Wrapping up the week and month with Friday Questions.
Unknown starts us off. At least he’s not Anonymous.
I have a friend who is taking his wife and teenage kids to L.A. in August and wonder if you have any "insider" suggestions for studio tours and the like. Is it too late to try to get tickets to a filming of show? Or are these something they'll have the opportunity to get same day (assuming they pick the right day)?
Call or write the networks ahead of time to get tickets to watch tapings of sitcoms or talk shows. Or at least when you get here. There used to be a booth at Farmers Market on 3rd and Fairfax that would issue tickets to TV shows. There might also be one in Hollywood.
First thing you need to know is this: tickets to all television shows are free. That goes for THE BIG BANG THEORY, AMERICAN IDOL, even DR. PHIL. So don’t let any scalper or studio executive try to sell them to you.
Some shows are in great demand and have long waiting lists. Typical capacity for TV studio audience is about 200. Popular shows are a tough ticket as are game shows like THE PRICE IS RIGHT where audience members could become contestants and win crap.
On the other hand, new shows have trouble getting audiences and often have to hire companies to bus groups in. It’s pot luck what you get. It could be the next FRIENDS or the next JOEY. But it's a show. And it's air conditioned.
If there’s a specific show you want to see, contact that show directly. The sooner the better.
Most sitcoms film from August to March. Game shows are on cycles. I believe JEOPARDY resumes in July. Alex should be sufficiently recovered by then.
Also, note that sometimes game shows tape two or three episodes at one time. They’ll tape one show, change wardrobe, take a break, and a half-hour later tape the next one. So allow yourself some time.
I don’t know whether 20th, Sony, Warners, or CBS Radford have tours. Check them out though. Either one of those lots would be worth seeing.
Tom in Vegas has a question I’m often asked.
What exactly does a show runner do? I've never seen this title listed in an credits, and I'm wondering if it's the same as a producer?
It’s fascinating that there are so many titles and yet not one for the person who’s actually in charge.
In short, the show runner is the ultimate boss. He has final say on scripts, casting, post production, hiring staff and directors. He dictates the tone of the show, and has final cut. Along with all that power comes tremendous responsibility and pressure.
The show runner must deal with the actors, network, studio, business affairs, agents, managers, and critics. In addition to whatever creative gifts they have it is most helpful if they have a Masters degree in Economics, Psychology, and child rearing.
And if possible, they should be able to function at peak capacity under severe sleep deprivation… for nine months.
You’d think for all that they’d be entitled to a less generic title. It’s like calling astronauts “space guys” or Supreme Court justices “top deciders.”
When stars get their own sitcoms, why do their characters tend to share their first name, even in cases (unlike Seinfeld, for instance) where they're playing an entirely different person? Do the networks think that we won't recognize them otherwise?
And in other cases, the actor is just so identified with their name that it would seem weird to have them answer to anything else. I mean, Lucille Ball was LUCY. You could call her Madge but who are we kidding? She’s LUCY.
And finally, Scott Miller has a question that relates to my new book, which you should buy already.
How did you find high school/college age radio geeks around the country pre internet? I would have joined you in NYC or Pittsburgh, but I'm a couple of years younger than you.
I used to write radio stations from around the country asking for tapes of their programs and jingles (thus making me the all-time King of Nerds). A few would comply, most would ignore, but some sent me the names of other radio geeks who had also requested tapes. I contacted them. A few already knew others and a network of guys who couldn’t get a date was born.
What's your question? Leave it in the comments section. Thanks!