You could say that former employee Elizabeth Kahan Ledee is lucky enough to work at NSF right from the very beginning when it opened on June 7 1990 to 1997 right when so many production was taking place. She got to do a ton of stuff ranging from production assistant, office clerk, and promos. What was most fascinating is all of the particular fond memories that happened behind the scenes. The staff who worked at Nick Studios had the most easy access ever to stuff when producing live television and it was all a great environment. It’s really interesting how much they all got along and well you almost wish you were a part of that “family” as well. You can read all about our fantastic chat down below.
1. How did you get involved with Nickelodeon?
I started working for MTV Networks in NY in 1989 as a receptionist. Nickelodeon was I believe on the 9th floor at 1775 Broadway. I was mainly a receptionist for VH1, but did get to know a number of the Nickelodeon employees as well. In 1990 my family and I moved to Orlando. I started at NSF in May of 1990 as a Production Clerk, before it officially opened. Although most of my 7 years at NSF were as the Production Management Coordinator.
2. What was your first impression of Nickelodeon Studios when you got there?
I remember thinking how nice everyone was.
3. What was a typical day like being there?
Being in Production Management I worked on every single show. Besides our 2 sound stages at some points we rented a 3rd sound stage from Universal Studios, so we had 3 shows in production, 3 shows in pre-production and 3 shows in post-production all at the same time. I was extremely busy, but I loved it.
4. From your recollection what was the best part about being a production assistant?
I wasn’t normally a PA, so when I did get to moonlight as one, it was great, because it was away from my desk. I loved working for the Promos department in particular. They often shot in the park and it was great being part of a real TV production at USF.
5. Did the sound stages help out alot to make your job easier considering how the large the studio was?
YES, especially having them right next to the offices.
6. The offices there looked so animated and colorful. Did it ever feel like a playful environment?
Not sure if playful is the correct word to describe the environment, but it definitely felt unique, fun, creative and kid friendly.
7. Was there a particular show there that you loved visiting the set of?
“Hi Honey I’m Home” and “Clarissa Explains it All”.
8. Any differences between working on a game show versus a live action series?
Many differences, but I guess the main difference was that on game shows we only had 1 or 2 talent and we had audiences and contestants. It was great meeting the kids and their families. They were all so happy to be there.
9. What type of events do you remember held at the studio were pretty big to have there?
VH1 shot some of their Center Stage shows at NSF, so we got to work on them; MeatLoaf, The Bee Gees and Bryan Adams, they were so much fun.
10. Was it an exciting time to be in Orlando considering all the amount of tv and film production going on in the area,being known as “Hollywood East” though it has quite decreased over the years?
At first it seemed like all the production was only at NSF, but later other shows started being taped at USF as well and it felt great.
11. If there was any type of prop from the studio you can own what would it be?
The snick couch would be nice, but I suspect Rich Barry won’t let me take it.
12. Have you been slimed yourself?
13. Did you have a favorite ride at Universal Studios Florida?
Back to the Future, now it would be all the Harry Potter rides.
14. How great was all the staff who worked there? I always hear positive stories.
Everyone really was amazing and I was doubly blessed because my sister, Channie Kahan worked with me.
15. Shows that have kid actors primarily have child laws restraining them from working a certain amount of hours. Did that ever cause a halt in things especially for the live action shows?
I don’t remember, but I did process the freelance cast/crew and union payroll, so I do remember that always being a concern the Unit Managers took care to avoid.
16. Favorite behind the scenes memory.
1. When George Lucas came to NSF. I got to work with Vicki and Niels on a promo with his daughter.
2. We were just about to start shooting “Hi Honey I’m Home” in front of a live audience when an Orlando thunderstorm started. I was in the elevator with the stage manager, Josh Berger, when lightning struck and the power went out and we were stuck in the elevator. When people realized we were stuck in the elevator everyone started laughing. It didn’t take too long though and Josh was able to stage manage the taping of one of my favorite NSF shows.
3. Russell Johnson came as the “Professor” for I believe the opening of the Slime Geyser, I was excited to meet him because he was in my favorite Twilight Zone. When I told him, he was genuinely happy to hear that I knew he was in 2 TZ’s. He said most people knew him only as the Professor. We then spoke for about 30 minutes and he told me how it was working with Rod Serling and how different TV production was back in the 60’s and 70’s. Such a wonderful man, one of my favorite days at NSF.
17. Do you feel that Nickelodeon, at the time, was groundbreaking in terms of children’s television and is it a different network then from now?
It definitely was groundbreaking, especially Nick Jr. and having young kids at the time, I remember being so proud of being a part of shows I approved of and enjoyed having my kids watch.
18. What do you think made Nick Studios so great and special?
19. Would you like to see it be re-opened?
Thanks so much Elizabeth for doing the interview!!
Thank you Bilaal!