Spacecitymarc's site visit report
Things about the Veronica Mars set visit:
- Wednesday, mid-morning. I sigh and realize as we head to the production offices that my spoilerphobic tendencies — I won't even watch commercials or previews — are going to be kicked to the ground, mocked mercilessly, and have their lunch money stolen from them this week. I knew this when I decided to come here, but it's finally sinking in. I am surprisingly at peace with it.
- Wednesday, late morning. If I were auditioning for a role on a television show, I'm not sure how I would feel if the people in the room were the casting director, a producer, the creator of the show, and some guy from a fan site who keeps track of the songs played on the show.
- Wednesday, early afternoon. We spot the white board that lists which characters will be in which episodes for the entirety of season three. It will take us until tomorrow to realize that Tim Foyle's disappearance after the next episode is a pretty damn good indication of who murdered Dean O'Dell.
- Wednesday, early afternoon. Rob Thomas's car has actual goddamned cameras on the front and back that send an image to a screen in the dash so that you can see…actually, I don't know what you're supposed to see. Is it supposed to help you with parking? Somehow, in the 100-plus years of automobiling, people have gotten by without this feature. But I would never begrudge Rob this. We listen to Joni Mitchell on the way to lunch.
- Wednesday, early afternoon. The waiter asks us if we could please pay the check, as he doesn't want to be a cliché but he's late for an audition, and I knew that he was an actor as soon as he gave us the menus. I just knew it.
- Wednesday, mid-afternoon. Rob swings us by Daran Norris's house, but it's decided that he is, sadly, not home. The landscapers working on his yard note us and are not impressed.
- Wednesday, mid-afternoon. We see an opening scene from one of the upcoming episodes. It stars one of my favorite actors as Desmond Fellows, and it's hilarious in that way that is so effortless to him. He literally makes me laugh just by saying the word "Weird."
- Wednesday, mid-afternoon. Editor Dan Gabbe shows us a preliminary edit of a scene in an upcoming episode and asks what we think. I make the comment that everything leading up to [Moment X] is shot from Character A's perspective, while [Moment X] dramatically (and temporarily) switches to Character B's point of view. He pauses and says, "That's right." I have impressed him. I will do it again during the podcast, when he offers "mad props" to the set designer for the furnace in "Mars, Bars" and I mutter "Mad props for mad props" in response.
- Thursday, late morning. Julie Gonzalo is pretty.
- Thursday, noonish. We sit down in the Hearst food court set and have a nice extended chat with Jason Dohring. A question I wanted to ask about the acting challenges of playing the character with the most complex and varied sex life on the show somehow, in traveling from my brain to my mouth, gets transformed into "Who do you enjoy kissing more, Charisma Carpenter or Kristen Bell?" I've officially become everything I hate.
- Thursday, early afternoon. We're given "Worst Easter Egg Hunt Ever" mugs, which is cool, until I realize that they, uh, kind of celebrate rape. So that's kind of awkward.
- Thursday, early afternoon. I take some pictures that I really shouldn't take of scenes being filmed, which gets me chewed out by the director, and rightly so. But the photos came out great.
- Thursday, early afternoon. Using my digital camera's video function, I have Chris Lowell film a greeting to my friend Faith, who when I told her I was visiting the set got excited about me meeting Piz. It is quite possibly the funniest thing that I see, hear, or do all week. I neglect to ask him to perform his much-lauded Michael Muhney impression, and I'm just sick about it for about a day.
- Thursday, early afternoon. I sit at the desk of Deputy Sacks, Moustache Cop. This makes me happier than I can possibly tell you.
- Thursday, early afternoon. The Mars household set. "Unleashed" poster: awesome. Even more awesome? Looking through Veronica's CDs and successfully locating the Virgin Suicides soundtrack. Not at all sure why this gets me jazzed.
- Thursday, mid-afternoon. More CD fun: I spot a copy of You Am I's Hi Fi Way, one of my favorite albums by one of my favorite bands in the world, on the KRFF set.
- Thursday, mid-afternoon. Solved!: the mystery of Veronica's Le Baron. I can state with absolute certainty that it is a 1995 model. In fact, if you're willing to pay $50 to CARFAX, you can even find out the title and repair history of both of the cars used by the show. You can buy them here and here, but please don't. You are stronger than that.
- Thursday, mid-afternoon. My Mars Investigations associates are now officially sick of hearing the words "American Idol." The reason for this (besides the obvious, of course) is that I have been given a writing assignment about the show which will pay for my plane fare that is due before we leave San Diego. Unfortunately, the way that the week's schedule is working out, I am forced to download it instead of watching it live. But problems with the torrent I left running overnight mean that I don't have Wednesday's episode (first week of semis, women's performances), so I've been stressing about it all day, as I need to file it tomorrow morning. I manage to convince Matt, our tour guide, to let me set up my laptop in the production offices so that I can finish it up, and as I'm getting all connected and starting up BitComet, it occurs to me that not only am I downloading stuff quite illegally using the Internet connection of a television production company (which would go over well if that sort of thing was ever traced, I'm sure), I'm downloading a show that is at the moment the direct timeslot competitor of the very show in whose production offices I am downloading it. Before I can figure out whether they'd run me out of town (you are watching our competition!) or give me a hero's welcome (you are undermining our competition by stealing it!), the episode finishes and I can shut down my computer and actually join folks for the rest of the afternoon.
- Thursday, mid-afternoon. I'm standing over the craft services cart, getting a good survey of the rather impressive array of chocolate objects available for my consumption, when Enrico Colantoni pops over and asks, "So, what looks good here?" When he scoops up one of the peanut-butter malted milk balls with plastic spoon, I'm inspired to challenge him to an egg-and-spoon race. (Which would technically be a malted-milk-ball-and-spoon race, obviously, but I don't want to confuse my intent.) Sadly, Rico cannot see the genius of trying to make a complete loop around the set without dropping the chocolate-covered ball that he is balancing in the plastic spoon that he's holding between his teeth before some random guy visiting from a fan site can do the same.
- Thursday, mid-afternoon. I am about 75% sure that Jon Moskin, who wrote the episode that is currently being filmed, is me from the future. I make sure not to make physical contact, lest I annihilate all existence.
- Thursday evening. The others are hanging out at the set and, I will later learn, getting major face time with Francis Capra at the studio diner after shooting is finished. Me? I'm at the motel watching the third (!) and final (!!) American Idol of the week. Whoopee.
- Friday, 3:30 a.m. Probably as a result of me still being on Boston time, I wake up for no good reason. Also for no good reason, I take a look around the room and notice…there's nobody else there. There should be two, possibly three others sleeping in this room tonight, and I'm all alone. I start to think about scenarios. Have…have I been abandoned? Surely Wai-Yin and Sunil wouldn't have gotten so fed up with me that they up and left me, right? That would just be mean. I get my answer when they show up less than 15 minutes later, fresh from the aforementioned diner session with Francis. I'm bummed that I missed it, but it's better than being forced to pay for the entire room and figure out transportation back to L.A. on my own, I suppose.
- Friday, 10:00 a.m. I finish my American Idol piece and email it to my editor two hours ahead of deadline. I can feel the stress disappear; I can now enjoy the rest of the set visit without the distraction of work (or the panic that I won't be able to complete the assignment). It is a huge relief. In a moment of universe-hates-me irony, the piece never runs. I get paid for it regardless, because it doesn't hate me that much. It's like I'm the universe's kid brother, getting my hair mussed roughly and then treated to a sno-cone.
- Friday, mid-afternoon. Kristen Bell would damn well like you to know that she is 5' 1" and three-quarters, thank you very much.
- Friday, early evening. Lunch time! We eat with guest actor Jerry Shea, who was on a few episodes of Scrubs this season. One of the producers finds us and gives us each a copy of the yearbook that was made for the cast and crew at the end of season two. They've been signed by Kristen. It is an incredibly thoughtful gesture (one of several that we'll see), and I suddenly feel like I've taken advantage somehow. They are, in many ways, bending over backwards for us.
- Friday, late night. I complete my goal of having every actor in the episode sign a copy of the sides (the portions of the script being filmed that day) when I get the autographs of Lauren Bowles and Patrick Fischler. They're very nice — they're married, they love Veronica Mars, and they're psyched to have been cast on the show. They're also the types of actors that you know you've seen a thousand times before but just can't place. So I asked Lauren where I might recognize her from, and he asks if I ever saw Watching Ellie, with Julia-Louis Dreyfus. I did, though it was a while ago, and I figure that that must have been it. It's only later when I check her out on IMDb that I learn that in addition to being Dreyfus's half-sister, she played the waitress on about a thousand episodes of Seinfeld, which of course. It then occurs to me that she may not have wanted to come right out and say that but figured that if she mentioned Dreyfus, I might make the connection and get there on my own. I did not, and I'm actually deeply embarrassed that I failed to recognize her.
- Sunday, 6:00 a.m. I've just gotten off the red-eye from L.A. to Detroit and have about an hour to kill before my Boston flight boards. As I'm too exhausted to read anything, I decide to look at my photos to pass the time. Only they're gone. Well, not all of them: there's me with Percy Daggs and me looking very lumpy next to Kristen. But those were the last two pictures I took, and they're the only ones the camera is registering. On the plus side, that damn well woke me up and kept me occupied until my plane left. Eventually, I will be able to use freeware image-recovery software to salvage maybe 60% of the missing photos and two of my three videos. But I very nearly came out of the set visit with nothing more than memories. And two photos. And an autographed portion of the script. And a signed production yearbook. And a mug. Who wants to live like that?