Not meaning to confuse you too much, but maybe a little, because I sure was confused when I drove on to the King Gillette Ranch parkland yesterday. Yes, it is a park, but it seems to have been completely taken over by the cast and crew of the TV series, the “Biggest Loser.” I visited King Gillette a few years ago and the “Biggest Loser” filming was going on then, but in a less obtrusive way. To further complicate the park, the main entrance off Mulholland Highway is closed, due to the construction of a visitors’ center for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA).
I turned in to the temporary entrance, further to the east on Mulholland, and my first real look at the park’s interior, was of a huge parking lot in the distance, filled with large white vehicles of a film or TV crew. Driving on, on a winding road, I passed a large pond, where I remembered having seen swans swimming. Instead, it was half filled with algae, with no swans – only ducks. Rounding the bend, I passed the old single story building that Soka University had used for offices, with a lot of cars parked there.
Then, I pulled to a stop to take photos, because the “Biggest Loser” gym building was in view, and immediately, a friendly man dressed in black with a security identification on his shirt, approached me. I said I was driving around, looking at the land, and he said that was fine, but not to take photos of any of the “Biggest Loser” contestants.
So, I took these bunch of photos I am sharing with you. I just have to say, that it does not feel like our park! It feels like a movie or TV shoot! Since when, does a security person come up to talk to you, as soon as you enter a SMMNRA unit? Besides the issue of the land takeover by the TV filming crew and contestants, the buildings and pond did not seem to be well-maintained.
I think we have to ask ourselves…”Is this what we want for our local state/national park?”
Editor: Please read Part II for more details on park ownership, and the construction of the National Park Visitors Center, and Part III for more on features and buildings of the park. Please see previous post on “Biggest Loser,” filming, written before I had a chance to revisit the site www.conejopost.com/archives/9076