. . . OR GET OFF THE POT
(from notes taken by Cousin Paula Wilshe)

It's always exciting to get the chance to see your favorite television show filmed live.  It's even more of an event when you travel clear across the country to get to Los Angeles to do so!  Over the last two years several of our P.S. I Love You! members have been able to attend a filming or two of Perfect Strangers, and in this On the Scene . . . we thought we'd give you an idea of what it was like for one of our members to do so!

Friday, January 24, 1992:

The big day dawned bright, early, sunny and hot.  It was still hard to believe that just the day before Cousins Connie, Donna and I had flown all the way from a very cold Pennsylvania and now stood in warm California!  We indulged in drinking coffee on the porch overlooking Santa Monica, just laying back and soaking up the sunshine.

Around ten forty, Cousin Linda picked us up for a quick trip to (and tour of) San Dimas (on the way we played a twenty-questions type game entitled "What Episode Am I Thinking Of?" in which we had to guess, using "yes" and "no" type questions, which P.S. episode someone had picked (this game was taught to me originally by Cousins Cindy and Carol - Linda Kay) and a stop by her apartment to pore over her Perfect Strangers collection.  I managed to take pictures of some of her rarer PS photos and posters, many of which I would love to own myself!

Finally we were on our way to Culver City!  Linda had managed to track down about the only box of PS trading cards (Laff cards) in Los Angeles and we stopped to pick them up (turned out the store was right across the street from the studios!).  We then went to the Sony studios and parked in a large parking structure near the entrance gate.

It was a big help to have our names on the VIP list, and we were able to go right in because Linda (who also runs the Bill & Ted fan club, which we are also members of) had a fan club kit she hoped to be able to deliver to Keanu Reeves, who just happened to be working on the film Dracula in the soundstages next to Perfect Strangers!  Imagine our surprise when we not only got to see Keanu but, after finding out we were fan club members, he walked right up to us and introduced himself!  This even took Linda by surprise, who explained our chance meeting with him was very lucky, seeing the movie was only filming there for a few months!

Still in shock, we took our thumping hearts and shaking legs and waited against the Full House soundstage for the pages to escort people into Soundstage 26.  We were still stunned from our chance meeting with Keanu but extremely excited about getting to see the cousins.  This would be the second filming for Connie and I but it was Donna's first filming and we were all nervous!

It turned out we were the first audience members inside and we were seated in the center of the second row!  Slowly the other groups and guests filled the seats around us and a tape of showtunes played in the background.  Eventually Robert Lee arrived, carrying his leather backpack, and began warming up the audience, which was much livelier than the audience had been at the filming of Weekend at Ferdinand's earlier this season.

Linda had sneaked a peek at one of the scripts to learn the episode would be . . . Or Get Off the Pot written by Terry Hart.  We made guesses as to what the episode might be about, but we didn't have long to wait as Robert got ready to introduce the stars!  Rebeca was introduced first, followed by Melanie, and then Bronson and Mark who came out holding hands, bowed to the audience and then to each other before running off again.  Just that quick glance at the cast was thrilling and gave us a small prelude to the wonderful show ahead.

The episode turned out to be a pivotal one about Balki's lack of commitment to Mary Anne.  There were so many different scenes with so many of the characters playing off each other - first Balki and Larry, then Larry and Jennifer, Balki and Larry, Balki and Jennifer, Larry and Jennifer, Jennifer and Larry with Mary Anne and finally all of them together at the end.

Bronson and Mark were very relaxed at this filming, dancing around a lot and laughing when lines were muffed.  During one scene in the Appleton bedroom, Larry eagerly asked Jennifer "Oh!  Are we going to play bad boy and naughty school marm again?" and Mark had to try so hard not to laugh out loud!  And during one of the more emotional scenes an audience member laughed loudly and inappropriately.  Bronson, who was supposed to be on the verge of tears, held his pose for a long time, looked up in the direction the laugh had come from with a shocked face, then very slowly dissolved into laughter himself.

The audience was almost too lively, catcalling during some scenes.  Robert had to ask them to not catcall during second takes so they could decide later whether or not to use them.

At one point we could see Bronson and Mark behind the partitions doing some kind of handclap, kneeslap thing.  Since it wasn't in the show, we assumed this was just a game they were playing with each other between takes.  When Bronson finished a long scene with Melanie, he walked offstage as Mark was walking on, and Mark patted Bronson's shoulder as Bronson played with the front of Mark's bathrobe.

The entire cast was so warm and affectionate with each other.  Bronson and Mark got along so well, and the girls were equally friendly.  Just before the first scene was filmed, Bronson kissed Rebeca on both cheeks.

As they were preparing the next scene, Connie suddenly nudged my arm and pointed to where Robert Lee was sitting, and I was surprised to see Bronson's brother, Justin Pinchot, had walked to Robert from offstage and was sitting next to him on the steps, talking!  I was amazed at how much he looks like Bronson in profile!  After a few minutes he walked backstage again.

The end of the show was very sad, leaving everyone somewhat confused and concerned.  Would this be the end of Balki and Mary Anne's relationship?  Somehow I knew they couldn't end everything so abruptly.  We'd just have to wait and see.

After the rest of the audience left we were thrilled to be able to stay and watch them film five I Love Saturday Night spots and three commercials announcing the move to Saturday night.  After a long day of work they were very tired, but even after they almost called it a wrap they realized the spots would be needed (since they would be on hiatus the next week) and so they forged ahead.  Filming commercials is not as easy as one might think; they had to say all the lines with rhythm and still have it come out to an exact twenty seconds.  They practiced the lines without a teleprompter, which wasn't working for some reason, and it was amazing to watch them learn the lines right then and there and be able to remember them!

At one point Bronson spread out across the couch and moaned, "I want to go home . . . . "  This was pretty much the sentiment of the entire crew.  Still they remained in good spirits, deliberately stealing each other's lines and trying to make each other laugh.  At one point Bronson sat babbling in Mama's voice!

During one of the commercials, Mark accidentally hit Bronson in the eye.  Immediately Mark put both arms around him and called for an ice pack, which was delivered right away.  Bronson held it on his eye between takes.  Once, when he put it down to film, Judy Pioli, the director, picked it up and put it on her head.

 Finally Connie Garcia-Singer (who kept calling Bronson "Bronnie") announced it was a wrap and Mark and Bronson leaned over and hugged each other before everyone wandered off the set.  Sadly, we bid the Sony studios goodbye and headed over to SHIP's restaurant across the street for dinner with Linda before going back to the hotel.

What a night!!!

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