Los Angeles '19 Part 2: Studios, Stars and Sunglasses!
Having stuffed myself with a hearty breakfast from Bob's Big Boy, I headed to the world-famous Warner Bros Studio Tour in Burbank. My friend Rebekah Del Rio had pulled some strings to secure me a pass to the lot, including the tour, and it certainly lived up to the hype.
Warner Bros has been a working TV and Film studio in Burbank since 1928 (although had a smaller studio in Hollywood previously) and is responsible for classic films such as
'The Jazz Singer' (1927 and 1952), 'Calamity Jane' (1953) and 'My Fair Lady' (1964) as well as more modern films 'Police Academy' (1984), 'The Matrix' (1999) and of course the 'Harry Potter' saga. It's most popular TV productions include the 'Looney Tunes' cartoons (Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and friends), 'Gilmore Girls', 'Two and a Half Men' and the biggest sitcom of all time 'Friends'.
Having gone through security and boarded the buggy that would be our transport through the lot, our guide Scott took us straight to the back lot where we walked through the streets that transformed into sets for various films including 'Annie' (1982) where the famous orphanage looked slightly different from the times it was frequented by Miss Hannigan! From there we travelled to an exhibition of 'Harry Potter' and 'Wonder Woman' costumes and props. Inside the Harry Potter section were all the costumes you would expect but I certainly didn't expect to see a full size Aragog spider! It was also nice that the exhibit included some of the 'Fantastic Beasts' costumes too. After a quick loo break we entered the part of the studios that I was excited for; the bustling front lot. This is where you find the working soundstages which, as always, were in full swing and crammed with various films and TV shows. Before we headed into one of these soundstages we were given a free wander around the huge on-site prop house. This truly was a house of marvellous memorabilia crammed full of thousands of props dating back decades. Some props of interest included all the 'Batman' vehicles from all the films, the piano from 'Casablanca' - the 1955 TV show of the film, and a replica of the Oval Office desk of the President of the United States from 'The West Wing'. We then headed into Stage 30 which was set up for the TV series 'Lethal Weapon'. We were taken onto the set and allowed to wander through the detectives offices, the make-believe lifts and even the morgue! Have a scroll through the pics below to see some of these wonderful buildings and costumes.
Clearly 'Friends' is still a big winner for Warner Bros as there is a Central Perk cafe at the end of the tour as well as the Central Perk set inside the interactive museum. They've even re-named Stage 24 the 'Friends' stage. The interactive museum was something pretty special indeed. Inside there were more original costumes to be found such as Lady Gaga's finale dress from 'A Star Is Born', Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogarts costumes from 'Casablanca' and joyfully there was a display of 'My Fair Lady' costumes. Not only did they display Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison's costumes but also the stunning costumes that various actors wore in the Ascot Gavotte number. Just as I was truly buzzing from seeing this little beauties my jaw dropped open. In front of me were the unmistakable sight of the costumes worn by James Dean and Natalie Wood in 'Rebel Without A Cause', one of my favourite films of all time. It took everything I had not touch them! They were still as vibrant and beautiful as ever, and yes I know they probably had about 5 of each costumes but just let me have this ok?
As I wandered further through the museum there were more wonderful props and costumes; Judy Garland's 'A Star Is Born' costume from the 1954 film, Superman's cape worn by Christopher Reeve and something which brought a smile to my face; Phoebe Buffay's guitar from 'Friends'. I watched some kids playing with the green screen effect and experience flying on Harry Potter's broom, as well as learning how Dobby, the house elf was created. The set up for the tour was inspiring and it makes you realise, not that you ever really forget, what a wonderful industry we work in. After the tour, I said goodbye to my group who were headed back on the buggy to the exit and I took my lot pass and headed through the front lot to the cafeteria. There I had lunch surrounded by production teams all chatting about their productions, to be honest, I was in heaven and felt very much at home. Come and get me Warner Bros, I'm ready for ya! On my way out of the studios I happen to pass by the 3
sound stages that house the "Ellen' show, no doubt the crowning glory of Warner Bros. If you know me well you know I'm a big admirer of Ellen Degeneres, therefore I couldn't resist having a little go on the 'Ellen' cart! Apparently I'm not allowed to drive it out of the studios though. Jumping into a Lyft (like Uber but better!) I headed back to North Hollywood to meet my divine friend Patrick for a coffee.
Patrick Bristow is one of my favourite people in this world. He's an accomplished actor, a fantastic creative and basically an all round top guy. His TV and film credits include 'Ellen', 'Friends', 'Showgirls', 'Family Guy', 'King of the Hill', 'CSI', 'Transformers', 'Pretty Little Liars' I could go on and on. We became friends in Edinburgh 2013 (pictured) and I adore catching up with him as we have a
similar sense of humour and spend most of our time giggling like schoolkids! He and his 'far too hot for his own good' husband moved out of Los Angeles recently so we were lucky we were both there at the same time to say hi. I have spoken to Patrick about my wanting to return to acting and he is always on hand with sound and sensible (read hilarious) advice. After an hour or so of pure hilarity I headed back to Courtenay and Bobs.
Wednesday daytime I headed to my beloved Polkadots and Moonbeams on 3rd Avenue. Every year I come here for one reason only - sunglasses! They do the best, crazy, retro sunglasses and I have so many pairs from them that I could probably open my own shop! This year I opted for 2 black pairs, one in a pure Hollywood glamour style (pictured below) and the other a bit more Rockabilly. Back at home I was busy packing a small bag as I, and my torn ligament in my leg, were about to head to the airport to get my flight to Seattle. As part of this trip I decided to return to the real 'Twin Peaks' AKA North Bend, Fall City and Snoqualmie in Washington State. I was particularly excited as my good friends Scott and Jen were picking me up from the airport and I love spending time with that crazy pair. We were also meeting up with friends who lived in the area and for the first time I was staying at the Salish Lodge and Spa which all Peakies will know is the real Great Northern Hotel from 'Twin Peaks'. More about that, and the incredible maple sausage in Part 3!