January 24, 2012
Well, Chucksters, many of you heard that we visited the Chuck set back in November. It was an extraordinary day for us, one we wanted to share with you guys. Sadly, it happened just one short month before the show finally wrapped, during a very emotional time for the cast, the crew, the fans and us. On top of that, the episode we saw them shoot wouldn’t air until now, so we decided to hold this post until today. Given that the series finale is less than a week away, it seemed like the appropriate time to look back and explain to you what your love and support meant to the people on Chuck. In all honesty, we know some folks are curious about what we did that day and we’re only too happy to share our experiences. But what this post is really about, is all of you and what one very special cast and crew wanted you to hear. So without further ado….
Our Day On The Chuck Set
The day started at the gates of Warner Brothers studios in Burbank, CA. The cast and crew were in the final days of shooting episode 5.11, Chuck versus the Bullet Train. As it was, NBC was airing episode 5.03 that very night, so this turned out to be an odd little glimpse into the future of Chuck. There were two episodes left to complete after this one and we had no idea what we’d be walking into. Would the mood be sad or celebratory? Would they be happy to have fans there or would it feel like an intrusion this close to the end? Needless to say, we were a bit nervous, but that nervousness quickly disappeared the moment we actually got to the set.
That afternoon they were filming on the “Castle” stage, though most of the scenes we saw were actually set on the bullet train. We were ushered inside and quickly met Chris, Chuck AD and super nice guy (and bonus points to him for wearing a Nerd Machine hat!). He was the first of many, many terrific people we’d be lucky enough to chat with. As it turned out, Buzz Feitshans, the director of photography on Chuck, had taken over the director’s chair for this episode. They were right in the middle of shooting, so we got to watch as he and the rest of the crew worked their magic. In between takes, various people would check up on us, explaining their jobs, how the shooting process worked and what was going on in the scene. We had been invited by the showrunners to present the fan Thank You video at lunch, but since this was a surprise, most of the folks we talked to had no idea who we were or why we were there. We were obviously fans (the Nerd and Chuck shirts gave us away!), but they treated us with such kindness and respect that we felt like just two more members of that wonderful crew.
Soon enough, they took a short break from shooting in order to reset the lighting and cameras. At this point, Robert Duncan McNeil came over to say hi. If you don’t know Robbie yet, then you have been missing out (follow him HERE). He directed some of the best Chuck episodes out there (seriously guys, look him up on IMDB) and he also served as executive producer on our favorite show. He knew why we were there and we talked in hushed tones about the video and the fans’ devotion to Chuck. As many of you are aware, Robbie was once an actor on Star Trek: Voyager, so he knows a little something about fan bases. We spoke a bit about how sad everyone was that Chuck was concluding but he reminded us that Voyager had ended over a decade ago. And yet, year after year at conventions all over the country (and probably the world), cast members and fans still gather to talk about it. And it’s still a topic of conversation on Twitter and Facebook and blogs everywhere. So fear not, Chuck fans, something tells me we’ll have a similar story . If you don’t believe me, take a look around at our online community. And remember that we still have Nerd HQ in July!
We wandered the stages a bit, then eventually headed back to Castle. We got there just in time to catch Joshua Gomez. For the record, we can safely say that Josh really is as kind and funny as Morgan Grimes… but maybe just a little bit cooler . Not only is he a brilliant actor, but he’s always been great to the fans and extremely supportive of everyone’s efforts on behalf of the show. Back in the spring, he had tweeted often about the #NotANielsenFamily campaign. He was one of the biggest reasons we were able to spread the word about it so quickly. So we thanked him for that. He, in turn, seemed genuinely impressed by what the fans could do when they banded together.
Next up was lunch. Back when Chuck was shooting, the cast and crew would often gather at lunch on the day the show was airing and watch the episode the fans would be seeing that same evening. This day was no different. A large screen had been set up on an otherwise empty sound stage. People grabbed their lunches from the buffet line, then sat down, assuming that the episode was about to begin. Instead, Paul Marks, the director of the episode they were showing that day, stood and introduced the fan Thank You video. It was a truly special moment, as most of the people there had never seen it before. The lights went down and the video started. After a few seconds, people stopped eating and the room got very quiet as everyone watched. The intro played and then all of those signs started flashing across the screen. We heard a few murmurs of surprise as countries such as Croatia, Kazakhstan, Australia and so many more came up. In all honesty, I don’t think many people knew just how far Chuck had reached. We learned later on that a few tears were shed as that video played. Afterwards everyone clapped and Paul introduced us to the crew. He explained to everyone that even if the show was coming to a close, all these fans were still out there supporting them. Their work was truly, truly appreciated. Rachel and I added hearty nods of agreement. And then we got to sit and watch a really great episode of Chuck (Frosted Tips!) with the people who had created it.
But here comes the part we most wanted to share with you… what happened after that screening. Once the lights came on, people began to approach us. First it was Yvonne, who offered hugs and genuine thanks (even though she’d seen the video multiple times already). Next came people from all different departments, from sound, to visual effects, to wardrobe. They wanted to thank us (and all of you) for making that video. It meant the world to them. We had one man tell us he rarely, if ever, got choked up over anything, but this video got to him. They were amazed by your dedication and your support. They admitted that it was easy to forget how many people were watching their show. They put in 12-14 hour days and had to deal with technical problems and scheduling issues, late nights and early mornings. So much of the ratings news they got was bad. They’d heard over and over about the fan support, but they rarely got to go to the conventions and events that cast members attended. But this video reminded them why they were there. It reminded them of all the people out there watching. And they wanted you all to know how much they appreciated that. So there you go guys, this crew that worked so hard for five years felt your love. And honestly, standing there talking to all of them, I’ve never been more proud to be a Chuck fan. It was an amazing time, one I’ll never forget.
But the day wasn’t over yet! Doug, the co-producer and UPM of Chuck, and another incredibly nice guy, took us over to the Buy More for a quick peek into our favorite electronics store. I won’t lie, I totally geeked out in there. I mean, how many awesome scenes have taken place in the Buy More? Doug graciously showed us around, pointing out little details that are so easy to miss on TV. The Buy More was literally the size of an electronics store, so let’s all take a moment to applaud the art department and set decorators and prop masters who made the place look so incredibly authentic. The Buy More always felt like a character in its own right and we can thank this extremely talented crew for that.
Eventually we found our way back to yet another building where the crew was shooting. Many of you who have been on the WB tour know that Chuck used buildings all over the lot to simulate many different locations. Office towers became hospitals, a small pond could stand in for Thailand or Florida and regular streets could transform into everything from a carnival to a farmer’s market. As mentioned earlier, the folks over at Chuck were extremely creative. And it was so much fun to watch them in action.
This particular evening, they were shooting the scene where Chuck, Morgan and Casey come to rescue Sarah, only to find an empty chair and a transmitter. What struck me was how weirdly beautiful this dreary little room looked. The lighting was incredible and everyone was working hard to make sure the shot looked just right. Once they started filming, we sat down and watched a story unfold before our eyes. Zac, Adam and Josh only had a few lines, but we were totally sucked in. It didn’t matter that we were surrounded by equipment and dozens of crewmembers. It still felt like we were watching the show at home on TV. That’s how good these guys were. Even without the editing and music, they could make everything feel real for those few seconds between “Action” and “Cut.” It was fantastic to see.
Once the scene was over, we caught up with Wendi, whom many of you know from Twitter. During a break, she took us back for a tour of the make-up trailer. And yes, all of the pictures you guys sent in were up on her wall for the cast to see. Apparently they got a kick out of looking at them. We made sure to thank her for all of her tweets about Chuck. So here again we can report on yet another crewmember who is just as sweet and nice as you’ve been led to believe. Wendi has since moved on to Breaking In over on Fox. Let’s all make sure we show our support. Chucksters, if you’re not following her yet, please fix that NOW .
The rest of the night was a blur of wonderful moments. We got to celebrate French Fry-day (best idea ever!) and chat with the crew about the show and the fan campaigns. We also met up with the four members of Team Bartowski at various points. Zac, Adam, Josh and Yvonne each took a moment to talk with us even though they were busy and the night was getting later (and yes, Yvonne was in the tallest heels I’ve ever seen in my life ). After Nerd HQ and SDCC and Chuckfest, it was hard to love this cast any more than we already did. But seeing them in their own environment, in a place without all the reporters and publicists and media folks, that’s when you realize that they really are just warm, awesome, hard working people. I know this was their job and like any job they probably had their good days and their bad ones, but the enthusiasm they had for their work was real. Their kindness was real. And their love for all of you is absolutely real. We hope you know that.
We went to that set for many reasons: because we wanted to see the process of making a TV show, because we wanted to meet the crew, but most importantly because we wanted to share that Thank You video and show them how much you valued their work. And that is a goal I think we accomplished. But just as significant is the message we hope to relay from them back to you guys. This cast and this crew felt your passion, they witnessed your dedication and they know how hard you fought for this show, our show. Five seasons is a terrific run and many people we talked to credited the fans with giving them jobs to come back to year after year. They knew this was the final season, they knew they were shooting the last few episodes, but just like us, they were grateful to have closure and the chance to say goodbye. And they wanted to make sure we thanked you for that, because as they told us, without you, they never would have gotten this far.
Yes, Chuck will air its series finale in less than a week. But let’s not forget how absolutely amazing this journey has been for everyone involved and let’s not forget all the good that came out of it. Chuck is a big family, it’s one that we’re all a part of, from Burbank to Bulgaria, from Twitter to Facebook and the floors of the Buy More. We may have different stories and different experiences, but each one of us was touched by this show and the community that grew up around it. Whatever comes next, for the cast, for the crew, for all of the fans, this is an experience each one of us will cherish forever. All we can say is thanks…
We’d like to offer our sincerest gratitude to Doug, Robbie, Paul, Wendi, Chris, Buzz, Dave, Zac, Yvonne, Adam, Josh and so many others who made our visit truly unforgettable. Seriously, you guys are… awesome:).
A Message From The Cast And Crew
I don’t know if I can add much more to what’s already been said so I’ll try and keep this brief. I just wanted to try and convey how much the cast and crew appreciates you all. Your love and support has meant everything to them. You hear them say it and it’s absolutely true. The love they have for you guys is incredible and so genuine.
We were told multiple times, by both the cast and the crew, to please pass along how much they’ve appreciated all that you’ve done for both them and the show. The entire day we had crewmembers coming up and thanking everyone for thinking of them and appreciating their hard work. The “Thank You” video meant the world to everyone there and to see their faces as they watched, well they were just in awe. Many tears were shed and they were deeply touched.
It was so wonderful talking to the crew and hearing their stories. We were welcomed with open arms and it was great to see how close everyone was. Doug Ornstein, a co-producer on Chuck, told us that each day he’d come to set and hear Yvonne’s laugh. Five years on and they were still having so much fun with each other while making the show. And it was evident being there, they are a family.
They so badly wished they could’ve continued for the fans and I’m sure for themselves too. One crew member even said that they felt as though they had let us down because they couldn’t keep going. We told him that they certainly hadn’t let us down, and honestly, I don’t think we could’ve asked for more. Yes, Chuck was the victim of an outdated system, but to accomplish what we did and reach this point is amazing.
For five years the cast and crew have given us an unbelievable gift and I think they know how much they, and the show, mean to us. It’s a mutual love and appreciation that’s created a special bond between the cast, crew and fans; a bond that most shows never experience. And THAT is something the networks can’t take away from us.
The whole experience was something that I never dreamed I’d get to do and I’m so very grateful for the opportunity… it was a dream come true. I hope I’ve helped to convey their love and appreciation for you guys and how much you mean to them. And to anyone who has never had the chance to meet any of the cast or crew, I can honestly tell you that they are just as nice, kind, and down to earth as you ever hoped they would be. They are a special group of people and it’s been an honor to call myself a Chuck fan.
A Fan Tribute To The Cast And Crew