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The Los Angeles show business icon now in private equity hands

The walls of the famed CBS Studio Center could tell tales of Hollywood westerns, Seinfeld and constantly changing ownership.

CBS Radford Studio Center

The stage is set for a new chapter for a Los Angeles icon: the famed CBS Studio Center, which was acquired by a partnership between Hackman Capital Partners and Square Mile Capital Management for $1.85 billion in December. The deal was agreed with owners ViacomCBS following a widely marketed sale process.

The property sits on a 55-gross-acre site in Studio City, encompassing over one million square feet of space, with 22 stages, a purpose-built broadcast center and filmable backlot locations.

Its story began in 1928, when silent film producer and director Mack Sennett opened his movie studio at the location on Radford Avenue. Sennett sold the studio to Mascot Pictures five years later, after filing for bankruptcy during the Great Depression.

After changing hands over the years, in the 1950s the space was leased to various production companies, such as Four Star Productions, which used the lot to film television Westerns. In 1963, CBS became the primary tenant of the lot, which was renamed the CBS Studio Center, and eventually bought the property in 1967 for $9.5 million.

CBS began renting the space to independent producers, and the primary tenant soon became MTM Enterprises, led by actress Mary Tyler Moore and her then-husband, television executive Grant Tinker. The Mary Tyler Moore Show was filmed at the location in the 1970s. In 1982, CBS partnered with 20th Century Fox to share ownership of the Studio Center. This collaboration was short-lived, after the latter sold its interest in the studio in 1984. CBS regained full ownership in 1992.

Many other well-known television shows and movies were filmed at the studio in the 1990s, such as American Gladiators, Seinfield, Father of the Bride Part II and Dr Doolittle. The CBS Studio Center remains the filming facility for popular US shows, also hosting local news channels CBS2 and KCAL9 in its Broadcast Center facility.

At closing, ViacomCBS will reportedly continue to occupy stages and produce content on the lot, and enter a short-term lease-back of certain portions of the property. Craig Solomon, chief executive of Square Mile Capital, spoke of how he expects a straightforward transaction with continued involvement from the lot’s previous owners: “With ViacomCBS maintaining an important presence at the property, we anticipate a smooth ownership transition and many more great years ahead.”

After being owned by CBS for more than 50 years, CBS Studio Center will continue to host some of the biggest names in entertainment, even with the change of hands. Its walls will be grateful that it will hold onto its iconic place in show business.

1928: Silent film producer and director Mack Sennett opens his movie studio at the location of the CBS Studio Center

1950s: The space is leased to various production companies and used to film many television Westerns

1967: CBS purchases the property for $9.5m after being the primary tenant of the lot for four years

1982: CBS forms a partnership with 20th Century Fox to share ownership of the studio, an association that lasts only two years

Dec 2021: ViacomCBS agrees to sell the studio to a partnership formed by Hackman Capital Partners and Square Mile Capital Management for $1.85bn