THE MIDDLE MEN
By Steven Barber
The fourth series of Torchwood brought the cast and crew to a whole New World: North America. As part of the production deal with STARZ, much of Torchwood Miracle Day would take place in the United States, China, South America as well as the United Kingdom, creating an international scope and scale to the production.
This month’s episode, The Middle Men, was shot in only a handful of locations, only two of which were new. Interiors, as before, were shot at the Warner Brothers lot up in the San Fernando Valley, and we returned to Angel’s Gate Park for the “American Auschwitz”.
WARNER BROTHERS LOT
A second shooting site for this episode was back in downtown Los Angeles at the very chic Cicada Restaurant and Club, a famous LA property that has undergone a number of transformations over the years while retying its spectacular deco and glamor interiors. The facility is used for private parties, film and tv production, special events and assorted projects.
Opened originally in 1928 in the art deco Oviatt Building, the property was, perhaps appropriately to Torchwood Miracle Day, originally the Rex il Ristorante, a fixture for Hollywood and entertainment types. It’s truly one of downtown LA’s art deco gems. You may be able to sneak a peek if the main doors are open and there isn’t any kind of event going on. The front entryway, which is really quite lovely, is usually open to the public for viewing.
To read a little about this property, where to find it, and its history and services, check it out at: http://www.cicadarestaurant.com
I was fortunate enough to have attended and photographed a wedding at Cicada a few years ago. I can’t share those shots, for obvious reasons, but here is what the bathroom looks like. Opulence and grandeur, even in the ‘loo.
WILSHIRE GRAND BUILDING
The third new shooting site, and one in which I had some trouble gaining access to the interior, is the Wilshire Grand Building at the corner of, surprise! Wilshire Boulevard and Grand Avenue. It’s easy to find…just follow Wilshire to its easternmost intersection and look right. The building is one of three sharing this famous location, with the telecommunications-intensive One Wilshire at the head of the table, while the Wilshire Grand Building sits on the southwestern corner.
Wilshire Boulevard is one of the longest streets in LA, and certainly one of the most famous. It runs from the very center of downtown Los Angeles out to Santa Monica, ending at the bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
One Wilshire, as well as the Wilshire Grand, are a short block away from Cicada, and they can both be visited on the same trip, and staying at the same parking area for that matter. Again, access to the building itself is more restricted, so you’ll be unable to visit the actual shooting locations of the building, but a casual glance at the outside gives you a feel for the area and the role it played in Miracle Day.
And a return to ANGELS GATE PARK, SAN PEDRO
As noted last month, Angels Gate Park area played a government concentration and execution base in which those people deemed Category One were quite literally burned out of existence. (This begged the question whether tiny little semi-sentient ashes continue to flutter around the LA basin, but that’s a question for a different time and website.)
Walking around Angels Gate park, which is a former World War II -era military site, is a fairly creepy affair…at least on an early Sunday morning when few other people are likely to be around. That’s an appropriate response, I think, for a location that for all intents and purposes played the role of an American Auschwitz. Walking around the locale — with virtually no restrictions, unlike the majority of TORCHWOOD shooting sites — you cannot help but recall those scenes in the barracks as the Torchwood members went undercover to discover the secrets of the camp.
Angels Gate has a far less nefarious role in real life, having been reborn in 2011 as the Angels Gate Cultural Center, dedicated to artistic projects and cultural exchange. Visitors are welcome to walk the grounds and check out some of the art classes and installations to be found around the campus.
Complete schedules and a map can be for here: http://angelsgateart.org/visitor-info/
That’s it for this month. Next month we continue our excursion through TORCHWOOD’S LaLaLand with a visit to Griffith Park, the vast wild lands in the center of Los Angeles.