Taping Date: January 12, 2004
Air Date: February 10, 2004
Where to get tickets: https://1iota.com
Will & Grace was one of the biggest shows in the late 90s and early 2000s. Like most sitcoms, it may take place in New York City, but is filmed in Hollywood. It was also my first television experience on my first trip to California. Visiting CBS Radford was my first Hollywood experience.
On my first ever trip to Los Angeles, my cousin and I had just 2 days to see and do as much as possible. One day was automatically designated for Disneyland, so that left 1 other day. We figured Hollywood was the best option, so I did some research into things to do. I stumbled on a site that offered free tickets to TV tapings, and noticed that there were tickets available for Will & Grace right on the day we would be there. We grabbed two tickets right away.
Getting to Hollywood
Despite lost luggage, we got to LA without an issue and checked in to our Anaheim hotel. We asked if there was any buses or shuttles to Hollywood and were told the best option was to rent a car. The following morning, we picked up a car from a nearby shop, and headed off down the LA freeways. It was an intimidating drive, as we were using a paper road map. This was before the GPS option was available. We were able to find our way to the CBS Television City lot, and pulled up to the security gate to ask where to park. This is when we were told that Will & Grace films at CBS Studio Center, the other CBS property.
I had assumed that security at studios would be very stern and unfriendly, but this guard changed that perception. He was very nice, and explained that the error happens all the time. He had a road map in his booth, which he used to mark the location and the best route to get there, and let us keep the map.
We followed his route through the Hollywood hills up to Studio City, right to the CBS Studio Centre lot. As per the Will & Grace instructions, we parked right in the parking structure at Gate 1, and joined the other fans waiting for the show.
Entering the Studio
Now in fairness, this was back in 2004, so some of the details of the experience have faded. This was my first TV taping, and I didn’t have the same level of interest in the film and television industry as I do now. I wish I’d taken more mental (or even written) notes, but 15 years later, I’m doing my best to recall the experience.
I don’t remember standing in line waiting, but I do remember the group walking us through the lot. We past some offices that looked like little houses, and then down a residential street with fake house facades. Many years later, upon revisiting the lot, this would all make more sense to me.
The Will & Grace Taping
I do vividly recall sitting in the studio. We were seated in the far left side (house left) and about 4 rows back. In front of us was Will and Grace’s apartment. To the left was Will’s office, and to the right was a temporary set of a cabin in the woods.
The cabin was actually not used for filming while we were there. Due to Debra Messing being pregnant, she wasn’t able to film scenes with an audience. The only scenes filmed featured Will, Jack, and Jack’s new boyfriend Stuart, played by guest star Dave Foley. All scenes took place in the office or the apartment. The taping took about 2 hours overall, and each scene was filmed multiple times, with altered jokes each time. The episode was titled Ice Cream Balls.
One standout memory from this show was Jack’s first scene, as he burst through Will’s office door and jumped on his desk. The entire audience went crazy with laughter, to the point where they had to start over. We had made the scene unusable. While I understand why, it would have been fantastic to have seen that reaction used on the show.
The Sitcom Audience Catering
While I don’t remember each scene individually, I do vividly remember the food. Cold sandwiches and tiny bottles of water that were handed out halfway through. This snack is a staple of the sitcom audience experience. I can’t imagine it would be that hard to serve warm pizza and cold water, but it never happens.
In addition, I remember the warm up guy passing out fun-sized chocolate bars. Unfortunately they were quite warm from the lights, so I ended up with chocolate all over my fingers. I sat with sticky fingers through the rest of the show. It may sound like I’m complaining, but it’s nice of them to provide something when they don’t have to. But these were memories that have stuck in my head this entire time.
Leaving the Studio and Visiting Hollywood
After the afternoon taping, we walked back through the lot to the parking lot, and still had the evening free. We headed to Hollywood Blvd and walked around, checking out the Walk of Fame and other sites. Then we had a delicious dinner at a restaurant called the Hamburger Hamlet, which is no longer open. As we were seated right by the window, we were able to watch the red carpet movie premiere of Along Came Polly, which was happening across the street. We got to see Debra Messing, Jennifer Aniston, Ben Stiller, and Danny Devito. We even saw the ferret that was featured in the movie.
Despite being dark already, I had never been to the Pacific Ocean, so we hopped in the car and drove to Santa Monica. We parked, dodged some shifty-looking characters, and quickly dipped our toes in the ocean. Then got back in the car and headed back to our hotel.
That was my first experience at a TV taping, and I was very fortunate to see such a groundbreaking show like Will & Grace.
Don’t Forget to Back-Up Your Photos!
This trip was my first time using my first digital camera. While I took some great pictures, I unfortunately didn’t do anything to back them up. Thanks to a virus on my computer, all my photos were wiped out. Other than these photos my cousin took on her disposable camera, I don’t have any pictures from that trip.
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