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Down In The Valley
The creative team of Take Me Home Tonight had a rich well to draw from while recreating the gleeful excess of the 1980s. At the time, Los Angeles was synonymous with the extravagant lifestyle of television series like "Dynasty,” and the San Fernando Valley was the home base of junk bond king Michael Milken and his band of buccaneer salesmen at Drexel Burnham Lambert.

"I remember hearing about the San Fernando Valley and the Valley Girls in the '80s,” says Kaywin. "It's a suburban community just over the hills from Los Angeles, but it is its own microcosm. Kyle's house, where the party takes place, is on Mulholland Drive, which is the division between what we think of as Los Angeles and the Valley. The party is a crossroads for a lot of the characters, and it's literally located at the division between the Valley and the other side of the hill.”

The '80s was a fun era to recreate, says production designer William Arnold. "But we were careful not to go over the top or satirize it. We tried to put visuals in this film that take you back subtly to 1988, like a clunker of a desktop computer on Matt Franklin's desk in his bedroom, or a VW Rabbit convertible parked outside the party house.”

But urban development has changed the face of Los Angeles radically since the 1980s, so the filmmakers decide to cast Phoenix, Arizona in its place. Luckily for Arnold, Phoenix has many exteriors and interiors that have remained unchanged over the past three decades, including Metro Center Mall, which stands in for the old Sherman Oaks Galleria, the site of Matt's "protest job” at Suncoast Video. The art department created facsimiles of the period including VHS tapes and movie posters for Harry and the Hendersons, Porky's, Biloxi Blues, The Blues Brothers and Cat People.

Perched atop Phoenix's Camelback Mountain, the home chosen as the location for Kyle's house party has a stunning view of the city lights below, just as a house situated between the Valley and Los Angeles proper would have. With five bedrooms in two stories, a large backyard and pool, gazebo and circular driveway, it is a perfect replica of an upscale suburban 1980s home. To make it even more authentic, banisters were changed, walls refinished and painted, and floor and tiling were textured.

The Beverly Hills home where Tori's investment banker boss hosts a lavish party is an angular concrete and glass affair built on the steep side of Camelback with an infinity pool and an even more remarkable view.

"In the end, working in Phoenix was incredibly beneficial in many ways,” says Kaywin, "but most importantly because it created a real communal aspect for the cast.”

On the set of Take Me Home Tonight, the cast and crew began work at dusk and worked until well past dawn. "The spirit of the movie is staying up all night and partying,” says Grace. "The shoot was the same. We had to shoot at night because the whole thing takes place at night, so we were all on Japan time. But the demands of the situation helped us become a real community, which wouldn't have happened in L.A. where everyone would have punched a clock and gone home.”

The company shot six days a week for seven weeks. "I was a maniac by the time it was done,” says Dowse. "I wasn't prepared for the demands of a night shoot. I'm not a nocturnal animal and I don't believe humans were designed to work like that. We were eating lunch at four in the morning and having serious scene discussions in the blinding light of nine a.m., and then we went into a blacked-out room that was way too hot to try and get the scenes done. We all developed Red Bull addictions.”

Says actress Teresa Palmer, "At a certain time of night, every night, maybe 3 or 4 a.m., you would be so tired that you would start saying whatever came into your head. People's defenses were down and there was always a lot of laughter. It felt like I was at a party with all my friends. The cast really had amazing camaraderie with one another during filming.”

The partying all goes down to a raging soundtrack that includes a roster of some of the best-remembered pop, rock and rap tunes of the era, including The Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star,” Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf,” Mötley Crüe's "Kickstart My Heart,” Men Without Hats' "The Safety Dance” and much more. "The '80s music is like a form of time travel,” says Grace. "It just takes you there.”

Rather than opt for the usual, instantly familiar Top 40 hits, Dowse pulled out all the stops to assemble a collection of songs that reflect the wide variety of music he remembers enjoying at the time, as well the enormous changes that had begun to hit the recording industry. "Of course, we have The Buggles,” he says. "But we also have NWA's ‘Straight Outta Compton' which had just come out that spring.”

"I have vivid memories of being a white kid driving around in Calgary pretending to be a gangsta rapper and really responding to that music. I'm also a big rock 'n' roll fan. And then there are some signature songs we couldn't leave out, like ‘Come On, Eileen.'”

When it came to dancing, Dan Fogler took the grand prize. Under a rotating mirrored ball, Fogler's character Barry gets down, way down, in a dance-off with another party guest. "In the script, the scene is very simple,” says Dowse. "Barry competes with an obviously better dancer and is humiliated. But once Dan started dancing, it changed the scene completely. He brings to mind some of the great physical comedians like John Belushi and John Candy.”

Fogler spent his days prepping for the dance-off to The Gap Band's "Drop a Bomb on Me.” "I would go back to my apartment and throw the song on, then go through a repertoire of crazy '80s dance moves that I've been honing since I was a child, stealing from Michael Jackson and the electric boogaloo.”

"At first, Michael Dowse kept telling me to tone it down a bit,” says the actor. "Then finally he shouted, ‘I'm ready to release you.' I was excited to unleash my dancing on everybody.”

To get the right look for the characters, director Michael Dowse distributed pages from actual 1980s yearbooks to the costume, makeup and hair departments to use as a guide. "The yearbooks were a time capsule into exactly what people's tastes were,” he says. "We certainly looked at magazines as well, but yearbooks stripped away the gloss and provided a look at what people really wore.”

Costume designer Carol Oditz and her team collected racks of vintage clothing and created hundreds of outfits for the principals and extras in the film. Along with head hair stylist Kim Santantonio and makeup supervisor Deborah Larsen, she recreated looks from the '80s inspired by icons of the time, including Deborah Harry, Christie Brinkley, Cyndi Lauper and the black-clad all-girl band from Robert Palmer's popular music video, "Addicted to Love.”

"What I love about the '80s is that it was the last time there was a merging of fashion, music and art,” says Oditz. "Now you look around and everybody is in t-shirts and jeans. Back then, we all decorated ourselves in very individual ways to reflect our tastes and interests.”

Oditz's favorite costume is the dress Tori wears on party night. "I'm in love with the gold dress,” she says. "It is the shape of a man's shirt, but made out of the most exquisite antique gold fabric. It is very soft and very sensual. We rolled up the sleeves and turned up the collar. It's essentially a Brooks Brothers' shirt made out of this spectacular fabri


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