How to be a part of national TV shows — for free

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By Laura LaVacca
Campus News

Manhattan has become its own mini Hollywood and has been for some time, with heavy hitters playing MSG, movie tapings in Central Park and many different late night entertainment shows.

Radio City Music Hall was recently home to the taping of the No. 1 show this summer, “America’s Got Talent.” Filled with celebrities, entertainment and TV glitz, the best part about the show was that it was free. Something free to do in the city? Yes, that’s right. There are awesome options out there for cash strapped students.

Stepping into the iconic Radio City Music Hall, audience members fill the seats behind the four judge panel that consist of model Heidi Klum, radio shock-jock Howard Stern, comedian Howie Mandel and Spice Girl Mel B. The show, which boasts it’s live, starts about one hour earlier and pre-tapes some segments that are then weaved into the live show. So, prepare to be waiting online, sitting in your seats for some time and even staying past the time printed on the ticket. Also, be prepared to clap, laugh and stand on cue. It can be an exhausting night but it’s certainly a magical one.

Acts recently included a teenage dancing duo, a contortionist, blue-grass singer and a stunt-man who toppled from an 80 foot pole rigged in Central Park. The stage isn’t the only place to see stars — look closely in the audience to find other celebs who come to enjoy the show. The August 20th audience included Perez Hilton, Cedric the Entertainer, Matt Lauer and Beth Stern. Stern was also with loyal Howard fans known as the “wackpack.” Perhaps the most friendly of the bunch, Stern repeatedly talked to the audience, laughed and cracked jokes while the other judges simply waved. If you’re a fan of the shock-jock, then this is certainly your ticket.

If a talent show isn’t your thing, check out other shows around town from comedy to political satire including:

“Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” featuring sketches, interviews and performances from musical guests. The house band is the award winning band, The Roots. The show airs nightly and tickets can be obtained by calling 212-664-3056.

“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” featuring parodies and political satire, airs Monday-Thursday and books well in advance. For tickets visit:
The newest addition to New York Television is former Housewives star, Bethenny Frankel. Her new show “Bethenny” discusses every day topics and features celebrity interviews. For tickets e-mail:

Iconic Comedy Central host, Stephen Colbert hosts “The Colbert Report” Monday -Thursday. Similar to Jon Stewart, the show discusses politics, pop culture and news — all while making audience members laugh. For tickets visit

“Late Show with David Letterman” has aired on CBS since 1993. Letterman is known for his Top Ten List and his many comical sketches. The show airs weeknights. Register for tickets online at or go in person to the Ed Sullivan Theater. A certain number of standby tickets are available daily if audience members want to take a chance.

One of the hardest tickets to come by, “Saturday Night Live,” only allows potential ticket-holders to enter a lottery system in the month of August. To enter, send an email to during the month of August only. Include all contact information and hope to get lucky. There are no choices of dates. Winners will each receive two tickets. Standby tickets are distributed at 30 Rockefeller Plaza on the mornings of the tapings. There is an afternoon dress rehearsal but standby does not guarantee admission.

Regardless of which show you chose, make sure to read the rules on the tickets, which could include dress code, age limits and taping times.

Most shows require audience members to wear dark clothing and dress sharply. Hey, if you’re lucky, you may even make it on TV.

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