The cool part: Who needs Universal tours when Hollywood comes right to you? The top of your tree is seen in a major motion picture. Hollywood technicians have employment. You can usually steal a donut off the craft-services table. Big stars hang out on your front porch.
A few years ago I took a walk after dinner and encountered a shoot for CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND. They were in the long process of setting up a shot and everybody was just milling around. I saw the director just sitting off by himself, casually watching the activity. I walked up and said hello. We knew a lot of mutual people in television so breaking the ice was easy. Long story short, I spent the next half hour chatting with George Clooney. (Happy to report he’s as nice, unassuming, handsome, and charming as you’d hope he’d be in person – the bastard.)
The first day on a movie set is the most exciting day of your life. The second is the most boring.
It’s a very slow process. That’s just the way it is. And what they’re shooting is not always that glamorous. Recently, a Ford commercial was filmed two doors down from me. (The photos today are from that shoot.) I wandered over (to steal some donuts) and when I expressed my disappointment to some crew guy that there were no stars he said: “Are you kidding? You get to see the new Ford.” Yeah, well... that's fine if it's Harrison.
All in all, location shooting is a good thing. I’ll trade the inconvenience for the stimulation in the local economy and the nostalgia of watching old movies filmed in LA and seeing landmarks that no longer exist. It’s a time machine experience not many cities are afforded.
Neighbors a couple of blocks away let their house be used for the pilot of ONCE AND AGAIN (starring Sela Ward). Inside and out they shot at their home. Then the show got picked up. At this point the production company had to completely replicate their living room and kitchen on a soundstage. How weird to watch a show with people in your kitchen every week? Assuming they didn’t watch something else.
Earl Pomerantz created a series about a writer like himself and he too had his living room reproduced on the stage. What a benefit that has to be if you’re selling your home. How many sellers get 20,000,000 visitors to attend their Open House?
My parents had friends who were extremely wealthy and lived in the San Fernando Valley. They had a big house at the end of a cul de sac, which provided plenty of privacy. They would routinely rent out their house to porno studios. My parents were afraid to sit on any of the couches.
But that’s the beauty of L.A. Everywhere you go, any house, any street. Cary Grant may have uttered famous lines from movies right where you’re standing. Or Nina Hartley might’ve been sodomized. They don’t call this place the Dream Factory for nothing!