So last night I went to a taping of the Disney Channel Original Series, "The Wizards of Waverly Place".
What's that? You haven't heard of The Wizards of Wavery Place? Not suprising. You see, the show doesn't premiere until October.
The taping I went to was of the third episode. The show centers around three siblings. Their family owns a deli, and they attend high school like normal kids. However, they secretly have magic powers (which they use by saying spells) and are being trained by their dad in how to use them. Only one of the kids will get to keep their powers after they turn 18.
We (myself, and my Aunt, Uncle and their two daughters who were in from out of town) arrived at the studio at around 3:30pm, having been told to arrive around 3:45pm. We were the only ones there. The taping, you see, didn't actually start until 5:00pm.
Well okay then.
So we waited, chatted with the people who arrived, etcetera etcetera. The set was actually a string of sets, all in a row right next to each other. From left to right, there was the deli (outside of which was a street set), the basement/secret magic room, their apartment, and the high school. The sets were very detailed and looked cool. They of course looked even more amazing (and real) through the eye of the camera.
The taping did eventually start. It was a start stop process; they would shoot a scene, often several times, and would often change certain lines based on our reactions. Our reactions, of course, were miked for the laugh track. There were breaks in between scenes while they restet and the director gave notes to the actors, and they would often do the same scene many times over. A host in the audience entertained us while they did their work.
Some of the scenes had already been shot the day before, so they played them back to us on the monitors so that we could do the laugh track. With the exeption of those scenes they actually shot the whole episode chronologically, which was easier for us to follow and I'm sure easier for the actors as well. The host reminded us of key plot points that we may have forgotten in the stretches between scenes. A 30-minute episode is only 22 and a half minutes, and with commercials it takes about 30 minutes to watch. For us, however, the episode took several hours, with shooting finally wrapping around 8:30.
The show, it must be said, is funny. The style and humor is similar to Hannah Montana: kind of cheesy but fun and not too complicated or heavy handed. I can't (and wont) predict how successful the show will be, but if its marketed correctly (hopefully they'll change the name to something shorter) I see no reason why it shouldn't work well for Disney.
Since my mom through a connection knew one of the producers, we were given scripts of the episode and allowed onto the set to meet the actors. Now I'm kind of shy and I especially don't like bothering actors or celebrities, but I couldn't resist getting the cast (as well as the director and one of the writers) to sign it:
All in all, it was fun. I'd definately do it again, and I'd really love to go see Hannah Montana be taped some time. That would be tricky, however, since its such a popular show. Speaking of Hannah Montana, I actually met a woman at the taping who has worked with Miley Cyrus, as a talent escort. They do exactly what it sounds like: escort the person in question around at say an award show or a concert.
So that's all. And if I may beat even Disney in marketing their own show, be sure to check out The Wizards of Waverly Place, when it premiere's this October (or thereabouts) on the Disney Channel.