Radford Studio Center is located in Studio City, California, just outside of Los Angeles. This studio lot is not as large as some of the other lots in the area, but has a lot of history. It was formerly known as CBS Studio Center, until it was sold in 2021. It was commonly referred to as CBS Radford, due to it’s street address being on Radford Avenue.
Opened in 1928, this studio passed through several owners until the 1960s. That is when CBS leased and eventually purchased the lot. Since then, it has been one of the primary lots for production of CBS shows. Other networks also regularly rent space to produce shows here, primarily sitcoms.
Radford Studio Center is not open to the public for tours. However it is possible to get tickets to be in a studio audience for various shows on the lot. Many of the sitcoms filmed here use live studio audiences, as well as shows like The Talk and Big Brother. Tickets for these shows are free, but can be hard to get, depending on the popularity of the show.
I have personally attended two shows on this lot. The first time was in 2004, on my first trip to Los Angeles. We were able to get tickets to a taping of Will & Grace. The name of the episode was Ice Cream Balls and it aired on Feb 10th, 2004. The second time visiting the studio was in early 2019 to see The Talk. I have articles about my experiences at both these shows here on the site.
I also had the chance to visit the studio as the guest of an employee. It was a real treat to visit the various areas of the historic lot.
The studio has a number of soundstages on it’s property. The studio is very popular with sitcoms, and was used by shows like Seinfeld, Mary Tyler Moore, Will & Grace, American Housewife, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and According To Jim. It is also home to the daytime talk show The Talk.
In addition to the soundstages, there is also a residential backlot. It consists of two short streets with a few residential house facades. These houses actually double as offices for the various productions. There is also a building that can appear to be an office, motel, school, or a variety of other appearances.
The most well known house was featured on the ABC comedy American Housewife. The house was featured in every episode for establishing shots. It is also often used for filming scenes as well. Because the house is on the lot instead of in public, the crew can film whenever they need.
Next to the American Housewife house, there is a small greenspace which can be dressed to appear as a garden or park. It was used on Seinfeld to appear as Central Park, and is used on American Housewife as the backyard.
New York Street
Radford Studio Center also has a New York Street. Other studios that have a whole neighbourhood as part of their New York backlot. However this area is just one short street. It was created for the show Seinfeld, which was filmed here on the Radford lot.
The street has a few brownstone-style houses and some shops on one side. Across the street is a line of shops on the other. There is also a fake subway entrance.
Most of the exterior shots filmed for Seinfeld were filmed along this street, unless something unusual was needed. While the street is small, you can feel the history here. It’s a magical feeling to stand on the spot where Jerry had his footrace, George crossed the street with his Frogger machine, Elaine lined up for the Soup Nazi, and where Kramer strutted down the street in the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
One of the legendary spots that existed on the Radford Studio Center lot was the lagoon from Gilligan’s Island. This lagoon was filled in years ago, and a office/parking garage currently sits in the same location.
The Parking Garage
The first time I visited CBS Studio Center was to attend a taping of Will & Grace in 2004. Unfortunately I didn’t backup my digital photos, and ended up losing everything. However my cousin did take these two photos with her disposable camera. These are taken from the top of the parking garage.
The parking garage is used as Gate A access to the studio lot. It is also the gathering place for studio audiences. There is a seating area located on the ground floor where audiences can wait until they are moved to the soundstage for a filming.