I was going to call this post Arrogant Ignorance but that sounded too harsh. Attention grabbing but harsh nonetheless. Recently I was in Los Angeles for some VO work and was able to take a tour of Paramount Studios. They are one of the few studios that still do tours and since they keep the size down to 8 in a group, it’s a great way to see everything in an intimate group. The history on these 65 acres is pretty astonishing. RKO Studios used to be right next door. RKO was purchased by DesiLu, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz’s studio. She got the studio in the divorce and ran it for 7 years until she sold it to Paramount and they tore down the wall that separated the two properties. Lucille Ball was the first woman to head a major studio.
The backlot has several streets that can be substituted for New York, Boston, Chicago. Pretty much any major city east of the Mississippi. Inside the facades you find a structure that is primarily built on what looks like massive telephone poles. There are some steel i-beams but otherwise it’s all wood and it dates back to the early days of moviedom. On each sound stage is a marker that lists the movies and shows filmed there. I think each studio has a similar marker on their sound stages. It’s pretty humbling to see the all the names. My Dad and Mom are big old movie fans and they’ve passed that on to me. So to be where all that magic was made was really cool.
That day on the lot was Betty White who was shooting a guest spot on Community. There were several young people on the tour that had no idea of who she was. I was astonished. Betty White is having an incredibly resurgent career and is all over the media. She is one of those who’s shoulders we are all standing on. Like Lucille Ball, Lauren Bacall, Mary Tyler Moore, Carol Burnett. You have to know the stories of those that came before you in order to appreciate where we are today. Otherwise you are doomed to repeat it.