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Big Bang — Emotional Whipsaw

I flew into L.A. on Tuesday, raced to Christine Valada and Len Wein’s house, leaped into the car and headed off to the Warner Brother’s lot to watch a taping of BIG BANG THEORY.  I like the show — these are my tribe — brainy geeks so I was looking forward to the experience.

What I hadn’t expected was the strange emotional roller coaster it triggered.  I’ve been on the Warner’s lot a number of times since I was on staff on REASONABLE DOUBTS, the TV show staring Mark Harmon and Marlee Matlin, but this night all the memories came flooding back.  The time I was walking through the backlot and saw Kevin Kline meeting the pig he rode in DAVE, watching Mark intercept a pass when a couple of the grips were throwing around a football during a break in shooting, the friendships that formed, walking over to set to watch them film.  It was also the time when Carl was coming out to visit, and when he proposed to me.  A lot happened in that year, all of it good.

Suddenly regrets and sadness sucker punched me,   Hollywood has given me some of the highest highs, and the lowest lows, but I love writing scripts, and the thrill of standing on a soundstage and hearing an actor deliver your lines.  As I walked down that long street past the Spanish style buildings that house executive offices, saw the names on the parking spaces, I wanted to be back in this world so badly.

Fortunately the soundstage offered a distraction from emotional turmoil.  It was built in 1935, and a bronze plaque listed films and television shows that had filmed there.  To name a few — Casablanca, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Bladerunner, High Chaparral.

Then we were inside and escorted to our front row seats.  It’s great when your friends are close friends with an executive producer on the show.

We were treated to a look at an upcoming episode, we were exhorted by a host to laugh, cheer, clap, in short to react.  The laughter is provided by the live audience so the MC works hard to keep us up and interested.

The pounding music and his routine were funny for the first hour or so, but I have really acute hearing and we were right under a speaker so it got a little hard toward the end.  One of the highlights of this was when the MC wanted folks to come up and do animal impressions.  A man came up and said he’d do a pig.  Then he launched into Porky Pig.  Turned out he was the voice artist who had replaced Mel Blanc.  He did Marvin the Martian, and Tweetie Bird.  He had us all delighted.

What was surprising was how incredibly funny the scenes were when you’re watching them live.  The show is very funny, but live added a whole new level.  It’s why live theater will never die.

I really enjoyed watching the incredibly talented and efficient cast and crew do their job, and by the end of the evening my mood had stabilized, and depression had been replaced with determination.

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