Author Topic: The 20th Century lot... back in the 20th Century  (Read 414 times)


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The 20th Century lot... back in the 20th Century
« on: October 02, 2015, 12:10:30 AM »
The 20th Century lot... back in the 20th Century

One of the many perks of writing MASH in the late '70s was going to work every day at the 20th Century Fox lot.   At that time it was Disneyland for TV geeks.  We worked in the Old Writers Building, which was a Swiss chalet.  I was told our office was once F. Scott's Fitzgerald's.   There were some empty gin bottles behind the couch so that's probably true. We parked in the western town used in BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID.   We drove onto the lot past the New York street from HELLO DOLLY.    Near the commissary was the famous gazebo from TV's PEYTON PLACE (okay, you have to be a certain age to give a shit about that one.). There was still a foot bridge over Olympic Blvd. and a backlot.   David and I would walk through the backlot on the way to lunch at Century City.  There we'd see STAR WARS sets just collecting dust.  We used to watch dailies in a screening room that was behind the facade for the Gotham police department from the TV BATMAN.  Mel Brooks made his movies at 20th which usually meant extras walking around in Nazi uniforms.  CHARLIE'S ANGELS was filmed on the lot and you'd bump into one of those girls at least once a week.   Even more if you hung around their trailers.For some reason Evil Knieval, the daredevil who would try to ride motorcycles over the Grand Canyon and spent most of his life in hospitals, had a production deal and was always around.  But the best other show that filmed on the lot was THE LOVE BOAT.   First off, there were always gorgeous 6' 9'' showgirls wandering all over the lot.  But that was nothing.Every sitcom star and second banana from that era and prior eras guested on THE LOVE BOAT.  And we would see them all the time at the commissary.    It was liking going to the world's greatest nostalgia show every day except the celebrities still looked recognizable and you weren't charged $20 to get in.Among the "stars" I got to see up close and personal were:  Carol Channing (Hello Dolly), Connie Stevens (Hello Cricket), Erin Moran (Hello Joanie), Charo (although I saw her just two weeks ago on the Paramount lot), Arte Johnson, Ethel Merman, Dick Van Patton, Ted Knight, Betty White (she's been in everything), Nancy Kulp, Florence Henderson & Robert Reed (Tom isn't the only Brady), Alexis Smith, Don Adams, Elaine Joyce (pre J.D. Salinger and Neil Simon), Phyllis Diller, Lyle Waggoner, Cesar Romero, and if you can believe it -- Jimmy Osmond.    And that's just scratching the guest star surface.  For me it was awesome -- my childhood flashing before my eyes, all these icons of my youth eating Chinese chicken salads.  And then there are the ghosts of years gone by that you know walked the same streets, although when I saw Ethel Merman I wasn't sure if she was real or one of those ghosts.  Being on a major Hollywood studio lot was a real privilege in those days.  Today, to save money, lots of shows are filmed in rented warehouses in Valencia or the City of Industry.  Gone is the mystique when you have to drive halfway to Bakersfield to get to your soundstage.  Hollywood really was a magic town at one time.   But that was when filmmakers and showmen were in charge, not CEO's and mega-conglomerates.   There won't be many ghosts in Valencia (especially in the summer when it get sooooo damn hot).

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