Seeing Stars: the Television Studios..


Late update: There has been a major relocation of ABC Studios to the East Valley. Disney has relocated ABC network employees from New York and from the Century City site to a new building on the Disney Studio lot in Burbank. Neither Disney nor ABC will own or reside in the Century City towers any longer, making Burbank the official headquarters of the American Broadcasting Company.

Meanwhile, a brand new studio was built in Glendale (on the Burbank border) for the local ABC affiliate, KABC-TV (Channel 7). It is located at 500 Circle Seven Drive, just a short drive east of the Disney lot, in an aging industrial section of Glendale, near the DreamWorks animation studio and Disney's own existing 'Imagineering' headquarters. Disney announced that it would create a 125-acre campus there with dozens of new buildings, sound stages and a high-tech business center, including the new offices for Channel 7 adjoining the site.

KABC/Channel 7 moved to their new television studios and vacated the Vitagraph/ABC lot in December 2000. ABC (the Network) will continue to tape "General Hospital" and "Port Charles" here on the lot. Disney will use the remaining sound stages for feature films since they have run out of room on their Burbank lot.

As for the ABC Entertainment Center, it has recently been announced that the Center will be razed, and replaced by a new $280 million office building (with no connection to ABC). This will also mean the destruction of the well-known Shubert Theatre.

I will be doing a new page soon on the new ABC headquarters in Burbank. Stay tuned...

In the meantime, I'll leave up the former page, for anyone who's interested in reading it. But remember that it was written when the two ABC centers were still in use.

Currently, ABC has two facilities in Los Angeles.

The first, containing their corporate offices, is located in Century City's posh ABC Entertainment Center. The second is the ABC Television Center, located east of Hollywood; this is their studio base for KABC, the local Channel 7, an ABC affiliate. ABC does not offer a guided tour of the studio, and it is not open to the public, which is a shame, considering the studio's record in broadcasting, and the history of its east Hollywood studio.

(formerly Vitagraph Studios)
4151 Prospect Avenue,
Hollywood, CA / (310) 557-7777

    The 23-acre studio lot on Prospect Avenue, which is now the ABC Television Center, opened in 1912 as Vitagraph Studios, making it one of the oldest studios in Hollywood.

    Vitagraph was one of the first companies to produce motion pictures in Hollywood (using Thomas Edison's original equipment); they had come out to the west coast to escape the bad weather in New York, back in the days of silent movies. And at the time, it was the largest motion picture lot in the world.

    The purchase price back in 1912? Just $20,000.

    Vitagraph Studios as it looked in 1928

Vitagraph helped start the careers of
Rudolph Valentino, Mary Pickford, Lillian Gish, Norma Talmadge, Douglas Fairbanks, Lionel Barrymore and Joe. E. Brown. Oliver Hardy filmed over forty silent films here prior to partnering with Stan Laurel. Both Cecil B. DeMille and D.W. Griffith directed films at Vitagraph.

Stage 55, the oldest remaining stage on the lot (and at one time the world's largest sound stage), still features windows that are visible in "The Phantom of the Opera" with Lon Chaney. The huge pepper tree in front of the KABC bungalows was planted in 1920 by Norma Talmadge.

The studio was eventually purchased by Warner Bros. in 1925 for $1 million.And at least some portion of Al Jolson's historic "The Jazz Singer" may have been filmed here on Stage 55 when the lot was owned by Warner Bros.

ABC Television acquired the studio property in 1949, and opened the world's largest, state-of-the-art television center.

The Beatles played at the studio live in 1965 when they appeared on the TV show "Shindig," as did The Rolling Stones and Sonny & Cher. The very first Jerry Lewis Telethon was filmed here. Dean Martin debuted his new song "That's Amore" for the first time on that show.

Over the years, a surprising number of popular game shows were taped here at ABC, including "Let's Make a Deal," "Family Feud," "The Dating Game," The Match Game," "The Newlywed Game" and "Password." So were music/variety shows such as Dick Clark's "American Bandstand" and "The Lawrence Welk Show."

But it is no longer the site of many network productions. The studio houses the local ABC affiliate station KABC-TV (Channel 7), with its popular Eyewitness News division, as well as the "Good Morning America" west coast headquarters. Also, the soap operas "General Hospital" and "Port Charles" are taped here - the large five-story building (visible in the photo to the left) is devoted exclusively to the production of "General Hospital."

but a Some memorablesitcoms  shot here as well (mostly in the '70s & '80s), including "Welcome Back, Kotter" with John Travolta and Gabe Kaplan."Barney Miller", "Who's the Boss?", "Diff'rent Strokes", "Married with Children", "Soap","Benson", and "What's Happening!!".

Current plans call for KABC to build a new 100,000-foot studio in Burbank soon (near its parent corporation, Disney), which should be ready sometime in 2000. The new studio will be located in the Grand Central Business Centre (owned by Disney), at 512 Paula Ave., near the interchange of Interstate 5 and California 134. It will share the Centre with such existing Disney branches as Disney Imagineering, Disney Interactive, and will be right across the street from the new 12-acre DreamWorks animation studio.

After the move, the old Prospect Avenue studio be used "to expand other network programs and develop future projects."

ABC's other offices were at:

2040 Avenue of the Stars (Plaza level),
Century City (Los Angeles), CA. / (310) 557-7777

The ABC Entertainment Center (including the Shubert Theatre and ABC's corporate headquarters) is located in Century City, across the street from the Century Plaza Hotel, just north of 20th Century Fox Studios, and within walking distance of the Century City Shopping Center.

Two TV shows used these distinctive twin 44-story towers and the fountains at the ABC Entertainment Center as settings for their fictional detective agencies: "Remington Steele" (with
Pierce Brosnan, in his pre-007 days) and "Moonlighting" (with Cybill Shepard & Bruce Willis - in the days before Bruce became an action hero.)

The American Broadcasting Company (ABC) started out as the junior member of the Big Three TV networks in the early days of television. But over the years ABC grew to become a major player.

During the 1950's and 1960's, ABC achieved only limited success in denting the Top 15 list (of most popular shows for those decades), scoring only a few times, with "The Real McCoys," "Disneyland" and "Bewitched." But other ABC shows, such as "The Mickey Mouse Club," "Leave It to Beaver," "The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet," "The Untouchables," "The Donna Reed Show," "The Addams Family," "The Partridge Family" and "American Bandstand" also did well.

But the 1970's was a breakthrough decade for ABC, when the network took the TV world by storm with such popular sitcoms as "Happy Days," "Laverne & Shirley," "Three's Company" and "Mork & Mindy," as well as with romantic adventure shows like "Charlie's Angels," "Hart to Hart," "The Love Boat" and "Fantasy Island" - not to mention NFL Monday Night Football.

It was during nightly coverage of the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979 that "Nightline" with  Ted Koppel was born, finally giving ABC a way to compete head to head with NBC's formidable "Tonight Show."

During the 80's, ABC gave us "Who's the Boss?," "Moonlighting," "Dynasty" and "Thirtysomething," while in the 90's ABC they offered up "Twin Peaks," "Lois & Clark," "Ellen" and "The Wonder Years." ABC has also given us some of the best miniseries ever made, including "Rich Man, Poor Man," "The Winds of War" and the unforgettable saga, "Roots."

Today, ABC has climbed out of a recent slump a little in the ratings department, with the help of Regis Philbin's "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?," and recent hits such as "Home Improvement," "Grace Under Fire," "Spin City," and "Boy Meets World," and with current sitcoms such as "Sabrina the Teenage Witch," "Dharma & Greg" and "Drew Carey." plus dramas like "NYPD Blue" and "The Practice." Also among the network's top-rated shows have been their news programs, such as "PrimeTime Live" "20/20," the ABC Evening News with Peter Jennings, and the always popular NFL Monday Night football games.

In July of 1995, ABC was bought by the Walt Disney Company, and word has it that ABC is shopping around for a new location for their main television studio. Since the purchase, some of their programming has taken a distinctive Disney turn, including the return of "The Wonderful World of Disney" on Sunday nights

Although NBC Studios (in the Valley) and CBS TV City (in Hollywood) both invite the public in to watch live tapings as members of a live studio audience, that's not the case with ABC. Other than the local Eyewitness News broadcasts and soap operas (such as "General Hospital"), no ABC television shows are currently produced at either ABC Television City or the ABC Entertainment Center. All ABC shows are done "out" - that is, they are taped at other studios, then aired on ABC.

There was one notable exception recently. Several segments of "The View" (the early morning talk show with Barbara Walters) were taped before a live studio audience at the ABC Television Center, but the show has now returned to its regular home in New York.

In order to watch an ABC show being taped, you'll have to contact one of the audience services (such as "Audiences Unlimited") for tickets, and then go to another studio to see the show being taped. (See the separate pages about getting tickets to live tapings.)

 Getting there: The ABC Television Center is located to the east of central Hollywood, on Prospect Avenue (about half a mile to the northeast of KCET Studios). / From Hollywood & Vine, go east on Hollywood Boulevard (about two miles), to just past Barnsdall Park (and just before Vermont Avenue), where Hollywood Boulevard takes a sharp right (southeast) turn. At this point, don't follow Hollywood Boulevard. Instead, go straight ahead (east) on Prospect Avenue. Follow Prospect Avenue east for about five more blocks, and ABC Studios will be on your left (north) side, just past Talmadge Street.

 To reach the ABC Entertainment Center in Century City from Hollywood & Vine, take Vine Street south (about 3/4 of a mile) to Santa Monica Boulevard. Turn right (west) on Santa Monica Boulevard and follow it west/southwest (for about eight miles) to the Avenue of the Stars. Turn left (south) on Avenue of the stars and go straight ahead to the towering fountains in the center of the street. The Entertainment Center will be on your left (east) side, across from the Century Plaza Hotel.

[For more information on this subject, you can access ABC's official website at:, or KABC's website at]

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