Tony Mendez Tour of The Ed Sullivan Theater and Taping of TMS

We exit back up the aisle and down the stairs to the lobby. The audience is led through the theater and out the side doors onto 53rd street. We turn right, instead of left, and tell the page that is blocking the route, Tony wants to see us. She lets us pass by and I drag Sharon down the aisle towards Tony with (TMS Producer) Walter Kim on the digital video camera shooting the Tony Mendez Show. Tony begins talking to us and Sharon is speechless. Tony has fun and shows her when to talk, when the microphone is in front of her. I pull out a gift for Tony. (I had decided while planning the trip that Tony could use a genuine Tony Mendez Show mug. It could be used on the TMS to hold the microphone.) I told him that he could place the microphone in his new mug and his mug lit up. We had totally surprised him. The screen shot of the mug was used to promote our appearance on the TMS. We proceeded onstage and took the required pictures of us behind the desk. Sharon sat in the guest seat that Warren had occupied during the panel segment. I sat behind the desk and acted like I was interviewing her.

***[ I see a CBS page. I know Alan is talking to her....the next thing I know we are going to the right instead of the left with the rest of the audience. Halfway down the aisle I see Tony...I see Walter...we are on camera. Tony is talking to me but holding the mike to my face...then back at his. This is a stunt he pulled on the TMS show many times with guests. I see Alan showing Tony the surprise Mug. Tony loved it. I could see it on his face as he turned around and showed the mug to the camera. I don't remember walking up on stage. I don't remember sitting behind the desk. I remember thinking I want to sit where Warren sat. I do. Alan is seated behind the desk. Tony and Walter are a blur. I remember Tony sharing the details of the new section of the set. My dog Wuff is actually represented there. Okay...prove me wrong. Always that little dog will be Wuff.  The "Will It Float Tank?" is up in storage. Tony still wants to get even with Pat, Kenny and Walter for a TMS stunt. They threw Tony in the tank. He had some stuff damaged in his wallet and swore he would get revenge.  Tony shares the stage with us and then we are headed to see another area... well--almost. I sort of had a request. I wanted to see the shack. See...Wahoo Mike works there. I have had this image of it in my mind and I needed to see it. I had it the size of a closet. A computer crammed to one side of the door and barely room for a chair. to the shack we went. Alan took the photo...the darn room even has its own window INSIDE the theater.]

We shift around on the stage and Tony points out the scenery behind the desk and the parts he really likes. A dog, a vodka bottle and other items that the camera doesn't pick up due to their size. Each light on the set is actually the end of a fiber optic line from a light box instead of individual lights...Tony seems amazed by this fact. There are hundreds of lights done this way. We go into the area off stage left where the props are kept in a locker. The coffee counter is located next to the locker. Kenny Sheehan greets us and so does Pat Farmer. We are shown the coffee dispensers that Dave's assistant, Laurie Diamond uses. Pat said, "This is how Laurie gets Dave's coffee." He then furiously pumps many times down on the dispenser without actually getting coffee. Apparently, she thinks it's unbreakable. Pat offers Sharon some of Dave's coffee and fills a cup.

***[ I first decline the offer of coffee. I was already so excited I told them I would never sleep if I had coffee. Pat and Tony shared it was indeed decaf. Sipping it, I realized I was actually drinking the same exact brew Dave had for the show.  Alan takes a sip. It placed us in a very small group in time, at least, for the moment. Okay...special for the Dave is "god" group. Hey, Dave does have this thing about lists of ten and the coffee sharing may rate as communion.]

We are introduced to Corky Ramirez while in the green room.  Pat shows Tony something new. It's a wall located within a closet where mannequins are stored. We have seen these body parts on the TMS. Pat informs us there used to be a door Jackie Gleason used for access to Studio 54 a number of years ago. Tony is impressed by this bit of information. It's cinder-blocked now, done when the renovation of the Ed was made for the Dave. Next stop is the control room with dozens of monitors, switching boards and computers.

***[Somewhere on the flow of the tour...Tony shares the supports that have been added to the floor to insure whatever walks out on the stage of the Ed doesn't fall through. Me included.  I remember walking down a hallway and thinking this is where Dave hit his head.  Alan had to duck a couple of times...two ducks.  We see where the sound is mixed for the show--a techy looking room.  I noticed on the monitors that the stage was still on camera in the control room.  Tony hands me a stack of papers. "10-30-02 Gossip." It appears there is someone in charge of gathering all the gossip and putting it in a nice little packet. Copies are made for whatever purpose it is needed.  Humor data...I would have never thought it would take that form. I remember thinking how dark and old some areas were...and then new and high tech some of the others were.

I asked Alan to take a photo of the Hal plaque. His camera has all these settings and we wanted one that showed the engraving.  I remember seeing photos...history and secrets being shared. Pat Farmer stayed with us on much of the tour.  People just kept appearing in front of me that I knew from the shows.]

Tony explains who gets to sit in each seat. We go out to the lobby where we take pictures of the various changes in the theater's outside. The line drawing of Ed Sullivan is prominently displayed in the inner lobby. Back inside the theater, Tony points out the chandelier that hangs in the center of the theater. The Ed is on the Historical Register of New York.   Some of the windows remain because of the historical landmark status.

***[We tour back to the main lobby and into the theater again. Up on stage I am thinking I am standing on the stage of the Ed SullivanTheater and this was where David was just standing. This was where Warren needed to be tonight.  I had touched things...all over the theater. It was real. I needed to leave a mark. I ask Pat if I could mark on the a secret place.  He looked at me with a tilt of his eyebrow and said sure..."We do buff them."  I told him I wanted to put it where the buffer wouldn't go. I did. He knows does Tony, Walter and Alan. I did it and then said it is sort of like fingerprints. I wanted to make sure my mark was in the Ed.  Pat smiled at me. We walked towards the side exit...and people started appearing again.]

Going towards the stage door exit, we pause outside another green room

***[George makes his second appearance. He shared he didn't mean to leave so quickly earlier in the tour. I look up and there is a band member. Sid...right there on my left is... Sid. It was like the moment I realized Will Lee was standing next to me on the curb. I no sooner shake his hand than Anton appears right behind him. Anton. Zippy was right there in front of me too.  It was just something that didn't seem real.  These people would just seem to pop up right in front of me. Chez stops in and visits every so often in Alan talked with him about the newsgroup.]

Sid is there and we are introduced to Anton. Sharon talks to him. Alan Cheznovitz appears and I thank him for his insights and answers he provides us in afl. He makes a comment about how he doesn't have a life because he posts there. I tell him that we are worse, we post every day. Felicia comes out of the green room with a small posse and Tony goes in and brings a basket of cookies. He offers us some, I touch one and put it back and he yells at me about doing that & makes me take it back. Just before Tony heads us out the door, Pat said to wait one minute, he wants to get something to give us. He returns with a script from the show.

***[Before we go through the door, leaving the big Ed area, I ask Tony if I may touch him. He is a real "Untouchable Host" on the "TMS." He grants permission and gives me a wonderful, real hug. He tells me the tour is not over just yet. We then go through a door. A tiny little room outside the second green room.  I forgot that Walter has the camera running. At some point, Walter said he was almost out of tape. He had been recording most of the tour. It is time to go back to the world outside. There are still guests in the room. Tony grabs the basket and treats us to cookie time. Pat returns with a show script and hands it to me. I look at Pat and thank him. I then hand it to Alan, telling Pat...I will give it to Alan because he has people to share it with. Pat then raised his eyebrows and tells Alan he had better not see it on eBay. Good-byes were said and out the door we go...I throw a kiss to Walter. I know there is a crowd of people outside the door. I know this because we exit around them--they are all very quiet. Tony yells at us to get a life...I yell back, "You too." I am in a daze.]

Tony says goodbye to us and as we go out the door, notices that it is raining and asks if we have umbrellas. We don't and he says to just get in the limo that is waiting to take Warren. I protect the script from the precipitation and leave, thanking Tony for the experience. The door closes behind us and as we walk towards the fans waiting behind the barricades, Tony shouts out "Get a life" to our laughter and confusion of those waiting in the rain. I must say,Tony Mendez is truly anDscn0896.jpg extremely fine human being, no matter what the staff says. He made our trip to the show one that will never be forgotten and we truly appreciate all that he did. It was an extraordinary experience.

***[Everyday I remember something else that happened...something that was said or a moment that crossed my mind. There was no hurry in the tour. I look back at the photo of the Ed stage and I see Pat Farmer there. He is touching something on the floor as he was setting up the ghost light. No dark theaters allowed. I don't remember Pat leaving us on the tour. He had to have left us, because he was there on the stage in the photo.]

We go past the office door and Dorothy of Security (from a TMS episode) is there. We pass by and stroll to Kinko's to post the Psychic LSQG. With that, our secret will be out that we were at the show.

















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