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On a Budget

The Price Is Right for TV Tapings

June 02, 2002|ARTHUR FROMMER

For some Americans, seeing the taping of a favorite TV show is quite a thrill. Celebrity spotting is almost guaranteed, as is an insider's peek at all of the technical wizardry that goes into the production of even the most basic show. Best of all, seeing television live costs no more than seeing it from the sofa in your living room.

In Los Angeles, New York and Chicago, tickets are free, making these tapings the least costly activities those big-wallet cities have to offer.

Distribution methods vary from show to show. For popular talk shows, such as Oprah, Letterman, "The Tonight Show" and "Live With Regis and Kelly," apply well in advance by mail, phone or Internet.

For those who just wish to see a show--any show--large ticket distributors serve as clearinghouses for sitcoms and game shows.

Except for "Friends" and "Judge Judy" (no general admission tickets have been available since Sept. 11), it's not difficult to get your laughter and applause immortalized at tapings. For those who want to get their face on the tube, there are such audience participation shows as Jerry Springer and Ricki Lake.

If getting on TV is important to you, dress up a bit for the taping. Just as producers cast guests carefully, they will often put better-looking audience members within camera range.

Some details you should know: Most sitcoms and some game shows go on hiatus from late March through late July, meaning there are few of these types of tapings during this period. With the exception of "Jeopardy" and "Wheel of Fortune" (which accept audience members as young as 10), the minimum age for most audiences is 16, sometimes 18. As tickets do not guarantee admission, smart audience members arrive at least an hour before the taping.

Following is an abbreviated list of ticket sources:

* Audience Associates, (323) 653-4105, www.tvtix.com: The biggie in game and talk shows, it often has tickets for "The Tonight Show," "The Price Is Right," "Jeopardy" and many sitcoms, including "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "Just Shoot Me." The company periodically provides unpaid extras for crowd scenes in big Hollywood films (14,000 for "Spider-Man").

* Paramount Studios, (323) 956-1777, www.paramountshowtickets.com: This L.A. studio arranges audiences for such shows as "Becker" and "Frasier." Call or go online five days in advance for tickets.

* "The Late Show With David Letterman": Films in New York. Write to Tickets, c/o The David Letterman Show, 1697 Broadway, New York, NY 10019, or apply online at www.cbs.com. For standby, call (212) 247-6497 at 11 a.m. EDT the day of the show.

* "The Oprah Winfrey Show," (312) 591-9222, www.oprah.com: Films in Chicago, twice a day on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from September to early December and from January to early June. A very hot ticket; reservations are taken a month in advance by phone. Best time to call is between 11:30 and 1 p.m. PDT.

* "The Jerry Springer Show," (312) 321-5365, www.un-itelevision.com/jerry: Call between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. PDT. Taped in Chicago. Day-of-taping tickets sometimes available.

* "Live With Regis and Kelly," www.tvplex.go.com/buenavista/livewithregis/ticketsandfaqs/index.html: Go to the Web site for information on postcard applications. Standby tickets sometimes available to those who line up at the studio (67th Street and Columbus Avenue, New York) at 7 a.m.

* "The Price Is Right," www.cbs.com: Advance tickets are available at the ticket window, 7800 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, but not for the day of taping. Go online for information on advance reservations.

* Audiences Unlimited, (818) 753-3470, www.tvtickets.com: This ticket broker has free tickets for such shows as "Will & Grace," "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" and "Spin City."

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