We started by taking a few steps out the front door. We could see the Hollywood sign from our hosts' street! (Click on the picture to enlarge it and see the sign.)
Later we went to breakfast at Lulu's, the same restaurant where we ate in January and July '06 on our visits to Dana and Kelley's. I had the house scramble yet again. Goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, avocado, spinach, mushrooms, fresh basil... It's AMAZING!
After that we said goodbye to T and Amy, who were catching a flight to Oklahoma. Then Dana, Dede and I set off for the Warner Bros. Studios.
On our family vacation four years ago, we took the VIP studio tour and had a blast. I told Dede that it was the one thing I really wanted to do on our sightseeing day.
One of our first stops was the Warner Bros. Museum. This was one of the more frustrating aspects of my last tour there because the guides limit how much time you can spend in there. This time, I knew I wanted to see the Harry Potter stuff that I'd barely glimpsed four years ago, so as soon as our guide set us loose, we headed up the stairs! Up there we saw Harry's cupboard under the stairs set and many costumes worn by the main characters. The Sorting Hat was there, and we each took a turn under it. A loud voice boomed our houses as we sat on a stool: Dana was declared to be in Gryffindor, Dede was placed in Hufflepuff, and I was put in... wait for it... Slytherin. (BOOOO!!!!) After a few minutes upstairs, we headed down to see the rest of the collection. Several costumes from recent TV shows were displayed there, such as Pushing Daisies and Chuck. There were props and clothes from films, too, like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Watchmen.
The coolest displays, though, were from the classics. They had Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart's costumes from Casablanca as well as Sam's piano. Several silver screen stars like Joan Crawford were represented, too. And the Maltese Falcon? It's there, complete with dings from when one of that film's stars dropped the statue.
We also got to see the Eastwood Scoring Stage, a huge room where composers can create the musical scores for TV shows and films.
(We weren't allowed to take pictures at this point in the tour, so this shot comes from a WB sound production website.)
The stage, with its aged wood floors, is highly sought after because of its excellent acoustics, the separate percussion and brass areas and the large screen (for matching the film to the music).
The Steinway piano is also a big draw for composers. Because of that piano, which was once Frank Sinatra's, other studios besides Warner Bros. will come to that venue to record music, including Disney. Pretty cool!
We also got to walk through the studio where the sound experts do ADR (automatic dialog replacement), a.k.a. looping. While we were there, we could hear an actor dubbing lines.
Several times during the tour we were told that Warner Bros. is a complete facility with everything from pre- to post-production, and that many non-WB producers will use some of the studio's services for parts of their own productions. And it's not just entertainment industries that call on their specialists. For instance, hotels use the drapery department's services when they need special curtains.
We finally got to take out our cameras when we made it to the backlot.
Many of the buildings in the backlot are just facades, but some are working sets. Inside this storefront we could see the tape marks for props and actors' marks, too.
I remembered this building from our last visit to WB: Annie's orphanage.
The street is named after the production designer who had a vision for a New York City street, complete with fire escapes, at this studio.
The windows and awnings are painted and repainted for different productions. I knew this one would've really frustrated Brett if he'd been with us!
The TV building is one of the few that's labeled as to its purpose.
Most other buildings, like these offices, are left unlabeled in case they're needed for a shoot. This set of offices was intentionally designed to look like a motel. (I'm hoping that's Aaron Sorkin's parking spot we drove past! Big fan!)
We paid a visit to the transportation exhibit, full of famous movie and TV cars:
While we were in that building, our guide took our pictures in front of a green screen for our souvenir photo.
We meandered our way around the soundstages and got to see the set for The Mentalist. (Earlier we got to approach where they were setting up an exterior scene for that show, too. Cool!) I had never watched the show, but it was strange to see how the different sets are configured inside the large soundstage. Eventually we ended up in one special recreated set:
I was hoping this was still part of the tour! Unlike four years ago, though, we weren't allowed to walk around the set, and we didn't get to have our pictures taken on the famous couch. Still, it was fun to see the props that the studio folks repositioned to show tour guests. Our guide told us that after the show ended production and the set had been struck, Jay Leno requested to interview the cast on the set! The studio accommodated that request and then realized they should leave the mock-up set up since Friends is the most popular show that was filmed on the lot.
We also drove past stage 24, now known as "The Friends Stage."
As we drove past each stage, I'd try to read the signs to see what had been filmed there. This one, stage 25, is where The Big Bang Theory is filmed!
We had a great time on the VIP tour, and I whole-heartedly recommend it to anyone who enjoyed movies and TV! It's not the theme-park studio tour; it's the real deal! I was pleased to see that the tour's different each time you take it, too. That means that the Warner Bros. tour will be on my itinerary anytime we're in LA!
We saw this on the studio's exterior wall as we were leaving Burbank. You could say we're big BBT fans!