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Brentwood Stars on the Big and Small Screen

Homes and schools in Brentwood are popular locations for TV and film shoots. Here's a mini-tour with videos, photos and a map.

Although hometown hero didn't win a second Oscar Sunday night, Brentwood homes and schools still shine bright on the big and little screens.

Classic films like Chinatown and TV hits like House all made their magic locally.

Here are a few of Brentwood's starring roles, with videos and maps and photos:

In Judd Apatow’s 2007 comedy hit, Knocked Up [see video], the protagonist, Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl), lived in a sprawling, country-style home at 531 N. Bristol Ave [see map and photos.]

Guarded by a large white gate that prevents on-lookers from seeing the entire property, the house is still widely recognized as the location where Scott got “knocked up.”

Also featured in the unexpected pregnancy flick is a scene in which Scott takes her two nieces to school along San Vicente Boulevard. Driving frantically and attempting to settle an argument between the two girls,  the camera follows as Scott passes many Brentwood restaurants and the signature s lining the median.

1999’s Academy Award for Best Picture went to Sam Mendes’s drama American Beauty [see video], also shot in Brentwood.

Winning an Oscar for his performance in the film, Kevin Spacey’s character Lester Burnham lived in a home located at 11388 Homedale St [see map and photos.]

University High School —alma mater of Jeff Bridges ()—has also been prominently featured in Tinseltown productions. That's the subject of our video.

Main film liaison and assistant principal at Uni, Ali Galedary, said filming on campus has benefits that exceed publicity and bragging rights. 

“Whether it’s purchasing supplies for kids in the classroom, getting new computers, new furniture, cafeteria tables, desks in the classrooms, filming helps,” Galedary said.  “To turn down filming in your school, you’d be crazy, because we are in a situation right now where LAUSD could possibly lose $400 million next year... [Filming] certainly doesn’t solve budget problems, but it softens the blow.”

Uni has hosted several high-profile projects in the past such as Freedom Writers, the remake of Fame, Pineapple Express, and Valentine’s Day [see video.]

Stars Taylor Lautner and Taylor Swift filmed a re-shoot during the school day, prompting many adoring students to flock to the scene.

A few celebrities have even gone above and beyond their acting duties by interacting with Uni students on their own time.

Galedary recalls Owen Wilson on campus doing research before production began on 2008’s Drillbit Taylor, where he shook hands and signed autographs for excited teenagers.

Jim Carrey embraced Uni’s football team and even led a mock prayer inside a huddle while he was filming 2003’s Bruce Almighty.

Across town overlooking the and the Pacific Ocean is , a private, Catholic liberal arts school. When students are not occupying lecture halls or catching rays on the lawn, key industry players have turned to this location to shoot projects such as Monster-in-Law, Spanglish, My Sister’s Keeper, The Closer, House, and The OC. 

(then the Eastern Star Home) was featured in 1974's Chinatown, where it was cast as the Mar Vista Rest Home.

So what is it about Brentwood that has so many filmmakers fluttering to  shoot in the 90049?

“Brentwood is this secret, hidden gem in LA that’s a beautiful area but not so well known, it’s rather a secret hideaway on the Westside,” said Matt Atchity of  film review site Rotten Tomatoes.

“It can stand in for a lot of places in the country, and it’s not overgrown with palm trees the way some other places in LA are. Unlike shooting around the rest of LA that has been done so much where you start recognizing places from different movies, like Rodeo Drive, places in the San Fernando Valley, and the Third Street Promenade, I think people are moving away from that and using Brentwood because the topography is not really obvious. Brentwood has a lot of hills, but there are also some flat areas. You’re not in a sun-baked area like the rest of Los Angeles.”

Brentwood resident Danny Minich becomes particularly excited when he sees his neighborhood make it to the big screen. “When I see the end result, I can pinpoint different landmarks I see everyday, and it really connects me to the area I live in,” he explained.

Hollywood Reporter senior editor Alex Ben Block figures it’s really more of a matter of convenience.

“A lot of producers and executives live in the area and don't want to have to drive too far,” he told Brentwood Patch.

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* Editor's note: Deidre Behar emails (12:45 a.m.) that I have the 'American Beauty' photo captions wrong.  The homes pictured in those photos, she writes, are not the same:

They appear similar but they're not. The windows to the right and left of the front door are different. The arch structure above the front door is white in the first photo, and has dark shingles in the second. I shot the exterior of the home in Brentwood (because I obviously could not gain entry inside) which was used for interior shots only. Exterior shots were done at the home featured in Photo 1, which is in Hancock Park.

Hollywood: Masters of illusions....

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