Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Universal Studios Back Lot Tour by Golf Cart

Universal City, CA 

August 6, 2012

While in Los Angeles, I had the pleasure of visiting NBC Universal's offices and back lot as a guest of the NBC Universal IT Department. Thank you, Marc, Billy and everyone I met from NBCU as well as super Consulting Sales Engineer, Larry from Cisco Systems (my fair employer) for arranging this for me.

NBC Universal Studios location:

Larry meeting me outside of the Carl Laemmle parking garage.

Who was Carl Laemmle? (Don't ask me how I remembered the name on the garage and then noticed it on a poster in the elevator lobby: I have no idea why I hang onto trivia like that.)
From Wikipedia

From the air, the NBCU tower is a rhombus, which makes it look like a 2D movie/TV set facade from the ground.

Golf carts are the most popular form of transportation.

Technicolor umbrellas.

This whimsical scene from "Despicable Me 2", to be released in the summer of 2013,  was outside the company store.

There are many reminders about upcoming movies....

...along with classic posters everywhere. As you would expect, the NBC offices are decorated with TV show posters. The Farmer's Market is not a movie, but a weekly event.

Soon, we were off for a tour of the back lot. That's Larry on the back with Billy in the driver's seat.

Rome from Ben Hur with modern chariots parked nearby.

From the front, this looks like an ordinary street.

But from the back, it is ready for work.

We quickly teleported ourselves from Europe to the Wild West...

... and then to 1970s Long Island, NY.

From our superior vantage point, the tourists are entertained by Jaws.

Most of these sets are merely a suggestion of full buildings, let your imagination fill in the rest.

I've never seen Desperate Housewives, either the show, or in real life, for that matter. I'm sure some of my friends who are stay-at-home moms would argue differently. :-)

Over in Whoville, the set was hot, meaning there was movie making magic going on.

This explains why Anthony Perkins's character went crazy in "Psycho," the neighbors were driving him nuts!

And if you think the decrepit condition of the movie set is far-fetched, look at this real life motel that I came across on a back road in King City, which was on the way home off of the 101.
Wanna take a shower?

Back at NBC Universal, the highlight for me was this wreck of the jumbo jet from "War of the Worlds."

When the tour bus arrives, the police car comes to life, smoke starts to billow from the wreck. We had to move away quickly so we wouldn't ruin the experience for the paying guests. Maybe we should have dressed up like Martians or better yet, Tom Cruise!

Back to the office and real life on the movie set. I was treated to lunch at the Universal Grill.

These people were going to an audition. I didn't find out which show. Maybe I should have auditioned too!

What a great time and a fond memory. I'm very grateful.

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