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Sunday, April 18, 2010

FUN FACTS: Victorious - "Stage Fighting" !!!

by Dan Schneider
Victorious Executive Producer/Creator


Here's all the cool behind-the-scenes scoop about Stage Fighting, which premiered on Sunday night, April 18th.

If you're a Victorious super-fan, you'll probably enjoy reading this stuff.  But if you're a casual fan, you might find it boring.  But even more important...


Remember: You can wait and read these Fun Facts after you watch the episode.  And please feel free to DISCUSS the episode here below, in the comments.  I'll do my best to respond to your comments and/or questions.  Okay, here we go....

When you're done reading all this, please tell any of your friends who like Victorious about these Fun Facts, and that they can come here to read them.  Thanks!

*** Stage Fighting ***

Lots of people have been asking me why I haven't been posting Fun Facts for iCarly or Victorious over the past several weeks.  The reason is: I've been insanely busy finishing the first production cycle of Victorious, and gearing up for the next production cycle of iCarly.  And I've been working hard in post production, editing and finishing episodes of both shows (iCarly and Victorious).  Because of all this work, I just haven't had time to do the Fun Facts.

But I'm back!  I owe you guys Fun Facts for several previous episodes – iFix A Pop Star, iBloop, the Victorious pilot, and The Bird Scene.  My goal is to catch up on those Fun Facts, but I figured I should start up again now before I get any further behind.  Right?

So, Stage Fighting is tonight's new episode of Victorious (our 3rd) and I think you're gonna love it because it has a lot of character development between Tori (played by superstar Victoria Justice) and Jade (played by the amazing Liz Gillies).

There's also a very funny sub-plot between Robbie and Trina that involves the "meaning" of a stage kiss.

Okay, here we go with the scene by scene Fun Facts...

*** Scene 1 ***
Scene begins in the school (Hollywood Arts).  Cat and Andre are coming down the stairs, and Tori is trying hard to fit a French Horn into her locker.

• I think most of you recognize Leon Thomas as "Andre" because he also played "Harper" in an episode of iCarly called iCarly Saves TV.  Leon ROX in every way imaginable.

• "Cat" is played by the adorably talented Ariana Grande.  When I met Ariana during the casting process for Victorious, she was a brunette.  Once I'd cast the whole show, I realized I had four brunette girls, and I wanted to break it up a little.  So, I asked Ariana if she'd be okay with changing her hair color.  She was excited about the idea.  A few weeks later, Ariana had red velvet cupcake colored hair, and "Cat" was born.

• The woman who dyes Ariana's hair that red color also happens to the hairstylist that my wife (Lisa, aka Hungry Girl) and I use.  Her name is Diana and she's one of the best hair stylists in Los Angeles.  Lisa and I love her.  Diana has to constantly maintain Ariana's red hair color so it always looks right when she plays Cat.

• Cat's line "And it sounds kinda gross" was not scripted.  I added that line on stage while we were filming.

• After Andre asks Tori why she picked the French Horn, Tori says, "I dunno... I like French fries, French toast..." In the original script, Tori also said "French kissing" – but I decided that was a bit much for a Nickelodeon show, so I cut "French kissing" from the script. :)

• Andre says to Tori, "Yeah, play that funky music, white girl."  I wrote that line as a nod to a super-popular 1970's song called, "Play That Funky Music White Boy."  CLICK HERE to hear it.

• You'll hear Tori say, "You know, I'm half Latina."  I wrote that because Victoria Justice is actually half Latina.  So, I figured it would be nice to have her "Tori Vega" character be half Latina, too.

• You'll notice on one of the lockers (two away from Tori's) stickers that say things like Fang and Blunder – these are called Wacky Packs or Wacky Packages.  They were sold like baseball cards, and very popular when I was a kid.  My wife and I both collected them when we were in junior high.  So, since we had to customize so many lockers for the Hollywood Arts school set, I asked that one of them have Wacky Packs all over it.  And there they are!

*** Main Titles ***
Since these are my first "Fun Facts" for Victorious, I'll tell you a few things about the main titles.

• The school you see is actually Burbank High School, located about 15 minutes away from where we film Victorious.

• The shots you see of Tori riding in the car (earbuds in her ears) were filmed late in the afternoon, during what is called "Golden Hour" – a time of day where lighting is particularly beautiful because of the position of the sun.  That's one reason why the car shots of Tori look so gorgeous.  Another reason: Victoria isn't exactly homely. ;)

• When Tori sings the lyric "And you don't know" – look behind her.  You'll see the actual HOLLYWOOD sign.  That's not fake -- it's the real deal.  We shoot a lot of Victorious right outside of our studio, and we're very lucky that the HOLLYWOOD sign just happens to be right there.  Very cool, since Hollywood Arts is set in Hollywood.

• When Tori tries to catch the gold microphone, almost misses, and makes that silly, fun face... that's a 100% real reaction.  When we shot this, I asked our prop guy to toss her the microphone from off-screen.  And in this one take, she almost dropped it.  Victoria's reaction was so cute, I had to put it in the main titles. :)

• When you see the four girls on the steps singing, "You're never gonna fade" – you can see lots of "Tori squares" behind them, in cool colors.  That design was inspired by the work of the famous artist, Andy Warhol.  I asked my post department to "give it an Andy Warhol kind of effect," and there it is.  To see what it's patterned after, CLICK THIS.

• If you watch the main titles very closely, you can see DANWARP a couple of times.

• If you really like the theme song (sung by Victoria herself), you can get the FULL SONG on iTunes!  Just CLICK HERE.

*** Scene 2 ***
Scene begins in Hollywood Arts, in the Black Box Theater.  Beck is fighting with some big guy, and Tori walks in on the fight.

• We did not use a stunt double for Victoria in this scene.  That's actually her, running and jumping onto the guy's back, to get him to stop fighting with Beck.  Victoria was a trooper!  I think we did around 6 takes where she did this run-and-jump onto the guy's back.

• The line "Who is this chick?!" was not in the script.  I added that line on stage while we were filming.

• As you'll see, the writing credit on this episode goes to my dear friend George Doty.  I first hired George eleven years ago when he was a writers assistant on the TV show Seinfeld.  Since then, he's been a huge part of Drake & Josh, Zoey 101, iCarly and now Victorious.  He also makes frequent cameo appearances on the shows as a doctor, usually just having a few lines.  George is awesome!

*** Scene 3 ***
Scene begins with Cat in front of the class, as Russ demonstrates stage fighting.

• I find it really cute how Cat (Ariana) says, "I'm okay everyone!"  Always makes me smile.

• I enjoy the running joke that all the kids think Russ should be named Steve.  That's one of those little "runners" (as we call them) that has nothing to do with the story.  It's just for fun.

*** Scene 4 ***
Scene begins in the school hallway with Robbie preparing to audition for a school play.

• Just as the scene begins, look at the very back wall (green brick) where lots of people have written their names.  Those are the actual names of various cast and crew members of Victorious (and iCarly).  We gave everyone markers and said, "Go sign your name!"  In the fictional context of the show, they're the names of students who've graduated from Hollywood Arts.

• Okay, for you hardcore fans... there is a blonde girl sitting on the floor (back against the lockers) in this scene.  She is referred to as "the hot blonde" by Rex.  Can you guess who she is?  She played a big part in one of my previous TV series.  See if you can guess!  If you can't, just highlight the area between the two red X's below.

X She's "Tammy" from The Amanda Show sketch, "The Girls Room" - the exchange student from Tennessee!  X

• The bit where Rex has his hand on the hot blonde's knee at the end of the scene was not scripted.  The director came up with that idea during rehearsal.  It's very funny!

*** Scene 5 ***
Scene begins in a classroom with a teacher telling Robbie and Trina about the scene they're about to perform.

• This scene was shot very late one night, at around midnight.  But you'd never know.  Looks just like daytime, thanks to our awesome lighting department.

• We writers had fun writing the lame dialogue for the play that Robbie and Trina are auditioning for.  My favorite bad line is, "I am also a woman... who loves you."  It's fun to intentionally write bad dialogue.  (It's not so fun when you do it, but didn't mean to.  Haha.)

• We did around 7 or 8 takes of the kiss.  Matt Bennett ("Robbie") told me he'd be happy to keep doing more takes.  No surprise there.  Look at Daniella Monet ("Trina") – gorgeous girl!

*** Scene 6 ***
Scene begins outside at the Asphalt Cafe, with Tori, Andre, and Cat having lunch.

• Cat's random comments in this scene crack me up.

• The bit where Tori accidentally picks up the huge piece of lettuce on her fork then shakes it off... that wasn't in the script.  It happened by accident during one take, and it made Victoria and me laugh.  So I had her do the same thing again in the next take.

• Watch when Robbie gets blasted in the face with milk (by Trina).  It's really funny, but what really cracks me up is Andre in the background.  Something about the way he turns to look, then turns back (not caring) just makes me laugh.

• I love how Robbie "covers" Rex with a napkin. :)

*** Scene 7 ***
Scene begins back in the Black Box Theater, with Andre doing his fight scene with his partner.

• When Jade is smacked across the face with the cane, she really took the fall herself (in every take).  That is NOT a stunt double.  That's Liz ("Jade").

• Ever since we filmed this episode, everyone who works on Victorious (staff and crew) yells "Butternut" whenever they get freaked out or frustrated.  Maybe you'll start doing it, too. :)

• When we did the first take of this scene, I actually panicked for a brief second, thinking that Liz ("Jade") had actually been hit in the face with the cane.  It looked so real!  But that just shows you how good Victoria, Liz, our director, and our stunt coordinator (Vince Deadrick) are.  It looked very real, in every take.  But of course, Liz ("Jade") never got hurt.


*** Scene 8 ***
Scene begins in the Black Box Theater, with everyone attending to Jade's bleeding, bruised eye – putting a cold pack on it.

• Cat is ridiculously cute on her delivery of, "Okay I believe you, don't hit me!"

• Leon's ("Andre's") delivery of the line "I kinda think it does" is so funny – makes me laugh every time.

*** Scene 9 ***
This short scene begins with Trina on the red couch, talking on the phone.

• Trina's line, "Yes I am!  Shut up!" will definitely make you laugh.  Daniella Monet is so freakin' funny.  Should could have easily played "Rachel" on Friends (if she'd been born 20 years earlier).

• In this scene, Robbie brings Trina a dish of stuffed cabbage.  If you've never had stuffed cabbage, it may sound kind of gross, but it's actually really good!  My mom makes the best.  (I only like stuffed cabbage when it's sweet.)

• There was an ending to this scene that had to be cut for time.  After the porch light goes out, Robbie says to Rex, "Oh well, I guess it's dinner for the two of us at the Olive Garden" – and Rex says, "Oh NO, not the Olive Garden!  Please!"  It was really funny, but it had to be cut. :(

*** Scene 10 ***
Scene begins with Tori walking into Lane's office (the guidance counselor).

• As those of you who watch iCarly will know, Lane played Sam's dance coach in the episode "iWas A Pageant Girl."  Lane is a great actor, an amazing dancer, and a wonderful guy.  He's also our dance choreographer on all my shows.  Everyone loves Lane! :)

• Lane's hanging, swinging chair just makes me happy.  It's one of those little quirky things I like to add, just to give a scene (or a set) that little extra punch of fun and weirdness.

• Every time the security guard "Derek" makes a sudden move to grab his pepper spray, it makes me laugh.  It's so funny to me how this big strong man is so wary of little Tori.

• How cool does Lane's office look?  Big round of applause to our production designers and set dressers!

• Tori's last line in the scene "I'll pull it" was not in the script.  I added that line on stage, while we were filming.

*** Scene 11 ***
Scene begins outside in the Asphalt Cafe with Jade eating a salad.

• Whenever we shoot a scene like this in this Asphalt Cafe (outside), in the background you see real cars driving by.  That is actually Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood – the real deal.

• Grrrr!  When I was in high school, why couldn't I be as handsome and cool as Avan Jogia ("Beck") is?  Maybe in my next life. :)  Avan is a fantastic actor, and one of the nicest guys you could ever meet.

• As you can see, Matt Bennett had a fun week filming "Stage Fighting".  He got to kiss both Daniella Monet and Ariana Grande multiple times.  No wonder he looked so happy all week. ;)

• This is a very subtle thing, but I love it.  Watch the very end of this scene closely.  As Jade heads into the building, Cat and Robbie watch Jade hurry by.  But not only do Cat and Robbie watch her walk by, SO DOES REX.  A nice touch by Matt Bennett. 

*** Scene 12 ***
Scene begins with Jade holding her eye as she's walking into the main school hallway.

• This is a really nice scene between Andre (Leon Thomas) and Jade (Liz Gillies).  Excellent acting by both.

• I enjoy Jade's final, very random line, "He ate a bad taco!"

*** Scene 13 ***
Scene begins in the Black Box Theater, with Tori scraping disgusting food off the walls.

• The whole cast of Victorious really loved the actor who played "Derek" the security guard.  I need to bring him back for more episodes – he's really funny, nice, and a terrific actor.

• This is another brilliantly acted scene by Victoria ("Tori") and Liz Gillies ("Jade").  They're fantastic in this scene together.

• As everyone who works for me knows, I almost never let the girls wear ponytails on my shows.  You rarely see any of the girls in ponytails.  But in this scene I made an exception with Tori, because a ponytail seemed appropriate for what she was doing in the scene.

• Tori's line, "Or onion pus" was not in the script.  I added that line on stage, while we were filming.

• After Jade says, "This might be more fun with some tunes" – you'll see she SLIPS (and almost falls).  That was 100% real.  Liz actually slipped because of all the food on the slippery floor.  But luckily, she stayed in character and I loved the take, so I used it in the episode.  Oh, and after the slip, when we cut to Tori smiling big, that is also Victoria's REAL REACTION to seeing Liz ("Jade") slip and almost fall.

• I love the song that plays throughout the rest of this scene.  But it's not the song we heard on stage when we filmed the scene.  The song we actually used during filming was called "Florescent Adolescent" by the Arctic Monkeys – GREAT song.  But in post, we swapped it out for this song, which is also really good and fun.  But now you know, the girls (and Derek) were ACTUALLY hearing "Florescent Adolescent" by the Arctic Monkeys.  CLICK HERE to hear the song they were acting & dancing to (Caution: mildly explicit lyrics).

• I love how Jade swings her towel, which is why that shot is in the main titles (opening credits).

• Victoria, Liz, and the guy who plays Derek all improvised their cute, fun dancing in this scene.  How great are they?!? :)

• Derek's final, suspicious look is a great way to end this episode.  So funny, that guy.


And that wraps up the Fun Facts and behind-the-scenes info for Stage Fighting.   I hope you love it!  Let me know what you think.  Please comment below.  :)

–Dan :)

P.S. Remember: If you know of any fans you think might enjoy reading these fun behind-the-scenes faces, please send them this URL: www.DanWarp.com

P.P.S. Please tell your friends who like Victorious (or don't know about it yet) to follow me on Twitter: @DanWarp