Behind the Curtains — an NBC and Movie Locations Tour
TV and movies — the opium of a generation. But who doesn’t like them, anyway? Seeing them on-screen is always something good — but seeing what goes on behind the scenes is an entirely new experience. That’s the one we got to try as we took Walks of New York’s NBC Studio Tour.
Dubbed the “TV & Manhattan Movie Locations Tour”, we were taken behind the curtains and the cameras straight to where the shows were produced. As a bonus, we even starred in our very own 5-minute TV segment! For $94, that’s a real big deal. Read on to see how the tour went.
The tour started at 8:30 AM, and lasted for a little over four hours. Tour members are advised to arrive at least half an hour before, so that appropriate preparations can be made before the tour. This also gives you some time to browse around their gift shop, checking out items or posing for pictures. The latter is a good idea, since photographs are not allowed on the tour proper. Water is allowed, though.
We started with a short NBC screening in the studio’s 4K theater (amazing picture!). Then, we were taken on a tour through the whole building. Our guide — named Porter — was a part of the hit NBC series “The Office”, as well as a few other movies. She is very knowledgeable and very personable at the same time. I absolutely love her! She was one of the so-called “NBC Pages”, who are experts at the subject of NBC programming.
We were taken through the same halls frequented by American TV giants such as David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Johnny Carson, and Jimmy Fallon. One of the great parts of the tour was being taken through the step-by-step process behind the shows produced in “30 Rock” (the nickname for the Rockefeller Tower, NBC’s headquarters). We saw exactly how the scripts were painstakingly prepared and refined, as well as the preparations and changes that happen up until broadcast time.
Another highlight of the tour was the trip through the nerve center of NBC — the Operations Center. This place is responsible for making sure the broadcast reaches the homes of the viewers as seamlessly as possible. The manage when and how to insert breaking news bulletins. They even decide what camera angles to take when shooting talk shows! Of course, visitors can make their way through the real sets of famous shows such as SNL, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, or the Late Night with Seth Meyers.
Aside from the amazing experience of seeing the secrets of these iconic sets, it’s amazing to see how much work has actually been put into making each broadcast as smooth as possible. We were taken through how the whole production is ran, from the place where dress rehearsals happen to the place where the show hosts do monologues and stuff. We saw the smooth tricks the production uses, such as how they easily switch from one set to another as well as how much graphic work has to be done to make the hosts’ background on the TV come alive.
Of course, knowing all these wouldn’t be any good unless we actually get to try starring in our own shows! For the penultimate leg of the tour, we were taken into a mock set where we chose people to play specific roles. One can be the host, the announcer, the guest star, part of a band, or even the cameraman. There’s also “vacancies” for those who want to try out adjusting the lights and sounds. It’s amazing to known how the real hosts juggle that many teleprompters, once you get the feel of how initially confusing that can be. The teleprompters are not only on the individual cameras, they’re also embedded at the host’s desk!
NBC processed our little skit and sent them to us afterwards in an email. This is a really unique souvenir for a really unique experience.
For the last leg of the tour, we got to see how the broadcast happens all over the US. We were introduced to contingency measures that will ensure smooth broadcast in case of transmitter problems. Overall, it was a really educational trip.
But wait — there’s more!
Aside from the NBC Tour, we were taken to the iconic movie locations just around the NBC Studios. We were taken through the city corners to the store Audrey Hepburn owned at Breakfast at Tiffany’s. We also saw the 21 Club from Wall Street, as well as the Soup Nazi store from Seinfeld. For the 90s people, the iconic fountain from the Friends opening was also present. There are a lot more besides! The tour ends at the bar from which the How I Met Your Mother set was modeled. It’s a real treat!
Overall, it’s a really must-see tour. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never seen any of the NBC shows — the s
heer entertainment and educational value of the tour is irreplaceable!