The “L.A. Story” Freeway SignApr 11th, 2013 | By Lindsay | Category: Movie Locations
One locale that the Grim Cheaper suggested I track down a few years back – and that I have wondered about ever since – was the spot where the freeway sign from the 1991 classic comedy L.A. Story once stood. Because it was a prop sign that was situated on a long expanse of a non-descript Southern California road, though, I figured that, short of getting ahold of a crew member, it would be a virtually impossible find. Cut to two weeks ago when, while doing research on the O’Neil house from Beverly Hills, 90210, I came across this Wikimapia page which stated that the L.A. Story freeway condition sign had been located on Burbank Boulevard in Encino. I just about fell out of my chair upon learning this news because I had never before seen it mentioned anywhere. And while I tried to find other articles that backed up the claim, I came up empty-handed. I knew that the information had to have come from somewhere, though, so I searched Amazon to see if a DVD commentary for the movie was available. While no such commentary exists (how is that possible?!?!), I did come across a listing for the 15th Anniversary Edition of L.A. Story which included – are you ready for this? – a vignette titled “The L.A. of L.A. Story: An Interactive Map of the Popular Sites Filmed for L.A. Story”. Um, yes, please! The DVD is sadly out of print, but I did find a used copy of it on eBay for $5 and, let me tell you, it was the best $5 I ever spent – although I am sure the GC would disagree.
The L.A. of L.A. Story, which was shot in 2006 and is absolutely amazeballs, features production designer Lawrence Miller (who sadly passed away in 2009) returning to ten of the movie’s most iconic locations to tell the stories behind them. LOVE IT! One of the locales visited was, of course, the famous freeway sign. In the piece, Lawrence describes shooting on Burbank Boulevard, just east of Hayvenhurst Avenue, but never specifies the exact spot where the sign stood. I was having a heck of a time pinpointing the location via Google Street View, so I enlisted the help of Mike, from MovieShotsLA, who found the right area almost immediately. Thank you, Mike! As you can see below, the two double-pronged trees visible behind Lawrence in the feature match up perfectly to the spot that Mike found on Burbank Boulevard. So the two of us ran right out to stalk the site this past Sunday afternoon while I was in town for a couple of days.
In L.A. Story, wacky weatherman Harris K. Telemacher (Steve Martin – who also wrote the screenplay!) encounters a rather cheeky freeway condition road sign that instead of foretelling traffic statuses, predicts the future of his life. According to Lawrence, the sign was custom-built and was programmed to “talk” to Harris in several different languages so that its lines would not need to later be dubbed when shown in foreign countries. So interesting!
As you can see below, the Los Angeles cityscape was digitally added to the background of the road sign scenes.
In real life, the area behind where the sign once stood is comprised of a massive amount of foliage.
In The L.A. of L.A. Story, Lawrence also states that Burbank Boulevard was chosen as the sign site because it is a “freeway lookalike” that is easy to close down, and that he was the person who actually chose the exact spot where the sign would be installed on the day of the shoot.
As you can see below, the area still looks very much the same today as it did in 2006 when the special was filmed.
Unfortunately though, there is currently quite a bit more plant growth than there was when Lawrence visited the site seven years ago.
Which is especially upsetting because when The L.A. of L.A. Story was filmed, he was actually able to find the hole where the sign once stood, which I just about lost my mind over! And while Mike and I ferociously dug through the underbrush looking for that hole (we were pretty much on our hands and knees pulling back weeds – I can only imagine what passersby were thinking!), we were unable to uncover it. I did vow to go back with a rake and a shovel one day, though, so have no fear! I will locate that darn hole if it’s the last thing I do!
Big THANK YOU to Mike, from MovieShotsLA, for finding this location!
Until next time, Happy Stalking!
Stalk It: The L.A. Story freeway sign was located on eastbound Burbank Boulevard, just east of Hayvenhurst Avenue at what Google Maps lists as 16388 Burbank Boulevard, in Encino.