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Ventura County in show business

Soundstages are planned in Moorpark to serve Hollywood.

May 15, 2008|Roger Vincent | Times Staff Writer

Plans to build a $125-million independent movie and television production facility in the Ventura County city of Moorpark were announced Wednesday by two entertainment industry veterans who hope to cash in on a regional shortage of soundstages.

The 37-acre Commonwealth Studios would have 14 soundstages plus offices, a commissary and other support services. It would have a lot with city and residential sets outfitted for rain and fire effects.

The development would fill a need for production space in Southern California, said John Marshall, an independent producer who would be president of the new studio.

"We have a crunch in the rental of soundstages, and major studios have no opportunities to expand," Marshall said. "Moorpark was the closest and most accessible point where all this could be done affordably."

Heading the studio as chairman and chief executive would be Bernard Weitzman, who has held senior positions at major studios, including Desilu, Lorimar Pictures, Universal and MGM.

Triliad Development Inc. of Thousand Oaks will start building Commonwealth Studios within a year if it is approved by the city, Marshall said. Financing would be provided by PEGH Investments, and the project would take about 18 months to complete.

Moorpark officials have met with studio leaders, and the proposal "looks reasonably good," said Hugh Riley, assistant city manager. "We are pleased with the idea."

The property has never been developed, Riley said. It is bordered by Southern Pacific Railroad, a Southern California Edison power station and Los Angeles Avenue.

The city had some concerns about how a new studio there might affect nearby neighborhoods, Riley said, but he thought there would be demand for its services.

"Folks in the industry already live in this area," he said.

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