The Late Night With Johnny P Christmas Show has begun airing this week, and I want to let you all know how much fun it was to shoot that episode. Not to say that every episode isn't fun to shoot, but I'm a little more relaxed now I have a year experience working at the CTV studios in Arlington under my very big belt. I got to decorate the set with some Christmas stuff I brought from home, which was a bonus. That 'Merry Christmas Ho-Ho' sign was homemade, but I can't take credit for it.
That night I left the house a little before the 5:00pm rush, which on Staten Island is just as much a disaster as Manhattan. It's just a nightmare driving here, but whaddyagonnado. According to the itinerary posted at JohnnyPTV.com, the band/musicians are expected to arrive in the studio at 5:30, so that's around the time I usually pull into the parking lot.
After I sign in to the studios, I usually run into Potenza somewhere between reception and the black box we use; he's usually pretty pumped up on producing the show and is busy attending to every little detail. He has to. He's Johnny P. It's what he does. I let him buzz along and try not to bother him too much, but it's hard to stay out of his way because I swear there are 20 of him.
After saying hello to half a dozen different great crew members while trying not to trip over my ownself, I put my gear down on the table by the scaffolding ladder and lay my equipment out on the steps so I know where everything is. I get my coffee, and I get my camera out. The settings need to be adjusted, so I make my way around the studio taking test shots. Yes, it's fun.
As long as they not speaking with someone else already, I try to greet the guests as soon as I can. I do familiarize myself with the guests and their backgrounds ahead of time. I need to feel as if I know them somewhat before I actually get to meet them. It makes things more comfortable for both of us, and it also helps to make them feel a little more at home in the studio, which can be intimidating if you don't know your way around or who is who or why or how is what.
I brought some Christmas decorations I had easy access to in the basement that night, and turned Johnny P's desk into a festive holiday explosion with Santa hats on the tree and everything. Killer Joe and the Lido Soul Revue Late Night Band were setting up their instruments, and Johnny was practicing drums for his gig with them on the show while I took my practice shots with my camera.
As I get to know the guests and we joke around a little bit about ourselves, I explain the deal to them:
"I would just like to go over a few things with you first, as your photographer for the night. The first thing is that the group shot is really very important to Johnny, and if I don't get the group shot right because no one is looking at my camera when I press the shutter, I will get grief from him for the next four weeks so at around 7:45, I'm going to come looking for you if you haven't found me on the stage by then. The second thing I need from you is when I do get you to pose for the group shot, I want you to stand tall - as if there is a golden cord attached to the top of your head. and it's helping you to stand up straight and keep your chin down. Yeah, I know it sounds stupid. Don't ask me where I got that from - I don't even remember anymore. Just do it or Johnny will threaten to throw me out again because he thinks everyone looks "cross-eyed" when they don't watch the birdie, okay? Thanks! Nice to meet you, here's my card, follow my blog, bla blabla." More hilarity ensues.
Before you know it, it's dinner time. On the way to each taping, Johnny stops by two of his sponsors, Seguine Bagels and Nucci's Restaurant, and picks up the catering for the guests and crew. It's usually a mix of things like eggplant parmigiana, baked ziti, chicken marsala, and mini bagel sandwiches. Of course, there always seems to be an Entenmann's cake or some donuts involved. Dinner is never disappointing to the Late Night crew.
At 7:30 the guests begin taking their seats, and I get a few minutes to see who is coming in so I can chat with them as well. I have 15 minutes now until I have to get the group shot together.
Johnny's guests that night were Dan Grimaldi (Sopranos, Blue Bloods), Frank Dimatteo, author of " The President Street Boys", radio personality Ray Powers, and of course, the band "Killer Joe and the Lido Soul Revue" setting the mood for our Christmas party and starting off the show with a couple of fun ding-along holiday tunes.
I've met a number of great people and new friends in the audience as well as some with which I have since become friendly. As a matter of fact, I met one of Johnny's frequent audience members at Andrea Liota's Diva's Night Out the other night; shout out to our loyal supportive audience members Christopher and Lisa Carvano! They were dancing up a storm, an they are at CTV for every show taping. Fun folks!!
The show was awesome, and you could feel the Christmas spirit in the air already, even though we shot it on October 20. See for yourself below! Fun time. Hope to see you at the next show!
"Late Night With Johnny P" blogs prior to May 2016 can be found on the "TODAY ON THE SCENE" tab
Late Night With Johnny P
There's a lot of excitement in the studio tonight. Even though the evening is bittersweet, there is this energy of the bigger and better things to come, and Potenza is the man with a plan. The final episode of the "Late Night With Johnny P" show is filming tonight, and the place is packed.