Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Blah blah blah

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.

Filed under: up all night, Work

3 Responses

  1. geekhiker says:

    Wait, the musical guests aren’t performing live? Next thing I know, you’re gonna tell me they didn’t shoot ‘Battlestar Galactica’ in space…

    As for reading the newspaper in the dark: could you have used the web on your cell?

  2. JCW says:

    Genuinely surprised to read that late night chat shows re-take portions of interviews… in front of a live audience?

    How have I never heard about this before?

    Peggy sez: They don’t air live, so it’s certainly possible to do re-takes. I don’t work a whole lot of talk shows, so I don’t know if it happens very often. Maybe I’m just scraping the bottom of the barrel.

  3. Cashless says:

    Who pays cash on a set in this day & age?

    Peggy sez: I work about one cash at wrap job per year. It’s people who are trying not to go over a show’s budget, so they’re paying out of petty cash, people who can’t get crews to work for them if they don’t pay cash (due to problems making payroll in the past), or people who are making an indie movie primarily to launder drug money. I think Monday was the first group.

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