Seeing Stars: the Television Studios..


CBS STUDIO CENTER
4024 Radford Avenue,
Studio City, CA. / (818) 655-5000



Most of the major Hollywood movie studios are now located in the San Fernando Valley, including Disney Studios, NBC Studios, Warner Bros Studios, and Universal Studios Hollywood.

Just a mile to the west of those studios is a town called Studio City. The movie studio that gave the town its name is now called CBS Studio Center, but its history goes back much further.

The 38-acre studio began back around 1928 as Keystone Studios, by none other than Mack Sennett, the master of silent movie comedies. Sennett earned the nickname "the King of Comedy" with his slapstick shenanigans, custard pie fights, and crazed car chases.

He had been shooting his slapstick comedies in the Glendale and Silverlake areas since 1912, but he outgrew those locations and he moved his operations to the San Fernando Valley, where he built Keystone Studios. It opened in May of 1928.

Sennett cranked out over a hundred films in a single year, with stars such as Fatty Arbuckle, W.C. Fields, Stan Laurel, Harold Lloyd and his trademark Keystone Kops.

Mack Sennett was also the first man to put young
Charlie Chaplin to work in silent films, and he gave Bing Crosby his break in musicals in 1929. Carole Lombard also did her first work on this Studio City lot.

In the mid-1930's, Mack Sennett's fortune's declined (due to stock market losses) and his movie lot became home to first Mascot and then Monogram Studios, which united to form the Republic Pictures movie studio. (You may remember Republic's eagle logo.)


Despite a few "Premiere " films such as John Ford's "The Quiet Man" & "Rio Lobo" or Orson Welles' "Macbeth," for the most part Republic Studios was the home of the B-movie. The studio routinely ground out cheap melodramas, around the clock, most shot outdoors in just five or six days per picture, on a budget of about $50,000 per film.

Republic specialized in Westerns, including singing cowboys
Gene Autry & Roy Rogers, and "The Three Mesquiteers" series, which featured John Wayne in the early episodes.

B-Movie studios had a stigma all their own, though, and it was hard for actors who accepted work at Republic or Monogram to get a break later with the major studios. As a result, it was hard to convince top notch actors to work for Republic or Monogram. Republic Pictures survived until 1962 as a rental facility. But Gene, Roy and the Duke had all gone by 1951.

After the era of the B-movie came to an end, CBS Television took over in 1963. Classic westerns such as "Gunsmoke" & "The Wild Wild West" were shot here, and so was "Gilligan's Island" - in fact, its familiar lagoon was still there just a few years ago.

From the 70's until 1992, its 22 sound stages were home to Mary Tyler Moore's M-T-M Enterprises, where such popular sitcoms as "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," "The Bob Newhart Show," "Rhoda," "Phyllis," "WKRP in Cincinnati," were made, as well as award-winning dramas including "Lou Grant," "Hill Street Blues," "St. Elsewhere," "Falcon Crest" and "Remington Steele."

Today it is called the CBS Studio Center, and the 40-acre studio is still one of the busiest studios in town. There are probably more TV sitcoms taped here than at any other studio. Ironically, very few of them are broadcast on the CBS network. Shows recently shot at the studio include "Will & Grace," "That 70's Show," "Yes Dear," "According to Jim," "Less Than Perfect," "Malcolm in the Middle," "Grounded For Life," "Good Morning Miami,"  "Spin City," "Just Shoot Me," "The Weber Show," "Titus," "3rd Rock From the Sun," and the soap opera "Passions."

They filmed nine seasons of "Seinfeld" on Stage 9 (except for the first four episodes, which were shot at Ren-Mar).

They also still shoot feature films here, including "Father of the Bride"  (with Steve Martin) and "Addams Family Values."

And remember the fictitious 'Sunrise Studios' where "Stab 3" was being filmed in the horror film "Scream 3"? Well, 'Sunrise Studios' was actually none other than CBS Studio Center.

Alas, this studio does not offer a public tour, and it isn't open to the public. If you want to go inside the studio as a member of a studio audience, though, give "Audiences Unlimited" a call and ask for tickets to the shows mentioned here, or for any sitcom being taped live at CBS Studio Center.

But there is one more way to see the inside of the Studio. Every 4th of July 9since 1998), Studio City holds its annual "Fourth of July Fireworks Festival" at the studio, and you're free to visit the Studio during the festival and check out the historic buildings. As of 2008, tickets were $20, and you can buy them on the city's website at studiocitychamber.com.

      ( Quite a few stars live in Studio City. Gene Autry died at his home there in late 1998, and Roddy McDowall died one day later, at his own home in Studio City.
       Other stars who live (or lived) there include
George Clooney, William Shatner, Michael ("Kramer") Richards, Cuba Gooding Jr., Regis Philbin, Alex Trebek, Ed Asner, Alyssa Milano, Jackson Browne, Dana Andrews, Max Baer Jr., Erik Estrada, Yvonne De Carlo and Susan Hayward. )

(This CBS Studio Center, in Studio City, shouldn't be confused with CBS Television City, near Farmers Market, nor with "Columbia Square" on Sunset Boulevard.)

Getting there: To reach the CBS Studio Center from Hollywood, take the Hollywood (101) Freeway north to the Ventura Boulevard offramp, and follow Ventura Boulevard northwest (about a mile and a half) to Radford Avenue (just before you reach Laurel Canyon Blvd.). Turn right (north) on Radford Avenue, and the studio will be on your right (east) side.

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



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Copyright  2014-Gary Wayne
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