Griffith Park still closed for biz

Popular production area on indefinite hiatus as fire cleanup continues

Although it has been almost a month since fires swept through Griffith Park, officials still are not permitting shoots as crews continue to clean up the damage. In fact, the park is closed for shooting indefinitely.

"Our crews are out cleaning as we speak," one park supervisor said.

Cedar Grove, a miniforest that has been used for everything from "The Last Boy Scout" to "Van Helsing," suffered about 30% damage but eventually will be usable. The Griffith Park Clubhouse, where Clint Eastwood shot a flashback scene for "Letters From Iwo Jima," also was spared. The historic merry-go-round — where "The Prestige" shot and which was the scene for James Dean's first acting gig by way of a 1950 Pepsi commercial — was unaffected, but the areas around it have been closed. The old zoo picnic grounds also remains closed.

The closures, officials said, are for safety reasons. After fires, for example, you could have trees hollowed out by a blaze that might not seem damaged but could topple over. You also could have rocks that remain superheated long after a fire has been put out.

The park, with its varied natural landscapes, size and proximity to the studios, is a magnet for production. According to FilmL.A., the park saw 217 production days for features in 2006 and 318 for television production. The organization said the park's closures displaces two productions per day.

"It will be usable," said Michael Watkins of the park's film office. "Just at this present time, due to the safety factor, we're not allowing any filming."

Catalina Island, which was hit by fires two days after Griffith Park, hasn't really been affected filmwise for two reasons: First, not much filming is done there, and second, of the filming that does occur, 95% takes place in Avalon, the island's biggest town, which was not damaged, according to Linda McCloud, film liaison for the Catalina Island Film Commission.

"Basically, if there were any film crews here, and if they wanted to film in the interior (of the island), they would see charred areas," McCloud said.

In April, the town hosted shoots for KNBC Los Angeles' local show "Your L.A." as well as a Long John Silver's commercial. Last year, a "Dr. Phil" episode was shot there as well as "Falling in Love With the Girl Next Door," a Hallmark Channel telefilm starring Patty Duke and Shelley Long.