Ebell Magical History Tour: “The Ebell: The Most Glamorous Film Star in Hollywood”

from Phyllis Hansen, Ebell Historian

December 1, 2020

Glamour, charm, elegance and sophistication—our campus has it all. She is a beauty in any era or aura she is cast. Thus it is no surprise The Ebell has had a starring role, albeit as a location, in 118 films, television productions and music videos in the past, and is still a favorite filming site. The “118” does not count commercials. Nor is it counting the current productions taking place at the club while we wait out the pandemic. Disney, Hallmark and several other film crews are working their magic with our walls, ceilings, windows, stages, staircases, balcony, fountain, patio and views, just like in the past. The Ebell knows how to make a grand entrance any day!

Of these hundred-plus films where The Ebell is “on set”, sometimes the building received “bit parts”, maybe a single scene in a production. And many times film crews returned, giving Ebell “recurring roles” in numerous episodes of a series. We have been the site for romantic comedies to dramas, classics, action films, reality TV shows and at least one horror film. Our campus is a multi-faceted, very talented star!

Kudos must go out to Director of Special Events, Anessa Birkemeier, Special Events Manager Jenny Young, and Kevin Mayer, Senior Events Coordinator, who have been super-proactive in making sure that filming contracts have not slipped through The Ebell’s fingertips.  Bookings for filming and parking for local filming projects have been secured virtually back-to-back for “Studio Ebell”, as it is now fondly called, during the Pandemic, ensuring substantial and much needed income to run our 75,000-square-feet campus: our base costs include annual operation of the building, payroll, taxes, real estate taxes, and maintenance. “It’s been wild learning how filming during a pandemic works,” says Anessa.

A good way to get a look inside our campus right now is through any one of the music videos that are viewable online. Here are some links. All the Right Moves by One Republic is a masquerade ball in the Lounge shot over 10 years ago.  The 2016 video with Selena Gomez, Kill Em With Kindness, shows the Ebell as a set within a set, indoors and out. In the 2017 Kill Jill rap video by Big Boi the club is very darkly lit, but watch for the lion making its cameo appearance.  Join the garden party in the Ebell patio in Kelly Clarkson’s 2009 pop rock video I Do Not Hook Up.

Television location scouts always seem to have their eye on The Ebell. Various episodes of network shows as well as cable TV productions feature the club and theater, including The Gilmore Girls, Castle, Criminal Minds, Numb3rs, Nip/Tuck, Bones, American Idol, 24, and America’s Next Top Model. Some more: HBO’s Big Love series, the full CSI franchise, Dexter, House, How to Get Away with Murder, the Masters of Sex series, Six Feet Under, NCIS and the new Perry Mason.

Seventh Heaven had its cameramen at The Ebell, but sadly not for a scene that included the series’ star, our own club member, Catherine Hicks. Sharon Lawrence, also an actor member, has currently been involved with current Ebell filming. Sharon was also ready to star in a one-woman play reading on our newly refurbished third floor theater stage in a reading of The Shot last March, weeks after the club closure, but that will be rescheduled when it is possible.

On to the silver screen! Watch closely, and The Ebell will appear in scenes in Catch Me if You Can, Ghost, Forrest Gump, Airforce One and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. As a caveat to these lists, let’s just say there are so many more! I challenge you, dear readers, to discover where and how The Ebell shows up in these productions, or others. Please reply to Phyllis Hansen if you spot the building, inside or out, and we will share the details with our members. Happy viewing.

Recognize these? They are all “Studio Ebell” sets built in the 3rd floor President’s Tea Room, for the 2020 TV series Swimming With Sharks. What a transformation!