Seeing Stars: The Movie Studios


7200 Santa Monica Boulevard,
West Hollywood, CA. / (323) 850-3180



About a mile and a half west of Paramount Studios, right next door to the legendary Formosa Cafe, is "The Lot." Until 2000, the studio was known as the Warner Hollywood Studio - it was the sister studio to the main Warner Bros Studio in Burbank.


This studio began life in January of 1920, when Hampton Studios opened a spacious new studio to house their growing production company, and moved their operations here from their former home on east Sunset (where KCET Studio is today). Hampton Productions, now long gone & forgotten, was an early pioneer in Hollywood film making; their movies starred, among others, William Desmond and H.B. Warner.

Shortly thereafter, the studio was known as Pickford-Fairbanks Studios, and was owned by the first couple of Hollywood, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. Together, they turned out such classics as "Robin Hood" and "The Thief of Bagdad."

In 1928, along with Charlie Chaplin and D.W. Griffith, Pickford and Fairbanks founded United Artists, prompting Charlie to leave his own Chaplin Studio on La Brea for this new locale.

A young Lucille Ball played a slave girl in her first movie, the 1933 comedy "Roman Scandals," which starred Eddie Cantor & "Titanic"'s Gloria Stuart.

In the 1950's, the studio became the Samuel Goldwyn Studios, named after the man who gave the middle initial to M-G-M.  Besides making its own movies, such as "Wuthering Heights" and "The Little Foxes," the Goldwyn Studios also rented space to Howard Hughes and RKO who made such hits as "Guys & Dolls," "Some Like It Hot,"."West Side Story," and "The Best Years of Our Lives," Stars who worked there included Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Frank Sinatra, Myrna Loy, Natalie Wood, Marlon Brando, Susan Hayward, Greer Garson, Jack Lemmon, Danny Kaye, Eddie Cantor and Laurence Olivier.

Since 1980, The Lot has been called Warner Hollywood Studios, an auxiliary 11-acre, sister studio of Warner Bros Pictures, which has had its main studio in Burbank since 1928 (see separate page). With seven sound stages, this Hollywood studio is still active, but in recent decades it has mainly filmed television series, such as "The Love Boat," "The Fugitive" and "Dynasty."

More recently, they filmed the second season of "True Blood" at The Lot. The huge sets for the popular vampire series (such as the interiors of Bill's home and Merlotte's bar) were originally built at Hollywood Center studio (where they filmed the show's first season), but were moved to The Lot for the second season.

Still they occasionally make movies as well, including "Basic Instinct" (with Michael Douglas & Sharon Stone), "The Distinguished Gentleman" (with Eddie Murphy), "The Green Mile" (with Tom Hanks), "First Daughter" (with Katie Holmes), Sandra Bullock's "Miss Congeniality 2", and part of "The Majestic" (with Jim Carrey) (they recreated the old Majestic Theatre on The Lot).

Bruce Springsteen recorded his "Bruce Springsteen - Plugged" album for MTV at Hollywood Warner Studios in1992.

Like most studios, though, there is nothing much to see from the outside, just blocks of high, blank walls - and the studio doesn't offer a public tour. However, you can sometimes get tickets to go inside and see one of the TV sitcoms taped at the studio. To get free tickets to the tapings, contact Audiences Unlimited.

In 1999, the historic studio was sold once again. This time it went to BA Studios, who bought it from Warner Bros for a price of about $65 million. BA Studios will now lease office and soundstage space at the studio to production companies. Warner will become a tenant, maintaining its post-production sound facilities at the lot. Warner Bros used to share its Burbank lot with Sony/Columbia. Now that Sony has moved to Culver City, and Warner has that huge studio all to itself, Warner simply didn't need the extra space in West Hollywood.

So what did BA Studios decide to call the facility now? It's now known simply as "The Lot".

Update: Another new set of owners, the CIM Group, reportedly plans to tear down the old studio, including the 1927 Pickford Building, and replace its historic buildings with modern facilities.  More proof that Hollywood does not value its own history.

 Getting there: The studio is located on the south side of Santa Monica Boulevard in a somewhat seedy part of West Hollywood, just west of La Brea Avenue. It is bounded by Formosa Avenue (on the east) and Poinsettia Place (on the west). / From Hollywood & Vine: take Vine Street south (three quarters of a mile) to Santa Monica Boulevard, and turn right (west). Go west (about a mile and a quarter) to just past La Brea Avenue.


[For more information on this subject you can access Warner-Hollywood's official website at: http://www.warnerhollywood.com.] 



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Copyright  2014-Gary Wayne
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