The Prospect Studios (also known as ABC Television Center [West]) is a lot containing several television studios located at 4151 Prospect Avenue in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles, at the corner of Prospect and Talmadge Street (named in honor of silent screen star Norma Talmadge), just east of Hollywood. For more than 50 years, this facility served as the West Coast headquarters of the American Broadcasting Company before the network moved its main headquarters to the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California. From 1949 to 1999, ABC-owned Los Angeles television station KABC-TV was also located there. The station moved to a new state-of-the-art facility located on a portion of Disney's Grand Central Creative Campus (GC3) in nearby Glendale, California, in December 1999. The Walt Disney Company, which acquired ABC in 1996, continues to own and operate the facility to this day.
The Vitagraph Studio opened in 1913. This studio at Prospect Avenue and Talmadge Street replaced its prior West Coast studio at 1438 2nd Street, Santa Monica. The original silent film plant included two daylight film stages, support buildings and many exterior film sets.
The company added another 10 acres to the lot in 1920. In the 1920s, production was moved from its East Coast studio.
In April 1925, Vitagraph's founder Albert Smith sold control in the company to the Warner brothers. In 1927, the facility became The Warner East Hollywood Annex and was used for many large-scale films. Here, in 1927, Warner Bros. shot portions of The Jazz Singer, the first film with synchronised sound, using the Vitaphone process. The "interior" club scenes for the film were shot in Stage 5, still located today in the center of the Studio Lot. In the 1930s and '40s, Warner Bros. continued to shoot on the Lot using large water tanks, ship and backlot sets.
In 1948, the property was sold to the newly formed American Broadcasting Company, and the lot was re-equipped for television as the ABC Television Center. ABC proceeded to base their new Los Angeles television station, KECA-TV (now KABC-TV) in the newly purchased lot, a year later. Construction on the studio lot to bring it to its current form took place in 1957. ABC still uses the Prospect facility as a network retransmission center for its programming. Many memorable television shows, including those produced for ABC, other networks or syndication, have been produced in the studios. The third JFK/Nixon debate was partially held in this studio on October 13, 1960, with Kennedy in a New York studio, while Nixon and the interviewing panel were based at the Prospect lot, albeit in separate studios to insure fairness between the candidates. American Bandstand started recording there in 1964 (moving from Philadelphia). ABC's longest running program, General Hospital, now in its 54th year on the air, has been taped at this location since the mid-1980s after relocating from the Sunset Gower Studios in Hollywood. Many other classic television shows were also produced there including The Lawrence Welk Show, Barney Miller, Fridays, Mr. Belvedere, Welcome Back, Kotter, Benson, and Soap. Barney Miller, Benson and Soap were also shot at Sunset Gower Studios.
Four of the most well-known game shows in television history were recorded at ABC Television Center: Family Feud (1976–85, hosted by Richard Dawson), Let's Make a Deal (1968–76, hosted by Monty Hall), The Dating Game (1965–74, hosted by Jim Lange), and The Newlywed Game (1966–74, hosted by Bob Eubanks). Other game shows taped there included The Better Sex (1977–78, hosted by Bill Anderson and Sarah Purcell), Break the Bank (1976–77, hosted by Tom Kennedy for the daytime and Jack Barry for syndication), Match Game (1990–91, hosted by Ross Shafer), Password and Password All-Stars (1971–75, both hosted by Allen Ludden).
John Davidson, along with Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton and Cathy Lee Crosby co-hosted That's Incredible!, an ABC show that ran from 1980 to 1984, and considered one of the first true shows of the reality television genre. ABC's long-running show, America's Funniest Home Videos, taped here from 1990 to 1993 during the era of Bob Saget.
The Los Angeles Bureau of ABC News was also located at The Prospect Studios until it was moved to the KABC-TV studios in Glendale in 2011. The facility also served as broadcast headquarters for ABC's coverage of the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympic Games.
In 1996, ABC became part of The Walt Disney Company. As the television and film industry entered the next millennium, the lot by 2002 was renamed The Prospect Studios. In 2002, the property underwent a major renovation to position its facilities for the future and new technical innovation.