Sunday, January 25, 2009

gossip girl

for those of you who are in love with the trashy teen tv show known as gossip girl, you'll enjoy this post.  don't worry, i won't give any episodic spoilers...but i could!   :)  had to promise not to give away any plot details.  this is the front of the mansion on long island where we were shooting this past week for an episode coming up in a few weeks.  i was, once again, an ever-loving extra but this time was different.  when i was called by central casting i was told i would be a "featured extra" which means i would have a little interaction with one or more principals.  
this home belonged to john phipps who partnered with carnegie in the steel business.  pretty amazing home.  my role was to be an "aide" to william who is nate's grandfather...for those following the show.   so we make a dramatic entry in a helicopter, jump out, and head to the house.  here's the helicopter.  and a shot from inside. 

nate's grandfather was played by james naughton.  he is a very familiar actor and a great guy.  enjoyed meeting him and watching him work.  very professional.  

there's a comment from the director that is sticking with me.  it's typical in a scene where there are a lot of extra running around to have a number of crew members telling us to be quiet.  of course we want to talk.  of course, also, the crew is talking and working out how they're going to get a particular shot.  so it's not always the fault of the extras that the director gets upset at the noise.  but we're an easy target.  anyway, usually when the director yells "cut" after a take, we smile, start talking, etc.  we've just been mouthing words for the last minute mimicking conversation at a party, what else are we going to do but actually talk.  feels natural.  then someone goes "shhhhh!" and then we hear, "reset to one" which is to say, go back to first position for that shot.  

the comment that stuck with me was the director in a pretty angry voice saying, "cut does not mean talk!  cut means go back to one!!"

you'd be amazed how many times we went back and did things again because someone made a mistake, missed their line, or tripped on a cable.  so different from reality where the first "mistake" stays on the film of life.  every now and then it would be nice to be able to yell, "reset to one!"  

but we get to keep every trip, every missed line...somehow life is a little richer for it, don't you think?  

oh...and i got to shake hands with chace crawford.  nice guy.

Friday, January 2, 2009


i've concluded that new york cab drivers use their car horns as sonar.  

Thursday, January 1, 2009


well, i did it.  or should i say, we did it.  myself and several hundred thousand brave (silly) souls made our way to times square in new york city.  i wish i could say it was some noble instinct that drew us to this place.  yes, we were like salmon with an uncontrollable urge to swim upstream for spawning.  we fought crowded obstacles, police barricades, and the cold to get a few inches closer to that well spring of activity and light.  here at the "crossroads of the world," where broadway and 7th avenue cross to create their little bow tie of six blocks, we had arrived.  it was now time to do the only thing we young salmon could do at this point...wait.

and wait we did.  people said arriving early was a must so we joined the madness and began our trek into the area from the north around 5:30 pm.  after a stop at columbus circle's whole foods for the bathroom, my friend and i headed down 8th avenue to find some vittles.  with warm paninis in hand, we tried to traverse 55th street over to broadway.  this proved unsuccessful but undaunted salmon that we were, we kept looking for that little passage way.  we found it on 54th street and made our way to broadway and then on over to 7th avenue.  from columbus circle to about 48th street, broadway runs between 8th and 7th avenues before crossing at times square and continuing its meandering trek toward downtown.  

we moved into a holding area...really looked like a cattle corral.  felt like it too as we were moved from one area to another.  we started at 54th street in a holding area and then were moved up to around 53rd.  then i heard a countdown happening.  people were screaming "9...8...7...6...5..."  i was suddenly concerned that i had missed something since there was no way it was midnight already.  one of the big screens in the square was flashing the numbers which seemed to make all of us yell them.  when it got to "0", it said, "five hours to go!"  i was already having second thoughts. 

i began doing some polling of the people around me asking if any of them had done this before.  no one had.  i now know why.  all my frugality before this night made it impossible that i would spend $200 for a party somewhere in the area.  as the night wore on, however, that $200 was sounding like a very viable option for food, drink, shelter, warmth, bathrooms and flexible people.  on the street there was none of that.  although there was a guy selling pizzas for $35 a pie.  with the economy where it is, it was fun to see free market capitalism in full swing.  

"9...8...7...6..."  "four hours to go!"  when will this end?  at midnight i guess.  moved up a little closer to the action.  by the end of the cattle herding, we were at 49th street.  just above times square.  7th avenue was packed all the way back to central park at 59th street and of course in front of us all the way to 43rd street and the 12,000 pound ball of light.  i did some more polling in my new location and found the same result...first time for everyone.  i get it.  i don't want to do this again, either.  this means that there are about half a million new suckers every year that crowd into times square.  next year all of us will be doing something wiser like going to that party, watching on tv, giving ourselves papercuts and pouring lemon juice on them...anything would be better than waiting in 17 degrees (windchill = 3 degrees) for a ball to drop.  

but having done it, i now have bragging rights and i will take full advantage of them.  i will drop it casually into any conversation i can that, "oh yeah...i've done that.  it was chilly but you know, dress for it and you'll be fine."  I'll try to be nonchalant about it but...never again.  :)   i didn't even get to see the jonas brothers!

may this truly be a blessed year for all of us.  it will see the beginning of an historic presidency, and hopefully the development of a musical/acting career for one young aspiring actor in new york.  many big days ahead, indeed! 

happy new year!