NCIS LA Set Visit

NCIS LA

The Arbitrary Swoon VeniceEach year, the high school that my husband and I graduated from holds a sports fundraiser called the Mel McLaughlin Wolverine Classic.  Mr. McLaughlin…  or Mel as he asked all of us to call him, was one of our high school teachers.  He is currently basking in retirement but certainly has not become any less of a participant in all of the local’s daily lives.  The man announces the high school football games each week, the gymnasium is named after him, he is the member of numerous charitable organizations and lucky me, I have the honor of singing with him each week on stage at the church.  Of course he was also the first. and only teacher to kick me out of class for talking.  Who me?  Yep.

The Arbitrary Swoon BHS McLaughlin Classic

A few pics from the Mel McLaughlin Wolverine Classic. Top left is the hubby’s team, below that is me & my friend Becky, humble volunteers for the event, and the handsome man on the right is THE Mel McLaughlin…

At the end of a lengthy round of golf, everyone joined together for a wonderful meal, and then a fun auction was held.  I had my eye on the NCIS LA set visit but we really hadn’t planned on bidding on it.  When it finally came up for bids my husband decided to buy it for me, such a sweetie.  Conveniently the only other serious bidder was one of my friends, so of course I asked her to join me on the trip!

The Arbitrary Swoon Venice California

Did you know that there are actual canals in Venice Beach that are similar to those in Venice, Italy? Here is one on the left above! I also loved this mural on the right… very cool!

I’ve been to Disneyland many times, but I had never actually toured around the city, so it was the perfect opportunity to see it all!  The four of us girls jumped on a tour bus and hit all of the hot spots!

The Arbitrary Swoon Venice Beach

Venice Beach, CA

The Arbitrary Swoon Little Mexico

Look at those darling baby huarches!!!

The Arbitrary Swoon

Had to take a few pics on Hollywood Boulevard… anyone local see the wolverine?

Hollywood sign!  Check out that view!

Hollywood sign! Check out that view!

The Arbitrary Swoon Red Carpet

We saw a wanna-be Jesus on our drive. The red carpet was being set up for the Billboard Mexican Music Awards… the poor thing was SOAKED the next day in a rain storm!

The Arbitrary Swoon Rodeo Drive

Rodeo Drive didn’t really impress me much, and Beverly Hills did have nice signs!

Overall, glad that we did the bus tour, but probably won’t do it again!  After roaming the countryside for hours, it was finally time to head over to Paramount for our NCIS LA set tour.    We checked in at the gate, found a parking spot and followed our tiny map to the lot that we were to meet our guide.  It was kind of cool seeing the Glee cheerleaders roaming the alleyways in their cute little red outfits!  My first impression of the lot was that it just looked like a lot of large storage buildings with miscellaneous golf carts roaming, lift equipment tucked into wide doorways and an occasional random alleyway branching off to nowhere.  We met our guide at the NCIS LA office trailer where she informed us that the cast was still in a reading and that she was going to take us on a golf cart around to see the various outdoor sets.  So, the five of us climbed onto a tiny golf cart that only held four comfortably (sorry that you girls had to be squished in the back!) and zipped on down the alleyway.  So, how things are set up I’m sure is completely organized but to me it was a bit chaotic.  We saw several back lot streets that could host a wide variety of exterior scenes.  Each one runs into the other and I’m sure that I’ve seen each of them in more than one Paramount Studios filmed movie or tv show, as they all seem familiar and I got that deja vu feeling that I’d been there before…

The Arbitrary Swoon Paramount Studios

 The Arbitrary Swoon Paramount Tour

As we drove around we passed a very familiar Glee cast member that I wish I had grabbed me camera to take a photo of, but we were whipping around the corner to the next spot so I missed him.  I’m not sure if my friends knew who he was, as he looked like your average high school kid walking down the street with his earbuds in, ignoring us.  Here’s a pic that I found on pinterest…  some of you might recognize him…

The Arbitrary Swoon Glee

Yep.  Glee eye candy.  Makes me feel really old when I read that he was born the same year that I graduated high school!  Well geez.

Finally we made it back to the trailer…  we all went a bit goo goo because LL Cool J was just leaning back on the building with his earbuds on, talking on the phone.  Our guide brought us over to him where he graciously signed a headshot, and posed for a photograph (talking on the phone the entire time) with us.  Very friendly man, and might I add… that guy is built like a rock… a very large, muscular rock.  Oh, and his smile was adorable too!  From there we entered the building and headed to the Spanish mission style set where the team works.

The Arbitrary Swoon NCIS LA Set

For as much light is filtered into this set during filming, it was actually rather dark when we walked in.  We were shown Hetty’s desk and wandered a bit.  We had another star struck moment when Eric Christian who plays the character Deeks was amusing us pretending to jump over the table & chairs set up for the reading.  The man’s smile is enough to make you lose your thought process, and it was really pretty incredible to realize that he is a gregarious, friendly man who really loves his job.

The Arbitrary Swoon Eric Christian

After perusing the lower level of the set we headed upstairs to the ops center ‘techy’ room where the details of each case are shared with the team.  There are large screens, phones, computers and looks exactly like it does on tv.  I simply had to sit in a chair and talk on the phone a bit to get the feel of things…  you know, because I could.  I thought that it was a prop, but it had a dial tone… I totally should have called home!

The Arbitrary Swoon NCIS LA Ops Center

After roaming for a bit we headed out to where all of the action was happening… well pretty low key action for this tv show which has car chases, explosions and gun fights on a somewhat regular basis.  We walked over to the boat house… yes, THE boat house where many of a bad guy is interrogated until they confess their sins.  It looks exactly like it does on the show… except it’s in the same large building as the mission style offices.  One of the set designers answered our questions… and yes there is water under the trap door.  We were quickly ushered out as they were beginning to film again.  We went to the next room that is usually used as the exercise room.  There are climbing walls, a basketball hoop and various exercise equipment laying around.  We were given tall directors chairs to sit directly behind the producers of the show to watch each shot, along with earphones so that we could hear what was being said.  We must have watched that same scene over, and over for at least two hours!  They took close up shots of each person saying their lines, and then at different angles.  It was truly fascinating to watch all that was involved to get one simple scene filmed.  The coolest part was that each of the cast members came in and were hanging out with us chatting inbetween shots.  They were so friendly and joked around.  They wanted to know where we were from, and of course they had heard of Chico State.  It was comical as they each at different times asked us if we had hit the ice cream truck parked outside.  Apparently it was a big deal that they were there for the day!  We were introduced to the soft spoken, friendly Daniela Ruah who plays Kenzi.  She didn’t have much of a baby bump yet and was truly glowing!  Chris O’Donnell was probably the quietest of the cast but was kind enough to answer a few questions of mine about the recent show he was on called ‘Who do you think you are?’ that traces a star’s genealogy.  Totally right down my alley!  Each of them signed our photograph and posed for a picture with us.

The Arbitrary Swoon Cast

I think that we were all very surprised at how down to earth the entire cast and production team was with us.  You can see how well they get along, joking and it’s obvious that they are really friends!  If they aren’t then they are darn good actors.   Which they are, so I could be totally wrong (but I don’t think so LOL).  I was sad that we didn’t get to meet all of the cast, but who knows, maybe if we are lucky enough to win another set tour we can meet the rest of them!  It was a wonderful day and as we walked out to the parking lot a cute black Range Rover pulled up to us, rolled down the window and a cheerful Daniela Ruah stopped to tell us that she was glad to meet us and wished us well.  How cool is that?  Oh, and I totally want a Range Rover now… much to my hubbies dismay!   It was a wonderful trip, with wonderful friends that I will never forget.

NCIS LA Head Shots