Just off the corner of Coldwater Canyon and Ventura boulevards, bulldozers roll over the remains of a razed L.A. icon. The only remnant left standing is a stone fireplace that dates back decades.
After a long gestation period to make way for a commercial real estate project, Labor Day weekend saw the demolition of the event center at historic Hollywood hangout the Sportsmen’s Lodge. The Ventura retail development will include shopping, restaurants, a gym, and a grocery store. The Sportsmen’s Lodge hotel, which will remain standing, will remain open during construction.
Dating back to the 1880s, the property on which Sportsmen’s Lodge sat originally opened as a trout-fishing destination. As the film industry grew around it, so did the property and its celebrity clientele. Bogart, Hepburn, and Gable are just a few of the screen legends to have graced its grounds. Considering how many studios were, and remain, in close proximity to the hotel, it’s no wonder it also became a popular filming location for movies and, especially, television. In the fast-paced world of TV where productions tend to shoot a handful pages a day, and those pages might include multiple locations, Sportsmen’s Lodge offers—or offered—a wide variety of backdrops. Guest rooms, a pool, bars, restaurants, and ballrooms made it convenient for a show to stay in one place and capture a number of exterior and interior scenes.
With big changes afoot at the property, we thought it was worth a look back at some of the notable movies and television shows that will preserve the Studio City landmark.
The Fugitive, “Where the Action Is” (Season 1, 1964)
In this episode, Telly Savalas guest stars as Dan Polichek, the powerful owner of a Reno motel called the Rainbow. Wrongly convicted protagonist Dr. Richard Kimble (David Janssen) poses as Jerry Shelton, a lifeguard at the motel’s pool. Concerned that Polichek’s daughter, Chris (Joanna Frank), is growing fond of him, Kimble warns her to stay away so as not to cost him his job and blow his cover. The fictional motel’s exteriors, including the main entrance and pool, were filmed at Sportsmen’s Lodge.
Columbo, “Requiem for a Rising Star” (Season 2, 1973)
A biography on veteran movie actress Nora Chandler (Anne Baxter) threatens to derail her already faltering career. When the author, Jerry Parks (Mel Ferrer), attempts to blackmail the aging actress with his book, her plan to kill him—or so you’re supposed to think—is realized by blowing up his sports car as it pulls into the driveway of his Hollywood Hills home. Columbo (Peter Falk) follows Parks to an afternoon rendezvous with Nora Chandler at Sportsmen’s Lodge, where the street-smart detective picks up more of the puzzle pieces.
Falcon Crest, “A Time for Saboteurs” (Season 1, 1981)
Winemaker Chase Gioberti (Robert Foxworth) gets a visit at Falcon Crest from his down-on-his-luck Vietnam War buddy Paul (Cliff Potts), who flies to wine country from Las Vegas. Maliciously planning to disrupt the vineyard’s operations, Paul tries to convince Chase to leave the wine business and join him in a charter helicopter venture in the Caribbean. A quick exterior shot of Paul’s Northern California motel is actually the Sportsmen’s Lodge. Interior sets for Falcon Crest were filmed at Warner Bros. in Burbank.
Melrose Place, “The Circle of Strife” (Season 4, 1996)
Dr. Peter Burns (Jack Wagner) enlists the help of Alycia Barnett (Anne-Marie Johnson), a lawyer for Peter’s familial rival Bobby Parezi (John Enos III). Alycia schemes to have Bobby sign a series of blank checks, which she later makes out to a U.S. senator with business ties to the cable television industry, in which Parezi works. At a political fundraiser shot at Sportsmen’s Lodge, Alycia sets up a photo op with Bobby and the Senator, which, along with the checks, will paint a picture of bribery.
In what comes across an homage to the first shot of Rocky—opening on a painting of Jesus before the camera tilts down to two boxers in the ring—Jon Favreau begins his “wise guy” feature directorial debut on an American flag as his character, Bobby, enters the frame. An ugly, bumbling boxing match ensues between Favreau’s stoic character and his longtime, loudmouth friend, Ricky (Vince Vaughn). As the camera pulls back at the end of the match, a sign displaying the name Sportsmen’s Lodge can be glanced above the ring in the middle of the venue’s now-demolished Empire Room.
Three best friends bury their “dreams” in a time capsule when they’re ten years old, promising to dig up the box at midnight the day of their high school graduation. Eight years later, Lucy (Britney Spears), Kit (Zoe Saldana), and Mimi (Taryn Manning) have grown apart. At their graduation dance, shot in the events center at Sportsmen’s Lodge, the three friends seem to be in no position to act on their childhood pact. Unexpectedly, however, they arrive separately at the site of their buried childhood memories. The contents of the box inspire them to take a cross-country road trip from Georgia to Los Angeles.
Desperate Housewives, “Remember” (Season 2, 2006)
Previously on Desperate Housewives, Lynette (Felicity Huffman) follows her husband, Tom (Doug Savant), to Atlantic City on the suspicion that he’s having an affair. When she doesn’t like what she finds, she leaves Wisteria Lane with her kids and moves into a motel. At Sportsmen’s Lodge, one of her twin sons, Porter (Shane Kinsman), decides to climb over the balcony railing of their room, in protest, when Lynette won’t let him go swimming. As a result, Porter falls and breaks his arm.
I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry (2007)
Larry (Kevin James), a recent widower and FDNY firefighter with two kids, comes up with a scheme to facilitate a domestic partnership with his best friend and fellow firefighter, Chuck (Adam Sandler). The arrangement would make Chuck the recipient of Larry’s benefits and guardian of his children if a tragedy befell him on the job. When their lawyer (Jessica Biel) suggests Chuck and Larry take their partnership to the next level to avoid suspicion by the city’s pension department, they travel to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls to get married, winding up at the 2 Hearts wedding chapel, the exterior of which was actually the Sportsmen’s Lodge.
The Office, “Niagara” (Season 6, 2009)
The Dunder Mifflin crew heads to Niagara Falls for the wedding of Pam (Jenna Fischer) and Jim (John Krasinski). Upon arriving at the historic Red Coach Inn, Michael (Steve Carell) discovers he doesn’t have a reservation and makes attempts at bunking with one of his employees. Hallways, guest rooms, and the events center at Sportsmen’s Lodge—only about a 20-minute drive from The Office’s soundstage in Panorama City—doubled for the Tudor-style Red Coach.
Reno 911!, “Digging with the Murderer” (Season 6, 2009)
Lieutenant Dangle (Thomas Lennon) delivers his morning briefing as the Reno 911! team chows down on a breakfast of fried seafood and crab in the middle of a nautically themed restaurant. Dangle informs the crew that asbestos made up 80 to 85 percent of their police station and is being removed from the building. (It turns out that station’s cafeteria trays were also made of asbestos.) In the meantime, they’ll be operating out of Cap’n Crabby’s Shrimp Wharf, created at the Sportsmen’s Lodge.
Parks and Recreation, “Woman of the Year” (Season 2, 2010)
A letter arrives at Pawnee City Hall from the Indiana Organization of Women. Leslie (Amy Poehler) is sure it’s a notification that she’s won the Dorothy Everton Smyth Female Empowerment Award. When April (Aubrey Plaza) reads the letter aloud, it turns out that Ron (Nick Offerman) is being given the award in what seems like an obvious mistake. Though Ron has every intention of declining, the opportunity to screw with Leslie is too good to pass up. During the awards ceremony at the Pawnee Super Suites hotel, filmed in a Sportsmen’s Lodge ballroom, Ron passes the award to Leslie. In return, Leslie passes it back to Ron.
The production returned to the same ballroom in 2013 for the episode “Correspondents’ Lunch,” directed by Offerman.
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, “Homecoming” (Season 12, 2012)
Before he is called to the crime scene of a triple homicide, D.B. (Ted Danson) attends a re-election campaign for Sheriff Sherry Liston (Barbara Eve Harris) in a Las Vegas ballroom, filmed in the Empire Room at the Sportsmen’s Lodge.
CSI returned to the lodge during the series’ final season in 2014 for the site of a Vegas forensics convention in an episode called “Girls Gone Wilder.”
Masters of Sex, “Phallic Victories” (Season 1, 2013)
When Virginia (Lizzy Caplan) snags a spot for Dr. Lillian DePaul (Julianne Nicholson) to speak on the subject of Pap smear at an OB/GYN conference at a golf resort in Knoxville, Tennessee, the two take the bus from St. Louis to attend the annual meeting. When the bus breaks down they’re forced to make an unscheduled stop and spend the night in a fleabag motel. Upon arriving the next day at the conference, shot throughout the events center of the Sportsmen’s Lodge, Virginia and Lizzie discover that they have completely missed the event.
Bad Words, (2013)
Through a loophole in the Golden Quill Spelling Bee rules, 40-year-old Guy Trilby (Jason Bateman) secures a spot in the national spelling competition in Los Angeles. Upon arriving in town, Guy checks into the Sportsmen’s Lodge. Bateman, who made his feature film directorial debut with Bad Words, said on the DVD commentary that the Sportsmen’s Lodge is “one of the great places of character here in the San Fernando Valley that not so coincidentally sits between my house and my kids’ school. So I picked this location so I could still do drop-off in the morning.” The production shot at the hotel for about two weeks in late 2012.
The Newsroom, “The Genoa Tip” (Season 2, 2013)
The Sportsmen’s Lodge is seen as multiple hotels through various states as ACN senior producer Jim Harper (John Gallagher Jr.) reports on Governor Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. The opening of the episode features the exterior of the Garland, another historic Valley hotel just a few miles from the Sportsmen’s Lodge.
Two episodes later Jim winds up back at the lodge, now doubling as a Radisson, when he is kicked off the campaign bus with two other journalists after staging a protest.
Grace and Frankie, “The Chicken” (Season 2, 2016)
Upon donating clothes at the second-hand boutique, A Change of a Dress, Grace (Jane Fonda) learns that the store also performs mentoring and job-placement services for young women. Inspired and looking for purpose, Grace takes on Billie (Briana Venskus), a rough-and-tumble bartender. When Grace gets Billie a job interview with her daughter, she skips the interview. Grace immediately heads to the bar where Billie works, shot at the now-demolished River Rock Lounge at the Sportsmen’s Lodge.
Modern Family, “Sarge & Pea” (Season 8, 2017)
Claire’s (Julie Bowen) and Mitch’s (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) mom, DeDe (Shelly Long), unexpectedly shows up at a wedding they’re attending. They’re taken aback when their dad, Jay (Ed O’Neill), and mom start getting along. At the same time, Gloria (Sofia Vergara) and Phil (Ty Burrell) are taking Luke (Nolan Gould) and Manny (Rico Rodriguez) to visit colleges. Though both scenarios are taking place at different locations, the Sportsmen’s Lodge was used for the wedding venue and hotel rooms on the college tour.
A Futile and Stupid Gesture (2018)
In the Netflix film about the creation of National Lampoon magazine, Will Forte plays the comedy enterprise’s cofounder Doug Kinney. After the wild success of Animal House and the pressure to make the next film, Caddyshack, just as successful, Doug takes some much needed R&R in Kauai to curb his excessive drug and alcohol use. Sitting poolside at the Sportsmen’s Lodge (with added greenery), Doug attempts to make small talk with Chevy Chase (Joel McHale) until the urge to find drugs overtakes them both.
Dead to Me, “I’ve Gotta Get Away” (Season 1, 2019)
Jen (Christina Applegate) and Judy (Linda Cardellini) attend the Friends of Heaven grief retreat in Palm Springs. Resistant to any group therapy, Jen spends her time at the conference drinking and looking to hook up. Exterior scenes, including the pool, were filmed at the Sportsmen’s Lodge.
Thanks to FilmLA. Follow Jared on Twitter at @JaredCowan1.