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The Donna Martin Graduates Protest Site

Mar 28th, 2014 | By | Category: 90210 & Beverly Hills, 90210 Filming Locations

Donna Martin Graduates Protest (4 of 21)

As big of a Beverly Hills, 90210 fan as I am, it will probably come as a shock to learn that up until recently I had yet to stalk the spot where one of the show’s most iconic moments was filmed – Burbank City Hall, aka the Donna Martin Graduates protest site from the Season 3 episode titled “Something in the Air.”  So, since I was in the area recently stalking The Wonder Years houses (you can read those posts here and here), I decided that it was about time that I amended that fact.

Burbank City Hall, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, was designed by architects William Allen and W. George Lutzi.  Construction on the Moderne/Art Deco-style building began in 1941 and lasted until 1943.  The final cost of the project was $409,000.

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Donna Martin Graduates Protest (17 of 21)

The building’s most impressive feature is its tower, which stands at 77 feet.

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Donna Martin Graduates Protest (16 of 21)

The lobby area, which I, unfortunately, did not get to see, boasts twenty different kinds of marble, bass relief sculptures and a grand staircase.  The building also houses two large murals painted by Hugo Ballin.  In a 1996 Daily News article about the structure, Councilman Ted McConkey is quoted as saying, “Anyone walking into City Hall would recognize that it’s something unique.  It’s special because of the period in which it was built, because of the way it’s been maintained and because of all the murals at City Hall.  We get an inordinate number of requests to use City Hall from film companies.”   Love it!  You can check out a fabulous photograph of the lobby here.

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Donna Martin Graduates Protest (8 of 21)

In “Something in the Air,” Brandon Walsh (Jason Priestley) stages a Senior Class walk-out during final exams to protest the fact that Donna Martin (Tori Spelling), after showing up drunk to the prom, is not being allowed to graduate with her class.  (The Juniors also participate in the walk-out, in order to protest the dress code that the school board has implemented for the upcoming school year.)  The protestors – chanting the now legendary line “Donna Martin graduates!” – wind up at the steps of Burbank City Hall, which (I think) is supposed to be masquerading as the West Beverly Hills School District in the episode.

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This guy had a little trouble with his “No scapegoats” sign.  Winking smile

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During the rally, Mrs. Teasley (Denise Dowse) warns the students that they are all in danger of being flunked, which only serves to rile them up further.  With Brandon leading the charge, they head inside the building and into the school board meeting.

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Once inside, Brandon, of course, makes a speech in Donna’s defense.  That speech never ceases to crack me up.  He says, “Donna Martin is the kind of girl that goes out of her way for people.  That’s why all these people here are going out of their way for her.”  Like, huh?  Did I miss something in all of my avid 90210 watching?  When did Donna ever go out of her way for anyone, let alone the entire Junior and Senior class?  It all ends well, though, as the board members wind up being moved by Brandon’s speech and vote to allow Donna to graduate.  Donna Martin graduates, indeed!

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“Something in the Air” was not the first Beverly Hills, 90210 episode to be lensed at Burbank City Hall.  Although the exterior of Beverly Hills City Hall was used as an establishing shot . . .

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. . . the interior of Burbank City Hall was where Jim Walsh (James Eckhouse) and Brandon attended a meeting about the Highpoint Center project in the Season 2 episode titled “The Pit and the Pendulum.”

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Thanks to the Dear Old Hollywood website, I learned that Burbank City Hall stood in for a police station in the 1954 film Pushover.

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In the Season 3 episode of The Rockford Files titled “Crack Back,” which aired in 1977, Burbank City Hall masqueraded as the courthouse where Beth Davenport (Gretchen Corbett) defended a professional football player who was on trial for murder.

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In 1980’s American Gigolo, Burbank City Hall was where Julian (Richard Gere) was accosted by the press after being arrested.  Very little of the building is visible in the scene, though.

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The building masqueraded as a courthouse once again in the 1993 made-for-TV movie A Place to Be Loved (aka Shattered Family).

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The interior of Burbank City Hall stood in for the U.S. Naval Headquarters at Pearl Harbor in the ending scene of the 1995 movie Crimson Tide.

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For the exterior of the U.S. Naval Headquarters, a different building was used – Memorial Hall at Chapman University in the City of Orange.

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The IMDB website states that Burbank City Hall was also utilized in the 1961 film The Choppers, the Season 2 episode of Police Woman titled “Generation of Evil,” the Season 2 episode of S.W.A.T. titled “Courthouse,” and the Season 1 episode of Matt Houston titled “The Showgirl Murders,” but, unfortunately, I could not find copies of any of those productions to verify that information.

Donna Martin Graduates Protest (13 of 21)

Donna Martin Graduates Protest (21 of 21)

On a Donna Martin Graduates side-note – Even though we don’t have kids, during the holidays the GC and I participate in a bit of Elf on the Shelf fun by trading off hiding our elf (named Max) every night for each other.  This year, Max decided to hold a walk-out – with some nutcrackers, a couple of Santas, and my 90210 dolls – in honor of my favorite television show.  While I thought it was genius, the GC did not share in my enthusiasm.  Winking smile

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For more stalking fun, be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Los Angeles magazine online.  And you can check out my other blog, The Well-Heeled Diabetic, here.

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Until next time, Happy Stalking!  Smile

Stalk It: The Donna Martin Graduates protest from the “Something in the Air” episode of Beverly Hills, 90210 was filmed at Burbank City Hall, which is located at 275 East Olive Avenue in Burbank.

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3 comments

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  1. Troy S. says:

    Growing up in Burbank I remember many a time hearing of that fountain being sudsy after someone poured a bunch of laundry detergent in it.
    Oh the days before Big Brother and cameras every where. :)

  2. Gilles from France says:

    Hello Lindsay! There is a picture from “Matt Houston”: http://www.casimages.com/img.php?i=140329104415594512.jpg
    The actors featured in this picture are Lee Horsley and Pamela Hensley.

  3. Camilla says:

    I always wondered about that speech of Brandon’s too. I figured that was the first of many moments when Aaron Spelling insisted his daughter be portrayed as the heroine and innocent angel. (The other episode that always cracked me up is when Donna, Kelly, Claire, and Valerie go on the road trip and end up at the convent. When they’re doing the scene where you can hear all their prayers, Kelly, Claire, and Valerie are all thinking mean thoughts about each other and when they cut to Donna you hear “Now I lay me down to sleep…” )

    And LOVE the Elf’s protest. I still have my Dylan doll, he’s the only one I ever got.


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