops. This was my second home, and I was determined to know every inch and to discover all its secrets. My parents were comfortable knowing where I was, and the small town atmosphere predicted my safety.

After I finally got my teen work permit, there was no way of removing me from the Fox. Managers, assistants, and staff came and went. I stayed. With my family’s three businesses across the street on Pacific Avenue and my home within sight a block away on Carnelian, this triangular patch of ground became my personal territory that I was quite willing to share with anyone who cared to visit. The Fox, of course, was already there when I came to Redondo in 1946, but it had yet to be remodeled. I remember when it was quite normal to dress up to go to the show. You didn’t see much casual dressing for movies then. Most men wore suits and ties to the movies. The earliest admission price that I remember for children was seven cents. Then nine cents. When, at some point, it reached seventy-five cents for kids, I thought it was absurd. But what the heck did I care? I could come and go at will, and the privilege was eventually extended to the Strand Theater, the Fox Hermosa and the La Mar in Manhattan. Later on I could get a pass for nearly any theatre in the National General or Mann chains. Except for the Strand Theatre, I walked the 16-foot ladders to change the marquees at the Redondo, Hermosa and Manhattan Beach theatres once I was old enough. I think I got about $7 extra in pay for doing that. The La Mar in Manhattan, which was on a hill, wasn’t worth it, and I soon said no more…too scary.

Over the years, there were several types of other business located in the attached stores on either side of the Fox Redondo, with the Chamber of Commerce, noted in earlier comments, as being the most remembered and captured in photos. I recall the names of no others, except Lacy’s Ice Cream Parlor which opened on the East side of the building in the early sixties. Lacy tried hard to make it a nostalgic and fun place, but by that time, downtown foot traffic just wasn’t enough to sustain the business. I briefly stepped in to run the little shop when Mr. Lacy went on vacation. It took me years to recover from the daily overdoses of chocolate and maraschino cherries.

I thought I would mention some of the lesser known things about the Fox Redondo. And so as to not monopolize this area, I’ll take it one item at a time. Today, I’ll tell you about an embarrassing problem the theater faced.

In the late 50’s, the Fox Redondo was plagued with mice. At one point, they were running down the aisles and over people’s feet while they watched the movie. Employees tried to act surprised each time a patron would come out to complain. The janitor set mouse traps at night, which were nearly always full the next day, but it did not relieve the rising problem. On weekend mornings, I would have fun tripping the few traps that were untouched before someone on staff would remove them for the day. It seemed to be only mice. I never saw rats inside the theatre, although they were probably there as well, since I did chase rats, some the size of Chihuahuas, that lived among the rocks right outside.

You can imagine the scene that some people made, with their demands for refunds. Of course, the show must go on, and eventually professional exterminators were called in to take care of the problem. But that plan backfired horribly.

Below the seats and sub floor was an area which was accessible to a kid like me by crawling on my stomach, and it held a seemingly endless feast for vermin, consisting of old popcorn, candy and an unbroken layer of sticky stuff you don’t want to know about. And while it had plenty of rodent droppings, it also held loose change that had fallen between floorboards, and there was enough of that to encourage a kid like me to take a flashlight and make the crawl from time to time. With the exterminators now gone, the poisoned, dead mice began to decompose in this area. My crawling searches under the floor for fallen change quickly stopped.

Anyone familiar with the smell of rotting flesh will understand that it was not an expected part of an evening at the movies, although the kiddy matinees which filled the theater on the weekends produced no complaints at all. The kids couldn’t hear the movie over all the chatter, and apparently couldn’t smell the dead mice over all their popcorn and candy. Or they just didn’t care.

While management considered ways of cleaning up the problem, they did their best to keep the place open by using gallons of a very strong, industrial-strength deodorizer. But this temporary cure was as bad as the original problem, with a super Pine-Sol kind of smell that would catch in your throat like vapors of ammonia. The West or ocean side of the theater was especially bad, although I’m not sure why. So now there was the smell of rotting flesh as well as the overpowering deodorizer. It clung to the floors, walls and carpets. During this time, it was a nightly routine for a patron to come storming out of the theater asking what the hell the stench was and demanding a refund. They were right, of course, and met with a smile, an apology and the refund if they did not accept the offer of moving to a “private” seat in the loge or balcony, which were areas that were normally kept closed unless higher attendance warranted their opening.

Those that sat it out, to me, were nuts. It took months for the smell of death to vanish, but the medicinal smell of the stench-removing chemicals that were now soaked into the flooring and sub flooring lingered lightly for years. I never crawled under the floor again. For those of you that may have worked at the theater in later years and wondered what that unique odor of the place was, this is your answer. It never completely went away.

Next time, I’ll tell about a better, and much more enjoyable smell at the Fox Redondo. My name is Bruce Berns. If you worked at the Fox Redondo during any part of the 50’s and 60’s, I would especially love hearing from you.

Manwithnoname on December 25, 2004 at 4:14 pm

An entire group is forming from at least 5 people (so far) who have posted comments only to this theater and nowhere else. O.C., I was at a show at the Stadium in Torrance when a fight broke out in the lobby. The manager threw up the lights in the middle of the Sinatra flick “The Naked Runner” and cleared the house. No refunds. I complained to Pacific and they sent back passes. I saw “Hard Day’s Night” at the Vermont D.I. I do remember “Support Your Local Sheriff” (still one of the funniest films ever made) and “Dracula Has Risen From the Grave” the one-sheet of which was more entertaining than the film and the only one I remember seeing from the balcony.

Sally1949 on December 25, 2004 at 2:57 pm

I remember the Fox Redondo from the fifties, when I was a kid. The first movie I ever saw was a double-bill … “Moby Dick” and “Prince Valiant.” I remember sitting against the front door of the Fox in the sixties the day “A Hard Day’s Night” premiered. I was in the balcony with Terrance (his posts are above) when “Ship of Fools” played. Does anybody remember how the railing on the balcony came detached if you leaned on it too hard? Several of us girls just about fell into the orchestra by pushing on that railing during a closed-circuit rock concert. The Fox Redondo holds so many wonderful memories … . Please, anyone with photos, please post them!

trooperboots on December 25, 2004 at 5:38 am

In 1960 I saw “Portrait in Black” with Lana Turner and Anthony Quinn. It was a terrific movie! After the movie, my dad and I went to join my mom and sister and we went fishing on the pier. I remember hearing the sound of the ocean waves under the theater!

WERKSTATTE on December 21, 2004 at 11:48 pm

It’s very interesting reading everyone’s comments. I was raised in Hollywood Riviera. I can remember my Mom popping us shopping bags of popcorn and my brother, sister & I hiking down the hill to the Saturday free show at the Strand or Fox. My sister won a Davy Crockett hat once…I could have killed her. I remember sitting in the VERY front row to see the 10 COMMANDMENTS at the Strand, as the place was packed. Talk about overwhelmed! Of course I, like you, particularly mourn the Fox’s demise. The wrecking ball picture and the picture of the Redondo Beach Chamber of Commerce in THE SAME BUILDING(!) really tear me up. Where were the people to defend this irreplaceable piece of old Hollywoodland?! I’m actually writing to tell people that there’s something they CAN do to make their prescence known. The beautiful WARNER GRAND in San Pedro has a committee called THE GRAND VISION. It’s there to protect and to restore & maintain this beautiful sister theater to THE PANTAGES. Had there been a few more people in Redondo with VISION, perhaps our Fox would not have been destroyed. Here’s the website, if anyone is interested in being a part of preserving our South Bay history.

Foxmanager on December 21, 2004 at 11:41 pm

To Schrader — The manager you’re talking about shutting the movie down was likely the manager I replaced. I forget his name, now, but I remember he had black hair. He committed the cardinal sin of shutting down a show on a Saturday night (any night), when as a theatre manager he ought to have known the greatest (unwritten) rule of all in show business – THE SHOW MUST GO ON!! That cost him his job. To be fair, the Fox Redondo really had gotten out of hand with crowd control at that time, and its reputation with all the other managers in the district was such that no one wanted to go there…not even assistants who were promised promotions to full
manager. Since I had done all I could with the Academy in Inglewood and was rather bored with my job there, and since the Redondo was less than five minutes from my place in Hermosa beach…and I was able to demand a decent salary increase, I volunteered to take on the Fox Redondo. It turned out to be a greater challenge than I’d imagined, but with a lot of help from some great people among my staff and you the patrons, we turned it into a great and memorable show place it was. I’m glad I came and was part of it all. O.C. Frandsen.

Schrader on December 21, 2004 at 11:14 pm

I think I know which photo you mean, George, and it isn’t a pretty sight. I am using an interior shot I got at as my Internet Explorer Wallpaper. Every now and then I remember another movie I saw at the Fox and add it to my profile, for posterity. I think this site is great.

I either saw or dreamt I saw a movie at the Fox that ended in a lagoon, at the center of which stood a gigantic skull, out of which Jerry Lewis or Don Knotts or maybe Soupy Sales kept being blasted by huge sprays of water. If anyone can tell me the name of that movie I will send them a dollar.

I also remember one Saturday night when the manager (maybe O.C. Frandsen, except I remember his hair being black) shut off the projector and told the crowd the movie would not continue until they quieted down. It may have been that same night that my dad got hit in the head by a marble. Years later my cousin and I got drunk together and it turned out he had been there that same night. A real marble, not a spitball or some popcorn.

Here’s one of my best Fox memories: At the start of the 007 movies you’re watching James Bond through what I thought then was an eye (what is it? the barrel of a gun? a telescope?) and he turns around and shoots you. Every time he did that my dad and I clutched our chests and sank down in our seats. I guess it was four times: we saw two double-features. I wanted to be either a spy or a projectionist when I grew up.

Good to meet someone else who’s had some of the best times of his life in a movie theater. Going by yourself is always great once the lights go down. I miss the dollar movies at the Marinas where on weeknights you might have an auditorium nearly to yourself. And I like to think I bought the last ticket ever to a midnight showing of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. This was at the Surf/Bijou in Hermosa in the very late seventies, and I was the only one to buy a ticket, so they cancelled the film and did a second showing of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, which was already in progress next door. When I asked for my money back the girl at the ticket-booth told me I would have to come back in the daytime and speak with the manager. I got mad and she gave me my refund. Now I wish I’d kept the ticket.

Foxmanager on December 15, 2004 at 7:27 pm

Thank you Ed. I appreciate knowing your name even if our paths crossed only indirectly through Mr. K. Harry was his first name, that’s right. Thank you for dusting off my cobwebbed memory board, there. You are right, how time plays tricks with our memories. It was, indeed, a crime to place a man like Mr. K. with the health problems he had in a situation such as the Academy. I was 25 at the time of my being forced to take over…yes, it was either or for me. On the first Sunday of my stint at the Aacademy, I was greeted by a riot of sorts (the place nearly always sold out on Sundays no matter what played) and where the attending mob simply decided to walk out with the cash register from the concession stand; just took it and disappeared with it. Not a thing anyone of us working there could do about it. It took me a year to bring the place under control, by methods few people will believe, now, I’m sure. Here I was, a young blond, blue-eyed wonder, totally naive in the ways of things racial…with glasses, barely 145 lbs. dripping wet, forced to wear
a tuxedo. At the Academy! The kids used to call me ‘four-eyed penguin’. “Uh-oh! Look out, here come da four-eye penguin”, I’d hear them say. No one knows about the destruction of ego until you’ve gone through an experience like that. My two years at the Academy
was a seminal experience, believe me, but in many ways also a very
positive one, since it gave me a perspective of the other side I’d never be privy to otherwise. While there, I was never harmed in any way, (this was the days of Crips, Black Panthers and US). In fact, once the community understood what I was doing and accepted me, they went out of their way to protect me and help me to make the Academy, like the Redondo, an enjoyable, fun place to attend and soak up great movie experiences. I’m please to know someone like you Ed, who knew a good man like Harry Kotsos. Ole Frandsen.

Manwithnoname on December 15, 2004 at 6:56 pm

O.C., my name is Ed Haselwood and it’s funny how memory plays tricks. I remembered Harry Kotsos as having managed the FOX from opening to closing but that was obviously not the case. Harry was a gentle soul with health issues and it’s hard to picture him at the Academy at that time. I did not work at the FOX PV until it was twinned and also worked with Jewel, who moved to the Old Towne and Al the projectionist. I spent many Sundays covering for Harry while he went home to rest. I closed on Fridays. I stayed in touch when he moved to the South Coast Plaza (a long drive from his home) and for a short time after his retirement. When I first met Harry was the day I, as a customer in PV, walked up to him and asked if he had any posters I could take as I was collecting at the time. He let me clean out the cupboards. He was one of a kind.

Foxmanager on December 15, 2004 at 6:32 pm

For Manwithnoname…and everyone else who are contributing so many sweet and priceless memories of what clearly was a very special place to so many people. One can only speculate upon how many more are out there who do not know about this site and may have much to say about the old Fox Redondo. (I’m the former manager, O.C. Frandsen). I want to thank and commend most sincerely Manwithnoname for being the original contributor to all this. We all thank you, I’m sure. Mr. K at the Fox Palos Verdes… You must be talking about Mr. Kotsos (I believe that is how it was spelled). I remember him very well — a most decent and pleasant fellow. I recall how he was transferred from the Palos Verdes to the Academy in Inglewood by god only knows what sort of nefarious trick by National General Theatres. A black theatre (mostly) and at the time a recipient of all of the new genre of ‘blacksploitation’ films (Shaft, Cotten Comes to Harlem, etc.) and a most difficult situation for a genteel fellow such as Mr. Kotsos. He survived there for six months before it fell to me to run the theatre; this was in early ‘69 as I recall. Manwithnoname, it would please me greatly if you could reveal your name to me. It is not likely we know one another personally, but all of us who were connected to the old Redondo in some way share at least one important common bond — that theatre, that place and the pleasure moments we received from being there. I have only one connection from those days with whom I’m still in touch — Sal, who was one of my ushers. He still lives in Redondo Beach, in the same place as then, not far from the empty lot where the Fox stood, and I’m convinced he’s never gotten over the loss of the theatre, not to mention the loss of what he considered a career, nay a calling! Bob Mauck — I don’t think I ever met your father, but I certainly recall hearing stories about him. Like so many of the old theatre managers from the golden age of film, there were some really great characters among them, your father included. Your brother Bill I do recall vaguely. He was a manager while I was still an assistant, but if memory serves me right, he managed at one time the Inglewood (the little Inglewood) in…surprisingly, Inglewood! This became the first theatre I ran as a manager in 1967. I very much look forward to seeing the photos of the Redondo (and any others, incl. your father and brother). One last note, and a nod to Moviemanforever — You were right in noting that NGC (National General Theatres) was the last to own the Redondo at its closing, not as I have claimed, Mann Theatres. It was several months later in late Spring, 1973 before Mann purchased the entire chain from NGC. (Have this confirmed from old audit reports I still have). Thanks to you all for being here. Ole Frandsen.

Manwithnoname on December 15, 2004 at 3:45 pm

As the original contributor of this theater to the website I have read all of these comments and now feel remiss I have not posted more of my own. For a place as fondly remembered as this one there really is very little documentation about it. I grew up in Torrance and attended the Stadium Theater regularly and look back on it fondly. However, a trip to the FOX was something special. As stated above even the most mediocre pictures (the double bill of “Where It’s At” and “Sinful Davey” comes to mind) seemed better especially with one of those delicious hot dogs and a tube of Flicks. Our family would go to the beach where the theater was clearly visible and wish I was there instead of where I was. The Bond films on that big screen were truly memorable. This theater was part of the reason I wanted to go into theater management when I was old enough and I did only to find it paid peanuts. I did eventually work for Mann, with Mr. K at the FOX Palos Verdes but when the FOX Redondo was demolished I was working for UA. I don’t remember whether the seats were comfortable or if the paint was peeling but I do remember sitting in the 5th row when the curtains (remember them??) opened to reveal the vast Spanish landscape in “For a Few Dollars More”. I also vividly remember the organ screens. Funny what the mind will retain or lose. There is nothing, I repeat NOTHING, in that area now worth the losing of that local landmark. Every theater I attended as a kid and yound adult, every theater in which I ever worked….all gone. I’m getting misty.

BobbyM on December 15, 2004 at 2:21 pm

I will be glad to share photos as soon as I round up the ones that may be of special appeal. Hang in there with me, I have to set up a new printer/photo unit sometime soon so that I can post them on this site. Also, alot of the photos are still in San Diego with my stepmother. Bob Mauck

WERKSTATTE on December 13, 2004 at 7:04 pm

BOB MAUCK, Would you post your photos PLEASE?! There’s a lot of people who’d love to see them. There’s, actually, so little recorded about this wonderful palais that spun dreams for so many. Regards, Terrance

BruceBerns on December 13, 2004 at 5:36 pm

Bob Mauck,
I’ve been hoping you would discover this sight and offer your comments!

News of your father’s and brother’s passing brought me tears. I have stated throughout my life that it was your father that molded my personality, and he has had the strongest influence on my ways to this day. Like the Fox Redondo, he was one of a kind. I worked with Bill Jr., too, and have only the fondest memories of him and his quiet and humorous ways.

I was there that day in ‘56 that Bill started managing the Fox Redondo, and I became “Brucie Boy” to him when he was in a good mode. And I was there when he moved on. Because for several years, I spent more time at the Fox than at home, his transfer was very depressing for me. In our daily contact, he taught me a lot about working with people as well as teaching me more mundane things. I still think of him every time I must stand up for long periods of time, since he taught me how to avoid discomfort!

Bob, do you have any of the “scrapbooks” he kept of his promotions? He proudly showed me these in the 60’s. There could be several snapshots of the Fox that we’ve all be hoping to uncover.

I’m glad you found the sight, and hope you share more memories with us all. I’d also love to talk to you about some of our mutual friends and long-term employees that you may remember.

You and I did a lot of exploring deep in the bowels of that wondrous old vaudeville house,and we do indeed share some great memories of Old Redondo.

My name is Bruce Berns (), and I’d like to hear from anyone connected with the Fox Redondo…on this site or by email.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on December 13, 2004 at 4:53 pm

The Fox Redondo Theatre was built on the site of the 600 seat Art Theater (1913-1928). Architect John Paxton Perine designed what has been described as a combination of Art-Deco and California-Spanish style for the building.

The Fox opened on 22nd February 1929 with an early William Fox talking picture “The Ghost Talks” starring Helen Twelvetrees plus five acts of vaudeville and Lynn Cowan’s 10 piece orchestra.

The Fox Redondo Theatre was demolished in 1973.

BobbyM on December 13, 2004 at 4:36 pm

My father, Bill Mauck was manager at the Fox Redondo from 1956 to ‘65 or '66. Bill worked theatres from a very young age. As a usher in the Fox network in San Diego before the war and as a manager after the war. I think his first manager job was at the Fox Theatre in Pacicifc Beach (San Diego area) in about '46. He was transferred to Calexico California in '48 and sstayed there until '56. I remember him telling me that he told the big bosses that the wanted a “Beach” town again. So, there we were at the waters edge in (I think about September) l956.

I have many, many fond memories of life around the Fox and the other waterfront entertainment places. The bowling alley, the skating rink, the penny arcade and the pier with all the activities you could possibly want as a youngster. I came across some photos of candid shots of the outside of the theatre (some with me, and some without) not too long ago and was instantly beamed back to that time in history. Man those were the days. Hey bruce, remember when the “Squires” band used to play early rock and surf tunes on the stage during the Saturday matinees and at the car club midnight shows?

I still have many friends in the South Bay area that remember the fun times at the Fox and Strand theatres. Catching the movies or just hanging out at the “downtown” area of Old Redondo.

Bill Mauck passed away in Nov ‘99 and my brother Bill (who also was a theatre manager for about 15 years) passed away in June'03. Through the years I have lived in the South Bay, San Diego and the Long Beach area. My soul will always be attached to the part of me that spent my youth in and around the Fox Redondo theatre. My name is Robert (Bob) Mauck and I now live in Torrance, CA.

Schrader on December 1, 2004 at 7:12 pm

O.C., I look forward to reading that book. My mom remembers seeing a lot of Doris Day/Rock Hudson movies at the Fox before I was born, and smoking with her girlfriends in the balcony. I remember about 20 shows, mostly double features, that I saw at the Fox between the ages of 6 and 11. I also saw movies at the Marinas & Surf, the Torrance Drive-In, and the South Bay Theater, but none of those places held a candle to the Fox. I remember JOURNEY TO THE FAR SIDE OF THE SUN not because it was a good movie but because I got bored with it amid fantastic surroundings. Something else I remember is that audiences used to applaud when a movie started and finished. The Fox was one place where that probably made sense.

Foxmanager on November 30, 2004 at 1:34 pm

There now is a parking lot and a restaurant where the theatre once was.
I can’t state categorically what was behind Mann’s decision to rid themselves of the Fox Redondo, since I never was privy to all their inside communications. Believe it or not, the Fox was the most profitable (or atleast one of the most profitable) theatre in district 4 (in which there were 26). But there was some pressure from the City of Redondo Beach to, at least, paint the place to make it less of an eyesore that it was. Personally, I couldn’t argue with that. The theatre was also in need of serious repairs and I was already talking to contractors and individuals to perform
whatever was necessary to get it done, while keeping the costs
down. Mann pursued his own track, however, and the estimate he got was about a quarter of a million dollars to restore the place. A
pittance, now, but admittedly that was a healthy sum in 1972. I
could have had it done for less than $100,000. But such an investment (even the $250,000) would have given Mann a healthy return on his money, as evidenced by such jewels as the Alex in
Glendale and the Nuart in Santa Monica. In the end, the political
will just wasn’t there and Mann decided to sell the land, take the
money and run…and this was in the face of a considerable grassroots movement by the community (and my assistant manger and myself) to save the theatre. In the end, I was threatened by Mann to lay off or lose my job. (I did anyway, about six months after the closure of the Redondo, while I managed the El Portal in North Hollywood).In my opinion, it was a crime to not only close the place, but to tear it down. Everytime I drive by the place where
it once stood (and I do that yearly in spite of living in the Valley), I grieve for
the theatre and become angry for the crime committed against it and the communities
around it. O.C. Frandsen

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on November 30, 2004 at 12:43 pm

What is now located where this theatre was?

Can you say more about why Mann is to blame for its closure?