Free Front Row Tickets to the Planet's Hottest Act
Why I'm the envy of teenage girls everywhere.
Last Tuesday, my son and I were enjoying the final hours of our Hollywood vacation. We’d flown into Burbank a few days earlier, having taken advantage of some cheap promo prices offered by a little known airline that had recently begun service out of a small airport near our Colorado home.
The trip, up until that point, had been lots of fun and a great father/son bonding experience. We spent a day at Universal Studios, caught stand-up comedian Nate Bargatze’s national tour at the Ace Hotel theater in Los Angeles, ate some really good meals, and did a fair amount of sight-seeing. Plus, we stayed at The Garland, a great early-70s themed hotel I wrote about a few months ago.
The last thing on our itinerary was being part of a studio audience for a late-night talk-show taping — specifically, The Late Late Show With James Corden.
I’d secured the tickets weeks earlier online, and as many people know, studio-audience passes are typically free (as ours were). You just have to reserve them early, as they’re dealt out on a first come, first served basis (and sometimes include background checks). We chose Corden not because we’re fans (I’d never even seen his program), but because it was one of the few shows with a minimum age-restriction that my 17-year-old son actually cleared.
At the time I got the tickets, the guests for that episode had yet to be announced. It wasn’t until a week or so beforehand that we learned they would be actor Nicholas Hoult (who played The Beast in multiple X-Men movies) and comedian Aisling Bea (who I hadn’t heard of).
Anyway, we showed up at Television City that afternoon, and got in line in the hot sun behind a surprisingly large number of people — most of whom appeared in their early 20s or younger.
After verifying with the group in front of us that we were indeed in the right line, one of them eagerly asked us, “Did you hear who tonight’s surprise guests are?”
Surprise guests? My son and I glanced at each other and shook our heads.
“BTS!” they stated in unison, their eyes wide as if they were relaying some very exciting news.
“Really?” my son replied, seeming somewhat impressed.
“Who?” I asked, with genuinely no clue of who (or what) BTS was.
They laughed and quickly explained to me that BTS is the biggest pop-music act in the world — a boy band from South Korea that’s been breaking all kinds of sales records in recent years, earning a ton of music awards, and selling out huge venues across the globe. They’re so popular, in fact, that tickets for their sold-out shows are being re-sold, through the secondary market, for an average of over $800 a pop ($400 for nosebleed seats)! Those numbers apparently even put Taylor Swift to shame.
And here, my son and I were about to see them perform for free… from just a few feet away.
“They’re basically today’s Beatles or Rolling Stones,” another person in line added.
I wasn’t really buying that comparison, but it was clear they were pretty huge, and I guess my son and I should have felt awfully lucky. But, to be honest, I was more amused than anything. I mean, this was a boy band we were talking about, and I’ve been making fun of boy bands since way back in junior high when New Kids on the Block entered the scene.
On my cell, I joked about the card we’d drawn on Twitter. Within seconds, I was hearing from several members of the “BTS Army” (dedicated fans of the band) who explained that I was in for the treat of a lifetime. When I posted the same message on Facebook, I was informed that I was the absolute envy of a friend’s teenage daughter.
After a while, studio interns came out and began checking everyone’s tickets and identification. That’s when it became clear that a lot of people were there without tickets at all. News of the band’s appearance had leaked out online, and these individuals (mostly youngsters) were hoping to sneak or schmooze their way inside to see them. They were politely turned away, and the line suddenly became much shorter, with my son and I moved near the front because we had “priority” tickets (as opposed to “general” overflow tickets for those who’d reserved theirs later).
One of the young ladies who was denied entry was so desperate to see the band that she began offering $500 to anyone willing to sell her their “+1” guest ticket; I don’t know if anyone took her up on it.
We were eventually let in through the front gate, guided through multiple ID and vaccination checks, moved into a holding area, and then marched inside and up a few flights of stairs to the swanky, fairly small studio. To our surprise, my son and I were placed in the front row, a bit left of center.
The show’s warm-up guy introduced himself to everyone, and instructed us on how to conduct ourselves: cellphones off and in our pockets for the duration of the taping, standing ovations for the host and guests, boisterous laughter regardless of how funny or unfunny the jokes were, and loud applause whenever directed.
Then came some episode-specific instructions.
“Guys, we want you to act just as excited to see our other guests as you are to see BTS.”
I laughed and turned to my son. “I’m way more excited to see the X-Men guy than I am the boy band,” I whispered.
But I understood the point being made. We were supposed to be enthusiastic about everyone who’d be appearing in front of the camera that night.
We were also told that segments would be shot out of order, with the first one slated to run during Corden’s 1000th episode next month (if I understood what they said correctly). The filming would begin with BTS performing a song center-stage that would begin with the band coming down through the crowd.
Lots of young women in the audience squealed with delight.
“Clap, dance, get crazy, do all of that,” said the warm-up guy, “but absolutely NO TOUCHING!”
“No touching what?” I thought to myself before quickly realizing he was referring to BTS.
I was pretty confident I’d be able to contain myself. I turned to my son and jokingly asked him if he could do the same. He replied with an eye-roll.
From there, we were off to the races. The overflow crowd was sent onto the floor to surround a dance platform, and the BTS kids (at least I assumed it was them from the audience buzz) were escorted through the seating area to the control room behind us.
“Good grief, how many of them are there?” I asked my son. He didn’t know.
It was honestly the largest boy band I had ever seen. I’m talking member wise, not physically large; they were individually quite tiny. Their attire and immaculately styled hair were both colorful, and the audible sighs from the women around us (including some who worked there) further amused me. So did the band’s South Korean security detail who were stylishly dressed and equipped like U.S. Secret Service agents.
Seconds later, James Corden came on stage to an ovation, joined us in the audience, and introduced the band. Pre-recorded pop-music blared through the studio, and the boys danced down the aisles and onto the platform, lip-syncing into their handheld microphones, and hamming it up for the cameras. The crowd went nuts… and so did my son and I — dancing, hooting and hollering, raising the roof, and (I think) enjoying a fair amount of camera time.
You see, the Daly family isn’t above publicly making fools of ourselves for the purpose of harmless entertainment. After all, my son and I showed up that day to be part of a spectacle. The purpose of a studio audience is to energize the show, and we certainly did more than our fair share of it — laughing at each other throughout.
The show’s recording was supposed to take about two hours, tops. It ended up being over four, with only about 20 minutes dedicated to the opening monologue, and another 20 to Hoult and Bea (who appeared together). The rest of the time was all BTS, baby, with the audience tasked with maintaining the same energy level throughout.
It was fun and silly, but also exhausting.
The band performed and danced to two songs, twice each (I guess for editing purposes), with one requiring a lengthy set and wardrobe change. Corden also did an abnormally long interview with the kids, which — in boy-band fashion — thoroughly explored their feelings and inner sensitivities, and earned lots of “awwws” from the young ladies in attendance. The interview (which has already been viewed on YouTube close to 9 million times) dragged on even longer because a lot of the exchange required translating (only a couple of the band members speak English). Then, Corden’s studio band had to re-record the music for the boys’ intro… multiple times (for whatever reason).
What I’m saying is that we got a hell of a lot of BTS, probably more than what’s given to those who pay an inexplicable amount of money to see them in concert. And to be honest, for a middle-aged guitar-rock-lovin’ guy like me, pop-music boy-band mania can kind of drain the soul. I mean, they seemed like nice kids and all, but another 15 minutes of yippee-skippy numbers like this could have put me down for the count:
That said, I wouldn’t have traded the experience, even for the $500 offered by the fan outside. My son had never been to a professional studio taping, and because he’s a tech/lighting guy in his high school’s drama department, seeing how things were done behind the scenes was particularly insightful. Corden and the rest of the crew were gracious hosts, and like I said… we had a lot of fun goofing around.
We were only in a few quick camera shots in the show that aired Tuesday night, but the segment for next month’s 1000th episode should be a different story. If that’s the case (you never know what’s going to make the final cut), I’ll be sure to post some silly clips or screen-caps in an upcoming newsletter.
Even been to a television studio taping? Tell me about it in an email or in the comment section below.
Identifying the Mystery Hollywood Home
In last week’s newsletter, I posted some pictures of me in front of home and an adjoining, gated property where I said a “fiction character” and his “famous neighbor” lived. I took the photos when my son and I were in Hollywood last week.
The fictional character was Rick Dalton, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in Quentin Tarantino’s fantastic film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The upscale 60s-style home is a central setting in the movie (which takes place in 1969).
It’s where Dalton watches his own television performances in his living room alongside his stunt-double, Cliff Booth (Brat Pitt). It’s where Pitt repairs a roof antenna, and where a billboard of Dalton graces the driveway.
It’s even where the climax of the film takes place — the cul-de-sac where Charles Manson’s gang goes looking for blood (shortly after being chased off by the hippy-loathing Dalton), and meets a “fiery” ending.
If you’ve seen the movie, you also now know who the famous neighbor is: film director, Roman Polanski and his (then) wife, Sharon Tate. The gated property wasn’t Polanki’s real home, but it was portrayed as such in Tarantino’s movie.
It’s where the last scene of the film takes place.
My son and I took a Lyft ride to the location which sits high in the hills above Studio City. After checking it out for a bit, and taking some pictures, we tried to get another Lyft to Grauman's Chinese Theatre, but we were so far off the beaten path at that point that we had trouble finding one. So, we got up close and personal with another scene from the film, walking all the way down the same narrow, winding route shown below, until we got to the business district.
The entire area’s pretty cool.
Christmas, Christmas Time is Here
Fun fact: the distribution channels are clear and open for signed, personalized copies of my Sean Coleman Thrillers. Looking for a unique Christmas gift idea? I’ve got you covered.
Obligatory Dog Shot
Spending time at Universal Studios last week made this week’s featured vinyl an easy choice. John Williams has given us a number of iconic movie scores over the years, and his work for the 1975 horror classic, Jaws, may be the most recognizable and engaging of them all.
I’m not sure I need to say anything beyond that.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading today’s Daly Grind.
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Take care. And I’ll talk to you soon!