Thursday, December 30, 2010

Honeymoon Day 5:

Today we got up at 7, and left at 8 for our Warner Brothers Backlot tour in Burbank, California. It was raining the whole drive, but let up once we got into L.A.

The studio tour was great! The most raw entertainment for our buck was watching a very snooty, entitled woman raise hell at the manager's desk because part of her large party had shown up late, and their spaces had been given away. We were glad to discover that none of them would be in our group.

The first portion of the tour was driving through the back lots. The studio has built several generic city sets - New York, Chicago and "Midtown, USA" that can be dressed up or down depending on the period needed. The guide pointed out several key filming locations, like the front facade of Mrs. Hannigan's Orphanage from Annie, the alley where they filmed the famous Spiderman kiss, and the theater from the Drew Carey opening. We also saw the last remaining facade from the Casablanca filming, and their "Central Park" which was used in the Phoebe and Rachel running scene from Friends.

The Spiderman Alley
Mrs. Hannigan's Orphanage

The second part of the tour was my favorite! They took us to a museum that housed collections from Hollywood films of the past. The upstairs housed memorabilia from the Harry Potter Films. I was THRILLED to discover a sign thanking Colleen Atwood (among others) for her contribution, but sadly, none of her costumes were on display that day. We did see costumes from Willy Wonka, The Matrix, and the latest Batman. They also had Sam's Piano from Casablanca. We wandered upstairs to check out the Harry Potter display - but having just seen the touring exhibit in Seattle, it wasn't quite as neat. But we did see the statue of the petrified Hermione - which looked GREAT! They had Harry's under-the-cupboard set. We saw several books and letters with greenscreened portions on the cover where the moving pictures would be added in post-production, and the Dursley's fireplace with hundreds of letters pouring out. We also were sorted into houses - Alan into Hufflepuff, and for me the hat said, "Ah, another Weasley" and sorted me into Griffindore. Sadly, we were not allowed to take pictures, but we got to see ever so many great costumes up close.

I looked at the work, and thought the construction wasn't better than mine, but the budget for materials was astronimically cooler. We saw two suits made for the Twins, and they'd obviously paid someone to weave the pinstriped material for the suits. They were exactly the same color, but the two-toned pinstriping was at different widths on each suit. Color on color and multi-layered patterns appear to be the way to go in filming. It was fascinating!

Next we saw the set for Two and a Half Men. For theater people, it was interesting to see how high the audience sits, and how low the rigging comes. The set itself looked like any set, but there were bare areas off the main set where secondary sets could be brought back in, or built if needed. The backdrop was a 30' by 100' poster of Malibu. The studio is the only studio with the machinery to build posters that bid, so most of the building sized billboards in LA are made there, as well.

We were escorted through the props department - where many props were on hold for the filming of "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" beginning in January. In one corner, behind a flat, they'd left the "Central Perk" set from Friends! A pushy German family sat on the couch to take a picture, so our tour guide kindly allowed Alan and I to take our picture there too. YAY!!!!!

Next, we toured the transportation department's display of famous cars from the movies. Alan saw two Batmobiles and the Grand Torino, and I saw the Ford Anglia from Harry Potter.

I asked the tour guide if there was any way to see the costume department, but he said that they don't allow them in there - and he's never even seen it. I bought a postcard at the gift shop, and went online to see if there were any job postings.

After the tour we went to Big Boy Burgers for lunch, then went on a two-hour trek to find the location of the "Batcave" in Griffin Park. After several wrong turns (It's a big park!) we made it, and Alan was made a very very happy man.

We did go into Hollywood for a while, to spend a couple of hours before meeting a friend of Alan's for dinner. We wandered Groman's Chinese, but being a holiday, it was a freakin' zoo. So we ducked into the Hollywood Wax Museum, because I had never been to one. For unexpected bang for our buck, the Hollywood Wax museum is right up there with the Robotic Dinosaur Museum. It was fun and totally chintzy - but we had a great time!

After some more wantdering and getting lost, we met Mark and Sarah for dinner at a Mexican Restaurant in Beverly Hills. It was lovely - no menus - but five courses. Alan played with their son for a while, and got to catch up with his old roommate. After dinner, Alan and I headed for home.