Who: Lori, Lauren, Theresa

What: Struggling for the public

Where:
 Los Angeles, CA

When:
April 27-30, 2018

Why:
 Daytime Emmy life... 
Sites Visited:
Growing Pains
Ellen
New Girl
American Horror Story
Happy Days
Late Late Show with James Corden
Nightmare on Elm Street
This is Us
Halloween
Universal Studios

There will never be another Los Angeles 2017. You know the time I got private tours of TMZ and the Bachelor Mansion, and taped a People's Court TV appearance, and ran into Amy Adams and got filmed by paparazzi and saw dozens of movie locations and met Alex Trebek and Pat Sajak and never slept for one second and yet never felt more energized? Yeah, it’s never going to happen again.

I am over 30 years old, have accomplished more goals than I ever thought possible, have traveled all over the country with beloved family and friends... and the best weekend of my entire life was had on a business trip with a dozen coworkers and 4 tour guide strangers.

So this year when The People’s Court was nominated for another Emmy and we found out we’d be in the big ceremony with big celebs and big awards instead of the Creative Arts technical awards ceremony, I was pumped! I was excited! 

But I wasn’t stupid. This would be no 2017.

In years past, I’ve had a tendency to spend my time in Los Angeles like I was living my last days on earth. If there was something to be seen, I saw it. I wasted no opportunities, I left no stone unturned. Carpe diem, I seized every damn day. 

This year, I had nothing.

Every TV show or movie location that I had known and loved, I had already driven to it, stood in front of it, documented it, and sometimes even seen it a second time. Want to see a person living their best life? It's me in LA 2015-2017 holding a minute-by-minute itinerary driving down the 101 on my way to the house from 90210. For me, the best wasn't yet to come. It was over. I was done.

And yet, despite my resignation I couldn’t just up and abandon my TV Traveling. I had responsibilities now. Expectations. I had you... 

So, I carried on...

The weekend began on a Thursday night, when after a full 8 hours of TV production, the most adventurous of our 6-person producer group, Lauren and Theresa hopped on a 9pm flight with me to inch our way 3,000 miles to the other end of the country. 

Every year that I've taken this flight, I've taken it with the sincerest of hopes that I'll be able to sleep on a quarter-inch recline and land at LAX feeling refreshed and ready to greet the city. Every year, I then spend it cradling my carry-on luggage and trying to lull myself into unconsciousness. This year, no different.

But hey, LA! 

On-time landing, quick-hotel check-in, there was absolutely nothing on earth to get in the way of me falling asleep by at least... 5am

The next morning, while Theresa found better things to do, Lauren and I were up and at 'em at 7, ready to take on Burbank, CA  and do a 2 and a half hour tour of Warner Bros. studios. Last year our TV-loving hearts were blown away by our walk-around of Paramount Studios and it was then and there that we decided that for us, whenever together, it would be all studios, all the time.

Now, I should say that, pre-Lauren's Emmy eligibility, I had been to the Warner Bros. lot two years before this. Got the whole VIP experience, rode around in a golf cart, skipped around in a fictional neighborhood without the fear of being tasered. It was amazing.

But damn it if the regular commoner, man-of-the-people tour wasn't just as incredibly good.

The fact that a major studio allows anyone off the street to come inside and walk the same pavement as 1990s George Clooney is a gift unto itself. The fact that they actually do more than shuffle you in, scream, "GEORGE CLOONEY, BITCHES!!" and shuffle you out is something that should make you all immediately stop what you're doing, fly to California and get your tickets here.

Our tour was supposed to start at 9:30am, but at 9:22, because WB is nothing if not eager, everyone already there for the tour was invited inside a theater to watch Ellen DeGeneres in front of a terrible green screen show us all the fun things that lied ahead. (Ellen, if you're reading this, maybe next time you just walk outside your office for real?)

Right after that, the lights came up and we were off to the races with our tour guide, Joe.


Hey, Joe!


Joe, as knowledgeable and energetic as you could hope for in a tour guide, began us off with a ride through the very small woods where Jurassic Park was filmed and then past the currently-drained swamp where Kermit the Frog sang Rainbow Connection, the Budweiser frogs Bud-Weiser-ed and Dr. Ross (CLOONEY!!!)  saved a boy from drowning in Season 2 of ER


Doesn't look like much now, does it? That's because TV is magic. 

After that, Joe let us off the tram so we could walk around the lot's fictional neighborhood of many a show from the past. 


"Over there," Joe spouted off, "is Luke's diner from Gilmore Girls." Sure, sure...

"That house was featured in the prom episode from Season 2 of Friends.." Yup, yup.

"This street was featured in the movie, The Music Man..." Whatever. 

"That house is the house from Growing Pains..." Sure, sure, whatever --- 

WHAT?


You know in the opening credits of Growing Pains, where the whole Seaver family would stand in front of their picket-fenced house and then everyone would go back inside except for one who'd just stand there awkwardly wondering why their family abandoned them? THIS WAS THE HOUSE WHERE THAT HAPPENED.


And in 2015, I was right there and nobody told me.  


This is why you go on the tour.

We walked a little further through the town and got to see the diner location from La La Land, a movie which was supposed to be love letter to Hollywood, but to me read like a suicide note, so whatevs. 

But here's the front of Leonard and Sheldon's apartment building in The Big Bang Theory!



And a completely replicated Full House house that they've never actually used for filming but is still fun for tour groups! 


 
"This is what she does," Lauren told Joe as I threw my camera at her to take my photo from 100 angles. "She travels all over the place and stands in front of things."Ugh, Lauren, thanks for blowing up my spot when I'm trying to act cool. Jeeeeeeeez. 

Back on the tram, Joe drove us past dozens of stages, The Big Bang Theory's load out for summer hiatus, Conan's offices, the place where props are made, all the while I tried to figure out how I could geographically take over Joe's job on the weekends. 

Then, because Lauren would be so upset if we didn't and the universe wants me to have peace, we got off the tram and onto.. 


The Ellen set.

Have I mentioned before that I went to Warner Bros a few years ago? Well, in case I haven't, I did. And I went onto Ellen's set and damn near lost my mind. 

But you know who didn't go onto Ellen's set? Lauren. And you know who that sucked for? Everyone. 


But now there was peace.


Hey there, Ellen stage!


Hey, Ellen's audience chairs with plaques on them named after celebrities! 


Hey, Ellen's monologue spot!


Then, as an added bonus, because Joe was awesome and we had some time, he brought us to the set of the soon-to-be-canceled Lucifer, a show I had never seen but was amped about just the same. In the span of 2+ hours of sight-seeing, this set was the one and only place on the tour where cameras were not allowed.

Two hours. Just one place. Warner Bros, I heart you.

Once we'd walked through Satan's apartment, the best studio tour in the history of studio tours was over, and Joe dropped us off at the Warner Bros. museum, which in comparison to the tour itself, you would expect to be nothing spectacular.

But you would be wrong.

Right at the beginning of the museum, a photographer waits by the Central Perk set of Friends and offers to take photographs of you and your friends sitting on the couch. Do you have to pay for this added bonus? NO.


Every 10 minutes, you can sit on the couch and act out a scene while they superimpose you into an episode. Can you film this scene with your phone while they play it back?? YES. Did I get flustered and completely forget to do that? 

Also yes.

Then when that's done, you can play around with forced perspective. 


Lauren is tiny! I am big!

You can also look at clothes from My Fair Lady and Superman right before you pay a ton of money in their huge gift shop with every piece of merchandise from every show filmed on the lot.

And then, just when I thought the WB had given us everything we could ever need...

"Oh wow!" a possibly blind gift shop employee exclaimed as we walked by a huge shelf of Ellen mugs. "You two look so much alike!!! Are you sisters?"

In that moment, I don't think Lauren has ever felt as perplexed... and also as pretty...  as she did standing in front of that woman, wondering when a seeing eye dog was going to come racing through the Gilmore Girls T-shirts. 

With her close ties to reality, Lauren did not seem to agree that we were twinsies, and maybe I didn't either. But who the hell cared. Warner Bros had made us family, and that was more binding than blood. 



SISTERS!

Lauren, my identical cousin didn't have much time to process her true newfound beauty because before we knew it we were back in the rental car and back to another adventure...


The Museum of Illusions! 

Lauren had found out about this place weeks before, right around the time I was begging her to find something for us to do, and she got REALLY excited about it. 

Like, so excited she could hardly wait to buy the tickets... and then bought them for the wrong day. 

And then had to buy them again. 

But hey, who am I to judge a person -- let alone my Sister, Sister --  for their irrational interests? Let's illusion this bitch UP!


Is Lauren in the middle of a car chase or are those just PAINTINGS of cars? 


Am I inside a cheeseburger or is this just a PAINTING of a cheeseburger?? WHOOOOAAAA, it's an ILLUSION!

This went on for about an hour, and ever knowledgeable of my needs still ahead, I took these pictures like a damn boss -- a boss who in 30 minutes would be throwing an iPhone at my walking mirror image and screaming, THIS ISN'T RIGHT! DO IT AGAIN!!!" 

But this time, my neuroses would be for a greater good... the good of OTHERS.

The only reason I TV Travel is because all I want to do for the rest of my life is be able to watch my favorite TV shows and movies and scream to myself (because no one else cares), "Look! I was there! I stood in front of that house!" That's it. I'm not trying to break any records. I don't need to see every location of every movie. I just need to see in person what I've loved on screen.

But when you're in Los Angeles, the movie capital of the world, and everything you've ever loved on screen, you've already seen, you have to do something to entertain your fans. And by fans, I mean the 1-2 people I went to elementary school with who need something to read on the subway. 


The year before this, Lauren had become obsessed with the show through a binge-watch on Netflix, and because I'm nothing if not charitable, I offered to take the 45-minute drive downtown to re-visit the famous apartment building... and get a better photo for myself.  


Located in downtown Los Angeles, near some trendy-seeming restaurants I would never be allowed in, the apartment building stands across the street from a parking lot, next to a Public Storage, and is completely recognizable as the place where Zooey Deschanel got quirky every week for 7 years -- except for the fact that the very distinguishable bright blue-colored window panes of the past, had all been painted over in black.


Whatever landlord, apartment manager, angry tenant is responsible for this change, let me just address you right now.... WHYYYYYYYYY?

I get that when TV production people come along, they take over and do whatever the heck they want in the name of television magic. That's sometimes annoying to the people caught in the crossfires, I'm with ya. But when the TV people's work actually adds life to an otherwise dull infrastructure, leave it alone, man! The bright blue looked better! It gave it character! It was vibrant! Plus, it made my TV-Traveling easier!

But Lauren seemed to be cool with it. So, I guess whatever, man... 


(American Horror Story House location)


You non-Los Angelinos sitting in your homes in East Orange, NJ.. how are you going to experience this large fenced-up house if I didn't drive 10 miles, park across the street, throw Lauren my phone and say, "Take my picture."  You certainly couldn't Google map it or see it on the actual TV series or check out hundreds of other people's tourist photos.

(American Horror Story House location)

You're welcome.


(Happy Days house location)

Worth it, right? Your life forever changed? Good.

That was pretty much it on the agenda for the day, so with more than enough time to kill before we were expected to be anywhere, Mary-Kate and I decided to explore our hotel surroundings. The Farmers Daughter, a cute boutique hotel given to us through an express deal on Travelocity was located right across the street from The Farmers Market, The Grove and CBS Studios. Never one to pass up on locations dubbed the best places in Los Angeles to spot celebrities, I was all about helping Lauren find fresh produce while keeping my eyes on the streets for paparazzi. So that's what we did. 

Two hours later, I'm scrolling through Instagram and find this:



You know where Patton Oswalt was during the taking of this photograph? The Grove. You know how I know this? Because I had just been there at the exact same time he was, AND I DIDN'T SEE HIM.

You know what the normal response to this piece of knowledge would be? 

No, seriously, do you?

Because at 7am the next morning, my response was crossing the street and having Lauren (who, I want noted set her alarm for that time voluntarily) take this photograph:



Then -- because what else are you going to do at the crack of dawn on a Saturday? -- me and my Winklevoss twin went to the crosswalk in front of CBS Studios to see where James Corden does Crosswalk the Musical. Never heard of Crosswalk the Musical where The Late Late Show's James Corden and legitimate movie stars dress up in elaborate costumes and perform musical numbers in the middle of the street while cars are stopped at the red light? Well, then you are missing OUT. In preparation for this visit, I watched 8 separate videos of it on YouTube in the middle of the night and even though it might have been my 3-hours of sleep in 2 days delirium that caused me to cackle like a hyena in heat, that shit is HILARIOUS. 

(James Corden Crosswalk Theater location)

Upon arriving at the crosswalk, in between a 76 gas station and a CBS security gate, I made sure to take note of the amount of time cars spend at the red light. Sometimes those things can take a full minute - plenty of time for a full-blown theater performance! But not at this crosswalk. At this crosswalk? 20 seconds

You know what could happen in 20 seconds with 30 people in costumes dancing in the street? A CAR ACCIDENT. That's why James Corden is a damn professional.



And why I made sure to stay close to the curb.


"I love that movie!!! I wanna see that house!!!! Wait for me!!!!"

Upon pulling up to the house, "Which one is it? I don't remember the house from the movie."

(Nightmare on Elm Street house location)

Me never having seen this movie, wasn't any help. But again, here for the only person reading this right now (that'd be you) is this photograph...

(Nightmare on Elm Street house location)


I have no idea what the house looked like in the movie, but a few years ago, Heather Lagenkamp, who will forever be Marie from Just the Ten of Us stood in front of it, and that's pretty much enough for me.


(This is Us Pearson house location)

RIP, Jack Pearson.

Last year when we took our tour of Paramount Studios, our tour guide (hey, Ricky!) told us that anything related to the This is Us set was closed off to the public since everyday commoners could not be trusted with an NBC hot commodity. 

(This is Us Pearson house location)

Message received, Ricky. 



Featured in Episode 5 of Season 2, this house was the home of Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia right before NBC built a replica of it in the woods and burned it to a crisp with a Super Bowl budget. Husband/father/man of the century would be dead by Episode 14. But here in Eagle Rock, it was always episode 5 and the house stood tall and crock-pot free. 

Once this house was done, that was supposed to be the end of my TV-Traveling excursions. It was hard enough finding the the ones I had already done. I had no more! I was tapped out!


(Halloween Jamie Lee Curtis house)

Hey there, house from Halloween!

When we had driven to Pasadena last year and Theresa had the time of her life standing behind the bushes of Michael Meyers, we were supposed to visit this house. I had it typed up on my itinerary. I had photos, the whole deal. Then somehow I had the wrong address, I couldn't find it on Google, I got flustered, and I'd never even seen this movie, so why did I even care. So I said forget it. 

But this year, we had extra time... 

(Halloween Jamie Lee Curtis house)


The house of a young Jamie Lee Curtis, the one where she walked down the street holding a pumpkin and then sat on a stone pillar, was supposed to be a friendly house, a house where its owners knew they were a tourist attraction, and said to everyone, hey! Why don't you come on by! We won't chase you away with pitchforks! I had read about this house on many occasions, and because I'm someone who won't even jaywalk lest someone yell at me, I wanted to go stand in front of a private residence where I could feel safe. 

(Halloween Jamie Lee Curtis house)

We pulled up to the front of the house, and like the ballsiest bitch I would never be in any circumstance outside of this one instance, I walked right onto the porch, scared the shit out of my Bobsey twin with my trespassing and found this lovely, helpful, and all-around fantastic message:



It's one thing to have a sign that says, Hey! Visitors welcome! But it's a whole other thing to have a welcome sign and props for people to hold while they take photos. And then it's a completely different thing to have a sign, props and screen shots from the movie so visitors could get the most perfect of photographs while trespassing on your property. Who are you fine homeowners? What part of heaven did you come from? Can I be your friend?




You know how some people get the best of everything and live a life of luxury with not a care in the world? That is not me. I cheap out on everything, I wait in long lines, I sit in the rafters and I embrace the exertions of the everyday man. 

But not on this day. On this day, I got my own lanyard.  



We arrived at Universal Studios at 12:15, and while every other person was still waiting on their first 100-minute long line, we went into the VIP lounge where I flipped out over a plate of free muffins, and met up with our tour guide Braden.


Hey, Braden! (Braden is very tall).

For the next 6 hours, Braden's job was to escort us throughout the park and help us bypass all the lines, but individually and then collectively as a group, we all decided his main job was to become our best friend.


We made him ride all the rides with us.


He smiled in our photos.

We pestered him with questions about his life and if we were the best group he'd ever had, and I went on all the scary rides just because I believed him when he said I could do it.


After 3 hours and a dozen rides, Braden wasn't allowed into our VIP lunch space. So while I nibbled on white rice and downed a whole bottle of seltzer to get rid of my theme-park ride nausea, I hung out with Dracula and looked up Braden's guest-star appearance on Baby Daddy.


Because there ain't no shame in my stalker game.

Once lunch was finished, it was then time for the only part of Universal I really cared about - the studio tour. In years past when I was looking into visiting Universal Studios on my own, I was so nervous about the wait time for this tour, that I didn't even bother to go. But on this day, there was nothing to worry about.


We had Braden. 


Instead of the usual large tram that everyone gets for this tour, we VIPers got our own private trolley, with only one other group of VIPers and their tour guide, Ashley. Side note: If there were ever a fight to the death for ultimate tour guide awesomeness, Braden would of course win (because you know, tour guide loyalty), but Ashley would come in a pretty close second.

As part of the tour, one of the first stops we made was to the set of Superstore where Ugly Betty spends her days trapped inside a different-named Walmart.

Main things learned on this set: there are actual ceilings which lights shine through, shredded cheese is made of paper and Keurig pays a lot of money for product placement.

As per usual, no photos were allowed during this stop so please set your imaginations to what the inside of a store must look like.

Next up, we drove through the outdoor town where a wide variety of movies had been filmed. But instead of just whizzing past like the regular tour-takers, we GOT TO GET OFF THE TROLLEY.




VIPs, baby.


This is the clock tower from Back to the Future! Look at us all checking our watches! Aren't we hilarious??

Back on the trolley, we got to experience a 3-D visit from Godzilla, a drive through Whoville, and then survive an almost-attack from a mechanical Jaws which I had been wanting to see ever since I saw Arnold Jackson do it on a 1984 episode of Diff'rent Strokes.  

I'm not exactly sure at what point the seltzer I'd had during lunch decided to make its way through my kidneys and demand an immediate release from my body. But when it happened, it HAPPENED. And I was in the middle of a moving vehicle.  

Little tidbit about me: I don't drink. Not like, I don't drink alcohol, which I actually don't do either because, gotta keep the mind fresh. I mean, I don't drink. Like anything. If I'm lucky, I'll have maybe one full glass of water a day and that's only with meals. I'm never thirsty, my organs are drying up like raisins and I live in a constant state of dehydration. But it's all good because toilet time is wasted time, and my time is way too valuable to spend it teetering on the edge of a breakdown, like I did on April 28th at approximately 5:30pm, on that fateful... potty-less trolley. 

At one point, we got to get off the trolley to see the airplane crash site from Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds... and if there could be a physical representation of how I was feeling at that exact moment, a 747 split in half with garbage all around it would be pretty much it. 


Urine, pain? No, I'm in pain! (So many jokes...)

Across the way from the crash site was the home of Norman Bates in Psycho, a movie which funnily enough was the first to ever show a toilet flush on screen. Oh the laughs I would’ve had about that if I wasn’t spending every passing moment wishing for death.


Because who doesn't love Psycho, and because I'd trained her well, Theresa asked if we could walk on over to the house to take a photo in front of it. And by walk, I mean creep towards while keeping my legs together and trying not to have an accident. Ashley, because she's a lovely human being, obliged that request, and then promised me we'd hit a toilet within the next ten minutes. 

What Ashley did not promise me was that the next 10 minutes would include a safe space for my bladder, as our trolley turned into a 3-D ride with Vin Diesel complete with a high-speed chase and every bump imaginable as I hoisted my ass above my seat trying to save Braden from overtime work as my janitor. 

Thankfully, I kept myself together, and when I finally got that bathroom break and experienced true euphoria, I came back to that trolley a NEW WOMAN, ready for ANYTHING! Sharks! Apes! Earthquakes! A car crash! Lay it on me! Lay everything on me! My bladder was clear!

We spent 10 more minutes inside a prop house...and then we were done.

Not yet ready to let him out of our lives, we took two last group shots with Braden and I told him he was never allowed to forget us... because one day when he blew up in Hollywood, me screaming at the TV, "HE WAS MY TOUR GUIDE!" would be a lot more climactic if he could also scream back, "I REMEMBER!!!!"


You got that, Braden?  #neverforget

The next day, scrolling through Instagram again... and guess who was at Universal Studios...


Of course. 

Finally, it was Sunday and with hair coiffed and formal wear on, our little People's Court group made our way to Pasadena to walk the red carpet like fancy people and for me to track down celebrities like I was a sportsman in the woods trying to hunt down gazelle. 



This, after all, was the big ceremony. Valerie Bertinelli! Marie Osmond! Mario Lopez! Big-timers attending the big ceremony like big-timers do. It was a super big deal.

Apparently, however, big-timers know how to hide from little-timers like me because after 2 hours of searching, I could find very few.

Thankfully...


Chris Harrison! 

Two years ago, we met Bachelor host and Who Wants to be a Millionaire nominee when he taped his game show right next to our offices. He was lovely then, and lovely now. You have can our rose anytime, Chris. 


Byrd! 

Judge Judy's bailiff may be our technical arch nemesis. But now he's my celebrity bestie, and I don't care who knows it. 


Andy Lassner!

Every single year, I have seen Ellen's producer at the Emmys and every single year, I have been too afraid to approach him. Not this year, damn it. Andy Lassner is a friggin' delight.

The ceremony started at 5pm sharp and as the 2nd category of the evening, we got to lose within the first 15 minutes (congratulations, Judge Mathis!), and the rest of the evening was me trying to hob knob it with the big wigs... and coming up empty. 

Then, with all hope lost, we went to an after party where one-by-one, the Emmy-winning hosts of The Real came in through the door... and I just about lost my damn mind.

I started watching The Real when it was just a summer tryout show back in 2013. I watched every episode. I then recorded every episode. I got a tad obsessed. 

And now I was at a private party, and these people were at that party, and I did not know what in the world to do with myself.

When Tamera Mowry's husband, news reporter and former baseball player and sometimes Real co-host, Adam Housley walked by, I screamed his name and then floated out of my body as I babbled on about my love for him and my love for his wife and my love for the show and the fact that he was standing there and the fact that I was sitting near him, and the fact that I kept screaming and the fact that he kept being nice to me and the fact that all my co-workers got to watch this happen in real time and no one could seem to stop me because OH MY GOD, I WAS AT A PARTY WITH THE REAL.

I then got to meet Tamera, the nicest most genuine person in the whole wide world who didn't run screaming from me as I continued my declaration of love for her and her show and her co-hosts and my happiness for her and my happiness for her Emmy win and her happiness in general, and the fact that I COULD NOT STOP RAMBLING.

There was no one around to take a photo of us even though the saintly Tamera tried looking for one, so because she's a gem of a human and probably because she felt a twin bond with me and Lauren, she suggested we huddle together and take this selfie: 


Thank you, Tamera! 

Right after that, I saw Adrienne Bailon Houghton at the bar and because this was just how my night was going to be, I rambled on to her about my love for her and my love for the show and how happy I was that she was happily married and also happy in general and how I watched the show since 2013 and now she's an Emmy winner and how that's such a big deal and she, like everyone else was a lovely human being to an all around basket case. 


The remainder of The Real co-hosts, Loni and Jeannie were sitting at a table with the rest of their Real staff, so because I was already lightheaded from over emotion, and because I'd met Loni at last year's Emmys and she was incredible, I left those two in peace. But if I had approached them as the absolute wailing hyena I had become that night, I have no doubt in my mind that they would have been wonderful people. Because that is The Real way.

Once I had sufficiently made a mockery of human composure, our group left the party, made a stop at the exclusive Magic Castle and then after just a few hours, my 3-day event-filled Emmy weekend was essentially over.

The next morning, Lauren, Theresa, and I packed up our stuff, made a final visit to Coffee Bean so I could have one last cup of hot chocolate, and we got ourselves to the airport for our 6-hour trip back east. This year, there may have been no paparazzi, no TV show appearances, no private office/house tours, and at the end of the day, it may not have been the best weekend of my entire 36 years. But in 3 days, I did get to...




survive a shark attack,



meet  Homer Simpson, 


have lunch with Lucille Ball, 


buy tons of Warner Bros. merch ...


and discover a long-lost sibling.


So all in all, a pretty great time.


Thanks for the mem'ries, Los Angles! Until we meet again... 



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