Mack Sennett, silent film producer and director, opens his new movie studio at this location (now Ventura Boulevard and Radford Avenue). His previous studio on Glendale Boulevard was the home of the Keystone Kops, Charlie Chaplin, W.C.Fields and Fatty Arbuckle. The area was being developed, and the opening of the studio made sufficient impact that the surrounding area became known as Studio City.
The studio consisted of one office building, a projection room / film editing building, a film library, a two-storey dressing room building attached to a large soundstage, a wardrobe building, garage, and a stage with a sunken swimming pool.
With the advent of sound, Sennett was the first producer to use RCA equipment, with which he produced a collection of singing short subject films with a young unknown named Bing Crosby.
The Great Depression forced Sennett to file bankruptcy and the studio became an independent production facility. Mascot Pictures, under the direction of Nat Levine, was one of the principal tenants, specialising in Saturday Matinee serials, with cliffhanger endings.
Monogram Pictures merged with Mascot Pictures, Consolidated Film Corporation and several other independent producers to form Republic Pictures Corporation. The studio lot was renamed Republic Studios. By this time there were six sound stages and several more support buildings. Republic specialised in B-movies, producing over fifth features a year, including Westerns introducing new stars Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and John Wayne.
With the advent of television in the early 1950’s, Republic entered a new medium and produced a number of series. By this time there were twenty-three sound stages and the largest scoring studio in the world. Republic leased some of this studio space to Revue Productions, which filmed many early television series on the lot (including early episodes of Leave it to Beaver) before Revue’s owner, MCA acquired Universal Pictures and moved Revue’s television production to Universal City.
The CBS Television Network entered into an agreement with Republic Studios whereby CBS became the major lessee and the facility was renamed CBS Studio Center.
By 1967 CBS decided to purchase the studio and long range improvement plans began. The renamed CBS Studio Center continued to grow and throughout the 60’s and 70’s such television classics as Gunsmoke, Big Valley, Gilligan’s Island, Get Smart, My Three Sons, Bob Newhart, and Mary Tyler Moore were produced at the Studio.
To help cover the costs of this investment, CBS rented out part of the lot to independent producers, and MTM Enterprises (Mary Tyler Moore and Grant Tinker) became the Studio Center’s primary tenant, with The Mary Tyler Moore Show beginning filming, along with spin-offs Rhoda, Phyllis and Lou Grant.
CBS formed a partnership with 20th Century Fox to share ownership of the Studio Center, renaming it as CBS/Fox Studios.
Fox sold it’s interest of the Studio Center to MTM, renaming it CBS-MTM Studios. Shows produced on the lot during the 80’s included Roseanne, Different World, Thirtysomething, St. Elsewhere, Newhart, Hill Street Blues and Falcon Crest.
The lot became CBS Studio Center once again when MTM sold it’s interest back to CBS. Seinfeld, Grace Under Fire, 3rd Rock from the Sun, Cybill, and Caroline in the City are just a few of the shows which called CBS Studio Center home during the 90’s. Features such as Father of the Bride 2, Dr. Doolittle, and I Love Trouble were also filmed on the Studio lot.
The piece of land at the northwestern edge of the lot, where the lagoon scenes were filmed for Gilligan’s Island, was paved over the make room for a new parking structure.
Architects Bastien & Associates Inc. worked on a range of projects at CBS Studio Center:
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The Studio Center becomes the base for CBS’s Los Angeles flagship TV station, KCBS-TV, along with sister station KCAL-TV, as they vacate Columbia Square to move into a newly-built, fully digital studio facility located where the house for the CBS reality series Big Brother once stood.
- CBS Studio Center website