In the early days of the major studios, Universal Pictures was famous for its monster movies and MGM had its musicals, but it was Warner Bros. that was known for the urban crime drama or, more simply put, the gangster picture. The Warner Bros. backlot is the most expansive studio lot when it comes to shooting films set in cities all over the world.
Brownstone Street and New York Street date back to the late 1920s, when the studio was known as First National. Hennesy Street — originally Tenement Street, but renamed as a tribute to the production designer of 1982 film Annie, Dale Hennesy — goes back to the mid-1930s.
We scoured about 70 city movies — just the tip of the iceberg — and roamed the Warner Bros. backlot to prove that even though some of these sets have changed over the decades, it's still possible to identify where some of the most famous urban-set movies were shot.
All photos by Jared Cowan except where noted. Follow Jared on Twitter at @JaredCowan1.
Recently we roamed Warner Bros.' Burbank backlot on one of the rare, rainy days in L.A. when film and TV crews head inside to cover sets so as not to lose a valuable day's work. The lot's streets, normally bustling with energy, were quiet, except for the sound of the pouring rain hitting the pavement and streams of water rushing into drains. It also became clear that an L.A. rainstorm washes away the artifice of the backlot and suddenly transforms the streets into real but lonely places. Here are our shots from a rainy day at the studio, along with some movies and TV shows that created rain on the famous backlot.
From 2000 to 2007, the WB’s (later The CW's) wildly popular series Gilmore Girls enchanted audiences all over the world with its fast-talking, well-developed characters – led by a single mom and her daughter, Lorelai and Rory Gilmore – as well as its stories of love, laughter and hardships, and a penchant for pop culture and literary references, some more obscure than others.
The series, set in the fictional town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut, was home-based in Burbank at Warner Bros. Studios. There, the series made heavy use of the famed backlot’s Midwest Street and almost any other area of the studio it could incorporate into storylines. Practical locations all over the L.A.-area also helped to widen the scope of not only Stars Hollow but additional locales outside the confines of the small New England town, to settings such as New York; Boston; New Haven and Hartford, Connecticut; Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts; Florida; and, of course, Venice Beach.
Gilmore Girls devotees have yearned for more over the past decade, and thanks to Warner Bros. Television and Netflix, they’re finally getting their wish. A new four-part special, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, is set to air on the streaming service beginning Nov. 25. With the upcoming new episodes, we scoured the Warner Bros. backlot and drove and hiked to as many of the original series’ surviving filming locations as possible. Not only that, but we were granted special access to the Warner Bros. archives to get a peek at some recognizable items from the set.
So grab your cups of coffee and your Pop-Tarts as we travel around Stars Hollow and the world of Gilmore Girls without ever leaving Los Angeles.
Locations are on Warner Bros.' Midwest Street unless otherwise noted. All location and prop photos by Jared Cowan.
Ghouls, ghosts and goblins arose from the Dark Harbor to take over the Queen Mary on opening night, Thursday, Sept. 29. The annual event features six haunted mazes, a 4-D theater experience, hundreds of monsters, DJs, cabanas and fire dancers. Dark Harbor runs for 22 haunted evenings through Oct. 31.
All photos by Star Foreman
This year's Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood resurrects some beloved horror movie icons: Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers and Leatherface. Among the familiar faces, though, are some brand-new tricks and treats on the Universal Studios backlot. Guests can experience the demonic possession of young Regan MacNeil inside The Exorcist maze. Fans of the hit FX series American Horror Story have the chance to get up close and personal with Twisty the Clown. The Christmas Krampus brings the holidays early to Southern California. Visitors can take a ride on the new Terror Tram, presented by horror mastermind Eli Roth, which drives you out to the backlot only to abandon you in the middle of a group of demented killer clowns. All photos by Jared Cowan.
Halloween Horror Nights runs through Nov. 5. Advanced ticket purchase is recommended, as event nights sell out. Tickets can be purchased here.
Follow Jared on Twitter at @JaredCowan1.
Fans of Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood have reason to rejoice — the theme park is about to unveil its scariest and bloodiest attraction to date. Opening on July 4, The Walking Dead attraction will unleash hordes of the undead upon anyone brave enough to enter this indoor horror experience, brought to you by the talented and twisted creative team behind AMC's top-rated series. A combination of animatronic and live — or dead, depending on how you look at it — walkers, designed in gory detail by The Walking Dead director and executive producer Greg Nicotero and his special effects company KNB Efx, are lurking around every dark corner inside a new, custom-bulit structure. Universal invited the media for a sneak peek at the new attraction, and L.A. Weekly was there to capture the bloody good time. All photos by Jared Cowan.
Follow Jared on Twitter at @JaredCowan1.