Polter Cow's site visit report
We start our Veronica Mars Writers' Office/Set Visit Extravaganza by getting horrendously lost. Luckily, we have the number for the office, and I attempt to convince the guy on the other end that, seriously, Rob Thomas totally expects us. We're not stalkers! We're bloggers! I know they sort of rhyme, but they're not the same thing! Mostly.
We're warned that the writers' office does not look like an office, but nothing prepares us for the fact that it looks like a run-down fairy tale castle. That's been converted into a prison, complete with barbed wire to keep the writers from escaping. We know we're in the right place when we see a license plate that makes it clear we are looking at Rob Thomas's car.
Inside, Mike Weiss and Hadley Klein, producer's assistants and the two dudes responsible for all the awesome online content this season, greet us and, after giving us the whirlwind tour, take us next door to sit in on a casting session. There's only one extra seat, so we take turns.
In the casting room, I shake hands with Rob, who immediately remembers that he's sick and shouldn't have done that, Phil Klemmer, producer Jen Gwartz, and casting director Deedee Bradley. I watch them look at auditions for two different roles. The scenes only last about thirty seconds, and that's what they're judged on. Sometimes, they ask to try again, and sometimes Rob asks to hear a different read. Most of them sound pretty good, but each time, the people in the room have some sort of quibble I didn't notice. They're the ones who know what they're looking for, after all.
The fun thing about the offices is all the VM props on the wall. There's a Woody Goodman poster on wall and a "Keith Mars for Sheriff" poster on the opposite wall. I want to take everything I see.
Back in the writers' offices, Rob shows us around. The place is nothing like what you'd expect. It looks like some converted warehouse. The walls are all painted different colors, and the centerpiece of the establishment is a bunch of couches in front of a flat-screen TV. The mythical "writers room" isn't even closed off from everything else. It's a table. There are whiteboards on the wall, and Rob tells us not to look, as there was information about the finale on them. There's also a board that marks how many episodes a particular character has been in; this helps them keep up with the actors' contractual obligations and use them properly. I notice that all the main cast is there, along with the dear departed Dean...plus Tim Foyle. Who has a flat line after the second mystery arc finale, indicating that he won't be in any more episodes. Which is how I got spoiled for who killed Dean O'Dell.
Then we see Rob's office, which is really big and very well decorated. The far wall is practically covered with pictures of a pretty blonde woman and a small baby. They're everywhere, these two: on his desk, on shelves, on his computer. Either he's stalking them or they're his wife and kid.
Here is a bit of trivia: Dan Etheridge (producer and director), Martin Yu (Mr. Wu!), John Enbom (writer), and Jason Bloom (director) all lived in the same dorm at Yale. Also, Rob met Dan the very day he (Rob) moved to L.A. It's true what they say about Hollywood...that...er...you meet people and...you work with them. That's what they say, right?
After a short jaunt to the editing room, we come back to Rob's office to listen in on studio notes. That's right. He let us sit in on studio notes for episode 16. The studio exec really liked the episode; she sounds very pleased. Hilariously, the very first thing she does is gush over the final scene, and Rob sort of lowers his head sheepishly because he can't say, "By the way, don't spoil the bloggers in the room." So I obviously can't say very much about these studio notes without spoiling you too. What's interesting is they're very small things, very specific. A shot that cuts away too quick. A scene that may not give the intended emotional effect. A camera angle that doesn't look right.
After the notes, Rob and Dan Gabbe, editor extraordinaire, discuss what can be fixed and what doesn't need to be fixed. Then Kelley, brazen hussy that she is, asks if we can see one particular shot that the studio exec mentioned.
So we're off to the editing room, where Dan Gabbe sets up the scene for us and lets us see the shot and hear the music. Is it too long, too short, does it work? He asks our opinions as if they matter. But he's sincere about it; he really does want our input. We're the fans, after all; we're the audience. As we're exiting, Rob lets us see the teaser for episode 17, which features a Big Guest Star and is directed by Dan Etheridge. The teaser is hilarious, and Rob can't help but show us the scene after the credits, too.
It's getting close to lunchtime, so I grab a bag of Doritos from the kitchen and some water. I munch on the couch, which means my right hand is covered in cheesy powder when Diane Ruggiero introduces herself to me. I am apparently "her favorite" because I say nice things about her on TWoP. She chats with all of us in a very spazzy way, and she feels very sheepish when she admits that she went to the Cloud Watchers CafePress store and bought all the stuff that had her lines on it. Including the "epic love" shirt, which, according to Rob, she said she was "98% sure" she wrote when, in fact, Rob wrote that line, and she made reference to it in her episode. Rob shows up, and the two of them make fun of each other because that's what they do.
Rob takes us out to lunch at a fancy French restaurant called Chez Nous. Most of what we discuss is classified, but we do learn that Brandon Hillock is well loved for his multi-faceted portrayal of Deputy Sacks. Rob and I both love how much he underplays scenes. Rob tried to give him a more energetic line in "Donut Run" (when he announces that the Feds have boarded Duncan's boat), but he still underplayed it. Since Rob would rather underplay something than overplay it, that was all right, but he realized that Sacks was low-key through and through. Rob also praises Richard Grieco as great on set and easy to work with, despite his bad reputation. He admires Kristen for giving her all during her numerous public appearances even though she has a crushing schedule.
As we finish eating, we step into a Hollywood cliché as our waiter admits that he's late for an audition. If only he knew that it was Rob Thomas paying the bill. Rob wishes him luck.
On our way back, Rob tries to take us to meet Daran Norris, but he's not home. Curses!
Here's some more trivia: the actor who plays Max (the guy who runs a cheating ring and falls for a prostitute) and the actor who plays Bronson (Mac's new beau)...are ROOMMATES. Rob had no idea about this when he cast them.
As soon as we return, we do the podcast, and, well, you can listen for yourselves on that one. It went well. Luckily, their first attempt at a podcast was messed up, so they decided to wait for us. The podcast is recorded in the editing room, with Dan Gabbe sitting in his chair and the writers sitting on the couches, and Mike and Hadley quietly standing behind them. The microphone picks up everything, so we all just sit and talk.
After the podcast, the writers begin to leave, as they really don't have a lot to do. Rob is busy hammering out the final draft of the finale (and he finishes while we're there: historic!). Before John leaves, I have to take the opportunity to tell Klembom how much I love their twisty scripts. It's not often you get to personally tell television writers (or any writers, really) what you love about their work, after all. John says that the hardest thing about working on a mystery show is the plotting; if they didn't have to worry about that, everyone's emotional life would be mapped out.
After John leaves, Phil remains. We talk about voiceovers; he thinks they're sort of a cheat because they tell you what the character is thinking, but they also offer insight. He mentions one voiceover in "There's Got to Be a Morning After Pill" that he added a week before the show aired to smooth a transition between scenes ("The best way to forget about your own problems? Dive into someone else's."). I excitedly tell him I loved that line because it was so true to Veronica's character, and he sort of shyly thanks me because he kind of hated it, but he's happy that it did the job it was supposed to do. He's genuinely appreciative and very humble.
Now it's time for Phil and Diane to make fun of each other. Diane appears to get along with the boys very well, trading barbs back and forth. When we bring up the cubing of Madison's car, Phil says that Diane wrote that; being Italian, she's an expert on vengeful female wrath. He and John are more passive-aggressive. When Diane hears about this, however, she jokes that it's something Rob would do.
We take a look at the writers' offices. Phil has a pegboard covered in...lots of random stuff, including mangled tennis rackets and a drawing from a depressed girl in Iceland who wrote him to say that the show basically kept her from killing herself. Diane's office looks more prim and proper, although she has this freaky drawing of a decapitated Veronica or something. Also, she has a shelf with the original episode scripts, many of which have the original titles. I wish I could remember them all, but some standouts include "Haunted Parents" ("Ahoy, Mateys!" and "Sins of the Father" ("Rat Saw God"). John's office is filled with unicorn paraphernalia; Mike explains that they put it all in there as a practical joke. After "Spit and Eggs," they got all the unicorn stuff from that girl's room and put it in his office while he was gone for Thanksgiving. John thought it was hilarious.
If you want to be Diane Ruggiero's friend, you have to be willing to move a couch for her. Phil Klemmer, he'd move a couch for her.
Before he leaves, Phil assures us that this is not a normal day, because of course they're done writing. Hell, Diane was going to come in her pajamas all smelly until Rob told her we'd be there. It's good that she prettified herself, since that makes my three-way with her and Dan Gabbe all the better. Er, three-way hug, for the record.
It's been quite a day. It's clear that everyone in the office gets along and enjoys each other's company, which is nice to see. Rob tells us to have a good time on the set.
Did we have a good time? Well, you'll just have to wait until you get to the end of this sentence and then move on to the next paragraph to find out.
Thursday morning, we drive down to San Diego. Once again, we're told our destination may not look like what we're expecting, and Stu Segall studios does not have a gigantic flashing sign that reads "VERONICA MARS FILMED HERE." There is, however, the Studio Diner, which is a good landmark.
The gate inside is unlocked, so we stroll on in and try to convince security that, really, they're expecting us! Our case is made fuzzy and circumstantial by the fact that we can't remember the last name of the guy who's supposed to meet us (or Rob never told us) (everyone involved with VM is named Mark...or Dan...or John...or Jason...), and when the security guy does get a hold of him...he has no idea who we are. This may not be the best-organized set visit ever.
Someone does come and get us, and we ride on a golf cart for less than a minute to the set entrance. Outside are a couple of craft services trucks. We're afraid we're not allowed to eat or drink anything unless we have a SAG card, but they later assure us it's okay.
We're shepherded through a large warehouse-type room adorned with set decorations for locations past, like the Seventh Veil and the River Stix, and up to the production offices, where we briefly meet Rick Pickett. He's busy doing, you know, his job, so we're assigned Matt Huey, PA extraordinaire, as our tour guide. He knows we want to get to the good stuff, so he quickly takes us down to see some filming. Upon entering the hallways of Hearst, we encounter Jason Dohring, who, within thirty seconds of meeting us, offers to talk to us privately after he's done with his scene. We're too boggled at running into Jason in the first place because we were told he wasn't going to be on set today; it turns out he came in for a reshoot.
We're taken to the Hearst library (THE HEARST LIBRARY!! Um, please just assume that at any given moment, we are just freaking out about being in places that we've seen on the show), which is much smaller than you'd think! It doesn't seem much larger than a classroom-and-a-half; it's amazing what cameras can do. It looks particularly small today because, since it's not being used, it's full of racked lights on one side and Video Village on the other. Video Village is the term for the home base, where the director views what the cameras are seeing. There are a lot of chairs, those fancy director's chairs you always see in movies and TV. They really use them! Some have embroidered names, and others have masking tape with names written with marker.
We meet Jon Moskin, writer of the episode, who is very friendly. He seems to be as excited to be there as we are. He lets us borrow his headphones so we can hear the dialogue in the scene. This dialogue spoils me for something cool. I know it's going to be impossible to avoid spoilers, but, really, it's worth the cost.
Julie Gonzalo comes in and gets her makeup touched up. I do not go over and say, "Hey, you're really pretty" or "Hey, I write your bio on MI.net" or, "Hey, do you want to
make out talk afterwards?" Unfortunately, that is the only time we see Julie.
After the scene is over, Jason comes and finds us to ask where we wanted to talk. We, of course, have no clue. Some place that isn't loud? He takes us through the halls to the Food Court. On the way, we point out some fliers on the walls that were designed by a friend of ours, Maka.
And then we're in the Hearst Food Court, and all those crazy eating establishments are right there with their punny names! And all their fake plastic food. We take a table with Jason Dohring, and then we chat for something like half an hour. He's incredibly candid and easy to talk to, and yet he still has this...aura of calmness and professionalism about him. It's the first time I've really seen what all the fangirls see in him. When he agrees with me, I feel validated as a person.
Having made millions of women around the world insanely jealous, we head back to the production offices, which, like the writers' offices, have multicolored walls. We meet Alfred Sole, set designer, and a dozen other people as Matt shows us around. Dan Etheridge comes to greet us, happy as a clam. It turns out we're there on a historic day: it's the first time shooting is going on for four episodes in one day. One shot for 3.16 was destroyed in the lab so Dan had to come in and reshoot it, John Kretchmer is doing reshoots for 3.17, Nick Marck is wrapping 3.18, and Jason Bloom is getting a headstart on 3.19.
One of the offices belongs to Joel Silver. Who hasn't been down there since season one. So it's been converted into a storage room. Matt lets us take some "Worst. Easter Egg Hunt. Ever" mugs.
Then we get a tour of the set! We begin by going back downstairs. Matt notes that the staircase is actually the one used in "Spit and Eggs," when Veronica is running away from Mercer to "Right Here, Right Now." It blows my mind. We're on the staircase! It's not even a set; it's just the staircase from the offices to the set! TELEVISION IS CRAZY.
Matt Huey is pretty much the best tour guide ever, since he first takes us over to the Neptune Grand set to meet Kretchmer and...Chris Lowell, who we also didn't think was going to be here since he wasn't called. Thank God for reshoots! Chris Lowell is pretty much totally awesome, and he tells us crazy stories about a road trip he took with his friends that ended up in some jail time or being banned from the state of South Carolina or possibly both.
The Neptune Grand set is very much a set, as it is not laid out the way we see it on TV. The rooms are all connected funny, and there's an elevator door sitting all by its lonesome. We watch them film a scene and try not to get in the way. After the scene is over, Mark and I get Chris to film a video message and leave a voicemail for our friends, and, oh my God. That guy has a talent for improv. He delivers the most ridiculous things, totally off-the-cuff, with the straightest of faces.
It's about time for lunch, so Matt takes us to the food. He says that if we go early, there will be less of a line. The food is pretty good.
After we're fed, Matt shows us the good stuff. The Sheriff's department! This is where we learn Deputy Sacks's first name and confirm Inga's last name. The dorm sets are this bizarre conglomeration of rooms that are likely decorated and redecorated based on the camera angle needed. The attention to detail is pretty astounding; the place feels very lived in, from the random messages on the whiteboards to the carefully selected band posters all over the walls. They look like college rooms.
We go back into that warehouse-like room we went through before, which we discover contains a very important set: THE MARS APARTMENT. Walking in the Mars apartment is just...look, you will never see one of these set reports that does not include the word "surreal," and here's where I get to use it. Because the Mars apartment set is not like the dorm rooms. It's fully constructed, down the pots and pans in the kitchen. It's very lived-in. We are in the Mars apartment. It's a trip. And if that's not enough, our next stop is MARS INVESTIGATIONS. Which, again, is a fully realized location that feels like a real place.
We hit Dean O'Dell's office, which is full of furniture, and KRFF, which is full of CDs. Then we wander around outside, where Matt shows us Veronica's LeBaron! Both of them! I don't know, maybe one was a stunt double. She also has two Saturns. Sadly, the XTerra is nowhere to be found.
After another jaunt through the production offices, we go back to the library because they're filming again. This time...with KB!! Er, Kristen. Everyone on set calls her KB. It's cute.
I would like to take this opportunity to deliver some SHOCKING information. The books in the Hearst library...ARE FAKE. They're made of plastic and styrofoam!! Actually, some of them are real, but they're certainly not filed properly. They're all tagged with names of crew members rather than the authors' names.
Kristen walks in after a scene, and we try not to make her feel totally weird and uncomfortable. She heads that off by telling us we look familiar, which may or may not be true since some, but not all, of us met her in Austin. She says that must be it, though. We chit-chat between scenes about makeup, cucumbers, and Christopher Pike. She never makes us feel unwelcome or gives us the impression that she doesn't want to talk to us, even though she may be, underneath it all, thinking, Who are these people??
One time, when I go to check out the chocolate cart...well, let me explain the chocolate cart. It's exactly what it sounds like: a cart made out of chocolate! All right, it's made of metal. But on it is chocolate in all kinds of forms, from dark chocolate mint balls to chocolate covered espresso beans to chocolate raspberries. It's pretty amazing. Anyway, one time, I go over and who should I run into but Enrico Colantoni himself! He's a jovial fellow, and we joke around a bit.
Kristen takes out one of the real books, a pregnancy book called How to Be Happy Though Pregnant written by a man with the unfortunate name of Dr. Hyman Spotnitz. She jokes, "Apparently, his parents wanted him to kill himself. What were they thinking? 'Let's name him "Hyman" and hope he grows up to be a pregnancy doctor'?" We revel in its ridiculousness, mocking the title and the silly author's name. This is Kristen Bell, folks. She's a wacky gal.
Marc just can't take being around a woman this pretty and fun, so he asks us to take him back to the hotel. He claims he needs to write his article about American Idol, but I know he's just threatened by my masculinity.
When we return to the library a while later, we discover that our chairs are missing. Yes, they had given us chairs to sit in, and we had even received our own headphones to listen with. But they were now gone.
No, they were not. Because Iris, 2nd Assistant Director, is awesome, and she had the chairs moved to the Mars apartment, where the next scene was being filmed. On our way to the Mars apartment, we meet a woman known as Kellee Playback, who is very talkative and fun. My favorite thing about her is that she's the one who plays the video games! And, in fact, when a Mario Kart line in the script turned out to be inaccurate because of a cross-platform inconsistency, she was able to get it changed. So when Logan and Heather are racing, it's really Kellee and another crew member behind the controllers.
Video Village is now in Keith's bedroom, a rarely seen area of the Mars apartment. As we arrive, Kristen and Chris are beating each other up playfully. She calls him a brat. A brat who likes to shake his crotch in front of the camera after "Cut!" is called, we soon find out.
After some shooting, it's time for dinner! At, like, ten o'clock or something. Lunch and dinner are often referred to as "first meal" and "second meal." During dinner (Chinese food!), I go out and grab alliterator, who has just arrived in San Diego. As we finish dinner, some crew members play hackysack.
I give allit a whirlwind tour of the set and then return to Keith's bedroom for even more camera angles for the same scene.
Between takes, we chat with Enrico and Kristen. We get a lot of good Kristen time here, as we discuss how much she appreciates the fans, Fanboys, Sam Huntington, Max Greenfield, her vitamin drink, Chris and Ryan, a short she's making with Ryan to show a studio in order to make a film produced by Guillermo del Toro, Pan's Labyrinth, and running shoes. I hope you parsed that sentence correctly and didn't think we talked about how much she appreciated all those things. She really does appreciate her vitamin drink, though.
After noticing a Neptune High trophy in Keith's bedroom, we wonder if Keith went to Neptune High. We ask Nick Marck if he knows how Keith and Lianne met, if he went to Neptune High. Nick doesn't think so. When Enrico comes in, we ask him if he knows how Keith met Lianne. He thinks about it for a second but agrees that Keith didn't go to NHS. He remembers that in the pilot, he was from the "mean streets of Scranton," but now the scripts say he was a deputy in Sacramento. So he thinks Keith went from Scranton to Sacramento, and then he met Lianne. Somehow. We then proceed to spend a couple minutes deconstructing the scene in "Show Me the Monkey" where Keith and Landry play each other in the bar. It's really interesting to hear about the scene from the actor's perspective and how they interpret the script.
We are there when episode 18 wraps. There is much excitement, but the day is not over.
We head to the next filming location, where Enrico, Kristen, and Francis Capra are rehearsing a scene. We have our own chairs and headsets again because we are awesome. Seriously, we're treated better than the extras. They love us! The crew, not the extras. The extras probably hate us.
Between takes, Kristen writes "old handsome man sexy" on Enrico's hand. Enrico points out that she spelled "handsom" wrong, and I take a look and agree with him. Because it's midnight, I don't know. Kristen insists there's an "e" at the end. Then my brain turns back on and I realize that's she's right. "Fuckers!" she yells, triumphant. It's the first time we hear sweet little Kristen Bell curse. It does not fail to be cute. We get her back, anyway, when she can't pronounce "bursar" correctly.
Kristen assures us they're not normally this unprofessional, but it's late and it's the full moon.
And what about Francis? Well, Francis thinks we're members of the crew until we introduce ourselves. Apparently, he didn't get the memo. Literally. There was a memo the day before that "[f]our bloggers" would be on set, but since Francis wasn't on set the day before, he didn't know. Francis, like everyone we meet, is very friendly, and he talks about how much he loves his job.
Meanwhile, Kristen wonders if a heated toilet seat would be a good gift for her boyfriend. And Enrico is singing a song about passing gas.
When the scene wraps, it's past one o'clock. We're all tired and ready to go back to the hotel and sleep. But when Francis Capra asks you to come have dinner with him, you don't say no.
Even though the Studio Diner is right next door, we drive. I ride in Francis's car, which is much classier than you'd expect from someone with such a gangsta persona. Or maybe I just don't know enough about gangsta personas, and they all drive expensive, fancy cars. Others go in Francis's best friend's car. Also in attendance is his girlfriend.
We get a long table in the diner. I order fries and a milkshake because that's what you order in diners when you're not really that hungry but feel like you should get the diner experience. And then we talk for something like ninety minutes. Sadly, most of what he says is unprintable, as he apparently has no filter. But what we can tell you is that Francis loves the show, he loves Rob, and he loves the character of Weevil. He loves the fans; eating dinner with us is an opportunity for him to interact with people who have the same love for Veronica Mars that he has for comics. That's right: Francis is a total comic book geek. Despite his geek cred, Francis assures us he still has his street cred, and he would like to settle the matter once and for all: he is not related to Frank Capra.
It's something like four in the morning when we go to sleep, but we had an unforgettable experience that merely capped the amazing day that preceded it. And we still have another day to go.
Thankfully, call for the next day is after noon. They're filming on location at San Diego State University, and we get horrendously lost on the way there because wyk is behind the wheel. I think she's cursed.
We find base camp, and we find out where they're filming. They're filming an outdoor scene with lots of extras walking in the background; some regular students who are passing through may end up being in the shot. Someone stops us and explains what's going until he recognizes us from the day before and points us toward Video Village.
Kristen and Francis are walking and talking, pretending to Veronica and Weevil. A man with a steadicam has perfected the art of walking backwards with a hundred pounds strapped to his chest. The most amusing part of this setup is what you can't see when you watch the show: the GIANT TRAMPOLINE-THING right above them that's used to block the wind from ruining the sound recording. Also of note is the choreography of the extras: they're not just walking randomly! Someone orders them to go at specific times to preserve shot continuity. I especially like the guy who's sitting on a hill reading a book, chatting with his friend. I wonder what they're talking about. Somebody write me a fic.
Francis is happy to see us, now that we've bonded. He and a fellow crew member give us the dish on Jason Dohring, who is "the most perfect individual on the planet." This assessment is made based on his ability to dunk. Francis doesn't think he sleeps, either.
Once the exterior is done, we move to an interior room on campus. Thankfully, today is more low-key and not as exciting; I don't think we could have handled another Thursday. Most of the day is spent in this room, so there's not much special to see. We spend a lot of time talking with Kellee, who tells us her experiences with different directors. She notes that it will be a different atmosphere today because it's the first day of shooting, when you can afford to be a little more hands-on, rather than the last day, when you just want to get done.
Another difference today is that we get to see the use of stand-ins. You know that scene in Spaceballs where they capture the actors' stunt doubles? It's like that. They don't really look like Wallace and Veronica, but, by gum, they dress the same! It's kind of an odd thing to see the scene blocked with the stand-ins. Today, they have time to do both a private rehearsal where most of the set is cleared and a public rehearsal where most of the crew is back. Then they set up the shot and shoot it.
This is where we finally meet Percy, who I've never seen in person before. I'm sure you're surprised to hear this, but, yes, he's nice and friendly. He makes sure we're having a good time. We talk about the Internet reaction, and he says that reading TWoP during the first season was pretty tough since people were hard on him. He calls us "intense." The reaction goes up and down, he says, but no one's said anything too bad. He was hard on himself, even, in season one, because it's tough to envision your performance one way and then see it edited a different way.
Kelley and I backseat-direct one scene out of earshot of the actual director. No, he should flip through the files on this line! No, he's moving his chair too early. Wait, that's too much of a pause. Make him look longer! It's sort of maddening, but we're not the ones being paid to tell the actors what to do.
We have dinner...well, officially it's lunch, but it's much closer to dinnertime...we have first meal with Jason Bloom, who is sort of confuzzled by this whole "Internet" thing. He doesn't really get the deal with blogs and such because that information hangs out there forever; it's not really private. He talks about the role of the director in television, emphasizing that he focuses on presenting as many choices as possible so that the editing room is not locked into one particular narration based on what shots are available.
During our meal, producer Neil Lundell stops by and passes out thin yellow hardbacks. We're confused. And then we look inside to see that they're yearbooks for season two, with pictures of the cast and crew having fun. And furthermore, they're personally signed and addressed to us individually by Kristen! "This is the coolest thing in history!" I exclaim. I don't even understand why we're getting these; it's not like being on the set wasn't gift enough. The people behind VM really do love their fans.
After the meal, it's back to shooting. We spend a lot of time talking to Dan Etheridge now. Dan Etheridge sits next to the director and offers suggestions and advice; he's Rob's proxy on set. The two of us munch on sour apple licorice twists. Like everyone else we meet, he has a deep love for the show and the crew who makes it. He asks us if we've met people like Lisa, the script supervisor, and Monique, the set dresser, and a couple other crew members who are standing around Video Village. "These are Veronica Mars," he says. I agree with him; they're the unsung heroes, the people whose work you don't notice but whose lack of work you would notice.
Dan praises Kristen for her ability to convey emotions with her face. A lot of times, they put in actual stage directions describing what emotions should be represented in Veronica's facial expressions, but one time, they just wrote "off Veronica's face," knowing Kristen would deliver. We discuss voiceovers with him like we had with Phil.
Then he mysteriously tells us to follow him, and we do. And he takes us to Kristen Bell, who could really use this time between scenes to rest or call her friends or read a book, but instead, she's giving it to us. We had talked with her between scenes before because we were in the same place, but now, she was deliberately taking time out of her schedule to give us her full attention. Class act, that girl. She thanks us for visiting and supporting the show and asks if we've seen the latest episode ("Mars, Bars"). She thought it was a really good episode; she had just watched it during lunch. While she's usually not home on Tuesdays to see the episode when it airs, she watches the DVDs in her trailer. She's normally one or two episodes within what's airing. Like Percy, she can't stop focusing on what she did wrong in certain scenes, but she also enjoys watching the show for the sake of the show. Another show she enjoys watching? Reno 911. "It's a delicious show," she says.
Kristen, like Rob, is a fan of Brandon Hillock and Deputy Sacks, and she loves being in scenes with him. And this is when we discover that in the pilot, his famous moustache was real! Julie Gonzalo does not have a moustache, real or fake, but Kristen also gives her some props. Finally, she gets us all excited about the upcoming stand-alone episodes and the finale, which she just read. "They really outdid themselves."
We let her get back to work and return to talking with Dan, who explains the many significances of "I smell bread," which, while it originated on M*A*S*H, holds special meaning for him and a close friend of him...whose last name is identical to Inga's, which prompts me to ask if there's anyone on VM who's not named after someone. The answer is no.
Francis returns for a scene, and then he leaves.
Shooting moves to a final location; it's past midnight again and we're pretty tired. Even though it's dark, the blindingly bright lights will make you think this scene takes place during the day.
The layout of the shoot makes it hard for us to see anything without getting in the way, so we hang out outside for a while and talk to Maria, who does makeup. She is bemused by the fact that we are real people with jobs who just happen to be obsessed with this television show. She tries to stump us with trivia questions, but they're way too easy ("What's Veronica's dog's name?"). Then she gives us a tough one: what side was Lilly's head wound? We have to think about it. I guess left, but it's right. And she would know, as it took nearly an hour to put that thing on every day. She then asks us which leg Mercer was stabbed in. Again, it's the right leg. And it was a fake leg, a prosthetic leg filled with blood. It was pretty gross.
During a break, I manage to finagle us into Video Village, where we talk to Jason Bloom about The Office and Brazil. Why, I don't know. Because they both have directors?
It's getting very late, and we're sleepy, and luckily, Kristen is done for the day. It's, like, two in the morning, but she's still peppy. It's amazing. Except...she's over where the scene is, and she's going to leave, and we're trapped in Video Village at the moment. We watch her leave.
And then we watch her rush back our way and leap over the camera to say goodbye to us. She goes even more out of her way to come and hug us as she thanks us for visiting.
It's a fitting end to our trip. We love them, and they love us, and it's all a big giant lovefest for our favorite show.