Metromedia Square (later known as Fox Television Center from 1986 to 1996) was a radio and television studio facility located at 5746 Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, California on the southeastern corner of Sunset and Van Ness Avenue. For decades it was recognizable by the white, ladder-like snake on the building's roof. This work of art was called "Starsteps" and was dismantled when ownership of the building changed hands in 2000.
The site was first known as the Nassour Studios, built in 1946 and opened January 1, 1947 by brothers William and Edward Nassour (1911-1962). Over 100 independent films were shot there under the Nassour Studio banner. Originally, there were four sound stages ranging in size from around 7,600 square feet (710 m2) to just over 13,000 square feet (1,200 m2). Nassour's modern Art Deco-styled projection room and modern offices were located in the buildings fronting Sunset Boulevard.
Dressing rooms were constructed adjacent to stages 1 and 2. An old converted two story apartment building located down the street on Van Ness housed producers and writers. The big stage (4) had removable panels that hid a water tank. It was used to film the jungle river scenes in Africa Screams (1949). The lot was very small (about four acres) so an underground facility for storage was necessary. A large freight elevator was installed for access.
In 1950 the Nassour brothers sold their studio to the Times-Mirror Company, publisher of the Los Angeles Times. Times-Mirror was looking for a facility to permanently house KTTV (channel 11), its new television station (at the time, owned jointly with CBS) which commenced broadcasting the previous year. The facility was later renamed KTTV Studios.
The New York City-based firm Metromedia purchased the property along with KTTV in 1963. In 1967 Metromedia undertook an extensive renovation and expansion of the facility, which included a new office tower and building housing various Metromedia enterprises, including the Harlem Globetrotters, the Ice Capades, the Foster & Kleisler advertising firm and Wolper Productions, the latter of which was purchased by the company in 1964. The renovation also brought about a name change, from KTTV Studios to Metromedia Square. Los Angeles radio stations KLAC and KMET (now KTWV), which Metromedia purchased in separate 1963 and 1965 transactions, moved there in 1976.
Television producer Norman Lear moved into the property in 1973 and headquartered his company, Tandem Productions, in the building. Lear started videotaping his television series here in the fall of 1975, including but not limited to: All in the Family; Diff'rent Strokes; The Jeffersons; Maude; Good Times; Hello, Larry; One Day at a Time; and The Facts of Life. One of his other classic shows, Sanford and Son, remained taped at NBC Studios in Burbank; its 1980 revival, Sanford, was videotaped at Metromedia. Shows such as Diff'rent Strokes, The Facts of Life, One Day at a Time, and The Jeffersons later relocated to Universal City Studios by 1982.
In 1986, Metromedia sold most of its television interests to News Corporation, and KTTV became a cornerstone station of the new Fox Broadcasting Company. As a result, the studios became the Fox Television Center, though Metromedia continued to own the building and the land on which it was situated, leasing the property to Fox and KTTV.
The Fox Broadcasting Company launch announcement was made from the property, and on October 9, 1986, the flagship show was broadcast live, The Late Show, Starring Joan Rivers. Shows like the Metromedia and then Fox-produced Small Wonder and NBC's Saved by the Bell as well as the sketch comedy series In Living Color, and the first season of MAD TV were among the last series to be taped at this complex. Ironically, very few Fox television shows were actually taped at the Fox Television Center. The direct-to-syndication seasons (1986-1990) of Mama's Family were also filmed here.
KTTV and the Fox network operations moved to their own new building (the present-day Fox Television Center) in West Los Angeles in 1996, which is the corporate home of the Fox Television Stations group. Meanwhile, the radio stations' studios remained there, even long after they were no longer owned by Metromedia. KTWV moved to new studios in Culver City in 1997, and then Miracle Mile neighborhood on L.A.'s Wilshire Boulevard on February 18, 1995. KLAC eventually became acquired by Clear Channel Communications (now iHeartMedia) and moved to studios shared with Clear Channel's other AM stations, which are now located in Burbank.
The Fox Broadcasting Company, which had maintained some business offices at the 20th Century Fox studios in Los Angeles' Century City neighborhood while at the Television Center, moved its complete base of operations to the Century City studio lot shortly after the KTTV move. This new facility, known as the Fox Network Center, is the home to the network's live studio productions, such as Fox NFL Sunday.
Metromedia sold the land to the Los Angeles Unified School District in 2000. The building was demolished by the school district in 2003. Replacing the old studios is Helen Bernstein High School, a campus which opened in 2008.