OK, kids, we’ve reached the all-star grand finale of my trip to La La Land. If you need to catch up, just click these links.
Initially, I was going to post about Days 7 and 8, but then I realized that nothing of note really took place on the eighth day. It was basically the day I traveled back to NYC, and I didn’t take many photos of that, so all that’s left to share are my adventures on the seventh day. Let’s get into it!
After a quick 7-Eleven breffus, I hopped in an Uber en route to the legendary Paramount Pictures Studios. I was greeted by the Melrose Gate (seen in the photo above), which was, as one would expect, off Melrose Avenue.
Once inside, I got my guest badge and chilled in the lobby for a while, which gave me the opportunity to view a few cool items and pictures pertaining the studio’s storied history. In fact, there’s an entire wall of photos with accompanying factoids charting the story of Paramount, from its days as the Famous Players Film Co. to the glory days of Robert Evans and Sherry Lansing, to name a few.
Also, there were cool props, including a Terminator from Terminator Genisys and a piece of the Allspark from the Transformers films. I also dug the quotes from celebrated film director Cecil B. DeMille and Paramount Pictures founder Adolph Zukor.
One of the absolute coolest things I saw was a display case containing a few Best Picture Oscars that the studio had won for films such as The Godfather, Forrest Gump, and Titanic.
Sounds silly, but seeing those statuettes up close (even if they were behind Plexiglas) gave me a jolt of much-needed motivation. I hope to write an Academy Award-winning film one day — and perhaps snag an Oscar for myself.
There were also a few costumes on display, from films such as Fences and Star Trek.
And then my tour of the studio was under way! I studied the map of the studio’s 65-acre lot. This place was situated almost like a college campus.
The very first thing I checked out was the iconic Bronson Gate, Paramount’s arched Mediterranean Revival-style main entrance seen in numerous films, most notably Sunset Boulevard. Y’all know the line: “Thank you, Jonesy. And teach your friend some manners. Tell him without me he wouldn’t have any job, because without me there wouldn’t be a Paramount Studios.”
I was advised to rub the actual Bronson Gate, as it has been known bring good fortune to those who do. So I did. Here’s hoping good fortune is on its way.
Among other things I saw while on the Paramount campus: the Paramount Theatre; the actual bench that Forrest Gump (well, Tom Hanks) sat on during filming; the Schulberg Building, which served as the writers’ headquarters during the studio era; and the Redstone Building, which was where the producers worked.
I visited the alley where the Star Trek production offices used to be, as well as the location where the famous patio scene from Top Gun was filmed. Can you believe the “patio” was actually on the studio, outside of where the Veep offices currently are?!
I also stopped by a couple of soundstages and checked out the Blue Sky Tank, a parking lot that can be converted into whatever your production needs to film an aquatic scene. And overlooking the B-Tank is the studio’s iconic water tower.
Finally, I had a chance to check out one of the studio’s prop houses, which contained a variety of items from films such as the Transformers franchise, Grease, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, and Tropic Thunder.
Once my tour of the studio ended (and after I’d spent way too much at their gift shop), I hoofed it down Melrose Avenue to Highland, the location of a restaurant that came highly recommended …
It’s a tiny (and I do mean tiny) French bistro that sits in an unassuming Hollywood strip mall. But, my oh my, it is absolutely charming. And the food! Everything that came from the open kitchen looked amazing: from the Le Big Mec double cheeseburger to the jamon-buerre and buttery escargot.
My meal, however, was tres simple: the omelette, which oozed with Boursin pepper cheese and was topped with chives and served with a side of butter lettuce. To drink, I had a tequila-based cocktail called the Mexican Firing Squad. Quelle magnifique!
Afterward, I hung out at Big Wangs, knowing it would be the final night I could do so. And as I got drunk, I reflected on the previous week and all that I had seen and done. I knew I would miss Los Angeles — and I do, I really, really do — but I also knew that I wouldn’t be gone for long. I shall return one day.
OK, here’s the final L.A. trip song: Carly Rae Jepsen‘s “I Really Like You,” whose music video features, you guessed it,
Forrest Gump Tom Hanks. Don’t you love it when things come full circle?