New York City TV Tapings: How to Get a Seat

Pictured, "Today" show co-hosts: Al Roker, Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira, Ann Curry, Hoda Kotb. Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC Peter Kramer/NBC
The trick to getting tickets for TV tapings in New York City is to be from out of town. Visitors have a much better chance than New Yorkers; producers are gun-shy about filling their audiences with obnoxious locals and see everybody who's not from New York as being from the heartland -- and therefore their target TV audience.

If you're set on getting tickets to a show, request them as early as possible -- 6 months ahead isn't too early, and earlier is better for the most popular shows. Most shows have "ticket request" areas on their websites, which will ask you the number of tickets you want, your preferred dates (be as flexible as you can), and your address and phone number. Tickets are always free. Even if you send in your request early, don't be surprised if tickets don't arrive at your house until shortly before the tape date.

If you come to town without any tickets, all is not lost. Because they know that every ticket holder won't make it, many studios give out a limited number of standby tickets on the day of taping. If you can just get up a little early and don't mind standing in line for a couple (or a few) hours, you have a good chance of getting one (except for Letterman). Now, the bad news: Only one standby ticket per person is allowed, so everybody who wants to get in has to get up at the crack of dawn and stand in line. And even if you get your hands on a standby ticket, it doesn't guarantee admission; they usually only start seating standbys after the regular ticket holders are in. Still, chances are good.

For additional information on getting tickets to tapings, call the NYC & Company at tel. 212/484-1200. And remember -- you don't need a ticket to stand on Rockefeller Plaza in front of the Today show.

If you do attend a taping, be sure to bring a sweater, even in summer. As anybody who watches Letterman knows, it's cold in those studios. And bring ID, as proof of age may be required.
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Will Ferrell and Matt Lauer on the "TODAY" show. Photo by: Ali Goldstein/NBC Ali Goldstein/NBC
Anybody can be on TV with Matt and formerly cuddly, now svelte weatherman Al Roker and Ann Curry. All you have to do is show up outside Today's glass-walled studio at Rockefeller Center, on the southwest corner of 49th Street and Rockefeller Plaza, with your HI, MOM! sign.

Getting In: Tapings are Monday through Friday from 7 to 11am, but come at the crack of dawn if your heart's set on being in front. Who knows? If it's a nice day, you may even get to chat with Meredith, Matt, or Al in a segment. Come extra early to attend a Friday Summer Concert Series show.

Photo Caption: Will Ferrell and Matt Lauer on the Today show. Photo by: Ali Goldstein/NBC
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The cast of ABC's daytime talk show "The View." Bob D'Amico/ABC Bob D'Amico
ABC's hugely popular girl-power gabfest tapes live Monday through Thursday at 11am (ticket holders must arrive by 9:30am). Requests, which should be made 12 to 24 months in advance, can be submitted online (http://theview.abc.go.com/tickets).

Getting In: Since exact-date requests are not usually accommodated, try standby: Arrive at the studio (320 W. 66th St) between 8 and 9am to pick up a number; earlier is better, as tickets are handed out on a first-come, first-served basis. You must be 16 or older to attend.

Photo Caption: The cast of ABC's daytime talk show The View. Bob D'Amico/ABC
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Rachael Ray on the set of "The Rachael Ray Show." Rachael Ray Show
You can apply to be featured on the show (if you fit one of the topics they are doing a segment on, like "Do you have a crush on a reality TV star?" or "Kids not turning out the way you expected?") or request tickets on the website (www.rachaelrayshow.com). Demand for the tickets is high, and you may be in for a long wait.

Getting In: When it's in production, the show tapes twice a day on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at Ray's studio at 222 East 44th St. (between 2nd and 3rd aves.). You must be over 16 years old to attend a taping, and bring a valid photo ID. There's a rather detailed dress code (no capris! no sequins!). You can also stop by on the day of taping to see if standby tickets are available.

Photo Caption: Rachael Ray on the set of The Rachael Ray Show.
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Regis Philbin, host of the primetime version of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" with Meredith Vieira, host of the weekday version of "Millionaire." Photo by: Steve Fenn/ABC Steve Fenn/ABC
The daily version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, hosted by Meredith Vieira, goes through a lot of contestants and is always on the lookout for smart cookies to sit in the Hot Seat.

Getting In: Check the website (www.millionairetv.com) to see if auditions are being held while you're in town (auditions usually start in April; taping for the season begins in August). You can sign up over the Net to attend a taping/take the test on a specific date; you will receive an e-mail confirmation. When the show is taping, you'll be expected to attend as an audience member for a couple of episodes in addition to taking the test (all the better to practice your skills on "Ask the Audience"). On your audition date, report to the ABC studios at 30 W. 67th St. (off Central Park West). Bring ID! You'll take a multiple-choice test and if you score in the top 10% or so, you'll have a brief interview with show staff. If you're selected for the contestant pool, you'll get a postcard telling you that you're in contention for a spot. If you're selected to go into the Hot Seat, you'll have to plan another trip to New York City.

Photo Caption: Regis Philbin, host of the primetime version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire with Meredith Vieira, host of the weekday version of Millionaire. Photo by: Steve Fenn/ABC
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The cast of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," hosted by Jon Stewart. Comedy Central
Comedy Central's irreverent, often hilarious mock newscast tapes Monday through Thursday at 5:45pm, at 733 11th Ave. The Daily Show no longer takes phone requests.

Getting In: For tickets, use the online ticket reservation system at www.thedailyshow.com/tickets or send an e-mail with your full name, show date, and number of tickets to requesttickets@thedailyshow.com. Last-minute ticket requests only are allowed by telephone on the Friday prior to the desired show. Call tel. 212/586-2477.

Photo Caption: The cast of Comedy Central's The Daily Show, hosted by Jon Stewart.
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David Letterman drives a Mentos-and-Coca Cola-powered rocket car down 53rd Street, on "Late Show with David Letterman." Photo: Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS
Here's the most in-demand TV ticket in town.

Getting In: Submit ticket requests online at www.cbs.com/late_night/late_show/tickets; or stop by the Ed Sullivan Theater Monday to Friday from 9:30am to 12:30pm or Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 6pm to submit an in-person request. (Do not line up prior to 9am or you will not be eligible for tickets.) Tapings are Monday at 4:30 and 7pm, Tuesday and Wednesday at 5:30pm, and Thursday at 4:30pm. You must be 18 or older to attend. On tape days, there are no standby lines anymore; call tel. 212/247-6497 at 11am for up to two standby tickets; start dialing early, because the machine will kick in as soon as all standbys are gone. If you do get through, you may have to answer a question about the show to score tickets.

Photo Caption: David Letterman drives a Mentos-and-Coca Cola-powered rocket car down 53rd Street, on "Late Show with David Letterman." Photo: Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS
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Vice President Joe Biden with Stephen Colbert on "The Colbert Report." Photo by: Scott Gries (PictureGroup) Scott Gries (PictureGroup)
Jon Stewart's star reporter Steve Colbert, of The Daily Show, became so popular he was given his own show on Comedy Central. Now he is giving Stewart a run for his money in the ratings.

Getting In: For standby tickets, arrive at the studio no later than 4pm to sign up: 513 W. 54th St., between Tenth and Eleventh avenues. Check the website, www.colbertnation.com/tickets, for ticket information.

Photo Caption: Vice President Joe Biden with Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report. Photo by: Scott Gries (PictureGroup)
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SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. Pictured: Tina Fey and Steve Martin. Photo by: Dana Edelson/NBC Dana Edelson/NBC
SNL broadcasts are Saturday at 11:30pm (arrival time 10:45pm); there's also a full dress rehearsal at 8pm (arrival time 7:15pm). You must be 16 or older to attend. Here's the catch: E-mail requests (snltickets@nbcuni.com) are taken only in August and the odds are always long.

Getting In: You can try for standby tickets on the day of the taping, which are distributed at 7am outside 30 Rockefeller Plaza, on the 49th Street side of the building (under the NBC Studios awning), on a first-come, first-served basis; only one ticket per person will be issued. If you want to try your luck with advance tickets, call tel. 212/664-3056 as far in advance of your arrival in New York as possible to determine the current ticket-request procedure.

Photo Caption: Tina Fey and Steve Martin on the set of Saturday Night Live. Photo by: Dana Edelson/NBC
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Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon." Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC Lloyd Bishop
Tapings are Monday through Thursday at 5:30pm (plan on arriving by 4:15pm if you have tickets), and you must be 17 or older to attend. You can reserve up to four tickets in advance by calling tel. 212/664-3056.

Getting In: Standby tickets are distributed on the day of taping at 9am outside 30 Rockefeller Plaza, on the 49th Street side of the building (under the NBC Studios awning), on a first-come, first-served basis (come very early to get one).

Photo Caption: Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC
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