The Oarsman: TV show Glee films Grease Episode at Venice High

Sunday, December 18, 2011

It’s summer 1958 and love is in the air for Grease characters Danny Zuko and Sandy Olson. The two Rydell High seniors knew it was love at first sight from the moment they met.

Now, 33 years after Grease was filmed at Venice High, the same musical energy returned to transform the school, this time to accommodate the students of William McKinley High from Fox’s Glee.

Glee, a musical dramatic comedy about a high school glee club, took the school by storm. The cast and crew used the football bleachers, covered eating area, East Gym and swimming pool as backdrops for their scenes during the Dec. 6 and 13 filmings. The Grease-themed episode is set to air Jan. 17.
We were looking for a school that had bleachers, an outdoor cafeteria, a swimming pool, and that looks like it could be set in Ohio,” said Glee Unit Production Manager Robert Del Valle.
The actors used the bleachers and covered eating area to sing “Summer Nights” as it was done originally in Grease.

A synchronized swimming scene and a dueling cello concert were reportedly filmed in the pool and East Gym, respectively.

Fans of Glee were excited to see the stars of the show roaming the campus.

“It makes me happy that Glee is on campus,” said senior Jessamyn Dumlao. “I got to see most of the cast and take photos with them.”

Not all students were happy about the filming on campus. The cast, crew and equipment occupied various parking areas on campus, including the student parking lot and the lot near the shop classrooms, forcing students and faculty to park elsewhere.

“Glee stopped me from parking in my signature parking spot which was lame,” said senior Henry Morse. “It made me late for first period, which is a no no with Ms. Sandouk. “It is an inconvenience to some people, but I think everyone has been very cooperative and understanding,” said Principal Elsa Mendoza.

Despite the disruptions, Dr. Mendoza reported that the filming earned the school $21,300, including fees paid for custodial services and parking.

One third of the money will be used to restore a proposed cut in teacher differentials, which are additional payments to teachers that run organizations like yearbook or the school newspaper. Payments were expected to be cut in half, but will now be maintained at the current $1,700 per semester. The rest of the money will be put into the school donation account and will be used to fund substitute teachers, field trips, or anything else the school needs.

The swim and water polo teams shared an additional donation with the physical education department to compensate for their temporary displacement, but coach Sophie Sabbah did not disclose the amount. “I’m a team player so I’ll do what I have to do,” said coach Sabbah, referring to the inconveniences caused by the Glee filming.

“I’ve never watched Glee, but I thought it brought excitement to our students and community,” said Dr. Mendoza. Venice High is no stranger to filming. In addition to Grease, the 1998 movie American History X, and the music video for Britney Spear’s 1998 song “…Baby One More Time” are among the projects that were filmed at Venice.

Assistant Principal Craig Alessi said Hollywood could come visiting again soon. “Glee stated that they would like to make our swimming pool the McKinley High swimming pool,” said Mr. Alessi. However, he did note that no firm plans for future shootings have been set.

Additionally, Mr. Alessi said the school has been contacted about using the West Gym as a possible filming location in the spring for a movie starring Adrien Brody.

“If we’re more film friendly, more people will want to do more filming here which means more donations to Venice High School,” said Mr. Alessi.

“Our school site has a lot of potential to earn some money,” said Dr. Mendoza. “We hope to welcome back companies that want to use our site.”

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