Today’s cuppa: fast-food coffee (yesterday’s cuppa: much good craft-service coffee)

Apologies for not posting on Monday, but I have a good excuse. I spent the whole day over at cool old Sunset Gower Studios, visiting the good folks at NBC’s "Heroes."

Luckily, owing to Kristen Bell’s unavailability earlier in the summer because of another project, I was able to see her shoot scenes that will be cut into the second hour of the long-awaited third-season premiere (the show began shooting in May). The two-hour episode, "Villains," airs Monday, Sept. 22, preceded by a clip show to catch everyone up on season two, cut short last year by the WGA strike.

Click here for a trailer.

And yes, I’ll be doing a syndicated feature story, which I’ll share closer to premiere. And there just may be an extra bit or two from my interviews before that, either here or over at Zap2it. Stay tuned…

Incidentally, among the things previously shot on the stage where Bell was working were "Submarine" (1928), "Carnival" (1935), "The Terror of Tiny Town" (1938, click this link for this one, it’s a treat), "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"(1939), "Born Yesterday" (1950), "From Here to Eternity" (1953), "Raisin in the Sun" (1961), along with TV shows "The Golden Girls," "It’s Garry Shandling’s Show" and "The Sarah Silverman Program."

Later on, we moved to another soundstage and looked in on some super-secret stuff that I’m sworn to silence on until later in the season. But I snared an interview, so I’m prepared in advance.

On a third stage — which I recognized from having visited it to watch the filming of "American Bandstand" music-performances sequences for "American Dreams" — we toured some other sets, including the California home of indestructible cheerleader Claire Bennet (very pretty, I’d move in), the New York loft once inhabited by now-decapitated visionary artist Isaac Mendez (chock full of spoiler-y goodness), Suresh’s apartment from the future, and the New York rooftop of the Deveaux building that has been the location for many of the show’s most dramatic scenes — including a few deaths.

BTW, all the show’s main deaths — including that of Kaito Nakamura, who plunged from the rooftop — are recorded in pictures on a "Wall of Death" in the production offices. And yep, there is space left on the wall.

Had great chats with, among others, Jack Coleman (HRG, or Noah Bennet), Bell (Elle), Zachary Quinto (Sylar — there’s a parking space with that name near the writing offices, but the charming Quinto says he doesn’t know why it’s there, and he doesn’t use it), Francis Capra (in a new role, which reunites him with former "Veronica Mars" co-star Bell) and Sendhil Ramamurthy (Suresh).

Surprise of the day was a visit from director Joe Dante, a guest of show executive producer Allan Arkush. I asked if he might direct an episode of "Heroes," and he didn’t say he would, but he didn’t say he wouldn’t either.

Overall, everyone seemed excited to finally be back on the air after nine months (long enough, Ramamurthy said, for his wife to have a baby) and to have fans finally see the episodes they’ve been working on since spring.

I did say a brief hello to series creator Tim Kring, whom I met years ago when his previous NBC series, "Crossing Jordan," was doing one of its several crossover episodes with "Las Vegas." Now that "Vegas" executive producer Gary Scott Thompson has moved over to "Knight Rider," one wonders if there’d ever be a "Heroes"/"Knight Rider" crossover. Hmmm.

Wasn’t able, for obvious reasons, to take pictures, but here’s a shot of the fabulous view of the Hollywood sign from the top of the Sunset Gower parking garage (click on images for a larger version).

And just as a bonus, here’s a couple of shots I took on my way in to a "Prison Break" set visit last week (more on that later, I promise!). First up is the huge "Fringe" poster outside the main studio entrance (a few tidbits on "Fringe" to come, also), and a shot of One Fox Plaza, used as the Nakatomi Building in "Die Hard."

Posted by:Kate O'Hare