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.
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 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.
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.)
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".
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
The studio was known as "Hollywood Center Studios" up until 2017, when it was bought out, and the name was changed to the current "Sunset Las Palmas Studios". At first glance, that seems an odd choice of names, since the studio is actually at Santa Monica Blvd and Las Palmas, not at Sunset. But they used that name because the same company also owns the Sunset-Gower and the Sunset-Bronson studios, which actually are located on Sunset Blvd. So I assume they just wanted to keep their studio names sounding alike...
You can't get tickets for dramatic shows like "True Blood", since they don't have a live audience, but they do give out tickets for sitcoms and game shows, when they are taping there. 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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