Day Five: Just in case we didn’t see too many celebrities walking down the street or sitting next to us at restaurants, we had a back-up plan. That is, we scheduled events where celebrities were a sure thing.
First up was a visit to the filming of The Soup (one of my favorite shows) starring Joel McHale. Everyone knows that there is only one thing better than celebrities, and that is making fun of celebrities. McHale and his team of writers have this down to an art form, and for that I thank them. (Again, another dream job of mine.)
The Soup’s studio is really a quite smallish room room with orange chairs, a huge camera in a the middle, a large green screen in the front and two monitors on each side (to show clips from different TV shows). The audience is small, maybe 60 people at the most, and it includes a few cast members from the show Community which Joel also stars in (where does this guy find the time to do all this and still appear in stand-up at every casino within a 100 mile radius of L.A.?)
When Joel actually appears, I am smitten and mesmerized. He is taller, thinner and better looking in person. Before the actual taping begins, he runs in place to pump himself up. And here’s what I learned:
- People reading from teleprompters screw up. A lot. That smooth delivery you see on TV may have taken many, many takes. A twenty-one minute show may take well over an hour to tape. In McHale’s case, he flips off the camera and swears every time he messes up. Not in an angry way, but more in a goofy way. Then he entertains us by cracking jokes until everyone is ready for the next take.
- The original jokes may not work. If it sounded good on paper but not so much out loud, then a break is taken while an alternative joke is either selected or written right there on the spot. And then you have to wait for the teleprompter to be changed.
- A lawyer is present to catch little things, like revealing the Apple logo on air (that’s a no-no). One segment had to be re-shot with a newly-covered iPad. Joel’s response: “As if people at home are going to wonder, ‘Hmmm what’s that he’s using?’””
- That guy you always hear laughing the loudest during The Soup? That’s Tom, the stage manager, who sits right next to the camera. He’s also in charge of keeping Joel in line when he gets too goofy and off track.
- Some people will laugh at anything a comedian says, even when it’s not funny or even meant to be funny. Dane Cook at Madison Square Garden, I’m especially talking to you.
Joel McHale was very nice and stayed to talk to us and take pictures. I was so nervous and sweaty you’d think I was about to play a game of dodgeball against Chuck Lidell. When he heard we were from Wisconsin, he asked if we were from Door County and then asked if we liked clam bakes. I had to correct him and say it was fish boils. I’ll forgive him though; knowing Door County is pretty impressive.
Day Five, Evening: Every March the Paley TV Festival hosts casts from several popular television programs. Each night of the festival features a different show, and some nights there are special VIP parties. We were lucky enough to get tickets to see the entire cast of Modern Family (my favorite show!) plus its creator, Steve Levitan.
Here’s what I learned:
- Out of the entire cast, Julie Bowen and Eric Stonestreet talked the most. Sofia Vergara talked the least.
- Like her character Gloria, Sofia Vergara hates working with the dog on the show. “They gheev heem the doggie treats all day…and thain hees breath smells like the doggie treats.”
- When Ty Burrell gets nervous he blinks both eyes constantly; whenever he would answer a question from the moderator and all eyes were on him, we could see this.
- Sarah Hyland (Hailey) proclaimed she was just “happy to have a head over her roof.” This garnered a few chuckles from the audience.
- “Luke” proclaimed that “everyone is always messing with my hair.”
- You know that episode where Claire slips and falls over spilled eggs in the kitchen? Not part of the script. However, since it was realistic and she didn’t want to waste such a good fall, Julie Bowen still said her next line.
- A gay fan told Eric Stonestreet this story: “When I came out to my mom, she asked me if I was a Cam or a Mitchell.”
Day Six: As our Hollywood trip came to an end, we celebrated with some authentic Hollywood cuisine: Pink’s. The wait in line was worth it. Check out the processed goodness in these chili cheese dogs. I hope my thighs forgive me some day.
After that meal, we rolled ourselves back to The Grove for more shopping and a movie. However, we could also kill some time by watching the filming of Extra, the Hollywood gossip show. The hosts are the incredibly beautiful Maria Menounos and hunky dimple boy Mario “AC Slater” Lopez. Their job is to look good and show up to read from the teleprompter while everyone stands and admires them. Here are the beautiful ones in action:
Well that’s it for my Hollywood tale. Until next time…Niederkorn out.