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Programs Filming in Los Angeles

A Night on the Set of Dancing with the Stars

By Marianne Schwab | Best Travel Deals Tips Blog

October 26, 2010: Last night, I was the lucky recipient to free TV show tickets to one of the hottest shows on prime time television. I got a third row seat to a taping of one of ABC-TV's most popular programs, Dancing with the Stars (DWTS). It's one of those situations when I just happened to have a good connection from the most unlikely of connections, my massage therapist knows the Audience Supervisor for the show. It was more than just a free ticket to a TV show taping, we were actually on the V.I.P list and that meant we had main floor seats and free parking (don't under estimate the value of free parking in L.A.).

When we got to the set, our names were already placed on the back of our pre-assigned seats that happened to be on the third row and right next to Brandy's family! My cousins and friends reported that they did not see me in any of the audience shots but that's okay, we were just a few feet away watching all the fancy footwork of Brandy, Jennifer Grey, Rick Fox, Kyle Massey and all the stars of DWTS Season 11 as they performed their dance numbers LIVE. Wish I could show you some photos, but you had to check cell phones and digital cameras at the door (though I'm still trying to figure out why Jamie Lee Curtis - who was sitting on the front row across the dance floor from us - was texting during commercial breaks. Guess celebs don't have to check their phones).

What to Wear? What to Wear? As a TV producer, I was incredibly impressed by the precision of production on the set of DTWS and it is an impressive well oiled machine - from the lights, cameras, and action all the way down to the attention to detail to the wardrobe of each audience member. The audience must adhere to a dress code to be admitted to the show. Originally, we were required to dress up. Here are the instructions we received:

"This is a glamorous show, and a beautiful looking audience is a crucial part of the overall atmosphere, with that being said we ask the ladies come dressed in fancy cocktail attire, or a nice pants suit and gentlemen wear a jacket and tie or if you can’t bear the thought of both please wear one or the other."

However, when October 25th was then deemed Rock Week, we got a completely different wardrobe direction: "It is time for ROCK WEEK! So, leave your suits and cocktail dresses at home this time! We encourage you to dress as if you were going to a Rock concert or out to a club and YES jeans are allowed in the ballroom this week! Basically anything goes!" Wardrobe decisions, decisions...I decided to wear my leopard-animal print blouse and black jeans topped by a black leather jacket. Not only am I normally the gal that looks least likely to interview Dave Novarro (but I have), I'm not exactly a rocker gal, so I did my best with my limited rocker attire.

Where to Get Free TV Show Tickets. Although you may need connections to get tickets to tapings of some of the hot ticket shows in Hollywood, this is an industry town and there are shows taping weekly (some daily). So if you're planning a vacation to Los Angeles, do a little advance planning and you can get a free ticket to watch how Hollywood magic happens at a TV studio and maybe see some prime-time stars as well.

You can get your free TV show tickets at Audiences Unlimited, Inc. as they want you to join the fun as part of a TV studio audience. This is your opportunity to spend some time in the studio with the stars and see what really goes on behind-the-scenes during the filming of a television show.

Complimentary studio audience tickets are offered on their website (for most shows) starting 30 days prior to the show date. You can get tickets to Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory, Hot in Cleveland, and even Rules of Engagement just to name a few. They have a schedule that lists shows that they are ticketing in the next 30 days plus a list of shows currently scheduled through January 2011 are posted here.

At various times throughout the year, they also offer free tickets for limited series shows, pilots (new shows), award shows or other special events on their Pilots & Specials list that has all the details when these specials or pilots are in production.

If you have a group of 10 or more, you can contact them for information about advance ticketing or fund raising that may be available for selected shows. Or you may submit your request here.

Now, Audiences Unlimited are not the only game in town for free tickets to TV shows, but they're a great source. You can also go to the websites of shows that tape daily like Ellen, Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson, or even stand in line to get tickets for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in beautiful downtown Burbank outside of the NBC studios.

Extra! has been shooting their wrap-arounds with Mario Lopez at The Grove just off Fairfax and directly behind CBS Television City so plan a trip there during the week and you're likely to run into Mario himself.

My First TV Show Taping. During the late-eighties, Family Ties was the first show I went to see with a behind-the-scenes look at filming a prime-time show. I actually got in to see the dress rehearsal that they taped before the studio audience arrived. It was one of the biggest shows on TV at the time and Michael J. Fox was a superstar so it was a really big deal. A friend from my Indiana high school was actually Meredith Baxter's nanny for her twins, Molly and Peter, at the time and she was my back stage connection. I later worked on the Paramount Pictures lot for a season when I had a brief period working on a prime-time sitcom myself, The Royal Family starring Redd Foxx and Della Reese.

So when you plan your Los Angeles vacation and you really want to see how TV shows are filmed, get your free TV show tickets in advance from the sources I mentioned and have a great time on the set.

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About Marianne Schwab
TV Travel Show Producer

For over twenty years, TV Travel Show Producer, Marianne Schwab, has been collecting money saving travel tips as a travel producer for high profile television programs. She has flown all over the world and produced live television productions on location from Caesar's Palace on the Vegas Strip to the beautiful island of Oahu. Read more