Against all odds, tram tour survives,
(From Variety, June 23 1994)
"I remember they said we were crazy," Lew Wasserman reminisced at Universal Studios Hollywood's 30th anniversary. "They said talent wouldn't want people staring at them -- and that it (the tour) wouldn't do 50,000 people a year." Yes, Wasserman admitted, talent did not delight in seeing the tourists invade their sanctum sanctorum. Then, one day, Robert Taylor, coming out of the commissary, saw a tram (there were only two running four times daily, with a capacity of 70 people). Taylor walked over to the fans, who were totally respectful. And Jimmy Stewart, coming out of his "Rare Breed" stage, walked alongside a tram, talked to the fans. No star complained thereafter. And when Alfred Hitchcock did his famous commercial, riding in a tram and talking to a likeness of himself walking alongside, the floodgates were opened. I wrote the initial "Universal City Studios Story" book for the tour, 29 years ago. That tour has come a long way from the Quonset huts on Lankershim Boulevard and an entertainment center in the basement of the commissary, plus a fashion show by Edith Head and Perc Westmore doing makeup on a lucky fan ... Wasserman says 5 million visitors will pass through the Universal City tour gates and 7 million in Orlando this year. A 3,000-car parking garage is added next to the 18-screen Cineplex Odeon Universal, the country's most successful house(s). And a new office building will soon open on the hill, replacing trailers, making room for four more acres of a second CityWalk, which will double its present size ... Tuesday night, 700 guests helped Universal celebrate the anni. They were red-carpeted from the new live "Flintstones" show, to "Cinemystique" starring Jonathan and Charlotte Pendragon, then to the Spectrablast, cornerstone of the new nighttime summer program. Among those on hand who've worked or played at Universal: Tony Curtis, Charlton Heston, Tom Selleck, Tippi Hedren, Howie Mandel, Suzanne Pleshette, Malcolm-Jamal Warner. And Wasserman and Sidney Sheinberg. The latter were also celebrating the latest "Schindler's List" figures --$ 210 million foreign -- and the "Flintstones' " blockbuster bow in Singapore!