Q: I will be in Los Angeles in June. How do I get tickets to see any of the various television game shows or the "Tonight" show? Also, how can I get to be a contestant on "Wheel of Fortune"?
A: Except for talk shows, choices may be few in June, as most shows go on break in April, May and June.
There are two ways to attend tapings of TV game shows, talk shows or situation comedies. One is to call the network of the show you are interested in and get specific information on that show.
Generally, you will have to pick up a ticket from the network ticket office and then go to the studio and stand in line. Tickets rarely guarantee a seat.
The shows usually overbook to assure a full audience, and you will have to get in line ahead of time to assure getting in. In all cases the tickets are free. There are often minimum age requirements (often 12 or 16 years old) for audiences.
The second method is to use one of two services that distribute free tickets for shows; these have the advantage of offering a number of choices. One is Audience Associates, (213) 467-4697, which distributes tickets for NBC (where the "Tonight Show" is taped), CBS ("Wheel of Fortune"), Fox and Universal Studios, and says that its tickets are for guaranteed seats, though people have to wait 20 to 60 minutes outside the studio.
Other game shows handled by Audience Associates include "Family Feud," "The Price is Right," "Jeopardy" and "Love Connection."
On an average day, there is a choice of three to six shows, according to the service, which offers a free bus from Mann's Theater in Hollywood to the tapings. The service recommends that interested audience members call the day they want to view a show, or the day before, to get the widest selection. Sometimes the service offers inquirers jobs as extras in movie crowd scenes.
The other service is Audiences Unlimited, (818) 506-0043, or, for recorded information on shows available in upcoming weeks, (818) 506-0067, which supplies tickets mainly for situation comedies. The few game shows include "Love Connection" and "Shop Till You Drop."
Regarding the "Tonight" show, a call to NBC Audience Services, (818) 840-3537, gives information on who the day's host and guests will be. Tickets are available in Burbank just off California Street (follow signs marked "Audience Tickets") starting at 8 a.m.; there is usually a line beforehand. The tapings are from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and ticket holders are advised to be in line by 4:30 p.m., but it is best to be at least an hour earlier than that to be sure of getting a seat.
To get tickets by mail, write at least a month ahead to NBC Tickets, 3000 W. Alameda Ave., Burbank, Calif. 91523, requesting date and number of tickets and enclosing a stamped, self-addressed envelope.
Those who want to be a contestant on "Wheel" must audition first. If they pass the audition, they are usually not scheduled to appear for taping until six months to a year later, and they must go to Los Angeles for the taping at their own expense.
If you want to audition while you are on vacation, call (818) 972-8088 two weeks ahead, and, if there are openings for auditions, make an appointment. The show's staff also travels around the country for contestant searches; they generally get to New York once a year.
To be notified when the search will get to a certain region of the country, mail a postcard, listing name, address and telephone number, to Wheel of Fortune Travel, 3400 Riverside Drive, Burbank, Calif. 91505. The auditions, done in groups, are in three parts. The first is a five-minute written test in which auditioners must solve 16 word puzzles like those on the show. Those that pass then play a 45-minute mock version of the game.
Applicants chosen for the third stage play a two-hour mock version. Contestants are selected who show enthusiasm, smile nicely, speak loudly and clearly, and do not get nervous during the contests, the spokeswoman said.
Numbers for other taping facilities are: ABC, (213) 520-1222 ("America's Funniest Home Videos," among others); CBS, (213) 852-2624 ("The Price Is Right," Wheel of Fortune," "Family Feud," "Seinfeld"); Paramount, (213) 956-1777 ("Arsenio Hall," "In Living Color," "Cheers").