Rainy Day Hollywood, California

A Shot in the Rain:  Hollywood, California

Abigail Stone as Princess Fiona from Shrek poses with her umbrella in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on a rainy day in Hollywood. A variety of costumed characters gather at this spot to pose for pictures with tourists in exchange for tips. Photo by Kayte Deioma

A Rainy Day in …Hollywood, CA

While sunshine is the norm in Los Angeles in the summer – at least after the morning haze burns off – winter brings its share of drizzly days and torrential downpours to La La Land. The last thing you want to be doing in LA in the rain is driving around on the freeways. Angelenos really don’t know how to drive in the rain. So I’m breaking Rainy Day L.A. down into neighborhoods that can be navigated without getting on the freeway.

This month we’ll look at things to do on a Rainy Day in Hollywood since that’s the place most visitors start and there’s plenty to do to keep you out of the rain.

Even though you can address mail to Hollywood, CA, Hollywood is not a city; it is part of the City of Los Angeles. Like many Los Angeles communities, it has a personality of its own. With glamorous beginnings as home to some of the earliest movie studios in L.A., Hollywood’s reputation took a dive into sleaze in the 70s and 80s. Since the late 90s, Hollywood has received a major face lift and staged a comeback as a glitzy destination representing the heart of the entertainment industry. There are still remnants of sleazy Hollywood with strip clubs, lingerie and sex toy shops interspersed between the tourist attractions, upscale restaurants and A-list nightclubs, but that’s part of what makes Hollywood, Hollywood.

Hollywood Features:

For more rainy day Hollywood alternatives, check out the Rainy Day Links page.



Audience Participation: Attending a TV Show Taping

Go Los Angeles Card - 37 Los Angeles Attractions

story by Kayte Deioma

Disney Entertainment Center

Disney Entertainment Center, home of the Jimmy Kimmel Live! Show

What could be more “Hollywood” in Hollywood than attending a TV show taping? Depending on your timing, you could take in a live taping of your favorite sitcom, be in the audience of a talk show or cheer on the contestants in a game show.

Some shows tape at studios up in Burbank or on the west side, but many tape right in Hollywood. The Jimmy Kimmel Live! Show tapes at the El Capitan Entertainment Center next to the El Capitan Theatre. Various sitcoms tape at large and small studios around Hollywood. The largest in Hollywood is Paramount Studios with its memorable entrance on Melrose Blvd. at Gower.

TV shows are taped on weekdays. There used to be a more distinct taping season, but with some shows still starting in the fall, some in January and others as summer replacements, there is almost always something taping somewhere in Hollywood. August through March is still probably the busiest taping season. It usually takes at least three hours of your time to attend the taping, whether it’s a half hour sitcom or an hour long talk show. It can also take longer.

Stage 28 at Universal Studios Hollywood

Stage 28 at Universal Studios Hollywood

Most sitcoms have a “call time” of 4 or 5 p.m., which is when you are expected to show up and get in line. Game shows tape in the late morning or early afternoon and sometimes have two tapings in one day and tape multiple shows per session. Talk shows tape at all different times from Dr. Phil early in the morning to Jimmy Kimmel later in the evening and everything in between.

Getting Tickets

As you’re watching television, you’ll notice a lot of shows tell you that you have to write in months ahead of time to get tickets. This still applies to the Tonight Show with Jay Leno taping in Burbank and a few other NBC shows. It will improve your chances of getting in to see exactly what you want to see. But if you’re flexible, there is almost always something being taped that you can get tickets for right up until the last minute.

TV show tickets are free. You can get TV show tickets online through various web sites. There is some overlap between websites, but no one web site handles all the studios, so it’s best to check several. The Audiences Unlimited site, www.tvtickets.com has a good selection, as does www.tvtix.com. Many shows require audience members to be at least 18 years old. Some have a minimum age limit of 16. If you want to take your kids to a taping, some game shows that film outside of Hollywood also have a minimum age of eight.

Most weekdays, you can find people handing out TV show tickets in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Blvd. Of the Hollywood studios, the majority of them use the online audience ticket web sites listed above. For shows taping on the Paramount lot, you can call the studio directly at (323) 956-1777 for tickets. As a last resort, you can show up at the taping and see if there are any seats left after all the ticketed people have been seated.

The Experience

Do not bring cameras, video or audio recorders, or cell phones with you to the studio. Leave them in the car or the hotel room. You won’t be allowed to take them inside. Also leave pocket knives behind as well as anything else that might be construed as a weapon. You will be going through a security check point. Food is not generally permitted, but I have seen plenty of people finishing up their fast food burgers or beverages while waiting in line and nobody questioned the Power Bar and bottle of water that lives in my purse.

When you print your ticket from the internet, it might say to wear formal attire. When have you ever seen TV audience members wearing formal attire? Ignore this and use your common sense. If you’re going to see a sitcom, the audience won’t be seen. Jeans or shorts are fine, but they tend to keep the studios quite cold, so long pants and a sweater are a good idea. On talk shows and occasionally on game shows, the audience is sometimes seen. If you want to be seated in an area where you might be on television, dress appropriately.

They distribute more tickets than they have seats because they know a lot of people who get tickets won’t show up. So having a ticket does not guarantee that you will get in. Be in line at the call time if you want to be sure of getting a seat. If it’s a really popular show, be early.

Standing in line is part of the process. If it’s raining, they try to move you indoors so you don’t have to wait in the rain. You may be in line anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. The location of the line may move several times before you enter the studio.

Disney Entertainment Center

Disney Entertainment Center

Finally you get ushered into the studio. There are not usually assigned seats. You are expected to fill up the rows in order as directed. After another while of waiting, a comedian comes out to warm up the audience and get you into a laughing mood. Depending on the comedian, this may involve a lot of audience participation, so if you have any great impressions of people, animals or random sound effects, practice up ahead of time, just in case.

As the comedian gets you laughing, production crew are wandering around the set making last minute adjustments. At last, the moment you’ve been waiting for: they’re ready to begin.

Watching a sitcom being taped is nothing like watching a sitcom on TV. It is a live theatre performance. You don’t have to enjoy watching a particular show to enjoy watching that show being taped. It’s a completely different experience. It’s all about the spontaneity of watching the actors deliver the lines one way and then try them again a different way, or simply watching them flub a line or have a laughing fit and have to redo the scene. Since it is live, the actors can hear you. You can’t scold the characters during taping the way you might yell at them on your TV. If you do, you’ll be thrown out.

Occasionally there may be a scene that was prerecorded that they play for you on overhead TV monitors to help you follow the story. Your warm-up person may be around to continue the laughs between takes as they re-position cameras for the next scene. If you’re lucky, a celebrity or two may break character between takes to come up to the audience and say hello. In any case, you have the pleasure of seeing these TV stars just twenty feet away as they perform their scenes. What better way to feel like you’re in Hollywood?

Most tickets are now issued online up to the day before the show. If you’re visiting from out of town and didn’t print your tickets in advance, you can usually print them at at your hotel. To get TV tickets online visit www.tvtickets.com or www.tvtix.com.

Paramount Studios: (323) 956-1777

Jimmy Kimmel Live! (866) JIMMY TIX, (Call weekdays 1-4pm PST) www.1iota.com

Other LA TV show tapings outside of Hollywood that are not listed on the web sites above:

Ellen Tickets: www.ellentv.com or call 818-260-5600

For discount tickets to other events in LA, check out Goldstar.com.

Hollywood Museum: a Treasure Trove of Hollywood Memorabilia

story and photos by Kayte Deioma

The Hollywood History Museum in the Max Factor Building. Š Kayte DeiomaIf you’re interested in Hollywood memorabilia, the Hollywood Museum is a great way to spend a few hours on a rainy day. Located in the old pink stucco and green marble Max Factor factory building, the Museum maintains some of the original displays from the Max Factor Museum as well as rotating exhibits from the Museum’s Hollywood History collection and some traveling exhibits related to Hollywood history.

Costumes and set decorations from Master and Commander at the Hollywood History Museum. Š Kayte DeiomaThe Hollywood Museum has a wonderful collection of Hollywood costumes, props, set decorations and memorabilia. Although each exhibit has a theme, the individual pieces are rarely identified. Actor bios are placed around the exhibits – usually too close to the ground to be easily read – and sometimes reference which item displayed was worn or used by that actor. Despite the shortage of interpretive information, the collection is worth exploring.

The first level showcases the four make-up rooms where Max Factor and his staff transformed actresses into movie stars. Separate rooms for redheads, blondes, brunettes, and brownettes (Max Factor’s own distinction for light to medium brown hair) are painted in colors to flatter the hair and skin tones.

The "Redheads Only" make-up room in the Max Factor exhibit at the Hollywood History Museum. Š Kayte DeiomaThe “For Redheads Only” room is also sometimes referred to as the Lucy room. It is decorated with multiple portraits of Lucille Ball and features the makeup shades and hair color that turned the natural brunette into a redhead. The walls are painted green as a flattering backdrop for the redheads made-up here.

The room “For Blondes Only” is painted a cool blue. Legendary blondes like Mae West, Jean Harlow, June Allyson and Ginger Rogers had their make-up done here. Marilyn Monroe became a blonde here and even Lucille Ball was made up here during her short stint as a blonde. The walls are lined with Max Factor magazine ads featuring some the most famous faces to wear the Max Factor brand.

The "Brownettes" make-up room in the Max Factor exhibit at the Hollywood History Exhibit. Š Kayte DeiomaThe peachy shades of the “For Brownettes Only” room were designed for the likes of Judy Garland, Lauren Bacall and Donna Reed. Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Crawford and Rosalind Russell are just a few of the many actresses featured in the “For Brunettes Only” room surrounded by flattering shades of pink. As a brunette, I have to admit I looked much better in the mirrors of the brunette room than the blonde room. Beyond the color themed rooms you walk past a glass-enclosed room where wigs were created and dyed, then through a hallway filled with Joe Ackerman’s Autograph Collection into a red room. The far wall is filled with original autographed photos of Hollywood stars that are rotated from the Museum’s extensive collection. On the near wall, historic photos of the Hollywood landscape arranged chronologically show how dramatically it has changed over the last hundred years.

At the back of the Museum is a freight elevator that was used to carry cars up to a parking lot that used to be located on the top level of the building. The parking lot has been turned into a ballroom that is rented out for private functions, but the elevator, with a stained glass chandelier hanging from the highest level is still used to transport party guests to the upper floors for special events.

Cary Grant's Silver Cloud III at the Hollywood History Museum. Š Kayte DeiomaCary Grant’s 1965 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud III is parked in the loading dock behind the elevator where you can look down on it from above. A couple giant “Bunny Legs” from the movie “Along Came Polly” tower in the center of the room with another one near the Rolls Royce. The film is playing on a monitor overhead. Movies are playing in various exhibits around the Museum. They are the movies in which some part of the exhibit was featured, but it is sometimes hard to tell which part of the exhibit is from the movie because there is no explanatory information.

You have to go back to the front of the Museum to get to the stairs to go up to the next floor.

The Marilyn Monroe memorabilia collection at the Hollywood History Museum. Š Kayte DeiomaThe second floor features a large Marilyn Monroe exhibit, one of the Museum’s most popular displays. It includes photos, costumes, movie posters, jewelry, memorabilia and of course Marilyn’s personal make-up case and its contents. One wall highlights Marilyn’s marriages and divorces in black and white photos. Another wall features an enlargement of Marilyn’s 1949 nude centerfold. Several of Marilyn’s films are running on different monitors.

An L.A. Times newspaper announcing the death of Marilyn Monroe is part of the Marilyn Monroe exhibit at the Hollywood History Museum. Š Kayte DeiomaThe exhibit is peppered with quotes from the star such as “It’s better to be unhappy alone than unhappy with someone else,” and “I want to grow old without face lifts. I want the courage to be loyal to the face that I have made.”

From a display case, the headline of a 1962 Los Angeles Times announces “Marilyn Monroe Found Dead.”

A visitor looks at the Mae West exhibit at the Hollywood History Museum. Š Kayte DeiomaNext to Marilyn Monroe, Mae West has her own large display case with glamorous gowns, corsets and feather boas as well as awards, plaques, photos and other memorabilia. As with most of the exhibits in the Museum, very few items are individually identified.

On my visit, The rest of the second floor featured a nice Greta Garbo exhibit and a collection of gowns from movies old and new worn by such Hollywood stars as Shirley Temple, Ingrid Bergman, Lana Turner, Bette Midler and Jodie Foster. There was also aGreta Garbo portrait in glass at the Hollywood History Museum. Š Kayte Deiomasection devoted to Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz including a three-reel film projector Desi invented for editing film from the three camera technique he developed.

From December 1, 2005 at least until February 15, 2006, a special legacy exhibit on Barbra Streisand will occupy this space. Three thousand pieces of movie and music memorabilia related to the artist will be on display. This will be only the second exhibit at the museum to showcase a living artist. The first was a legacy exhibit on Phyllis Diller.

Sylvester Stallone's boxing gloves from Rocky at the Hollywood History Museum. Š Kayte DeiomaThird level exhibits include more recent Hollywood productions. Sylvester Stallone’s boxing gloves and robe from one of the Rocky movies is next to the door. There are a few costumes and set decorations from “Moulin Rouge” and many more from “Master and Commander.” One of Tom Cruises costumes from “The Minority Report” backs up to Tommy Lee Jones’ black suit and sunglasses from “Men in Black.” A collection of torture instruments from the movie “Quills” is Roddy McDowell's Powder Room relocated from his house to the Hollywood History Museum. Š Kayte Deiomaacross from Roddy McDowell’s Powder Room transported from his home. A large exhibit on Hollywood’s honorary mayor, Johnny Grant and a nice Bob Hope tribute seem to be out of context on this floor.

Hollywood history continues in the basement with Hanibal Lechter’s cell from Silence of the Lambs,” complete with the reduced-size folding chair that made Jodie Foster look especially small sitting outside his cell. The other prison cells on this block have been used in a number of films and are still rented out for filming prison scenes. At the end of the hall are more props from Red Dragon before you turn a corner and step into the Egypt in Hollywood exhibit. From the 1935 “Charlie Chan in Egypt,” to “Death on the Nile,” “Cleopatra” and “The Mummy’s Tomb,” posters, photos and movie props remind of Hollywood’s favorite Egyptian classics.

Hannibal Lechter's cell from Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon in the basement of the Hollywood History Museum. Š Kayte DeiomaThe Hollywood Museum is open Thursday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult admission is $15. Students up to 22 years of age are $12 and Children five and under are $5. The Museum is located at 1660 N. Highland Ave., just south of Hollywood Blvd. There is a $2 parking discount at the adjacent parking lot with Museum validation. Parking across Hollywood Blvd. at the Hollywood & Highland shopping complex is $2 for 4 hours with validation from any of the Hollywood & Highland businesses. Check out their web site,www.thehollywoodmuseum.com, for current exhibits and special offers. Discount coupons are also sometimes distributed across the street in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.

The Hollywood Museum in the Historic Max Factor Building is included in the Go Los Angeles Card attraction pass.