Saturday, October 15, 2011

"Unforgettable" follow-up

Added After the show was posted on the CBS website.  The episode is "Up in Flames" which aired on on 10/11/11.  This is about 1:11 into the show.

This one is at 23:41-ish.  For the record, the second picture was filmed first.  And is not known for their HD quality. But hey--I wouldn't be in HD anyway. Finding yourself in these shows is like a version of "Where's Waldo."

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Anderson Cooper Daytime Talk Show

You know that guy with the white hair that has a perma-eyebrow raise?  That's right, Mr. Cooper.  Well, my friend Nelta and her friend Patrice had tickets her sister Marie came too.

To some, the fact that I wore my super-stylish new high heel shoes prepped with foot saving materials to abort potential blisters, aches and pains would just be a piece of useless information, but to me it was the crux of the whole day- - - of which it took six days of wearing out of season shoes for the next two weeks.

We went and saw the movie I Don't Know How She Does It.  It was hilarious, but made the stay-at-home-moms look like women who do nothing more than go to the gym while their kids are at school and are just selfish busybodies.  Which, is not how the majority of stay-at-home-moms I know act.  For the record, many people think that being stay-at-home-moms is much harder than working because you are at the beck and call of your children and spouse--without pay and often no gratitude.  Many children feel it completely acceptable to holler all of their requests in a broken record sense--which many people will relate to bosses.  Soooo, no I did not agree with their concept of stay-at-home-motherhood.

For the record, I have always loved the working mothers and know they are completely capable women, that seem to make things run so smoothly they make it look effortless.  If I had a problem with the working mothers it is just that they are so busy that I don't have a chance to have a good conversation with them . . . and sometimes I envy them, just a little, because of all the adult interaction they get. . . but I am glad to be where I am.

I laughed a lot during the show and when the people from the movie came onto Mr. Cooper's show Greg Kennear and Olivia Munn kept us laughing a lot.   They had one part where they suggested that we try two different types of cookies to pick the homemade on and the store-bought (Entemanns--as per my friend's opinion) cookies. There were two lucky Sex and the City girls who won $700 bright red shoes.  The audience zeal went waaaaaay down after the comparison dawned on all of our gypped minds. 

Mr. Cooper stayed way over on the other side of the room, next to the $700 shoe people. I am not sure if you could see me on screen because of that.

He was amusing and we laughed at some of his jokes.

One thing that seemed to stand out was his answer to the girl who asked how to become like him and get to where he is now and he began to answer, "I got out and interviewed people on my own. Oh, that's not what you wanted to hear is it?" I cannot remember the rest of his answer, but what that girl did not want to hear, is exactly what I did want to hear.  Not that I want to be exactly where Mr. Cooper is now, but it's good to know where some people claim to have started.

He also mentioned that his mother used to take him to the Studios (which studios, I cannot remember). So, I guess it started long before he decided to go and interview people--like when he was three or four.

Overall I felt like my feet hurt like crazy--really--crazy.  It was very interesting to watch how it worked with a new show. More than anything I really enjoyed my friends. Even when they shook their heads, humoring me, at my hollering of the words "Silver Foooooooox." Yes, I am cheesy.

Who Wants to be a Millionaire????

No, I am not offering any one any money--or even a job. . . sorry.

Have you seen it?! Have you seen Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

I have. In person. . . Right behind the contestants.  It's true. Turns out (I found out the last show of the three they filmed--that am on screen for nearly the whole time . . . almost as much as Meredith.  The ratings are for sure going to sky rocket.

Look for the blonde behind the contestants December 7, 8, and 9th.

I went to the show last week with my dear friend, Nelta and her friend (and now mine too) Patrice.

Right before I went in my green ticket fell down into the grate just before I went into the building. Gratefully the entrance people recognized me and knew I had been waiting. Nelta and Patrice shook their heads and laughed--just like me to do that.

 I got to "audition."  The reason I put that in quotation marks is because what they do is give you a test of thirty questions that you must answer in ten minutes. I thought it was mostly going to be about pop-culture (for some odd reason I felt I probably should know the names of the main people in Gossip Girl). So my friend NeLta--a pop-culture-ista, told me the names of the people three or four times.  But, they were not on the test so forgotten Gossip Girl crisis avoided.  But if you decide to go in there and "audition" then I would suggest getting to know Harry Potter quite well.

There were some lovely women standing in line behind me that decided that my bag was the enemy. I think I might have bumped them a couple of times and they said something and I apologized profusely, but they decided my apologies were not enough and every chance they had they touted their anger against my bag.  For the record I love my bag.

Also, the guy who was showing us to our seats asked us where we would like to sit--we weren't sure.  He told us that if someone said they wanted to sit at the contestants chair that he would put them on the show if he could.  I thought that was nice. Note to self.

Just for the record, when I was reading online about the "audition" and such they  told us we would not get to keep the pencils. Since that person wrote, the rules have changed and they give the audience the pencils.

Also, they give out a paper, mine was blue, upon which you answer several different questions about yourself.  For example, what do you think is the funniest thing about yourself. Somehow I felt like this was about the same thing as "Is there anything that you are mortally embarrassed to tell people about that you'd like us to air on world-wide television for you?"

They asked the normal questions like, "What would you do with the million dollars if you won it?"

I think about this question and my plausible answer, but the truth of the matter would undoubtedly be--studient loanieas destructivus upon the completion of the said I would immediately go on romanticus cruisius withimus my-imus sweetheart-icus and then downpaymenticus on a houseimus.  Does this sound Latin-ish?

It was humbling to take the test.  I thought I would know the things about Harry Potter, but to my surprise I did not. I think it was a combination of those questions and nearly every other question that pointed to my test-erly demise.  But it is okay, I'll just have to get one million dollars another way. Sniff.

The stand-up comic that they had to keep up audience zeal was of the self-depreciating sort.  He picked a couple of people in the audience that really got into the show and thanked one of them for taking a drink before hand.  He sent out a sheet so people could sign up for a discount to one of his future shows.  

They let one of the audience members stand up at the end. She was the last audience member to sit down so I felt like it wasn't so random a pick--it was rigged (at least that is my opinion).

Overall the experience made me thankful for my dear friends and sweet husband that watched our child whilst I went and enjoyed the day.  Thanks Patrice and Nelta. I had a great time! Let's go again.  Any one want to come too?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Interview of CSI:NY Background Artists


Let us take a moment and pretend you hear some great entrance music. I walk out onto the studio stage and I introduce myself, "Welcome to the M show. We are so glad to have you in our audience today. [Big grin.]  Now I know that some of you have been wondering to yourselves, 'How do I start as an actor?' 'Why do those people do it?' 'When does it start to actually pay enough to pay the rent?' So we are are going to give you the who, what, when, where and why-ish of two types of actors."

Then I would gracefully saunter over to my chair in those high heels that look super stylish, but reminds women that pain and agony and fashion so often come hand in hand because almost as soon as I sit down the camera focuses on my face, but my shoes come off and are hidden from the audience by a random ottoman.

"To answer some of these questions for you, we have invited two guests to come and speak with us. One of them is a non-union actor, Eric. [Applause] The other is a union actor--or SAG, Screen Actors Guild Actor, Bob."

Because you cannot really see these people I will give you a brief description. These are people that you may be friends with, they are people that you may pass on the highway or give each other friendly advice on the freshness of the pumpkin  you are thinking of purchasing.  Eric is about 5'8" and around 35 years old and Bob is around 6'2" and is in his fifties.  They are wearing dapper suits and have big smiles on their faces. Slowly the audience's applause subsides. They come and sit on the modern furniture that looks stylish, but again--really not a comfortable couch--because really, on a talk show who wants the guests to fall asleep.

M: Me
E: Eric (Michael Keaton-left-loosely-closest look a-like star)
B: Bob (closest-loosely-look a-like star Ted Knight-right)

I take a moment to joggle my cue cards and get them into the order of . . . straightness--who wants sloppy looking cue cards?

M: So, you have both been in the business awhile.  How long, exactly?
E: I started as a background artist when I was 22 in a student film and my first film I was a background actor for was Stepford Wives.
B:  First, let me tell you, M. The business has really changed since I started. I was a print model when I was seven and decided when I was 22 when I started making some money in a touring show, I was on stage first before I went into film and television.

I nod. We're getting some place. . . .

M:What you do is an art.  What inspires you?
E: Growing up I watched a lot of character actors in film and television. Those actors inspire me.
B: Good material and direction are inspiring--including the story, script, and director--not a bad premise or a bad story because having good material makes you work harder.

M: Good.  When is your job the hardest?
E: Those early morning rush calls can be brutal. Seriously, some of them you have to be ready to go around 3 or 4 in the morning--just so you can get there on time.
B: Then there are those times where you go long periods without work, or you are out in the rain and you're being a pedestrian walking -- it is so important to stay hydrated.

M: What are the easiest/best days?
E: When there is good weather makes being a background artist is so much easier.
B: Being in a principal actor are the best days--being able to work right with the stars.  A little while ago I was able to work on Mildren Pierce, I was in the room with Kate Winslet and three other actors. They all had lines and I didn't but I got to work right with them. It was really great! She is really nice, but she smokes too much.

M: If someone wanted to get where you are today, what would you advise them?
E: I would tell them to start with the casting agencies and ask them about becoming a background artist.
B: Take a different career path! Become a production assistant because they make better contacts. Network consistently  If you'd like start as background and then try to work your way  up. It is really important to be on time, to have a good wardrobe, and keep wardrobe happy. Don't question anything. Be a happy idiot existing from show to show.  Be realistic about what you look like and promote yourself in that light. For example, a 4'10" person will most likely not pass as a police captain.   To be an actor, go to school, learn the craft, and never stop learning! Have fun!

As a side note: You never know what is really going to happen on set. You have to be sure what they are going to name you and your efforts in the credits, for example, in the Age of Innocence he was paid as precision dancer but the choreographer was billed as "Dance Historian" which means an enormous pay cut.  They also like to try to get non-union people to do work that should be union or other background actors for example they can ask the actors to "fight," which is normally very choreographed, but when non-union are not trained they can really end up hurting one another by accident--i.e. non-union attempting to jump a background actor police line--I had someone try to climb over me--literally when I played an officer in a police line.  Also, be careful of what you agree to do. For example if you agree to rollerblade--realize that you may be rollerblading for 16 hours straight even when it is raining--which can make rollerblading sixteen hours even more uncomfortable. Also, they may tell you that you'll be in smoke for 16 hours and it can be sitting next to an actor that ends up smoking five packs of cigarettes and you feel really lightheaded.

M: Thank you for these great ideas.  Now, where would you like to be in ten years?
E: In ten years I want to be working steady in television or film.
B: Ten years--On this side of the dirt.   I'd like more principal roles/stunt work with the residuals lasting the rest of my life.  

M:  What is the scariest or funniest experience you've ever had while working?
E: The funniest was when one of the principal characters tried again and again to get the door open during their take and it just didn't work.
B: The scariest thing that happened to me while working was when I was going to the heading in a hotel at W. 50th St.  We got into the elevator and we thought we were on the right floor so we all got off and it wasn't until we were all off and the doors had closed that we realized we'd gotten off on the wrong floor.  It was a hallway full of locked offices and the elevator would not come. We did our best not to panic to realize that were were stuck!  The elevator would not come--no cell phone reception. Nothing. We realized after an hour of trying to figure out how to get out that we had to push the elevator button for a full ten minutes for the elevator to come.

M: Now we have a question from the audience.

[Some girl with a bright pink suit complete with a cancer pin comes out--her hair is  full of pink as well--obviously a woman set on helping other women with cancer].

Random audience member: First, I have to say I love your show. [Audience cheers and whistles and fades, I nod and says thank you  only the microphone man stepped away for .5 seconds and it looks like I just mouthed the words].  When did you know you wanted to be actors?

B: I was very dramatic as a child. I drove my family crazy with my constant singing.  When I got my first paying job I knew that this is what I wanted to do.  Especially when I got my first Broadway equity contract and was traveling. I asked my dad to take care of my expenses from my paycheck.   He called me after he got my first pay check for expenses and asked if it was the paycheck for the month. The paycheck was for one week of work, about $1600 and my dad was in awe and knew it was legitimate work.
E:  I knew when I was in my first student film that this is what was right for me.

At this point in the interview with Bob we were called to set, but I'll improvise. [Bob was called to another area of the set for the game show portion, the sing-off with a few pre-selected audience members--Bob wows the crowd as they all sing together in off-off-off-Broadway production of "The Star Spangled Banner."]

Meanwhile a hamster comes running out in a ball with a message on the outside.  Eric picks it up and looks at the writing.
E: When  have you used your gut to help you in your job?  I would have to say I used my gut in the first film when I told the director something important even though it felt really intimidating.

[Eric puts the hamster down and it runs off stage, the lights clink off and on and down falls a flashing light.]
M: Eric, we're going to change things up just a little, we want  you to mime the next answer--do you think you could do that?
E: Sure, M. [He stands up and the lights begin moving very quickly giving it an old black-and-white film look]
M: What excites you most about this job?
[Eric does the Charlie Chaplin walk in tune with some 1919-type of music and goes over to M and shakes her hand, moves to the left of her and pretends to shake someone else's hand and then over again to pretend to shake someone else's hand.  Lights begin popping on above audience member's heads.  M calls on one of them.]
Random Audience Member 2: You like meeting lots of different people!
E: [Eric nods] Yes, and there are always new things to learn!

M: Thank you very much both Bob and Eric for coming on my show.  [The audience is super excited and clapping and cheering up a storm]. Join us again, next time with M.

*The links to the pictures can be found when clicking on the pictures. They are from my internet image searches and Google Images.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

CSI: NY; My Experience

Monday was the day that Autumn decided to prove that she could be briskly cold.  It was also the day I was out fr-reez-ing all. day. long.

One of the background actors I met was a stay-at-home-mom like me (Yay, SAHMs!).  Being an extra is her outlet and time to let someone else take the kids for the day so she could earn holiday moo-lah (which I pretty much thought was awesome).  She was in the ballroom scene in Enchanted.  She said they had to react to a Chinese dragon instead of the CGI dragon.  She had to go to fittings . . . I'm adding that to my bucket list. Be an extra on a show where I need to get fitted for some very modest outfit and kid-appropo show.

They had tables sitting out at holding and all the background artists were directed to sit at the tables closer to the wall (apparently interaction with the crew is . . . discouraged). The rest of the tables were for the crew when they came to refresh themselves with nutrient rich catered food.

After waiting for a couple of hours for the main people to finish up some filming we headed out to the Criminal Court House. We were directed to the prop truck for props---MY FIRST PROP-- which was . . . . a coffee cup?!

Just to set the record straight, I do not drink coffee. So if you see that cup do not think--Melanie?! What is going on with you?!  Just realize that if it were real life and you saw me with such a cup there is a 100% chance it would not be coffee, so I told every one that I was drinking cocoa (which I adore).  I had to hand over my license for that paper coffee cup--so I had to treat it well.

Now that I think of it, I would have put a note inside for future cocoa cup-bearing background artists that would have said, "It's your lucky day!  Remember to floss!" or something life-changing like that.

For the first part I was set on the side to wait with two hilarious people that kept me laughing a lot the whole time we waited. One of them was a union stage manager (the first union one I have met, I think) and a guy who works with the people from the NY equivalent of Alcatraz (I think). People are so interesting.

Then they had us walk up and down the side walk in front of the Criminal Court House.  I walked with a person named LaVar.

I decided that my character's name was . . . Betty Lou from Schnectady.  Of course, after talking with the people for five minutes they came to the conclusion I was not originally from New York.

It was a really great day. At one point I was surrounded by the camera people and standing within two feet of  Sela Ward and was close enough to almost hear what the actors were saying during their scene (I had to walk right behind them at one point, so you may see me or my very stylish bag in the background---I'm wearing black).  When they were organizing everything I felt so happy just sitting there shivering and watching.

The director eventually made me move, but I was so happy that I moved right when they implied that I should but mostly I was just so happy to be watching so close.  The gaffer asked if I was cold (my lips must have been turning blue), and I honestly answered, "Not as cold as I was before."

They asked us to move up ten feet from the last take, which would have finished my walking across the screen. But once they asked us to move back to the take, but unclear what type of take it would be.  I got to watch them at work and the actors are so amazing to watch in person, it is no wonder we like watching them on the screen. Their focus was amazing and I just sat there in awe.  No matter how many people were around them they were utterly in the zone and no ambulance siren or random pedestrian that walked exactly into the middle of the shot would stymie their focus.

I told Ms. Ward that I really enjoyed her performances on the show, when it looked like no one was looking, and she mouthed the words back "Thank you."

Then they moved us to the top of the stairs of the Criminal Court House.  It was raining pretty hard for a little while so were were grateful for any cover.

The P.A.s were really friendly and jovial.  It was refreshing to see them joking with instead of hollering in an annoyed fashion at all of the extras.  Guess what, one of them was the guy that I featured in a previous post as the "fly in the doughnut" guy.  Let's just say he seems like the fly was removed and he is a nice guy. It seems they are more friendly to people they've hired than to interfering interlopers attempting to get a look of the inside workings of the film/tv industry from the outside.  But I did not interview him--that guy was so busy and I get the feeling he will probably not be a P.A. much longer because he did not stop moving for the tv people for a second (really).

Afterward I went and dropped off my prop, the paper cup for which I exchanged my license.  I was so glad to have my license in tact. Then I walked back, checked out, hopped on the train and came home exhausted.

What a great experience--even if I was nearly-hypothermic the entire time and we ended up wet.  So many people were really nice to share their umbrellas. I wore my scarf stylishly over my head (okay, so it wasn't stylish, but it kept my hair dry-er).

At/near my table were several seasoned background artists, and Eric and Bob let me interview them. Look for those interviews shortly!

Look for me in episode eight.