It had to happen. The entertainment industry has gotten so huge worldwide that there is now an industry concerned entirely with housing it. Oakwood Corporate Housing has locations in 1,000 cities all over the world and Oakwood Apartment complexes in approximately 50 of these locations. Oakwood Toluca Hills, located in the middle of what its national entertainment account manager Joni Rodenbusch refers to as "the media hub"—within callback distance of Universal, Warner Bros., and Disney—has made housing actors here for pilot season one of its priorities. Such luminaries as Tom Cruise, Reese Witherspoon, Kirsten Dunst, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Hilary Swank, among many others, have stayed in one of the 1,152 apartments. The influx of celebrities staying at the Oakwood happened naturally, says Rodenbusch, though the company was quick to capitalize on the occurrence.
"It kind of naturally started to happen," she says. "But, as we saw more and more of these people starting to come into place at some of our different locations, we thought, 'This might be a great entity to capture.' It was a great opportunity for us to capture more of the business by going to their agents and managers, by going to the studios themselves to promote what we had to offer for all of the different talent that they bring in."
The Oakwood was started in 1960 as a multifamily housing complex. It was later adjusted to become a haven for "swinging singles." It then evolved into corporate service and subsequently was well able to cater to the entertainment industry. Today the Oakwood is popular enough that actors who wish to rent an apartment for pilot season would be well-advised to set that up in the preceding summer. Other than location, the sense of home is key to attracting industry clientele, says Rodenbusch.
"We have over 100 locations in Los Angeles, so we can cater to individual needs," she says. "If they need to be in a certain area, we can find that apartment for them. If they need certain things in their apartment, we can do that for them. A good example would be Jackie Chan: In Bangkok we made his second bedroom a gym for him. It's just that feeling of the home away from home. It's more than just a hotel room. A lot of them are on the road all the time, and they get tired of staying in just a hotel room. They don't want to have to get dressed to go out for breakfast every morning, they don't want to get dressed to have a cup of coffee, they don't want to greet someone at the front door to bring in room service. So they will stay at an Oakwood to have that home atmosphere. It's been a real learning experience for us. With each year we get better at what we do, and we have become more specialized in handling the entertainment industry. We try to work with each level, whether it be above-the-line or below-the-line, to accommodate what needs that they have. We'll do just about anything that is legal for each and every one of them."