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In all the years that I’ve been visiting Los Angeles, either as a creative, or as a writer covering the works of others, one studio I had never had a chance to visit until recently was Paramount Pictures. Funny enough, it wasn’t even an actual Paramount production that drew me to the lot this past month, but a Disney one. On a Tuesday morning, I and a group of 24 fellow writers entered the lot and headed for the famed Stage 19 to check out some taping on Disney XD’s new series, WALK THE PRANK (airing Wednesday nights at 8:30 p.m. EDT). According to some, Stage 19 at Paramount is haunted, and that just may lend itself to some pranktastic goodness in the future, but for now we were eager to check out something new being shot on a stage that once played host to iconic productions including HAPPY DAYS, and Orson Welles’ masterpiece, CITIZEN KANE.

Pretty much every generation has had their own hidden-camera prank show, from CANDID CAMERA for the Baby Boomers, to PUNK’D for me. WALK THE PRANK is a different spin on things, providing audiences with a scripted series that incorporated 100% real pranks, each played on a series of unsuspecting marks. The scripts feed the pranks, but the real-life reactions from the pranks also informs the script. It’s an interesting, very cyclical thing.

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A photo posted by James Zahn (@therockfather) on

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Prior to heading over to the Paramount lot, we started our day by viewing footage over at the Disney XD offices to really get a feel for what the show is all about. It’s fun, and there’s definitely the type of mischief that I could see our oldest daughter (she’ll be 7 this year) getting into. Personally, I liked bits involving a ghost bear and a crazed dog. 

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A photo posted by James Zahn (@therockfather) on

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Stopping by the set, we saw some of the scripted bits for episode 14 being shot, with Cody Veith (“Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn”) as the cool, confident Chance, Bryce Gheisar (“A Dog’s Purpose”) as Chance’s younger brother Herman, Jillian Shea Spaeder (“Theatre and Me’s the Bully”) as the tech-savvy Bailey, and Brandon Severs (“The Neighbors”) as Chance’s best friend Dusty. In the mix is one grown-up, Tobie Windham (“The Wesley’s”) as Will, Dusty’s uncle, and meeting him for a brief Q&A was cool – and led to a first. Tobie asked if he’d seen me on television before, and it’s quite possible that he had, likely from a commercial a few years back.

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https://www.instagram.com/p/BD1QH9KR-hQ/” style=” color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;” target=”_blank”>On the set of #WalkThePrank – @disneyxd's new comedy that mixes scripted action with real live pranks. This is Tobie Windham, who plays "Uncle Will." Good dude! Show premieres April 6 at 8:30pm ET/PT on #DisneyXD

A photo posted by James Zahn (@therockfather) on

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After chatting with the group about some of the nuts & bolts of the show (more on that in a future feature), we took a look around the set – something I always really enjoy when I get to do a visit. Uncle Will has a joke shop/magic shop, and it’s a fairly elaborate creation – a full 360° set filled with all sorts of interesting things. It’s the type of place I would’ve gone as a tween/teen, and in fact, I did visit some very similar real-life locales back in the day… like when I wanted to get the “trick” that made it look like I could shoot fire from my hand in a “poof!”

On the Set of Disney XD's WALK THE PRANK

WALK THE PRANK is created and executive produced by Adam Small (“Mad TV”) and Trevor Moore (“Whitest Kids U Know.”). Check it out Wednesday nights at 8:30 p.m. EDT on Disney XD.

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