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WAKKING AROUND CHICAGO 8/10/2001

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WAKKING AROUND CHICAGO 8/10/2001
Contributed by Caraleigh H.
I Met Kyle Too!
Roundabout Theater Company's Production of PICNIC
December 8, 2000 Taping of What About Joan
January 19, 2001 Taping of What About Joan
March 9, 2001 Taping of What About Joan

WAKKING AROUND CHICAGO

By Vickie Jo
Taping date: August 10, 2001
What About Joan/What About Kyle/WAK

I called for tickets when I was informed in July, that they had opened the ticket phone line for WAK (What About Joan? No, What about Kyle, Yes!). I then called Jayne & Bob Hasselroth, who live in the St. Charles, Batavia, Aurora area, and informed them that tickets were being given out for the new season. Jayne called the number right away for 4 tickets, and I called, also, at Jayne's urging, bless her soul, about 6 or so hours later and asked for 4 tickets as well for either 8/3 or 8/10. (We told them we preferred the 10th of August.) We left our names and addresses, phones numbers, etc. on the answering machine which said we would be given confirmation. Neither of us got confirmation. Jayne later called them about 2 weeks later and was told that the 8/3 & 10 dates were full. She was given the choice of another date. She picked 8/31. She told me that they would be contacting me soon. About what, I wasn't certain. The 2 dates we originally called about were full. Did that mean I also would have tickets for 8/31 or what? I was later to find out on Mon. 8/6, on arriving home after work (5 pm). There in the mail, was an envelope from "WAK Central" (as I call it). I thought, 'Oh, maybe it's confirmation for tickets for 8/31.' To my surprise on opening same, the tickets were for 8/10! Only 3 days to make arrangements for travel and hotel. Yikes! There was no way I was going to miss seeing Kyle in person. I would crawl there on my hands and knees and sleep in a culvert/ditch if I had to. Luckily, Jayne said she and Bob could go and the arrangements for travel and hotel fell easily into place. I contacted Karen Steimle, who lives in the Glen Ellyn area and she said she could use the last ticket. I obtained my Greyhound bus tickets the next day and made arrangements to stay at the Embassy Suites-Downtown. Wonderful place to stay! Highly recommend it. The smallest available room is actually 2 rooms. One is the bedroom with a King size bed, which could be easily shared with another fan who wanted to go, and the other is a sitting room with a fold-out sofa bed. Four people could easily sleep in these accommodations without a problem. The cost is only $189. If one can split it, at least, 2 ways it's not that expensive. (Hint: Ask for 'Delanna' at the desk, she can sometimes get you an even better rate.) You even get a free breakfast the next day, Sat., which they serve from 7 am to 10:30 am. Big hint on staying in Chicago hotels like this one. If you must call long distance DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT use the phone in the room, unless it is for a local call!! Use a phone card, cell phone or the payphone in the lobby. I made 2 10 15 min. calls to my mom on Fri. noon and just after midnight Sat. morning. They cost me $60 Total!!! Never again!
I left Sheboygan at about 5:30 am, the bus was hr. late! During the trip down to Chicago, I had a wonderful time talking to a young man who was from Calumet, MI. He was going to check out the Chicago area colleges to see what was being offered in the way of film schooling. He wants to be a director! We had a lovely time discussing movies and TV. EE of course, was included. (I take every opportunity to promote it and KC whenever I can.) He said hes going to watch it from now on when he can find it on the tube. The 4 hours plus travel time just flew by. We arrived in Chicago at approx.10:15 am. I took a cab to the hotel, meeting Karen there in the lobby. I checked in, and dropped my stuff off in the room. We went out to eat at the Hard Rock Caf which is only a block away, and then on our way back to the hotel we stopped in at the Rock N Roll McDonalds which is across the street from the caf. They are really nice places, both of them. We went back to the hotel and waited until it was time for Jayne and Bob to pick us up at 3:15 pm. Which they did, on the dot! (Thanks, Jayne & Bob. Youre wonderful! Great driving, Bob!)
I have been to 2 WAK tapings (12/8/00 & 8/10/01) and so far it has been a wonderful experience. The only real problem is the long, long, uncomfortable wait to get in. One must be at the parking lot at least by 3:45 PM in order to get towards the front of the line outside the parking lot. People were already lined up at the gate, waiting in their cars, when we arrived. We would have to wait until 4 pm and then they would let us in. The audience coordinator people come out with their check-lists and check off the names listed for tickets for the people in each car. I wish they would give out the numbers for entry here as by the time some of us get parked and to the check-in table over by the bldg., others who actually came later than you can rush and get ahead, which is what happened on 8/10. Your number depends on how fast you can park that puppy and run to the table. You MUST get a low number or else you can be "bumped" by the VIP's that show up and they automatically get in. VIP ticket holders do not have to arrive until 5:30 pm as they save parking for them and are able to be admitted to the building on arrival. VIPs do not have to wait in the cold or heat outside like the rest of us. While waiting to be admitted in December 2000, we froze in a tent with heaters that only heated above your head (your feet especially froze). This time it was hot, but at least not as bad as it could have been. The wind was from the north/northeast so if you stayed close to the bldg. where you might find a little shade, there was no air to breathe. In order to keep from passing out I had to go "hang out" by the check-in table where the wind would reach from time to time. There were almost no clouds in the sky for any possible relief from the sun, either. While waiting, I overheard a couple of girls talking. One said to the other: "Do you like Joan Cusack?" Her friend replied: "I like the guy who plays her boyfriend." I had to laugh inwardly when I heard that one. She felt the same way we do. Finally, after waiting until about 6 pm, they started letting people in, little by little. They started out with calling for more of the VIP numbers (of which I overheard there were about 150, if they all showed up.). I later found out that even if you get a number over 200, on average, chances are good that you will still get in. Usually there are about 30 or more "no-shows". That's why they overbook. "Nothing like playing to empty seats", as they say. They no longer send actual tickets, just a letter with an official sticker with the date on now. Tickets are too easy to illegally duplicate. When one is admitted to the building, one must pass thru a metal detector. My opera glasses set it off this time, I think, but they didn't say anything. Just let me thru anyways. It seems everyone was beeping as they went thru it. Jayne had her camera along (a disposable, I think) and the security man put it in a baggie and sealed it. He told her that she was not to bring it out and use it or she "would be arrested". Jayne got such a charge out of that. Mentioning it quite often later. It was funny the way he said it. One would have thought he was talking to a real criminal the way he said it. (I wonder now, if she had brought it out and used it, what they could have possibly charged her with. Disorderly Conduct?) We did get in without further incident. The letter from WAK Central no longer mentions the deli sandwich (roast beef, turkey or veggie) and bottle of water they give you on entry to the building, but they do still offer it once you are let into the studio proper.
We were led to the audience seating platform area. It is nice and carpeted with pretty comfortable seating for 200 people. It is raised about 12 feet or so up from the studio floor, with a low railing so that no one falls down onto the set, I suppose, among other possible reasons. The coordinators seat you and you have no say as to where you sit. Even if you got there before everyone else you can be stuck way up and to the side. I dont understand their thinking on that one. We get there extra early each time and then get stuck way up and to the side, as if we had only just arrived. This time there is a new studio set. The bar that Steiny, Jakes best friend, owns. It is located over to Stage Right. We are seated way over to Stage Left, way up and to the side. Rats! Its a beautiful looking set. We can at least see it nicely on the monitors above our heads. The caf set from the pilot episode is directly in front of us. This is where Jakes party will be held after he runs in the Marathon. It was so cool being able to watch KC as he awaited his first entrance in the taping that night. The make-up lady kept spritzing him with water so he would look like hed been sweating from running when he made his entrance, AND she kept fussing with his hair, a lot. Oh, Lord, but would I like THAT job. He smiled a lot while waiting for his cueandoh, my Lord, that absolutely killer smile of his!!! When he smiles the whole room lights up! The teachers lounge set is still in the same place it was in Dec., to the audiences left of the caf, & the bar was to the far right of the caf as the audience looks at it. (This is for those of you not familiar with stage directions.) Unfortunately, the bedroom set is now located somewhere on the studio floor out of the audiences view. We had to watch on the monitor. It seemed to be located in the area where we were admitted to the studio itself, way to the audiences left and back behind the side partition, next to the stairs. After sitting a while, we were finally introduced to Phil, the audience warm-up guy. He was very nice and very funny. (I kept thinking of Chucks uncle Phil, even tho they are nothing alike, although each of them is funny.) Phil didnt know what the name of this episode was, unfortunately. One of his warm-up routines is calling audience members friends and relatives and asking them questions like Is your daughter here at the taping? It wasnt until after the taping almost ended that the powers that be presented him with a contract for the rest of the season. Yesss!! I liked him a lot. Read on and youll know why.
It seems, Phil noticed me constantly watching KC all night and he kept teasing me the whole time as part of his keep the audience busy/interested/awake routine. He asked me if I knew where KC was from and what my favorite EE episode was. (Fatal Edition) At one point between scenes, Phil noticed KC crossing the darkened caf set in order to get to the new barroom set. Phil introduced us, sort of, and asked KC to say "hi" to me from down there, which he did. I stood up so that he could see me. (Hope I didnt scare him too much. Im still in heaven!) As we were sitting way to the back and to the audiences left, that meant KC was diagonally away from me way over to the audiences right side and down on the main studio floor. I could barely see his face. Good thing he wore a white button down shirt, red tie, black suspenders (mmmm, loved those as they made a large X down his back accentuating his gorgeous build), & blue-gray suit (I think) but no jacket, so I could pick him out of the darkness. (Since my eye surgery, I dont see details very well distance-wise, especially when there is hardly any light. I need to use opera glasses in order to see him down there on those sets, otherwise I miss all the facial expressions. Any details, like faces & printed signs, are one big blur that far away.)
As to this episode it is WAY fantastic! Lots & lots of Jake! It at first looked like it was supposed to be a birthday party for Jake, but Karen remembers it as a Congratulations party for running the Marathon, which would make sense. (At this point, I have no idea what kind of party it really was. I only know that I was too busy watching the gorgeous scenery which was standing so close but yet so far, in front of me. <G>) Joan, Ruby, & Alice are sitting in a long booth at the caf (which we saw in the pilot episode.). The table is decorated with balloons, a cake with candles, and signs that say Congratulations, Jake! Mark makes his entrance first, gasping, saying that he ran such a far distance. Like around the track or something, once, which they inform him is nothing in the way of distance at all. I think it was only a quarter of a mile. Next, Jake comes running in, gasping & sweating, and sits down next to Joan. He has just run in the Marathon. He is wearing a gray T-shirt, with a large marathon registration number pinned to it, and (I think they were) black running shorts. I was too busy admiring those perfect legs of his. He has beautiful knees. (Sigh!) He had to chug-a-lug a huge supersize tumbler of water in this scene right after he sits down. Poor KC, I hope they gave him a bathroom break right after this, since they shot this scene and particularly the water drinking part, it seemed at least 3 more times. The crewman who was responsible for the keeping the glass full was right there filling it after each take. I felt waterlogged just watching him drink all that. Jennifer, the waitress at this, their favorite cafe, loses her job. Translation: The boss fires her. (I guess she didnt make it to all her tables & the customers fast enough. I think the boss said people were complaining. Not sure. Too busy admiring the scenery again, if you catch my drift.) Now Mark starts to shine around Jake trying to be like him, wanting to do everything Jake does. Jake doesnt like this new development with Mark, at all. Hes feeling definitely crowded. (No mention is made of Betsy and where she is. Someone did tell us that the actress was having a baby in real life and wanted to be home with her family now.) The next scene takes place in Joans bedroom. Jake is lying on the bed, wearing a black tee shirt and what looked to me like vertical pin stripe boxer shorts, & black socks. He has a cold compress on his forehead & over his gorgeous muddy-green eyes. Joan comes in with 2 icebags and puts one on each of his knees. Joan tells him she feels extremely sorry for Jennifer and wants to try to help her out by getting her a job at Jakes' best friends bar, "The Black Sock". (I wonder if they named it after Kyles seemingly favorite footwear, lately.) Poor Jake! He is NOT a happy camper with the women invading "his" bar, and he says so in no uncertain terms. Joans determined to ask Steiny, played by Jeff Garlin (think a younger, slightly slimmer, Norm from Cheers) to interview Jennifer. Jake goes behind Joans back, so to speak, and tries to make sure that Steiny will not be interviewing her or, in the extreme, not hire her. He talks to Steiny who agrees with Jake. It seems that Steiny would rather hire a Playboy type blonde bimbo for the waitress job, anyway. (If you remember Jennifer, shes the complete opposite. Not very tall, and is very heavy, and has a whiny voice.) Joan talks Steiny into interviewing Jennifer. How can he refuse her. He cant. He will give her a try-out and see how she does and how many people/clientele she brings with her. Later, privately, Steiny assures Jake that he wont hire her. HAH! Yeah, right, Steiny Joan & Ruby confer with Jennifer at Joans place to try and get Jennifers clientele and friends to come to help bolster her audition at The Black Sock. They find out, while going thru Jennifers address book, that Jennifer has none to call on. Guess whose friends and service people (the video store man, the drive thru restaurant employees, the dry cleaner, those kind of people) are employed to help out? Yeah, Joans. The big night of the try-out/audition arrives. Everyone is there except Jake. He comes in only to find the bar full of people. It seems, Joan has told Steiny that these are all Jennifers clientele who follow her from job to job. Au contrere, mon amis. Jake recognizes all the people for who they really are and tells Steiny that hes been Joaned. The st really hits the fan, now. KC/Jake has a big speech at this point where he tells Steiny who these people all are. Then he gets upset with Joan and Steiny, who has told him that he is hiring Jennifer after all because her kid is sick with pink-eye,yadda, yadda, etc. Jake storms out. Everyone leaves except Joan and Steiny. Joans worried about Jake. Steiny tell her not to be that hell be allright, that Jakes just a big baby. (Oh, and Ho-boy, WHAT a baby! Insert heavy sigh & <<RBG>> here.) Steiny says that Jakes probably just walking around town sulking. Jake comes back in feeling foolish and apologizes. Joan asks him what he was doing and he says he was just walking around sulking. Steiny was right, he is just a big, baby. Jake tells Joan that he just didnt want the one place where he can let his hair down, where everybody knows your name and where he can be himself, with just the guys around, ruined. He had felt it would be a problem for him as the women would follow Jennifer to the bar; especially now that she works there. Joan accepts the apology. Steiny tells Jake to lock up when they leave as he makes his own exit. Now it dawns on Jake and Joan that they are alone in the bar. They decide to have a real date. Not like the ones they usually have which are at his or her place for the night. They shoot some darts, talk a little, and then as the scene ends he tells her to plug the juke box while he gets the beer. Finis. The last mini-scene filmed (and they do use high-quality, high definition, film for this show, NOT videotape.) this night is where Mark comes into the tavern and sits down next to Jake at the bar. Jake is getting really weirded out by Marks almost constant shadowing and moves over one stool. Of course, Mark also moves over one stool to follow. Jake cant move any farther. He picks up his beer bottle to drink and Mark shadows him. On the first take they set the bottles down at exactly the same time. In the 2nd take, Mark slightly delays his. Both times its done very slowly. Jake asks Mark Why are you doing this to me? Mark tells him he wants to be just like him and do things with him. Jake cant take this anymore and runs out of the bar like at bat out of you know where with Mark hot on his heels. This scene is to run during the end credits. I love it. I hope they dont cut it out or put a commercial or commercial voice over in its place. Its hilarious.
After the rough draft of this account was posted, Karen reminded me that In one scene in Joan's apartment, Kyle comes in and closes the door. Something falls from above the door. Kyle then whirls around and strikes a pose like he is going to fend off an attacker. We joked that the card that fell was my, vjs, phone number and it just didn't land where I wanted it to. (Thanks, Karen. How could I forget?!)
Poor KC, all night he didn't really flub a line at all, he was so perfect! (I wonder how he does it? How can he remember all that dialogue? God, but he is good!! Absolutely fascinating to watch. Hell deliver a line, almost NEVER messing up, and hit his marks exactly the same way each time, except when changes are made in the course of the taping itself.) BUT THEN...he screwed the same one up about 5 times in a row. He became extremely frustrated at this point, and they were always having to stop his monologue, which is a very long one and tell him he did it again. Then, he would have to start it over again, each time. Then he got red-faced with embarrassment and ducked his head as the audience and everyone else burst out laughing! Oh, God, but it was hilarious for us, but I felt so very bad for him. They had him do the lines, another take, over again and he still screwed it up from what I could hear. They gave up at that point, I think. (Maybe they decided to use the first one or pick it up after the audience went home, or re-dub it later or something.) He did it perfectly correct the first time thru, but they always do at least 3 takes of the same scene and it was on the 2nd plus times that he screwed up the line. (The line in question involved Jake coming into the bar, seeing all those service people of Joans and stating that he felt like he was in a movie. Instead of saying that it felt like a movie that Im in, he kept saying a movie that I did. Jake saying that he felt like he was in a movie would make sense; but not a movie that he did. Jake is an investment banker/stockbroker/lawyer. Kyle is the actor. It didnt fit Jake at all, but it would fit Kyle.
The first scene that Jeff Garlin was in took place in the bar. Joan is trying to convince him to give Jennifer an interview. He kept flubbing his lines like crazy. Phil teased that the taping would last at least until 1 AM at this rate. However, we later found out that Jeff had been and was still sick withguess whatPINK EYE! Thats why they used it for Jennifers little boys illness. Jeff had to be sure no one touched him and that he didnt touch anybody else while doing the taping. Pink eye is highly contagious. What a trouper! After this scene was over, I didnt notice that he really made any more flubs during the rest of the show.
The dart game sequence with Kyle and Joan at the end of the show was very interesting. Kyle would throw his darts and hit the target right on each time. The darts would land with a nice small thump sound. However, when Joan shot hers, well, lets just say that they landed everywhere on the set except on the target and, I dont believe, not on purpose, either. Her darts would land with a loud Thwack! sound, on the upper part of the set, in the pictures decorating the set, everywhere but the target in front of her. They had to bring in a guy, who can hit the target, to do the scene 3 times, with Kyle, while the camera was set on filming where the darts were landing. Kyles always landed exactly where he wanted them, with the same exact thump sound. The guy doing Joans throws put his darts exactly where Joans were supposed to have landed. It was so funny watching Joan throw the darts and seeing all the weird places they were landing. Darts DEFINITELY is NOT her game. KC, on the other hand, seems capable of performing any sport and doing it well. There doesnt seem to be anything that man cant do. (Insert very heavy sigh here.)
It was a very, very nice evening. The director, Terry Hughes, is from England and he talked to us for a while during a break. He also directed The Golden Girls and Third Rock from the Sun. He was very nice to us. I loved his voice. Although, there are none as beautiful as Kyles, as far as Im concerned.
Joans parents were in the audience, sitting down front center. I recognized her dad when he came in because of The Wall, Pt. 2. He was the older man who approached Gary at Navy Pier who told him to go toward his fate, not run from it. Phil talked to him and even teased him and the Mrs. a little all night. During the evening Phil asked me those few questions about Kyle and Early Edition. Phil had just talked to Mr. Cusack. He asked him what he was doing lately. To which Mr. Cusack replied that he was doing some screenwriting. When I was asked about EE I mentioned that Joans dad was in one of my favorite episodes and that I enjoyed seeing him in that scene very much. Phil repeated to Mr. Cusack what I had just said and Mr. Cusack turned around and said Thank you. That was another highlight of my evening.
The evening was over way too soon for me. But it did end at about 11:15 PM or so this time. The week before, I was informed, it went until 1 AM. Wish I could have been there. Unfortunately, they keep working after the tapings are over at approx. 11:30 PM. They still have meetings, re-shoots, etc. Security doesn't let anybody get near KC. We tried, but no luck. This time KC went backstage after the bows along with some of the others, Joan included, and we didnt see them again. We're hoping they will let us meet him someday at one of the other tapings that we get to. At least he did say "Hi!" to me at this one. Ill take what I can get and am grateful for it. I was able to talk to Todd, one of the audience coordinators during the time we were there. He was so very nice too. He says that Kyle has a mailbox there at WAK Central and that he does receive all the mail that is sent to him there.

After the show, Bob and Jayne drove me back to the hotel and took Karen home since she lives not too far from them. I walked around the downtown the next day, stopping at Illinois & Franklin to take pictures at McGintys, Hammer Designs, actually. I walked across the street and stared at the bldg. contemplating what it meant to me, EE-wise, for a while. I shed a few tears for thinking about how much EE has meant to me, that Gary will never be there again since EE is cancelled, and that bldg. being such a big part of it all and then All of a sudden I noticed a cute looking man stick his head out the far right window of Garys loft. The man was young, nice build, about Garys age and dressed in a black T-shirt. He had hair that was dark and wavyish like Garys. He looked around and back & forth at the sidewalk below, for a couple of moments. I quickly took a picture of him while he was in that window. Nice! Then he went back inside. After that I walked to Michigan Avenue where I found an I love Chicago store. I bought a couple of souvenirs, among them a yellow Chicago T-shirt and a water bottle tote. I almost bought a snowglobe, but it was so heavy! That was because it had a musicbox in it. I couldnt have carried it home on the bus for sure. I think its the same one that they use in the beginning of each WAK episode. It cost $32. Whew. Id rather have the non-music version if they have one. This one plays My Kind of TownChicago is I would much rather have one that plays Sweet Home, Chicago which is the theme that they had originally used in the pilot episode when they showed it to us back in Dec.

Saturday, 4 pm found me back on the bus waiting to head home. Unfortunately, the air conditioning didnt work and we had to wait for a bunch of people to arrive from another bus so we didnt actually leave Chicago until after 4:30 pm, over a half-hour late. The driver had to pop the escape hatches on the bus so that we could breathe on the trip back to Milwaukee. Once there, we transferred to a different bus with working air conditioning. On the way back from Chicago, I sat with a very nice middle-aged man who was originally from India. His high-caste family moved to the United States when he was young to get away from the ruler of the country at that time. He went to France at the age of 16 to go to school. He has traveled the world since. He is involved now in the religious doings of the world and was traveling to Duluth for a religious based conference. We discussed among other things, religion and Early Edition. I think I converted him to trying to find it on TV when he has a chance, and watching it. Like I said, I leave no stone unturned in promoting EE & KC. I arrived home in Sheboygan, WI at 8:15 pm. What a wonderful two days it had been. I met some wonderful people and had a great time, again. What are the odds?!!
I hope you enjoyed reading my little accounting of the WAK taping. I know I must have left a million things out, but I think this is long enough anyway. Thanks for reading.