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CBS Studio Center is a television and film studio located in the Studio City district of Los Angeles in the San Fernando Valley. It is located at 4024 Radford Avenue and takes up a triangular piece of land, with the Los Angeles River bisecting the site. The lot, which is not open to the public for tours, has 18 sound stages from 7,000 to 25,000 square feet (2,300 m2); 220,000 square feet (20,000 m2) of office space; and 223 dressing rooms.
It is one of two studio facilities owned by CBS in Los Angeles, California; the other is Television City. The company also previously had ownership of two other studios: Columbia Square and the Paramount Pictures lot.
Mack Sennett, a silent film producer and director, came to the San Fernando Valley and opened his new movie studio at this location (at what's now Ventura Boulevard and Radford Avenue) in May 1928. He previously operated a smaller studio on Glendale Boulevard in Echo Park (then called Edendale) where he produced films featuring the Keystone Kops, Charlie Chaplin, Mabel Normand, Buster Keaton, W.C. Fields, and Fatty Arbuckle.
After creating the Studio City lot, Sennett in five years was forced to file bankruptcy and the studio lot was sold off to another film company, Mascot Pictures. Mascot renamed the newly-acquired studio after itself, and the film company specialized in the format of the Saturday Afternoon Matinee, which were serials. By 1935, another film company, Monogram Pictures, along with Mascot and Consolidated Film Corporation merged to form Republic Pictures Corporation. The studio lot was renamed Republic Studios. The new studio specialized in B-movies, including many Westerns starring the likes of Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and John Wayne, all of whom get their first breaks with Republic. In the 1950s, Republic leased 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.
Republic Pictures ceased production in 1958. In May 1963, CBS Television came into the picture and became the primary lessee of the lot. Almost immediately CBS began to place their network-produced filmed shows there, including Gunsmoke, Rawhide, My Three Sons, and Gilligan's Island. (The Wild Wild West followed in 1965). The Gilligan's Island lagoon was located at the northwestern edge of the lot; it was paved over in the mid-1990s to make room for a new parking structure. The original (second) house to TV's Douglas family on My Three Sons was also a feature on the residential street on the studio backlot. After the show finished in 1972, it was primarily used as a storage facility for lighting at the studio. It was razed in 1992 to make way for parking. The house itself was recognizable prior to My Three Sons on shows of the era like Perry Mason and was actually a huge barn with gambrel roof built in 1940 on the backlot of Republic Pictures for Gene Autry western films. In the 1950s a new facade was added to the front of the barn so that it appeared as a typical American suburban residence.
While under lease, the facility was renamed the CBS Studio Center. The network finally purchased the 70-acre lot outright in February 1967, for $9.5 million. (That month, Republic also sold off its film library.) CBS built new sound stages, office buildings, and technical facilities. To make up for these investments, CBS began to rent out its studio lot for independent producers, and the newly-created MTM Enterprises (headed by actress Mary Tyler Moore and her then-husband, Grant Tinker) became the Studio Center's primary tenant, beginning in 1970.
Moore's memorable sitcom, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, began filming here in 1970, along with its spinoffs, Rhoda, Phyllis, and Lou Grant. In July 1982, CBS formed a partnership with 20th Century Fox to share ownership of the Studio Center, thus once again renaming, this time as CBS/Fox Studios. However, that relationship was short-lived as Fox sold its interest of the Studio Center to MTM, and it became CBS-MTM Studios. In March 1992, the studio once again became CBS Studio Center, when MTM (which was later bought by 20th Century Fox's parent company, News Corporation, which also owns the Fox network and several Fox affiliates, a number of which were formerly affiliated with CBS) sold back its interest in the studio lot to CBS.
From 1991 to 1996, American Gladiators was videotaped at CBS Studio Center. The original "Gladiator Arena" remains preserved in its original form in its original location, with tours and group events available.
Since 2007, the Studio Center serves as the home to CBS's Los Angeles flagship TV station, KCBS-TV, along with sister station KCAL-TV, as they vacated Columbia Square to move into a newly-built, digitally-enhanced office and studio facility located where the house for the hit CBS reality series, Big Brother, once stood. It enables the stations to broadcast their local news in High Definition. In 2008, Entertainment Tonight and The Insider moved from the Paramount Pictures studios to the Studio Center; both shows are now in High Definition.
On July 2, 2012, CBS Studios announced that they will install six PureCell System stationary fuel cell systems at two production locations in California. Three of those units will be installed at CBS Studio Center and the three others will be installed at CBS Television City. "Fuel cells are a great fit for our business and sustainability goals," said Michael Klausman, President, CBS Studio Center & Senior VP Operations, CBS Television City. "With the installation of these PureCell systems, we will substantially increase our energy security by being able to continue operations in the event of a grid outage and, equally important, the installation is projected to reduce our impact on the environment and provide significant energy cost savings for our business."