Zoe officially became a teenager today. We celebrated by going Hollywood!
Our first stop was CBS's Studio City for the rehearsal and taping of "American Idol." Ten of the eleven finalists practiced their music as the production crew taped cutaways and wide shots of the audience. These will be edited into the program as needed. This was our second visit to "Idol." Last year we attended an exciting semi-final, which aired live on the Fox Network.
The program originates from a studio on the CBS lot because the it is the ideal size needed for the show. The set is spectacular. Lights beam, blink, pop and seem to explode from every corner of the stage area. The acoustics are fabulous, especially with the band housed in an upper tier above the stage. The music pours over the audience. And everything on the show is pre-produced and planned to the micro-second. The talent performs before an energetic audience, young and old, which is cued and whipped up by the stage manager. It is easy to see why this is such a successful program.
Our second stop was to the "CSI" set on the Universal lot. Building 24 was ground zero for today's filming. An autopsy scene that may last a minute in the final program. Two cameras captured the actors who were discussing clues to a mysterious death. It is remarkable to see the detail planning and organization that goes into each shot. The director leads the cast and crew through many takes, each with cameras at different angles.
Zoe met Laurence Fishburn, who wished her a happy birthday. He has a strong presence in person, as on camera, and he was quite nice. Marg Helgenberger, an original cast member, spent ten minutes with us discussing the program and its evolution. Zoe also talked with George Eads, another original cast member. And we had a long talk with Eric Szmanda, a wonderful young actor. Later we visited the "CSI" morgue, where Susan and Zoe posed for pictures.
Our takeaway from "CSI" was they are a well-oiled assembly line. The new cast has brought a new energy and character to the program. The director and support staff are thoroughly committed professionals who make great television. No wonder this program is so enduring and endearing.
Tonight we cap our celebrations with a big dinner at "Ivy by the Shore" in Santa Monica. Who knows, maybe a talent agent will discover a new star who happens to have just turned thirteen!