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Guide to Getting TV Show Tickets in LA
There's nothing more "Hollywood" you can do in Hollywood than attending a free TV show taping. It's a great opportunity to see your favorite television stars live and in person. It's one of the best free things to do in LA. There are definitely seasonal highs and lows with most shows taking the summer off and beginning taping in the fall, but you can usually get TV show tickets to something taping somewhere in LA, even in the off season.
Most production studios are much smaller than they appear on the tube. The audience is no more than 20 or 30 feet away from the actors or talk show host, so it's a very intimate experience.
Some TV shows tape in Burbank, Studio City or Culver City, but there are still plenty that tape right in Hollywood.
You should plan to spend 3 to 6 hours to attend a taping. Tickets are available through ticket brokers, also known as audience services. See Getting Tickets on the next page for more information.Continue to 2 of 10 below.
02 of 10
Getting TV Tickets
TV show tickets are free. Having TV tickets in your hand does not guarantee a seat at the show (with some exceptions from iota.com). Since a lot of people make reservations and then flake out, they usually over-book. Sometimes the cast and crew happen to have a large number of guests for a particular show, and fewer seats are available for the public. Get to the taping early for the best chance of getting in.
A few shows ask you to write in or call for tickets, but most are represented by an audience company that makes tickets available online in advance. You can order your tickets and print them out at home. If you're already in LA staying at a hotel, you can also ask the concierge or front desk if they can reserve and print the tickets for you, or use the hotel's business center, if available.
For shows that haven't filled up online, you can often find "audience hunters" in front of the Chinese Theatre distributing same-day tickets.
The following websites have TV Tickets you can... reserve online. There is overlap, with multiple sites offering tickets for some of the same shows. Tickets are usually released 30 days in advance, and popular sitcoms and talk shows may sell out on the day they're released.
Audiences Unlimited (www.tvtickets.com) represents a variety of sitcoms like The Big Bang Theory, Mike and Molly and 2 Broke Girls as well as the Dr. Phil Show, America's Funniest Home Videos and more.
On Camera Audiences at www.mytvtickets.com specializes in providing audiences for talent shows like Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance, game shows like The Price is Right and Let's Make a Deal, talk shows and more.
www.tvtix.com has Wheel of Fortune and Let's Make a Deal tickets, as well as other sitcoms an talk shows.
Jimmy Kimmel Live! (866) JIMMY TIX, (Call weekdays 1-4pm PST) or www.1iota.com. 1iota.com also has tickets to Conan, The Voice and a variety of other daytime and nighttime talk shows and special events.
Other LA TV show tapings outside of Hollywood that may or may not be listed on the web sites above:
NBC Studios in Burbank:
Ellen Tickets: www.ellentv.com or call (818) 954-5929 before noon on the day of the show to see if there are stand-by tickets.
Continue to Audience Etiquette to learn how you're expected to behave at a TV show taping.Continue to 3 of 10 below.
03 of 10
Your ticket will have instructions specific for that production. Some rules are more stringently imposed than others. Here are some general guidelines.
Before You Go
Have a good meal before you go! You may be in the studio for 6 hours or more. If so, you might luck out and get a slice of cold pizza, half a sandwich, or a handful of candy from the production team to tide you over, but maybe not.
What to Wear
Your TV tickets will tell you what to wear. Business casual is the norm. They're more serious about dress code for reality shows and talk shows because the audience is often on camera, so dress appropriately, or you'll be relegated to a spot behind a pole somewhere, or put into an overflow room off camera. Well-dressed people have a better chance of getting the good seats and being on camera.
For sitcoms, the audience is never seen, so if shorts and T-shirts are all you have with you, choose a sitcom. Bring a sweater or jacket, even if it's hot out. The studios are frigid, and... you'll be there quite a while.
What NOT to Bring
Leave cameras, recorders and cell phones with cameras in the car or hotel room, otherwise you'll have to check them with security at the studio.
Unfortunately, you're not allowed to bring food into the studio (or I'd suggest packing a lunch), but you can usually eat in line as long as you throw away your food trash before entering the studio. I've never had a problem with the bottle of water and protein bar in my purse.
How to Behave
If you appear intoxicated, they won't let you in. There are also limited restroom opportunities. Best to go before you are seated.
Attending a sitcom taping is like live theatre, not like watching TV. You can't yell at the characters, and you can't keep a running commentary going with your neighbor. When the camera is rolling, you stay quiet or get kicked out.
Reality shows have different levels of audience participation, with audience exclamations sometimes encouraged. Pay attention to the instructions given by your warm-up person, and behave accordingly. the best laughers may be rewarded.Continue to 4 of 10 below.
04 of 10
See Getting Tickets
Attending a Sitcom Taping is a lot of fun, even if you don't know the show. It's like watching live theatre, but you get to see the actors flub their lines and try again, or experiment with different variations on a theme. If no one laughs at a joke, they'll try another one.
Most sitcoms are taped weekdays with call times between 3 and 7 pm. There used to be a taping season, but now you can almost always find something taping.
Sometimes you may stand in line for an hour or so, or you may be directed right to the studio. First you pass through security and are checked for recording devices (including cell phones, leave them in the car). In the studio, seats are filled in order. There are usually only about 10 rows of seats, so no one is far from the action. There may be multiple sections of seats in front of different sets. In this case, when the action is going on a couple sets over, you'll also see it on a TV screen.
Once you're seated, the warm-up person, usually... a comedian, comes out to get the audience in a laughing mood (which you might not be, if you've been standing in the sun for hours). They also keep you entertained during pauses when the cast is changing costumes or the crew is changing camera angles from one part of the set to another.
The entertainment is often interactive, so if you do impressions, be prepared to volunteer. If you're lucky, cast members might come up to the audience to say hi between scenes.
Parts of the story that take place in other locations may have been pre-recorded, so they'll show you the missing pieces on a TV screen.
Although they aim to get the show taped within a certain amount of time - say two hours - unforeseen glitches can occasionally drag the production out for much longer. Friends was notorious for having 8-hour tapings. You are expected to stay for the duration, and often must commit to staying until a specific time to get in.
Sitcom audiences do not usually appear on screen, so the dress code is more lax. Shorts and t-shirts are usually ok, but it can be freezing in the studios, so I would personally wear long pants and bring a jacket or sweater. On a recent summer studio tour, I saw a thermometer on a popular talk show sound stage that showed it was 52 degrees Fahrenheit. Brrrrr.
The age limit for most adult sitcoms is 18, but occasionally you'll find one with a younger age limit.
See Audience Etiquette for more tips.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
Talk Show Tapings
See Getting Tickets
For some Talk Shows, you can find out the scheduled celebrity guests ahead of time; for others you just have to take your chances. If your dates are flexible, you can check the show's website before checking ticket brokers, to see if they list who will be appearing.
Some talk shows tape more than one episode in a day. Nighttime talk shows aimed at college students frequently do not tape on Fridays, because they assume their target audience is going out partying anyway.
After waiting in line for an hour or more, you are shown into the studio. Talk shows usually have nicer seating areas than sitcoms because the audience is seen on camera. The areas most visible to the camera are seated first.
If you want to be on camera, dress nicely and show up early. Audience coordinators determine who sits where. Because the audience is seen on camera, dress codes for talk shows are more strictly enforced, but many audiences are made up of tourists on vacation, so as long as you... don't look too scruffy or wear your clothes too baggy, or too skimpy, they will try to find someplace to seat you. It's usually very cold in the studios.
A warm-up person will come out to get the audience excited about the show. There is usually less down time in a talk show taping compared to sitcoms, because there aren't as many camera moves and do-overs.
Nighttime talk shows all contain comedy "bits" which are often pre-recorded, especially if they involve doing things outside the studio, so you may see these "bits" on TV monitors above the audience, rather than seeing them being taped live.
A nice perk of being in the audience of a talk show that includes musical performances, is that you often get to experience more of the performance than is broadcast. Usually, musical performances are in the studio. Jimmy Kimmel Live! is the exception, with a separate outdoor concert stage behind the studio which requires a separate ticket.
See Audience Etiquette for more tips.Continue to 6 of 10 below.
06 of 10
Game Show Tapings
See Getting Tickets
Game Shows usually tape multiple episodes in one day. They may tape in the morning or afternoon or both. Like sitcoms and talk shows, there is usually some waiting in line involved. CBS Television City, where The Price is Right is produced, has the advantage of having a shaded seating area for the waiting line.
Some game shows show the audience on camera, others don't, so keep that in mind when choosing your attire. Business casual is always appropriate.
See Audience Etiquette for more tips.Continue to 7 of 10 below.
07 of 10
Reality Show Tapings
See Getting Tickets
Reality Shows come in many formats and the audience experience varies accordingly. Some shows are harder to get into than others. There are usually waiting lists for shows like The Voice and Dancing with the Stars. However, there are so many reality shows these days that there is always something taping. Some projects, like many talent contests, tape in large venues, seating up to 1000 people, so there are a lot more tickets available.
If a show you are interested in is not currently available, On Camera Audiences (www.on-camera-audiences.com), the agency with the most reality show tickets, lets you sign up for email updates to let you know when tickets become available.
Many reality shows have a lower minimum age requirement than sitcoms or talk shows. Some allow audience members as young as 14, but the tickets are hard to come by and may be standing room only.
For shows that air live, it is absolutely critical that you be in line at the call time if you want to get... in. You will go through security before getting into the studio. An audience coordinator will determine who sits where.
Audiences play a much greater role in reality shows than other kinds of programming and have a much greater chance of being on screen. Follow the dress code specified on your ticket if you want to be on camera. Some shows specify semi-formal attire when it doesn't make any sense (like for sitcoms), but for shows like Dancing with the Stars, it is required. Some MTV shows geared toward a younger audience might require trendy club attire. If you've seen the show, you'll have an idea what is appropriate. In any case, read the instructions on your ticket.
A warm-up person will explain how the show will proceed and help get you excited.
See Audience Etiquette for more tips.Continue to 8 of 10 below.
08 of 10
Children's TV Show Tapings
The age limit for most general interest shows is 18. Shows targeted for children may have age limits from 10 to 16. It is rare to find shows that allow audiences under 10 (even 10 is rare), but it occasionally happens. There are far fewer opportunities to be in a children's show audience, because there are fewer live shows for children.
Most kid's shows that require an audience are either Nickelodeon shows, Disney sitcoms or game shows. You used to have to go directly through Nickelodeon for their tickets, but they are now listed on Audiences Unlimited at www.tvtickets.com. They also have tickets for several children's sitcoms. Additional youth-oriented reality shows are listed on www.on-camera-audiences.com.
Attending a TV show taping requires a certain amount of patience and self-restraint, which is why the minimum audience age may be higher than the target viewer age for a particular show.
See Audience Etiquette for more tips.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10
TV Show Attendance for Groups
If you are traveling to LA with a group of 10 or more, you may be able to arrange tickets for a TV show taping through the group services rep at any of the ticket brokers listed in Getting Tickets. You may even defray some of your group's travel expenses by attending as a fundraiser.
For certain productions with many seats to fill, audience services will pay your organization a per-person fee for bringing them anywhere from 10 to 100 people.
You won't have as many productions to choose from if you're attending with a group, because some of the studios seat less than 100 people. But if you're not too particular what you see, you might be in luck.
Tickets are usually only released 4 to 6 weeks before taping, so you can't make definitive plans months ahead of time. But if you work with the group coordinators at the audience services and let them know when you'll be coming, the age of your group and what kind of show you're looking for, they can let you know as soon as something... becomes available so you're at the top of the list.
It is important that groups show up on time. There are always more tickets distributed than there are seats, so if a few individuals flake out it's not a problem. If a whole busload doesn't show, it's another matter. So if you can't get to the studio on time, make sure you have the audience coordinator's phone number handy to let them know your status so they can replace you.
TIP: If you call more than one audience service, be sure to keep track of who you talk to at each one to make sure you don't accept 30 seats to a show from Audiences Unlimited and another 30 seats to the same show from On Camera Audiences, thinking it's the same company. There is a lot of overlap between which tickets the brokers carry.Continue to 10 of 10 below.
10 of 10
Be in a Movie
The same companies who look for audience members for TV shows are often called upon to fill crown scenes for movies. It's a lot harder to schedule in advance, but if you're interested being a fan in a stadium, or in a crowded street scene in the next blockbuster film, you can register at www.beinamovie.com and find out when crowd scene fillers are needed.
These opportunities take place all over the country, not just in LA, so even if you are not planning a trip to Los Angeles, you can sign up for any movies that are shooting in your neck of the woods.
Buses may be provided for large groups. This can also be a fundraising opportunity for your organization.