Well, home readers, I had something like that in the palm of my hand, but was forced by an experienced television production company to bring this to you instead in a different form. I will tell you about what I did, but I can't tell you any of the usual who, what and where. You will have to fill in the blanks.
I traveled to the midwestern city of _______ last month to be in the audience of a popular national talk show, _______. Even if you work in TV, you're not supposed to be impressed by the work of others (or if so, the code is you keep it to yourself), but I managed to acquire some hard-to-get tickets, and went with a friend to applaud on cue.
We arrived at the studios where the show was being taped, and found that we had to sign a release form to be part of the audience. Now, I'm used to these: I hand them out myself when I'm producing a show as a kind of permission slip to be sure I have interview subjects and locations agreeing to be part of my shoot.
But on this one, a choice was to be made: If you signed, you could not "relate your audience experience" in print, on radio or TV, or on the Internet, if you wanted to sit out there. I made a deal with the devil and the good attorneys. I signed.
So, I saw a very famous talk show host do his/her thing, checked out his/her rockin' designer shoes from my seat about 12 feet away, and applauded wildly on cue. TV nerd that I am, I also scoped the size of the studio, counted cameras (nine altogether, with two jibs and one handheld, fellow nerds), and more off-air personnel than you can shake two sticks at.
It was the tightest, best-run "live" TV show I'd ever seen, it went by quickly, and it was fun.
But that's all I can say. After the fact, I even called the show's PR department to plead my case. Just one little column about what it was like to attend the ______ show?
Let's just say I was told "no," and was probably put on their list of "columnists to Google" immediately.
E-mail at Shannon.Reichley@cln.com