Ask any Australian to list a few things to do in Los Angeles and they’ll likely rattle off a variation of “hiking to the Hollywood sign, spending the day at Disneyland and biking around Venice Beach”. One experience you’re almost guaranteed not to hear is “attending a TV show taping”.
Despite being quintessentially LA, catching a TV show filming is surprisingly yet to catch on among overseas tourists visiting Los Angeles. Whether that’s because they haven’t heard of it, or thought it would be too expensive (spoiler alert: it’s free), Aussies are continually missing out on a truly unique city experience. To rectify that, here’s everything there is to know about catching a TV show filming in L.A.
Where to get tickets
Most American daytime and late-night talk shows, sitcoms, and game shows are filmed in the Los Angeles area so there’s plenty of tapings happening all year round. Tickets to most shows can be found online at Audience Unlimited, 1iota, TVTix.com, Ticket Me Quick, and On Camera Audiences. If you don’t see the specific show you’re after, try Googling its name along with “taping tickets”, as some shows, like The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Dr. Phil, give them away directly through their own sites.
How to book tickets
If you already know your LA dates, check the sites’ taping calendars and see what’s available during your stay. Pilots (one-off sitcom episodes used to pitch new shows to networks) or shows that air multiple times a week are the easiest to score tickets for. Well-known sitcoms, like The Big Bang Theory and Will & Grace, require much more effort as the tickets are usually snapped up within minutes of being released online. This can happen months in advance, 30 days prior or even the day of. Once a taping is sold out, however, you still have a chance at attending. A limited number of standby tickets (ones that let you show up and potentially fill a spare seat) are then up for grabs on the site.
Where the shows are filmed
Almost all of LA’s studios can be found in or around Hollywood, Burbank, and the appropriately named Studio City, but there are also a few scattered in other areas. The ticketing site or your ticket itself will have the studio’s address, directions on how to get there and details on where to park. If you aren’t renting a car during your LA stay and plan on attending a sitcom taping, know that the filming can last anywhere from three to six hours. To prevent a situation where you’re stranded on the opposite side of town from where you’re staying, check what time public transport near the studio closes or how much an Uber home will cost you.
How to prepare
Before you arrive, spend some time reading through the fine print on your ticket so you’re fully prepared. You’ll find specific instructions on what to wear, when to arrive and what not to bring because it won’t be allowed inside. As a general rule, most studios have a no mobile phone policy, so you’ll need to work out where to store yours ahead of time. Food-wise, it’s best to assume you won’t be provided with any meals or snacks during the taping so plan to eat beforehand.
What to expect
Seeing a TV show taping will easily be a highlight – if not the highlight – of your LA trip hands down. Not only will you get a behind-the-scenes look at TV, but you’ll also get a really fun day or night out of it without spending a cent. In saying that, keep in mind that the cast and crew are there to do their jobs, and you’re a guest at their workplace. If you’re late, haven’t followed the dress code, or are caught taking photos inside, you may be asked to leave. If a scene needs to be rewritten and then reshot, you’ll simply have to wait patiently for it to be done. They’re all small prices to pay for the privilege of joining the wonderful, weird world of Hollywood.
Feature image: Getty Images