He is probably one of the most behind-the-scenes figures in Studio City, and that is why Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian and Studio City Neighborhood Council President John Walker decided to honor Mike Klausman and his executive assistant Sandra Reed-Funnell.
"He is a model corporate citizen and is a central player to the community," Krekorian said at a recent Neighborhood Council meeting. "He has opened the doors of this studio to the community."
The CBS Studio Lot on Radford Avenue is where classics such as "Gilligan's Island," "Seinfeld," "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and other greats were shot, and now is the home of "Big Brother," "Hawaii 5-0" and "Hot in Cleveland." The property is the reason why the area is called "Studio City."
Klausman is the Senior Vice President of West Coast Operations and President of CBS Studio Center and has worked on the lot for 42 years where he started as an usher in 1971. He was one of the first members of the board of the Neighborhood Council when the community bodies were first formed, and was always involved in the local activities. The Chamber of Commerce, Neighborhood Council and Business Improvement District has offices on the lot, and the community meetings are held on the lot, which is usually closed to the public.
Fundraisers for local schools, charities and fundraising events are also often held on the backlot.
Originally, Klausman wanted to be a biologist and studied at Cal State Northridge. He has always loved the local area.
"The truth is that CBS is part of this community, and always has been," Klausman said when receiving the award. He joked about being on the SCNC board for five years and it seemed like 20. "You are the people who make change. CBS considers this town our family and as part of our neighborhood."
Sandra Reed-Funnell previously worked at the Studio City Chamber of Commerce before becoming his assistant, and they continue to work closely with the community. Often times, local TV shows are shot in the neighborhood, and as thanks, the episodes of some shows are screened for free to the community in sneak previews.
The studio is the location for one of the largest area fireworks shows in the area, and families can come to the lot and see them up close and person on Independence Day.
Klausman is also involved with many charity organizations including Child Share and Hunger Homeless Committee of the Entertainment Industry Foundation, Child S.H.A.R.E., and the Olive Crest Home and Services for Abused Children.
In their in-house CBS Studios newsletter, Klausman was show in photos of being on the Newlywed Game with his wife Becky, and also posing as Santa for a charity event on the lot. See the photos in the click-through Gallery.
Walker said the Certificates of Appreciation were given to them pair for their continuing and outstanding support of the SCNC and for being such contributing supporters of Studio City.
"We literally wouldn't be here if it weren't for these two," Walker said.
The councilman praised the work of the board, saying, "This Board has become the roll model for all Neighborhood Councils in Los Angeles.
Debbie Kessler was also honored by the board and Krekorian. She is the wife, of the longest-serving member of the SCNC, treasurer Remy Kessler. She has served behind the scenes as a helper with the council, too.
"One of the ways this council is a model council for the rest of the city is how it keeps its finances, and that is due in a large part to Debbie," Krekorian said.
Remy Kessler praised John Walker, saying, "He is one of the most effective presidents of any Neighborhood Council and he is the reason why we get such important speakers coming to our meetings." (New City Controller Ron Galperin is scheduled for the next SCNC board meeting.)
Krekorian has often held out the SCNC as a model to the rest of the 95 Neighborhood Councils that provide input to the government officials.
"Some of the most contentious issues among the neighborhoods and neighbors are discussed at these meetings, and you have come up with solutions," Krekorian said. "Not any of the 95 are as effective as the Studio City Neighborhood Council."
Also, Walker was appointed by Krekorian to a City Commission on Quality & Productivity by the Councilman. This Commission is responsible for overseeing the distribution of services to all stakeholders in Los Angeles.
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