Seeing Stars: The Movie Studios


1040 N. Las Palmas Avenue,
Hollywood, CA. / (323) 469-5000


This is a minor Hollywood studio, not affiliated with any particular motion picture company. Instead, it rents out its back lot and its twelve sound stages to different production companies for movies, TV series, music videos, and computer/video games. Yes, video games! One of the first interactive games, 1994's "Switch," starring Deborah Harry (lead singer for the group "Blondie"), was filmed on Sound Stage 5 of Hollywood Center Studios.

But the studio has an interesting history. It was built in 1919, and Howard Hughes shot the silent classic "Hell's Angels" here in the 1920's, with Jean Harlow starring in her first movie. During those silent days, the studio saw the likes of Mae West and Harold Lloyd. At one time, the lot was home to Monogram Studios, before it moved to its new home where KCET is today.

Other early movies shot here included "Pennies From Heaven" (1936, with Bing Crosby), "The Thief Of Bagdad" (1940), "The Jungle Book" (1942 with Sabu), and "Angel On My Shoulder" (1946, with Paul Muni). Shirley Temple had her film debut at this studio.

In the 1930's, it was known as General Service Studios, and produced countless b-movies and independent films. in the late 40's Cagney Productions (Jimmy, and his brother William), owned a large part of the studio.

In 1951, the studio turned to television. The first two years of "I Love Lucy" shows were shot here on Stage 2 (before Lucy & Desi moved Desilu studios over to RKO and moved the show over to Ren-Mar). In fact, the studio's sandwich shop next door to Stage 2 is called the "Babalu Cafe." The "Burns & Allen" show was also filmed here.

More recently, the studio was the scene of a noble failure, as Francis Ford Coppola (the director of "The Godfather" and "Apocalypse Now") began his ill fated Zoetrope Studio here. Alas, Zoetrope didn't last long; when Coppola's first new release, "One From the Heart," bombed at the box office in 1982, he lost the studio. (Although Zoetrope still exists as a production and post-production company in San Francisco, and online at http://www.zoetrope.com.)



     

As a rental studio, numerous classic TV series were shot there, including "The Beverly Hillbillies," "Green Acres," "Petticoat Junction," "Mr. Ed," "The Bob Cummings Show," "Ozzie & Harriet," "Our Miss Brooks," "The Addams Family," "The Lone Ranger," "Baretta," "The Rockford Files"... and more recently, "The Cosby Show," "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," "Everybody Loves Raymond," "Boy Meets World" and "Soul Train." "

"The Burns and Allen Show" was also shot there, and George Burns had an office at the studio which he visited almost every day until he died (at age 100). In fact, the Burns office is still there.

Modern films shot here include: "The Shaggy Dog" (with Tim Allen), "Cursed" (with Christina Ricci), "The X-Men," "Bad Santa," "Zoolander," "Dumb And Dumberer," "What Dreams May Come" (with Robin Williams), "Scream 2," "The Out of Towners" (with Steve Martin), "A Walk in the Clouds" (with Keanu Reeves), "Con Air" (with Nicolas Cage), "When Harry Met Sally" (with Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan), "The Running Man" (with Arnold Schwarzenegger), "Frances" (with Jessica Lange), "Shampoo" (with Warren Beatty and Goldie Hawn), "Save the Tiger" (with Jack Lemmon), "The Player" (with Tim Robbins), "The Karate Kid" , "Spawn", "The Shaggy Dog", and "I Love You, Man".

There are no public tours of this Hollywood Center Studio. But there are often TV shows being shot there, such as the family sitcoms "The Wizards of Waverly Place", "That's So Raven", "Kickin' It" and "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody".

As of early 2013, they are currently shooting two Disney Channel shows there: "Jesse" and "A.N.T. Farm".

Recently, they also shot the first season of HBO's "True Blood" here, and in the recent past, "Everybody Loves Raymond", "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air", "Boy Meets World" and "The Cosby Show" at this studio.

You can't get tickets for "True Blood", since it doesn't have a live audience, but they do give out tickets for sitcoms and game shows. Contact Audiences Unlimited to see if anything's being shot there right now. If so, you can get free tickets, watch the show live as part of the studio audience, and get a peek at the inside of the studio in the process.

Getting there: The studio is located in Hollywood, on the east side of Las Palmas Avenue, between Melrose and Santa Monica Blvd. (Las Palmas Avenue is a north/south street which is located two blocks east of Highland Avenue.) / From Hollywood & Vine, take Vine Street south (less than a mile) to Santa Monica Boulevard, turn right (west) and go about half a mile west on Santa Monica to Las Palmas Avenue. Turn left (south) on Las Palmas, and the studio will be on your left (east) side.


[For more information on this subject, you can access the studio's official website at: http://www.hollywoodcenter.com.]



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Copyright  2014-Gary Wayne
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