Frequently Asked Questions list (8/9) for "Mad About You" and the Usenet newsgroup

Archive-name: tv/mad-about-you/faq/part8
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Last-modified: 97-01-30
Version: 5.1

This Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) list for the TV Comedy show "Mad About You" is, as a collection of information,
Copyright (c) 1994-1997 by Ramaswamy [].
All Rights Reserved.

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Sections with updates will be flagged with asterisks (*) in the Local Table Of Contents below. Almost all sections have updates in this re-organized document, hence none is flagged.

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Main Table of Contents

Local Table of Contents

8.0 Where can I find some MAY production related information?

8.0 Where can I find some MAY production related information?

Information about the 5 seasons of MAY and the complete list of MAY episodes telecast so far is to be found in section 1, but for other production related information, please read on...

8.1 Where is MAY produced and by whom?

MAY is produced by Nuance Productions (Paul Reiser's company) and InFront Productions (Danny Jacobson's company) for Montrose Productions, a holding company. MAY is distributed by Columbia TriStar Television, a division of Sony Pictures Entertainment... I just heard Paul Buchman say "let it go!" and I shall.

Episodes of the show are filmed (not taped) at the Culver City Studios soundstage #11 in Culver City, California, on Friday evenings. All interior scenes, like the Buchman apartment and Riff's Bar, are filmed on the set, while some street scenes are done in other studio lots. Other exterior scenes such as the Rockefeller Plaza ice-rink, the New York subway, etc. are filmed on location. Certain elaborate scenes, such as Lisa's engagement party in [4.22], are filmed at other soundstages in Culver City.

The closing credits in a MAY episode may indicate InFront Productions and Nuance Productions, but the address for viewer comments about the show, as well as mail to the cast members is:

The Production companies themselves don't handle audience correspondence about MAY, so mail addressed to them will be forwarded and incur some delay.

The name of Paul Reiser's company has occasioned some comment. It can be traced back to the character Modell played by Reiser in Barry Levinson's film "Diner." In its opening scene Modell talks to his pal Boogie (played by Mickey Rourke) and mentions being uncomfortable with the word 'nuance,' much as Paul Buchman might have. The lines were remembered nine years later as the new company was launched.

8.2 When does the production season begin and end?

Typically a season begins in mid-July as the crew gets going with the sets and other paraphernalia for the new season, and the first scripts are written. The writers themselves are known to work through the summer hiatus (from early May through mid-July) on upcoming story-lines and scripts. The cast usually assembles in early August for the shoot of the season opener.

Usually an episode takes a week to rehearse and shoot. With weeks off for the Emmy awards ceremony, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's and other reasons, the production season stretches out to early April, when the finale is shot.

Post-production activity usually takes 4 weeks; by early May the company is ready to batten down hatches for the summer. Note that this happens even before the Finale is aired by NBC, in mid to late May.

8.3 How can I get tickets to a filming session?

Episodes of MAY are filmed (not video-taped) in front of a studio audience. Tickets for the sessions can be obtained in advance; allow upto 4 weeks for processing the request. Send a stamped self-addressed envelope to:

To hear a recorded announcement of the next 7 days' shooting schedule, for MAY and many other shows, call (818) 506-0067, but be prepared to listen to a looped message of upto 5 minutes.

To get the schedule for the next month's shooting, send a stamped self-addressed envelope to the above address.

Please note that a previously scheduled shooting may be cancelled; having a ticket for a particular day is no guarantee you'll see anything. It is always worth checking with the TriStar office or Audiences Unlimited before making the trip to the studios.

The studios accomodate 196 (seated) and about 15-20 more in a holding area. The SRO folks are directed to seats by Pages as some of the seated folks leave early. More than half the seating is usually allotted on a priority basis to friends and families of the cast and crew and other VIPs. Next on the proverbial totem pole are folks with tickets to previous shoots that were denied admission for whatever reason. Then come the ticket-holders of the day, and last are folks that just show up at the gates and hope.

A tip: During the holiday season in December there are many last-minute cancellations by friends and family, so the chances of getting in right off the streets with no advance tickets can be quite good. Think of it as flying stand-by!

Filming at the Culver City Studios begins at about 6PM and usually lasts till 11PM (but can go on as late as 3AM), with interruptions for costume changes, multiple takes, last-minute changes, etc. Try to arrive well before 5PM, since the queue starts forming by about 3PM and there is the Friday evening traffic to think of.

Depending on how the rehearsals went Friday afternoon, the evening may begin with a tape of a previous episode or a montage of Teases and Tags being shown on the monitors.

Another tip: Take a pair of binoculars to the shoot and if you get there early (before they screen off the set, preparatory to introducing the cast) you can spend some time scanning the details on the set. Later on with all cameras and boom equipment in the way, not to mention all the crew, it may be more difficult.

It can get cold in the audience section, so a jacket will help; layered clothing is the key. Security checks all bags at the door for weapons etc. No food or drink is allowed in the studios, so eat before you get there.

Residents of and visitors to the Los Angeles area can also try their luck for (even same day) tickets at:

just off the 101 Freeway at the Sunset Boulevard exit. The ticket office is on Van Ness Street, a block west of the Freeway. The office hours are:

Groups of 40 or more should call 818-753-3470 for more information on tickets.

8.4 What is the word from the Set?

The Week that is:

A typical work week leading up to the Friday evening shoot of a MAY episode goes something like this:

On Friday evening:
The script used in the Friday shoot is substantially different from the Mimeo draft generated just 48 hours before. The scenes shot can amount to anything from 25 to 35 minutes of action, and when the post-production process takes over to whittle it down to less than 22 minutes episode you see on-air has shrunk quite a bit again. In other words, the script of the finished product is a bit shorter than the script shot that Friday evening.

Part of the charm of attending a shoot is that it is live theatre, and later you can try to figure out what was cut from the scenes. The other part is appreciation of all the effort that goes in behind the scenes, the effort Helen Hunt acknowledged recently at the Golden Globe awards, of William 'Cos' Cosentino, the 'stage' manager and assistant director, of Laura Petticord, 2nd assistant director, of Karen Lee Holley, property master, and of Victoria Weisbart, script supervisor.

The Set

The Set itself is laid out as a strip with the Apartment to the left and all the 'external' areas like Riff's, Hospital rooms, Buchman's Sporting Goods interior, Jamie's office and the like to the right. If there is insufficient space for 'external' sets, a "swing" set is used to the extreme right (as is the case with Joan's office on occasion), literally around a corner that the audience cannot see (the action can be viewed only on the monitors in front).

The Buchman apartment is laid out before you with the Kitchen to the left, then the Living/Dining room, and the hallway beyond the front door, framed by the Conways' door to the right. Behind this hallway is the apartment hallway connecting the livingroom and the bedroom. Thus the Buchman bedroom and the Buchman bathroom are not visible when there are 'external' sets in front. It is a matter of choice in every episode; bedroom and bathroom scenes mean there are not too many 'external' sets to be had. Conversely if a lot of the action takes place outside the apartment, the bedroom and bathroom are often used for storage, with the bed dismantled as completely as in [3.16].

Thus the Kitchen and Livingroom are the only permanent sections of the set, covered up with spreads when not in use. There is no "ceiling" to the Apartment, to accomodate all the lights and booms. The Kitchen occupies the entire depth of the set and features pane-less cupboards in the back (to avoid camera reflections), but cupboards on the side directly across from the refrigerator have panes since cameras never shoot from that angle. The butcher-block table is quite a presence and one can almost smell a turkey with one's back to the kitchen window. Next to the window are 2 framed pictures of Parisian doorways that used to be above the headboard in the Bedroom in season #1, so the Buchmans move their pictures around!

The Livingroom decor has changed a lot over the seasons, and the number of books the Buchmans own is staggering. The loveseat (I mean.. couch) looks and feels comfortable, and used. Murray's tastes can be depended upon. The mirror in which Jamie looked at herself turning 30 at 2:01AM is surprisingly small. The bicycle is still parked under a window, the poster for Richard III has been a constant and these days there is a framed wedding picture of Paul and Jamie on a small table by the front door.

The Production:

MAY uses a multi-camera setup to shoot episodes. Four Panavision cameras are used on most takes, some require only two. All cameras are operated concurrently, filming the same action from different angles. They are labelled A, B, C and X (D is not used since it sounds too much like B). Each scene is shot at least twice and at times some sub-scenes are redone with re-written lines or with a different emphasis or intonation, with the script supervisor constantly noting revisions. The director uses a monitor with a 4-way split-screen display of all four cameras' output, although the studio audience gets to see only one of the feeds on the monitors slung above the first row of seats (this too is one of the small details attended to during final rehearsals Friday afternoon, since in rehearsals all the monitors show the same split-screen output the director sees). It is therefore a good idea not to occupy a seat in the front row, especially if you are obliged to follow the action from the "swing" set on the monitors.

As the scenes are shot in sequence, audience responses are dutifully recorded. The first take often generates the best reaction, with later ones getting quieter, or worse, with laughs in anticipation. If you have an explosive laugh you are likely to be featured prominently on the sound-track and could even win a "Mad About You" T-shirt from the grateful Audience Warmer-Upper whose job it is to keep the audience alert and reacting and responding throughout the long evening.

The Post-Production:

Typically there is no more than 30 minutes of footage (about 16000' of film), excluding the obvious out-takes, for an episode requiring about 21 and a half minutes of material, expanding to the regulation 22 and a half minutes with the addition of the opening credits and the many pre-shot/canned links between scenes.

The four (or more) Panavision cassettes are sent to a local Lab for processing and then digitized and edited using AVID Technology. All the takes are kept around, else Dick Clark would be unhappy. The four weeks it takes to get an episode ready for air is when Craig Knizek and Sheila Amos do all their work; they rarely attend the Friday evening shoot.

A Final Word:

If the Producers decide that an entire episode cannot be shot in front of an audience in one evening, sometimes because preparation is not complete by Friday afternoon, they cancel the shoot and opt for "block and shoot," a technique also employed for episodes involving complex sets and many street scenes in outside lots. The season #3 Finale was one such case, as was the second half of the season #4 Finale. Thus there is no guarantee that advance ticket-holders, who acquire their tickets long before the story-line of that week's episode is decided upon, will get to see anything. Such cancellation is unusual, but it can and does happen.

8.5 Where can I watch MAY outside North America?

MAY is shown internationally on various broadcast and cable networks, especially in Europe on SKY and RTL. In Central and South America the Sony Entertainment Television network has been showing MAY episodes from Mexico to Argentina and Chile. In these and other parts of the world, listed in alphabetical order:

8.6 When did MAY enter Syndication in North America??

MAY entered syndication in North America on September 9, 1996 with 94 half-hour episodes from the first 4 seasons. NBC has now lost its rights to telecast these episodes. Episodes of the current (fifth) season will join syndication ranks in September, 1997.

In other words, no episodes from seasons past will ever be seen on NBC again.

8.7 Where can I get information about MAY Syndication telecasts in my area?

Your best bet is to consult the local edition of TV Guide or the TV supplement to the local Sunday newspaper. Neither print source is likely to have the episode titles, so you'll have to match up any description you find with the synposes and keys in the MAY Episode Guides.

While the original episodes air on NBC, there is no telling what station with what affiliation will be carrying MAY in syndication. In one market it may be FOX, UPN in another, WB is a third. Please note that you are *not* watching MAY in syndication on FOX or UPN or WB; your local syndicator just happens to be the FOX, UPN or WB affiliate. And no, that is not Lisa's logic at work!

The number of episodes shown per week also varies by market; the following patterns have been seen around the US:

The SONY Web site for MAY provides some indication of episodes in syndication nationwide, complete with Episode titles, but the information is not applicable to every syndication market, and at times is not updated on a timely basis.

If all else fails, you can of course post an inquiry at

The episodes can be shown out of order; the sequence is not decided by your local station, but by the distributor. Episodes with a holiday theme are likely to be shown close of those holidays. The early and the later episodes on a single day will be from different seasons. With 94 half-hour episodes in syndication, markets with 2 episodes per day will be able to show all the episodes in just under 3 months. The station may also pre-empt the MAY telecast in favor of a sporing event or a special, causing more disruption in the original order of the telecasts. Sometimes the pre-empted episode may be shown in another slot, sometimes just ignored; it is all at the discretion of the local syndicator.

The episodes are also shorter than the original (NBC) telecasts since FCC rules permit more commercials in a syndicated show than in a first-run network show. The snips amount to about 1 minute, mostly in the Tag, but sometimes also in the opening Tease. Often a small part of a scene will be missing. But by and large the cuts in MAY have been gentle.

8.8 Where can I get information about MAY satellite feeds?

If you have a C-Band satellite dish, you will be able to receive unscrambled signals for personal use (only) quite legally as the episodes are being distributed to the syndicators. Each episode will have a title slate with the production number and the episode title as well.

The feeds used to be on Telstar 401 until it failed early in January, 1997. The feeds have been moved and the current schedule for the US is:

All times are for the Eastern Time zone.

As far as is known, syndicated MAY episodes are not broadcast to any Direct Broadcast Satellite dishes such as PrimeStar, DSS, USSB, Alphastar etc. The only national Superstation that carries MAY is WSBK Boston, which airs episodes Monday-Friday at 7:30pm and 11:00pm (Eastern Time) and 7:30pm on Saturday.

8.9 Where can I purchase tapes of MAY episodes?

Episodes of MAY, or excerpts from them, are not available for sale on video tape (or laser discs, or CD-ROMs) the way certain episodes of "The X-Files" and most of "Star Trek" are.

MAY is now in syndication in the North American market and taping episodes off air is your best option to build a library. Any other answer to this question enters a grey area that this FAQ will not venture into.

It is unlikely that video tapes of MAY will be available commercially, though sale on DVDs (Digital Video Discs) in the not so distant future is one option some entrepreneur may be willing to explore.

8.10 What major awards has MAY garnered?

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in the US hands out the Emmy Awards annually in various categories to television programs shown in the US. An asterisk (*) marks the Emmys awarded to MAY:

For the 1992-93 season, MAY was nominated for one Emmy Award:

For the 1993-94 season, MAY was nominated for seven Emmy awards, with Peter Damski and company picking up the first Emmy for MAY:

For the 1994-95 season, MAY was nominated for seven Emmy awards, with Carl Reiner and Cyndi Lauper winning, and Peter Damski's team repeating:

For the 1995-96 season, MAY was nominated for four Emmy awards, with Helen Hunt finally picking up her Best Actress award. Paul Reiser was the Master of Ceremonies the evening of September 8, 1996:

In 1994, Helen Hunt received the Golden Globe award and America's Comedy award as Best Actress in a Comedy series. The Golden Globe awards are presented by the Foreign Press Association of Hollywood.

In 1995, Helen Hunt again received the Golden Globe Award as Best Actress in a Comedy series, and "Mad About You" received the Best Comedy series award (tied with "Frasier").

In 1996, Gordon Hunt received the Director's Guild Award for Best Director of a TV Comedy Series for the very first MAY episode he directed: "The Alan Brady Show" [3.15].

Earlier this month, for 1997, Helen Hunt won her third Golden Globe award as Best Actress in a TV Musical or Comedy.

8.11 Where can I purchase scripts to MAY episodes?

A store named Book City, staffed by very courteous folks, sells scripts to a few MAY episodes, as well as for many other shows. A very good selection of movie scripts can also be purchased.

The stock varies, and the store ships only via UPS. The cost is $7.50 per epsiode (presumably $15 for dual-episodes), and the shipping charges are $3.50 for the first 2 scripts ordered and $2.50 for each additional pair ordered. The cost of most movie scripts is $15. All prices and charges subject to change.

8.12 Where can I send in my idea/script for a MAY episode?

In one word, nowhere.

Not without being represented by an agent, and letting the agent handle the matter.

Spec scripts have been used on MAY; check out the MAY Episode Guides for a writer's name that appears no more than once and you're probably looking at a spec story-line or script (or at least part of a script). But the production company will never accept an idea or script off the street. Unsolicited material is routinely turned over unopened to the Tristar legal department which will return it to the sender if possible, else shred the contents. Therefore hire an agent first, then proceed.

As for posting ideas for all to share at, there is no problem at present since no one involved directly with the production of MAY episodes is know to even lurk in this newsgroup. However, if that were to change in future, such expressions will have to be curbed, or that MAY writer/producer will opt not to participate in discussions. This is no reflection on anyone's freedom of speech and such, them's the legalities. Refer to section 9.2 as well.

8.13 Are there books about MAY or by cast members?

Paul Reiser has written a book that reads a lot like the basis for MAY, all protestations to the contrary, and another book about parenthood is in the works, with a Spring 1997 publication date:

A book of MAY trivia is also available, with 601 questions and answers and some not so surprisingly familiar material:

8.14 Where can I buy the Buchman bed, the Buchman chair etc.?

Replicas of Paul and Jamie Buchman's bed are available in Los Angeles at a home furnishings store called Civilization. They do not have a catalog, but if you call (310) 202-8883 and mention "the bed in Mad About You" you should be on your way. The store's address is: 8884 Venice Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90034.

Be prepared to be set back about $700 plus tax (and/or shipping and handling).

The Paul Buchman chair is an Aemes (pronounced Eeems) chair. From all indications, it is not hard to locate.

8.15 Where can I purchase MAY T-shirts and other merchandise?

A fair selection of MAY T-shirts and nightshirts are available from:

The shirts in 100% pre-shrunk cotton are in slate-blue, with the "Mad About You" logo in white lettering on a green background. T-shirts are available in L and XL sizes (ATT006) for $16.95, while the Nightshirt (one size fits all - ATN001) sells for $19.95. Made in the USA.

All items are shipped via Federal Express.
For orders upto $25.00: add $4.95,
for $25.01 - $50.00: add $5.95,
for $50.01 - $100.00: add $7.95.

Another source is the Movie Madness Merchandise stall at the VIAMall on the net, who even have the Bing Bang Boom T-shirt and a few mugs:

The "Helen Hunt Rules" T-shirts are not for sale anywhere. That was just more DeGeneres humor at the Emmys.

Please send in corrections/comments to: []