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The Paramount Studios Tour . . . A Second Time

Nov 11th, 2010 | By | Category: Celebrity Sightings

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Brace yourselves, my fellow stalkers, ‘cause today’s post is going to be a long one!  Back in September, Mike, from MovieShotsLA, and I set out on our second VIP Tour of the Studios at Paramount Pictures in Hollywood.  We embarked on our first Paramount tour just over two years ago, in September of 2008, and I can honestly say that, for me, it was love at first sight!  As I’ve mentioned previously on this blog, the Paramount tour is hands down my absolute FAVORITE studio tour in all of Hollywood.  I love the place so much, in fact, that the Grim Cheaper and I seriously considered getting married there.  Well, I should say that I seriously considered getting married there – the GC was against the idea from the start, as he didn’t think a movie studio would be an appropriate venue for a wedding.  And while I can definitely see his point – the 62-acre lot is better suited to host a party rather than a wedding ceremony – because the place has such an incredibly rich cinematic history – it has been at its current location since 1926 and is the only major studio still located in Hollywood – for a movie-lover like myself, there is no more hallowed ground.  So, when Mike called me up in early September to ask if I wanted to go on another tour of the place, I jumped at the chance.

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As they say, no two studio tours are ever the same and I am very happy to report that that was definitely the case with Paramount.  After paying for our tickets in the Studio Store, our small group of eight was given a brief history of the 84-year old lot before boarding a golf cart to begin the two-hour tour.  Our first stop was the corner of Avenue A and 3rd Street, just southwest of Stage 23, where the ending scene of the final episode of fave show The Hills was filmed, which I blogged about back in September.

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Just beyond The Hills finale location is Stage 24, which was home to fellow stalker Owen’s all-time favorite sitcom Family Ties from 1982 to 1989. 

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Each individual soundstage at Paramount boasts a large plaque which lists all of the major productions which have been filmed on the premises. 

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And, as you can see in the above photograph, Stage 23’s plaque is somewhat unique.  According to our tour guide, actor Ray Romano was (jokingly) a bit bent out of shape that his new sitcom Men of a Certain Age wasn’t considered by Paramount to be a “major” enough production to be named on the plaque, so he took matters into his own hands and, using a label maker, printed out the name of the show and stuck it onto the sign himself.  LOL LOL LOL  Love it!

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As always, the tour made a stop at Lucy Park – a small landscaped area named in honor of actress/producer Lucille Ball, former owner of the now-defunct Desilu Studios which was purchased by Paramount in 1968 and now makes up the western portion of the lot.  Lucy had the park built as an exact replica of the backyard of her Beverly Hills home so that she could take publicity photographs there with her children without ever having to leave the lot. 

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The above-pictured facade, which runs along the northern side of Lucy Park, is an exact replica of the exterior of Lucy’s New York City apartment building, which she had constructed for the same purpose.  We also learned that it was none other than Lucy, and her husband Desi Arnaz, who invented the live audience/three camera system that situational comedies still use for filming to this day.  Apparently, Lucy much preferred acting before a live studio audience, which, at the time, was not common practice when shooting television shows.  So, she and her husband came up with the idea of setting up the stage in the format of a theatre, with an open fourth wall facing the audience, and using multiple cameras to film each scene from different angles.  That very system has been in use ever since.  The powerhouse couple was also responsible for inventing what is known today as a “re-run”.

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My favorite part of Lucy Park has to be its large central tree which was used in the Season 2 episode of The Brady Bunch titled “Where There’s Smoke” as the spot where Greg Brady (aka Barry Williams) smoked his very first cigarette.

You can watch that scene by clicking above.

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According to our tour guide, Lucy Park was also used for the Season 2 episode of Glee titled “Grilled Cheesus”, for the close-up shot of Finn Hudson (aka Cory Monteith) cheering after scoring a winning touchdown.

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Our next stop was the studio’s Gower Street entrance, which stood in for the entrance to the fictional Woltz International Pictures lot in the 1972 film The Godfather.  That entrance and guard shack have, sadly, since been remodeled.

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We then made our way over to Stage 31, which is the spot where the Joel McHale television series Community is filmed.  It was extremely cool to see that particular stage, as it is one of the only stages on the lot that has a “dressed” exterior.  As you can see in the above photographs, the facade of the fictional Greendale Community College Library has been constructed around the exterior of the building.  So incredibly cool!

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We also spotted Donald Glover, who plays Troy Barnes on the show, while we were there.

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Up next was New York Street – my VERY favorite section of the lot and the spot where the Grim Cheaper and I were thinking about getting married.  “Street” is actually a bit of a misnomer, though, being that the area measures a whopping five acres, is shaped like a square, and features numerous sections and blocks which were built to resemble different sections of New York, including Brooklyn, Greenwich Village, Washington Square, the Financial District, the Upper East Side, the Lower East Side, SoHo, a typical brownstone neighborhood, and, ironically enough, Chicago.  Each time I walk through New York Street, I truly feel as if I am actually in the Big Apple.  It’s amazing!  Even small details like mailboxes and payphones (pictured above) are so realistic that someone on a tour once put a letter inside one of the fake boxes thinking it was real.  :)

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The Washington Square section of New York Street is featured regularly on the new TNT series Rizzoli & Isles, as the home of Detective Jane Rizzoli (aka Angie Harmon).

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Washington Square also appeared in the Season 7 episode of Seinfeld titled “The Rye”, in the scene in which Jerry Seinfeld tries to throw a loaf of rye bread up to George Constanza (aka Jason Alexander) who is waiting on the third floor of his girlfriend’s parents’ apartment building. 

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The Boston Police Station from Rizzoli & Isles can also be found on New York Street, in the Brooklyn section.

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The jazz club from Spiderman 3 is located in the SoHo section of New York Street and is what is referred to as a “practical set”, meaning that it is not just a facade, but also has an interior area which can be used for filming.

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Pink’s 2008 Video Music Awards performance of “So What (I’m Still A Rock Star)” was also filmed on New York Street in the SoHo area.

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While walking through the Chicago area of New York Street, our tour guide pointed out the above-pictured building called the “Tin Shed” which he said serves as the dance studio for the cast of Glee.  So incredibly cool!

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At the time we visited the lot, the Chicago section of New York Street was dressed for the filming of the yet-to-be-released television series Happy Endings, which stars Elisha Cuthbert.

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The facade pictured above, which is located at the corner of H Avenue and the Chicago section of New York Street, is being used as the exterior of Rosalita’s Bar, the Happy Endings’ characters’ main hang-out.

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That very same facade was also used as the five-and-dime store where Holly Golightly (aka Audrey Hepburn) and Paul ‘Fred’ Varjak (aka George Peppard) stole Halloween masks in fave movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  So, I, of course, just had to take a picture standing in the doorway!

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We also got to see the interior set of Rosalita’s while we were on the tour and it actually reminds me a lot of Grayson’s bar from fave show Cougar Town.  We weren’t allowed to take any photographs of it, unfortunately, but you can see what the bar looks like in the above screen captures, which I got off of IMDB

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Our next stop was the place I had been waiting all morning to see – Stage 14, where fave show Glee is filmed!

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Amazingly enough, our timing could NOT have been more perfect, because right when we arrived at the stage several of the stars drove by on golf carts!  We first spotted Harry Shum Jr. (pictured above) who plays dancer Mike Chang on the show.  He was on a golf cart with Jenna Ushkowitz (aka Tina Cohen-Chang), who we unfortunately did not get a photograph of.

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Immediately after that, a cart carrying Amber Riley (aka Mercedes Jones), Mark Salling (aka Noah ‘Puck’ Puckerman), and Chord Overstreet (aka Sam Evans) drove by.  We also spotted Dianna Agron (aka Quinn Fabray) and Lea Michelle (aka Rachel Berry), but unfortunately we did not get photographs of either of them.  Before spotting the Glee stars, our tour guide had warned us that the cast wasn’t known to be all that friendly or even particularly nice on the lot.  According to him, they have all apparently gotten a bit too big for their britches in recent months.  And, sadly, our experience definitely reflected that sentiment.  When the actors drove by, our small tour group was the only group of people around.  We did not in any way go crazy or walk up to them when we spotted them, but just politely stood in our places and waved.  And I am sad to say that not a one of them waved back or even managed to crack a smile.  In fact, as you can see in the above photographs, Amber Riley looked as if she wanted to throttle us!  I’m telling you, if looks could kill, our entire tour group would have been dead!  LOL  Mark Salling was the only one of the bunch who had a smile on his face, but it was definitely not directed towards us.  He was speaking with Chord Overstreet the entire time and did not so much as even look our way.  The whole thing was HIGHLY disappointing and only got worse two weeks later when I spotted Lea Michele while taking the Paramount tour once again with fellow stalker Lavonna and her friends, but I’ll save that story for a future post.  :)

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Our next stop was the Paramount Medical Services building, the back side of which (where you can see the lattice in the above photograph) was supposedly used as Charlie’s (aka Kelly McGillis’) porch in the movie Top Gun

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The final stop on our tour was the famous 516-seat Paramount Theatre, which has played host to several Hollywood premieres and premiere after-parties over the years and has also been the site of some filming, as well.

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Just outside of the theatre is the famous Paramount water fountain;

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Forest Gump’s bench from the movie of the same name;

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and the Bronson Gate – the studio’s former entrance, which was where Norma Desmond (aka Gloria Swanson) entered the lot in the 1950 movie Sunset Boulevard.  Legend has it that rubbing one’s hands on the gate while uttering Norma’s famous line, “I’m ready for my close-up Mr. DeMille”, will bring luck in the movie industry.

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And with that our tour was over.  But just as we were hopping back on our golf cart to head back to the studio store to make our departure, I spotted one of my mom’s all-time favorite actors – David Strathairn – who was nice enough to smile and wave at us after he realized that we had recognized him.  :)  So incredibly cool!

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And while leaving through the lot’s main gate who should drive past us but Glee star Jenna Ushkowitz.  You can just barely see her in the black car in the above photograph.

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I honestly cannot recommend stalking the Paramount lot enough!  It is, in my never-to-be-humble opinion, the best studio tour in existence and I absolutely cannot wait to go on it again!

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  :)

Stalk It: Paramount Studios is located at 5555 Melrose Avenue in Hollywood.  Tours are given Monday through Friday at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 2 p.m. and cost $40 per person.  Reservations can be made by calling (323)956-1777.  Parking for the tour costs $7 per car.  I recommend booking your tour at least a week in advance, as they tend to sell out quickly.  You can find out more information about the Paramount Studios Tour here.

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24 comments

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  1. Stalkyoulongtime says:

    Loved your post and like everyone else I’m sooo disappointing about the Glee cast esp since I’m going to LA in June and they were high on my list of people to stalk! 😉 I def want to do Paramount – any particular days you recommend going??? (even if just to get dissed by the Glee cast!)

    • Lindsay says:

      Any day at Paramount will make for a good tour – just be sure to make reservations at least a week in advance as the tours tend to get booked up quickly. Glee most likely won’t be filming in June as most television shows go on hiatus from May through July. :(

  2. Ashley says:

    Fantastic post! I’ve never gotten a chance to visit here, I’d really like to! The Lucy Park thing is so amusing & interesting. I wonder if hard core fans can tell if photos of her were taken there or at the real locations? 😀 I think all of the exterior high school scenes of The Brady Bunch were filmed there, not just the smoking scene. I’m a big Brady fan & it certainly looks like Westdale to me :)

    • Lindsay says:

      Oh my gosh, you HAVE to go on the tour! You would love it! :) Westdale was actually located in a different part of the lot. Stayed tuned . . . I’m writing about it in tomorrow’s post. :) I’m a huge Brady fan, too. :)

  3. Tony says:

    Very nice tour. I need to do that one. Regarding the children from “Glee”, I haven’t seen (and now have no desire to see) the show. Like Lavonna said, a wave or a smile goes a long way. Covering their faces??? Whatever. This is exactly why “CSI: Miami” is one of my faves. Yeah, I know David’s acting as well as the show itself is a bit corn ball, but the cast and crew of that show are the most gracious, welcoming, and friendliest people that you can find in the biz. Just ask anyone that has met Caruso.

  4. Anna says:

    That is sad to hear about he Glee cast. Before your experience, all I heard was great things about certain cast members like Cory/Chris/Dianna. But, I really want to hear about the Lea Michele story. Sounds juicy… :)

    • Lindsay says:

      Stay tuned, I will post the pics of Lea next week. :) And we didn’t see Cory or Chris, so I don’t know about them, but our tour guide did say that Cory is nice and will sometimes stop to take pictures with tour groups. Dianna we only saw for a milisecond, so I can’t say whether she was friendly or not.

  5. Lavonna says:

    Great post! During our October visit we toured Paramount with Lindsay. We did see Lea Michele, but she didn’t wave or look our way! The person driving her actually put up her arm to block Lea’s face…big disappointment! I’m from Ohio and try to visit LA at least twice a year spending time with Lindsay “stalking” is so much fun, but when you see a “celebrity” and they act like that it is a big let down. I have to say we saw Bradley Cooper at Warner Brothers and he did wave and smile…that little gesture goes a long way!! I understand they don’t want “crazed” fans running up to them etc…but I’m a little to old for that… and a simple wave and smile would be nice! Thanks for the post Lindsay!

    • Gleekster says:

      But I can see where she is coming from. It’s her job, she is IN her work hours, having to do many things at the same time (dance, record, act) and still, while she is moving aroun the lot (wich is tottally necessary bc of the many activities they have scheduled) people on the tour lots are around all the time obviously waiting to see and judge them (oh, she is nice, she is a bitch, she is skinny, she is fat)…I would get deffensive too…that’s how I see it.

  6. Erin says:

    Great post! I’ve been on this tour twice and didnt see any celebs! :(
    Im not a huge fan of Glee, and I have heard bad things about their attitude. I cant believe they couldnt even manage a smile.

  7. Brittany says:

    That makes me sad about the cast of Glee :-( I guess it’s natural to let success go to your head, but regardless, fans made them who they are. I wonder if Matt Morrison had been there, if he would’ve ignored you guys too…I’d like to think not :-) When I saw most of the cast at the Golden Globes last year (in the bleachers), Mark Salling and Matt Morrison were the ONLY ones who seemed genuinely nice and humble, and they kept waving to us. The rest of the cast did nothing. It was also raining at the time, but still! LOL

  8. Melissa says:

    OMg I love Chord!!! Your soo lucky you got to see them. Shoot if I there I would have said “Hey look at me, I’m the reason your famous!!!”

  9. Jen says:

    Thanks for sharing. I loved the tour when I was on it last Spring. I did see some of the Glee cast – they just looked at our cart and didn’t seem thrilled. But that was understandable. They had just gotten back from shooting a long off site scene and an idiot on our cart was really rude shouting out questions like: “Who are you? Should I know you? Are you special? Why won’t you say anything?” Of course this is after our guide had asked us not to over react or try to talk to any of the actors we might see as it could get her in trouble.

    I’m planning on doing the tour again when I’m back in California in December. Too bad the cast is getting a little too self-important but that does tend to happen to actors on a big show after the first season!

    • Lindsay says:

      OMG that is so incredibly rude that the guy on your tour did that! In that case I could understand them being annoyed. And yes, the tour guides do tell you not to scream out or go up to stars if you see them, which is why we stayed quiet and just stood there and waved when the cast drove by. Being such a huge fan of the show, the whole thing was a major disappointment for me.

  10. Dave says:

    I worked there a few days when I was an extra for “CSI: NY” a few months ago and yes, it is an amazing place to see. When I was there, a huge banner congratulating the cast of “Glee” for all of their Emmy nominations was outside Stage 14. I see they’ve taken it down since.

    And it’s amazing to see how they transform the place. The doorway that you’re standing in was entry to our Holding Area during filming and the jazz club had its windows blown out during filming.

    Yes, there are pictures! http://bit.ly/daHvJO Enjoy!


Trackbacks / Pingbacks

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  2. […] and Lucy Park, which I’ve blogged about previously; […]

  3. […] By this time we were already an hour and forty minutes into the tour and only had twenty minutes left.  So we spent a brief ten minutes driving around the New York Street backlot area.  While there, we were shown the practical set pictured above, which has appeared in several productions, including Spiderman 3 which I blogged about in one of my previous Paramount Studios posts.  […]

  4. […] I mentioned in last Thursday’s post about my second VIP Tour of the Studios at Paramount Pictures in Hollywood,  I also recently embarked on a third tour of the lot, along with fellow stalkers Lavonna, Debbie, […]

  5. […] Mike, from MovieShotsLA, pointed out the restaurant to me while driving by it after we finished our tour of Paramount Studios back in September that I realized the location was, indeed, still open for business.  I added the cafe to the top of […]

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