The Batmobile and fake cities at the Warner Bros Studio in Burbank

If you take the studio tour at the Warner Bros. lot you will find yourself riding on a open-sided shuttle and passing through sun-filled streets of Chicago, New York, and Big-City-and-Small-Town Anywhere, U.S.A. All fictional, of course.

Sound Stages on Warner Bros. Studio Lot
The Warner Bros. Studio is an actual working movie and TV production facility. Tours are secondary to the primary purpose of creating entertainment.

Thanks to binge-watching on the internet, the demand for TV series and movies is seemingly endless and on the Warner Bros. Studio Tour you will also see street after street of huge sound stages–all busier than they have been in years. The production of entertainment is a thriving big business in Los Angeles these days.

Here is some of what you see on the Studio Tour:

Batmobile on Warner Bros. Studio backlot
One version of the Batmobile is parked on the Warner Bros. lot.
Arkham asylum Warner Studio LA City Pix
The gates to the Arkham Asylum stand next to the Batmobile on display at the Warner Bros. Studio lot.
Fake cemetary on Warner Bros. Studio lot
If you are a fan of “Shameless” here is the exterior of Patsy’s Pies, ostensibly in Chicago but actually at the Warner Bros. Studio in Burbank.
Chicago L on Warner Bros. Lot LA City Pix
Making a movie set in Chicago? Here is the  permanent Warner Bros. set that incorporates an artificial version of the famed Chicago “L” train tracks.  The buildings behind can be repainted to represent other locations for other movies.
Fake cemetary on Warner Bros. Studio lot
Need a cemetery in your TV show? Well, here is a totally fake one on the Warner Bros. lot just in time for Halloween.
Warner Bros. Water Tower
The famous Warner Bros. water tower, often used as a logo on cartoon productions.  The other buildings, left and right, are part of the facades used for exterior shots in movies. 
Setting up stage for holiday
Workmen were setting up a stage for what I think was a Halloween event..  The Little Shop of Horrors in across the street was also being outfitted for the holiday.

 


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Tom Cruise’s home-away-from-home at Scientology Celebrity Center

Scientology’s most famous member, Tom Cruise, no longer owns a home in Los Angeles, but when he is in town he can always stay at the Scientology Celebrity Center and its Manor Hotel on Franklin St. in Hollywood..

Built by the widow of an early Hollywood movie mogul, the Celebrity Center was originally called the Chateau Elysee and was a combination of apartments and a hotel for the international elite.

The sign may read “Manor Hotel” but not just anyone can make a reservation to stay in this Scientology Celebrity Center.

In an early photo of the building it stands grand and glorious at the edge of the Hollywood Hills.  Today it is surrounded by tall fences, except at the entrance to the hotel where a guy in a casual clothes reading a newspaper turned out to be a guard.

There is another gate with a sign that reads “Welcome” and offers free classes, but you have to ring the bell for admission to what looks like a very lovely garden terrace. And I have no doubt that if you ring the bell you will be greeted almost instantly by someone who is actually a Scientology recruiter.

Several years ago I wrote about another Scientology building in Hollywood and my encounter with the guard at that location.

Here is what I saw on a walk around the Celebrity Center.

bars around Scientology Celebrity Center LA City Pix
Peeking through the fence I spied what looked somewhat like either an enclosed swimming pool or an elegant greenhouse.
garden terrace at Scientology Celebrity Center LA City Pix
A terrace outside the Celebrity Center. Ring a bell at a nearby gate and you might be admitted. Maybe.
Fortress Scientology LA City Pix
From the street behind the Celebrity Center the complex looks like a fortress. I wanted to visit the garden on the top of this structure, but the guard dissuaded me.

 

Free classes at Scientology Center Los Angeles LA City Pix
Free classes about breaking into the movie industry are a major way to lure young people into Scientology. For whatever it is worth, Scientology is banned in both the U.K. and France.    I would love to welcome you as a subscriber to LA City Pix. Please use the form in the upper right side of this page to receive updates when new posts appear.

 

Hollywood and Vine for stars and murals in the Red Line Metro Station

Hollywood and Vine is among the most famous intersections in the country.  Those two street names suggest glamour and glitz and movie stars.

Hollywood movie reel
Today movies are digital, but for decades  movies were photographic film on reels like these on the wall of this Metro station.

While the reality on Hollywood Blvd. above the station does not quite match that image to honor the lore the Metro turned this Red Line subway station into a work of art based on the film industry.

Here is what you can see:

Not in Kansas tile Hollywood and Vine
This tile mural tells viewers that they are “Not in Kansas” anymore. All you have to do is go upstairs to the street level to realize how very true that is.
Stars Homes Hollywood and Vine Red Line (
This tile mural reflects upon the bus tours of movie stars homes around Los Angeles. Most of the tours actually begin near the next Red Line Metro stop at Hollywood and Highland.
Palm trees Red Line Hollywood and Vine
Of course there had to be “palm trees” in the subway station.  This is Hollywood after all.

 

WHotel Hollywood and Vine
In the last decade or so Hollywood has become a very much nicer place to live and visit. The W hotel is just one example of the renewal of Hollywood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Hollywood Underground at the Metro stations

palm trees red line Hollywood
‘Palm trees’ are part of the art in the Hollywood and Vine Metro Red Line station. They definitely are a symbol that says ‘Welcome to Hollywood’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Metro stations bracket the section of Hollywood Blvd. that most visitors think of as ‘Hollywood’.  Most locals think of this area as a place for tourists and where Jimmy Kimmel’s show is taped.

For me these two stations are examples of the commitment to art made when the Red and Gold Metro lines were being built twenty years ago.  Sadly, the Metro no longer makes these kind of art investments. The newest stations out in the ‘burbs are quite boring.

Anyway, here are a few photos of what’s going on underneath Hollywood Blvd. To see what’s happening up on the street go to the previous post on this blog.

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Working After Retirement coverBefore moving on to the other artworks in the Metro stations in Hollywood…

My guide to ‘Working After Retirement’ is on sale on Kindle, Nook and iTunes right now. (Mid-April 2016) For a short time you can get this best-seller for only 99 cents!

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star material tile Hollywood and Vine Metro station
A series of tile cartoons line the walls of the Red Line Metro station at Hollywood and Vine. This one is entitled ‘Star Material’ and is for all those young dreamers who come to L.A. hoping to be discovered.
Not in Kansas tile artwork Red Line Metro
This tile artwork is entitled ‘Not in Kansas Anymore’ which is so true!
Hollywood and Highland Metro station
The art in the Hollywood and Highland Metro station is more subdued than at the previous stop at Hollywood and Vine. Upstairs on Hollywood Blvd. however, the street scene is astonishing. See the previous post for more.
ARtist Colette Miller was commissioned to take portraits of Angelenos standing in front of a pair of papier mache wings.  This is Mayor Garcetti's portraits.
Artist Colette Miller was commissioned to take portraits of Angelenos standing in front of a pair of papier mache wings. She said that the wings symbolize ‘the goodness that each of us has to contribute to Los Angeles.’  This is Mayor Garcetti’s portrait hanging on the wall of the Hollywood and Highland Metro station.

Hard Rock dancing girls, Chewbacca, Shrek and Superheros — just another sunny day on Hollywood Blvd.

Superheros having fun Hollywood blvd
Costumed characters are a big feature on the boulevard. They want you to pay to take a picture with them. Interestingly enough, some actually make good money doing this.

It was something I hadn’t seen since the Sixties in North Beach–two girls in skimpy outfits dancing in a display window to lure customers inside.  But there it was at the Hard Rock cafe on Hollywood Blvd.  Back in the Sixties, however, the costumes were even smaller and the dancers more energetic.  These young ladies looked slightly embarrassed. (You can see them below.)

Posintg by Britney Spears start
Posing with the stars that honor famous people in the entertainment world is a popular activity on Hollywood Blvd. This is Britney Spears star.

Like most Angelenos I rarely ever go to to Hollywood; it’s nothing but a tourist trap.  But since I’d promised to write about the art in the Red Line Metro stations I decided to go up onto Hollywood Blvd. to see the show after I photographed the art underground. So here is what I saw on a sunny Saturday afternoon in April.  I will write about the Red Line Metro art in a future post.

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New Vampire in Town coverOne other thing: FREE for Kindle Unlimited members. ‘New Vampire in Town’ is the tale of a young Hollywood make-up artist who, in desperation, becomes a vampire.  Before long she’s on the run. You can get it for FREE on Kindle right now.

 

 

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dancers in window at Hard Rock cafe
Two young women dancing in the window at the front of the Hard Rock cafe in Hollywood. (Sorry about all the reflections.)
Posing with Shreck
Posing with the Shrek statue outside Madame Tussauds. Unlike other characters along the boulevard this Shrek won’t ask you to pay to pose with him.
Jimmy Kimmel Live building
Kimmel’s show is taped right across the street from the Chinese Theater. The El Capitan, another old and glorious movie theater, is next door. Los Angeles has amazing old theaters and you can tour them downtown.
Roy Rogers hand and foot prints Chinese Theater
Roy Rogers didn’t stop with hand and foot prints. He also included a gun and Trigger’s horseshoes in the sidewalk outside the Chinese Theater.
Humphrey Bogart hand foot prints
Humphrey Bogart’s hand and footprints outside the Chinese theater. The ‘Sid’ mentioned is Sid Grauman who built the Chinese Theater.
Chewbacca outside Chinese theater
Star Wars storm troopers show up at many fairs around Los Angeles, but there were none on Hollywood Blvd. on Saturday. But Chewbacca was there. It was close to 80 degrees so he must have been melting inside that heavy costume!

 

Micky and Minnie Mouse Hollywood Blvd.
Micky and Minnie Mouse on Hollywood Boulevard. I wonder if they are licensed by Disney. Disney is very rigorous about enforcing licensing of their characters.
Sightseeing bus Hollywood Blvd.
And if you get bored you can always hop on a tour bus to see other sites around Los Angeles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boomboxes, Basquiat, Ice Cube for Christmas in East Hollywood

Boombox Creators show
At the Boombox Creators show are photos for sale of Basquiat and Ice Cube as well as original artwork of N.W.A.

The current exhibition at La Luz de Jesus gallery, Boombox Creators, is a trip back in time to the 1980s and the birth of hip-hop.

What struck me most was how cerebral and geometric the boomboxes are as objects–all gray or black angles and silvery gray circular shapes.  In contrast are the sounds–wild, pulsing, vibrant–they produced back when music was freed from enclosed rooms and came dancing out onto the street, the beaches and city parks.

In a video produced in conjunction with the show Arabian Prince of N.W. A. fame describes the sounds as ‘shared music’. In the same video artist Patty Astor notes that the boombox suddenly meant everyone could have their own recording studio. Actor Andre Royo also shares his thoughts about boomboxes. Take a look at the video here.

On the walls of the gallery are photos of Ice Cube and Basquiat, among others, you can buy for Christmas gifts–or for yourself. There are also prints of the original technical drawings for boomboxes for sale as well as mix-tapes created by Miles Lightwood, the driving force behind Boombox Creators.

Here are some photos of the exhibition:

Boombox Creators show at La Luz de Jesus
Prints of the original technical drawings and photographs of celebrities are in the Boombox Creators show..
fantasy boombox
A boombox with color!
Boombox with original packaging
Not all boomboxes were large geomtric objects. One shown here comes with its original packing, which we all have learned from ‘Antique Roadshow’ makes an object more valuable. I love the little yellow and green boombox. It probably does not produce the intense sounds that ghetto-blasters do.
Mobiles at Boombox Creators show
La Luz de Jesus gallery is located in the back of the Wacko store on Hollywood Blvd. in East Hollywood. Mobiles for sale hang from the ceiling. I’ll show more of this wild store in my next post.

 

Underground Hollywood: stars on the walls, stars on the sidewalks and tourists by the thousands

Star Material tile Hollywood and Viine station
‘Star Material’ is the name of this tile on the wall of the Hollywood and Vine station. So many young people come to L.A. dreaming of stardom. 6 months later they’re gone.

Most Angelenos avoid Hollywood Blvd.  It used to be a run down slum with a lot of tile stars embedded in the sidewalks.  Most of the real film industry moved out to the San Fernando Valley decades ago. There are still a couple of studios (Paramount and Raleigh) and post-production houses around in industrial-looking buildings.  But the absence of the actual world of movie-making in this area hasn’t affected the enthusiasm of the Hollywood Merchants Association. In the last few years Hollywood Blvd. has spiffied itself up and turned into a tourist trap with two underground Metro Gold Line Stations bracketing it.

W Hotel on Hollywood Blvd.
The very posh W hotel is a sign of Hollywood turning the corner and escaping its slummy past.

Even the old office buildings that had been empty for decades are now being converted into apartment and condos.

Below ground the station at Hollywood and Vine definitely celebrates the film industry.  Above ground capitalism thrives with tour buses and costumed characters.  The characters, BTW, are all entrepreneurial–individuals who simply decided to earn their living wearing costumes and being photographed with tourists.  The goal, of course, of all this activity is to encourage tourists to spend money at the shops that line the boulevard.

Anyway…here are some photos of Hollywood aboveground and below at the Red Line station at Hollywood and Vine.

This tile in the Red Line station tells the truth: 'Not in Kansas'.
This tile in the Red Line station tells the truth: ‘Not in Kansas Anymore’.
Stars home tile  Hollywood and Vine Red Line station
This tile is about bus tours of homes that maybe once upon a time were owned by movie stars. Or maybe not.
Spongebob on Hollywood Blvd.
Bet you never thought of Spongebob as a capitalist!  Entrepreneurs–that’s what all the characters are that walk along Hollywood Blvd. getting their photos taken with tourists.
Britney Spears star on Hollywood Blvd.
The stars embedded in the sidewalks of Hollywood Blvd. are a very smart marketing move. Here 2 people have their photo taken by the Britney Spears star.  Local businesmen hope they will also spend some money in nearby shops.