Friday, January 31, 2014

January gigs

Blue Bloods broke the ice... in a manner of speaking, for my first gig in this icicled January of 2014.  The episode entitled "Manhattan Queens" made sense only when I saw it air tonight! I was cast as member of a posh club who is witnessing the arrest of one of its members.  As it happened, the member was doing a "Crying Game" relationship with a drag queen -and was in line for the suspicion of her demise.

Donnie Wahlberg was the director for this episode... on one of the coldest days in single digit weather history.  But there were some advantages to standing out on these glacials we call streets: free pizza from the 99 cent pizza store, free cup of chicken noodle soup from the roaming crafty, and the best was unlimited free cappuccino (or whatever type of coffee derivative you wanted) from the new Harley Davidson store's barista-bar across the street.  But I have to admit, this was one of the better episodes I've seen. Wahlberg's character showed some interesting development with regard to his sensitive handling of the unusual case.

Subsequent gigs this month included Law and Order SVU, The Knick, The Blacklist and a Chobani yogurt commercial. On SVU, I had to ride the escalator up and down a dozen times at Pier 80 on the West side of Manhattan's shipping terminals (it substituted as an airline terminal at the time).  At one point, Mariska was behind me and since she was initiating conversations with us extras, I asked her an impromptu question: "Do you still speak Hungarian?" .  She was a bit caught off guard with that but came back with a "Yes...yes... occasionally... I do."  But my conversation was cut short by the extra in front of me, who decided all of a sudden to awaken from his hour-long quiet zombie-like state to usurp my moment with the star!  He butted in and asked her "..and do you also read and write Hungarian?"... Mariska cordially entertained his queries with a short (albeit unconvincing) "Yes."  And suddenly we reached the top of the escalator only to repeat the Sisyfusian scene of riding it down again.  Oh well... so much for star-chatting.

On The Knick, I was given a large overcoat that completely clashed with my ocra-colored outfit -but I didn't care because the weather was turning cold.  This was one of the last scenes to be shot for the series and I was already missing it. I believe it's slated to air sometime in March this year. The Knick shtik provided me with yet another haircut -and just in time.  I was slated to do a black tie affair on The Blacklilst as a diplomat the following week.

That's me on top of the bottles!
The Blacklist was shot at one of the fancy 5th Avenue consulate buildings. I had attended a school just around the corner, and in those days whenever I passed this structure, I had always wondered what it was like inside.  Now I knew!  Marbled walls and floors all over the inside of the old building.  We were spread along the ballroom area near the front entrance.  I was teamed up with a couple of other "dignitaries" as James Spader and Megan Boone dance past us.  Later on there's even an alarm and gunfire for us to react to -as in: "Let's get the hell out of here!"  One of the more exciting scenes I've ever been in... at such a close range.  We were there for long hours but I didn't mind it -watching the principals rehearse right next to us was terrific... and the paycheck wasn't bad either!

The Chobani commercial was one long waiting affair.  About 250 of us were hired and kept in a large ball room... most of us for about seven hours.  Occasionally the PA's would take a few of us out to the "set" and they would never be heard from again!  Eventually, towards the end of the day, some people from our table were chosen and the rest sent home!?  We didn't know what to expect but were told to load into a van.  The van driver took us around the block, which included the snow covered Madison Square Park in the Flatiron District, and after about 20 minutes of heavy traffic, let us out.  For crying out loud -we could have walked it in less time!  But here we were at the side of a building and told to "just walk down the street and react naturally".
Bearfoot in the park... resting bear-impersonator between takes.
Suddenly a huge "bear-impersonator" appears and we scatter.  CUT!  WRAP! We are then told to go to one of the trailers on the side, fill out our tax papers and eventually expect our pay.  At least we were let go while it was still daylight. (Epilogue: This portion of the Chobani commercial only made it to the web. Only the "rampaging bear in the general store" was shown during the Olympics.  Bummer!)

Many of my bg-buddies have complained that they weren't getting too much work this month.  For many of them the last gig of the month was their first for the new year.  I guess my "I'll work in any weather!" attitude has paid off.  Selected because no body else wanted to do it?  I get that a lot these days.  It's a strange act... but I get it.