Warner Bros. Sound Stages & Sitting in Central Perk!

04/12

2015 / Movie Locations / Spring Travel / TV Show Locations / West

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As promised, I’m continuing our Warner Bros. studio tour with part 2 of 3: the sound stages!

Sound stages are large…very large buildings where sets can be built inside for tv shows and movies. This way lighting and sound can be completely controlled. The sets can be as small as a bedroom or as big as a house. Or a pirate ship in a cave.

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The sound stage we got to walk through during our tour was Stage 24. It’s currently used for the show “Mike & Molly”, which I haven’t watched, but it was the stage where both “Friends” and “Full House” were filmed!

web_warnerbrostour_losangeles_thecarsonstravel_42^ That’s our tour guide, Josh. He was really cool. He just moved to LA in September and has been doing Warner Bros. tours for a month.

Films or TV shows that do well make the plaque outside of its respective stage door.

web_warnerbrostour_losangeles_thecarsonstravel_43I’m just now noticing the “Full House” and “Friends” dates on the plaque. I had not put it in perspective that “Friends” started the same year “Full House” ended. Woah.

We actually entered the stage from the door on the other end of this side of the building, which was cool because we got to see the plaque that reads “The Friends Stage”. I believe our tour guide told us that John Stamos was giving Warner Bros. a jokingly hard time that it should actually be called “The Full House Stage”.

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Once inside I don’t think we were allowed to take pictures (no one was, and I thought that was weird, so it must have been a rule). But we got to sit in the audience seats where “Mike & Molly” is filmed live (where “Friends” and “Full House” had been filmed live). It was really neat to see how it’s all set up and how the crazy angles of the sets make everything look bigger on camera. I did manage to snap a picture as we were about the exit the building. You can see part of the set and just the general vibe of a sound stage interior.

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In the photo above: the railing on the right is the stairs up to the audience area. I’d say it seats about 150 people? It was pretty large. All of the different sets are lined up next to each other so that the camera can just scoot straight over from one to the other. There are lots of monitors in the audience area so you can see what’s happening in camera. Josh said they film the show in sequential order since the audience needs to understand the story so that the natural sound reactions can be recorded. A taping can take six hours or so, so if you decide to go to one, be prepared to be there awhile! Here’s a photo I found of the Warner Bros. website of the floor plan of Stage 24:

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Across from Stage 24 is Stage 25 where “The Big Bang Theory” is filmed. They were working on that show the day we were there. I should have taken pictures of some of the crazy expensive cars parked in these spots! Makes you wonder who was on the other side of that wall…

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Next we drove by Stage 16. At 98 feet, it is the tallest stage on the lot and the tallest sound stage in North America thanks to Marion Davies and William Randolf Hearst. I highly recommend taking a minute to hear the story of how this came about in this short video.

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If you watched the video you will have learned that in addition to the building being raised, the floor of Stage 16 can be removed exposing another 25 feet of depth. This is how they’ve filmed all the “water movies” like The Perfect Storm and the cave with One Eyed Willy’s pirate ship in The Goonies. The height of the building is also how they got those cool geometric aerial shots from the dances in movie musicals and how they could build an entire casino inside for Ocean’s 13.

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^ Filming Poseidon in Stage 13. Photo from the Warner Bros. website.

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^ The casino for Ocean’s 13 inside Stage 16. Photo from the Warner Bros. website.

Next we drove by the massive buildings where all the sets and props are built. I don’t know why I was so surprised to see this because I know all this stuff has to get made somehow, but it was this realization that at the end of the day, this is where people come to work. It also put in perspective what a massive operation goes in to making fiction look like reality.

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There’s so much stuff, but you can tell it’s very organized chaos!

The last stop on our sound stage tour was the set of Central Perk from “Friends”!! Obviously the set is not on Stage 24 anymore, but they’ve moved it to a space where it can now be seen on lot tours. Everything is just as it was in the last episode, minus that supporting beam to the right there ;) But look at us! Sitting on the couch!

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They even kept the chalkboard menu from the very last episode. *Tear*

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And that’s it for our sound stage tour! Like I said in Part 1, the stages and sets available for viewing changes every day depending on what’s currently filming. And if you go on a weekend, you’re much more likely to see more sound stage interiors than you would during the week day when filming is happening (we were there on a Monday).

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There’s still one more part left of our tour: the museum! It was featuring Batman and Harry Potter exhibits, which we were so thrilled about! Trae and I even got to sit under the Sorting Hat! Any guesses as to what houses we were put in? :)

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Inside the Warner Bros. Backlot!

04/08

2015 / Movie Locations / Spring Travel / TV Show Locations / West

web_warnerbrostour_losangeles_thecarsonstravel_23I finally got to visit Los Angeles for the first time last week! It was a short two day visit at the tail end of our San Diego trip. Being the epicenter of the motion picture industry, I knew I had to see some movie and TV locations! I wanted to do a studio tour because while I’ve seen lots of real life movie locations, I had never been on a backlot or sound stage. Well, there was that one time I got to sit in on Jimmy Fallon’s monologue rehearsal, but it wasn’t a live taping!

Anyhow, the studio tour I picked was Warner Bros.! It was my choice mostly because I knew “Gilmore Girls” and “Friends” were filmed there, but also because the cost and the length of the tour were perfect for our small budget and short visit.

To avoid making one insanely long blog post, I’ve divided our tour into three parts for each section of the studio we toured: backlot, sound stages, and museum. The backlot was my favorite, so that will be first!

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B A C K L O T

The backlot is where the exterior sets are located. Some of them are facades (no interior), some of them are practical sets (filming can be done inside as well), and some are shell sets (room for a crowd to stand inside to enter/exit during a scene).

web_warnerbrostour_losangeles_thecarsonstravel_03The first “street” we came down was Hennesy. It’s one of the oldest streets on the lot and it’s named after Dale Hennesy, the art director of Annie. The exterior of the orphanage in Annie, The Hudson St. Home for Girls, was filmed here on this street:

web_warnerbrostour_losangeles_thecarsonstravel_04Everything is fake, of course, so signage, building numbers, awnings, everything can be dressed to suit whatever a scene needs.

Next door to the orphanage entrance is the apartment building where Jim Carrey comes flying out the window and lands on the concrete in front of the Notary Public in the beginning of The Mask.

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Another section of Hennesy St. is this alley way. This is where the famous upside down Spiderman kiss happened (just beyond the stairs on the right).

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Picture 20 Picture 22This same alley was used in the “Friends” episode “The One After the Superbowl: Part 2″ where Rachel and Monica stalk Jean-Claude Van Damme.

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And this is the spot where Monica hides out while Rachel walks over to Jean-Claude:

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On our way to Midwest Street (my fave area!) we passed these rolling foliage things that are used to block unwanted sights in the background of shots. The leaves are spray painted green so they can look fresh over and over again!

web_warnerbrostour_losangeles_thecarsonstravel_09Okay, my fellow “Gilmore Girls” fans, recognize this place? :)

web_warnerbrostour_losangeles_thecarsonstravel_12Of course you do! It’s Miss Patty’s School of Ballet! It’s located at the end of French Street, and the grassy area to the right has been used as Central Park in “Friends”, I believe in the episode where they play football.

web_warnerbrostour_losangeles_thecarsonstravel_10Directly to the left of where we were parked in the above photo is a view of Midwest Street! This was my favorite area and you will immediately recognize it as Stars Hollow from “Gilmore Girls” and, currently, the city of Rosewood in “Pretty Little Liars”. I have to admit, PLL is my guilty pleasure so it was cool to see a set that’s currently being used for a show that I actually watch!

web_warnerbrostour_losangeles_thecarsonstravel_13Luke’s Diner there on the corner!

web_warnerbrostour_losangeles_thecarsonstravel_11If you remember, one of the entrances to Stars Hollow High was the pinkish red brick building across the street (in the photo above). On the show it looked so far away from Luke’s, but really they are close together!

web_warnerbrostour_losangeles_thecarsonstravel_14One more angle of Luke’s. This whole tour made me miss “Gilmore Girls” so much.

A little further down this same side of the street is where Doose’s corner market was (the yellow and green paint) and a fake dead end street to give the area some depth.

web_warnerbrostour_losangeles_thecarsonstravel_66I totally recognized the old Doose’s Market building in the background of a shot from PLL this week (I am behind, but am motivated to catch up now since being on the set!)

IMG_0349And now the center of the cute little town! You’ll probably recognize this area immediately, sans Gilmore Girls gazebo!

web_warnerbrostour_losangeles_thecarsonstravel_71Looking to the right you can see the front side of the pinkish red brick building that was Stars Hollow High, but is now currently Rosewood City Hall in “Pretty Little Liars”. It’s probably been other buildings as well since our tour guide said that PLL has done a really great job at reusing locations for different purposes. It seems like maybe this was also the police station at one point?

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Directly across the little park in the center of town is the church building. You’ll know it from “Gilmore Girls” and Pretty Little Liars” for sure!

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Remember Ian from PLL? And his almost death scene from the bell tower at the top of the church? That guy went to my prom in high school. So random!

Across the street to the right of the church is a street of residential homes. I believe most of them are practical sets and they all sort of blend into one another on the inside. The house on the left corner was the Gellar’s house in “Friends” from the episode “The One with the Prom Video”.

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It was also Mrs. Kim’s home/antique shop in “Gilmore Girls”:

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Right across the street from that house is the house from the intro of “Growing Pains. It was also the house from Gremlins.

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The street that runs between the Gellar house and the Growing Pains house is lined with different residential house sets. Unfortunately it was blocked off during our tour so we couldn’t go any further, but we did find out that the construction happening at the end of the street is thanks to the PLL episode last season where they blew up Toby’s house. This would also be a good time to mention that Warner Bros. has its own fire department on site!

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From the angle in the above photo, but looking back the other direction you’ll see the park area in the center of town and the spot where the gazebo used to be.

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And here’s the other row of store front sets on Midwest St. (the side of Doose’s Market is on the far left):

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Each section of the backlot is named after its design style. So, like above, we had the Midwestern looking shops and homes. Below is New York Street, made to look like an upscale urban area.

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The underground subway entrance is a shell set, meaning there’s enough room for actors and extras to enter and exit below ground, but for an actual scene with a subway they would cut to a sound stage or location shot.

All the way at the end of the street to the left of where the picture above was taken is a fake ‘L’ rail. I believe this was a common place for “ER” scenes.

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Just beyond New York St. is Embassy Courtyard, where this building below has been used in “Pretty Little Liars” as Radley Sanitarium and also Jenna’s School for the Blind.

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In the Embassy Courtyard is New York Park. This was used in the “Friends” episode “The One Where Phoebe Runs”. It was also used in “Gilmore Girls” – the tree in the middle with the branch jutting out the side was Rory’s study tree at Yale.

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We also drove past Brownstone Street, which was very picturesque of course. The tables at the end of the street are part of Commissary Park.

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And that wraps up our backlot tour! A few things to note if you’re planning to go on this tour:

  • The tour runs 2 hours and 15 minutes
  • Each guide will cater your tour to your interests and what’s currently available to see.
  • The groups are small (ours was 6 people) which makes it easy for everyone to see what they want and to get their questions answered.
  • Visiting during a week day exposes you to some excitement of actual filming and prep going on. But because of that, you may not get to see as many sets. Weekend tours tend to have more sets available for viewing.

Click here to continue with Part 2 of our tour! We got to see the actual “Mike & Molly” set and we got to sit in Central Perk!. And then I’ll finish up the tour with a pictures from the museum on site which was currently hosting Batman and Harry Potter exhibits! SO MUCH FUN!

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Exploring my birthplace – Terre Haute, IN

03/19

2014 / Family History / Midwest / Winter Travel

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You all may know by now how strongly I desire to live somewhere other than Oklahoma one day. It’s part of the reason I like to travel so much – how else am I supposed to see the world? Funnily enough, I have lived somewhere else, I just don’t remember it.

During our family history trip in February 2014 Mom and I explored the town of Marshall, IL where my grandparents grew up. Just a 30 minute drive east of Marshall you’ll find yourself in Terre Haute, IN – the town where my parents met and where I was born! We only lived there until I was one, so I have no memories or connections to Terre Haute, other than it’s where my life began. It was a very very snowy day when we visited “the haute”, as you will tell in the photos to follow!

Indiana State University is located in Terre Haute. My dad was teaching there when my mom was a student. That’s how they met. Oooh :)

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We wanted to park and walk around campus, but the snow kept get heavier and heavier so we decided against it. Next time!

My parents were married in July of 1983 in this local Methodist church:

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I was born in June of 1984 at Union Hospital in Terre Haute (also the hospital where my mom was born!):

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Mom said the hospital was not nearly this nice looking in ’84, lol.

And this was our first home!

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Some photos my Papaw (my dad’s dad) took after I was born:janababynursery janagmawakefield

I love the composition of this one!

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And that’s my birthplace in a nutshell :) I’m so glad mom and I braved the weather so I could at least get a moment to see each of these places. We did visit when I was 12 years old, and it was very memorable in its own way, but it’s always nice to see things again with age and understanding.

More Midwestern travels:

The Ladies with the Pretzel Necklaces

The Land of Lincoln

A League of Their Own movie locations