Wednesday, February 7, 1996.
The story starts back in December of 1995, when my friend, Art, who is a tv producer, asked me if I'd be interested in doing research and preparing trivia sheets for 18 Quantum Leap episodes for a marathon on the SCI-FI Channel. He had known for quite a while that I was a huge fan of the show and that I'd even worked at and help run several of the QL conventions in LA. Naturally, I said yes to his offer.
Well, I can tell you I was pretty excited in January when Art said he'd gotten Scott Bakula to be the host and that I was welcome to attend the filming in LA. Then I worked like mad for 5 days, including one weekend of 11a-1a then 7a-10p, getting the information and scripts ready, working over phone and email with a woman in LA.
I got to the studio at 8:30a on Wednesday, with Art and Marcelle, the other writer. The tech guys were there setting up, and the production assistants already had breakfast stuff out. I spent the morning running messages for Art, helping the production assistants, chatting with the crew, and waiting for Scott to arrive with the script changes Art had told me he'd have. We had a yummy catered lunch. We chatted, we shmoozed. Finally, Scott arrived at a little past 12:30p for the 1pm start.
Off he went to change and get into makeup. While Scott was getting ready (black pants, collared shirt, jacket), Art told me that Scott didn't have any major changes, and we'd be rolling when he was ready. I was then given the assignment of making sure we recorded everything, since we'd be skipping around. I set myself up by the teleprompter guy and waited.
Scott came out, and Art walked him through the simple choreography. Each episode of the marathon has a 45 second intro, a 15 second tidbit at the 15 min point, a 30 second at the half, and another 15 at the 45. They decided to record all of the 45 and 30 second spots, then do the 15s. Scott would read through each one just before recording it, then say "ok" or talk about what he wanted to change. Sometimes he improvised a bit in the middle, and they were generally good.
He was really sensitive to what people would think about what he said about them, like Brooke Shields and Debbie Allen, and rephrased those bits to be just the way he wanted. He wanted to make sure everything was absolutely correct data-wise (Sam's degrees, Al's wives), and politically correct as well. It was obvious that he really cared about his friends and his work and always did his very best.
He was very obliging and professional, and only made a few really good bloopers. Mostly he'd get tounge-tied, back up, and start over without commenting. Or Art would make a slight change in his movement or ask for a different emphasis. Towards the end, he did beat on the smoke machine guy, but you can hardly blame him. He'd been sucking that stuff in for hours, and didn't even comment until the smoke operator started to cough. "Oh ho - getting to ya, HUH?"
I made sure all the changes got into the teleprompter, and noted them on the paper script. I had the operator correct all of the spelling errors since Scott seemed to care (and they bugged me), and had to fix all of the dropped dashes and apostrophes which got lost when the data was transferred to the prompter computer. It's hard to read "we'll" when the prompter says "well".
We had 4.5 hours to do everything, and Scott only took one break, after about 2.5 hours. He was constantly tripping over his tongue at that point, and went out for a breather. I was happy, since I'd had to go to the bathroom for the last hour! He seemed to have real problems with "wardrobe" and "Griffiths" and was sputtering like Daffy Duck on that last word. I made myself useful by helping with pronunciations (he asked if Alia was "AL-ee-a", so I was there to say "a-LEE-a") and the like.
We were nearly done 45 mins early, so Art made comments about having more time so he was going to put more production stuff into the next few, like putting the ice skating number back in, and Scott made a joke about dancing girls, which led to a comment about how he usually *was* the dancing girl.
Everything was wrapped up about 30 mins early, and Scott thanked everyone and shook Art's hand and my hand. He chatted for a few minutes, then made tracks for another appointment. The rest of us spent an hour breaking things down, and Art and I headed back to the hotel.
Having worked with Scott at conventions, I knew he was a genuinely nice and friendly guy who cares a lot about the fans. Now having worked with him professionally, I have to add how impressed I am with him in that aspect, too.