Tuesday, July 12, 2011

At the studio - and TV language

In my last post I talked about how I used to see many shows being taped here in New York City, but haven't been to a taping in many years. I believe the last one I was at was in 1986 in Los Angeles for the taping of a pilot for a proposed game show. To my knowledge that show never was bought. The last time I was at a show that actually was broadcast was the 1976 Saturday Night Live that we saw in Brooklyn. (My wife attended the broadcast of The View a year ago.) As I mentioned, yesterday we attended the taping of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

As with all TV shows with a studio audience, the producers distribute more tickets than they have seats in an effort to make sure that the audience is filled, so my wife and I made sure to be on line when the doors opened for the actual ticket distribution. (We had ticket reservations.) When we got there, there were 49 people on line in front of us which was a comforting thought since the studio seats 200 people. (Of course VIP's and invited guests have to be accommodated before the ticket holders.)

At 2:30 the doors opened and they started giving out the numbered tickets. With these tickets we would return at 4:45 PM and would not have to stand in line waiting in the brutal summer heat. There was a Subway right next to the studio and a park across the street - with benches in the shade, so my wife and I decided to get sandwiches and drinks and sit in the park until it was time to return.

We found a bench in the shade and spent the next 2 hours people watching, dog watching (it was also a dog park), eating our lunch and hoping for a breeze to help keep us cool on a day which featured high humidity and temperatures which felt like the high 90's! The time passed rather quickly, and soon it was time to once again stand on line, with the order based upon the number you were given earlier. We discovered that there were three different colored tickets ... one for VIPs, one for the general ticket holders, and one for those who walked up to the studio without ticket reservations and hoped to get into the show on a standby basis.

Soon we were admitted to the studio, having first gone through airport style security. (Empty pockets - remove belts - step through metal detector) It was nice to get in out of the heat and into an air conditioned studio.The studio was more or less as they had been all those years ago, but the huge TV cameras were now much smaller than they used to be. There was the usual warm up comedian and then Jon Stewart came out and greeting the audience. The taping went as planned and we soon were on our way home to watch the broadcast last night.

On the way home my wife and I discussed the fact that they would need to "bleep" quite a few words for the broadcast on Comedy Central. Although it is a cable channel, it is "family friendly." It wasn't until the advent of the internet that I found out that we in the US are so very conservative as to what we allow on TV. Yes, cable networks have much more latitude in this, but many choose not to take advantage of that flexibility. Then this morning, while reading my friend Erica's blog, Desktops & Dust Bunnies, I watched this clip from Australian TV.

Obviously, on US broadcast TV you would never hear some of those words spoken. So I am curious, what do you think about the restrictions on US TV? And while you are at it, what are your thoughts on the topic presented in this clip as it relates to your location in this world?

I end today's post with the definitive expert on this matter - George Carlin (who - if you remember - I first met in the early days at a taping of the Jimmy Dean show) who reminds us that on TV you may prick your finger, but you may not finger your prick!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the link up, Mark.

    I don't watch any of those chat shows so I couldn't tell you whether the swearing is bleeped or not here. I would suggest given the timeslot they're given that they aren't.

    Our free-to-air TV stations have very firm guidelines that need to be adhered to in order for the stations to retain their broadcast licences. One of the jobs I used to do in free-to-air tv involved knowing all these guidelines and when certain classifications of programs and commercials were allowed go to air. The public can make complaints at any time if they feel the code of practice has been breached. (If you're interested at all you can find details on the code of practice here

    But in a nutshell, provided that the applicable viewer discretion disclaimers are shown before a program starts, after 9.30pm it's almost anything goes. So in the case of the clip I gave, it was acceptable (and if I recall correctly, M classified programs are OK after 8.30pm). In the 9.30pm (or later) time slot you will see shows like Californication which is very full on as far as sex scenes go. Here we probably see less of that kind of thing than we do the swearing.

    On our pay tv channels I think their code of practice is different because, for example, the Comedy Channel shows M rated programs at any time of day. Having not worked in pay tv I don't know the details.