When they called to see if I was interested in meeting to see if I would meet there standards, I jumped right on the opportunity. I mean, there was nothing to think about. I could care less what was on the calendar because it was going to be moved!
As it turns out, I was going to be in the LA area to attend the Magic Castle a few days later from that first call. I suggested that we meet that Friday. It worked out well. Upon arrival, it was apparent that her offices and studios were quit a bit larger than any other show I’ve been involved with. The Ellen Showtakes up two entire airplane hangers! From the instant I walked in the door, I knew I would be working with people that would be fun, professional and committed. We had fun together instantly. The quick meeting turned into at least an hour of me performing for segment producers and staff. The gut feeling of IF I was going to be on the show transformed to HOW SOON can I be on the show to when will I be on AGAIN. They have seen a lot of magic, but my approach to entertainment fits dead on with what they like it seemed.
I left feeling fairly confident that they found their man but nothing is ever in stone until it’s done! They were preparing to head to Orlando and I was going to “hear back” from them in a couple weeks. Two weeks went by and they called saying, “We’d love to have you on next week!”
I prepared a few new tricks for Ellen and packed up to catch my flight. The tricks were closely based on what we agreed I’d do. You’d be amazed on how little control I really have as far as doing any tricks I wanted! Anyhow, they flew me into LA, provided a driver to get me to the Universal Sheraton Hotel at Universal Studios and took care of every professional concern you could possibly have. Again, Ellen has a tight ship and top people working for her. It’s no wonder they are so successful with their show. They flew me in a day early due to some juggling of schedules. See, they were heading back to Orlando to film Ellen’s show back there and were filming double shows for the next couple days to cover the time during travel. So, I had to be ready for any possible changes. In the end, it all went according to plan. I enjoyed a nice day at Universal Studios, watched a movie and practiced some magic on fun people at the hotel.
Sign on the wall outside my own changing room
The day of the shot was interesting as well. A driver took me over to the studios where I was greeted by the segment producers again. Slade and Chris are the main guys I had been talking too and it sure makes life easy when you really like people! I had my own room waiting for me with drinks, food, DVD, TV, music and more. All sorts of celebrities were walking by because the Ellen Show was taping those extra episodes that day. La Toya Jackson and family, Christian Slater, Helen Hunt, Jennifer Hudson, Vin Diesel, Savannah Robinson, James Marsden to just name a few people walking around that day!
From the “Green Room”, I watched rehearsals, dance competitions and an entire episode prior to our own rehearsal and show. So much goes into this show that it would make your head hurt. When my rehearsal time came up, we mic’d up and headed out to the main Ellen Showroom. We easily went through the tricks and adjusted the patter, length and angles based on cameras and time limits. It’s very tough to adjust a trick that you have been mentally focused on for days. I ran with the punches and got ready for makeup. Within thirty minutes I was back at the gate waiting to be announced to enter into the REAL show. After 7 hours of waiting around, the next 30 would be a blink…. and it was. I waited just around the corner from the steps where guests appear with a segment producer and myself watching a TV feed of the other side. The gave me the cue to head out (but it was obvious because Ellen said “Welcome Rich Ferguson”). I felt so much love from her and her audience that I was immediately in my comfort zone. The entire energy of her company is to bring joy to the world and bring each other UP. It was magic;)