'Wipeout': Paul Ryan, Mexican Food and Crisis Management

Today's cuppa: Bewley's Irish Afternoon tea

Wipeout-Hotties-Nerds.jpgBack in early May, I drove up to the set of ABC's "Wipeout" to watch nighttime filming on a "Wipeout Zone" episode finale. The competition-reality show's new season launches Thursday, June 28, with "Hotties vs. Nerds 2.0." At bottom, find a preview clip.

As usual, I had a bit of a challenge negotiating the labyrinth of "Wipeout" set detritus in the dark on the Wipeout-Vanessa-Lachey.jpgformer ranch north of Los Angeles, trying to find my way to my parking spot behind executive producer Matt Kunitz's car outside the production trailer (I was clever enough to have someone guide me out, so I wouldn't wind up circling endlessly amid huge, primary-colored foam constructions or nosediving into a ditch).

After a couple of wrong turns, I finally arrived and headed into the control-room trailer to watch Kunitz and his team overseeing the many cameras covering the obstacle course and host Vanessa Lachey.

For a while, everything went smoothly (for us, not for the contestants, many of whom performed the usual variety of outrageously gymnastic moves on their way to wiping out).

As a bit of a nerd myself, I passed the time by sharing with a "Wipeout" staffer one of my favorite Tumblr blogs, "Hey, Girl, It's Paul Ryan" -- featuring photos of the dreamy Wisconsin congressman festooned with a variety of vaguely suggestive budget-centric captions -- followed by noshing on a Mexican-food dinner.

Hey-Girl-Its-Paul_Ryan.jpgSince the visit was arranged on the day I got there, I didn't have time to continue my tradition of bringing Kunitz goodies baked from scratch -- on previous visits, I'd brought banana bread and oatmeal cookies -- and that may have been a bad omen.

Kunitz and I walked into the surprisingly balmy night to the "Wipeout Zone" set to watch the competition, only to have a problem strike almost as soon as we got there. An equipment malfunction brought production to a halt, and Kunitz headed off to figure out what needed to be done.

Back in the production trailer, I got to see what happens when the unexpected happens at "Wipeout." A plan was concocted, alternatives were discussed, the rules of the game were consulted, and solutions were proposed for all the various possible scenarios. At no time was there panic, raised voices or excessive profanity (I can't swear 100 percent that there was no profanity, but nothing leaps to mind).

In the end, production resumed, and all was well.

This show has a lot of moving parts -- literally -- and it was gratifying to know that in a world where so many problems seem beyond solving, "Wipeout" can overcome.

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