The security to get into GOOD LUCK CHARLIE was way more extensive than the security to get into the Pentagon. They went through every kid’s backpack and mother’s purse. I wonder how many diaphragms they pull out each week. (Note: this would make a great episode for THE AMERICANS. Mom spy & dad spy take their tykes to LA and go to a GOOD LUCK CHARLIE taping. Not knowing there will be security, Keri Russell has to explain why she’s got a revolver, switchblade, six passports, and a container of borscht. I want shared story credit when they use that.)
The truth is the only building in this entire neighborhood that doesn’t need a security check is the GOOD LUCK CHARLIE studio.
A number of shows hand out candy to keep their audiences from turning into an angry mob. Here they distributed candy, granola bars, string cheese, and juice bottles. String cheese? I remember back in the '70s when they were filming THE ODD COUPLE the warm-up guy used to toss out bite-sized Snickers bars and Tony Randall’s manager (who had to be 90 then and worth $90 million dollars) used to crawl underneath the stands and retrieve the candy that had fallen through the bleachers.
Many in the crowd were young fans so there were also games and raffles. If there was one blemish on the evening it’s that I was only two numbers away from winning the princess dress-up game. Damn! That looked so cool! I also almost won a signed photo of the child who plays the baby (wait a minute – can she even write?) but it was that princess game I had in my crosshairs. Of course, I’m not very lucky when it comes to raffles. The only thing I’ve ever won is a XXX DVD the night I went to porn star karaoke. So I was hoping they’d give those away because there I felt I had a chance. But alas, it was just toys, iTunes gift cards, and autographed photos and posters.
This was probably the first time in twenty years that I watched a taping from the bleachers. And I realized how blasé I had become. I’ve been to hundreds to tapings/filmings and usually my sole focus is how to make the episode better? Either as a writer, director, or producer I’m concentrating so intently on details that I no longer stop for a moment and think, “Hey, this is really awesome!” But Friday night I was once again hit with that wow factor. All these sets and monitors and crew people and equipment and actors – all coming together to film a show my daughter and her partner wrote. That was mind blowing. And it should always be, no matter how many of these you’ve done. For aspiring writers, hopefully the dream of that will keep you going, keep you pushing until it comes true. And for you crusty TV veterans, let it be a reminder to pause once in awhile and realize just how fortunate you really are. (A good time to do this is as the network guys are crossing the stage en route to you with five pages of notes for a two-page scene.)
After the show there were curtain calls and Jon & Annie were introduced as the writers. I was more thrilled hearing that than any introduction I’ve ever received.
Readers of this blog know how funny they are. People always ask if I was worried when my daughter said she wanted to become a comedy writer, and my answer is yes until I read her stuff. And then when she partnered with Jon I knew it was only a matter of time before I'd be eating string cheese in downtown LA.
My favorite comment is from my writer friend, Gina Gold who said, "Congrats on your first grandsccript."
My thanks to Dan Staley, Phil Baker, Drew Vaupen, and everyone at Disney for taking a chance on two young scribes. Their first experience was far better than mine. The first script for me and David was an episode of THE JEFFERSONS. At the taping the warm-up man, who was the showrunner and a bit hard of hearing, was introducing everyone but us. Finally someone in the audience asked, “Who wrote tonight’s show?” and he hemmed and hawed so my charming date yelled out from the front row: “Hey, they’re sitting right here, fucker!” We were banned from the Lear company. It's amazing we had any career at all past that night.
Of course if we want our career to continue we have to hope that Levine & Emerson hire us.
Photos by me and Michael Emerson (no, not the one on PERSONS OF INTEREST).