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Paramount, it would turn out, was my favorite studio: a little more intimate, with more stories. We could walk around the back lot and touch and see just how fake all the street scenes were. Alleys framed by plastic brick buildings (cheap and better for fight scenes, the guide pointed out). Fire hydrants that would never work. Signs taped to “utility” poles that have been made to look aged and faded.
Our guide, Justin, on the last tour of his Paramount career (he wanted to focus on his acting), carried an iPad and showed us scenes from the spots where we stood. One building, part of the New York streetscape where “Glee” is now doing a lot of filming, was a cafe in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” and he showed the clip.
The pizzeria outside had a door that opened to about a foot of space and a mural of the inside of a New York pizza shop, pizzas already made, kept warm along the glass counter. From a distance it looked so real.
Even the credit card stickers on the windows outside the shops aren’t right, though at first glance they look real (copyright issues). Upon closer inspection, the shop takes Vista, American Excress and Bank Master.
We visited the dark soundstages of “Dr. Phil” and “Instant Mom,” another TV show we’d never seen. The comedy is filmed before a live audience, and it would have been nice to be in the audience. But when I heard the time commitment — even a half-hour sitcom can take four-plus hours, given all the rewrites and reshoots — I was glad we didn’t.
Still, it would have been fun to see magic happening before us. That was really the drawback to all the tours: We visited empty soundstages of lesser-known shows. Ironically, in Hollywood, you have to use your imagination.
Karen Lundegaard • 612-673-4151