Of the many movie lots I was fortunate to work at, 20th Century Fox was probably my favorite.
Especially during MASH.
Back then I
drove into the studio past the New York street built for HELLO DOLLY.
Today there are office buildings. Goodbye Dolly. I drove past the
MASH stage (9) – actually I
raced past the MASH stage so I wouldn’t be stopped by an actor who had a
script question. My parking space was in the old western town square
used for BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID. I was mere steps from the
Our office was in “the Old Writers Building”. And
that was before I was one. It was a two story Swiss chalet, featured
in BABES IN TOYLAND and any other film that had elves. Supposedly,
our office on the second floor once belonged to F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Zelda’s empty gin bottles were still behind the couch so it must be
There was always filming going on. CHARLIE’S ANGELS were
there every other week. I guess the angels broke up a lot Swiss drug
rings. But I’d walk out of the building and there would be Jackie Smith
in a tight jump suit pointing a gun at me. This is why I wanted to be a
writer, by the way.
The Old Writers Building still exists but
western town is a memory, replaced by trailers. Jackie Smith can still
get into that jumpsuit so that’s pretty cool.
The commissary was
in the PEYTON PLACE town square. Remember the white gazebo? That was
still there. Not anymore. Replaced by a massive parking structure.
What is now Century
City used to just be part of the 20th Century Fox lot. But they lost
so much money on CLEOPATRA that they had to sell some of it off. But in
the late 70s a good portion still remained. There was a private
bridge over Olympic Blvd that led to a back lot where a ton of scenery
was stored. My partner and I would walk to Century City for lunch past
several of the original STAR WARS sets.
Today the bridge is gone
as is the back lot. There is a large office building and a parking
structure. (“Pave paradise, and put up a parking lot”) The STAR WAR
sets are in the Smithsonian or some prop guy’s den. They would have
been in my den if I were smart back then.
A trip to the prop
building was like a day in the greatest Hollywood museum ever.
Priceless props were just collecting dust. Yul Brynner’s belt buckle
from THE KING AND I was even there! Why didn’t I steal that too?! I am
such an idiot!
Every afternoon we could watch dailies. The screening room was right behind
Commissioner Gordon’s office from the TV version of BATMAN. Remember
how the Batmobile would park right in front of the building and Batman
and Robin would bound up the stairs? On the other side of the façade
was probably the producers watching the Julie Newmar in her cat suit
from the day before.
And all of this was before even going on our set and watching them film scenes that are still being shown today.
was a golden time that I cherish now and happy to say, recognized and
appreciated at the time. Dream factories were more dreams and less
factories. When I have occasion to drive onto the lot today I usually
pass by the former site of the old western town and think of that great
exchange in BUTCH CASSIDY.
BUTCH: What happened to the old bank? It was beautiful.
GUARD: People kept robbing it.
BUTCH: Small price to pay for beauty.