Netflix Co-CEO Endorses Rick Caruso for Mayor In Open Letter to Hollywood

Industry mogul Ted Sarandos’s mother-in-law, prominent philanthropist Jacqueline Avant, was brutally murdered in a home invasion in December

The Hollywood divide between industry power players in next week’s Los Angeles mayoral race between longtime Democratic lawmaker Karen Bass and developer Rick Caruso ramped up this week with an open letter placed in the trades from Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos urging industry insiders to vote for the law and order candidate.

Sarandos, along with his wife Nicole Avant, a former ambassador to the Bahamas under President Barack Obama, have been vocal supporters of Caruso’s campaign and took their concerns about LA to their colleagues with the letter that reads in part: “If you are tired of the inhumane way the homeless population lives in this city, the filth that goes uncleaned, the corruption in City Hall, shrinking law enforcement, and ris[ing] crime, and now, the threat of even higher taxes…vote for Rick Caruso.”

In his letter Sarandos writes that Caruso, “is the Democrat I’ve been waiting for, one with a plan and a track record of accomplishing impossible tasks in California and Los Angeles…The city is at an inflection point. This election is the most important in memory.”

The letter makes no mention of the tragedy that struck the Avant family during an early morning home invasion last December when a career criminal, Aariel Maynor, smashed through a glass door window at the home of Nicole Avant’s mother, beloved philanthropist Jacqueline Avant. He then opened fire with an AR-15 rifle, killing the community activist. When police arrived, her husband, renowned music producer Clarence Avant, was cradling his wife’s lifeless body, according to court records.

Maynor fled after the murder and got away after firing another round that wounded the family’s security guard. He was captured later that same morning after breaking into a second Hollywood Hills home; during that attempted robbery he shot himself in the foot. Maynor, who had been released from prison two months before Avant’s murder, laughed and bragged about killing the elderly mother of two, prosecutors say.

Maynor pleaded guilty in April and was sentenced to 190 years to life in prison.

The mayoral election pits the political outsider against an LA public servant, and the divide in Hollywood mimics the tight race predicted by pollsters. While Sarandos trumpets his support for Caruso, his counterpart at Showtime, David Nevins, is backing Bass. Celebrities including Shonda Rhimes and Ariana Grande are firmly in Camp Bass while Team Caruso touts Snoop Dogg and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Bass has been less vocal about soaring crime rates in L.A., despite a break-in at her own home in September. The LAPD said two men broke into her Baldwin residence and stole two guns, which she claims to have “safely secured” in a lockbox. No other valuables were taken in the incident. “It’s unnerving and, unfortunately, it’s something that far too many Angelenos have faced,” Bass said in a statement after the theft. Two men, Patricio Munoz, 42, and Juan Espinoza, 24, were each charged with one felony count of first-degree residential burglary and two counts of grand theft of a firearm.

Caruso, who has deep ties to Hollywood, has made promises on the Strictly Business podcast from Variety to prioritize more productions being filmed in town.

“A vibrant Hollywood is incredibly important to the vibrancy of the economy of Los Angeles. It’s also incredibly important to the branding of Los Angeles. This is a land where dreams come true,” he told listeners. “We need to do a better job in the city. And I’m committed, as mayor, to keeping content creation in the city of Los Angeles. We’re losing way too much outside of the city. It’s also creating the jobs here in the city of Los Angeles and not losing that to neighboring cities or cities across the country.” 

On Tuesday, however, the owner of a projected film studio, Television City, asked if Caruso is talking out of both sides of his mouth when it comes to supporting entertainment productions. This is after representatives for The Grove shopping center, in a move to stall construction, sent a 374-page opposition letter questioning the studio’s expansion, citing everything from the lack of Native American input to the historical discovery in 1914 of the skeletal prehistoric remains of a female in the Tar Pits, Variety reported

Television City, formerly CBS Television City, is the home of The Price Is Right, The Young and the Restless, and Real Time With Bill Maher, among other shows.

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