Tag Archives: Los Angeles filming locations

The License to Drive School

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This weekend, thanks to Mike over at MovieShotsLA, I got to stalk the high school used in fave 80s movie License to Drive.  When I found out that Mike had found this filming location long ago, I completely freaked out and of course immediately dragged my boyfriend, and my good friend Nat who was visiting from San Francisco, out to stalk it.  It turns out, though, that the License to Drive high school is not really a high school at all, but rather a middle school named Walter Reed.   And, let me tell you, for a middle school the place is absolutely HUGE.  I couldn’t get over it!  I think my entire junior high could have fit on Walter Reed’s front lawn.  LOL 

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Walter Reed Middle School shows up several times in License to Drive, most often as the location where Mercedes Lane waits on an outdoor bench for her Ferrari-driving boyfriend to pick her up after school.  It was that bench that I was most excited to see in person as I absolutely worshiped Mercedes growing up!  I am happy to report that Mercedes’ bench is still there twenty years later and looks pretty much exactly the same as it did when filming took place.  I can’t tell you how excited I was to be sitting in the exact spot my idol Mercedes Lane had sat all those years ago.  🙂  Too bad I didn’t have my denim skirt and white ankle boots on for the picture.  LOL

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Walter Reed’s unique pick-up/drop-off area located in front of the school is the reason I believe producers chose to use the school for filming.  That area worked perfectly for the many pick-up/drop-off scenes featured in the movie.

Besides License to Drive, Walter Reed also appeared in 7th Heaven (as Simon Camden’s elementary school), 2006’s The Shaggy Dog  remake, Role Models, Accepted, The West Wing, CSI, and Malcom in the Middle.  The exterior of the school is very picturesque and has a very Middle America feel to it, so it is easy to see why it is used so often for filming.  I was also excited to find out that quite a few celebs attended Walter Reed during their tween years, including Mayim Bialik (aka TV’s Blossom), Brian Austin Green, Adam Carolla, Teri Garr, Cuba Gooding Jr., Alyson Hannigan, Christina Milian, and, ironically, Khrystyne Haje who played Simone on Head of the Class.  I say ironically because the storyline of Head of the Class, the show Khrystyne would later star in, was actually loosely based on the Walter Reed Middle School honor program. 🙂

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  🙂

Stalk It: Walter Reed Middle School is located at 4525 Irvine Avenue in North Hollywood.

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Pawn Shop to the Stars

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Another day, another pawn shop to write about.  🙂  Ironically, just around the corner from the now defunct Beverly Hills, 90210 pawn shop that I blogged about yesterday, is yet another local pawn shop that also has a  filming history.  Who knew that pawn shops were such popular filming locations??  🙂  Angelo’s Jewelry and Loan Company, which touts itself as the “Pawn Shop to the Stars”, opened up in 1984 and has the distinction of being Santa Monica’s oldest pawn shop.  Since it was around at the time, I can’t help but wonder why it wasn’t used as Dylan’s pawn shop in the “Anaconda” episode of 90210.  Or why there would be two pawn shops in such close proximity to each other.  Perhaps that explains why the “Anaconda” one is no longer in business.  Anyway, even though the tiny shop was overlooked by 90210 location scouts, it did get featured just last year in the Owen Wilson movie Drillbit Taylor. 

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  In Drillbit Taylor, a group of nerdy teenage boys hire con man Owen Wilson to be their bodyguard.  But instead of protecting them, Drillbit ends up robbing them blind and hawking their goods at a local pawn shop.  That pawn shop was Angelo’s.  And it looks exactly the same in real life as it did in the movie.   According to the owner Angelo’s has also been featured in other productions over the years, but he was unable to recall which ones – which boggles my mind!  LOL  My guess is that Angelo’s has appeared in one or more of the L.A. based crime dramas such as Without A Trace, Cold Case, or the CSI shows. 

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I found this location thanks to Mike over at MovieShotsLA, but the truth is I really should have recognized it myself. For over two years I took acting classes right around the corner from Angelo’s and would pass by the shop at least three times a week on my way to grab a coffee before or after class.  Every time I walked by I would laugh at the silly signs in the store windows (pictured above).  So when Mike told me that my acting class pawn shop was the very same pawn shop featured in Drillbit Taylor, I had to mentally kick myself for not immediately recognizing it.  And I call myself a stalker!!  LOL  Sometimes I really think all that blond dye goes straight to my head.  LOL  Thanks, Mike!

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According to this article, Angelo’s claim of being the “Pawn Shop to the Stars” is actually not a joke.  Apparently movie stars do stop in to Angelo’s from time to time, although the owner refuses to divulge which ones.  I didn’t see any while I was there, but who knows, while stalking the place you might end up spotting a celeb or two!  🙂

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  🙂

Stalk It: Angelo’s Pawn Shop is located at 206 Santa Monica Boulevard in Santa Monica.

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Anaconda!

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No, the above title does not refer to the 1997 JLo/Ice Cube action flick Anaconda (a movie I have never seen), but a Beverly Hills, 90210 episode of the same name.  The other day while I was hanging out on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, Mike (from MovieShotsLA) called me and asked if I wouldn’t mind stalking a nearby location for him.  He was looking for the pawn shop that down-on-his-luck Dylan visited in that Second Season episode, which he could tell from the above screen capture was located somewhere on 2nd Street in Santa Monica. 

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While watching the pawn shop scene, Mike immediately recognized the famous Santa Monica Crocker Clock Tower in the background behind Dylan.  The Crocker Clock Tower is somewhat of a landmark building in Santa Monica, most likely due to its unusual art deco style and size – it is the second tallest building in the city.  The clock tower is also famous for another reason, though.  On January 17, 1994, at 4:31 a.m. the Northridge Earthquake struck Los Angeles and its surrounding area.  The 6.7 magnitute quake not only rocked the city, but the Crocker Clock Tower as well, stopping its hands at the precise moment the first wave struck.  For over six years afterwards the clock’s hands remained frozen in time at 4:31 a.m., a constant reminder to all who viewed it of the devastating quake.  In 2000, the clock was finally fixed for the meager cost of $75,000.

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Using the clock tower (and the above screen capture) as his guide, Mike was able to figure out the exact location of Dylan’s pawn shop, which I am sad to say is no longer in business.   Such a bummer!  Currently a sound design company named RMD Entertainment occupies the space.  “Anaconda” was filmed 17 years ago and in that time a lot on 2nd street has changed.  While I haven’t been able to confirm it, I do believe that filming took place at an actual pawn shop that was once located in RMD’s space.   Although it is also a possibility that a fake pawn shop was set up in a vacant storefront at that location strictly for the filming of the “Anaconda” episode.  But I believe the former is true.

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I am constantly shocked when locations Mike and I stalk look different than how they appeared onscreen.  Mike is always telling me that I need to remember that these episodes were filmed almost two decades ago and that the locations where they were filmed will have changed considerably in twenty years time.  But since Beverly Hills, 90210  is so frozen in time for me, I am always expecting the locations to be frozen in time, as well, and am always shocked when I find that they aren’t.  LOL

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  🙂

Stalk It: The pawn shop featured in “Anaconda” is now RMD Entertainment which is located at 1418 2nd Street in Santa Monica. The Crocker Clock Tower building is located just around the corner at 225 Santa Monica Boulevard.

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Beverly Hills, 90291

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A few weeks back while I was out stalking the Californication  house, Mike (from MovieShotsLA) and I set out on a mission to find Kelly Taylor’s house from the new 90210  series.   I had been searching for the house for quite some time and on this particular day I called Mike at work (poor guy!) and said “We are going to find that house today!”  I’m nothing if not determined!  Mike and I knew the house was located in Venice from an article that appeared in Entertainment Weekly this past summer, and since I was already in the area, I realized it was now or never!  I was not leaving Venice without finding that house.  🙂

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 Kelly’s house has appeared on 90210 quite a few times, beginning with the pilot episode.  And each time it appears, a plaque with the numbers “2229” is clearly visible in the background.  But neither Mike nor I could seem to find any area in Venice with house numbers in the 2200 range.  We found blocks with addresses of 2100, 2300, and 2400, but for some reason 2200 was nowhere to be found.  Mike had become convinced that the “2229” sign was just a prop added to the house for filming, but I held out hope.  Something told me that sign was really there. 

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Since Google Street View does not cover the Venice area, I acted as Mike’s eyes and ears driving around Venice while he sat in front of his computer at work looking at aerial maps.  LOL  My boyfriend always says how amazing it is that Mike and I managed to find each other.   I mean who else in their right mind would do this stuff with me??  LOL  Anyway, after driving around for a while I was just about ready to give up hope.  Then all of sudden, an idea struck Mike and he told me to head to Glyndon Avenue.  He had remembered working once in a quaint little section of Venice and thought it might be the area where Kelly’s house was located.  So, using my trusty GPS, I drove over to Glyndon Avenue and sure enough, there was the house – “2229” sign and all.  See, you should always trust a woman’s intuition!  🙂 

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Many episodes of 90210  were filmed at the actual Venice Beach house and I also believe that some interior filming took place there, as well.  This is apparent in both the pilot episode, in which fellow teacher Ryan stops by Kelly’s house, flowers in hand . . .

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. . . and the episode entitled “Secrets and Lies” in which Silver’s house party gets slightly out of hand.

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Kelly’s house is very cute and very picturesque in person.  In fact, it is just the type of house I would expect to find a grown-up Kelly Taylor living in.  Especially since she is so obviously still carrying a torch for Dylan and this house is so reminiscent of Dylan’s Craftsman style home from the original series.  🙂  I absolutely loved stalking Kelly’s house.  In fact, driving around Venice that day while talking to Mike on the phone will always be one of my fondest stalking memories!

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  🙂

Stalk It: Kelly Taylor’s house is located at 2229 Glyndon Avenue in Venice.

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The Ambassador Hotel

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Katharine Hepburn once said, “I have many regrets and I’m sure everyone does.  The stupid things you do, you regret . . . if you have any sense.”  Katharine was right.   One of my biggest regrets in life is that I never got to see the Ambassador Hotel in person before it was torn down in 2005.  I lived in L.A. for a good five years before demolition began on the legendary hotel and am literally kicking myself now for never taking the opportunity to see the hotel with my own two eyes.  And now it is too late.  Today the hotel is completely gone.  It absolutely sickens me that this rare piece of Los Angeles history has vanished from our skyline.  😦   I asked Mike, from MovieShotsLA, if he had ever visited the Ambassador while it was still standing, which of course, he had, and he sent me the above photos.

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Today, the 23.7 acre property that once held one of L.A.’s finest hotels is nothing more than a construction site – the future location of three new public schools for the Los Angeles Unified School District.   

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The only pieces of the hotel that remain are the circular entrance,

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and one wall of the legendary Cocoanut Grove nightclub – both of which are said to be incorporated into the building of the new schools.

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The Ambassador opened it doors on New Year’s Day 1921. From opening day up until the late 1960s, the 500 room hotel was a home away from home for movie stars, world leaders, U.S. Presidents, and other V.I.P.’s.  Such famous names as Howard Hughes, Lana Turner, Clark Gable, Carey Grant, Katharine Hepburn, President Kennedy, President Hoover, and Bob Hope all frequented the hotel at one time or another.  The hotel’s Cocoanut Grove nightclub was the place to see and be seen once upon a time.  Such legendary performers as Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Liza Minelli, Bing Crosby and Richard Pryor all performed on the Grove’s hallowed stage and the Academy Awards were held there six times.  One of the Ambassador’s main claims to fame (or at least my favorite) is that it is the place where Marilyn Monroe first got her start.  In 1944, the then unknown Norma Jean Baker signed with Miss Emmaline Snively’s Blue Book Modeling Agency, which was located inside the hotel.  Perhap’s the Ambassador’s more well known, and much more tragic, claim to fame is that it was the location where Robert Kennedy was shot and killed in the early morning hours of June 5, 1968.  Kennedy had just won California’s primary nomination for the presidency and was giving his victory speech in the hotel’s Embassy Ballroom.  After the speech, he was wisked through the hotel’s kitchen on his way to the press area.  Sadly, he never made it.  He was instead shot to death near the kitchen’s pantry by Palestinian radical Sirhan Sirhan. 

At the time of RFK’s assasination, the area surrounding the Ambassador had become infested with gangs, drugs, and crime, causing the once grand hotel to fall into a steady economic decline.  Sadly, once the hotel began its slump, it was never revived.  😦   The Ambassador’s doors were closed to the public in 1989 and the hotel was sold to Donald Trump for $64 million.   The Donald, and many others, had plans to completely rennovate the hotel and restore it to its former grandeur, but sadly, that was not to be.  The Ambassador sat empty for the next 16 years while its fate was decided.  The Los Angeles Unified School District, in need of property to build new schools, obtained rights to the land based on imminent domain.  This plan tied up the property for years, while L.A.U.S.D. fought developers, conservationists, and even lawyers for Sirhan Sirhan, who argued that the hotel’s kitchen must be kept intact so further evidence could be gathered to exonerate their client.  Sadly, the developers and the conservationists lost the battle and in September of 2005, L.A.U.S.D. began its demolition of the Ambassador.  The last remaining piece of the Ambassador was knocked down on January 16, 2006 – almost 85 years to the day of the hotel’s grand opening.  It sickens me that this was allowed to happen.  

During the years when the Ambassador was closed and a battle was being fought over her future, Hollywood moved in and started filming!  The 500 room hotel provided producers with the perfect locale to shoot movies – a vacant, already-built hotel set with plenty of parking for film trucks.  The Ambassador has been featured in so many movies that it is virtually impossible to even try to mention them all.  A short list of examples: That Thing You Do (where it played itself), Crossroads (where it stood in for all of the hotel room scenes), The Graduate (it was the hotel where Dustin Hoffman carried on his illicit affair with Anne Bancroft), Catch Me If You Can, The Mask (where it stood in for the Coco Bongo Nightclub), Bobby, The Fabulous Baker Boys, Pretty Woman (the main ballroom was used for the scene where Hector Alizondo teaches Julia Roberts about table manners and the scene where Richard Gere plays the piano), Forest Gump (it was featured as the bar where Jenny plays the guitar naked onstage), Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion (it was the reunion locale), Apollo 13 (two hotel rooms stood in for Gary Sinese and Kevin Bacon’s apartments), L.A. Story (it stood in for the fictional L’Idiot restaurant), and The Wedding Singer – among literally countless others!  So even though the Ambassador is now gone, she will be forever preserved on the silver screen thanks to the magic of the movies.

Here is a great website devoted to the hotel.  Here is a great article written by one of the last men to ever photograph the hotel, Whit Wagner.  I absolutely love the title.  🙂  And here is a link to some of the photographs he took that dayHere are some more great photos of the interior.  And finally, here is a great blog about the hotel’s demolition.

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  🙂

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Stalk It: The site where the Ambassador Hotel once stood is located at 3400 Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles.

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“Cause This is Thriller . . .”

Last week, while cyber-stalking the theatre used in Michael Jackson’s Thriller, I read that the final dance sequence in the video was filmed on a street in Los Angeles named Union Pacific Avenue.  So, of course, I immediately called up Mike from MovieShotsLA to let him know.  Unfortunately, Union Pacific Avenue is a very long street and the two of us had no idea where the exact spot was that Thriller  was filmed.   But, as usual, Mike worked his magic and within about ten minutes he had found it!  He is so my hero!!  So, with only two days left to go of my Haunted Hollywood theme, this morning I dragged my dad out to Union Pacific Avenue to do some Thriller  stalking.

I was EXTREMELY excited to see that the street looks EXACTLY the same today as it did back in 1983 when Thriller  was filmed!  The wall that MJ and his fellow zombies dance in front of is still standing and looks just the same as it did in the Thriller  days.  In fact it was that wall that Mike used to figure out the location of the filming.  Using Google Maps Street View, he went up and down Union Pacific Avenue on his computer looking for the wall, hoping it was still standing.  And it was!  I am absolutely amazed (and thrilled!) that the wall is still there for us stalkers to appreaciate all these years later. 

It also looks like the very same company that inhabited the building where the dance sequence took place twenty five years ago, is still, in fact, stationed there.  As you can see in the above screen captures, the company signage is still in the exact same spot and looks pretty much identical to how it did in the video.  🙂   I can’t tell you how excited I was to be standing in the exact spot where MJ danced twenty-five years ago!   There were a few workers standing around eating breakfast at a food truck while my dad and I were taking pictures and they thought we were absolutely crazy!  They were looking at me while I was doing my Thriller  poses as if I was stark raving mad.  LOL  Love it! 

Had to do it!  🙂

You can watch the Thriller  video here.  On a side note, this year is the 25th Anniversary of Thriller  and Michael Jackson released a 25th Anniversary Special Edition Album  for the occasion.  How did I not know about this????  I mean Thriller  is my favorite album of all time!  The Anniversary Edition contains seven bonus tracks with special guest artists including Fergie and Kanye West, a promotional booklet, and a DVD of music videos including Michael Jackson’s legendary “Billie Jean”  performance at the Motown 25  television special. 

Big THANKS as always to Mike for finding this location – just in time for Halloween, too!  🙂

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  🙂

Stalk It: The Thriller  main dance sequence location can be stalked at 3701 East Union Pacific Avenue in Los Angeles, just outside the City of Commerce.  The area is highly industrial and not in the safest part of town, so please exercise caution – especially if you visit it at night.

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Ray’s Pumpkins

Last week, thanks to Mike over at MovieShotsLA, I was able to stalk the pumpkin patch that was owned by Ray Pruit’s family on the original Beverly Hills, 90210.   I was shocked when Mike told me that the property where filming took place is the location of an actual pumpkin patch in real life.  I had been convinced that producers just dressed an empty lot for the filming of 90210, but in reality they rented out a real pumpkin patch that has occupied the same corner in Sherman Oaks for over fifteen years. 

When I drove up to the patch I just about keeled over with excitement as there was a large sign out front which read “Ray’s Pumpkins”.  I naively thought the owner named the patch after Ray Pruit because of the filming that took place there, but it turns out that the actual owner’s name is Ray!  How cool is that! 

Ray really could not have been nicer and spoke to me about the filming of 90210  for a good 15 minutes.  He said that everyone on the cast and crew was very nice and very professional.  Even though the pumpkin patch scene lasted only about four minutes and was shown in only one episode (the Season 5 episode entitled “Homecoming”), the filming took a full two days to complete.  Ray told me that during the filming, some construction was being done on an apartment building located across the street from the patch.  At one point the construction noise got too loud, so the producers of 90210  actually paid to have all construction shut down for the remainder of the shoot!  LOL  The cast and crew of 90210  returned to Ray’s later that same year and the real Ray’s Christmas tree lot stood in for the one owned by the Pruit Family in a Christmas episode of the show.  Ray said there is always some sort of filming taking place at the patch.  He couldn’t remember all of the productions that had filmed there, but he did say that Dancing With The Stars  featured the patch in a brief segment last year. 

Ray’s Pumpkin’s is a very cool pumpkin patch and I highly recommend stalking it.  There are hundreds upon hundreds of pumpkins to choose from and tons of cute Halloween merchandise and decorations for sale.  Ray told me that he also gets quite a few Valley celebs visiting his patch each year, so you just might get to rub elbows with the stars while pumpkin shopping.  🙂  Unfortunately I visited Ray’s after it was already dark outside, so my pics didn’t turn out very well and don’t really do the patch justice.  But a BIG THANK YOU to Mike for providing the top pic.  🙂

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  🙂

Stalk It: Ray’s Pumpkins is located at the corner of Hazeltine Avenue and Moorpark Street in Sherman Oaks.  Ray also owns the Peterson Ranch Fruit Stand located at 3402 Los Angeles Avenue in Somis, CA. The fruit stand is also a frequent filming location.  It is most often used in commercials and was featured recently in a car ad.

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