Who: Lori, Laura, Theresa      

What: 
4-night, 5-day stay at Loews Santa Monica 

Where: Santa Monica, Brentwood, North Hills,       Sherman Oaks, Arleta, Altadena, Los Angeles, Manhattan Beach, Torrance

When: April 27 - May 1, 2016

Why: 43rd Annual Daytime Creative Arts Emmy Awards
Sites Visited:
Forrest Gump                   Dance Moms          
Bewitched                        Jerry Maguire       
The Golden Girls              Beverly Hills, 90210
Grey's Anatomy
Black-ish
Back to the Future
The Grinder
Seinfeld
How to Get Away with Murder
White Men Can't Jump
The People's Court

When you're a producer on a television show, one of the highest honors you can receive in the industry is an Emmy nomination. With it, comes recognition for a job well done, the chance to celebrate with a roomful of peers, and two days off from work for a trip to California.                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
Also, houses. Like a lot of houses. Like so many houses, I thought after seeing so many on my trip to LA last year that there wouldn't be any more to see... but then there WERE. 

The Emmy nominations were announced on March 24th and the awards weren't until Friday, April 29th. That gave me just over a month to order 40 gowns online that I'd get to spend all of May returning, and map out a definitive plan of attack. Instead of staying on Hollywood Blvd like we did last year, the producers all decided on the beach in Santa Monica, 20 minutes away from the Golden Girls house. No PROBLEM.

After Golden Girls, the first two locations I added to my list were from Grey's Anatomy and How to Get Away with Murder. Months prior, Entertainment Weekly had released an article giving out the addresses, and as a card-carrying Shonda Rhimes devotee, I was all HELLS YES. Then upon hearing of my plans, fellow producer friends and last year's house companions, Laura and Theresa were all, ME TOO. The one problem for them: 
the two locations were an hour away from each other. The major benefit for me: a ton of houses could be visited in between, with 2 passengers who couldn't escape. 

We left for LA on a Wednesday night, ready to optimize as much time as we could on the west coast. My plan for our 6-hour flight: to go over Thursday's house itinerary so that everyone would be fullly amped about our journey the next morning. Then Jean happened. Jean, who was sitting across from us, had gotten taken out of the line by the TSA and they touched her chicken. There had been people behind her in the line going to Dubai and no one bothered THEM. She was VERY upset about it. She felt violated. She had to vent. She couldn't be silent. She had a sedated dog sitting on her lap the whole time. Jean was a hoot. 

So nothing got done. 

We landed at LAX around midnight and didn't get to our fancy Loews Beach Hotel until close to 2am. But no worries. With jet lag working in the opposite direction, we were all up and out before 8am, ready to greet the day.

    .

HELLO, DAY!!!





(Forrest Gump film location)


In 1994, lovable dimwit Forrest Gump ran under this sign as part of his just-for-the-hell-of-it multi-state journey. In 2016, I stood under the same sign as part of a multi-state journey, for reasons Laura explained to the obnoxious tour guide in front of us, This is just what she does." 

Theresa eventually settled on hotel Starbucks coffee and we were ready to hit the road by 9:30. "We should get as many of your houses done today so we don't have to worry about them later," Theresa said to me before we left. Great idea! "We should be back by what, 12:30?" she asked. 

Sure....

Let the games begin!!


Brian C., the good friend of my good friend, Jenn became my Facebook friend almost 6 years ago for reasons still unclear as I'd only met him for the first time last May. But for almost 6 years, every single time I posted a TV house, he asked me if it was the house from Bewitched. Every. Single. Time. 



I had contemplated visiting the house the year before but it wasn't close to anything else on my list, so I scrapped it. But this year, it was destiny, and I was SO EXCITED. 


(Bewitched house location)


This was Brian's response:






(Golden Girls house location)

Although pretty positive I was standing in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles, I almost could've sworn we'd taken a time machine back to 1980s Miami. Any second Dorothy and Blanche were going to come out from the lanai with their mouths full of cheesecake wondering what the hell that group of girls was doing with a stick in their driveway.




(Grey's Anatomy hospital location)

Part of a larger complex, the hospital stands alone at the top of a long windy road and looks just like it does on TV every time Dr. Meredith Grey runs out of it tear-stained and crying over her boyfriend/ex-boyfriend/husband/dead husband

Just being able to stand in front of the hospital was a thrill in it of itself, but in this rare instance, it was what was on the inside that really mattered. Because on the inside, was this:

 

The fancy atrium where every doctor pondered their complicated surgeries, and more importantly where Dr. Shepherd aka Patrick Dempsey got shot by a dead patients' crazed husband in the finale of season 6, was one of the most recognizable locations of the series -- and where we were going to have one fantastic photo shoot. Even if we'd have to make up a fake Uncle Clarence we were going to visit, who fought for our country in the Korean war and was now getting a tetanus shot, we were getting this done.  

Laura, Theresa and I walked into the hospital looking calm and collected, trying not to call any attention to ourselves, and then Theresa screamed, "Oh my God! There it is!" Uncle Clarence was going to be so mad at us, but luckily we made it past the administrative desks and walked up the open staircase unstopped. 

The famous atrium was across from where the stairs led us, accessible only by going through a hallway of medical offices and opening a door. So as the adventurous gals we are, down the hallway filled with waiting room patients and nurses we walked, praying no one would ask us what the hell we were doing. We successfully got to the atrium door, ready to stand where Dr. McDreamy stood for 10 glorious years... only to find out it was locked. 

Okay, no problem, we thought. There was another door around the other side of the hospital. We could just go through there!

So, back down the hallway we walked again, past the same waiting room patients and the exact same
nurses, and we went down to the other side of the hospital, where we walked down another hallway full of a different group of waiting room 
patients and a few other nurses - Uncle Clarence, are you there? - only to find that door locked as well.

Laura, ever so bold and determined, then suggested we go find a doctor to unlock the door for us - because let's face it, what every real doctor wants is a group of fake doctor groupies asking them for help stalking TV locations. Theresa and I put the kibosh on that one real quick, and we were forced to settle on a photo taken through the window. 

Then, back down the hallway, past the patients and the nurses, we arrived back at the middle of the hospital to take a less superior photo on the balcony across from the balcony. Because I'm a giver, I let Theresa take her photos first (of which there were many) and then right in the middle of her trying to decide which angle she'd look best in, we were interrupted by a women selling t-shirts in the lobby who told us, "photographs aren't allowed inside government property."

"Oh, we're so sorry!" we all said in unison... right before Laura grabbed my camera and I ran to the ledge when the lady's back was turned, so we could take this photo:



And this one:



Then, because I'm a rebel with a ridiculous cause, we went down to the back of the building and I got this picture:


and this one in front:

(Grey's Anatomy hospital location)


(Blackish house location)

With an hour setback, we got back on the road, up again to North Hills and then east to the little town of Arleta that a sprightly little guy named Marty McFly called home in 1985. I had only just seen Back to the Future the year before, and only then so I could justify buying Michael J. Fox merch. But when one house is along the route to another house... you go visit the house. 


(Back to the Future house location)

During the taking of these photos, a group of guys drove by with a video camera hanging out the window and screamed out, "We're doing the same thing!" To my brothers in insanity I waved in solidarity and only partially wished I could get in their car to see where they were going next.

Where we went next - the city of Altadena, a mere block away from the 90210 Walsh house that I had visited last year, to the home of Fred Savage's fictional family in what will one day go down in history as the greatest sitcom of our past, present and future, The Grinder. At the time of this photograph, there was still the glimmer of hope that FOX would not rip my heart in two and smash it into pieces with the announcement of its cancellation, so I was able to enjoy the moment fully as I squealed with delight to stand where Fred Savage once stood. 

(The Grinder house location)



Before I had left for this trip, a colleague of mine warned me to be careful in Koreatown because it was notorious for car accidents and bad drivers. "Driving in Manhattan my whole life and the one time I get into a fender bender, it's in Koreatown!" he said to me several times during one conversation. Thankfully, we made it out unscathed. 



(How to Get Away with Murder house location)

And it only took us 7 hours. (Sorry, Theresa...)

On day 2, I graciously gave everyone a break and decided to only go to locations within walking distance of our hotel and eating establishments. 





I got a message from our boss asking me to call him.

Now, when your boss sends a cryptic message like that, there could be several reasons for it. 1. You're fired. 2. You're about to be, or when you're me, 3. He wants you to take his daughter to the studio from Dance Moms.

"If it's not too much trouble... I know you're into that sort of thing... She really wants to go... It's only 5 minutes away..."

I'm assuming for most people, when they're asked at the last minute to drive a 12-year old girl around town on their vacation, the reaction would be somewhat less than favorable. But from the very first second of the conversation, I was all HELLS YES. I don't even watch Dance Moms and I didn't care. It was a TV location, number one, and number two, I'd get to hang out with one of the only people on earth who could truly understand me: a 12-year old girl. 

I scarfed down that banana strawberry nutella waffle of goodness as fast as I could and was back at the hotel ready to pick up my new bestie and her mom within 45 minutes. Impromptu TV visit in full effect! 

Because secretly, deep down, (sometimes way deep deep down), Laura and Theresa love a TV location too, they came along for the ride and we all gleefully reveled in the glee of a child getting to experience a piece of her favorite show ... and the excitement of a 34-year old woman who really had no reason to be as amped as she was. 

The studio was about 15 minutes from our hotel and when we arrived, I put not only one but two quarters in the meter for our maximum enjoyment. Then 12-year old Camryn took a picture under the studio sign. Then of course, I took a picture under the studio sign...

(Dance Moms studio location)

And then we noticed a man in front of the studio door wearing a headset, all dressed in black.

Jackpot.

When accosted the man didn't offer much info, but he did allude to the fact that maybe, just maybe, if we waited around for a little bit, that maybe, just maybe, something would be happening outside.

Headset man didn't need to say another word. If we had to camp outside on this street corner for the rest of the day to get even a 2-second peek at the insides of a reality show, we were going to do it ... you know, for the children.

We stepped inside the gift shop for a little bit and Theresa got yelled at by security for opening a door that apparently led to the dance studio, while I questioned my new bestie about any scenes from the show that might have been filmed where we stood. She told me none, but that turned out to be untrue. When I returned to my home and immediately started watching the show like the stalker I am, I saw some little dancer crying in that gift shop for reasons I don't really remember, and I missed a photo opportunity. I'm not really confident our new friendship can survive such a mishap. Sheesh, kid

Moments later, we watched another headset man walk down the street carrying a box of items. Then a headset woman. Then a headset man going into the tour bus parked outside. 

Then the mini-moms walked by. What a mini-mom is or who these people were, I had absolutely no idea. But when a 12-year old screams, "MINI MOMS!" and people get amped, it's a big damn deal.

Stuff was going down, guys. We got the mini-moms.

In the middle of all this, Theresa got a call from one of her friends and she casually mentioned where she was. That friend happened to know a producer at Dance Moms, and 20 minutes later... 


BOOM.

The $68 parking ticket we got when we left - totally worth it.

Six hours later, I walked a red carpet, met TV's Webster and Oprah's Nate Berkus, and lost out on an Emmy.


      



Hanging out at Dance Moms was way better. 

On Day 3, my resident photographer Laura left for a bridal shower back on the east coast and I was left with just Theresa to finish the final part of my tour.

"Aren't you just sick of seeing house after house after house?" another producer asked as Theresa and I prepared to leave for the day, and she got ready for another mimosa. Um... no


(Jerry Maguire house location)

In Manhattan Beach, at the end of one of the narrowest streets I've ever been on, the house is pretty much the exact same it was back in 1996 when Jerry had Dorothy at hello and a ton of money was shown. 

Due to a blinding light coming down from the sun, I was unable to see the movie screenshot I'd had saved on my phone and we had to just wing it. 

(Jerry Maguire house location)

Photo Fail.

In addition, I didn't find the balls to stand on the porch and take a photo at the same place Jerry and Dorothy got busy for the first time. 

1
                                                    527 23rd St, Manhattan Beach, CA
                                                                                    (Jerry Maguire house location)

But it's cool. I can always fly 3,000 miles and drive an hour out of my way so I can get it right the next time....


It was MIND-BLOWING. My mind was BLOWN.

Before the trip, I was concerned that there wouldn't be an entrance to the famous courtyard where three years of high school scenes were filmed, and that all I'd get was a photo in front that was only shown as an establishing shot. I had also heard that the school was doing renovations and maybe the courtyard wouldn't look the same..

(Beverly Hills, 90210 school location)

I worried for nothing. 

On the side of the main entrance, I was able to quickly find an open entryway that led to an open area behind the school which led to the senior courtyard that in case you didn't understand the first time, ABSOLUTELY BLEW MY MIND. It is one thing to stand in front of a location. It's also another thing to stand inside a location across from the exact location something was filmed. It's another thing to be completely immersed in the exact same location that you watched every single week during elementary school and then again dozens of times throughout your adulthood. 1991 called, it's ME. Standing inside it.... 

(Beverly Hills, 90210 school location)


Where Brandon stood:

Where Steve and Andrea stood:


Where Steve, Andrea and Brandon walked down the stairs:

And where I squealed for almost 20 minutes while Theresa looked at me like I had 12 heads and needed a tranquilizer. 


(I think I might have)


Since we didn't end up winning the Emmy this year, I would just like to take this opportunity now to thank the Academy for holding their ceremony in the Los Angeles area and for giving me an excuse to stalk locations on company time. I do not know where I would be today if I had to continue watching Grey's Anatomy like some type of commoner who didn't have firsthand knowledge of the hospital's restricted areas, or if I had to go another day without meeting Emmanuel Lewis. Working in television is already a privilege. Getting to work in television and visit where other television was filmed - a special gift.

Thanks for the mem'ries, California!









      
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