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Imagine the set of a Hollywood film or TV show with young producers racing around, directors barking. Then imagine that at a retirement home. As Gideon Brower reports, one Los Angeles retirement community isn't just hosting Bingo, it's producing its own TV shows.
GIDEON BROWER, BYLINE: The Wasserman campus of the Motion Picture and Television Fund is a retirement home for people who worked in the entertainment industry - actors, producers, editors with credits dating back to the days of live television. But the residents here aren't just playing Bingo or reminiscing about long-ago movie premieres.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: One. Apple, Apple. Take one. Marker.
BROWER: Many of the old pros here are working harder than ever.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: And - action.
BROWER: This is the set of "Tag," a short film being produced for Channel 22, the in-house TV station that airs exclusively here in this retirement community.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "RHYMES AND RIDDLES")
RAY ERLENBORN: Channel 22 welcomes you to our newest game show, "Rhymes And Riddles."
BROWER: Channel 22 intersperses Hollywood movies and sitcom reruns with original programming that's created, written by and starring the retirees who live here.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "LAW AND DISORDER")
MICHAEL CAIOZZO: In California there are two types of crime - rotten crime and not so rotten crime.
BROWER: A comedy series called "Law And Disorder" is set at a fictional Precinct 22 where the cops, perps and victims are all over 80. And then there's the talk show called "The Roaring 90s." It's kind of like "The View" but with women in their 90s.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE ROARING 90s")
JUDY WOODBURY: That was when Desi Arnaz was going with Lucille Ball. What a pair.
BROWER: About a quarter of the almost 200 active retirees here participate in creating programming for the channel, assisted by a small full-time staff and a volunteer crew of local students and industry professionals.
IRMA KALISH: It's almost like working with a network except you don't have to kowtow as much to the network bigwigs.
BROWER: Irma and Rocky Kalish are a husband-and-wife team who wrote scores of episodes of shows like "F Troop," "My Three Sons" and "All In The Family." They're about to shoot the latest in a series of short films they've written for Channel 22.
ROCKY KALISH: It's a sketch about two people who live in the same building and what happens to people in a stuck elevator.
BROWER: The channel has produced over 1,000 hours of programming since it was founded in 2006, says station manager Jennifer Clymer, all while observing some unusual production constraints.
JENNIFER CLYMER: You've got people who have to make sure that they're hitting their meds on time, or if they need a 2 o'clock nap, you get a 2 o'clock nap.
BROWER: Channel 22 may be one of LA's smallest working studios, but Clymer has to deal with creative temperaments, egos and insecurities just like every other studio boss.
CLYMER: Of course we've got divas. Yeah, we've got strong characters and I love it. I love it. That's what creativity and passion is about.
BROWER: Clymer says the residents leave her voicemails after new programs are broadcast.
CLYMER: That was amazing. I really loved it. Or, I can't believe you put the trash on the air.
BOB BEITCHER: I think it gives them a sense of purpose.
BROWER: Bob Beitcher is CEO of the Motion Picture and Television Fund. He sees Channel 22 as the kind of creative outlet that can help people live longer.
BEITCHER: People never get tired of seeing themselves or their names on-screen and having someone come up and say I saw your show the other night, it was really cool.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHANNEL 22)
ANNE FAULKNER: Anne Faulkner here. You're watching Channel 22. Keep it on this station. There's more to come.
BROWER: Program manager Anne Faulkner schedules the shows on the station. At 84, she's also a working actress, with no plans to quit.
FAULKNER: When you come in here you would think, oh, these are old people and they're retired - their life's over.
BROWER: Faulkner says that's just not the case.
FAULKNER: This is a place you can come and still amount to something.
BROWER: Faulkner had to cut off the interview there. She had to get to a table read for a show you can watch too. She has a repeating role on "Getting On," an HBO series set in a geriatric hospital. And, she says, she's still auditioning. For NPR News I'm Gideon Brower in Los Angeles.
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