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Part of Universal Studios' backlot reopens

May 27, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Nearly two years ago, a fire raced through the Universal Studios' backlot, destroying movie sets and some of Hollywood's most famous films. On Thursday, a celebration was held as part of the lot reopened.The heads of Universal Studios, along with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, director Steven Spielberg and L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, attended the ceremony.

"What you see around you is the result of a new New York, and not just New York, but London and anywhere else your imagination takes you, because the backlot can be anything an art department and a director and a writer put in our imagination," Spielberg said during the ceremony. "This backlot is a fertile basis for everyone's use, everyone's imagination, and I think this will be around forever."

The fire had devastated the New York Street backlot area on June 1, 2008. A few months after the fire, Universal began the largest set construction project in Hollywood history. The new streetscape includes a version of the Trump Tower, the Macy's building and Radio City Music Hall.

The rebuilt section of backlot includes the Courthouse Square set made famous in the "Back to the Future" films and a street re-created to resemble 19th century London.

The reopening should help Los Angeles hold its own against New York, its biggest competitor for movie and television production. New York City officials are also getting ready to expand tax credits for filming.

"It took about 7 months and now we have this gorgeous area that is absolutely beautiful," said Molly Orr, Universal Studios tour guide. "We have everything. There is no need to go anywhere, we can just stay here at Universal Studios."

Starting Friday, the Backlot Tour will include the New York City set.