LOS ANGELES -- Residents who successfully fought plans to turn a closed hospital into a drug rehabilitation center in their neighborhood geared up for a new battle when barbed wire and a guard tower went up at the hospital.
But the concern disappeared when the homeowners learned that conversion of the former Lake View Medical Center into a maximum-security mental hospital was only temporary -- and only make-believe.
The vacant hospital is being converted into a set for Arnold Schwarzenegger's new film, "Terminator 2," in which he and Linda Hamilton will reprise their roles from the 1984 film.
"Terminator 2" will begin filming in the area in January for several months after finishing scenes at a steel mill in Fontana, Calif., said Steve Newman, the film's publicist.
Neighbors around the hospital, who banded together in 1989 to block its use for a drug treatment center proposed by former first lady Nancy Reagan, initially were concerned when crews began stringing barbed wire.
Several dozen construction workers showed up at the facility about two months ago and began revamping the interior and converting the facade to a maximum-security mental institution.
"I got an awful lot of calls from neighbors asking how could this get past us," said Phyllis Hines, land-use chairwoman for the Lake View Terrace Improvement Association. "I went over and when I saw it, I just asked, 'Another [film] set?' and they said yes."
The former hospital, which went bankrupt in 1984 and closed in 1986, is a popular movie and television set, neighbors said.
"It seems like more time is spent filming than not filming there," Hines said. "Crews are there at least two weeks of every month."
Among the productions filmed at the Lake View Terrace location have been "Smokey and the Bandit," "Jake and the Fatman," "Hill Street Blues" and "Falcon Crest."
The film crew has added walls, covered all the windows with bars, painted the linoleum floors and built fake elevators and doors to accommodate the script. In one area, they've added special glass that a stunt man will break through on a fall from the second floor into the courtyard.
"I've put grills in front of the windows to make it look like steel
bars," said Earle Parker, a carpenter who was putting the finishing touches on the set's interrogation room.
"We had to build a fake elevator next to the real one because there's not enough room to shoot the scenes. It's kind of a rewarding job because when the movie comes out, I pick out what parts I did."
The film, scheduled for summer release, features another cyborg "Terminator" (Schwarzenneger) sent out to kill the teen-age son of Sarah Connor (Hamilton).