It was mid-January 2000 and I heard that Bette would be doing a TV series in the fall, but I did know much more, like what would it be called, but I did know that it would be on CBS.
In February I would be heading to the 42nd. Grammy Awards in LA and I called the Bette people to see if Bette would be at the Grammy’s and found out that she would not be there.
I had sent a few items out to them (a thank you card and some photos of Bette and me) and when I was speaking to them about the Grammy’s they said that they would send me something to have from Bette.
A few days later I received Bette’s framed invitation to Clive Davis & Arista Records pre-Grammy celebration that Bette would not be using this year (2000).
This is that invitation and a thank you note about the items I had sent them.
This year at the Grammy’s, Rosie O’Donnell would be host (6 degrees of??) and I thought it was funny being that I would be seeing her at Hulaween in October hosting the auction for the last time.
This is a photo of me at the Grammy’s 2000.
By June I found out what the name of Bette’s series would be and it would be called “BETTE”, duh!
Our record stores 20th. Anniversary was on September 21, 2000. So, Dave and I decided to go to a taping of Bette’s show around the time of our stores anniversary. We were not sure what day of the week they taped and what date of taping would we be able to get tickets.
I did not want to call the Bette people on this one, so I called and got tickets for the taping on September 22nd. and we did get two tickets for that date.
Our plan was to fly to LA the night of our stores anniversary, September 21st. and that way we would be in LA for Friday’s, September 22nd. taping.
I called back to the Bette people to let them know that we would be at the taping on the 22nd. and they asked if we would like two VIP passes and I said, no we will just use the tickets we have, we will be fine, I hope!
I also, e-mailed Bruce Vilanch that we would be in LA for three days and gave him the dates and asked if we could meet during our stay in LA.
At the time Bruce was the head writer for the game show “HOLLYWOOD SQUARES” and he e-mailed back and asked if we would like to come to a taping (five shows in one day) on Saturday, September 23rd. I wrote back and said, YES, we would love to come and spend a day with him and see the shows.
We both were so excited about our trip and that we would be doing so much in just a few days in LA.
This was turning out to be a great gift to ourselves for being in business 20 years.
I had never been to taping of sitcom and had heard how long it takes to tape (film) a half hour show.
I had been to tapings and live talk shows, David Frost, Dick Cavett, The View, and I was a regular dancer on “DETROIT BANDSTAND” live 5 days a week on WXYZ-TV for three months in 1963 and also drove pro-wrestlers to tapings of shows at CKLW-TV in Windsor, Ont. for two years, 1964-65, but never to a taping of a sitcom.
A few friends of ours told us that they had been to tapings of sitcoms and it would start around 6:00pm and sometimes not end until 12 midnight or 1:00am with a pizza break in the middle.
We found out that a half hour sitcom is 22 minutes long with 8 minutes of commericals. So, why does it take so long to tape 22 minutes of air time?
This is a photo of our tickets for the show.
I also knew from the other shows I had been to that just because you had a ticket does not mean you will get in.
We got to the studio in Culver at about 2:00pm and got in line. A line had formed already, say about 50-70 people and it was drizzling rain that day. We spoke to everyone that was around us and some of them go to tapings all the time and said, we just may not get in.
It was about 5:00pm and they started to let people in to the studio. They were counting heads and wouldn’t you know it, the cutoff was about 4 or 5 people in front of us.
I said, to Dave, we did not come all this way and not get into see the show. I told him that I was going to walk up to the front and see what I could to get us into the taping.
Dave stayed in line and I walked up to front and asked a studio person if they could let the Bette people know that we were out here and we just found out that we can’t get in, can they please help get us into the show?
I gave them my name and a few minutes later they came back out and said, we have just two seats left, so yes, you can come in and I said, I will be right back, I’ve got to get the other person.
I walked back to where Dave was standing and said, come on we are in. We both felt bad that the nice people around us would not get in, but we were also happy it turned out the way it did for us.
We got to our seats and the warm up guy (all shows have warm up people to get some excitement going before the show starts and during the commericial breaks) was getting the audience going and within a half hour a person came out to explain what would happen during the taping.
The reason it takes so long, is that they take three different camera angles of every scene and they also have to stop to move the cameras and maybe use a different set for some scenes.
The show finally starts and when Bette comes out for the first time, I thought wow!, I’ve never seen her look so good. She looked amazing!
The taping we were at was (I think) the third show to be taped and the special guest on the show was, Tim Curry.
Well, as soon as they started taping, I had this feeling that things were not good for this show.
I knew that they had replaced the girl who played Bette’s daughter (Rose) since they did the pilot show with actress, Marina Malota and a few episodes later they replaced Kevin Dunn, Bette’s husband with Robert Hays. One other interesting side story, is the actress that played Bette’s assistant, Joanna Gleason is game show host Monty Hall’s daughter.
After about an hour of taping I see Bruce Vilanch come in to the studio and I thought, he is here to save this show.
So, during the break (everyone got as much pizza as they could eat), I saw Bette re-writing some lines for the show and then her and Bruce got together to talk about the show.
It was a little after mid-night when they announced that they would be doing some parts without an audience and thanked everyone for coming.
On our way back to the hotel, Dave and I talked about the evening and both of us said, “we will have to see what happens with the show once it airs in October”.
When the show started to air, I was very excited and thought well maybe it was just the show that we saw that we felt was not that good.
I watched it every week and I really enjoyed it and felt it just might have a chance to make it.
Well, as almost everyone knows, it did not make it. Only 16 episodes were aired and they had taped 18 episodes when it was canceled.
The story is and was that Bette did not like doing a weekly show. I thought, well she was on Broadway for years and played parts for months, so what is wrong with doing a weekly show.
It takes a lot more than you think. All the people involved with the show start out early on Monday to go over the next show to be taped and work on changing things and they work on that for the next two days.
On Thursday they do a dress rehearsal and blocking ( where everyone knows where to stand during the taping of a scene) and Friday is the taping with a live audience. Then the next Monday, they start all over with the next show.
My feeling is that most people know Bette as THE DIVINE MISS M and could not relate to Bette Midler the real person and that is what she was on the show.
Bette also had a lot on her plate.
She had a new album come out during the time of the TV show.
She was also busy with NYRP and dealing with Hulaween at the end of October. Here’s a photo of Bette and NYRP!
After Dave and I went to the taping of her show, I sent out some of our T-shirts from our 20th. Anniversay of our store and some post cards that we had made for our store.
The Bette people sent back a thank you note and Bette sent back a post card and an autographed photo of her cover from her latest album.
These are those items.
The two episodes that did not air in the U.S. are to me the best of all 18 episodes and if you can find them, you’ve got to see them, they are great!
It was Saturday, September 23rd. and we were ready to spend a day of taping of HOLLYWOOD SQUARES and get to see and speak to Bruce.
He had told us to be there no later than 10:00am and come in the artist entrance and get a pass from the guard inside. Bruce had also told us that we may be there all day and may not get out until around 6:00pm.
Once we were in we could walk anywhere we wanted to and thought we were both special for a day.
We made our way to the studio for the show and when we walked in I said, this is where they tape THE PRICE IS RIGHT and I loved that show.
The first two shows were for Halloween and Bruce was dressed as the Cowardly Lion from the WIZARD OF OZ. They had a special guest Elvira (Cassandra Peterson) for the two Halloween shows.
After the taping of the first two shows that audience would leave. We were invited to go to the Green room (that’s where quests on a show go to relax and eat) and eat with everyone on the show.
The food was prepared by Wolfgang Puck and we got to speak to some of my favorites on HOLLYWOOD SQUARES — Whoopi, Tom Bergeron, Caroline Rhea, Gilbert Gottfried — and the food was so good.
After the break we went back down to the studio for the next three shows with a different audience.
Our seats were in the second row, and once they started the taping, I noticed that I could not hear as well what was being said on the stage as I could for the first two shows.
Well, during the first show of three, five older black ladies were sitting in front of us. During the show Whoopi said, “I would like my five sisters to stand up”. I guess they did not want to stand up, but all I heard was “stand up” and I stood up. I was the only person out of say 200 people that was standing. Tom Bergeron, said, “Whoopi asked for her five sisters to stand and a white guy in the second row stood up”
During a commerical break the warm up guy came out and said, “where is the white guy that stood up” and I said, it was me. He threw a HOLLYWOOD SQUARES hat at me and here it is. I still have it.
When the show aired they used all of that as a blooper at the end of that days show. I have it on tape and watch it sometimes and Dave and I still laugh at what happened.
We had a wonderful time at the taping of HOLLYWOOD SQUARES and will never forget it.
We left on Sunday to go back to Dallas and when we got home we were very tired, but said, what a weekend we had in LA.
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