Production Blog

This is the production blog, where you can find notes from the Executive Producer, and the Production Assistant on duty the night before the show airs.

Production Blog 10/03/2007

Mike McMahan, Production Assistant


The days are getting shorter, nights are getting longer, and the weather is staying exactly the same out here in sunny Los Angeles, California.

Hello, and welcome back to another amazing series of episodes from everyone here at SPS. Mike the PA here, with deep apologies for the lack of blogs since the end of our last season.

The blogs don't really happen when we aren't in the meat of the run, because we traditionally do them on the nights that we're in the office all night, the night before the show airs.

However, you who are outside the walls of SPS can miss out on some pretty critical happenings at the show that occur during the time that we don't regularly blog. I want to take a moment to fill you in on some of that. . .

Many people know that the show isn't finalized until the night before it airs, but did you know that there's about a month of preparation before that first night? The new people in the office get some time to learn the ropes, while the battle hardened veterans gear up to conquer another series of late nights with lots of laughs. During that time the PAs do stuff like make sure that the food and the liquids all make their way to the proper places, and that everything is stocked at all times. Which brings me to the first important event of the break:

South Park Studios has new coffee! After years of sticking with a particular brand, everyone was tired of having it ground into their DNA from hours of slurping and ahhing. So along came a new company, with spectacular fresh coffee accompanied by clever new names. No longer do we use the glass pots, but tall urns that go by the name of "Pumpskins". Coincidentally, "Rumple Pumpskin" was the porn star name I had secretly nicknamed PA Nate in my head, so I was extremely happy with the new urns.

Now, the coffee was great, but nothing compared to the ZOMG BEES! A huge swarm of, what I assume were, gigantisized/mutated Japanese hunting bees. Someone disrupted their hive in our parking lot, and man was it scary. Nobody got stung, but it certainly did leave a mental sting on the arm I have in my mind. Trey and Kyle seemed to settle them down by going outside and waving their arms around at them. Note: never, ever try to calm down bees by doing this.

The best part of the break, however, was the Guitar Hero contest. The GH contest is key, because I won it, and I want to make sure that it's recorded on the blog for posterity. PA Jeff and I were called up to play a game of guitar hero against each other in front of the entire crew. Not exactly a group of people you want to look like a fool in front of. Jeff and I were to be playing a song called "Jordan" by Buckethead, a prolific guitar player whose identity is hidden by a KFC bucket on his head. Not to be outdone, Jeff and I both wore KFC buckets over our heads (with eye-holes cut out) while we played. It was a tough battle, but I prevailed. It wasn't easy with a room full of hooting South Parkers and sweat filling the god-damned chicken bucket.

So that's about all the big news that happened during the break. The show won an Emmy for the Make Love Not Warcraft episode, and there was a big announcement in the trades about an unprecedented deal Matt and Trey struck with Viacom over some digital stuff I don't really understand, but man: those bees! Really scary. Oh, Bioshock and Halo 3 came out too. What a treat.

But enough about the nonsense months, now we're back to the good stuff: the run!
So far everyone seems to be getting along great; the show is coming together and everyone is at their desks doing whatever the heck it is they do while I'm up in the front office making jokes at Rumple Pumpskin's expense. Currently the PAs are each doing a different diet: Nate has started "Halftober"- during the entire month of October he'll only be eating half of what he would usually eat! Rob disagrees, and is doing his own "Healthtober" where he drinks a ton of water and eats a lot of salads. Jeff, the "face" of our operation- handsome, svelt and thin, is trying to meet our level with "Fat-tober" and I'm doing half of Healthtober, which might just be Halftober but I don't really care anymore.

The first episode of this run is about a young Mr. Eric Cartman learning a valuable lesson about what it's like to have Tourette's syndrome. Hopefully we can all learn a lesson with him.

Production Blog 10/17/2007

Mike McMahan, Production Assistant

Behind The Magic

When I wear a baseball jersey, hat and glove to a Cubs game, it's not because I want to show team spirit: I'm secretly hoping that they let the fans have a chance to play because our team is doing so poorly.

I hope that this is also the reason that some people read the production blog; that someday they'll have to use the information they've gleaned from these words to jump in and do the production assistant work if all four of us happen to be struck by a giant bolt of ightening, or perhaps stung to death by zoh my god bees.

It's not likely that I'm going to be pinch hitting or that you're going to get a call from the producers telling you to come on down to take over our jobs, but these blogs can serve an interesting purpose. I used to read them a year ago when I was working another job on the Paramount lot, and used to wish that I could work with the wacky jackasses who seemed to have more fun and get stuck in more traffic than I could imagine. Now here I am, and I'm writing the blog for all the other Mikes out there who will one day end up in my position.

Tonight's episode is really fantastic, and is going to have a lot of people scratching their heads and saying "How the hell do Matt and Trey come up with that stuff?" Well, nobody really knows exactly how it happens, but in this blog I'm going to describe a small piece of the writing process that might help you eke a little creativity out of your own mind. So listen up, internet nation, because today I'm going to tell you how to create your own South Park writer's room.

The writer's room at the park is largest enclosed room in the office, and is located ten seconds from the kitchen and five from the door. If you're building your own you're going to need:

-A long, wooden table surrounded by silver chairs
-A drop down HD projection screen
-A cupboard full of candy, snacks, back up water
-A writer's bowl
-A producer

Notified the day before, the PAs always know when the next writer's meeting is going to be held. That we way can put together a writer's bowl about ten minutes before they all gather to start brainstorming.

The bowl is a very delicate operation, and all the PAs have their own variations, but here's what I like to do: you take a big, plastic serving bowl and set it on the counter. In the middle place 10 bottles of water in a tessellating flower pattern so that they grow from a single bottle in the center. Around the water place four juices, three green teas, two cans of Coke Zero and two tiny bottles of Pellegrino. This should cover the entire
base of the bowl, and the last items should be up on the curvature and held in place by the mass of the others. Take a ten pound bag of ice and empty a pile of it onto the drinks so that it resembles frosting. Now here's the most important part: wiggle each water bottle so that the ice kind of scoots down into the crevices, creating a snug and pleasant seal of coldness that should percolate through the entire set up for at least an hour.

Matt, Trey and meet with the writers as much as they feel they need to, which can be frequent or not. There's no telling how much of the show they're going to be happy with at any given time, so the PAs have to be prepared to supply lunches and foods and all sorts of unexpected requests; dvds, cds and stranger stuff: a couple months ago I had to find a pan flute for them and get it back to the office as soon as possible . . .months before they wanted a Klingon dictionary. You never know what ingredients are going to go into an episode until they happen.

When the room needs something from the outside world, Anne will contact us with an instant message. I highly recommend getting an Anne before you attempt to set up your own writer's room.

After the writer's meetings Trey will retire into his office for any number of hours to write the actual pages of the script. This is where the bulk of the writing is actually done, the writer's room is actually a place where the writers can talk about the ideas that will end up being written. Misnomers aside, it is best to not bother Trey at any point, but especially when he's writing after the meetings: he kind of sits in the dark and is a little scary during this time. Honestly: I don't know what could make me go in there and interrupt, but it would most likely involve a huge fire.

Anyway, the South Park scamps find themselves on an exciting, magical journey through imagination land in this week's episode . . . and I guarantee at least 20 writer's bowls gave their lives for it.

Production Blog 10/24/2007

Jeff Urquart, Production Assistant

$2,891.34??.that's how much new transmission costs these days.

Hello all, Jeff the PA here. The most important part of being a Production Assistant on South Park is having a reliable, well running car. You need one of these motor carriages to perform important trips (we at the Park call them "runs") that keep the office and, sometimes the show, running nice and smooth. Early last week, my trusty steed had a serious mechanical problem. A blown transmission!!! Now in the old days, if it were a horse, I would just take out my six-shooter and put the poor animal out of its misery. Alas, it is not a horse and I was subjected to the ultimate bummer?..AAMCO.

When the car gave out, I really didn't know what to do. A PA's car is crucial. I didn't have time to shop around and find a credible, independent, transmission specialist. So, I did the first thing that I could think of. I went to the place that I hear the commercials for everyday on talk radio, AA beep beep MCO. Now, I don't know the first thing about cars, but like to pretend I do. Saying things like "I reckon it's a blown manifold" and "That's problee a bent carburetor shaft", but that's just to look big in front of the other PA's and my wife. So when these guys start telling me that the engine is burning parts that are escaping into the transmission fluid, and the metal mount is showing signs of heat stress, blah blah blah, I just say " fix it". Then comes the price?My God the price! They quote me at $2,356, and that's only an estimate! I will also be without my car for about a week. Needless to say I was beside myself. Not only am I spending my hard earned money, but I will also be useless as a PA without my ride. I have another car, but my wife needs it to go to school so she can graduate, get a high paying job, and I can fulfill my life long dream to be a robe wearing man of leisure. What am I to do? My wife ultimately had to miss school so I could take our other gas-guzzling car to work. This is where my PA brothers came to the rescue.

They suggested that I work the front desk until I find a more mileage friendly car, and if I couldn't, they would take the longer runs so I wouldn't spend a ton of gas money that I had already given AAMCO (after all is said and done $2,891.34) Which brings me to the point of this slightly boring story. The boys always have my back. Always. Its great to work at a place where you actually give a crap about the people you work with. If one of us falters or falls, one of us is always there to pick up the flag and run with it to exotic places like Ralph's at 4 am, or a Taco Bell run at 9. We all need that kind of support. And I hope all of you out there will give your support to the boys in South Park who are facing a very dark time as there imagination is running wild. For if it is a blown transmission, or things behind the wall in Imaginationland, we must always remember the immortal words of Winston Churchill " We will never give up, we will never surrender". F You AAMCO.

Production Blog 10/31/2007

R. Emmett Sibley, Production Assistant

Life in the Slow Lane

First off let me tell you why I am awesome:
#1 I drive a sweet 2004 Nissan Sentra.
#2 I work at South Park
#3 I have an iPhone

With that out of the way here is what happened at work today.

The 405 is arguably one of the busiest freeways in the United States of God's America. Early this morning a tractor trailer holding a crane crashed and burned in the middle of the 405. This single event caused more traffic than this city has seen in hours! Animators were trapped in gridlock. Technical Directors sat starring out at rows of horseless carriages. Storyboard artists drew beautiful highways in their mind made of love and compassion. Highways where children play safe from danger, pain, suffering? "Wait a second incredibly handsome PA R. Emmett Sibley, how would the show get done if everyone was stuck in traffic?" Wow reader, I mean come on! Maybe if you laid off the Mountain Dew, Warcraft, and your real doll for three seconds, I could tell you.
The calls started flooding the switchboard. "I'm going to be late", "Please connect me to, (insert Jack, Ryan, or Hanson here)", and "what's for lunch? PS I hate it already". The office remained calm. "They can't be on the road forever "I shouted.
Then, out of the sky like an angel descending from on high, a helicopter landed in our parking lot. This was the kind of whirly bird that gets your sister pregnant and would call Airwolf an over-hyped pussy. Of course Matt was flying and in shot gun? Trey Parker. Matt and Trey will do anything to get a show done; whether that means staying up all night, eating buckets of fried chicken against doctors orders, or even flying a helicopter to pick up a friend. Matt then personally picked up each crewmember using the GPS on a state-of-the-art helio cellular telephone and a little thing he calls Seventy Five Million Dollar know how. Meanwhile, Trey started writing or as I like to call it, Channeling God. "Yo, super intelligent PA R. Emmett Sibley, I know everything about Matt and for sure I know that he does not fly a helicopter. You're being an asshole again even though you probably smell wonderful." Well reader, I know Matt. I work with him every day. We split a plate of cheese fries yesterday and he does fly a helicopter. Wikipedia doesn't know everything. Pause your latest quest, sip a red bull and think on that. BOOSH!
The show is getting done as I type this. It is so good. This trilogy is amazing and I am proud to have worked on it. I am hoping that tonight I can be in a looping session so that my voice will be heard on all three episodes. I got to scream "Blood Orgy." It just about made my year. Jill, love of my life, I need no Xmas gift this year, I had a Blood Orgy.
Inspired by this weeks episode, we used our imaginations to blog and make Halloween costumes. We came as Fruit Flies this year because our office building is over run with them. Here is a picture of Nate and I. Ladies, Nate is single, he owns a Helio cellular telephone, and he wears more hair gel than all of the Italians in the state of New Jersey. His likes are complaining, drinking alcohol in his room alone, and expensive power strips for his giant Westinghouse TV and many outdated gaming consoles.

Production Blog 11/06/2007

Mike McMahan, Production Assistant

The Long And Nerdy Road

The four South Park PAs are nerds.

We aren't the classic, pocket protector/virginity 4 life kind of nerds, but instead a shining example of the new nerdiness: one of us is a music nerd, another is a soccer nerd, there's the liberal arts comic book nerd and the months of extensive research electronics nerd. Our lives aren't enveloped by our nerdosity, but spiced as if with a jerk sauce.

Although we spend the majority of our conscious lives together, I'm never really aware of how nerdy we are. Maybe because we work in an office that's nerd friendly, with an atmosphere that both harbors and sometimes encourages us to be as nerdy as we want.

Tonight's episode is all about the game Guitar Hero, which is a subject I've talked about before in the production blog. For those who don't know games or live under a rock, Guitar Hero is a video game that simulates being a rockstar, complete with guitar shaped controller and imaginary fans. GH is especially near and dear to our hearts because it:

It allows you to pretend you're cool.
It makes you think you might actually have some skill at playing guitar.
Girls don't hate it.

Jeff and I are working late tonight, and we play our fair share of video games. We don't come away from them thinking that we can actually fight space aliens, shoot magical portals into walls, or travel back to WW2 and shoot people without getting injured. Guitar Hero is different: if you play a good game of GH you almost strut a little bit.

Which is why tonight's episode is a sobering experience. After watching it come together I feel like maybe we flew a little too close to the nerdy sun with Guitar Hero. Maybe we should take a step back and look at the dark side of being a Guitar Hero:

More often than not, a dude who pulls out a guitar looks and behaves like a total douche. We've all seen it before: some jerk trying to impress the ladies with his badass skills banging out Coldplay as hard as he can. Ugh.

Well, imagine that douche . . . now take away the guitar and replace it with a plastic video game controller. We're even worse than that loser, because we're pretending to be him, all the while tapping our feet and clicking our fingers with the same proud idiocy that the real-life jerk performs with.

So enjoy your Guitar Heroing, and enjoy the new episode, but think about other ways you can be cool that don't involve wracking up points on Boston's "More Than A Feeling".

(Jeff would like me to note, here at the end, that he actually knows how to play "mean guitar". I think it's important to understand that, while this is true, I still beat him at the Guitar Hero playoffs a couple months ago in the office. Who's the nerd NOW, Jeff?)

Production Blog 11/14/2007

R. Emmett Sibley, Production Assistant

This is the last night of the Season 11. We are all getting misty knowing that this is the end for Old 11, a season that touched hearts and changed minds. Trey and Matt look like proud parents dropping their kids off at college only to break down crying on that long drive home.

The last episode of Season 11 is called "The List." Being the super creative, handsome, awesome, well endowed, masculine, heterosexual, hilarious, smooth, loveable, buoyant Pas we are, we've decided that tonight, just for you dear reader, give you 11 Tender Moments from season 11. One list of 11 by me, R EMMETT SIBLEY and one list By Mike the PA. So stop preordering video games, defrosting mini corndogs to throw into your turkey fryer or convincing yourself that you could battle an Ork and become a slave to our list.

Mike the PA

Hey everyone! First off, great opening, Rob. Top notch, as usual. Second off: This has been my best run ever, because it was also my first run. I hear it's never the same after the first . . .but that it just keeps getting more MAGICAL!

Here are, in no particular order, my 11 tender moments in the 11th season:

1. The Bees
One day a hive of bees exploded in our parking lot. Trey and Kyle ran around outside and pestered the bees. It was scary and hilarious. Scalarious.

2. Guitar Hero Contest
I was a winner and a total loser.

3. Fires
At two points of the run we could see fires burning on the distant mountains.

4. Imaginationland
At first it was a list of various imaginary characters on a white board, and eventually it turned into a totally awesome 3-part episode. I loved watching the process of this one coming together. I may not have had anything to do with the creative or artistic side . . .but I did get to yell "blood orgy" in a background audio recording session with Matt. Beat THAT, Christmas.

5. Fruit Fly Halloween Costumes
The PAs looked like total badasses in their fruit fly outfits.

6. Seeing The Sun Rise
I stayed at work for 23 hours for the first time ever during this run. Nothing says fun like driving to work in traffic, then back home in the same traffic the next morning.

7. Rolling Stone
The second South Park cover of Rolling Stone was on news stands my second week here. Sorry, but that's just cool- it never happened at the summer camp I worked at.

8. The Emmy
Maybe I wasn't working here when they made their most recent Emmy winning episode . . .but I did get to partake in the festivities.

9. Splash Mountain
A picture of Matt, Trey, Rob and I holding hands on Splash Mountain? Hey, Rob: did you get that picture framed?

10. 24
I may not be the biggest fan of those guys, but it was straight up cool when the people over at the show '24' sent us a real life suitcase nuke prop as a gesture of good will after the "Snuke" episode aired.

All the secret, awesome stuff that the South Park Studios have going on, stuff that's so cool I can't even talk about it here.

R. Emmett, Production Assistant
So there's my top 11 tender moments from South Park season 11! It's been a really great run, I've had fun doing my job and writing these blogs . . .I hope you all had a great time watching the shows! Also, to everyone in my high school who thinks I'm making wicker bird cages out here in LA: I was joking. I don't take that alumni newsletter seriously because, come on, it's high school.

R. Emmett's Fantastic List of 11 Tender Moments from Season 11 in the order given to me by God:

11. Watching our gate guard sleep like an innocent child. This may seem like nothing to you but it made me realize? I want to bring children into this life to watch him sleep without a care in the world.

10. Woodland Hills : google map the distance from there to let's say Venice* add LA Traffic and figure out a good reason to go there 8 times in one week. It's awesome.

* we don't actually work in Venice but it's close enough, I will never tell. I just don't want you all standing outside smelling like Pizza Hut Buffet.

09. A Picture of Matt, Trey, Mike and I holding hands on Splash Mountain? Oh and Mike: yes, I did.

08 The In and Out Truck - Does it come to your work? I guess not. Maybe the truck is to big for the alley behind the arcade? I don't know.

07 October 17 Funions are introduced into the office.

06 Talking "House" with Anne. That House guy is so smart and so funny! He proves every week that Medicine is cool and sexual tension is alive on prime time dramas. You know you love him DR. Cuddy. Go to him?

05 Bruce's ,(audio guru), Licks and Locks. He plays a hot guitar and has awesome hair. He makes my top 5 every season.

04 Cheerfully talking to our Apple Rep about how much we love our iPhones. You don't have an iPhone? Well I'm sure your Helio makes you "Johnny Cool Guy" at all the high school parties? and I bet the fact that you can buy beer and cigarettes legally doesn't hurt either, you beautiful Helion. Love knows no law.

03 Seeing a certain NAMELESS worker in the office dominate the Cash grab machine. Nothing is cheating when you're holding all the chips.

02 Tortillas from Paco's. They are just so fresh and tasty. You haven't had a tortilla until you've had a Paco's tortilla. "But (add your favorite Resturant's Name is here) has the best tortillas." Hey reader, I don't care about the tortillas in your local D class shanty town restaurant. Paco's is the best. If you don't believe me, ask Trey. Oh that's right, you can't? Maybe if you ask me nice, I can do it for you.

01 Being able to tell people that I am an Emmy Award winning Production Assistant. BOOSH!

This season was about as awesome as we are. It's a pleasure to work at The Park.

Bonus: Here (on the website) are some pictures from this season for you to look as you drink your box wine and eat your hot dogs. Sleep tight America!