Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Transformers Car Lot

One of the greatest trilogies in the past few decades is the Transformers trilogy. The box office giants have brought in hundreds of millions and catapulted Shia LaBeouf to superstar status. I'm not a huge fan of fictional stories where machines rule all, but Michael Bay does a good job giving these characters likeable personalities and creating an intriguing storyline.

If you can think back to the first Transformers, you will recall the late Bernie Mac was a car dealer that sold Shia's character a yellow muscle car that would soon transform into Bumblebee. Bumblebee is an awesome character who protects Shia and makes the viewer wish they had a similar guardian. Imagine a loyal dog that could smash, shoot and shred enemies.

The pictures above are of that car lot where we first see Bumblebee. Fun fact, this spot is just around the corner from the Wedding Singer house where Robbie lives in his sister's basement.

This location is at:
900 Morada Place
Altadena, CA

Below is a picture of the school where Shia gives his presentation in the beginning of the movie. He looks outside to see his father waiting for him to head to the car lot. The cruise to the lot and are greeted by Bernie Mac, as we discussed above.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

"Another one of these damn kids jumped in front of my car!"

As I have stated several times before, Back to the Future sparked this hobby of mine.  I want to devote an entire post to this magical street, but that will have to wait.  Busnell Ave in South Pasadena, CA is home to several classics including Back to the Future and Old School.  The house that was used in Old School is literally directly across the street from where I am sitting in the picture above.  In fact, I have a funny story to share about that Old School house.

For now, enjoy one of the most memorable moments of BTTF 1 when George M. has his bino's (see what I did there) and is peeping out his future wife changing in the window.  Marty quickly follows his dad from the diner and runs frantically onto this street.

George falls from the branch and Marty rushes the street pushing him out of the way.  Marty gets hit with the car instead of George.   Then there's the Calvin Klein confusion and bragging about owning two televisions.  Until next time, Bushnell awaits.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Filming of the Tonight Show

In the spirit of late night television, I find it fitting that we explore and re-visit the personalities involved in the late-night war.

After Jay Leno retired from the Tonight Show, he made a comeback with the Jay Leno Show.  His presence and Conan's poor ratings opened the door for Jay to take back the late-night throne.  To make a long blog post short, I am sharing the filming location that served as the Jay Leno Show filming spot and currently serves as the Tonight Show filming spot (I have had the privilege of being in the studio audience for both).

As I mentioned before, for the Tonight Show you choose four potential dates six weeks in advance.  The catch is that you may not get a confirmation until the day before the taping.  My experience is that if you live in Southern California and you reserve in enough time, you usually get a confirmation for your top pick or second pick in a couple weeks.  Reserve your tickets here.

Tip - Park in the Providence High School back parking lot and walk across Johnny Carson Park.  It's free and close to the studio.

The Tonight Show is filmed at:
300 W. Alameda Ave
Burbank, CA

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Jimmy Kimmel Live!

ABC's late night hit, Jimmy Kimmel Live! has been taking big strides lately.  Jimmy Kimmel has come a long way since the Man Show (which was fantastic by the way) and ditched his open-buttoned shirt for a suit and tie.  Over the years the hair spray, spray tan and success of his network television show has increased.

Those in the Los Angeles area have the ability to attend the taping of JKL (see what I did there?).  Lines begin to form behind the El Capitan Theater around 4:30-5pm and they open the doors to the audience members around 6:15pm.  You need to reserve tickets ahead of time at  A couple times per week there are live concerts after the show where the studio audience joins the concert-only attendees.  Most concerts attract one or two hundred viewers; however Lady Gaga recently performed and attracted a crowd that the facility couldn't even contain.  It was amazing seeing the aerial shot on the news.

Head over to 1iota for tickets.  The cool thing about 1iota is that you can see the guests that are going to be on the show in advance.  You can see the celebrities that you like and reserve tickets for that show a few weeks down the road.  For shows like Conan or Jay Leno, you need to reserve tickets six weeks in advance and you do it blindly, meaning that you have no idea who the guests will be for that show until the week of.

I took my mom to her first live taping in June and Kimmel's show had the most flexibility in ticket reservations.  I only needed to reserve them two weeks in advance.  The audience for JKL is small and it has a cool feel inside the studio.  I hear that there is also a bar inside the theater just up the stairs from the set where celebrities and even Jimmy hang out at before, during and after the show.  Maybe Jimmy hasn't lost his Man Show habits after all.

Jimmy Kimmel Live! is filmed in the El Capitan Theater which is located at:
6864 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA

Friday, August 19, 2011

Mr. Strickland's House

As I continue to share this mini-obsession for Back to the Future, I will jump around to different spots.  There is something about traveling through time, forwards and backwards that fascinates me and millions of others.  That is what created this cult-like following for the BTTF trilogy.

This post will focus on a spot that is shown in the second Back to the Future movie (my favorite).  When Marty and Doc head to 2015 (which isn't too far away from present time) they run into some trouble.  Marty falls victim to greed and purchases a Sports Almanac that documents the scores for all sporting events from 1950-2000.  This would give him the winners that he could bet on and make mucho dinero.  He buys this almanac from a retro shop in 2015 and plans to take it back to 1985 and reap the benefits for another 15 years.  Instead, Doc Brown spots the almanac and talks Marty out of taking it back to 1985 because he "didn't invent the time machine to win at gambling" he "invented the time machine to travel through time."

When Marty abides by Doc's request, he tosses the almanac in the garbage.  Long story short, the Biff Tannen from 2015 finds the almanac, steals the DeLorean and heads back to November 12th, 1955 and gives the almanac to himself 60 years earlier.  This way, the younger version of himself can become rich by betting on winners and brighten his future.  This skews the entire future of Hill Valley and turns the city into ghetto-like ruins.

Marty and Doc encounter this reality when they head back to 1985.  Marty wanders aimlessly through this Hill Valley nightmare and stumbles upon a current newspaper on a porch.  Turns out, this porch belongs to the former Hill Valley High School principal Mr. Strickland. When Mr. Strickland pulls a shotgun on Marty, Marty tries to explain that he knows him from school.  However, we soon find out that the "school burned down six years ago."

Mr. Strickland's house is located down the street from Whittier High (aka Hill Valley High School) at:

12511 Bailey Street
Whittier, Ca

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Do You Like To...Do It Yourself?

"How is the mood striking you now?"

We all love The 40 Year Old Virgin.  In fact, gave the movie an 85% fresh score which is amazing for that site.

We have taken a look at Andy's workplace Smart Tech, but now it's time to explore other filming spots from the epic comedy.  Andy's box room co-worker, Seth Rogan recommends that Andy head over to the bookstore to check out this hot babe who works there.  He also recommends that Andy play hard to get, "be cool and kind of a dick."  Click here to view that scene.

This movie was the first time that I saw Seth Rogen and I thought those tattoos were real.  Who knew he would evolve into a high-profile actor big enough to fill leading roles?  Also, is it just me or does Seth Rogen always look like has chewing tobacco in his lower lip?

The bookstore used in this scene is Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena, California.  This bookstore has been around forever and I had heard many things about it before I visited.  There are always book signings where celebrities sign their autobiographies and other novels for the fans.  It's a quaint and quiet little bookstore that has a cozy feel.  However, don't visit Vroman's on an empty stomach like I did and make the mistake of buying a tuna sandwich in their coffee shop for $7.  That's right, I said SEVEN DOLLARS!  How do they sleep at night?

Anyways, Vroman's Bookstore is located at:
695 East Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA

P.S. Check out the cookbook section.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Great Scott! Another BTTF Filming Spot!

Well, actually four more spots.

The spots being revealed in this post are Doc's house (1985), the Burger King Marty skates by, Marty's house (1985) and Doc's house (1955).

In the very beginning of the first film we see Marty enter Doc's house in 1985.  In this classic scene, he hooks up his guitar to the amp and completely blows the speaker to pieces! "Rock and roll."  When Doc's thousand clocks go off Marty realizes he is late for school and heads out in a hurry.  From there, he exits Doc's house and skates past a Burger King on his way towards school.  We see him grabbing onto the back of several vehicles to speed up his trip. 

After a long day of trying out with the Pinheads for the Battle of the Bands at school and an afternoon of making out with Jennifer, Marty heads home.  We see him skate off while Huey Lewis and the News play Power of Love.  As he gets to his street we see the Lyon Estates signs for the first time.  This is the name of Marty's neighborhood and will be shown again several times in the trilogy. 

Marty skates up to his house to find his father's car being towed into the driveway.  As he heads into the house, George McFly is being verbally accosted by the Hall of Fame douchebag Biff Tannen.  But of course George takes it because after all, he's "not very good at confrontation."

Fast forward to later in the film when Marty goes back to 1955, he gets hit by his grandfather in the middle of the street (I will reveal this spot later), and he seeks out the only man who could help him, Doctor Emmett Brown.  After Marty finds the property which he discovered in the phone book, we see him running up the path to the house.  Doc answers the door wearing that strange psychic device on his head and can't believe that "future boy" is visiting him from 1985.

Before getting into the precise addresses of each of these spots, I just wanted to mention that BTTF did a great job of blending each location together.  And as casual viewers it never becomes evident to us that one scene is filmed in one location and another scene is filmed in a location 50 miles up the road.  Southern California is the filming mecca for a reason.  Great locations are fairly close and it isn't a huge ordeal if a movie is being filmed up the street.  When movies are filmed in places like Arkansas or Ohio the entire town would show up drinking their morning coffee trying to get a glimpse of the star.  In Southern California it becomes normal in some places to drive down the street and see flim crews.

Now that that's out of the way, let's look at these particular filming spots.  Marty visits Doc's house in 1985 before school.  He hears the clocks go off, talks to Doc on the phone and skates out in a hurry.  He skates past a Burger King on his way to school.  This is in Burbank, California.  Doc's house was actually a facade built for the movie.  There are no remnants of this building today but the Burger King is still going strong.  Marty skates to school through the Universal Studios backlot and onto Hill Valley High Schoolwhich is actually Whittier High School.  After school he meets up with Jennifer and skates home.  His street and home are located in the Arleta area of Los Angeles.  When Marty looks up the 1955 Doc and visits his house, he is visiting the famous Gamble House in Pasadena, California.

So now you can start to see how many different locations it actually took to create this fictional town of Hill Valley.  The exact locations can be seen below.

Doc's 1985 house and the Burger King are located at:
535 N. Victory Blvd
Burbank, CA

The Lyon Estates street markers were located at:
The corner of Sandusky and Kagel Canyon Street
Los Angeles, CA

Marty's house is located at:
9303 Roslyndale Ave
Los Angeles, CA

Doc's 1955 house aka The Gamble House is located at:
4 Westmoreland Place
Pasadena, CA

**Again, be respectful when driving by someone's home.  Also, Arleta isn't the best of areas so I would only recommend visiting this spot during the day.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Winchestertonfieldville, Iowa

Wow, that's a mouth full! (That's what she said!) Inappropriate comments aside, remember Adam Sandler's mediocre comedy from 2002?  Well if you don't, let this pleasant picture refresh your memory.

"Let me touch your feet."

If you remember Mr. Deeds, you will recall Winona Ryder's character Babe and her ridiculous behavior (wow, I'm sure they sat around the room brainstorming for days on that character's name).  She even fabricated a story about growing up in a small town with a big house, a tire swing and a neighborhood pharmacy down the street.  The town in question is Winchestertonfieldville, Iowa.  These shenanigans were done to hide the fact that she was a reporter and trying to get the inside scoop on Mr. Deeds.

Well, this is a real house and nope, it's not in Iowa.  It's in Pasadena along with many other filming spot gems.  The paint on the house has changed, and the door is no longer red.  It's in a quiet part of town overgrown with trees and children playing in the yards.  What I enjoy about Pasadena and South Pasadena is that they still seem to have that older feel where you can leave your bike laying in the front yard until after dinner.  You can sleep with your window open and not have to worry about some a-hole breaking in.  Although, these days you never know.

I enjoy spending time over there, and now you have another reason to visit.

The movie trailer for the 2002 Adam Sandler comedy can be seen here.

The Winchestertonfieldville house is located at:
989 South Madison Ave
Pasadena, CA

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Yes Man - The Red Bull Scene Location

Jim Carrey's career has floundered in the past few years with his attempts in dramas, children's movies and even his expertise, comedy.  However, I have seen a few of these attempts and I would say that they weren't a waste of time, and I may even watch a few of them again.  One of the films I am talking about is his 2008 comedy Yes Man.

It's the movie where Jim Carrey has to say yes to everything for an entire year.  He starts falling for Zooey Deschanel (who I happen to think is very cute) and completely changes his lifestyle for the better.  And for you females looking for eye candy, Bradley Cooper is also a main character in this movie.

There is a popular scene in the movie where Carl (Carrey) spends an all-nighter out with his buddies "hittin' up raves" and pounding multiple Red Bulls.  He meets up with Zooey's character Allison for a morning jog with her photography friends.  They jog on the hills above Los Angeles taking pictures the entire way.  In the beginning of the scene they are all stretching and warming up for the run.  Carl pulls up with his two buddies, jumps out of the car and multiple empty Red Bull cans fall out of the car with him.  He runs over to Allison completely wired and starts in on a caffeine-fueled rant.  The entire scene can be seen here.

The location for this scene is the Griffith Park Observatory in Los Angeles.  Griffith Park is also home to the famous Greek Theater and is located west of the city of Glendale in the hills above Hollywood.  From the Observatory you get many great views.  You get an awesome view of the Hollywood sign, downtown Los Angeles and the Hollywood area.  On a clear day you can even see out towards the Santa Monica area (the problem is finding a smog-free day in LA).  There are also some great running and biking trails in and around the Observatory.

So next time you're in the area bring your camera, head up to the Observatory and walk around.  Parking is limited so you may have to park along the road leading up to the top.  In the next few weeks I'll blog about the tunnel you pass through to get up to the Observatory as an all-time classic movies uses that tunnel for a pivotal scene.

Check out a behind-the-scenes clip for that famous Red Bull Yes Man scene here.

The Griffith Park Observatory is located at:
2800 E Observatory Ave
Los Angeles, CA

Monday, August 1, 2011

Late Show with David Letterman

Visiting New York City sometime soon?

Well, if you are I suggest swinging by the Ed Sullivan Theater and catching a live taping of the Late Show.  You have to see Dave while he's still doing it!  Personally I have not been to a live taping of that particular show, but I wish I had done a little preparation and reserved tickets before visiting NY.  However, I have walked around the exterior of the building and it looks really cool.

The Ed Sullivan Theater has been around since 1936 and apparently was the location for the first United States Beatles performance according to  Located just south of Central Park, the theater is easily accessible by foot, cab or subway.  If you don't know this by now, these late shows are taped in the afternoon anywhere from noon to 6pm.  Often, there is a wait to get into the taping so it can take several hours to just sit through an hour-long show.  Make sure you plan your trip accordingly.

Get your tickets here.

The Ed Sullivan Theater is located at:
1697 Broadway
New York, NY

Sunday, July 31, 2011

I Will Strangle You With My Microphone Wire - The Wedding Singer House

Next time you're in Pasadena you need to swing by the house used in the movie The Wedding Singer.  Just off the beaten path of Lake Ave which runs north and south, head east a few blocks and there you are! 

Later in the movie, Julia is rehearsing her "Hello, my name is Julia Gulia" in the mirror in her room.  Robbie Hart comes strolling up on the street below to confess his love to Julia but becomes discouraged when he sees her happy and smiling through the window.  Julia's house is over in the city of Sierra Madre (not too far from the filming spot for Dude Where's My Car).

I'm a huge fan of Adam Sandler.  I grew up listening to all of his comedy cd's and worshipping movies like Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison and Bulletproof.  More Sandler filming spots to come.

Robbie Hart's sister's house is located at:
1075 E Topeka Street
Pasadena, CA

Julia's House is located at:
41 Sierra Place
Sierra Madre, CA

(thanks to for the actual movie shots)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tom's Restaurant - Seinfeld

If you're even somewhat of a Seinfeld fan and you visit New York City, you must stop by Tom's Restaurant in upper Manhattan.  Located on the upper-west side just above the park, Tom's Restaurant is a local favorite and situated perfectly to serve students of Columbia University.

Just a brief rundown of New York City geography, Central Park runs from 59th Street to 110th Street.  Tom's Restaurant is located on the corner of Broadway and W 112th Street which is getting close to Harlem territory.  Harlem's boundaries vary depending on the area, but Central Harlem where the famous Apollo Theater is located is W 125th Street (just to give you an idea).

NBC's hit show Seinfeld used this small restaurant's exterior in hundreds of episodes as the local diner that Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer would frequent for a quality meal and to talk about "nothing."  The interior shots were done in a studio in Los Angeles as well as Jerry's apartment and many other inside filming scenes.  Even outside scenes where characters would be walking down the streets were filmed in Los Angeles on mock streets that were made to look like New York City.  You can tour those streets on the Universal Studios backlot tram tour.

The actual interior of Tom's Restaurant looks nothing like the set on television.  The real Tom's is much smaller but does have cool Seinfeld memorabilia on the walls.  I recommend stopping by and grabbing a quick burger (the service is fast and good, I've eaten here twice). 

Seinfeld is probably my favorite show of all time.  Like The Office, the episodes are quick, funny and well written.  So if you're a fan, swing by Tom's and snap some pictures like the one above where I'm enjoying the New York Times.

Tom's Restaurant is located at:
2880 Broadway
New York City, NY