Day 25 | Warner Bros Studios and Santa Monica Pier

This morning we reprised the waffle even though we are leaving at 7:00 in the morning as we are going to Warner Bros from Longbeach, which although it is only 60 km it is across LA in the morning rush hour so we're giving ourselves over two hours to make it there. Of course, we got there with plenty of time to spare.  

Arriving at Warner we parked in the assigned area for the tour and made our way through security into WB for a quick rundown on the history of the company and then boarded for the tour in the electric tram.  Our tour was 11 plus the guide, Thom and we wound around the various lots and sound stages getting the history of the sets and got some idea of the economics of the movie business.  With different treatments and plantings a single frontage went from the Walton’s home to an Inn for the recent Gilmore Girls series.  Some of the homes have multiple frontages and can be made to be different outdoor scenes.  This lot is used by a number of production companies including Warner to simultaneously produce TV and features and many pilots.  Generally a pilot only has 1-2% chance of making it to series production.  Indoor scenes are almost always recorded on indoor sets constructed in the sound stages.  The concept of having a multi-part set constructed so as to allow a studio audience was developed by Desi Arnaz for his then wife Lucielle Ball to play to a studio audience to create that performance feedback.  We saw this layout for the "Two and a Half Men" show.  

We met with some foley artists who were working on recreating sounds for a one hour drama.  Generally only 4-8 days are allowed to have all this recorded and packaged for the mixers.  

The Mixers showed us why they do a great job making the vision and the sounds, foley and dialogue all work together to tell the story the director wants.  They only get a very shortest of time to put it all together and I’m sure would always get the blame when all the other production products don’t come in time.  They’re also the ones that get the finished product for the director to OK (or to send bits back to the drawing board).  They seemed a couple of relaxed guys but the pressure must be immense in this business.  

We lunched in the “Executive Dining Room” as part of the tour and had pointed out to us George Gallo who produced Bad Boys amongst others.  Still, the anticipation was there that any moment anyone could come in.  

There was a car collection that contains a “General Lee” and the “Shaguar” as well as a collection of Batmobiles.  DiCaprio’s Gatsby “big yellow car” is also here.  Earlier we got to see the Scooby Doo van so this completed a great collection.  We got a green-screen demonstration getting a photo of us blended into the Platform 9 ¾ and the Hogwarts Express.  There was also the Props department.  

Props are leased out to anyone with an account from the huge department at Warners.  Everything is available from antique furniture to curiosities.  There was a story about a huge authentic Tiffany shade being 'discovered’ in the collection by an expert who was visiting a set.  Many of the props are recognizable from a number of shows and fascinating.  Angus was taken by all the US government seals adorning a whole hallway.  

Due to a certain amount of secrecy cameras are locked away on the stages.  Driving around the lots we have them back.  On one of these walks back from a sound stage we filed past a couple of guys and our Guide, Thom whispered, ‘that’s John, from Big Bang’ and there was John Galecki who plays Leonard on the show.  But so soon, we were gone.  

Returning to the entrance we were collecting our things from the trunk on the tram.  Angus noticed that his hoodie wasn’t on the tram.  We’ve been on and off this many times but he was sure it was on there the last stop (maybe?).  Oh well, never mind.  Thom took it very seriously and decided that it was probably in lost property.  He was on the case and took off to the lots and said to wait.  After a while, red faced he returned (with his boss) and started getting details to contact us when it was returned (as it certainly would).  As we did this his radio crackled with an update – one had been handed in, over at the lots.  We were given a driver and dispatched over to confirm it was the missing one.  On the way through the lot the tram driver nonchalantly says ‘...and there’s Jim Parsons’ (Sheldon from Big Bang).  Before we could react we hummed past in the tram.  

Then we got the hoodie back! What a day.  

We stopped by Santa Monica on the way back, feeling the Pacific Ocean, chilly from Alaska and strolling the Pier.  They are progressively replacing the timber pier but it is all still open.  The Amusement Park and the beach were quite busy with a good vibe.

Still time to fit in one more sight so we visited Carroll Street area full of Victorian Homes including the home used in the TV show “Charmed”.  Lots of renovation is going on and given the area LA is lucky to have retained this character area 5 minutes from downtown.  The Halliwell sisters certainly had good taste.  

Tomorrow is the Universal Tour so it will be interesting to compare the two.