Oscar Tour 2012 LA Day 1: Paramount Studios

Paramount Studios is one of the oldest and most venerable of the big Hollywood studios. While the studio has been distributing animated films for some time through its relationship with DreamWorks, only announced last July it announced it was getting back into the animation production business. Our group spent the entire day on the lot and were not disappointed.

The Paramount Studio tour begins. (From left to right) Brandon Oldenburg, Bonnie Thompson, Patrick Doyon, Marc Bertrand, me, Amanda Forbis, Ron Diamond, Sue Goffe, Grant Orchard and Wendy Tilby.

Pictorial by Dan Sarto

Paramount Studios is one of the oldest and most venerable of the big Hollywood studios.  Founded in 1912, the studio has been home to some of the greatest films in movie history, including The Godfather franchise, The Ten Commandments and Rear Window.  While the studio has been distributing animated films for some time through its relationship with DreamWorks, only last July did it announce it was getting back into the animation production business.  Our group spent the entire day on the lot and was not disappointed.

First stop - the Bronson Avenue gate, a Hollywood movie landmark for decades.

The plush new theatre, used for screenings as well as hospital and hotel lobbies for films. Everything on the lot is fair game for use in shows.

The bus bench from Forrest Gump.

Just inside the Bronson gate, a memorial plaque to Paramount employees who lost their lives in World War II.

One of the cavernous sound stages used to film movies and television shows.

Plaques adorn most of the main sound stages, listing some of the more famous films that shot there.

The lists of films are quite impressive. This lot has housed some of the more memorable films in cinema history.

The film vault building was a huge hit with the group. Inside the vaults, the smell of vinegar is overwhelming. We only ventured inside one vault, seen open at the far right of the picture.

You can barely see down to the end, but the shelves are crammed full of film containers.

Someone from Paramount came over and showed us a picture of Steve McQueen in a sports car, shot right at the spot in front of the vaults where we were all standing. The last door on the right visible just above the rear of the car is the same valt door open in these pictures.

We screened the nominated films for the senior execs at the new Paramount Animation group. Ron introduces the group to, from left to right, Annie Laks, VP of Production, Jill Gilbert, VP of Animation and Bob Bacon, Exec VP Animation.

Q&A with the Paramount executives.

A chance to talk shop at lunch following the screening. They served pretzel rolls, which, in my book, absolves them from any past or future sins. They were salty, gummy and delicious.

Paramount Animation Exec VP Bob Bacon talks with, from left to right, Bonnie Thompson, Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby.

Our tour continued onto the backlot. One of many ambiguously "east coast" city backdrops you've seen, but couldn't place precisely, on hundreds of films, TV shows and commercials.

Our guide showed us an example of how sets can help fool viewers. Notice one large and one small door. A smaller actor looks bigger in the larger doorway, while a larger actor looks smaller in the bigger one. Our guide mentioned Tom Cruse and Nicole Kidman as beneficiaries.

Wendy adjusts her watch to the clock shop prop.

The old Desilu Studios are housed on the lot, built by Lucille Ball and her then husband Desi Arnaz. An astute business-woman as well as comedic genius, Lucy had this area built to resemble her own backyard, since she was always in her adjacent office.

Dressing rooms and offices adjacent to Lucy's office complex. Our guide told us that she once had Desi's dressing room cemented over in response to his reported dalliances with other women.