Yesterday, I got a call to work on some late night talk show, starring some host I’ve never heard of chatting up guests I’ve never heard of, interspersed by comedy skits about people I’ve never heard of, either.
Talk shows are shot a bit differently from other shows. Unlike other audience shows which are run in one long take, talk shows start and stop, and shoot the musical numbers, monologues and any skits separately from the guests.
Someone important on this particular talk show decided that the show needed a makeover, so they rearranged the furniture on the sets last-minute, which would have been fine except that moving set pieces around means that we have to re-light said sets. In the real world, we would have had a whole day just for this.
This particular show decided to pass on the sensible way of doing things and make us come in early, re-rig the stage (and ‘break away’ one person to help with the TV gag* on the skit), and then, once all that was done, sit around for the talk show itself.
Which also would have been fine, except they were shooting two shows at once, which meant double the guests, double the inane conversation, double the re-takes because you want to make sure that said guests don’t look like morons on the air (and I’m always surprised that some of these people’s handlers – who know their clients are idiots – allow them to face even the ‘soft media’ without an interpreter), double everything.
We got lucky last night because the guests were all pretty sharp, and both musical acts were really good at the lip sync thing (wait. You didn’t think they were actually performing live, did you?), but still. It was six and a half hours of rigging followed by six and a half hours of desperately wishing there were enough ambient light for me to read the newspaper.
The fact that I only got about five hours sleep the night before and we came in at 11 am to start rigging didn’t help matters. By the end of the night, when Talk Show Dude had a really interesting guest I was way, way too tired to care.
But they paid in cash as we were leaving, which is always nice.
* The flickering of a blue-ish light on an actor’s face supposedly cast by a television set is actually a lamp with blue gel aimed at the actor’s face and controlled by an electrician with a hand dimmer.