I recently got the chance to go behind the scenes at QVC for a mega backstage tour and a chance to sit in on the first ever Bare Escentuals Webcast. The best part? I got to take my good friend and co-Karma Dog volunteer, the fabulous Phyllis.
Phyllis is a fantastic friend of mine who loves to cook, buy makeup and volunteer; with the exception of cooking, we are a lot alike, despite our age difference. Phyllis also watches a lot of QVC. I'm a fan of the Q and I watch and DVR my fair share of it. But Phyllis watches it a LOT. While I fall asleep to Law and Order:SVU (it's not that weird, I'm not the only one), Phyllis falls asleep to the Q. In fact, when she recently admired a Buxom eyeshadow I was wearing (Stay-There in Pug and Bulldog), she was crestfallen when I told her she couldn't get it from the Q and that she'd have to go to the mall or online to get it. Phyllis loves QVC.
Phyllis and I left Baltimore at 4:30pm to arrive at the Q no later than 7:20pm. This seemed like a long time to go about 80 miles, but I wasn't willing to chance it. We did make a quick stop at an Arby's for dinner, where a Craig Robinson look-alike held the door for us. When Phyllis thanked him for his chivalry, he responded by saying, in a perfect Craig Robinson-like voice, "I wouldn't be doin' this if ya'll were ugly." Phyllis and I smiled again and thanked him. He responded by sweetly muttering, "I'm not even playin'". This was going to be a good trip.
Finally, after driving three hours to get there, through traffic and bizarre weather (and seeing birds fall from the sky for no apparent reason) we arrived at the gloriously sunlit QVC campus. We got our official name tags and waited by the first of a million giant TV screens broadcasting Bare Escentuals.
We met up with our tour guide Jessica, who seriously could not have been kinder. We immediately walked backstage and met up with John, the Director of Studio Production. In my day job, I'm a TV
commercial producer, so I'm a bit of a tech nerd.
We walked through several of the stages that were not being used, marveling at how perfectly propped and prepped each area was. We got to go through part of the warehouse, the prop department and even got to say hi to guys in the highly guarded jewelery warehouse, where they keep the good stuff.
(Cameras were in the middle, you can see the two sets divided by a wall and propping areas.)
If you are curious, above is what one of the staging area looks like. Imagine a Trivial Pursuit game piece, with hundreds of huge lights hanging on a lighting grid above.
In each "piece of the pie" is one of the sets you see all of the time; Friday Night Beauty, Dell Computers, a gorgeous kitchen for the cooking shows or a cozy living room. In the middle are several robotic cameras, which are controlled by joysticks from a control room, far, far away.
(On the set of Friday Night Beauty.)
Next, we got to go on to the stage where Leslie and Lisa were live on TV. It was pretty surreal. Leslie and Lisa were chatting to cameras about the product and the models were off on the other side of the room prepping for the next set up.
(There are no cue cards or prompters. These are the only monitors the hosts have on set.)
What was missing was a floor manager, director, camera operators, audio guys and grips. I'm used to a set being highly organized chaos with a ton of people. These sets were literally just Leslie, Lisa and a relaxed and occasionally shoeless Jess. It was super quiet and everyone was just having fun, almost like they were just hanging out in their living room with a bunch of friends. Which is obviously the goal and why the products and the broadcasts on the Q are so wildly popular.
What you can't see from that set is that a director is constantly talking into their earpieces, someone is monitoring the sales, calls and online volume, camera ops are working the robotic cameras like a video game, all while a line producer constantly juggles how long each product is on the air and makes sure that everything goes off without a hitch. It is a well-oiled machine that is pretty amazing to see in motion!
(Us getting into position for the webcast, while Leslie and Lisa wrap up the presentation on the other side of the stage.)
Next, as if that kind of tour (by incredibly nice people) wasn't enough, we met up with the rest of the webcast group and prepped for the show. We walked very quietly into the studio where Leslie and Lisa were still "hanging out" on air and quietly took our places in seats at the opposite end of the studio and waited for the webcast to begin.
After the webcast, we all got a chance to say hi to Lisa and Leslie (I've got to remember to tell you the answers I got out of Lisa about her lashes!). Everyone is as gorgeous in person as they look on television. In fact, they are probably prettier in person.
(This didn't happen. But it totally could have, if bears lived there. I'm no zoologist, but it seems possible.)
Our evening was over and Phyllis and I started to walk back to our car. After we had walked out of the building and towards our car, we realized we exited via a different entrance then where we had originally met our tour guide. After walking past Receiving and questioning if there was a chance that bear or antelope were likely to attack us (it's really dark and kind of in a wooded area), we giggled all the way back to our car, which we finally found about 15 minutes later. It was an amazing trip and I am so thankful that I got the chance to share it with Phyllis, who is not likely to ever be the same again.
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