Waking up at 5 a.m. on a Monday was jarring for me, but it’s a typical day for the people who work at “Access Hollywood Live.”
A behind-the-scenes tour of the NBC studio in Burbank, Ca. offered a unique perspective on broadcast entertainment. As part of a group of journalism students who were taking a tour of the studio, the experience opened our eyes to all the work that goes into making a live show.
Stepping into the “Access” studio just after 7 a.m., we were welcomed with smiles and complimentary breakfast in the green room. Our tour host and “Access” Style Producer Anthony Ramos gave us an exclusive look at what it’s like putting together a multi-faceted program.
The official tour didn’t seem to miss a single space of the studio. Multiple screens lit up the control room like a Hollywood Christmas tree, with Taylor Swift and Ian Somerhalder as the standout decorations. Walking down the hallway, we were introduced to the hair and make-up team that makes the on-air personalities and guests look effortlessly perfect. Temptation to get a makeover was wrong, but I resisted.
Onto the wardrobe room, which reflected a living, breathing inspiration board – photos of celebrity outfits, notes all over the place, and an overflowing selection of statement jewelry. A few Halloween decorations hung here and there on the brightly painted turquoise walls as a way of celebrating the fall season on what was another average sunny day in Los Angeles. Spirits never seem to be low here – pun intended.
Next up was the cozy set where a crew films “Access.” It feels like you’re in a friend’s eclectic New York apartment, with funky floral arrangements and stacks of books on the table. A large kitchen island, a grand piano, and crystal chandeliers – these eye-catching elements provided an upbeat yet relaxed atmosphere where the cast and crew interact like lifelong friends. If it weren’t breakfast time, I almost think there would’ve been glasses of champagne to match the bubbly people on set.
After seeing nearly every square foot, the countdown to air began. Co-hosts Billy Bush and Kit Hoover took their respective seats and jumped right into the a.m. show. Their conversational dialogue was casual when they discussed the hot entertainment topics; it added to the laid back vibes of the area. One thing that caught me off guard was being introduced and recorded for the program as students from Chicago. Our entire SiLA-JO class had an adrenaline kick from that, for sure, and we’re eager to see the episode for our two-second cameo.
The one downside? The celebrity guest dressing room remained empty, as a scheduling conflict required Somerhalder to pre-record Monday’s segment last Friday – an occurrence Ramos explained was extremely rare, because it tends to take away from the energy of the show.
But the fact that it was Bush’s birthday made up for the absence of a live guest. He sang Taylor Swift hits and nearly punctured a lung from laughing so hard during the light-hearted parts of the “Plugged In” segment with Sheryl Lee Ralph and Jackie Fabulous. We might’ve lost the opportunity to succumb to weak knees from Somerhalder, but the positive experience we had made us forget about that.
As the hour-long program came to a close, the crew presented Bush with a special cowboy boot-shaped cake after he’d been showered with confetti and balloons. Everyone cheered as Bush blew out his candles and stared in awe at the incredibly detailed cake.
We made our way to the exit and said our goodbyes to Ramos and the rest. Maybe next time we’re at the studio, it’ll be either as an on-air guest or because we’ve locked down a job with such passionate people.
Either way, the 5 a.m. wake up call doesn’t seem so bad.