The quietest, most peaceful walk in the whole of L.A., is in Hollywood

Who would have thought that just minutes away from all the excitement surrounding the Burbank studios or the tourist-packed downtown Hollywood, one could enjoy such views of the Hollywood Hills, the peaceful waters of the Reservoir and, in the distance, the most iconic L.A. sign of all times, in virtual solitude?

Views of the Reservoir and Hollywood Hills are from the Mulholland Dam.

Close-ups of the Hollywood sign were taken from Mulholland Highway, at a spot called ”The Last House on Mulholland”, which is the closest one can get to the sign, by car. See that ”Sale” sign standing at an empty dirt patch? That must be where the ”Last House” will stand in the future for, as far as I understand, it is still a project (see about the concept here).

Attention: parking is not allowed anywhere on the site; one has to leave the car further downhill and walk up. Since I couldn’t bear the thought of walking all the way up in that heat (L.A., 5 p.m. in July – hello?!?) I ignored the ”No Parking” signs thinking it wouldn’t hurt just for a few minutes, which resulted in my portrait being the most expensive one yet, having cost me a $65 parking ticket. But it was worth every penny of it!


July 14th, 2017

Warner Bros Studio Tour – IV

Take 2 – Scene 3 ”Sets, Props & Costumes”

Blimp model, Blade Runner (1982)

2, 3/
Jack Warner’s phone and phone book (some mythical names included and that’s only two pages of the letter D)

Dobby the House Elf – Harry Potter

5, 6/
Gravity Capsule
This is one of the original capsules used in Gravity. This is an accurate version of a Soyuz capsule that was designed so that all of the panels could be removed as needed to make room for the cast, crew and cameras.

8, 9/
Pretty Little Liars
A’s lair is the mysterious base of operations. It is where ”A” would go to think of plans, send texts, create messages and find ways to psychologically torture the girls.
The question is: Who is ”A”?

Two and a Half Men
These are the original costumes and the living room set from the final, 2014-2015 season. The view of Malibu seen on the show was, in fact, just a photographic backdrop.

11, 12, 13/
The set of ”Friends”, which at least 95% of you will have recognized. I was not a fan but do appreciate its popularity.

14, 15, 16/
Costume design, Mars Attacks!, Manuscripts

Last, but not least, Ladies & Gentlemen, may I present to you my Oscar (but spare you the painful ”thank you” speech)!

Sets, Props, Costumes (& the Oscars), part of the Warner Bros Studio Tour

July 14th, 2017


Warner Bros Studio Tour – III

Take 2 – Scene 2 ”The World’s Greatest Detective”

From the first issue of Batman to the latest Batmobile, there was not much more a Batman fan could have wished for – except perhaps more time inside this Batcave of Treasures before being ushered to the props. The few minutes we had to walk around the Batmobiles were nowhere near enough to take in everything, still, just enough to take a few quick snapshots:

Batman #1
Spring 1940. Making his appearance in Detective Comics #27, this first issue of Batman’s own title marks the first appearance of both The Joker & Catwoman.

Batman & Robin (1997)
Bathammer. When Gotham City is frozen over, it’s time to call in your ice-handling backup- the Bathammer! With 3 meters of wingspan, the added stability to this Bat-inspired snowmobile lets the caped crusader fight crime even in the coldest of circumstances.

Batmobile from Batman Forever (1995)
The vent work in the design was indirectly lit so it appeared to glow blue on screen. Joel Schumacher helmed the next two Batman films, with Tim Flattery designing the Batmobile for Batman Forever. Using a Chevrolet 350 ZZ3 high-performance motor, the Batmobile came to life with a brand new look and feel. Its design is also inspired by bioluminescent sea creatures, as well as both Tim Burton and George Barris’ Batmobiles.

Batman & Robin (1997)
Batblade. As Batman and Robin head off to fight Mr. Freeze, we also see Batgirl on her very own Batblade! Developed from a drag racing bike, Production Designer Barbara Ling added a neon Bat-logo to the front of the bike, maintaining the bright, comic book feel of the film.

Miniature remote Batmobile, Batman Returns (1992), from the props department

6, 7/
Joker’s car from Suicide Squad (2016)
Custom made by Vaydor Bodykits, an autoshop operating in Florida, providing custom, fiberglass kits, machine parts and gears for the Infiniti G35 Coupe. The custom Vaydor kit seen in the film was designed by Matt McEntegart and you can order one too (provided you drive an Infiniti)!

The Batmobiles, part of the Warner Bros Studio Tour

July 14th, 2017




Warner Bros Studio Tour – II

Apart from the outdoor sets and iconic soundstages, the tour offers views of original costumes, props and sets used in films and T.V. series, an unmissable opportunity to observe them at their source and a real treat.

Take 2 – Scene 1 ”D.C. Universe”

Superman, Batman & Wonder Woman costumes from ”Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)”. Designed by Michael Wilkinson

Perry White, Clark Kent & Lois Lane costumes from ”Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)”. Designed by Michael Wilkinson

Robin costume from ”Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)”.

Lex Luthor costume from ”Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)”. Designed by Michael Wilkinson

Harley Quinn costume from ”Suicide Squad” (2016)”. Designed by Kate Hawley

Eyeball Thug costume from ”Suicide Squad” (2016)”. Designed by Kate Hawley

The Joker costume from ”Suicide Squad” (2016)”. Designed by Kate Hawley

D.C. Universe, part of the Warner Bros Studio Tour

July 14th, 2017

Warner Bros Studio Tour – I

The city of angels, the city of stars, the city of dreams. Rather than revolving around a centre, L.A. expands in neighbourhoods, or rather cities-within-the-city, each one with its own character and levels of popularity, gentrification and cool. We will (re)visit some of these neighbourhoods in the coming days but… first things first: a behind-the-scenes tour where some of the magic happens – in Warner Bros Studios.

Scene 1 – Take 1 (exterior snapshots) Warner Bros Studio Tour
3400 W. Riverside Dr.
Burbank, CA 91505

July 14th, 2017

On the right side of the Law

A Spanish Colonial Revival structure with white stucco walls, blinding whiteness broken by many windows of various sizes; Spanish-Moorish elements like interior galleries with arches and staircases decorated with colourful tiles forming intricate patterns; a room with wall-to-wall murals recounting the city’s history; a clock tower offering 360° views and a cool inner courtyard offering peace and quiet. You would be forgiven for thinking of Moorish tower or place of worship in an Andalusian town. But, no, here we are, still in Santa Barbara and this is the city’s Courthouse, fully operational and complete with a Jail Wing, although the latter is no longer used to keep prisoners.

Visitors are welcome to walk around freely, take photos, marvel at the Moorish architecture and even have a picnic in the courtyard. This fantastic, yet quite real, time- (and space) bending trip is free of charge; all that is required by the hosts is for ”passengers” to remain calm, be courteous and refrain from smoking (stating the exact chapter of the code, lest we forget where we really are).

Santa Barbara County Courthouse

July 13th, 2017

Old Mission Santa Barbara

The tenth out of twenty-one California Missions to be founded by the Spanish Franciscans, the Santa Barbara Mission was established on December 4th, 1786. It was the Feast of Saint Barbara whose name it bears. The original buildings were destroyed when they became too small for the increasing population and, later, by the earthquake of December 1812. It was then that the current building started taking shape and was completed in 1820. In a losing fight against mother nature, the towers were damaged again in a subsequent earthquake, in 1925, and rebuilt in 1927. The interior of the church, however, has been largely unchanged since 1820.

Today the Mission is one of Santa Barbara’s major historic landmarks and a tourist attraction.   I’m not sure what the link with the Greek Church might be, but this ”made in Greece” icon was for sale at the Mission’s shop, for a hefty $1,850. Although, I probably shouldn’t have been so surprised considering that the Mission is dedicated to a Greek Orthodox Martyr (Saint Barbara was beheaded by her own father – a pagan – for converting to Christianity).  
A visit by Queen Elisabeth in 1983 – photographer unknown, from the collection of the Mission’s archive-library.

Father Virgil Cordano rocks on a Harley in 2003 – photographer unknown, from the collection of the Mission’s archive-library.

Santa Barbara Old Mission

July 13th, 2017