Doug Stern with a new recurring feature on notable music video locales...
Few locations loom as large in the history of music videos as the decrepit, but perpetually 'soon to be renovated' Alexandria Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Built at the start of the 1900s, the Alexandria reflected a time when downtown LA was 'the' city, Hollywood was a remote suburb and Santa Monica was a long journey through bean and tomato fields.
The Alexandria was expanded and re-worked many times, so it now sprawls over nearly a full city block — adding various architectural styles that allow productions to get lots of different looks without the hassle of a company move. Once the glamour moved out of downtown, the hotel started renting rooms by the week and everything got beautifully decrepit.
The most recognizeable spot in the Alexandria is probably the mezzanine with it's incredibly ornate and strikingly low ceilings - seen famously in Lenny Kravitz's 'Fly Away.' This room has been in dozens of other music videos from Hanson to recent club bangers like Pitbull.
Francis Lawrence shot elements of 'The Call' for Backstreet Boys in the creepy hallways of The Alexandria and then went back with Keanu for Constantine. If you've ever been to the Alexandria, it won't come as a shock that Backstreeter AJ claims the first time he ever tried cocaine was on the set of 'The Call.'
David Fincher showed his music video roots in the movie Se7en, with John Doe living in the (possibly haunted?) Alexandria and the footchase with Brad Pitt leading through the same run-down rooms where Fincher had made George Michael's Freedom! '90 video.
Doug Stern has been to The Alexandria, but has no idea how that stain got there.