I have taken two Warner Brothers backlot studio tours in the past few years and there was two facts about the Ellen Show in particular that I remember:
- It is incredibly difficult to get tickets and be an audience member. Tickets are free, but there are so many people going for them, so unless you book months in advance and can work flexibility into the mix (a.k.a., basically live close by and drop everything to go) then you may get to go.
- Ellen’s first vacation was to the WB studio tour and now she has her entire show in production there until she basically decides to stop it.
Being in college here and knowing months in advance that there was a slight chance that I would be here in May (which I happen to be!), I signed up for tickets months out. I was originally scheduled for early May and then got an email inviting me to a later date instead since the original day would no longer work for me. I agreed, of course, and then got an email a few weeks later with standby tickets.
Basically, this is how the tickets work:
- Standby: You are not guaranteed to be a studio audience member until you are in the studio on the set. If the guaranteed ticket holders don’t all show up, you get a spot. If you don’t get a spot, you get to go right behind where the audience part of the stage is in the special riffraff room during the show. You may be a seat filler for anyone who leaves for whatever reason. If you are in the riffraff room, however, you get a guaranteed ticket for a future show.
- guaranteed: This ticket guarantees your attendance as a studio audience member.
A week before, I got a morning call from the Ellen Show team confirming myself and my party. One of my friends could not attend, so I had to cancel out her name but they also allow for changing up your guests up to a week in advance. Information is sent via email for parking, local food options, what to wear, and all that good stuff.
The day of, my friend and I drove out to Burbank and entered Gate 3 for parking (which was free!). At the ground level of that parking complex there was several benches, a pop-up shop, tv sets, snack cart, restrooms, and check-in for the show. We had to show individual ID’s and then were given Ellen blue passes with numbers. We were then informed that we were welcome to stay or leave, but be back by 12:30. So, we took those cool passes and walked over to the local Lemonade for lunch. (Eat before the show!) We came back in time to see a limo enter the lot.
Myth buster right here: most celebrities don’t take limos everywhere and tinted window SUV’s are far more likely. We wondered who would be that extra, but the second we found out that one of the guests that day was Nicki Minaj…the limo made sense.
The next couple hours were a lot of waiting, which is the reality of a lot of TV and movies when you’re going to be in it (or at least, hoping to be!). They played past show clips on the tv’s and offered snacks and such. Audience scouts went around and talked to people, eventually calling them out back. I read a post before the event about this and knew that they were looking for guaranteed guests to potentially be selected for games if there were any during the show that particular day. My number being 314 kept me waiting for a long time, but eventually, we got into a line and crossed the street, going into a side entrance of the studio.
The line just joined another line for security in a long, narrow hallway. Eventually, we got to the riffraff room and they called people into the studio by numbers. Technically, my friend and I were the start of the seatfillers, but we got to sit together and stay in the same seats the whole time. The show began shortly and the fun instantly began! (It was fun to begin with, but there was a lot of waiting in Burbank summer heat.)
We danced. Cameras rolled even when the actual episode wasn’t taped. In fact, nothing was taped in order and with several cameras and the magic of live and post editing, not everything that got on camera got into the actual episode(s) filmed. Parts were filmed out-of-order too. Commercial breaks were spent dancing and having random dance battles.
The show is not filmed live, but they edit the interviews and game portion as if it were. Additional clips are added in afterwards and the order is put together at a different time. I was there on a Monday, which meant that Tuesday and some of Wednesday’s episodes were filmed that day. They don’t film on Friday’s either. Yes, there was a part after filming Monday’s episode where Ellen and Twitch changed and Ellen came out to yet another intro where we all acted like it was a new day. She mentioned something along the lines of being “so glad that it’s a Wednesday, not a Monday”. I haven’t been able to see the episodes myself yet, but if that is left in, most of the viewers will think it is a dig at annoying Mondays but really, all of us laughing audience members were noting the irony because *Hollywood magic* it was still Monday.
The show carried on and it was interesting to watch it all unfold. Despite the fact that we filmed more than just one episode, everything happened so quickly. There were timers for the amount of on-air time and commercial break timing. Every once in a while, we were informed that they were going to film a pick up, which is basically an additional clip to be edited in like it happened in the first place. The guests that day were Nicki Minaj, Robin Wright, and Andy Cohen. Of course, I saw Ellen and Twitch too! Between takes for the interviews for Nicki, what appeared to be her makeup crew kept touching up her makeup. It was strange though listening to Starships and jamming out with the audience but also her right there also jamming mid-makeup touch-up. I also happened to be sitting right behind one of Ellen’s invited guests, so she came over and have him a hug and awkwardly smiled at me since I was, you know, like right there and apparently staring more obviously than I had thought.
Before I knew it, the show was over. There was no time to actually get photos or meet anyone personally, but that was to be expected. We were informed not to take photos while on the set (whoopsies!) and then were directed back to the riffraff room to collect our prizes ($150 visa gift card and drawstring bag). Those selected to be on the episode for the games or dance and singing specials were sent to another room to sign wavers and collect their TV’s and whatnot.
We left the studio the same way we got in at our own pace (some stayed in the riffraff room to shop or use the restroom) and headed back to the parking lot. It was the end to an amazing experience. Plus, if you watch carefully, you can see me in two episodes filmed on the second to last day of taping for Season 14! *14 is my favorite number!