Monday, March 13, 2006

Just Like American Idol, Only Fatter and Without Singing

Well, the camera crew came and went. We're on our way to being big, big stars, I'm sure.

I studied broadcasting in college, though my emphasis came by way of Speech / Communication and not Journalism. And radio was more my thing than television. I learned during these courses (a couple decades ago now) to loathe and despise television, and I try nowadays to keep it at the length of a thickly rubber-gloved arm. Thank god for the digital video recorder--the television condom. Anyway, when Susan announced that we were being invaded by television people I immediately assumed the worst. But I needn't have worried. Too much.

In spite of a few TV classes last century, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Would they show up with a collection of 18-wheel trucks and begin drilling into everything (think Audrey Hepburn's bookstore in Funny Face)? Would the house be a treeless, smoldering ruin when they left? Did I fail to read the fine print that said the sequence producer expected a private, climate-controlled trailer and a jet-fresh supply of Russian caviar? Would they insist we replace our aged dog with one that didn't look stuffed?

Alas, they were but a crew of three: a field producer / off-camera host, a camera operator and another technical guy to help with lights and sound and so on. The Producer, Brad, was a fabulous bloke (everyone was from L.A.) whose background is in TV documentary production, and this gig was something different to unwind from heavier material. The two production guys were freelance; there are five separate crews operating simultaneously around the country on this project, and apparently the technical guys are hired separately from the producers. They filmed for about three and a half hours on three tapes split between the house (inside and outside), the neighborhood, and an interview with Susan and me. (As an aside, they showed up in a rented minivan, and said they actually filmed one place--a gazillion-dollar house--where the owners asked them to move their van out of the driveway. "So it won't ruin the shots?" asked the producer. "No. We don't want anyone thinking that WE drive a minivan." the man answered sourly. There you have it, folks: it ain't all roses and champagne!)

They were in town to shoot three houses in Appleton for a new series, National Open House which will air on HGTV this fall (I think--they said they'd let us know when it was up and running). Each show--there are planned to be 26 half-hour episodes--showcases three price ranges in three different communities, with the idea being to show viewers what their money would get them in different communities, both in terms of a house and in terms of quality of life. This is actually a very informative idea, as our house would be flatly unaffordable for us anywhere but here, which makes the point nicely: live in Appleton and your payoff will be that what you pay for a one bedroom rathole in Manhattan will here get you a nice house on the river. They are shooting more houses than they will probably use, so we may not even make the cut, though we were assured that we had a "very HGTV-friendly house." (Yeah, I'm sure you say that to everybody.)

Their main focus was properly on the house itself, though we had to do the obligatory cheesy wave and say to the camera "Welcome to Appleton, Wisconsin!" (I said I'd wave, but Susan had to deliver the line (insert Mr. Yuck here--"Mr. Yuck means NO!")), and we had our interview recorded down on the river where, TV appearances notwithstanding, we spend little time. But I suppose it's hardly an honest assessment of the property if attention is not paid to the water.

I couldn't help noting the subtle line of demarcation between the host and the two production guys. All three guys were really friendly and clearly bright and good at their jobs; all three were wearing an almost identical ensemble of jeans and sweatshirt / fleece top and comfy shoes; they had similar, medium-short haircuts. But Brad was indisputably the "TV guy," his appearance crisp and impeccable; he was clearly the people person, the one possessed with an abundance of interpersonal skills, while the technical guys sat at the counter and talked about physics or camera / sound / lighting stuff. Each had found his proper niche. (As had I apparently, as a large, schlumpy light-absorbing substance with a reflective dome.)

I wonder if my blog will change once I become a huge, George Hamilton-like star? (I'll have to put up a password just to get onto the site. I'll certainly need a more deeply-tanned avatar ;-)


Dzesika said...

TV is just so weird. How they make TV is even weirder. My background has always been as a print person, so when the TV crew came out for a (never-aired) BBC documentary featuring, er, me, I was stunned. Why do you need to shoot 45 minutes of footage of me looking pensive over my balcony? Especially if you're never going to use it anyway?

BrianAlt said...

Tell us when it's on!

Don't forget!

Mandy said...

*Definitely* tell us when it's on. Now that I'm back stateside, I'll actually be able to see it! (There are so many things about that which make me happy.)

Joshua said...

A George Hamilton AND Audrey Hepburn reference in one post!

Heather B. said...

Dude, you're so famous now. Will you sign my blog?

Lizzie said...

I'm completely star-struck! Seriously, that is so cool. I spotted an actor friend of mine in a Bayer commercial last night and a couple years ago he did a L&O: SVU episode, but this is way cooler! I know a TV star!

Also, "television condom," that's just a thing of beauty! I love it.

Lizzie said...

(Please excuse all the exclamation points. I didn't mean to leave such a shrill-sounding comment It hurts my ears just reading it.)

wunelle said...

I'll try to forward info as I get it. He didn't seem to have much idea. He did threaten to send us a DVD, tho, which would be cool.

HRHQL: exclamation points = friendly and enthusiasm. If you want shrill and loud YOU MUST USE ALL-CAPS! ;-)

Esbee said...

I wonder if, when you're famous, all your Wordaholism entries will be worth a lot.


Do let us know when it's on, although unless you go by Wunelle in it, which I somewhat doubt you do, I will be distracted by your "real name", the entire time, no matter how prepared I am.

It's like when Lizzie emailed me and I found out her real name is Clementine. Totally shocking.

Lizzie is Lizzie and you are Wunelle. Damn it.

wunelle said...

You'll get used to my new moniker, "George Hamilton Lite" soon enough.

As for the value of my posts now that I'm shortly to be famous, perhaps I should start asking for royalties now, in advance of the rush. Or a cut of the soon-to-be massive advertising revenue. My new contract will, of course, demand that the site be renamed, rapper-style, to something like "Wordaholism... featuring Wunelle!"

I bet George gets stuff like that in HIS contracts.