Landmark production lot thrives in
revived role as a center for television production.

HOLLYWOOD—Hollywood Center Studios, one of the
largest independent production lots in Southern California, is finalizing plans
to construct a 106,000 square foot office complex designed to serve the area’s
burgeoning film and television community. The construction project, which will
also include a new parking structure and other amenities, is the latest
evidence of a remarkable turnaround experienced by the landmark facility under
the 30-year stewardship of the Singer Family.

Originally built by an associate of Charlie Chaplin in 1919,
Hollywood Center Studios is currently enjoying a renaissance as a center for
television production. More than a dozen shows are shot on the lot for Disney,
Comedy Central, NBC, MTV and other network clients. The lot boasts a dozen
shooting stages, ranging in size from 500 to nearly 19,000 square feet, and also offers such features as
state-of-the-art television Control Rooms, production offices, hair &
makeup dressing rooms and a full service lighting, grip and expendables

Business, according to Singer Family spokesperson Alan
Singer, has never been better. “Although film production has largely left Los
Angeles, a lot of TV production remains here due to the creative talent that resides
in Los Angeles,” he says. “There is still a significant need for sound stages,
for sets and equipment.”
Things looked much different back in 1984 when the Singer
Family purchased the lot from Francis Ford Coppola. The director of The Godfather and Apocalypse Now had bought the lot, then known as General Service
Studios, several years earlier for use on his own film projects. He turned the
entire lot into a giant set for his film One
From the Heart

The poor box office performance of that film forced Coppola
to sell that lot, which arrived in the hands of its new owners in a precarious
state. Sound stages were in disrepair and lacked modern equipment. The
interruption of its traditional role as a shooting location for independent
producers left it without a revenue stream. “The studio was a mess,” recalls
At that point, the Singer Family, which got its start under
the late Jack Singer in Canadian real estate, could have sold off the property
for its land value. That would have marked a sad end for a lot that had
witnessed a remarkable amount of Hollywood history. Howard Hughes had once
worked on the lot, as had the Marx Brothers and Mae West. Shirley Temple made
her first film on one its sound stages. In the 50s and 60s, the lot became
ground zero for the emergent television industry. It was home to everything
from I Love Lucy and The Addams Family to Mr. Ed, Petticoat Junction and The Beverly Hillbillies.

But the Singers didn’t sell; they reinvested. They hired a
professional management team to run the lot and began fixing up, expanding and
improving its resources. Over time, it increased the number of sound stages
from eight to 12. It built or refurbished bungalows and office space to serve
as comfy bases for production companies and other creative service providers.
Most significantly, they invested heavily in resources
designed to woo back television production. That ranged from building new hair
and make-up facilities to seating for live audiences to adding scores of
parking spaces. In addition, they spent more than $1 million on a pair of
television control rooms featuring high definition camera systems and
production technology.
“Our timing was perfect,” recalls VP of Sales Richard
Schnyder, who was part of the new management team. “A lot of television
production that had been done in New York was returning to Los Angeles and
needed space to work. We filled a need.”

Still breathing new life into the lot wasn’t easy.
Competition was fierce. Singer notes that there are more than 600 sound stages
in Southern California alone. And since the 1990s, lots like Hollywood Center
Studios have had to compete against studios in other states and countries that
often enjoy the benefit of generous tax incentives for television producers.
In spite of that, Hollywood Center Studios has been more
than holding its own. Stage bookings have increased steadily since the bleak
days of the early ‘80s. Currently, the expanded lot is operating at near
capacity. Singer attributes that success to the lot’s location in central
Hollywood, an emphasis on customer service and a helping hand from the many
ghosts that inhabit its stage.
“We are not the least expensive, but we provide great
resources and we look after our clients very well,” Singer says. “I constantly
hear people say how much they love working on the lot. They like the history,
the feel of it.”
Hollywood Center Studios’ new office building is part not
only of its rebirth but of the revitalization of Hollywood in general. A number
of large construction projects are ongoing in the immediate environs of the lot
that will add new commercial space, as well as housing, shopping and
entertainment outlets.
Singer says that all this new investment and activity bodes
well for Hollywood Center Studios and predicts that the lot will still be going
strong 30 years from now. “Producers will continue to need properly equipped
and maintained space to produce their shows,” he says. “There are a lot of
things changing in the television industry, but the need for stages is constant.
Some things last forever.”
About Hollywood Center Studios
Hollywood Center
Studios has a rich and colorful history that mirrors the development of
Hollywood and the growth of the entertainment industry.  The studio has
played host to some of the most notable productions of the past century,
including such iconic television shows as I Love Lucy, The Addams Family,
Jeopardy, Rockford Files
and Mad TV, and classic film productions
such as When Harry Met Sally and The Player. In recent years, Hollywood Center
Studios has continued to grow and modernize to support its large television
clientele which includes Disney, NBC,
Comedy Central and MTV.  Hollywood Center Studios remains a vital
part of the Hollywood community and a place where entertainment history
continues to be made every day.
Hollywood Center Studios is located at 1040 N. Las Palmas
Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90038. For more information, call (323)
860-0000 or visit
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