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Backstage Buzz at Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me!

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One of the things I want to do with these regular WWDTM blog posts is to get you, the listener, inside the backstage of the Chicago live tapings.‚ Behind the scenes of our ridiculously popular show is a cast in and of itself that keeps the terra firma solidly underneath the nimble feet of Peter, Carl and the panelists.‚ Without them, the show would be recorded on a Radio Shack cassette recorder, Peter would sell it on eBay and the show would only be about 17 minutes long. WHO IS THAT GIRL? You mean the one with the two-toned hair?‚ That’s Alethea Lange, our WWDTM intern.‚ In spite of the fact that her bio won’t be in the program until her last show and that Peter has yet to pronounce her name correctly, Alethea is one of a steady stream of young, hungry slaves that work their fingers to the bone to get their foot into the vast public radio dynasty. I asked Alethea for some inside skinny to share with you:

The best part about my job is sitting in the sound booth during the show. It isn’t the view (there isn’t one from my seat) or the smell that makes this the best seat in the house; it’s that I get to listen to the producers. They have habits that are so endearing and yet so strange. For example, whenever Peter (or a panelist) commits a verbal tick, like running two words together, the producers repeat it out loud. It might serve some kind of practical purpose, but whatever that is escapes me. I can say that it creates a startling echo effect throughout the booth. This happens probably 30 times during each taping.

I also asked her to do a quick free association of things about WWDTM to see how the show has warped her fragile, recently graduated from University of Chicago mind. Chase Bank Auditorium Nerdy Bat Cave with escalators Thursday Always running late! The Producers The Champions The Intern The Chumpion Peter Sagal Creative Type Carl Kasell He is as nice as you think Mike Danforth Red Lobstits Click through for details on this week’s show (with Carrie Fisher!), producer Emily Ecton and answers to your questions! The Show January 29, 2009 NMJ Guest: Carrie Fisher (you can hear this tomorrow morning at 10 and again that night at 9) As previously posted, sci-fi guests geek Peter out.‚ Fisher was her salty self, but things got nutty when Peter apologized as he “dorked out” and turned to the Star Wars questions.‚ Two specifically interesting anecdotes illuminated that Fisher and Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) did not know they were brother and sister during the filming of their kiss in “The Empire Strikes Back” and that Hamill was such a movie geek pest to Alec Guiness that Guiness paid him 20 pounds to “go away.” My favorite quote came from the discussion of the gold, metal bikini she wore in “Return of the Jedi” - apparently the actor inside the Boba Fett costume was just over Fisher’s shoulder during the filming of the scene and, given that a metal bikini doesn’t form fit to one’s body, “Boba Fett could see all the way to Florida.” BACKSTAGE BITS I dream of the day I can post about Carl Kasell blowing up in a diva fit and chewing someone out like Andy Griffith in “A Face in the Crowd,” but unfortunately, Kasell is exactly the nicest guy on the planet so I guess I’'ll just have to dream.‚ Carl always stops by the volunteer check-in and chats with our volunteers, always has a kind word for everyone he greets from the moment he steps into the bank, and has managed to eat the backstage Green Room food without ever being seen putting fork to mouth. Paul Provenza is another story entirely... (that’s actually untrue but Paul is fun to poke, so whaddya gonna do?) EMILY WHO?? Ecton.‚ Emily Ecton.‚ Emily is one of our Producers.‚ She’s the one who wrangles the many panelists and books the show, books the airline tickets, hotel reservations and schedules the call-in contestants - - what?‚ You want to be a contestant on WWDTM?‚ You always wanted to know how?‚ OK.‚ OK, already, get down and stop drooling on my shirt.‚ Here’s the skinny straight from the Ecton PC:

There are two ways to try to be a contestant on the show -- send an e-mail to waitwait@npr.org or call 1-888-924-8924 (note the 888 -- don’t dial 800 or you’ll get a sex line.) Tell us a little bit about yourself -- who you are, where you live, what kind of things you do for fun, that kind of thing. Make sure to include a daytime phone number, because you may get a call from us asking for more information (and that call would come during the day.) The important thing is to just be yourself!

On top of her administrative duties, Emily is also a writer on the show. Apparently, any question that has to do with Animals is hers (“Mike gravitates toward stories about pants,” she told me in confidence.) And, in her spare time, aside from long walks in the sunset, Emily is a published children’s author. You can pick up her books at the show (Boots and Pieces; The Curse of Cuddles McGee) - she maintains that hamsters make great protagonists, so you be the judge. NEXT WEEK We have a taping on Thursday, February 5 with panelists Charlie Pierce, Kyrie O’Connor and Adam Felber. You can pick up tickets by going to our Chicago Public Radio Online Store. YOUR COMMENTS Curtis asks: So what kind of fruit cup does P.J. like? And can I dress up like it at my wedding? The fruit cup in front of him.‚ I’d ask him but I’m not really sure I want the answer.‚ And, honestly, Curtis, if you want to dress up like a fruit cup at your wedding, I’m not really sure I want to know that, either.‚ That said, I say go for it but go heavy on the Honey Dew - it’s a nice shade for a June ceremony.

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