Love films? And film stars? Glitz and glamour? Oscars and hot gossip? Well, you’re in the right place in Hollywood. Step off your low-cost flight and head for that huge Hollywood sign. You’ll soon be on the movie trail.
Start with a walk amongst the stars of Hollywood Boulevard. Its famous sidewalk is studded with pink tarazzo marble and brass reminders of famous names from film, TV, radio, music and drama. Of course, it’s very touristy, but a must-do, especially if you spot a new ‘star’ being born. From there, move on (not far) to the famous 1927 ornate beauty of Gauman’s Chinese Theatre. Outside this stunning landmark are the hand and footprints of over a hundred stars – not to mention the hooves of three horses. There’s also an impression of Bob Hope’s nose, John Wayne’s fist and R2D2’s treads.
A tour around the Kodak Theatre Hollywood would be a nice complement to all those starry reminders. It’s the home of the glittering global event that is the Academy Awards. Take a guided tour to get behind the scenes, and see a real Oscar or two too. End your day under the stars with an evening at the wonderful open-air concert venue that is the Hollywood Bowl.
A studio tour is a must do if you’re in Hollywood. Although Paramount is the only studio where movies are still being made, you can also tour Sony Pictures, Universal and Warner Studios. Real die-hards take a week off and take the Adventures by Disney combo of two Disney theme parks and some solid-gold ‘behind the movie scenes’ tours and experiences. These include the wonders of Henson Studios, dropping in on Disney Imagineering where so much movie magic happens, and a visit to Walt Disney’s original apartment.
In complete contrast, and very un-Disney, take a tour run by TMZ, the rudely outspoken gossip website. They will show you where the modern-day celebs shop, eat, drink and, importantly, have got into trouble. Warts and all, it’s not really suitable for kids, with visits to strip joints, tanning salons, nightclubs and the occasional parking lot.
A more glamorous side of Hollywood can be sampled at the great hotels and watering hotels of the area. The places for star spotting are the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Mondrian, the Peninsula, The Roosevelt and the notorious Chateau Marmont.
If you want to star in or at least be at the taping of well-known TV shows, you need to search online for the many companies that recruit studio audiences. Production is normally at its busiest from August to March. Do remember to take ID to prove your age if you do get a ticket.
If you just want to have a gawp at the many productions that still use local locations, keep your eyes peeled. Look out for lots of parked trucks or enigmatic paper signs stuck to lamp posts, usually with a single word and an arrow. And, if you don’t see any stars filming on the street, you’ll definitely find some (though not as lively) at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. It’s also a great place to see the iconic Hollywood sign, by the way.
Finally, if you head out of town to Santa Monica Airport, who knows who you might bump into. Because that’s where stars like Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Brad Pitt and Harrison Ford keep their personal planes. Or you could just take in one of their movies at the Arclight Cinema, a favourite spot with the celebs.
Did you spot any famous faces on your trip to Hollywood? Spill the beans and let us know where, when and how.
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