Isn’t it interesting how you can live in a community and somehow or other not “get it” that the entertainment industry has a large studio right in your own back yard? Well, South Bay is home to the Manhattan Beach sound stages of Raleigh Studios right on Rosecrans Blvd. which is experiencing a huge building boom. I knew that Steven Speilberg sometimes shot somewhere in Manhattan Beach and Playa Vista, but at my age, I guess I don’t think about the mystique of the film and TV industry studios much anymore. I sure did when I was a kid and have toured most the large and small studios throughout the city over the years. The most fun I ever had was once watching Murphy Brown being filmed.
Last night I went to watch my friend Kathryn Van deWark at the Raleigh Studios Café Actors Showcase. She has been taking acting lessons there with teacher Anne Hulegard, writer, actor, producer, director. Kathryn works where I work but is also a San Pedro writer, poet, photographer and artist and she is forever introducing me to something going on around here that I didn’t know about. That’s Kathryn on the left and Bev Miller on the right doing a scene incredibly effectively from “David’s Mother.” The showcase will be open to the public again on May 12, if you are in the area. I can't recommend coming by enough. I always think of all the acting studios being in New York City, for some reason. I was amazed by the talent of the people studying with Anne.
But back to the “best kept secret in the South Bay” (according to one of the employees I talked to)—Raleigh Studios. With Hollywood suffering from a shortage in studio/sound stage space, Roy E. Disney (Walt's nephew) decided to take a chance and build the spanking new Manhattan Beach Studios, near the Pacific in the sunny South Bay region of the Los Angeles basin - a good 20 miles away from downtown Hollywood. I gather it was in the mid 1990s, so here I have passed these buildings countless times, but since they are unmarked, I never knew what was there. Located just a few blocks west of the 405 freeway, and only a few miles inland from the beach, it's a great place to work. It's off the beaten L.A. path but surrounded by two malls, countless restaurants, a huge hotel, and has great freeway access.
Within weeks after opening, the new 22-acre, $90 million studio already had more business than it could handle. Apparently the OC, The Practice, Boston Legal, CSI Miami, and many other TV shows are filmed there, and RKO rents studio space, too.
So, all you folks out there who like to experience “the stars” and "the biz," it’s not just Hollywood, Burbank, Studio City and Culver City you’ve got to explore, now you can put Raleigh Studios in Manhattan Beach on your list of things to see.