joy magnetism: Mr. Clooney goes to Sony...wonder if he'll take the tour, too

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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Mr. Clooney goes to Sony...wonder if he'll take the tour, too

Magnet #496 - Sony Pictures

Soooo, Clooney and Heslov packed up their Smokehouse production bags and moved cross town over to Sony Pictures in Culver City. You may have heard.

Or, if you're like me, you've heard the same news no less than 50 times in the last week. Not that I have a Google alert on George Clooney or anything. Heheh.

Rumors abound about the move - whether or not it was money, or a better production deal, or whatever. Honestly, I don't care. That's his business.

While I'm sad he's leaving Warners, I'm superexcited that they're going to Sony Pictures, the former MGM Studios lot, where great films such as Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind were produced.

It's also home of the second best studio tour ever. (Here's the best studio tour, ironically, Mr. Clooney, it was Warners.) So fun, that I've now done it twice! Take this tour. I can't say it enough. (Plus! They have a little shop!)

The first time I did Sony, I'll never forget - it was the Monday after Spider-Man came out...when they busted the box office wide open at $115 million. In their little lobby atrium, they had a coffee and pastries breakfast set out, courtesy of Spider-Man. They also had a giant (giant!) inflated Spider-Man lined along the wall. And, as you rounded the backlot to their other entrance, there was a giant banner across the entrance that screamed $115 million. It was fantastic to be a tiny, tiny, tiny part of such a successful studio weekend. I can only imagine how much fun it is every week there's a successful opening. (Mind you, it probably sucks after a sucky opening, I'm sure.)

Though here's a better description of the tour, my own tour was just the bee's knees - getting to visit different soundstages of movie history, walk down little backlots (in a stupid and rash decision, they destroyed a ton of the more historic lots), visiting the Jeopardy! set, going into the scoring and recording facilities, but also seeing the supercool Art Deco Irving G. Thalberg administration building with all the Oscar statuettes in their lobby, and hearing names like Thalberg and Mayer and Selznick and Gable and Garland and Rooney.

And bonus! We got to visit the deserted commissary. If you click on that last link, they explain a little about why the commissary was so important...but the deal is that Clark Gable used to have this giant leather chair in the comm and it was only for him, no one else sat there. But, when the love of his life Carole Lombard was killed tragically in a plane crash coming home from a USO tour, Gable was devastated, and they kept the chair empty, waiting for him to come back. And when he finally did come back to the lot and into the commissary, everyone in the room gave him a standing ovation. (Though, honestly, that's kind of weird, I bet it made him a little sadder. But whatever. Bygones.)

That first trip was also special, because it was just me on my own wasting time before my meeting with a bigwig producer (totally a different magnet), hanging out around the Sony studio, taking the tour, having lunch with the locals, and also visiting the nearby historic old Culver City Studios, run by historic old David (the O stands for nothing) Selznick, producer extraordinaire. If you haven't heard of Selznick, definitely check out his book of...memos.

The man wrote a trillion memos to everyone. About everything. And pages worth at a time. It's such an insightful way to see his casting and production decisions for movies such as Gone With the Wind, Rebecca, Prisoner of Zenda, and Anna Karenina, and to see what kind of man he was in general, in his dealings with his stable of stars like Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh. Fascinating.

The second tour, I went with some folks, and we also had a blast. The little intro video, getting to go into some of the same buildings, etc. We even got to stand outside one of the soundstages, listening to Coldplay rehearse for some tour they were about to launch.

The best part about that trip, was that it was near my birthday, and we'd gotten tickets to watch some ill-fated pilot that Dean Cain was shooting. Even though they said it received the highest audience favorability scores (ever), it just was not the best pilot ever (sorry, Dean). But as they were clearing out the audience, I watched as my friend fought with security guards just to go talk to Dean. And I was like, dang, I didn't know she liked him all that much. In the end, she was jostling people out of the way just to get Dean to sign my birthday card. So funny. I still have that card, too. LOVE.

(Oh, as an aside, since this is aiming to be a long-ass post, sorry - here's what's not funny. I get the need to make a buck, but damn, Microsoft, I would love to see the research results that validated your decision to produce that stupid vomit ad for IE8, not to mention the whole ill-conceived and -executed campaign. Aiming at Millennials? The vomit I get, the stupid text lexicon I get. But, why in the hell are performing cruel and unusual punishment in the form of fugly pants for my Dean Cain? And, how many Millennials actually watched Lois & Clark. Hi, one generation up, my friends.)

Anyway, so, back to my fun Sony post...

Yay, George Clooney and Grant Heslov are now at the historic Sony Pictures lot! May you guys have a great run together, and plenty of atrium breakfasts along the way!
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