November 23, 2018

Walking in the Footsteps of Mary Tyler Moore, Newhart, and Gilligan at CBS Radford

For years, I've struggled with finding something productive to do on Thanksgiving.

I've set my alarm early to do some volunteering, and I've turned it off to go back to bed. I've spent many Thanksgiving Days—or, at least, mornings—in bed, feeling sorry for myself.

Maybe if LA had a Thanksgiving Day Parade, I would go. But then again, I never did while I lived in New York.

Last year, I gave up entirely and skipped town to spend Thanksgiving in Vegas. And as good of a time as I had in Sin City last Thanksgiving, there was one thing that I'd wished I'd been in LA for.

The Drumstick Dash.

I'd never been tempted to do a "turkey trot" before—no matter where I've spent Thanksgiving, there's usually one nearby—but the Drumstick Dash is different.

It starts and ends on the backlot of the CBS Studio Center in Studio City, which doesn't offer a tour. Walking a 5K there would be my way to get in.

But when I woke up at 6 a.m. on Thursday morning to the sound of rain, I wasn't entirely sure it would be worth it.

By the time I arrived to CBS Radford, past the 22,000 square-foot soundstage #2 (there is no #1), the skies had already begun to clear.

And as I entered what looked to be the "town" section of the backlot—whose bungalows function as offices for the various onsite productions—I realized there was no quitting now.

I'd waited a year for this—and I'd saved my one 5K for 2018 until practically the end of the year. (It's not a hard-and-fast rule, but I'd like to do some kind of walk/run like this at least once a year.)

So there I was, walking past soundstages of current shows that went on air after I gave up watching TV...

...and through the facsimile streets of New York that have appeared on Brooklyn Nine Nine (which is how the storefronts are dressed now)... well as classics like Seinfeld.

Of course, walking the 5K wasn't exactly like taking a studio tour, since they didn't allow us inside any of the buildings...

...and since the backlot isn't actually big enough for a full 5K without going in circles.

So, we exited CBS Studios and walked north on Colfax, crossing over the LA River.

It was a unique perspective, since the LA River actually runs through the CBS studio—which is why there's currently no continuous bike path along the river.

My friend Charity and I weren;t there to race, or even place. We took our time, taking photos and taking in the scenery and all the festivities.

We eventually looped back in onto the backlot...

...past the expendables...

...behind the "town" and bungalows...

...and down a pedestrian path along the river.

Charity works in the biz, so she'd seen most of it before—but this was all new to me.

And as I passed the front door for Entertainment Tonight (which moved to CBS Radford from Paramount in 2008), I was glad not to be in Vegas this year.

I was even glad to have not accepted an invitation to Thanksgiving in Tempe, which came after I'd already signed up for the Drumstick Dash.

And mostly, I was glad to finish. For that, I got a medal.

Sure, I didn't rank in any category, but I wasn't trying to. An extra bonus was not to finish last.

We crossed the finish line early enough to see the rest of the backlot...

...where shows like Mary Tyler Moore (and Rhoda and Lou Grant), The Bob Newhart Show, and WKRP in Cincinnati were shot here in the 1970s and '80s...

...and episodes of My Three Sons and Leave It to Beaver were created before CBS started leasing what was then the Republic Pictures lot in 1963.

The Gilligan's Island lagoon may have been taken out, but there's still a street dedicated to the show, as well as ones for Gunsmoke, St. Elsewhere, and Mack Sennett—who created the lot in 1928 for his Keystone Studios film production company (home of the Keystone Kops).

This is reportedly the last year that the Drumstick Dash will be held at CBS Radford. Not only has it outgrown the small studio lot, but CBS Studios will soon be under construction as some productions will relocate from CBS Television City (on Beverly and Fairfax) to Studio City.

If it moves to another spot I've never been and can't otherwise get into, I might just do the dash again next year. After all, it's already time to start thinking about which 5K I'll do for 2019.

Related Posts:
Conquering LA's 'Golden Gate' Bridge
To the Finish Line

1 comment:

  1. This must have been posted in 2018 and I just found it on 2/8/2024. Studio back lots are interesting. I remember with fondness when my dad was writing the screenplay at Warner Bros. for Colt 45. He invited me to the commissary for lunch and then a tour. There were actors also having lunch, some of whom dad identified for me but no identification was needed to recognize Gary Cooper at the next table with three other people at their table. Walking through hallways heading to the back lot we past office doors with gold lettering for King Vidor, Andre de Toth (who became a friend) and other directors. The back lot was fascinating, including the street, buildings, and huge blank wall at the end. This was where Gary Cooper had a showdown in High Noon.