Tony Goldwyn (who directed his first episode of Scandal in the days that followed) preps for a scene with director Tom Verica. "Faster, faster! is probably the most frequent note I have for the actors," Verica says. "I always say, 'Get up on two wheels,' and they know what that means."
Jackie O Influences
Bellamy Young (in denim jacket) prepared to play first lady Mellie Grant by studying Jackie Kennedy. "I had a whole vision," she says of her first series regular role. "I wanted to be an appropriate partner for Tony."
Jeff Perry, who plays chief of staff Cyrus and is married to Scandal casting director Linda Lowy, often gets three-page monologues the night before. "I use the voice memo on my phone and drive around in the car with it to help memorize," he says.
Fitz's Presidential Pedigree
Bellamy Young says she looks to Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Dolly Madison and Julia Grant, among others, to play first lady Mellie Grant. Tony Goldwyn, meanwhile, says he sees his Republican President Fitzgerald Grant falling between Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. "Hopefully the real presidents' personal lives are not as chaotic as Fitz's is," he says with a smile.
"Mellie's story feels like a universal one," Bellamy Young says of the first lady's plight, which has included outing the president's extramarital affair. "There are a lot of women who feel that they have done all the work in their relationship only for someone else to step in and take the love and credit. Mellie is the quintessential woman behind the man."
'Scandal's' Fastest Talker
Katie Lowes, left, with Darby Stanchfield and Josh Malina, has been named the show's fastest talker -- a must considering scripts for each episode run 15 pages longer than typical broadcast dramas. "This whole world is like a ticking clock," says Lowes, whose husband, Adam Shapiro, has guest-starred on Scandal. "You have to send the message as quickly as possible because you have to fix the problem."
On this day, showrunner Shonda Rhimes (not pictured) made a rare visit to the set to support the cast, including Columbus Short (right), taping the "Seven Fifty-Two" episode. "The actors literally got all those monologues the day before at about 4 p.m. and all had to deliver them the next day," Rhimes says. "They all came in so prepared."
Hugs for Huck
Guillermo Diaz enjoys a rare smile during taping. He'll spend the bulk of the day sitting in this corner muttering "7:52" -- the last time Huck saw his wife and son. "People constantly want to hug him, and it makes me feel like I have to step up my game," he says. "I try to give it 150,000 percent."
"It's hard to shake Huck at the end of the day when I'm shooting intense scenes like this," says Diaz, seen here getting support from Short and Stanchfield. The tight cast meets regularly outside of work to screen each episode and plot their Twitter points.
Kerry Washington -- the first African-American to star in a renewed broadcast TV series since 1974 -- spearheaded the show's use of Twitter to connect directly with fans. "When I've said three to four times that I'm working on tough scenes and missing the live tweet, fans get really excited because they know it means we're in the workshop for them," she says.
"You really have to put the Gladiator spirit on," Stanchfield (who plays the tightly wound Abby) says of prepping for a lengthy monologue. "There's something great about just going hard and then resting when you can."
"This whole episode, particularly all the monologues to Guillermo, was a really exciting one," Washington says, noting the day's material required a different kind of acting and focus. "Usually we have a couple of intense days like that per episode where everyone is serious and focused; this whole episode feels like that."
Unlike recent free agent Jay Leno, CBS has no heir apparent waiting in the wings for when Letterman steps down in 2015. Late-night neighbor Craig Ferguson is one choice, but no sure thing, so here is a rundown of 17 candidates whose ears are likely tingling. View gallery