Studio 60: Go Get Your Own Building

I want to like Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip, really I do. I came away from last week’s debut with some of my skepticism dispelled and actually feeling pretty good about the show’s prospects. I was especially drawn to the relationship dynamics exhibited between its two stars, Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford.

But this week, I already feel my enthusiasm beginning to wane a bit. Maybe it was the need for the show to to take cheapshots at bloggers as pajama-wearing idiots early on in the proceedings, or that more of creator Adam Sorkin’s characteristic 15-second socio/political sermonizings are beginning to rear their diatribal heads. They may look great on paper, but a lot of those rants so do not flow trippingly off of his characters’ tongues; case in point when one character insults Perry’s character as being an “addle-minded pervert.” Addle-minded? Who talks like this, except maybe Sorkin… and maybe Borat.

But the thing that got me most irked was perhaps the least consequential: a Sunset Boulevard shot showing me the exterior of the studio. Sure, I know the place is make believe and all that, but did they have to go and fictionalize the landmark Hollywood Palladium into such a monstrosity? Check it out after and before via my craptastic digicam shot of my paused TV screen on the left and a photo of the actual historic theater from on the right (they can be clicked for slight biggification): |

For a dramedy that’s trying so hard to be soooooo intrinsically insider, I’m disappointed they’d base it in some F/X’d version of such a venerable Hollywood venue. Especially since the former Earl Carroll Theater, today an actual TV studio where Star Search once lived, exists almost directly across the street from the landmark. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go change out of my PJs.

18 thoughts on “Studio 60: Go Get Your Own Building”

  1. Salon has Heather Havrilesky’s great rant about Studio 60 (which I’ve called ‘West Wing with circular staircases!’).

    Also, I don’t know if you were following the fake Studio 60 Blog (called Defaker) which NBC has now deleted:

    But it lives on in Google Cache … could someone tell me how to use Google Cache to view the comments?

  2. The digification of the Palladium doesn’t bother me so much, though I agree it would be better to use the old Earl Carroll Theater.

    But after watching it last night for the first time, I was also left with a ho-hum feeling. I was a fan of West Wing, and a HUGE fan of Sports Night, so I too wanted this to rock. But rocketh it does not.

    That said, I’ve discovered that many, many programs I end up loving have pretty crappy first seasons. Given the general dreck on broadcast TV, I’m hoping that Studio 60 doesn’t get canned before it has at least a little time to develop.

  3. If you go to Defamer (ahem…how original NBC) they have some of the comments saved as they have been beating this show like a tympani drum. You’ll see that landmarks are not the only thing.

    Oh yeah, Matthew Perry is my arch nemesis. So I hope this show drowns.

  4. My two cents on that….

    This coming from a long time non TV owner, that is until earlier his summer when I rescued an old 20 inch Panasonic from the curb.

    I’ll have to say that I think tricking out the Palladium is kind of cool. Was it not Bruce Lee that said, “Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless and add in it was it your very own.” I mean on one hand you have films like the recently released Factotum being filmed in Minneapolis. So you know you have to dispend your disbelief and just pretend it’s LA. There are other examples of that too but nothing comes to mind at this moment.

    Sheesh does that even make any sense?

    You know what really irked me? Wrestling with the home made antennae I fashioned out of a long strip of aluminum foil to be able have the pleasure of seeing the show. I got the channel to come in but had to settle for a black and white version of Studio 60. I did make the antennae into a cool cobra like shape that is perched on this craptastic television.

    So because of my necessary art project, I missed the scene of the reimagined Palladium. There is alot to LA that I like to reimagine though and it’s inspiring to see others do the same.

  5. I think it’s a good show and I’m glad it’s based in LA. I also think the creation of a faux studio was well down: it incorporates a lot of real-life elements from TV studios around town, and their general feel. That streamline moderne look remains as paradoxically hopeful and noir.

    The show won’t be the West Wing. It’ll be itself eventually, so I’ll keep watching it.

    I wonder if the extra hostility on this coast stems from it dealing more with “our” world than the East Coast.

  6. Coffee Burt, I’m not so sure about Bruce Lee’s philosophications, but in terms of filming locally, Sorkin and you (and me) are on the same when he saw fit to slam Vancouver as a location (I believe he had Whitford say it looks like Boston, California in the premiere episode).

    As to missing scenes or episodes because of antennae trouble, NBC’s got ya covered with free episode replays on their website.

    And redoing the Palladium in their image may be an inside joke of some sort. A little research into the venue’s history reveals that something like five Emmy Awards shows took place there.

  7. And another thing to think about: the Palladium is great, full stop, but it isn’t a unique creation – it’s a collection of design elements from a particular time in architectural history – another deco-inspired venue among the once likely hundreds in Los Angeles and around the country. To borrow it’s elements – the vertical fins are the one thing that seems clearly a match between the two shots – isn’t all that surprising. other than that, the basic “this is a theater” elements of the building are identifiable even in modern AMCs.

  8. I love Sports Night. I love the West Wing. So far, I’m off to a pretty good start with Studio 60.

    I would say addle-minded.

  9. After my first week of having cable or television in nearly five years and after having watched the first two episodes of Studio 60, I actually kind of like it. I’ll take fancy-pant phrases like “addle-minded” over all the reality dregs of society shows that seem to punctuate EVERY SINGLE CHANNEL! I think it’s sharp and, dare I say it, I actually like Matt Perry in it!

  10. After my first week of having cable or television in nearly five years

    Say WHAT? When did that happen??? I guess a week ago, but you know what I mean.

  11. posts like this are why i have trouble reminding myself to come back to every day. could you possibly have picked a dumber issue to bitch about? it almost seems like you wanted to give sorkin’s assessment of bloggers validity. who the hell cares whether or not their fake theater is basically a refurbished palladium. thats like saying that west wing sucks because you can’t figure out how martin sheen’s presidency fits in between the Clinton and Bush presidencies.

    in its first two episodes, studio 60 managed to provide a valid social commentary on the state of pop culture and television’s role in it on top of providing funny and emotional entertainment. ill take that over 99% of what else is on tv and if you’re one of the few left thinking americans you’d support that instead of cutting it down because you can’t think of anything else to blog about.

  12. Hey there Ben. I always enjoy when someone from that little-bus group of readers rears their little heads to wonder aloud why they keep coming back to after reading one of my posts. Normally I’d make a pretty good attempt at leaving lobs such as yours alone but you throw like such a girl I just have to point and laugh. The fact is I certainly have picked dumber topics to bitch about and I often do.

    But did you have to go totally blind in your indignant wrath and miss my point about the digitized version of the Palladium that “Studio 60” is using for a base of operations? For a show striving so hard to keep its version of Hollywood real, I think it sucks that they had to go all make believe with the house its characters live in.

    Of course, you are entitled to dismiss my point as idiotic and meritless — which you have — but could you have come up with a more craptastic and off-the-mark “West Wing” analogy within which to do so? I’m almost in awe of how little sense it makes.

    Here let me help: A better comparative would have been to say something like “that’s like complaining about the “West Wing” because of an Oval Office configuration that was markedly different from the real version.” Get it? Happy to help.

    I will agree that “Studio 60” is smart and entertaining and far more engaging than the vast majority of what my idiot box upchucks all over my living room. Certainly I will continue to watch it for as long as it remains so and for almost as long as I can stomach Sorkin’s soliloquies. But for you to put the ass in assertion and ridiculously demand that I lock-step and blank-check support the show simply because I’m one of the “few left-thinking Americans,” well damn if that statement just plain sucks.

  13. i agree with ben’s post up there. this is such a non issue. your favorite musicians are cleaned up digitally in post for their close ups in music videos. the exterior shot of your favorite families house chances are isnt in the city they pretend to be in. i dont see how this is a big deal. also the Palladium doesnt look that great from the outside its rather plain. and isnt their lease up soon and it and the nickelodean thing across the street could be gone or turned into something else down the line.

    and as far as the show i can understand how sorkin’s stuff isnt for everybody but i dig it and i hope it is around for a bit.

  14. I still think the link to the Palladium is tenuous at best. There’s very little Palladium in the Studio 60 creation – which is a very accurately created fictional building – aside from the verticle bone structure in the center front which is completely non-unique for that era and style of movie/theater construction. If I weren’t a totally lazy commenter, I’m guessing I could google up some examples of Palladium-esque structures left around the country – are they guilty of robbing some kind of Palladium-only identity?

    Had they built off the skeleton of the old Pan Pacific, would that have been more or less true to the hometown spirit the show tries to cultivate? They’ve invented a whole network for the show – so better they invent what would likely be the kind of structure an “NBS” would have built – regardless of when.

  15. Charlie and CD, let’s just move on shall we? You’ve both missed my point and that’s my fault. Sorry to have failed you so badly in communicating it in in such a way that it eluded you. I suppose I should take the time now to belabor and elaborate it so you can see what it is I was trying to say, but I ain’t gonna.

  16. Will – I honestly don’t think I missed your point, I think I led the discussion (well, not really, no one followed, but tried to lead it) in a tangential direction. I am sincerely (man, it’s hard to convey sincerity in the section of a blog most likely to be home to indiscriminate snark and jerkishness) interested in exactly what it is that motivates a) your ire toward the show and b)your commitment to the faux-studio’s Palladial-roots.

    For a change, I really wasn’t picking a fight – just encouraging a discussion about certain, home-grown architecture’s roll in our LA-identity, rather that just hashing out our feeling about the show itself. You don’t have to engage in that discussion – but I don’t want you to feel like I was attacking your post or your viewpoint.

  17. CD, I appreciate the follow-up and apologize for the flippant jerky treat of my first reply. Frankly I was surprised to see fresh interest in the old post after several days of silence and only after my “I ain’t gonna” comment did I find out the reason for the renewal: the site’s new weekly wrap-up feature that Sean debuted encouraging people to sound off about some of the week’s comment-loaded topics. So having said all that, let me take your first part second and your second part first.

    Yes, I do not have any substantial personal commitment or connection to the Palladium. My uncle didn’t die during its construction, nor did I smoke my first joint in its parking lot. Back in the post-Punkozoic era in my teens I once tried (and failed) to sneak in to see Wendy O. Williams “sing” and blowtorch an old chevy onstage but that’s the extent of my personal memories of the place other than having an awareness during my time as a kid growing up in Hollywood that it was there and happening.

    I also don’t care for it much from an architectural standpoint. Like Charlie in his comment that preceded yours, I agree it’s a plain, unremarkable structure on the outside.

    What I do care about is that it’s still there — maybe retaining only a glimmer of its former glory, but it still stands intact as a viable entity.

    As to the degree it wrankled me that “Studio 60” opted to remake that venue in its own image… From my perspective (and a redundant one), it’s a simple issue of the show trying to be so real about the town it’s based in and representing. From “…on the Sunset Strip” in its title (thus the Pan Pacific wouldn’t work as you suggested unless they change the name to “…on Beverly Boulevard), to references sprinkled liberally through its scripts, Sorkin & Company is doing its best to make this fiction as nonfictional and timely and relevant as possible. Yet they then take this real and relevant Hollywood landmark and give it a digitized makeover into make-believe? It just doesn’t work for me. I suppose when you come down to to I find it a choice that contradicts the tone and drive of the show.

    I understand why they didn’t just leave the Palladium as-is. It is too utilitarian looking — which is why I mentioned originally that a structure already far more dramatic stands practically directly across the street from the Palladium in the form of the former Earl Carroll Theater.

    You may still consider the Palladium connection tenuous at best seeing “very little” of it in the “Studio 60” creation. You ask if they’re guilty of borrowing aspects from the Hollywood Palladium only and yes, that’s the point and the one you don’t seem to be getting. See, what you might not have caught in the episode before the exterior shot I featured in the post was the west facing shot toward Sunset and Vine that pans right to the front of where the Palladium should be except it’s been replaced by this two-story building that features the same Palladium marquee, the same vertical structures and even a simlar vertical signage. In other words, this isn’t some static shot of the Cunningham Family home before cutting inside to a scene with Richie and the Fonz. Or some static shot of the Charles Townsend Detective Agency storefront in “Charlie’s Angels” (which was on Robertson in Beverly Hills, by the way) before the scene inside begins with Charlie on speakerphone. No, the creators of “Studio 60” took pains to place the show’s phony home in its real-world context and instead of builing the facade from the ground up they tacked on fake pixels to something that’s real.

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