Thursday, July 8, 2010

Legos and NBC Studios

Phew. Things are finally cooling down here in NYC after a record-setting heatwave this week. It's still hot and humid, mind you, but not that "OMG I might actually MELT right now" feeling we've had for the last couple of days. In the last two days, we reached 100+ degrees (the first time NYC has seen consecutive 100 degree days since 1999), and on Tuesday we got all the way up to 103 degrees, which broke the record of 101 set in 1999. There have only been three hotter days in NYC history (since they started keeping track in 1869, anyway). Brutal. As I mentioned in my last post, my poor little air-conditioner just couldn't keep up. And that bad boy usually gets the job done - usually, after just about 10-20 minutes of having the A/C on, I'm cold and want to turn it off for a bit. But we've had that thing cranking for days and it has STILL been warm in here.

Alright, that's enough whining about the heat. I'm going to bookmark this post to go back and read when winter hits and I'm cursing as I walk down the street in the cold wind. Which is better? I don't know, frankly. The grass is always greener, I suppose.

Anyway. Back to business. Eric had Monday off from work, and it was great to spend an extra "weekend" day with him. When trying to decide what to do with ourselves, we referred to our NYC To-Do List to try to cross something off. Unfortunately, by then the heat had already descended upon us, so any major outdoor activity was off the table. So, we decided it was a good day for the NBC Studio Tour.

We made our way out to Rockefeller Center, and before we went in to NBC Studios for the tour we stopped at the new Lego Store that just opened in Rockefeller Plaza. As they tend to do in New York, the store opened with a grand display last week. You know the Promenade, where they always change out the trees/flowers/etc for the season (lilies for Easter, Christmas trees and angels for Christmas, etc.)? They had completely removed all the flowers there and replaced them with a Lego City, finished off with a giant Lego Apple at the end.

Lego city on the Promenade

Big Lego Apple

Taking a bite out of the Big Lego Apple, obviously.

We're kind of blocking the whole apple, but take my word for it that we're standing in front of it.

Inside, the Lego Store is smaller than we expected but filled with awesome Lego replicas of NYC/Rockefeller Center landmarks. They also have a huge wall with bins of Legos in every imaginable color (similar to the M&M store), and a huge Lego dragon that wraps all around the store.

 Right at the entrance to the store is a Lego replica of Prometheus. From L to R here: Lego Prometheus's back side, Lego Prometheus's front side, and Real Life Prometheus for comparison.

Lego Atlas, alongside Real Life Atlas (modeled by Achilles on Easter)

The entrance to the GE Building: Lego version on the left, Real Life version on the right

Lego Dragon and Wall of Legos

My favorite part of the Lego Store was the little replica of Rockefeller Center. Some of the spacing was off (for example, the Promenade was off to the side rather than centered back from Prometheus) but it was very cute. It even had tiny Lego people waving in front of the Today Show, Lego street musicians, and little Lego construction workers. Adorable!

Lego Rockefeller Center

Lego People in front of the Today Show on the left, and a Real Life Today Show scene on the right

Lego street musicians (earning $100 bills from their listeners! Wow!)

My favorite part - Lego construction workers

Lego people constructing the Lego Apple on the Promenade

Lego Rockefeller Center Ice Rink - Prometheus has come down off his perch and is skating, too!

After thoroughly examining everything in the Lego Store, we went over to the NBC Store to check in for our NBC Studio Tour.

Our tour was led by an NBC Page, which made me think of Kenneth from 30 Rock:

(Side note: If you don't watch 30 Rock, you are missing out on some hilarity. Watch it!)

Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed at all during this tour, so you'll have to make do with my descriptions and the couple generic pics I found online.

The tour started with a quick video about the history of NBC, then we went through security. We were able to see three actual studios: the Dr. Oz studio, Jimmy Fallon's studio, and the Saturday Night Life studio. Dr. Oz was first, and we learned about how they have about 40 seats in a "pit" in the center of the studio that rotate. That way, as Dr. Oz moves around the studio, those audience members can rotate so it looks like there is an audience behind him and in front of him, giving the impression that the studio is much larger than it actually is. (Much of the tour focused on how they make it look like audiences are larger than they actually are, because New York studios are so much smaller than West Coast studios.)

Next up was Jimmy Fallon, where we learned that when Jimmy does his monologue, he comes out and stands on a gold shamrock that marks his spot on the floor. That was inspired by Johnny Carson, who started out in that same studio before moving to L.A. Johnny Carson would stand on a gold star to mark his spot, and Jimmy copied that idea but put an Irish twist on it. Another interesting tidbit is that in that studio, they also have benches back behind the regular audience seats. When a musical guest performs, the audience members on those benches actually come down to the floor of the studio to fill the space while the musician performs. The benches then fold down and blend in with the carpet. That way it looks like there were a bunch of extra people brought in for the musical guest, and you don't even notice the three empty rows of seats in the back of the theater.

One of my favorite parts of the tour was the Muppet Pipes. As the story goes, in 1964 the Muppets were scheduled to appear on The Jack Paar Program. The Muppet team (including Jim Henson) showed up way too early and were sent to their dressing room, which ended up being just a small space with a bunch of dusty pipes. Since they had so much time to kill, they decided to paint the pipes with the paint they had brought for Muppet touch-ups. They painted the pipes to look like Muppets, and even got so into it that one of them hopped in a cab and went back for more supplies to complete their artwork! NBC planned to paint over the pipes the next day, but it just never happened. Later, during renovations, they planned to remove the pipes to display them for NBC tourists. However, they discovered that the pipes are actually integral to the structure of the building and could not be removed. So, instead of taking the pipes to the tourists, the NBC Studio Tour now takes the tourists to the pipes! They were pretty awesome.

Muppet Pipes
(photo from here)

Another highlight for me was seeing the SNL studio. Of course, I'm still holding out hope that one day we will see it again when we attend a taping of SNL, but let's not hold our breath on that one. Tickets are super hard to come by and I'm just not young and crazy enough to camp out for days for the POSSIBILITY of getting stand-by tickets. So, it was nice to see the studio in some way. We learned a bit about how the show works and what stages they use for which kinds of sketches.

Musical guest part of the set
(photo from here)

They also talked to us a bit about the makeup process and how they do costume changes between each sketch. For makeup and prosthetics, each cast member has a bust made of his/her head so the costume/makeup people can just create what needs to be done without the actor having to sit in makeup all week. However, if the actor's weight changes, a new bust must be made. They told us that Alec Baldwin, who has hosted SNL 15 times, has had six different busts made to accommodate his weight fluctuations over the years!

They also took us to a little "studio" where you could sit at a news desk and have your photo taken, and two of the tour members could try their hands at reading the news or weather. And that was it!

The tour was fun, and I think we would have loved it if we hadn't already done the Warner Bros. Studio Tour. But that WB tour was so awesome, the NBC tour couldn't quite live up to it. Still, it was nice to cross it off our list!


AD said...

Loved the Legos!

Dad said...

Looks like fun!