I visited Los Angeles for the first time last year, and I had an amazing time. I’d been wanting to visit for years to get a feel for it as I plan to move out there to pursue a career in television comedy writing. I recently visited LA for a second time, and it only solidified my goal.
Tthis year, we stayed in Santa Monica at the Huntley Hotel. The view was gorgeous from their rooftop dining floor called The PentHouse, where we had breakfast each morning. My sister came with us on the trip as she and I are interested in moving to California and renting an apartment together. She had to leave after only a night though due to school and work obligations, so it was just my mom and I for the rest of the trip.
Our first day there, we checked out the Third Street Promenade, which has a lot of luxury shops and boutiques. It was particularly fun to visit California in late November as there were lights and Christmas decorations everywhere, so we got to enjoy the start of the holiday season without being in the bitter cold. The following day, we walked along the path on the beach with pedestrians and bikers leading up to the Santa Monica Pier. We also headed to Main Street for some shoppin.
Monday was one of the highlights of our trip and the whole reason we flew out to California this time around. My mom had gotten priority tickets for The Price Is Right! It was an extremely fun experience, one I highly recommend, especially if you’re a fan of the show. Our tickets were for 9:00 AM, and since those priority tickets meant we had guaranteed entrance, we arrived around 8:45 AM. We were given numbers 92 and 93, putting us around the middle of the over 200 audience members.
The one thing I will caution you about if you are planning on attending a taping is to be prepared to do a lot of waiting. By the time the taping was over, it was 2:00 PM. That said, to me, the whole experience went by fairly quickly, even more so when we were actually inside the studio. They started by handing out release forms for each audience member to sign. While that was happening, a woman was there to look at our IDs and handwrite every person’s name on those yellow nametags you see all the audience members wearing.
There was also a woman who took our pictures in front of a green screen. She told us to pretend like we’d just won a car or $20,000, and they added the famous Price Is Right wheel to the background of the picture, thus making it a fun souvenir available for purchase (which we did buy, haha).
Once that was all done, we were guided to another section where we waited for the crucial deciding factor moment of whether or not you’ll get picked to “come on down:” the group interview. Staying in numerical order based on the numbers we given when we first arrived, we were the third group of 30-50 people called to go up. A producer for the show went down the line and asked each individual what he or she does for a living. Occassionally, he’d ask a follow-up question like what your favorite Price Is Right game is. A woman was nearby diligently taking notes the whole time.
The key is to be engaging and enthusiastic, which is honestly easy to do since it’s exciting to be there anyway, let alone with the possibility that you could win a brand new car! They’re looking for people who are unique and interesting with lots of energy, and it helps to make a homemade shirt to try to stand out that much more.
Neither my mom nor I were picked to be a contestant, but truthfully, that didn’t diminish the experience of being in that audience by any means. Also, since we weren’t selected, we could go back again at anytime to try to be a contestant, and we’re definitely planning on that. If you are selected, you have to wait a year before you can be qualified to be a contestant again.
After the interviews, we were led to another area, where people could buy snacks and drinks while we waited to go inside the studio. At this point, we all had to check our cell phones in with security, as no phones (or smart watches) are allowed inside the studio. While everyone snacked and waited, they played us an episode of the show. It was fun to hear others guess the prices and cheer when people won.
After that, they showed us a funny highlight reel, which included clips of contestants being overly excited to meet the host, Drew Carey, break dancing or tripping as they came on down and screaming in utter joy as they won huge prizes. The energy was absolutely electric when it was finally time to go inside. We all high fived one another as, one by one, people passed by to head into the studio. Up a brief flight of stairs we went, and at long last, we walked into the studio, which, as with any TV studio, is much smaller than it looks on TV.
When we walked inside, “Timber” by Pitbull and Ke$ha was pumping through the speakers, and people seated before us were already clapping and dancing to the music. We were directed where to sit, and as the seats filled up, we all danced and sang along to the various pop songs they played, another of which was “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars. That song seared into my brain for the rest of the day, but I love it and hadn’t heard it in quite a while so I didn’t mind having it stuck in my head.
Once everyone was inside, the announcer, George Gray, was welcomed onstage. He introduced all the crew members onstage with him, which I thought was a nice touch. He explained how he was sorry if he mispronounced anyone’s name as he isn’t given any instructions on how to pronounce them. There was also a woman onstage who revealed each person’s name on a cue card in case the contestant couldn’t hear George telling them to come on down.
The show itself was fun and exciting from start to finish. The rounds go by quickly, and in between each round, Drew Carey would chat with audience members as they set up the next game. There were a few points where we had to be quiet as George had to do pickups by re-doing a voiceover for a prize or an item. They’d also sometimes film reaction shots from the models after the round was already over. Incidentally, the models for our episode were Rachel Reynolds, who wore a gorgeous dress as always, and James O’Halloran, who’s as easy on the eyes in person as he is on TV.
At the end of the show, one lucky contestant got their number picked and was awarded $100. As for the people who were called to come on down but didn’t get a chance to go onstage, they each received $300, so not too shabby. When we left, people for the next taping were waiting outside, and we wished them good luck after waiting in line to get our cell phones back. We spent the rest of the afternoon shopping at The Grove, which we’d visited last year as well, but it was better this time around as there were lights and decorations everywhere for the holidays.
Our last day of the trip, we went on a tour of Paramount Pictures Studio. Our tour guide, Nicole, was extremely knowledgable of the studio’s rich and interesting history. There were seven people in our tour group, which made the experience more engaging as it was easier to ask questions and chat with everyone in the group. We got to walk around the sets of Dr. Phil and the Netflix series, Grace and Frankie, and we saw some props used in various movies. We saw various spots where scenes were filmed for classics such as Titanic, Top Gun and the iconic movie, The Godfather. I also got to take a picture sitting on one of the four original benches used while shooting another classic, Forrest Gump. After the tour, we headed to Larchmont Village, a nice little shopping area where we found some great stuff.
The trip was an absolute joy and, as mentioned, it fueled my desire to move out to California to pursue my TV writing career. I’m hoping to make that dream a reality in the year ahead.
“The greatest art in the world is the art of storytelling.” — Cecil B. DeMille, co-founder of Paramount Pictures