The other day I joined my friend Heith for a comedy show by a friend of his. I met him at his office to carpool together, but I had talked him into a tour around his "office" first. Little did I know it would be a full tour around in a golf cart like some fancy bigwig! Heith works for Sony Pictures as one of the people who manages the facilities of a huge studio lot (I think I got that right?). I knew the basic history of the lot, but not until I went to write this post did I discover some of the amazing details. (I may have to bribe my way to another tour sometime later to see some specific historical highlights!)
The Sony lot began in 1915 as the Ince/Triangle Studios, then the Goldwyn Studios, then MGM (where the studio reached its heyday and grew to 6 lots). In the 70's, Kirk Kerkorian bought the studio and with James Aubrey stripped, dismantled and auctioned off everything, leaving only the main studio lot. Most of the other lots were razed for shopping centers and housing developments. MGM became MGM/UA, who sold off the MGM Film library and UA name to Ted Turner. The lot became Lorimar, and MGM was relegated off the lot. In 1990, Sony bought the lot and moved its newly-purchased Columbia Pictures there. Through massive renovation and restoration to bring the lot back to its splendor along with adding a new "main street" area, the lot is now Sony Pictures Studios. Its kind of an odd testament to foreign ownership righting the wrongs of American capitalism. When I first moved to LA, I worked on the ABC lot where General Hospital and other soaps are taped. It was always kind of fun to be in that environment, but that pales to the history of this lot where the Wizard of Oz and Busby Berkely movies were filmed. I have a new appreciation for that walled parcel I pass by regularly in Culver City. And I thought my "office" by the beach was nice.