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JAUNTS: Ventura County | GOING SOUTH

TV Show Tapings in Valley Still a Big Deal for Locals

April 02, 1998|RICHARD KAHLENBERG | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Are folks who live in the Valley blase about living around the corner from a movie or TV studio? Given the chance, will they pack the kids in the car to go watch Ben Savage tape his "Boy Meets World" show in Studio City?

You betcha. The studios where these shows are produced, such as NBC ("Saved by the Bell"), Disney ("Home Improvement") and Warner Bros. ("Everybody Loves Raymond") are a magnet for local families.

"Most of the 100,000 tickets we give out each year--75%--are for local people, not out-of-towners," says Steve Sheets, spokesman for Audiences Unlimited Inc.

This Universal City-based company serves the TV industry by organizing a steady supply of live and lively fans to sit on bleachers inside a studio, mostly located in the Valley, and watch the goings-on when 40 TV shows are taped.

The tickets are free, and may be obtained by calling a Valley phone number. The shows nearly always have a minimum age limit, 12 being the youngest. Most require that kids be at least 16. The taping times are during after-school hours and early evenings and are clustered on Thursdays and Fridays. There are no Saturday or Sunday tickets.

And, it should be pointed out, Audiences Unlimited doesn't handle game-show tickets. For those, you should contact the guest relations department at the network that broadcasts the show.

For tickets to dramatic and comedy show tapings, Audience Unlimited offers a 24-hour number to call. Groups from schools and clubs often book blocks of tickets. If you've got 39 friends you want to take, Audiences Unlimited will provide free bus transportation for your group (40 to 47 people) from anywhere in the Valley or the L.A. area.

Advanced bookings for individual or group tickets are required--mostly to assure you get the show you want.

Predictably, the hit shows are hard to get into. Considering this and the fact that you can't just go to the studio expecting to get in, securing a ticket means contacting Audiences Unlimited.

These visits require a bit of planning on the part of a family or group. For instance, to get into any one of the nine shows regularly taped at CBS Studio Center in Studio City, audience members must park in the designated parking lot at Valley College, and ride the shuttle bus to the studio.

This month, there are still tickets available to shows such as "Saved by the Bell," if you call right away. But tickets to shows that will be taped later this spring are easier to get. These new shows are called "pilots" and frequently star well-known performers.

BE THERE

Audience Unlimited Inc., free tickets to live TV comedy and drama show taping sessions (no game shows). Minimum age admitted is 12-16 years. Hours and availability vary, at mostly Valley locations; (818) 753-3470. Details also available online at www.tvtickets.com.

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