CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’ #2 ­- WHEN BAJAN REPORTER STOPPED AT MERLOTTE’S & SAW BILL MAHER

You’ll recall how Bajan Reporter was part of a select press entourage from the Caribbean who headed to Los Angeles July 25-27th to attend a live filming of “Real Time with Bill Maher,” in addition to a behind-the-scenes tour of Warner Brothers Studios, where some scenes from HBO’s “True Blood” are filmed.

This was a shack were Sookie (as usual) was terrorised 'til Eric or Bill saved her in BonTemps, which was really California!

This was a shack were Sookie (as usual) was terrorised ’til Eric or Bill saved her in BonTemps, which was really California!

The Warner Brothers tour was first, in our drive from Sofitel on Beverly Boulevard to Burbank we got to pass by Grauman’s Chinese Theater, where many would-be actors dress like science fiction characters or super-heroes and villains so tourists will take their picture, that’s how they make a living… When my Caribbean colleagues learned these folk expected to be paid for allowing you to snap a picture, most of them were disdainfully amazed – it was a good thing the Graumann crew did not have to depend on West Indians for a living!

No this was not Chris Evans & Andrew Garfield but two dudes in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater

No this was not Chris Evans & Andrew Garfield but two dudes who probably wish they were, this happened in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater

While at WB Studios our guide was Hannah, whose real goal is to learn videography and become a top cameraperson – you could feel her appreciation for the art of filming a TV series when she explained how many sitcoms and dramas were filmed twice because there’s only a single unit dedicated to a show! First the scene is filmed from one character’s viewpoint, then the dialogue is redone so as to film the other person’s point of view, this is in turn edited to look like a snappy exchange for thirty seconds or more depending what the producers and writers require!

Out tour guide Hannah was very much into "Pretty Little Liars," which is like a teenaged version of 'Desperate Hosewives' and this was one of the collapsible houses used for the series...

Out tour guide Hannah was very much into “Pretty Little Liars,” which is like a teenaged version of ‘Desperate Hosewives‘ and this was one of the collapsible houses used for the series…

We were on the set of “The Mentalist,” but we had to be very careful, as the set was “HOT,” no it wasn’t burning… It was prepared for filming at any moment and theoretically we could even be asked to leave that studio if the crew arrived to complete a script! With the set so prepped for filming, no photos were allowed, even the cameras were locked away under the driver’s seat until we left the area!

The same security was applied when we visited the set for “Hart Of Dixie,” but we were shown how ceilings are optional for either lighting or Boom Microphones to be lowered and placed over the actors delivering lines. It was slightly more relaxed when we visited the set of “Big Bang Theory,” where we learned the audience was bribed with soft drinks and food to stay while writers re-did a joke until the studio audience genuinely laughed… If you do go to California, you can check tvtickets.com and see which shows are live, they want people and that’s why there’s no charge for admission!

Looks friendly? It should, this the Coffee Shop from "Friends," which is  showing somewhere in the world at any moment, 24/7!

Looks friendly? It should, this the Coffee Shop from “Friends,” which is showing somewhere in the world at any moment, 24/7!

In Los Angeles and the rest of California, while studios such as Universal, Disney and Paramount may have a rivalry with WB, nevertheless there’s an incredible degree of cooperation. If one studio is free while another is overbooked then WB & Paramount may reach a quick agreement allowing a program or a series or a film to be completed on another’s lot! Not only does this make for a quick turnover for productions, but studios can earn money even in slow periods.

This was one of my high points, seeing Merlotte's bar, no it ain't in Louisiana but in California! The magic of film-making!

This was one of my high points, seeing Merlotte’s bar, no it ain’t in Louisiana but in California! The magic of film-making!

Like when Bill Maher of HBO recorded at Studio 33 at CBS Television City which was almost walking distance from the 5-star hotel where I stayed, the Sofitel… For those of you who may not be familiar with Bill Maher? He’s like Rick Mercer or Jon Stewart on steroids, plus no one is safe from his sarcasm if you made a mistake… What CNN says on San Diego is mild;-

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, accused by multiple women of sexual harassment, has agreed to step down.

The City Council accepted a mediation agreement during a closed session Friday.

In public remarks to the council, Filner cited “awkwardness and hubris” but denied sexually harassing anyone.

Bill made a number of jokes, which if the show is not out yet, I cannot reveal, seriously, I had to leave my cell and camera in my hotel room before checking the show! This is to ensure there are no spoilers via Social Media along the way. While we waited to get in the very cold studio, it was the chilliest part of my trip, we were entertained by one of Bill’s crew who made sure folk did not try to sneak a mobile or Nikon past the guards…

In the episode I watched being recorded, Bill's scheduled guests included - Sarah Slamen, Jim Wallis, Reza Aslan, Bob Ney and Eliot Spitzer

In the episode I watched being recorded, Bill’s scheduled guests included – Sarah Slamen, Jim Wallis, Reza Aslan, Bob Ney and Eliot Spitzer

Bill is about to do a documentary and has not been booted off the series for over-controversiality, he’ll soon return – making more Democrats, Tea Party-ites & Republicans afraid of his humor and questions! (Sounds familiar?)

My time on USA’s west coast was as fleeting as a shooting star and twice as brilliant, I can only hope HBO will be gracious enough to give me another chance, perhaps longer and maybe a chat with Peter Dinklage or Alexander Skarsgard?

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