Life in Hollywood, below-the-line

Life in Hollywood, below-the-line
Work gloves at the end of the 2006/2007 television season (photo by Richard Blair)

Sunday, July 29, 2012


With my show on hiatus this week, I'm back in the hinterlands of dial-up -- and trying to post anything meaningful over the phone lines is a bit like traveling from LA to New York via horse and buggy.  It can be done, but is hardly worth the effort, so I'm shutting the blog down for a little while.

A week, two weeks, maybe more.  When I have something worth posting, it'll go up, but not until then.

But hey, it's the peak of summer -- you should be out doing something fun anyway, not staring at some computer, notebook, or cell phone screen.  So get out there and do it.

I'll be back...

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Circus

             Know Thyself

Nik Wallenda walks with The Beast

A funny thing happened at work the other night – not “funny ha-ha” but funny-strange. It was late on a Friday, shoot night, and after eleven hours of rehearsals, blocking, and filming, we were an hour into a ninety minute wrap. With a huge swing set due to come in at 6:00 a.m. the following Monday, our task was to strip the entire pipe grid over the swing-set area of all lamps and cable so that the grips could raise the grid fifteen feet unencumbered by any of our equipment.  When they'd finished, this entire section of the pipe grid would hang just below the perms, a good thirty feet above the stage floor.

Due to the non-disclosure agreements we all have to sign these days when starting a show -- not to mention the “No Blogging, No Texting” signs plastered all over the stage walls and doors -- I can’t say much about that new swing set, but given the need to raise the grid so high, it would be a monster, and doubtless a pain in the ass to light.

But that was next week’s problem; right now we had a mountain of lamps and cable to wrap. With one man on the catwalks above pulling up the power feeds, three of us worked in man-lifts clearing the set walls and grid while the Best Boy organized the mounting chaos on the stage floor. Working steadily, I stuffed my lift with babys, tweenies, 2Ks, and Zip Lights, then with lamps dangling from the rails, maneuvered into position beneath a Baby 5 K hung from a trapeze above the pipe grid. Due to its weight and my own precarious position in the fully-loaded lift, it would be pushing things to get that lamp, but the more I looked at it, the more I wanted to try.

That's when the Best Boy came around a corner and saw what I was thinking.

“Let him drop it,” he said, gesturing up high, indicating that the man on the catwalks above should loosen the ropes and slowly lower the lamp to the floor.

He was right, of course. The standard method of bringing down a lamp hung on a trapeze is for someone to go high, drop the two tag lines, then lower the trapeze/lamp rig using the center strain line. Other than in the most unusual of circumstances, it makes no sense to do it any other way. Trying to pull that lamp off the trapeze into my lift would be worse than stupid -- it would be wrong, and I knew it. There was no remotely justifiable reason for me to attempt such a stunt.  Indeed, lowering the lamp from up high is exactly what I'd have ordered my crew to do if I was in the Best Boy's shoes.

But for some reason I was fixated on wrapping that light; pulling the cotter pin, releasing the knuckle, then taking the weight and easing the big lamp into the lift. Caught up in the moment after a solid hour of wrap, I felt something akin to a compulsion to get it done -- and for some perverse reason, now that I’d been expressly told not to, I wanted to do it even more. With the urge all but irresistible, I was that close to giving it a try... but instead I barked at the high man to drop the tag lines and lower the lamp. He followed orders, allowing the Best Boy to reel in that 5 K with no risk to anyone or anything whatsoever. No muss, no fuss. And yet, like some hormonally-addled teenager who'd just been grounded, I felt a stab of disappointment.

What I couldn’t figure out was why. It’s a long time since I was young enough to suffer from testosterone poisoning.

Thirty minutes later, we were done. I washed up, said my goodbyes for the weekend, then headed for home. Cruising through the empty late-night streets, I kept wondering why I’d been so determined to take that 5 K down the stupid way, the dangerous way, the wrong way. Ignoring the Best Boy would that have been an act of willful and entirely unwarranted disrespect, and worse – if I’d managed to slip and drop that lamp -- it would have put him in the difficult position of explaining to the UPM exactly why the senior juicer on his crew had needlessly destroyed an expensive lamp while acting like an idiot. There’s no acceptable explanation for such behavior, and the backlash could have made it difficult for this particular Best Boy to hire me again. In the worst-case scenario, the UPM might have insisted I be fired, and I wouldn’t blame him. When a juicer can’t be trusted to follow orders, then he or she has made the transition from asset to liability – and aging, untrustworthy liabilities do not get called for work.

Having come to no satisfying conclusion by the time I arrived at my apartment, I poured a double shot of Knob Creek, mixed in a little water, then sat down to stare into the night and contemplate my own unknowable self. It’s been suggested that those of us who gravitate towards such an inherently unstable business do so because we just aren't willing to grow up and take a “real” job – that in effect, we ran away to join the circus. There’s probably some truth to that, in which case perhaps I’m just another ungracefully aging misfit incapable of embracing the staid and sober reality of responsible adulthood.

Or maybe I’m just a fool at heart.* I really don’t know.

As the bourbon slowly vanished, it occurred to me that on this very night – while we’d been shooting the show – Nik Wallenda was walking a tightrope strung over Niagara Falls for no good reason other than that he really wanted to. He felt the need to test himself doing something difficult and dangerous, and in the successful aftermath, experience the brief-but-giddy endorphin rush that makes a man feel like he’ll live forever.

There can be no valid comparison between retrieving a forty pound movie lamp five yards off the floor and walking a damp two-inch steel cable across the thundering cauldron of Niagara Falls, but it's plausible that  the impulse stemmed from the same ancestral roots. Caught up in the momentum of a big wrap, maybe I needed to perform a mildly difficult, slightly dicey task simply to prove to myself that I still could -- that I’m truly alive in the primal sense of the word – and in the process, feed the beast within.

As a bonus, I might catch a quick ride on the Euphoric Endorphin Express.

I'll never know what would have happened if the Best Boy didn't appear just then. I might have pulled that 5 K down with no problem, or maybe I'd have stupidly destroyed a lamp that would cost the production company nearly three thousand dollars to replace. Then again, I may well have decided to let the high man do his job and lower the lamp. By their nature, "what-ifs" remain eternally unknowable.

But I do know that channeling The Beast Within allows me to do things my cautious, survival-oriented brain would ordinarily reject as unnecessarily dangerous. Juicing is an inherently risky job – if the electricity doesn’t get you, gravity is always waiting to take a shot. Accidents can happen when working from man-lifts, on ladders, and atop set walls, which is why I work hard to get through each day with a minimum of risk to me and everyone else. But the job can’t always be done in a timely or efficient manner while following the supposedly safe-and-sane Industry rules that have been laid down by lawyers who have no clue what we do for a living.  So we violate those rules on set – every grip and juicer I know – on a daily basis. How far each of us strays across that line is an individual decision, but for me, every day on set is a balancing act between the Fearless Beast and the Wary Brain. Maintaining the proper balance allows me to get the work done without needless or excessive delays, and in a business where time really is money, that matters. But knowing when to reign in The Beast is crucial, because left unchained, that creature will hurt you. Or worse.

Which, I suppose, just goes to show that I’m still not too old to learn a little more about myself – and live to work another day.  

* There are a few women in my past who would probably second that motion...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


I think not...

“De gustibus non est disputandum”

Given that I have some very smart friends who don’t much care for “Breaking Bad,” “Mad Men,” or “Louie CK” – and yet they regularly watch reality shows that for me hold all the appeal of being waterboarded -- I try not to judge anyone based on their television viewing habits.  That I like "Justified" and you like "American Idol" doesn't make either of us bad people -- just fellow naked apes with different tastes in viewing choices.  

There really is no accounting for taste.

Still, trying is not the same as succeeding, and as I cast my jaundiced eye upon the latest show in the media news, it seems I’m doomed to fail yet again. In its decidedly finite wisdom, CBS -- the prime broadcast network conduit for staid, boring, predictable television -- has decided to re-imagine the story of Sherlock Holmes with a show called Elementary, wherein a thoroughly modern Holmes is transplanted to current-day New York under a cloud of contrived disgrace.  Teamed with a gender-bending Dr. Watson (played by noted thespian cipher Lucy Lui), he will presumably solve crimes and apprehend loathsome miscreants in the Big Apple once a week during the 44 minutes allotted by broadcast television. 

Just what the world needs, yet another mind-numbing procedural rip-off: “CSI-Conan Doyle.”

Allow me a moment to projectile-vomit into the sink...

See, this represents everything I hate about the wasteland of American broadcast television. With a wealth of home-grown talent currently working in cable, the best a sclerotic CBS can come up with it to remake a wonderfully clever and innovative BBC show, and in the inevitable process of mass-market homogenization, dumb it down to the lowest common denominator for every wide-eyed, slack-jawed drooler across this Great Land staring hypnotized into the glowing screen each and every night.

Jesus, why doesn't CBS just cut to the chase and start televising cage-match "ultimate" fighting, Snooki Polizzi, and Monster Truck demolition derbies 24/7?*

It would be one thing if the BBC had given their gracious assent to yet another sloppy, opportunistic American hack-job remake of their crown jewel, but from what I've read, they refused in no uncertain terms.  CBS went right ahead anyway, with what Les Moonvies and his focus-groupies doubtless consider a bold new approach – casting Lucy Lui as Dr. Watson to introduce a little opposites-attract/approach-avoidance sexual frisson to a story that until now has been refreshingly free of such cliche. But let's face it, CBS has now devolved into a network utterly dedicated to cliche.  To expect anything else is akin to walking through Death Valley in August praying for rain.

I haven't been overly impressed with Lucy Lui's work to this point. Although she did a serviceable job in last season's "Southland," that particular role was right in her wheelhouse.  Casting such a brittle, fingernails-down-the-chalkboard actress to portray a thoroughly unlikable character possessing those very same qualities was a smart choice by the producers of “Southland,” and maybe she'll deliver a similarly unpleasant-but-effective performance in “Elementary” -- but  the show is such a blatantly cynical rip-off that it's impossible to care.

This kind of thing just makes me embarrassed to be an American working in our television industry.

The Shame showers down upon us all...

* And if any or all of those sound like worthy viewing to you, well, sorry about that -- we just see the world of entertainment through different eyes.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Good Hooks, Bad Hooks: a Rant

                                The Lamps of Damocles

This being something of an "inside-baseball" post, it may seem irrelevant to readers unfamiliar with the nuts-and-bolts realities of set lighting. Still, any film students out there -- all you would-be writers, producers, directors, and cameramen hoping to one day walk onto a sound stage as a working professional -- should understand that each of the many heavy, hot, metal-and-glass lamps hanging above every set is potentially lethal should something go wrong.  Gravity is merciless, leaving very little margin for error, which is why a good juicer makes every effort to keep those lamps safely on the pipes where they belong.  But crappy equipment exists, and shit occasionally does happen.  

Just so you know...

When working on a stage with a pipe grid, the majority of lamps used will be hung from that grid -- either “dead hung” (directly on the pipe itself) or from a telescoping stirrup hangar attached to the pipes, which allows a lamp to be lowered to the desired height. Either way, the lamp must be equipped with a pipe clamp. Some units (notably Par Cans and Source Fours) come with pipe clamps as standard equipment, but most lamps come from the rental house or lamp dock lacking any clamps, which means we have to install them. This is a simple matter of inserting a cotter-pin and tightening a bolt, but even that has to be done right.  I can't tell you  how many times I've gone up a ladder or in a lift to adjust a lamp only to find the cotter pin dangling uselessly from a small retainer chain -- which happened because the juicer who installed that clamp didn't bother to spread or bend the cotter pin enough to prevent it from sliding loose.

There's no excuse for such laziness.  Granted, we always install safety cables from the light to the pipe for added protection, but that's a back-up measure meant to prevent the whole thing from falling in a worst-case-scenario.  The cotter pin is the first line of defense to keep a lamp safely attached to the pipe clamp. 

Juicers tend to use slang rather than the proper names of equipment during the course of a work day, which is why pipe clamps are commonly called “hooks” on set -- for reasons that are apparent when you see one. Unfortunately, not all hooks are created equal in Hollywood, where there are Good Hooks and Bad Hooks. A good hook is pictured below, with teeth that extend around the top of the pipe so that the lamp-and-clamp can’t slip off the pipe or stirrup hanger before you have a chance to tighten the bolt.  Since most lamps tend to be slightly front-heavy, this matters.

                                          Good Hook

                                           Bad Hook

In contrast, a bad hook offers many fewer teeth set at a 90 degree angle, and is thus much more likely to slip off the pipe if you’re not very careful and deliberate when hanging the lamp -- and as a juicer who works with these clamps every day, I’ve come to loathe bad hooks.  They’re trouble enough on a small, relatively light lamps, but while wrapping a swing set late at night last week, I came across a Studio Senior (a 5000 watt lamp weighing nearly fifty pounds including the clamp and barn doors) hung from one of these bad hooks – and getting that pig safely off the pipe onto my lift required extra care and attention.

This is no trivial matter.  Wrapping at the end of shoot night after a 14 hour day can be a frenzied process with prop people and set dressers working on the floor as we clear the lamps and stirrup hangers from the pipes directly above them. They usually get a head start on us, but we can't wait always wait for them to finish.  Everybody is tired at that hour, and any piece of equipment that makes an inherently risky task even more dicey than absolutely necessary is a problem.

For the life of me, I can't understand the mentality of manufacturers who design and sell such crappy equipment, much less the rental houses and lamp docks who buy and stock the goddamned things.  Maybe a bad  hook requires less metal and is thus slightly cheaper, but can saving a nickle’s worth of iron at the cost of sending a decidedly inferior product out into the world – a badly-designed clamp that by its very nature puts people and expensive equipment at increased risk – be a sensible marketing strategy?

Not to me.  I tell the Best Boy to reject these bad clamps whenever the lamp dock delivers one, but with a hundred and fifty clamps arriving in crates on the first day of rigging (and a gaffer anxious to get the lamps up and rough-in the lighting), a bad clamp occasionally winds up on the pipe grid.  We can deal with that -- and we do -- but the point is we shouldn't have to.  And much to their discredit, every Source Four I’ve ever seen over the years (and we use a lot of them) came from the lamp dock or rental facility with one of these piece-of-shit 90 degree clamps as standard equipment.

And that pisses me off...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tip of the Week

As anyone who pays attention to this space knows, I am no fan of so-called “Reality TV,” a genre that as a viewer, I consider to be the sweaty, unwashed armpit of the television industry. Reality shows have the same chance of serving up the truth about real-world life as I do of learning to play guitar like Jimi Hendrix -- zero.

Still, we all have to make a living in this town, and sometimes that means taking whatever comes. In that light, I would be the proverbial pot calling the kettle black to criticize anyone working in Reality Television, given that most of my income this year has come from slaving in the salt mines of Disney, helping make a series of noisy, idiotic sit-coms designed to penetrate the ADD-afflicted brains of pre-teenage kids... and thus pry open the pocketbooks of their parents.

Which means I too am a sinner beyond redemption, and cannot throw the first stone.

I do, however, thoroughly enjoy reading reviews of Reality shows, particularly those from the pen of Mary McNamara, who with Robert Lloyd, deliver a one-two punch of consistently razor-sharp television criticism for the LA Times.  These two dissect the network’s offerings with a precision and power I haven’t witnessed since the heavy-hitting days of Mantle and Maris, Mays-and-McCovey, or Canseco and McGwire. *

Mary hit yet another ball out of the park with her recent review of “Beverly Hills Nannies,” the latest barge of fetid reality garbage to drift across our screens. The “Beverly Hills” series reminds me of those stiff-legged zombies in “Living Dead”; regardless of how ridiculous such brain-rotting shows are, they just keep coming. I can’t help wondering what’s next – “Beverly Hills Gardeners,” “Beverly Hills Podiatrists,” or maybe even “Beverly Hills Dentists?”

 Be still my heart...

Whatever you think of Reality Television, read the opening paragraphs of her review.

“During the 18th century, a fashionable pastime among London's rich and royal was to visit Bethlem Royal Hospital, most commonly known as Bedlam, and watch the antics of the mentally ill. In the 21st century, it is the rich and famous who are gaped at, their habits and habitats reveled in and reviled through the lens of reality TV. 

What started as an aspirational experience, epitomized by the gushing "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous," has become a cottage industry of class schadenfreude, the crown jewel being the "Real Housewives" franchise. Just look at the size of their closets and their neuroses, see how their children sass them and their "friends" disrespect them, how their marriages rot in front of our shocked and grateful eyes.” 

Good stuff, that.

Check it out...

* Yes, those are sports analogies, which seem entirely appropriate given the National League’s glorious victory over the Forces of Darkness (and the odious DH) of the American League in last night’s All Star Game. If those names draw a blank, Google will be happy to fill you in.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Andy Griffith

                                        1926 -- 2012

The LA Times did a nice job covering the life, career, and death of Andy Griffith last week with a front page obituary, an earnest appreciation by former young co-star-turned-director-turned-realty-show-schlockmeister Ron Howard, an analysis of Griffith’s surprising impact on the landscape of television, and the ever-thoughtful perspectives of TV critics Robert Lloyd and Mary McNamara.

Pretty much anything you might want to know about Andy Griffith’s career is in those stories. Having never met or worked with him, I can’t add much to the LA Time’s professional insights... but I did witness the man in action once, and it was a memorable moment.

While working on a commercial out at GMT Studios in West LA – one of those drab industrial park facilities where the stages are nothing more than big empty boxes with a pipe grid hung overhead – nature called, so I headed off stage, where a pay phone occupied a strategic spot in the corridor leading to the bathrooms.  This was back in the mid-80’s, well before the day when everyone over the age of six would carry (and stare into) a cell phone eighteen hours a day.  In those primitive times, when you had to make a call, you found a pay phone.*

Exiting the stage door, I saw the man himself -- Andy of Mayberry, all made-up in a suit and tie -- leaning against the wall with one hand, the pay phone in the other. He wasn’t smiling, either; he was yelling.

Andy was pissed.

It didn’t take long to catch the drift of his anger. Apparently one of his productions (probably another "Matlock" TV movie) had been scheduled to run that week opposite a nationally televised fight featuring the then-invincible (and very popular) heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson.

 “Goddamn it!” he shouted into the phone, “We’re gonna get killed going up against that fucking Tyson fight. What the hell can we do about it?”

Nothing, it seemed, and thus this geyser of anger from a man famous for his mild-mannered screen persona.  I didn’t linger to eavesdrop, and by the time I emerged from the bathroom, he was gone.  I never saw him again, but found it reassuring that the man I'd watched on TV as a kid was not some plaster saint after all.  As genial, avuncular, and "country" as he appeared on-screen, Andy Griffith was dead serious about every aspect of his work.    

It's easy to dismiss his corn-pone appeal and down-home mannerisms, but unlike so many who catch fire and burn to a blackened crisp under the heat of the Hollywood spotlight, Griffith managed his success and career with a steady hand.  According to the Times, "The Andy Griffith Show" remained in the top ten for its entire eight year run, and went out on top with a firm grasp on the Number One rank in the ratings, a feat equaled only by legendary 90's sit-com "Seinfeld."  That's heady stuff, and such a sustained run of success does not happen by accident.  Say what you will about the man and his shows, but Andy Griffith knew what he was doing.

I wish there were more like him in the television business nowadays, where the broadcast networks seem to be run by clueless corporate committees who pay more attention to the budgetary bottom line than the quality of their shows -- which is one reason cable is eating their creative lunch, week in and week out.

So long, Andy.  You'll be missed.

* Pay phones were everywhere back then, and they usually worked.  As far as I’m concerned, those were better times. Cell phones are undeniably convenient, and smart phones have a dazzling ability to retrieve data from the web, but every time there’s a break in the action on set these days, I look around and see 90% of the crew staring into their phones -- playing games, texting, surfing the internet, or making a call. As A.J. pointed out in a post a couple of years ago, people retreat into their own little cyber-world at every opportunity rather than finding a more social, less isolating way to pass the time.  This has leached something from the communal experience of being on a crew.  But I understand the times, and that I’m a minority of one in my neo-Luddite views towards cell phones and our increasingly distracted, text-crazed world.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

On With the Show

                   "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss"                    
                           Won’t Get Fooled Again, by The Who 

                   Let 'em eat cake, on their hands and knees...

For the crew, every show starts out the same way: standing at the foot of a very steep and craggy mountain, looking straight up. The first two weeks are the worst -- an intense, sustained exertion of muscle and sweat aimed at turning an empty sound stage into a fully-functional television factory ready to crank out a brand new episode every five to eight days.*

It’s human nature to forget the miserable details of life's painful ordeals with the passage of time. The agony of childbirth, hemorrhoid surgery, or the morning-after spike-in-the-head following a champagne and cognac bender tends to fade in our memories as the years flow under that metaphorical bridge.  The same holds for starting a show.  Once everything is up and running, the exhausting ordeal of creating the physical infrastructure necessary for that show – assembling the actual television-making machine – is soon forgotten as the specific challenges of each subsequent show arise and are met.  It's a bit like the crew spending two weeks building a ship, then setting sail on a thirteen episode journey across stormy seas.

Fully in tune with my own human nature, I always seem to forget just how hard it really is to build that ship in the first place.

The first week provided a grueling reminder when -- after the usual shit-storm of Day One confusion -- we began sending several tons of cable up high and running out nearly eighty circuits (properly labeled on both ends of the cable, thankyouverymuch) from the waterfall on one side of the stage to dozens of power drops over the permanent and swing set areas.**  Meanwhile, two juicers on the core crew climbed into man-lifts and starting hanging the two hundred-plus lamps the first episode would require.

Although the process of rigging a show is pretty much the same every time, a prime variable for the set lighting crew is which studio and sound stage will be home for the show. The layout up-high varies from studio to studio, and even from stage to stage on the same lot, which can make a huge difference to the juicers running power. The last time I worked this show, it was shot on an ancient stage that marked ground-zero in the transition from the silent film era to sound early in the 20th Century, but historical cinematic resonance does necessarily translate into a user-friendly facility for set lighting.  Accordingly, we were all happy to learn that the producers had moved the show to a different lot for this season... until we went up high that first day and realized just what we’d be up against.*** Rather than one of the new stages built on this lot in the past few years, our stage is yet another ancient facility retrofitted with air-conditioning to meet the needs of a modern television show.

Given that working on a heavily-insulated sound stage with two hundred tungsten lights burning -- lamps that are in essence, giant toasters with lenses --  can feel a lot like marching through Death Valley in August, air conditioning is a true blessing.  Unfortunately, the sound stages of old Hollywood were constructed well before the advent of this simple-but-marvelous technology, and retrofitting means adding lots of very bulky ducting up high.   Even the most modern stages often require ducking under AC ducts up-high, but this stage is ridiculous, with four-foot diameter ducts running directly across all but one of the interlocking catwalks.  This forces the cable crew to crawl on hands and knees dozens of times every day while laying out and dropping the power feeds along one of the two main catwalks. The other catwalks offer a choice -- crawl under (your back scraping hard against the ducts) or scramble up and across a wooden ladder-and-bridge structure built over the ducting.  The first ten or fifteen trips over-or-under aren't so bad, but by noon your knees and back are aching, and nearing the end of a ten hour day, each duct-crossing represents one more insultingly painful straw laid upon the already overloaded (if highly metaphorical) camel’s back.

By Friday of Week One, I felt like I'd been broken in two, dog-tired with knees bruised inside and out, hands, arms, and thighs sore, and a back laced with shooting nerve pain.  One more day of that might have put me disability.  Thanks to their youth and resilience, the rest of the up-high crew was in better shape, but they too were hurting. 

The sheer stupidity of such an absurd situation was as frustrating as it was infuriating  Once again it's glaringly obvious that the studio people who signed off on this abomination don’t have a fucking clue what we do for a living, or simply don't care. Being that this particular show is another cheap-ass Disney production, it's a safe assumption that the executives above-the-line don’t give a shit either. What the hell, there's a recession on – we can pay those below-the-line suckers peanuts at cable-rate, then walk all over them in our shiny new golf shoes.

As Marie Antoinette apparently did not say, let 'em eat cake.

But I must not – will not -- descend into the dank swamp of bitterness. That way lies madness... and in a state where long-term unemployment continues to hover around twelve percent, a job is a job. Besides, those who follow the path of the juicer Hollywood have chosen a life of heavy lifting. Once that bed is made, there you shall sleep, with a full load of pain and suffering waiting to greet you every morning.

Fortunately for me, the holiday weekend allowed an extra day to recover before the second week of rigging and lighting, and now that the relentless flogging has abated -- the ship built and ready to sail -- we're all more than ready to leave dry land behind and begin the journey in earnest. 

The worst is over. On with the show.

* It takes more time to shoot a one hour episodic and a single camera or multi-camera comedy. 

 ** The "waterfall" is the first run of cable from the dimmer room up to the catwalks, which typically hangs in what resembles a black vertical curtain hanging down the wall at one end of the stage.

*** And I thought this was bad...