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Displaying items by tag: television

Saturday, 22 September 2012 13:42

Warner Bros. Studios Tours

Where else on the planet is it possible to encounter movie stars on a break during filming of their latest movie or shooting hoops outside a soundstage after filming today's scene?

Nowhere except on the legendary Warner Bros. Studios VIP Tour.Warner Bros Studio Tour PicmonkeyVisitors almost part of action.

Indeed, as they pass through the same gates as Hollywood's leading actors, directors and producers do daily, guests of the Warner Bros. Studios VIP Tour are offered a rare look into the world of entertainment, with an intimate view of the inner workings of a thriving motion picture and television studio.

The Warner Bros. Studios VIP Tour transports guests on a one-of-a-kind journey, immersing them in today's most popular movies and television shows. The tour represents an extraordinary opportunity to explore inner Hollywood surrounded by actual filming and production amidst yesterday's and today's most famous sets, sound effects, music, props, scenic art and special effects.

Because nothing is staged - this is real Hollywood at work - there is no telling what, or who, lucky visitors might encounter. The VIP Tour gives guests a snapshot of what's happening at Warner Bros.' working studio and transforms then into industry insiders.

In the early days of the Studio, James Dean could frequently be seen speeding through the lot on his motorcycle, but on one special tour, it was Tom Cruise who actually boarded a cart filled with guests to listen to the tour guide's history of New York Street and its transformation into ancient Tokyo for the movie "The Last Samurai." Stunned visitors couldn't believe their luck, but the reality is that on the VIP Tour, guests regularly come face-to-face with the industry's biggest stars. Martin Sheen once loaned his coat to a chilly guest with the promise that it would be returned to the soundstage after the tour.

Founded in 1923, the Studio's historic lore is well-documented. From the very first talkie, "The Jazz Singer," to the legendary films "The Maltese Falcon," "Casablanca" and "Rebel Without A Cause, " from TV classics "Maverick," "The Waltons," and "The Dukes of Hazzard," to today's hottest shows including "Two and a Half Men," "Mike and Molly," "The Mentalist," "Two Broke Girls" and "The Big Bang Theory," Warner Bros. Studios is an icon known the world-over.

The Studio itself sits on 110 acres in the heart of Burbank, California and features 30 working soundstages on the front lot and a number of versatile backlot outdoor sets seen in countless productions.

Warner Bros. Studios productions have received more than 200 Academy Awards and numerous Emmys and, as a result, a journey through the backlot sets will leave guests feeling quite familiar with their surroundings. It is on these sets that hundreds and hundreds of films have been made including "The Music Man," "My Fair Lady," "Bonnie and Clyde" and several others.

Because every day at the world's busiest movie and TV studio is different, no two VIP Tours are the same. Tour guides are in constant communication with the Studio's production coordinators and whenever possible, guests are escorted onto an active soundstage or backlot film set for an up close and personal look at the sets, props, lighting and special effects that go into the making of a Warner Bros. Studios feature or TV series.

Nowhere else in Hollywood is this possible. In addition, guests are frequently allowed to stand within inches of the action for a bird's eye view as cameras prepare to roll.  On occasion VIP Tour guests have even been cast as extras in film and TV productions.

Whenever possible, tours are personalized to accommodate the group's

interests and desires:


If a guest has a specific interest in motion picture music, he or she might find themselves on the Eastwood Scoring Stage for a lesson in the mixing and recording of vocals and film scores.


Artists may enjoy a visit to the scenic art department, where they'll encounter studio employees hand-painting scenic backdrops, portraits and murals on canvas stretched across a giant wood frame.


Fashion aficionados will marvel at the 60,000 square foot costume department that houses over 50,000 pieces of jewelry, 30,000 shoes, 10,000 hats and 4,000 purses ranging from the pre-historic to the post-apocalyptic eras.


At the Warner Bros. Mill, visitors are not only walked through the massive facility housing the paint and metal shops, but they are introduced to the talented artists and craftspeople responsible for the hundreds of sets built on the Studio lot each year.

In the 6,300-square-foot Picture Car Museum, car enthusiasts can take photos with the "car stars" made famous in some of the most popular movies and television shows, including the Batmobile, the flying car from "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," the General Lee from "The Dukes of Hazzard," and the Scooby-Doo Mystery Machine.

Visitors also have an opportunity to explore Hollywood's only studio museum. The Warner Bros. Museum contains a remarkable collection of memorabilia from the Studio's rich and celebrated history. The Museum offers guests an intimate look at the original costumes, props, sets, scripts and correspondence from countless Warner Bros. Studios films and television shows -- materials not before seen by the general public.

The Warner Bros. Studios VIP Tour operates Monday through Saturday with tours departing regularly between 8:15 a.m. and 4 p.m. Extended hours are offered in the spring and summer. The price is $49 per person. For a more in-depth studio tour experience, Deluxe VIP Tours are offered daily at 10:20 a.m. For $250. Children under eight years of age are not permitted. Further information is available at


Sources at contributed to this article.


Editor's Note: Planning a visit to the land of entertainment? In the Los Angeles County sections of Taste California Travel's Resource Directory, you will find links to the websites of hundreds of options for Lodging and Dining in the area. In that directory is also a new section devoted to beer-centric establishments.

Secrets of the M*A*S*H Mess: The Lost Recipes of Private Igorby Jeff Maxwell


Cumberland House 2007

ISBN 978-1888952414268 pages + TV photos and letters

secrets of the MASH Mess 

In 1950, a country bumpkin named Igor Straminsky answered his country’s call to duty and, as an unwitting Army private, soon found himself in the most hostile environment that the planet could ever serve up. No, we’re not talking about Korea. We’re talking about the men and women of the 4077th, who queued up three times a day with plastic trays, growling stomachs, and growing suspicions that they’d more likely meet their deaths at the inept hands of their new cook than they ever would in confrontations with the enemy they’d come to fight.

“Dear Ma,” Igor wrote home, “Instead of letting me work at something I’m good at, they’re gonna make me do a job I don’t know anything about! Radar, the company clerk here, told me that he thinks the Army does that on purpose.”

Still, a job was a job and the beleaguered young private wasn’t going to let the ongoing sarcasm of Captain Hawkeye Pierce dampen his spirits.

Hawkeye: “It’s inhuman to serve the same food day after day. The Geneva Convention prohibits the killing of our taste buds.”

Suffice it to say, Igor had plenty of time to hone his craft (such as it was). His stint in a mess tent chef’s hat, in fact, lasted 8 years longer than the actual Korean War. When the hit television series M*A*S*H finally bowed out in 1983, almost 125 million viewers tuned in to say goodbye, the largest audience ever for a TV show.

“Ma! I’m sure you’ve heard the news…IT’S OVER! I’ll probably be home by the time you get this letter but I wanted to write it anyway. I’ll make everybody dinner when I get there but could somebody else please serve it?”

Fortunately, Igor’s efforts to please the palate weren’t left behind on a helicopter pad. His alter ego—Hollywood actor/writer/entrepreneur Jeff Maxwell—has compiled the best of Igor's mess tent magic into a hilarious book entitled “Secrets of the M*A*S*H Mess: The Lost Recipes of Private Igor.”

Testimonial from Colonel Potter: “There seems to be a misconception here—those recipes weren’t lost! We did our best to hide them.”

Within these wacky pages--which are replete with black and white production stills, “dog-tag” quotes, and letters home—the author not only gives us generous dollops of homegrown culinary advice but demonstrates a talent for memorializing his Army experiences and friendships with his own brand of signature recipes:

Hawkeye and Trapper’s Swamp Spaghetti

Winchester’s Upper Crusted Chicken

Hot Lips Tri-Tips

Pork Choppers with Barbeque Sauce

Stuffed Seoul

Radar’s Teddy Bear Turkey Loaf

The Colonel’s Kernel Stew

Toasted Tank Tuna

Hunnicut’s Homesick Cookies

Intravenous Drip Dip

Igorism: “Hawkeye told me he went to school for twelve years to be a doctor. I trained in boot camp for eight weeks to become a soldier. It sure takes a lot more time to learn how to save a life than how to end one.”

As clueless as Igor seemed to be whilst unveiling inventive concoctions such as “Cream of Weenie Soup” or “Hot Potato Pucks”, he shows remarkable clarity in laying out instructions that are fun and easy to follow. Whether you’re mustering your troops off to work or school with “Frontline Flapjacks with Chocolate Gravy”, settling in for an evening flick with “Movie Night Popcorn Shrimp,” or dazzling your next book club group with “Forward Marsh Melts”, there’s no denying that Igor knows what it takes to please picky eaters.

Igor: “Peas or carrots, Sir?”Hawkeye: “Oh, a little of each will be fine.”Igor: “Good, because I don’t know which is which.”

He has also included a short section on drinks, including “Pre-Op Novocaine Shake”, “Swamp Swill Martini” and “Suicide is Painless”, the latter popularized in song for both the original film and the TV series.

Testimonial from Hawkeye Pierce: “Can’t wait to try the recipes. There are several people I’m trying to kill.”

In real life, by the way, Maxwell is the inventor/purveyor of a kicky Bloody Mary Mix called Chico Rico™ which won a People’s Preference Award in the 2003 International Zesty Foods Show. The mix, which he describes as “Lip Smackin’ Fire & Spice”, is available at Bristol Farms or through his website at

While dinner is cooking, TV trivia fans will find themselves well entertained with Maxwell’s behind-the-scenes anecdotes, as well the convoluted journey that took this affable actor from the bowels of the Print Department at 20th Century Fox to stand-up comedy to the elation of playing a character with an actual name on a hit series instead of just a credit as “Soldier 1”. The proliferation of candid shots suggest the slap-dash happiness of an overgrown kid who has not only found himself at the summer camp of a lifetime but in the thick of new friendships destined to last forever.

Hotlips: “I thought you might enjoy being the Charity Officer for me. You’d be so good at it.”BJ: “Oh really?”Hotlips: “You have such a nice smile. Not liking you is the same as not liking a collie.”

Last but not least are the bittersweet tugs of nostalgia which remind us that the 4077th wasn’t just Igor’s family and his home-away-from-home but a weekly part of our own family as well.

“Dear Ma, We all just found out that Colonel Blake gets to go home. Lucky guy—sure wish I was gonna be on the plane with him!”

In the third season finale, "Abyssinia, Henry", marking actor McLean Stevenson’s departure from the cast, viewers will recall the heart-stopping moment when a stunned Radar announced that Colonel Blake’s plane had been shot down en route to Japan. There were no survivors.

It was moments like this that reminded us of what good writing can be. And it’s books like “Secrets of the M*A*S*H Mess” that demonstrate Private Straminsky has a definite calling in top brass cuisine.


Reviewer Christina Hamlett, a former actress and director, is an award winning author and script coverage consultant for the film industry. Her credits to date include 22 books, 118 plays and musicals, 4 optioned feature films, and columns/interviews that appear throughout the world. She and her gourmet chef husband, Mark Webb, reside in Pasadena, California.

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