We Can't Promise a Free Car…
The Oprah Winfrey Show
Advance planning Oprah accepts reservations by phone the month before the filming of each show. (Tapings are twice a day on most weekdays, August-November and January-May.) Dial 312/633-1000 for info, but call 312/591-9222 to make reservations. You'll be told at once if you get the seats (four max per group).
Last-minute luck Check oprah.com for any remaining seats—availability will be posted online up to the day before a taping. Concierges at major hotels, including the Drake and the Hilton Chicago, also have Oprah ticket connections. (As a general rule, tip the concierge at least $20 per ticket.)
New York City
Advance planning Request up to four tickets for one date using the form at abc.go.com; if you get them, they'll show up in the mail three weeks before the show. (Apply at least 12 weeks ahead; the wait can be up to two years.) Tapings are often overbooked; line up at the studio entrance at 6 a.m. for a seat.
Last-minute luck The line for same-day tickets also starts at 6 a.m. They're distributed around 8 a.m. at the studio entrance, which is at the corner of West End Avenue and W. 66th Street. Your odds go up when the weather is bad (the best time is during a snowstorm!) or when musical acts are not in the lineup.
New York City
Advance planning Fill out the form at rachaelrayshow.com at least six months out. You'll have to name your whole group, so request only once (multiple entries are disqualified). If picked, you'll be e-mailed dates and times to choose from. Tickets are e-mailed two weeks in advance. The show can overbook, so arrive two hours early.
Last-minute luck Standby tickets for Rachael's twice-a-day (11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.) tapings are distributed at 222 E. 44th Street, between Second and Third avenues. Line up at either 10:15 a.m. or 2:15 p.m. to find out whether there are any open seats.
The Ellen Degeneres Show
Advance planning Select a date about six weeks out on the calendar at ellen.warnerbros.com. Someone will call you within a few days to a few weeks to let you know whether your request can be met. You'll be mailed details two weeks before the show. There are no tickets; just your name on a list at the door.
Last-minute luck Call 818/260-5585 on the day of the show—no later than noon—for the chance to get standby tickets. Leave a message with your name, contact info, and the number of guests, then be prepared to stick close to your phone.
The Price Is Right
Advance planning Fill out the form on cbs.com (for up to four tickets) or call 800/852-8909. You'll get a confirmation by e-mail or mail. The day of filming, queue up a few hours before the processing times (which begin at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.) to get an order-of-arrival number for the ticket line. [Updated by the editors, 11/3/08]
Last-minute luck You can try filling out the online form as late as the day before. Act super enthusiastic to maximize your chances of being a contestant (wearing matching and/or loud outfits doesn't hurt). You want to impress the audience coordinator, who selects each show's contestants.
The Tyra Banks Show
New York City
Advance planning Check the clickable calendar on tyrashow.warnerbros.com a month or two in advance to choose a show date (availability fluctuates by season). A staffer will call you to confirm at any point from the day after you submit the request up to the day before the taping.
Last-minute luck Fashion caveat: Tyra is picky about how her audience looks (what would you expect from a supermodel?). Wearing business attire—and that means no ripped clothing, sequins, or busy patterns—could help you land a spot closer to the stage.