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So I Went To This Talk Show... 

...but mum's the word

When you write a weekly column about any topic, you're always looking for the gimme.

Well, home readers, I had something like that in the palm of my hand, but was forced by an experienced television production company to bring this to you instead in a different form. I will tell you about what I did, but I can't tell you any of the usual who, what and where. You will have to fill in the blanks.

I traveled to the midwestern city of _______ last month to be in the audience of a popular national talk show, _______. Even if you work in TV, you're not supposed to be impressed by the work of others (or if so, the code is you keep it to yourself), but I managed to acquire some hard-to-get tickets, and went with a friend to applaud on cue.

We arrived at the studios where the show was being taped, and found that we had to sign a release form to be part of the audience. Now, I'm used to these: I hand them out myself when I'm producing a show as a kind of permission slip to be sure I have interview subjects and locations agreeing to be part of my shoot.

But on this one, a choice was to be made: If you signed, you could not "relate your audience experience" in print, on radio or TV, or on the Internet, if you wanted to sit out there. I made a deal with the devil and the good attorneys. I signed.

So, I saw a very famous talk show host do his/her thing, checked out his/her rockin' designer shoes from my seat about 12 feet away, and applauded wildly on cue. TV nerd that I am, I also scoped the size of the studio, counted cameras (nine altogether, with two jibs and one handheld, fellow nerds), and more off-air personnel than you can shake two sticks at.

It was the tightest, best-run "live" TV show I'd ever seen, it went by quickly, and it was fun.

But that's all I can say. After the fact, I even called the show's PR department to plead my case. Just one little column about what it was like to attend the ______ show?

Let's just say I was told "no," and was probably put on their list of "columnists to Google" immediately.

Stay tuned.

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