City of Stars

City of Stars

Though I try to blog every evening, before I turn off the light, there are occasionally good reasons why I don’t.  Sometimes, there’s no internet connection (and that might happen in the coming days) but just once in a while, we’ve been out on the razzle and it’s simply too late.

Guess which box I ticked last night?


We woke to an altogether clearer day, with blue skies and a view.  You know what we were looking for?


So here we were, with another day in the City of Stars to look forward to!


First things first: breakfast!

Canters has always been a favourite and with no plans for the morning beyond an 11am meeting to make last minute arrangements for tomorrow, it was an easy decision to make.


Portions are…HUGE!  But the corned beef hash fan was more than satisfied and the Challah French Toast girl did her best to do it justice.


Well, we have to try, don’t we?  Perhaps it wasn’t as fancy as yesterday’s, but my goodness, it tasted great!


As we paid the bill at the counter, we spotted that we’re not the only ones who drop in.


I believe we even sat in those seats, too.


Driving back along Fairfax, we meandered through the roadworks and wondered what that building is (The Petersen Automotive Museum) – maybe one on the list for our next visit?


Back at the hotel, business done and all arrangements for tomorrow sorted, we hopped back in the car and headed out towards Mary’s.  Instead of the freeway, we took the Beverly Glen route, taking that same old sharp intake of breath as we hit Sunset!  (it never fails!)   Our plan was to meet Mary and Diana in Sherman Oaks, because they had made plans.


Strangely, in the twenty or so years we’ve been coming here, we’ve never done a “real” Studio Tour.  We’ve been to the theme parks and seen mock up studios, but the real thing?  Never! 


Diana works just a step from here, so had got us all tickets and with passports in hand and closed-toe-shoes, we checked in as instructed.


Whilst we waited, we scanned the posters: Just what programmes do Warner Bros make?  (The answer was the RIGHT ONE!)


with our chariot awaiting and guide Mark (not my hero!) off we went.

(I know that in my photographs, it looks like we had the place to ourselves.  We didn’t!  It was actually a bit of a zoo, but we’ll blank out that bit and pretend, shall we?  After all, the whole place is a bit of make believe!)


We drove through backlots, simple frontages built of lightweight materials with nothing behind them and mostly, empty shells inside too.  Having said that, some of these streets have been standing for many years and have featured in many movies.  As we drove, Mark listed them, but not being any kind of film afficionado, I’m afraid I couldn’t begin to tell you what they were!


But as soon as we reached the “New England Town Square” I knew immediately that we were in Stars Hollow!  Just one thing was missing: the gazebo.


That’s because it’s on wheels and it was parked in a spot marked “Gazebo parking only”.


At this point, Mark invited us inside one of the structures on the square, to show the empty shell and for us to see some of the sets in context.  The Music Man scene 76 Trombones had been filmed here too, but judging from the reaction of our group, we were all after just one thing:


Where is Luke’s Diner?  Doose’s store? 


There!  Luke’s on the corner, Doose’s on the next one, back there.  And yes, when we watched The Music Man, sure enough, the marching band are coming out of Stars Hollow High School and marching past Luke’s Diner and through the square.  Hmm.  Takes the magic away, doesn’t it!?

We wandered around, spotting familiar settings, though of course, everything looked very bleak and empty without all the dressing that brings it to life.


I mean, Rory’s “thinking tree” from Yale?  Again, one for the GG fans, but who would have recognised it? (We’ll watch again when we are home and try to see how it was all staged)


Anyway, as we drove around the lot, we made short stops here and there, including a few minutes at the archive, where there were several of the comic book characters and some Harry Potter artefacts.


I’m not really familiar with any of that, but I did find these shoes from Suicide Squad rather curious.


and my attention was grabbed by the folded map from Harry Potter.


A little further along, our tour took us inside a sound stage, where we had to put cameras away and agree not to share any details, for current sitcom scenes are being filmed here and any hint of them on social media creates havoc.  We saw the sets of The Big Bang Theory which could have meant more to me if I watched it!  It was all fascinating, but by now, we were flagging a little, finding the little transporter cart tricky to get in and out of and getting increasingly irritated my Mark’s constant “you guys” in his commentary.


Thankfully the next stop grabbed our attention and brought us back in line.  It was the prop store – not called that, I think, but that’s what this enormous four storey warehouse contained.


Everything is bar coded and tracked and when a set designer comes in to choose items for a show or a movie, they tag the item they wish to use.


Here were a variety of collections of everything imaginable.


need a phone?


or a phone?  Better get the era right, because you know how those eagle eyed viewers spot every anachronism!


Next time we need a replica of the White House, we know where there’s a desk for hire – complete with stiletto heel bruises from Lady Gaga dancing on it in a music video.


Some items are of limited use.


Others could never be used again in quite the same way.


with one last short stop in the Batman vehicle collection, our tour was over.  It was at least a couple of hours since we’d set out and actually, all four of us were a little overwhelmed.


So when we were dropped off at the area where we could see the process of making a movie, from script to screen, we wished that we had started here instead.  This was a really fascinating area and not really one to rush through.


I really enjoyed seeing the storyboards


the original drawings


and the awards won by some of the people who work here.


Some of the film stars were here too, including my favourite Emmet Brickowski.  Leaving through the gift shop, wishing we’d had longer but knowing we’d also had long enough, we were headed for “the real thing”.


City of Stars… next stop, Hollywood Boulevard! 


Just time for a quick, pre-theatre bite to eat.


Though we are all too familiar with the marvellous Shake Shack, it’s pretty new here and causing quite a stir.


Diana snagged us a table and before long, our little buzzer was flashing and buzzing and jumping around the table to tell us our order was ready.


We made it in good time for her to collect tickets for tonight’s hot show, The King and I.


The Pantages Theatre is something to behold!  Even the foyer is spectacular, though the interior is altogether in a different time and age.  This is most certainly the Hollywood we imagine.


Diana, a season ticket holder here, had managed to get us four great seats in the auditorium and for almost three hours, we sat and enjoyed spectacular singing and dancing in this most lavish setting.


There could be no better way to close the first part of our adventure here in the city of stars.  This morning, we are packed and our luggage is ready to be transported to the next stage of our journey.


We’ll see you there!

Adventure Part Two

Adventure Part Two

Along the Freeway

Along the Freeway