Christmas Stage 12 Style

A Christmas Department Store Commercial…

A tiny commercial on a big stage…

Whoville, pictured here, was moved from Stage 12 to the backlot to promote the film for Christmas at the tour. Here it is outside although originally built as an interior set on stage.

My tailbone still hurts, my make up takes 4 hours to put onI hate Christmas!

How long did your make-up take to apply?”-“I’ve been here since 3 AM, Frank”

Employee I.D. Badges…in the thirties.

I’m glad this Count Dracula part has little make-up prep”…

That oughta hold him for sure-“Just a little more time in the make-up chair. Can I get you something to drink?”

A sugar cube please…

Happy Holidays Everybody

Here is a festive set located at the largest soundstage at Universal Stage 12. Today, this is where you will find The Voice. Before NBC changed the lot around to fit their television needs, this stage was reserved for the biggest features in Hollywood. It’s one of the first stages built here at Universal. Back in the day, monsters roamed freely in and out of the massive elephant stage doors that raise, then travel by chains to open and close. A well engineered process, today the doors open with an electric motor which sometimes is overwhelmed. For the film Seabiscuit, we had a racetrack mock up inside with horses and a big cast. The door got stuck in the open position, and that motor could not overcome the hang up. The chains were no longer operable, so we filmed all night with the elephant door open…

Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney, and Bela Lugosi haunted this old stage as Frankenstein, The Wolfman, Dracula, and The Phantom of the Opera.

Not much inside this old dinosaur of a stage has changed. It remained a popular shooting stage for some of the biggest films ever made. Almost every Steven Spielberg film ever done at Universal ended up inside Stage 12. That would include Jurassic Park, where a full-scale T-Rex displayed itself as a ferocious Predator. This stage is just as prehistoric-almost…

The Grinch production built Whoville inside this stage and this was a large build. A village with sidewalks, tiny streets, and small shops glistened in set lighting’s magical illumination, thanks to Best Boy Montey Menapace, who Universal assigned specifically to this high budget Christmas tale, made by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, the director. Montey has history with Ron Howard, he was part of set lighting on the Andy Griffith Show, hence the connection to Opie Taylor. Montey retired at the conclusion of this film and Ron threw him an elaborate party, how’s that for class!

On Christmas Eve, 1999, we filmed late into the night at this Whoville set on the Grinch. Snowflakes cascaded down from the perms above as families huddled inside the shops watching Ron and Jim Carrey do their thing. It was family night on a set that was as Christmas as you can get.

One funny outtake occurred as Jim, The Grinch, was being carried on a throne to his perch overlooking this village. The throne was being carried like a coffin with the fully made-up Jim Carrey, Grinch on top. But the seat caved in, dropping Jim to the snow-covered floor. That scene brought a round of laughter and applause once Jim was done struggling to get back up…

The Grinch, got GrinchedHo, Ho, HoLong Live Santa Claus!

A Very Merry Christmas to each and all of you…

Written and lived by… Donnie Norden

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