Magazine article Sunset

How Hard Is It to See Television Filmings?

Magazine article Sunset

How Hard Is It to See Television Filmings?

Article excerpt

How hard is it to see television filmings?

When the cameras roll on your favorite sitcom or talk show--be it "Cheers," "Roseanne," or "The Arsenio Hall Show"--you can be there. You may have to guess what most of the production people actually do while seeming to just mill around the set, but you do get a behind-the-scenes look at the director guiding the cast and crew.

Winter: 'tis the season to be jollied

In winter, programs shot in front of live audiences are at peak production, but crowds shrink as summer tourists return home. This increases your chances of getting into shows without too much trouble. Tickets are free (on a first-come basis) but don't guarantee admittance. Lining up early is the key.

To play it safe, arrive a good 2 hours in advance; that's when pages begin numbering the tickets of people in line. Go considerably earlier for top programs such as those already mentioned, and "Growing Pains," "Married ... with Children," "Night Court," and "Who's the Boss?" (In summer, some audience hopefuls wait as long as 7 hours.)

Typically, you sit in built-in bleachers directly above the set. Unless you're on either of the far ends, you can see well enough to witness on-set conversations and directing techniques--and occasionally even talk with the actors.

A warmup man or entertainer makes jokes beforehand and during lulls, answers questions about the stars, and announces the date that the show will air. There's little downtime between scenes--and then only for costume or set changes. Most programs shoot in sequences, start to finish, stopping to reshoot mistakes.

Studio capacities vary, but most seat several hundred. Most shows tape in late afternoons and early evenings, typically toward the end of the week. Some shoot for only 45 minutes, others for up to 3 hours; average time is 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

How and where to get tickets

Six main ticket outlets exist. ABC, NBC, CBS, and Paramount offer tickets at onsite offices and by mail. Nearly 40 shows shot at independent studios offer seats through Audiences Unlimited (details at right). Some use Audience Associates, which offers guaranteed reserved seating a day or two ahead and bus rides to the studios; call (213) 467-4697.

Most tickets are available a week ahead, and, for popular shows, may be gone within 2 hours. …

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