Bowfinger | 1999
Wannabe filmmaker Bobby Bowfinger (Steve Martin) is an Ed Wood for the Nineties – zero talent, but a big ten for enthusiasm. In Martin's own sharp script he contrives to make his no-budget, no-brain sci-fi flick, Chubby Rain, guerilla-style, around unwitting – and paranoid – megastar Kit Ramsey (Eddie Murphy).
"This is Hollywood’s most powerful lesbian" announces ambitious starlet Daisy (Heather Graham), introducing her new girlfriend at the end of the movie, having slept her way through the entire film crew. Martin used to go out with Anne Heche. No axe to grind there, then...
The cutesy little all-in-one production office and film set-bungalow of ‘Bowfinger International Pictures’ is 1621 Vista Del Mar Avenue, off El Centro Avenue just southeast of Hollywood and Vine, Hollywood. The pillared frontage was added for the film, and it’s a lot smarter than it appears on-screen.
With the perfect script, Bowfinger tries to hustle producer Jerry Renfro (Robert Downey Jr) at Le Dome, once the place for that power lunch. But even the mighty fall, and Le Dome finally closed in 2005, becoming BLT Steak LA, 8720 Sunset Boulevard – but that too has closed.
Kit Ramsey’s mansion, where Bowfinger manages to grab clandestine shots of the star as he leaves his estate, is 380 South San Rafael Avenue, Pasadena. This was also the home of conductor Kenneth Branagh in Dead Again, the ‘Chinese Consulate in Rush Hour and the swanky ‘Harris Estate’, where Kristen Wiig wigs out at the bridal shower in Bridesmaids. But of course it will always be fondly remembered as stately ‘Wayne Manor’ in the TV series and the 1966 film of Batman.
Ramsey heads off to the glitzy HQ of the ‘Mind Head’ organisation, run by Terry Stricter (Terence Stamp), which is the blue and green glass Pacific Design Center, 8687 Melrose Avenue. Known, for obvious reasons, as the ‘Blue Whale’ the Center became the futuristic apartment block of cop Lenina Huxley (Sandra Bullock) in 1993 satirical sci-fi Demolition Man.
The scenes of a Kit Ramsey being filmed clandestinely at the ‘Rodeo Grille’ were not filmed on Rodeo Drive at all, but down in Long Beach, south Los Angeles, where a stretch of Pine Avenue at East Alta Way was transformed into ‘Beverly Hills’.
A couple of blocks north, the ‘Club Jump Blues’, in which the crew set up camera to film a shoot-out, was built at 343 Pine Avenue between Third and Fourth Streets.
The cafe in which Jiff Ramsey (Murphy again) reveals that he's the brother of Kit is Rae’s Restaurant, 2901 Pico Boulevard at 29th Street in Santa Monica. The wonderfully Fifties-style Rae’s was also the ‘Detroit’ diner in True Romance.
The epic climax of Chubby Rain sees Kit Ramsey facing aliens at the Griffith Observatory, 2800 East Observatory Road, in Griffith Park.
Famous from Rebel Without A Cause, the Observatory has also been seen in Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, the spoofy 1987 film of Dragnet – with Tom Hanks and Dan Aykroyd, The Rocketeer and, of course, The Terminator.
The triumphant premiere of Chubby Rain is held at the beautiful 1931 deco Regency Village Theatre, 961 Broxton Avenue, Westwood Village, which does indeed regularly host Hollywood premieres.