Trippin’ Through Television City

Let me tell you about this crazy dream I had.

I dreamt that I was deep inside Television City–CBS’s post-modern, black and white broadcast bunker. It looms large in Los Angeles at the corner of Beverly and Fairfax, just north of the famed Farmer’s Market. The building was built way back in 1952–56 years ago, back in the days of Lucy, Burns & Allen and Gleason. Now it houses hits like American Idol and Dancing With The Stars.
It still looks contemporary, very today, with those sharp, square cube corners and large Bodoni bold letters defying any association with the ’50s. Future civilizations will dig it all up a thousand years from now and chip into the CBS landmark like the archaeologists who crawled all over the ancient pyramid of Giza in the ’20s.
In my dream, Cindy Ronzoni was there–the perfect companion as the queen of the scene on all those TCA press tours. (Seems she had a similar dream and posted about it here.) A Craig Ferguson taping had brought us to Television City. We entered the building at the talent gate, signed in, rode up in an elevator, and–all very Twilight Zone like–got off on the wrong floor. The sign post up ahead: abandoned Price Is Right studio.
To be specific, Studio 33, the Bob Barker studio, the place where, for 35 years, various announcers (but especially Rod Roddy) yelled “Come on down!” Drew Carrey, of course, hosts the show now, and while the day glow primary colour scheme remains the same, the actual, physical studio is different. Barker’s stage stands abandoned and adrift in another corner of the massive broadcast centre. Or so it seemed in this dream.
The CBS space is sacred ground, and not just for its daytime game show connection. Long before Barker started handing out refrigerators and Rice-A-Roni on Price, this was the studio where The Carol Burnett Show was shot in the ’60s and ’70s. Match Game used to tape in Studio 33 (hence the vague whiff of stale cigarettes and booze in the air. God bless you, Charles Nelson Riley).
With only a couple of cleaners in the area, we snuck into the set and walked right out to centre stage where Barker once stood. In front of us were row upon row of those red cushioned seats. The place is bizarre, hushed like a church without tourists in T-shirts and name tags hopping and howling. Directly in front, just off the lip of the stage, were the four bidding podiums. Behind us were the giant showcase doors plus the final showcase area.
It was eerie, in this dream, to be roaming through this deserted ruin of past broadcast glories. To be able to part the dusty ruby and blue-grey CBS curtains, with their pattern of iconic CBS eye logos. Surely it was behind one of these curtains where Barker first made a grab for Janice Pennington’s ass. Think of it–it was like being at Lourdes for couch potatoes.
Not wanting to be discovered, we genuflected and walked in reverent silence away from Studio 33. Past the cleaning staff, past the giant, spinning wheel, the “Plinko” game and other Price props and set ups, lighting a candle in front of each and every one of them.
On the way out, we stopped just long enough to spade and neuter some stray pets. Barker himself, dressed in white, met us at the gatehouse and waved goodbye, reminding us it was all a dream and not to write about it in any way that might somehow get any CBS publicists or security staffers fired or in deep trouble, especially any that we might need to get into the damn place again some day.

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