James Bond’s secret activities have taken him all over the world, without a trace, for over 50 years. Whether he be in a suit and bowtie at some swanky European party or in nothing but short shorts coming out of the water in the Caribbean, he always seems to blend in. I enjoy seeing where Bond pops up in films and leaning about where Ian Fleming found inspiration as much as the adventures he goes on, but a few places specifically stick with me.
Glen Etive, UK :: Skyfall
The scene in Skyfall, where Bond and M are standing on a desolate road, with nothing but his Aston Martin DB35 behind and a foggy Scottish landscape ahead is chilling. Foreshadowing a wasteland sort of battle in later scenes, this image will stay with you long after the film.
If you want to Bond’s view of the Scottish Highlands, go for a cruise on Glen Etive just of A82. But don’t bother looking for the house Bond grew up in where final scenes in the movie take place. That was created for the movie specifically and located miles away in the English country side.
Jökulsárlón, Iceland :: Die Another Day
Quite a lot of filming from Die Another Day took place in this area of Iceland. It’s where Gustav Graves premiered his diamond satellite that was said to give new light to darkness in the world, but is really just a terrorist weapon meant to drown the greatest Bond girl whose ever lived, Halle Berry, in an igloo, among other things.
The scene left me wanting to visit Iceland to see its dramatic landscape for myself, wondering how people stay warm in an igloo castle (by means other than having sex with Pierce Brosnan), vowing to never stay in an igloo hotel and really wishing Aston Martin would release an invisible car to the public. You’ll love the chase scenes on ice, the icy cliffs that are hundreds of feet above the sea and pure white scenery.
Venice, Italy :: Casino Royale
Venice is a pretty classic city in the world for chase scenes in films. The confusing layout of the streets, fact that most lead to water and mass crowds make it the perfect spot for a worrisome pursuit.
In Casino Royale, Bond, played by Daniel Craig and Vesper, the reason he becomes such a cold-hearted womanizer, arrive in the city by yacht and are later chased throughout it. Along the way, viewers get a good idea of what the city is like. The feeling you get from watching this on film can almost be re-created in person, because it’s easy to actually feel like your in a movie just walking around the streets of Venice. There’s something secretive and exciting about this city that translates even to non-spies. Just don’t go into any dilapidated buildings that are already sinking into the sea. We all know how that turns out.
GoldenEye :: Oracabessa Bay, Jamaica
The place where Bond came to life. Ian Fleming first imagined James Bond at his Goldeneye estate in Jamaica. While Bond might be fictional, a real-life spy scenario first brought Fleming to this part of the world. According to GoldenEye’s website, Fleming first visited Jamaica during WWII to investigate U-Boat activities in the Caribbean on behalf of Naval Intelligence.
He fell in love with the land and the people and ended up purchasing property near the village of Oracabessa Bay, which translates to “golden head” in English. Hence the name of his property and the inspiration behind of the world’s most famous fictional spies. You can actually visit his estate too and see where Fleming first dreamed about Bond, over 50 years ago.
Dukes :: London, UK
Every author or writer has his or her bar, cafe or park to escape to when they can’t get anything more done in their home. Dukes was one of Fleming’s. The high-end St. James’s hotel and bar is known for its specialty cocktails, so it should come as no surprise that this is said to be where the inspiration for the line, “shaken, not stirred”, came from.
This last location is part of a 007 James Bond tour of London that I just wrote for Unanchor. If you want to see more of Bond in the city where MI5 is located and the country which Bond spies on behalf of, check out my tour. The 007 James Bond Tour of London will have you visiting Ian Fleming’s former hangouts, significant places in Bond’s character building and of course film locations from Dr. No (1962), Goldfinger (1964), Live and Let Die (1973), Octopussy (1983), The World is not Enough (1999), Die Another Day (2002), Quantum of Solace (2008) and Skyfall (2012). Plus, it only costs $1.99.
It’s a common question when visiting the USA’s spotlight cities for entertainment, New York and Los Angeles. If it’s going to happen anywhere, it’s going to happen at one of these places. NYC and LA are places A-listers in film, music and theater call home and do the bulk of their work.
While you might see someone on the streets, one way to ensure you definitely see them in person, and attend an amazing show for free, is to visit a live show taping.
Whether it’s politics, comedy, sports, food or just pure entertainment that appeals to you, there is a free live taping for everyone. Below I’ve list a few big ones, where and when they are taped, why you should visit them, how to get tickets and how likely it is that you will. Make sure to read the end of the post as well, to find out what to expect and how to prepare for a live taping.
New York City
Late Show with David Letterman Location: Ed Sullivan Theater 1697 Broadway Tapes: weekdays, unless on otherwise noted
We’ll kick off this list with one of the absolute hardest tickets in town. The Late Show has been on CBS since 1993 and David Letterman is up there with the greats in late night entertainment. This is the show where the most trending names at any moment moment, like Barack Obama during the 2008 election, want to be seen and what’s more exciting is that Letterman is known to give some of them a hard time, like Justin Bieber.
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Location: 11th Ave between 51st and 52nd St in Manhattan Tapes: Monday to Thursday, unless otherwise noted
This liberal-leaning Comedy Central show is one of the most talked about in political entertainment. Who would of thought from Big Daddy that Jon Stewart could be so witty and quick. The Daily Show can be controversial at times, but it’s always a good laugh. Come for Stewart, other rising comedians and and political debates, but don’t always expect well-known guests. While Stewart often has history-making politicians and Hollywood A-listers on, he also has people not everyone will recognize, but it’s interesting nonetheless.
Plus, Stewart takes time before the 30-minute show to answer questions from people in the audience and spends some time after thanking them for coming. What a man!
The Colbert Report Location: 54th St between 10th and 11th Ave in Manhattan Tapes: Monday to Thursday, unless otherwise noted
The Colbert Report is very similar to The Daily Show except Stephen Colbert is much more eccentric and tickets are a lot harder to find to his show. From Colbert you can expect elaborate sets, extreme interviews and hilarious interactions. Like Stewart, Colbert takes time to chat with the audience before and after the 30-minute show.
Rachael Location: 221 West 26th Street between 7th and 8th Ave Tapes: Two per day usually on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays
The bubbly and beautiful Rachael Ray is a welcoming vision for a show that requires people to arrive in the morning. Come to this CBS show for free food and goodies. She often has competitions that members of the audience can take part in on the one-hour show. Plus, Ray books some incredible guests and makes them feel comfortable, so you see an interesting side of people. Don’t expect dramatic or ground-breaking interviews, but the show is a lot of fun. You only have to be 16 years old to be in the Rachael audience, but those under 18 must be accompanied by a guardian.
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Location: NBC Burbank Lot Studio 11 3000 W. Alameda Ave Tapes: weekdays, unless otherwise noted
Host of The Tonight Show is the most-respected position in late night. The one-hour show has been on air since 1957. Once held by Jack Paar and Johnny Carson, Jay Leno took over the position in 1992 and has been a household name since then. They tried to switch Conan O’Brien into the position in 2009 and send Leno to his own later show, but the move was controversial to say the least and Leno was given his spot back not long after.
Though Conan was sort of screwed over in the whole Tonight Show transition. He has an extremely loyal fan base, known as Team Coco and is still one of the biggest names in late night entertainment. Conan is on TBS and features the biggest names in Hollywood and music at the moment as well as up and coming comedians. Don’t be surprised if popular comedians like Will Farrell just pop on the show from time to time, not just for interviews either. It’s definitely one of the funniest late night shows on TV.
Plus, you get to walk through Warner Bros. Studios, where the show is filmed. Along the way to the studio you might see Chuck Lorre’s parking spot, the studio where Ocean’s Eleven was filmed and more.
The Ellen Degeneres Show Location: Warner Bros. Studios 6564 Forest Lawn Drive Tapes: weekdays, unless otherwise noted
Out of all the show mentioned on this list, Ellen is probably the hardest to attend. Not only is she a well-known name in entertainment, but she always has the best guests and giveaways. Expect to see her Hollywood friends, like Jennifer Aniston. If they’re going to show their face anywhere amidst controversy, it’s Ellen. But the show is usually pretty upbeat and hilarious. She dances in the audience and people are often asked to volunteer. Further, you’ll have to go through Warner Bros. Studios to get to her show, which, as I mention above, is cool no matter what.
You must be 14 years old to attend this show and all minors must be accompanied by an adult. Just keep checking online to find tickets for Ellen. They go fast and aren’t available very far in advance. This is one of those shows it might be worth trying for stand-by on the day, because it’s pretty unpredictable otherwise. If you want to do that call (818) 954-5929 before 12 p.m. on the same day of the show you wish to attend. Tickets: www.ellentv.com/tickets
The Soup Location: E! Network Studios 5750 Wilshire Blvd Tapes: Usually Wednesday mornings
This taping is somewhat of a secret, so thank me later if you end up going. The Soup is not nearly as large as the rest of the shows mentioned on this list and that’s a good thing for audience members. During the 30-minute E! Entertainment show, host Joel McHale who is also known for his role in NBC’s Community, makes fun of everything that’s happened on TV In the past week, especially Tyra Banks.
On E!’s website, they say that the taping is not public and those laughing in the background are only staff, but Joel McHale has tweeted to email SAudience@comcastnets.com for people who want to see the show in person. I’ve talked to people who have been and they say it’s a lot more personal than other live shows, because the crowd is small and McHale will even take photos with people at the end.
What to expect and how to prepare
Tickets to shows like Ellen and The Tonight Show tend to go quick, so if you’re planning a trip to one of these spots request tickets ahead. This can almost always be done online.
Tickets are always free to the shows mentioned in this post and most live tapings for that matter, so if you’re asked to pay, it’s probably the wrong website.
These shows usually just run straight through without re-takes but not always, so expect them to run longer than the their usual duration.
Shows are taped usually hours before the they air on TV.
You must be 18 years old to attend all these shows unless noted otherwise.
Make sure to bring identification, dress business casual and don’t chew gum.
You are not allowed to use cameras or phones once you enter a studio. In fact, you’ll be asked to leave professional cameras with security in most places, so it’s really not worth bringing them. Do not bring any bulky bags or luggage either.
Visiting a live taping is often a full-day event, so be prepared to wait in line for hours, even if you do have tickets.
Presenters hate hecklers or people trying to get attention in the audience. If you’re that person they’ll either poke fun at you or they’ll have to re-tape a segment and you could be asked to leave. Be prepared to clap and laugh though.
Some of the shows have time before or after each taping during which you get to chat with the presenter, but it’s not always guaranteed.
You’re going to watch a show, so don’t expect to end up on TV.
Traveling the world this summer, old sport? Why not stop by a few bars and locations having to do with the first big blockbuster of the summer of 2013, The Great Gatsby.
Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic American novel has taken over the world. Suddenly the jazz age, flappers and speakeasies are all popular again. Are we all just in the mood for a throw back? Is everyone simply enamored by anticipation of another Luhrmann spectacle? Or can this generation relate so much with the main message and times of the novel, they’re slipping back into the era?
Regardless, the recent 1920s throwback trend in entertainment and fashion can just as easily be added to your summer travel itinerary. See Fitzgerald’s Paris, visit places that inspired the author in New York, spot film locations for the recent film adaptation in Sydney and more with this ‘Great Gatsby’ world tour.
Tour Gatsby’s New York
Any good Gatsby world tour must start in the story’s location, New York. The book was set mainly in Long Island, which Fitzgerald fictitiously split into East and West Egg. While visiting the Empire State, people can tour Oheka Castle, a house that inspired Gatsby’s mansion, stop by the Plaza Hotel for a round of whiskey, visit Bobby’s NYC for a Gatsby-style party and much more.
London saw a rise in speakeasy openings and 1920s-themed parties long before the premier of The Great Gatsby in New York City last week. Sure, the parties written about in the novel and shown on screen are intended for the Big Apple, but in truth, no one quite throws a party like the Brits. Plus, they have something extra to celebrate about with Londoner Carey Mulligan playing Daisy, the film’s golden girl. Some Great Gatsby party ideas in London Town include Prohibition 1920s; which is a monthly era-themed party held at a secret location, S.S. Atlantica; a monthly 1930s-themed party held on a boat on the River Thames and countless speakeasies located around the city. Dress in time-attire.
An evening in a 1920s California mansion
One last Gatsby style attraction is Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California. Built for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst in 1919, this lavish Pacific Coast mansion still looks just as it did when Hollywood stars and icons came to visit during its heyday in the 1920s and 1930s. They offer an evening tour in the spring and fall that allows visitors to see what it would have been like to visit the castle during those times with actors and guides roaming the area dressed in time attire.
Driving through Matamata’s grassy hills and counting sheep, you would never believe a multi-million dollar motion pictute was filmed here, but that it was in 1999 and again in 2011. Hiding out in this farm town is Hobbiton, better known as “The Shire” from Lord of the Rings.
Yes, it actually exists and not in a movie studio.
Welcome to the Shire. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon
Doors are hobbit size and painted colorfully. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon
During an aerial search of places to shoot the film around New Zealand, Peter Jackson spotted Alexander Farm and approached them about using the farm in his film. Imagine getting that knock on the door. The owners agreed and site construction began.
The road that Gandalf arrives on. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon
Enlisting the help of the New Zealand army and a massive film crew, an entire tiny village was brought to life complete with Green Dragon Bar, mill and of course Bag End.
To the pub. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon
Before the film’s release in 2001, the set was kept secret and extreme measures were taken for it not to be exposed. People behind the film went as far as taking away the licenses of any pilots trying to sneak a shot from the sky. However, after the film’s release, they couldn’t stop fans from making pilgrimages to Hobbiton.
While the set was meant to be completely destroyed, the farm owners approached the studio about keeping it intact for tours. They agreed and it came in handy as the set was used again last year for Lord of the Ring’s prequel, The Hobbit. Parts of the set were destroyed after the first Lord of the Rings, but tit’s been restored for The Hobbit.
Naturally homes of Hobbiton fishermen were placed right on the water and right under the Party Tree. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon
The Party Tree. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon
Today Hobbiton runs seven tours daily to visitors from around the world. Starting across the street, people are taken by bus to the film set, which is hidden very well. One could be on the other side of a hill to Hobbiton and have no idea it was there.
Guides point out where makeup and wardrobe tents once were and talk about the farm on the way. Once on set, the tour goes on foot for a 90-minute guided walk around the village, which gives visitors plenty of time to take photos.
Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon
On the tour, groups see several Hobbit houses, The Green Dragon and mill, the road Gandalf rides in on, The Party Tree, Sam’s home and Bag End, which is at the top of a hill, complete with an oak tree growing above it. Our guide was very friendly and great at pointing out which places were featured at what point in the film.
Visitors can look at The Green Dragon and Mill, but only from across the water. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon
This humble home is Sam’s house. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon
Overlooking the Shire is the Baggins’ residence. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon
What I liked most was learning about all the thought that went into create the film set. Everything from making moss using yoghurt and other products then throwing is on random spots to make the town look older to shipping in an oak tree to go on top of Bag End. It was really amazing to see all the detail to the film set and hear how much work went into perfecting it.
Unfortunately, they did not create actual Hobbit homes here. Most of the homes are just a front, behind their doors, only dirt. Two homes that could be entered, but only as far as their doors would open, were Frodo Baggins’, though not by people on tour, and a random Hobbit home, which tour members could stand in and take photos.
Oh, hello. Photo by Richard John Hackey
The Hobbiton tour costs $66 and runs seven times daily. The last tour is at 5:20 p.m. People can purchase tickets online or at the farm’s front office. Located next to there is The Shires Rest, which serves breakfast and lunch items, including “Second Breakfast”. People can also feed and pet the farm’s sheep on their visit.
I think one thing every one can generally agree on about New Zealand is that pretty much everywhere you look is stunning. You don’t have to visit a national park or the mountains to see scenic New Zealand, just look out your window. If the scenery you crave isn’t there, drive 20 minutes and I guarantee you’ll see something majestic.
For this reason and so many more, Peter Jackson chose New Zealand to be the setting for Middle Earth in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. The Kiwi-born writer, producer and director spent years filming all around New Zealand, including Wellington.
Photo from Electro Smog
After three weeks of living in Wellington spent mostly on Cuba Street working, Ric and I wanted explore the beauty that surrounds our new city a bit more. So we rented a car from Rent a Dent for a steep $62 a day (which turned out to be a lot more, but I’ll get to that later), planning to explore some natural wonders outside the city.
Two things happened, we realized we didn’t have to go far to see something spectacular and our natural wonders tour of the Wellington suburbs, quickly turned into a Lord of the Rings tour.
We picked up our car at the Interislander ferry terminal around 9 a.m. (This is why our rental turned out to be $92 instead of $62. Rent a Dent’s headquaters is only a short bus ride from the city center, so unless you actually arrive in the city by ferry, just pick it up there cause they charge a fortune to deliver it to you.)
Picking up the car at Interislander.
After a quick breakfast at Fidel’s on Cuba Street, where we looked through brochures for ideas of things to do. Our first stop was Weta Cave, a mini-museum attached to Weta Digital studios, which is where the special-effects were done for Lord of the Rings (LOTR), District 9, The Lovely Bones and many more films. Ric had his eyes set on this place since we boarded a ferry to Wellington. He’s a huge film junky. I’ve actually never seen him smile that much on our travels.
Ric visits Weta Cave.
The free museum is a sci-fi film buffs dream. It’s only small, but has real props and costumes used in the films its helped produced as well as memorabilia. My favorite part was taking a photo next to the real Gollum holding a fish which can be seen in my banner photo.
“The rock n’ pool is nice and cool, so juicy, sweeeeet.”
I think Ric most enjoyed the 20-minute behind the scenes video they show. It’s amazing how many films this small studio has been apart of. We visited Hollywood in the Spring and every studio was armed with electric fences and guards, yet this Academy Award winning studio in New Zealand looked like a simple business complex with no guards and gaps in its fencing.
I love New Zealand.
After seeing the video and taking note of all the amazing scenery in LOTR, Ric and I decided to see if any of those places were close to Wellington. We knew a few had to be near by since there’s been plenty of gossip about Stephen Fry and Orlando Bloom being in town to film The Hobbit.
Weta Cave sells a map of Middle Earth as well as a book that includes all the filming locations used in the LOTR. Being the cheap travelers we are, we jotted down a few places close by and hit the road.
We headed to Lyall Bay to try and find Red Rocks, which was used for “The Black Gate” in LOTR. I had been told to go by a work mate prior as a colony of seals lives there. Unfortunately, Ric and I didn’t find it on our LOTR day. But I found it a few days later and it’s really beautiful but you must walk about an hour to reach “The Black Gate” or the seal colony.
We stopped at a few places to take photos around Lyall Bay.
Instead of wasting too much time looking for Red Rocks, Ric and I just got lost in Lyall Bay. The scenic drive from there to the city center is decorated with blue seas, mountains and tiny cottages. From that drive people can reach a pathway for Mount Victoria, which probably offers the best view of the city and was also where Peter Jackson filmed the “Get off the road!” scene in LOTR.
Warning, if you do go on any sort of Lord of the Rings tour, you’ll probably spend the day warning people to “get off the road”.
While visiting places around the city was nice, our whole reason for getting a car was to get out of the city a bit. So we set out eyes on Rivendell, which was filmed in Kaitoke Regional Park in Upper Hutt Valley. About a 45-minute drive from the city center, the park is really easy to find. Just follow State Highway 1 towards Hutt Valley and continue onto State Highway 2, then look for signs for Kaitoke.
Ric visits Rivendell.
The park is massive and there are a few entrance points to it, but the further entrance is right at Rivendell . Once you park there are signs pointing to some of the areas that were featured in the film. Hutt River runs through the park and it was used as the Black River in LOTR.
The Black River isn’t really black. It’s actually quite clear.
When the sun hits the trees just right, you can imagine yourself in Rivendell.
Also around that area is a really fun chain bridge. It’s something that would probably be seen as a lawsuit waiting to happen or source of profit in other places of the world, but just a fun bridge here. Did I mention how much I love New Zealand. Walk across the bouncy bridge to learn about the park’s rainforest. Along a pathway that takes about ten minutes to walk, there are signs posted explaining certain trees and ferns in the area.
Ric pretending he’s on “I’m a Celebrity, Get me out of here,” while walking on the chain bridge at Kaitoke Regional Park.
You could spend all day at Kaitoke. It’s a three hour walk one way on its hiking path. It’s also a great setting for a picnic.
After visiting the regional park, we attempted to find Dry Creek Quarry, also in the Hutt Valley, which was the film location for Helm’s Deep and Minas Tirith in LOTR. But we didn’t have a map and were already pretty spent, so we just went home and rented the Fellowship of the Ring.
Lord of the Rings tours I see advertised around Wellington are quite pricey, so it pays to do some research online and just do it yourself. It’s not hard to find fantastic scenery in New Zealand and film locations for The Lord of the Rings. We just scratched the surface on our one-day adventure, but for those looking to be more in depth, I recommend purchasing a LOTR location guidebook to New Zealand.
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