Beau Bridges couldn’t suppress a smile as he walked down a corridor at Sunset Gower Studios for the dedication of a newly opened state of the art theater to the late filmmaker Stanley Kramer. The smile was for a nearly life size picture of his father, the late Lloyd Bridges, looking dashing in a Naval uniform.
Bridges was among a handful of celebrities including Lou Gossett Jr, civic leaders, journalists and veteran publicists who attended a luncheon and dedication that included a screening of a new promotional film about Kramer featuring tributes from Steven Spielberg, Quincy Jones, Harrison Ford, Al gore and Tom Brokaw, produced by Karen Kramer, the filmmakers widow. It is part of the hoopla for Sony’s launch of a new DVD box set of Kramer’s movies including “Ship Of Fools,â€ “The Wild Oneâ€ and “The Member of The Wedding.â€
Bridges recalled working with Kramer on the director’s last movie “The Runner Stumblesâ€ and described him as “very involvedâ€ in every aspect of the movie making process. “He invited everybody to the party,â€ says Bridges, meaning that he welcomed all of the actors and crew to get involved in discussing creative aspects of the picture.
“He had a real idea about what he wanted,â€ adds Bridges, who begins work later this year on the movie “The New Daughterâ€ with Kevin Costner. “(Kramer) was always calm and collected. He liked the whole process. He was one of the best.â€
Bridge’s father, Lloyd, passed away in 1998. His brother Jeff is also a well known actor. Beau Bridges in recent years has become known for playing Major General Hank Landry in “Stargateâ€ and “Stargate Atlantis.â€ Bridges said both he and his father had worked at Sunset Gower Studios over the years.
More than anything, Kramer was known for injecting social issues into his films. He was one of the first to put African American actors into starring roles, most prominently with Sidney Poitier, with whom he made critically acclaimed films such as “The Defiant Onesâ€ in 1958 and “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinnerâ€ in 1967.
“I never worked with (Kramer) but his work with Sidney Poitier was on the cutting edge and way ahead of his time,â€ Louis Gossett Jr. said at the theater dedication. “I was right behind Sidney and he made it possible for me to do my job and to have a career.
(Kramer) was at the cutting edge and we more people like that, way ahead of their time, to keep this art the way they should be.â€
Gossett has recently completed parts in three films, he said. They are the The Least Among You,â€ about racism after the 1965 Watts riots; crime thriller “Cover;â€ and “The Perfect Game,â€ about a baseball team from Mexico which won the Little League World Series. d “He said he will shoot later this year with James Garner called “Touch Of The Flag.â€
Sunset Gower Studios, spread over 16 acres, last year was acquired for $200 million by Hudson Partners, a Los Angeles investment firm, and since then the new owners have been busy updating the property, and expanding it. The screening room was first built in 1921 as part of Columbia Pictures. It now has the latest high definition projection and playback systems, with 71 seats that the owners say were “ergonomically designed.â€
Numerous films and TV shows have shot at Sunset Gower over the years, from the classic “Mr. Smith Goes To Washingtonâ€ to the present day series “Heroes.â€
As the press conference for the new theater was underway, Hudson also announced that it was closing its previously announced acquisition of the nearby studios of KTLA (Channel 5 in Los Angeles) from Tribune Co. for $125 million, and that KTLA would remain on the site as a tenant.