Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The new Hollywood is Santa Clarita!

Hooray for Santa Clarita
That screwy, ballyhooey Santa Clarita
...Go out and try your luck,
You might be Donald Duck
Hooray for Santa Clarita

The Walt Disney Company last week announced that it would build a 56-acre production facility in Santa Clarita, which is in the middle of nowhere on the way to Bakersfield. The reason is simple – to cut down on runaway production costs.

When you hear “Santa Clarita” in the news or read about it in the papers it’s usually accompanied by the word “evacuations”. Until now, brush fires have been its claim to fame.

But soon it will be the show business capital of the world!

There are already shows that film out there. All of the CSI’s and NCIS’s, BIG LOVE, and several Fox Family Channel sitcoms. 24 as well, which is perfect for Jack Bauer since Santa Clarita is also the home of the NYX Sleep Disorder Center.

This is all part of the mass exodus from Hollywood due to skyrocketing production costs and tax demands. Shows that once were housed in major studios are now being filmed in New Mexico, Connecticut, and to prove how nuts things are – ABC moved UGLY BETTY from LA to New York. New York is cheaper???

Meanwhile, Paramount Studios is practically a ghost town today.

The once proud Hollywood Lane Parade will soon become the daily commute on the 405 and 5 freeways. I predict that one month after Disney opens their new Santa Clarita studio 80% of its employees will be in traffic school to get their speeding tickets erased from their record.

Lots of folks will be inconvenienced but hey, they still have jobs. It’s the non-industry people who my heart goes out to.

For example: Starline Tour guides. This can’t be easy for them. Instead of saying, “This was where Clark Gable kissed Vivien Leigh in GONE WITH THE WIND”, they’ll now have to say, “This is the warehouse where for years most of the country’s tampons were stored.” It’s just not the same. Not to mention the extra hour driving time to get to that warehouse. And what do they fill with along the way? “If you look to your right, just past the Roscoe exit, you can see the Chevron station where Chloe Sevigny took her car when it once overheated.”

In theory, these new studios mean more room to stretch out. But even with all the acres of extra space you know there still won’t be sufficient parking for writers. They’ll have to leave their cars at the Home Depot and take the shuttle.

But if there is a silver lining to all this production moving to where Moses left his sandals it’s that show runners might receive a little less interference. Network and studio execs tend not to go to places they can’t find.

Still, it’s a little sad. The end of an era. There was always a certain aura and mystique about Hollywood. It’s where they made the “magic” and it was special. The Dream Factory was never adjacent to the glue factory. Alas, in a few years, “Tinsel Town” will be changed to just “Tin Town”.

Hooray indeed.

23 comments:

odocoileus said...

Santa Clarita's within the 30 mile limit, so it counts as local for Hollywood folks. I worked out there on CSI years ago. The commute from LA to there was quick and easy. Traffic's probably worse now, but it's gotta be better than Hollywood during rush hour.

Santa Clarita's isn't nowhere. It's a shiny suburban town for educated professionals who want to keep their kids out of the LA school system and LA's overall urban drama.

They like things new and bland out there, because new means convenient and bland means your kids don't get shot at the bus stop. (This actually happened at Taft High in 2003 http://www.streetgangs.com/topics/2003/091203taftin.html)

Disney's investing building locally is great news. You may have heard that Raleigh's putting massive investment in new studios - in Budapest. Now that is not such great news.

Mike Snider said...

Ken - you're forgetting what else is up in Santa Clarita: CalArts, the Disney-founded & -supported college, where legend has it that Frozen Walt is still in the basement -- and now able to keep closer tabs on "his" old company?

Mike Bell said...

I've always though that the studios should invest in land here in the Southern San Joaquin Valley (Bakersfield). There's plenty of land for studio facilities and the area can double for many different locales. Plus, everybody's already up here shooting car spots anyway. Anything to keep business in California. Why can't we give a tax credit for the industry this state gave shape to?

Jeff Logian said...

Funny stuff, Ken, as usual, and I know that's the point. But as you alluded to, the SCV and surrounding area has a long, rich history as a backdrop for many movies and TV shows.

It's also been home to various production and support facilities for decades; Gene Autry's, Valuzet's and Disney's Placerita Canyon properties, the studios in the Valencia Industrial Center, Star Waggons.

Vasquez Rocks may as well have been owned by the studios so much stuff has been shot out there. My family owned the Big Oaks Lodge in Bouquet Canyon for years, which was a location for scenes from Viva Las Vegas, The Outfit, O'Hara U.S. Treasury, and many, many more.

Actors, producers, and crew members started moving out here years ago. Cheryl Ladd was one of the first stars I know of to buy a home in Valencia. Sand Canyon has long been home to movie and TV people.

This new venture kind of makes sense.

But don't worry, you're still funny.

D. McEwan said...

"odocoileus said...
Traffic's probably worse now, but it's gotta be better than Hollywood during rush hour."

Maybe, but five miles of heavy traffic is preferable to 30 miles of light traffic.

To me, the height of "runaway production" madness is when a story SET IN LOS ANGELES, is shot in Toronto. When something is set a block from my home, and I don't recognize a single setting, that's insane.

Why not move THE JAY LENO SHOW out there, and leave movies here?

VP81955 said...

Meanwhile, Paramount Studios is practically a ghost town today.

Too bad -- the ghosts of Ernst Lubitsch and Preston Sturges could give pointers to some of the young folks. Does their ectoplasm know the way to Santa Clarita?

Tom Parker said...

We used to call it Saugus/Newhall. Sort of like calling parts of Van Nuys Canoga Park or Encino.

There were a lot of westerns shot there in the early 20th century. And WC Fields lived there in the 30s - check out the beefcake: http://www.scvhistory.com/scvhistory/lw2125a.htm

It's also where the LA Aqueduct belches the contents of the Owen River over the hill into the cascades. Burp! Without that aqueduct LA could only provide water for 300,000 residents.

Rory L. Aronsky said...

The Walt Disney Company last week announced that it would build a 56-acre production facility in Santa Clarita, which is in the middle of nowhere on the way to Bakersfield. The reason is simple – to cut down on runaway production costs.

When you hear “Santa Clarita” in the news or read about it in the papers it’s usually accompanied by the word “evacuations”. Until now, brush fires have been its claim to fame.


I live here, Ken, and it's all true.

Santa Clarita's isn't nowhere. It's a shiny suburban town for educated professionals who want to keep their kids out of the LA school system and LA's overall urban drama.

No, that's only in Valencia. The rest is nowhere. The shiny suburban town part. The rest is absolutely true. Live here because you don't want to live in Los Angeles, but don't mind commuting here. That's probably 80% of its population.

Rory L. Aronsky said...

Sorry. I meant the "shiny suburban town" part is true of Valencia only. I know it's officially the "City of Santa Clarita," but when you live here long enough, you forget the official title and split it into its correct parts.

I so wish there were garage sales in Stevenson Ranch. I want a 100-year-old grandfather clock for $25.

Rory L. Aronsky said...

Actors, producers, and crew members started moving out here years ago. Cheryl Ladd was one of the first stars I know of to buy a home in Valencia. Sand Canyon has long been home to movie and TV people.

That's one of the things I like about Disney's new venture. Burbank Disney employees who live here don't have to drive much to work if they don't want.

Also, as it turns out, Disney's owned this property since the late 1950s. "Old Yeller" was filmed there.

angel said...

A long time Santa Clarita Resident here. Trust me, production crews are celebrating this decision. Better than farming it out to other countries, or other areas of this Country. Shoot Local! :-)

D. McEwan said...

"VP81955 said...
Too bad -- the ghosts of Ernst Lubitsch and Preston Sturges"

Those lessons can still be learned by watching their films. For instance, by watching the Lubitsch-produced A ROYAL SCANDAL, with Tallulah Bankhead and Vincent Price, one can learn not to hire Otto Preminger to direct a farce.

So "Santa Clarita" is what they are now calling that area up by MAGIC MOUNTAIN & Cal Arts? I wondered. Not as far away as I thought. Yup, OLD YELLER was shot up there, and more importantly (to some of us), THE ADVENTURES OF SPIN & MARTY.

Oh, and I shot four episodes of THE NEW MONKEES up there in 1987, a show so dreadful, it was fully forgotten before the season it aired was fully over. (Its timeslot was switched from 7:30 PM to 2 AM after the fourth episode.) But hey, I got to meet Ray Walston, when he peddled up on a bicycle. He was shooting an episode of SLEDGE HAMMER next door. The other actors I was waiting around with had no idea who he was, while I was plotzing! RAY WALSTON!!!

Dave H. said...

FYI Ken - CSI doesn't shoot in SC anymore (Universal, Manhattan Beach, and CBS Radford). The reason why...the cast couldn't take the drive anymore after 4 or 5seasons. I did a season on CSI Vegas and Santa Clarita is unbareably hot in the summer. There's gotta be a better way to keep the work in town than this!

Mary Stella said...

ABC moved UGLY BETTY from LA to New York. New York is cheaper???

They moved All My Children from NYC to LA because it was cheaper. Did they just put each show in each other's studio?

moving to where Moses left his sandals *snort*

it’s that show runners might receive a little less interference. Network and studio execs tend not to go to places they can’t find.

Some enterprising person needs to open up a roadside kiosk and sell Garmins.

Duncan said...

Bad news for me, because I was thinking of moving up there from the San Fernando Valley (like 80% of the current SCV population) and this will undoubtedly drive up the price of housing.

Why?

Because once those Disney employees get one whiff of what traffic is going to be like on the 5 - the only way in or out of the valley without a helicopter - they'll be snatching up some of those "shiny suburban" homes for themselves.

At least we'll have a new nickname for the Golden State freeway: "The Unhappiest Place on Earth".

VP81955 said...

I've never been to Santa Clarita, but based on some of the get-away-from-the-city descriptions and the relative lack of variety of road access, it sounds as if it is to Los Angeles what Prince William County, Va. is to Washington, D.C. (with I-5 in the role of our I-95). As a Prince William resident, I say enjoy the future gridlock.

Tom Quigley said...

Wait'll they try and film some outdoor shoots in November and December with the ferocity of the Santa Anas up there. I was in an episode of THE PRETENDER filmed at the Pitchess Honor Ranch one December -- we were all freezing to death from the wind and craft services couldn't bring food out to us on a break because of how hard it was blowing.

Anonymous said...

It's the next logical geographic move for the industry. Remember when the major studios moved aaalllllll the wwwaaaayyyyy over the hill to the San Fernando Valley to cut costs and spread out a bit? Well this is the modern day version of that.

Anonymous said...

It is all a plan to move everything farther north. They really can't go south or inland. Do you remember talk of "Palmdale Intercontinental Airport" which never came about?

The good thing is that Disney employees will be driving against traffic.

Jub Jub The Frumious Bandersnatch said...

The good thing is that Disney employees will be driving against traffic.

Because when you're heading to "Mauschwitz" it's important to make good time.

Anonymous said...

We'll take that Rat, and eat him whole. Keep whining about the traffic.

Trevor said...

It's funny that you mention the show 24. In season six, Valencia (part of Santa Clarita) was ground zero for a nuclear bomb!

Marlene said...

Hey Ken, I like your article on "The new Hollywood is Santa Clarita". I'd love for you to post this article on my site: www.SceneInSCV.com where local experts in different fields that live in Santa Clarita write for us. We'd love to have you as a "Guest" writer.
Marlene Bernstein
marlene@SceneInSCV.com