While on the set of Dexter last Monday in Los Angeles, I had a chance to check out the famed Sunset Gower Studios. This 16 acre lot, right in the heart of Hollywood, has been around since the '2os and once was the home of Columbia Pictures. The Three Stooges used to wooo wooo wooo all over these 12 sound stages, as did Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant and anyone who ever made a Frank Capra picture.
Besides Dexter, today it is the home of Heroes. On the July, 2007 TCA press tour, Masi Oka (Hiro) led my group of reporters on a walking tour of the sets, something he did quite well as a former Universal Tours guide. We walked past a row of offices and Oka pointed out the gold balcony, which is now the Heroes staff writers room but back in the '40s was Rita Hayworth's dressing room.
Still standing today are some exteriors from a show called American Dreams which ran a few years ago. Set in the '60s, it was all about the American Bandstand era in Philadelphia. Producer Jonathan Prince invited the press for a set visit one TCA session and dressed it with extras, hired simply to walk around in costume as we roamed the production. Even cooler was the fact that he flew in caterers to provide authentic Philly Cheese steak sandwiches. Mmmm.
There are only a few Dexter interior sets, including his dark and gloomy apartment, which is where you might expect a serial killer to live. The dull grey and blue tones are depressing. So is the Goodwill Chic furnishing, all steel and foam from the '50s. You just want to tear down the heavy drapes in his bedroom and wrap a body up in them (and then dump it in the trunk at the foot of his bed). And that antiseptic bathroom--creepy. Among the books on his bookshelf: "We're Off To See The Killer" by William Murrow.
Stage 15, where Dexter is shot, was once the home of Soap and Who's The Boss? The brilliant and overlooked Carl Reiner comedy The Comic, starring Dick Van Dyke as a silent film star (somewhat modeled after Buster Keaton), was also shot in that studio. In other words, sacred ground. Next door, Studio 16, was the home of Barney Miller, along with Silver Spoons and The Facts Of Life.