Linkin Park’s Surprise VMA Location: Story Behind Griffith Observatory

Location has been featured in dozens of films, TV shows and music videos, including Adam Lambert's 'If I Had You.'

It’s fair to say that [artist id="960856"]Linkin Park[/artist]‘s VMA performance of their hit “The Catalyst” at the Griffith Observatory was pretty epic. Naturally, the band’s killer rock stylings were a major part of the effect, but the historic scenery definitely enhanced the experience. For astute pop culture fanatics out there, if you feel like you’ve seen the picturesque setting before, you have — especially if you’ve seen “Transformers” or Adam Lambert’s music video for “If I Had You.”

The Griffith Observatory is so named for Col. Griffith J. Griffith, an eccentric and generous early L.A. land baron, who bequeathed the land upon which the landmark now sits to the city of Los Angeles in 1896. The historic site is a popular tourist destination for its science- and space-related exhibits, but also because it has been featured in dozens of films, TV shows and music videos.

Old-school classics filmed here include “Rebel Without a Cause,” “Back to the Future,” “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” “The Rocketeer” and Paula Abdul’s video for “Rush Rush.” More recently, “Transformers,” “Yes Man,” “Funny People,” the TV series “24,” “Beverly Hills 90210,” “The Simpsons” and Lambert’s “If I Had You” have included footage from the historic site. Versions of the GP Observatory are also featured in the video games “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas,” “Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines” and “Future Cop: LAPD.”

In addition to the landmark’s pop culture ties, the Griffith Observatory’s planetarium was used to train pilots in celestial navigation during World War II, and again in the ’60s to train Apollo program astronauts for the first lunar missions. The observatory underwent a major renovation from 2002 to 2006 and now features an expanded exhibit space, the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon Theater and Wolfgang Puck’s Café at the end of the Universe.

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