Saturday, June 30, 2012

Saturday Night at the Movies 6/30/12!

Who cares what picture we see?

I'd ask Reggie Nalder if he does - but that dude scares me. Let's assume he does and choose this one:

Now, this was apparently the somewhat "more classy" British edition of the movie. Over here in America we can't expect John Q. Public to know from his Zoltans and his hounds, so in this country we simply called the movie:

And that was the title I first saw the movie under on Showtime waaaaay back when. It is also the title on the DVD case - but I think the print uses the Zoltan title. So confusing - and it's just a goofy damn movie about the last descendant of Dracula being stalked by Drac's undead vampire pooch! Watch the great Jose Ferrer take the movie very seriously! See Michael Pataki miscast as the lead! Check out Reggie Nalder in another vampire movie right around the same time as Salem's Lot!

And you can see all of that at my place on that mismatched DVD - even tonight, if you were to come over!

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Celebrity Interview: Lisa London!

I have been a fan of Lisa London for a long time - from the moment I first saw her on Showtime in the sorority epic H.O.T.S. through seeing her in scads of movies I rented - through appearances in two Malibu Bay pictures for Andy and Arlene Sidaris. She always caught my eye with her vivacious energy and screen presence - and I'm thrilled that we are now online acquaintances. The lovely Ms. London even agreed to an interview. *sigh*

Craig Edwards: Where did the world gain a Lisa London?

Lisa London: I was born the way I am - in Santa Monica, CA but raised in Palm Springs, Ca.

CE: What are your earliest pop culture (movie, television) memories?

LL: Movies were my world - my mother and father and grandmother were big movie buffs and I know every old film and stars and directors....Gone with the Wind/Scarlett O'Hara (and my first screen character was O'Hara in H.O.T.S!)....TV faves were I Love Lucy reruns, The Monkees and The Mod Squad!

CE: When did you know you wanted to work in the entertainment industry?

LL: From the age of four I modeled - and I wrote, directed and starred in my own home movies with a cast of one - ME!

CE: How did you go about breaking in to film and television work?

LL: I was on full scholarship journalism/mass communication at ASU - fled to Los Angeles with $200 - picked up a sheet of production houses - got a job at Kaleidescope Films as a messenger with sheer blind determination to be 'discovered' and then I was!

CE: What was the first project you worked on?

LL: It was the movie trailer for California Suite. Ray Stark saw something he liked when I delivered a film reel to him - and I'll never forget seeing myself on the big screen - that trailer played before Midnight Express - little did I know I'd work for Oliver Stone years later on The Doors- then years after that, I did voice overs for a play and film produced by (Doors drummer) John Densmore!

CE: How did you end up in the trailer for California Suite, but not the movie?

LL: That trailer was shot after the movie was already in the can.

CE: Four young women. Honey. O'Hara. Teri. Sam. They were H.O.T.S. I was enthralled. Tell me how you ended up playing O'Hara.

LL: H.O.T.S. was my first feature audition - it was a combo of talent, luck and the perfect girl for the perfect role!

CE: Did you have a favorite character of any you played? What's more fun? Playing good girls or bad girls?

LL: I love all my characters - but I really love playing prostitutes - I think what's best about my abilities as an actress shine in these roles.

CE: How did you meet Andy and Arlene Sidaris?

LL: My girlfriend Ava Fabian told them about me - I met with marvelous Andy on a Monday night and then flew to Hawaii to star in Savage Beach two days later!

CE: You appeared in Savage Beach and Guns. Is it as much fun to appear in a Malibu Bay movie as it appears to be?

LL: Best sets on earth - you're in Hawaii - and it truly is paradise!!

CE: Which actor would you most like to have as a leading man, with optional love scene?

LL: Ryan Gosling, Al Pacino, Ed Norton, Ray Winstone, and Sean Bean popped into my head to go to 'bed' with - LOL!

Lisa London's legs are sooooo long...
How long are they?
They're so long she knows if it's going to rain tomorrow
because her toes get wet today!

CE: Greatest unfulfilled ambition in the film industry?

LL: The HBO series Luck - it got cancelled...

CE: Four words "Singing quartet The Pinups." Give me 25 words about that.

LL: My only attempt at a major record deal/singing career -amazing experience -was a rock star -lived in Europe -insane fun!

CE: Tell us something about Andy Sidaris we don't know.

LL: He was major player in developing instant replay for sports on TV!

CE: What are you up to these days?

LL: I just got back from Texas - shooting Divorce Texas Style with Daniel Baldwin - and I have been producing plays for The Actorhood Theatre Company in Hollywood - we are currently in rehearsal for Shephard's Simpatico.

CE: What's the perfect Lisa London breakfast?

LL: I don't eat breakfast...

CE: What was the last movie you watched?

LL: I can't remember - I watch sooooo many!

CE: Your initials are L.L. Several characters in the Superman universe have those initials - Lois Lane, Lex Luthor, Lana Lang, Lori Lemaris - so if Lisa London were another LL in the mythos - which movie or TV Batman would you choose as your co-star? (see what I did there?)

LL: I starred in The Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood with Adam West - great actor and great sport (we sang doo doo doo doo doo...all the time on set!) and I worked with Val Kilmer in The Doors.... hmmm - Michael Keaton or Christian Bale are both awesome actors I'd love to work with.

CE: What is the best piece of advice you can give to someone starting out in the entertainment business?

LL: If you can't breathe if you don't act then don't chose this biz...if it isn't a choice but your oxygen - suck it in and enjoy the best ride life has to offer!

Thank you so much to Lisa London for taking time for this interview! She's terrific!

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Maniacal Movie Poster Monday #74!

The First Turn-On!  (Troma, 1983)

I think I saw this T&A opus on VHS back in the day - but I remember nothing about it. It did introduce Tammy the "Wonder Tarantula" though...

Monster on the Campus  (Universal International, 1958)

This Universal Studios creature feature was pretty cool to me even as a kid - because it featured a storyline based on the real prehistoric fish the coelocanth - and then twisted that into a goofy movie where the blood of the fish transforms anything that ingests it into the prehistoric version - including scientist Arthur Franz, who ends up in one of Bud Westmore's lazy mask jobs as a caveman version of himself. Watch the cheeks puff in and out as the poor actor/stuntman breathes through the cheap mask. *sigh*  Of course, I love the movie!

The Scarface Mob  (Desilu Productions, 1959)

This originally aired on television as two episodes of the Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse, where it was even introduced by Desi Arnaz himself! It came out so well they edited the two parts into a feature length movie and released it to theaters here and around the world.  I haven't seen it - but I'd like to - Robert Stack as Eliot Ness and Neville Brand as Al Capone? Yeah, I'm all about that!

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Saturday Night at the Movies 6/23/12!

Who cares what picture we see?

Well more than 300 times Roger Corman has, so we have to make this choice:

Anyone who's dropped by this blog a few times is probably aware of the esteem I hold for Roger Corman - called The King of Pop Cinema by one or two cable networks - a nickname I happen to quite like. Starting as a producer and director in the 1950's and still going strong as a producer almost 60 (!) years later - Roger Corman has lived a fascinating life and created an incredible career in film. All but two of those people listed on that poster owe their career to Roger Corman - and they're not the only ones!

I haven't seen this documentary yet - but I just added it to the video vault on a fine Blu-Ray and you could join me for the initial viewing - maybe even tonight - should you decide to come over for a visit!

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Video Vault of Mora Tau 6/21/12!

Now it's time to get in trouble. And I don't mean just any trouble - I mean it's time to get in Double Trouble!

Back in the 80's, during the period when I first discovered the joys of girls - there was a TV show on NBC for a little while that had two of my favorites!

Okay, it wasn't Shakespeare - but it was a cute show. You had Donnelly Rhodes - who'd I first become aware of when he played the slightly dim Dutch on Soap. Here he played father to Kate and Allison, and boy were they a handful! In fact they were a double handful! Allie was the quiet and studious one; Kate was the wild and crazy one.

They were played by Liz and Jean Sagal, and though I didn't know it at the time - they are the sisters of Katey (Peg Bundy) Sagal, which means there's pretty much no one in the family I don't find attractive.

But we're here for some video clips. So let's get to them!

Here is the opening to the show.

Yeah, so dad Art ran a dance studio/gym, which allowed for a lot of leotards and tights...which was just right as far as this guy was concerned. Also, yes, that was Patricia Richardson from Home Improvement playing Art's girlfriend. I also enjoyed a guest spot from John P. Navin Jr. who played a nerd at the girls' school. He is better known as Cousin Eddie's son in the first National Lampoon's Vacation movie.

Here's a random clip showing more of the dancing...*sigh*

This version of the show only ran 9 episodes before disappearing off the schedule. It did come back though - but it had been retooled. Now the girls were in New York City attending college while living with their aunt (Barbara Barrie). They added two "Lenny and Squiggy" comedy guys who were actually pretty funny, and this version managed to go longer - lasting a whopping 15 episodes before the plug was pulled.

Here's a network promo for one of the second season shows - I think you get 7 seconds of footage, so watch carefully. And what's Chad Lowe doing here?

Here's another promo - which briefly shows the two goofy guys added to the second season. And again, what's with the random Chad Lowe?

A Sprite commercial with the girls...

And one last quickie promo for the show.

I really liked the girls - but both decided to take their fortunes away from the camera - Jean is an associate director/assistant director/director for a variety of sitcoms like Two and a Half Men and The Wizards of Waverly Place; Liz is a story editor for series like Charmed and Sons of Anarchy (which coincidentally stars sis Katey!) I'm sorry their acting careers only covered a dozen or so shows across 10 years or so - but I'm glad they've found fulfilling work in the business on their own terms.

But WOW, they were a big part of my 80's. I just adored them.

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Maniacal Movie Poster Monday #73!

Internet issues kept me offline until almost my bedtime - but a Monday post is a Monday post - so the posters are going to have to speak for themselves this time! (And don't get used to the lack of words - I like adding my thoughts!)

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Ten Best Actors of All-Time Relay Race!

The ever incredible and witty Matthew Vanacore of FilmMattic fame just came running up behind me in the Blogoshpere and handed me a well worn and rather moist baton! He then entreated me to run! Run like the wind!

It seems I have been honored to join The Ten Best Actors of All-Time Relay Race! It all started with the fine blog known as My Film Views - and here is how that blog's creator worded it:

"So what’s the idea behind the relay? I’ve created a list of what I think are the best actors. At the end of the post I, just like in a real relay race, hand over the baton to another blogger who will write his own post. This blogger will have to remove one actor (that is an obligation) and add his own choice and describe why he/she did this. At the end the blogger chooses another blogger to do the same. The idea is to make this a long race, so that enough bloggers get a chance to remove and add an actor. We will end up with a list (not ranked in order) which represents a common agreement of the best actors. It will also mean that those who follow this relay race will get to know new blogs as well!"

Pretty simple, and much like Forrest Gump - after that start it was RUNNIN!

My Film Views (created the original list: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Daniel Day-Lewis, Samuel L. Jackson, Charlie Chaplin, Gary Oldman, Anthony Hopkins, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall)

The Focused Filmographer (Removed Hopkins, added Christian Bale)

Front Room Cinema (Removed Pacino, added Paul Giammati)

I Love That Film (Removed Jackson, added Edward Norton)

Flixchatter (Removed Giammati, added Gregory Peck)

All Eyes on Screen (Removed Norton, added Tom Hanks)

Time Well Spent (Removed Hoffman, added Leonardo DiCaprio)

The Warning Sign (Removed Hanks, added Paul Newman)

Movies and Songs 365 (Removed Duvall, re-added Anthony Hopkins)

And So It Begins (Removed DiCaprio, added Max von Sydow)

Cinematic Corner (Removed Bale, added Ralph Fiennes)

The Film Emporium (Re-removed Hopkins, added Jack Nicholson)

Duke & the Movies (Removed Oldman, added Humphrey Bogart)

Southern Vision (Removed Fiennes, added Harry Dean Stanton)

Defiant Success (Removed Stanton, added Jack Lemmon)

Cinematic Paradox (Removed von Sydow, re-added Ralph Fiennes)

Encore’s World of TV & Film (Removed Peck, added Richard Burton)

Okinawa Assault (Removed Lemmon, added Bruce Greenwood)

Amiresque (Removed Greenwood, added Peter Sellers)

Flickers (Removed Chaplin, added Jeff Bridges)

Aziza’s Picks (Removed Sellers, re-added Gary Oldman)

…let’s be splendid about this… (Removed Burton, added James Stewart)

Being Norma Jeane (Removed Bridges, added Johnny Depp)

U, Me, and Films (Re-removed Fiennes, re-added Tom Hanks)

Eternity of Dream (Re-removed Hanks, re-added Leonardo DiCaprio)

Lime Reviews and Strawberry Confessions (Re-removed Oldman, added Amitabh Bachchan)

Surrender to the Void (Removed Bachchan, added Gene Hackman)

Taste of Cinema (Removed Depp, added Marcello Mastroianni)

1001 Plus (Removed Brando, added Cary Grant)

Public Transportation Snob (Removed DiCaprio, re-added Charlie Chaplin)

1:37 Exactly (Removed Peter O'Toole and added Kevin Spacey)
Melissa's Imaginarium (Removed Marcello Mastroianni and added John Cazale)

My good buddy Melissa passed the baton to Matty V, who posted his run over at FilmMattic - and now I have it. Here then - the ten as they currently stand:
Humphrey Bogart
It wouldn't be this blog if I didn't mention Bogart's one and only horror movie...

The Return of Dr. X!

Daniel Day-Lewis
Robert DeNiro
Paul Newman
Jack Nicholson

Let's not forget he got his start with Roger Corman!

James Stewart

Cary Grant

Charlie Chaplin

John Cazale
Montgomery Clift
Monty inadvertently appeared in a Friday the 13th movie when footage from A Place in the Sun is seen on a TV in Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning!

And now we're going to say goodbye to one of them.

For me, there's one guy in that list who's a little too perfect. He doesn't come out to play all that often, usually only every three or four years. It almost seems the only thing that does bring him off the porch is the smell of dangling Oscar bait. He's made a couple of really crappy movies, but they were in the 80's and no one remembers them. He never had the decency to appear in any outer space epics; or Roger Corman movies, or flicks featuring nature running amok, even when he was young and hungry.

That's just not what I'm looking for.

Adios, Daniel Day-Lewis!

Sit right there and think about what you've done.
Now, we get to add someone to the list. Right away I knew I wanted to add someone who ran the gamut from comedy to drama; who had a huge body of work; and who never met a paycheck he didn't like - yet at the same time never seems to be phoning it in, no matter how goofy the project. He always makes the movie more interesting; his co-stars love him; he's been going strong as an actor in seven decades now.
Greetings, Michael Caine!

And here are the Top 10 Reasons I love Michael Caine and am adding him to this list:

10. Has been killed by Steven Seagal. (On Deadly Ground)

9. Worked for producer Irwin Allen twice in the 70's, battling killer bees (The Swarm) and helping to loot the capsized Poseidon before it slips beneath the waves forever (Beyond the Poseidon Adventure).

8. Has acted with William Shatner, Jim Belushi, and the Muppets (Miss Congeniality, Mr. Destiny, The Muppet Christmas Carol).

7. Came back to play Harry Palmer for the fourth time after 28 years (Bullet to Beijing).

6. Is the voice of a talking Aston Martin in Cars 2.

5. Has been nominated for an Oscar at least once in five consecutive decades (1960s-2000s).

4. Played Austin Powers's dad Nigel (Austin Powers in Goldmember).

3.  Played the younger man in Sleuth (1972). Then played the older man in Sleuth (2007).

2. Has been the co-star to both Sean Connery (The Man Who Would Be King) and Roger Moore (Bullseye!).

1. Accepted his Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Hannah and Her Sisters via satellite from the set of Jaws: The Revenge.
    When asked later about Jaws: The Revenge Michael Caine said "I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific."
I love Michael Caine!
Now who to pass this along to? Well, after much thought (more than it took to settle on Michael Caine, actually) I have decided to hand this baton over to Cody and Jay at Life Between Frames! Here's the extra stipulation - as they are a two headed blog - Jay gets to pick the gentleman to be removed; and Cody gets to pick the new addition. Should either gentleman be indisposed, the other handles both duties.
Can't wait to see where this thing goes from here!
Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Saturday Night at the Movies 6/16/12!

Who cares what picture we see?

I would have to assume Judson Scott does, so what better choice than this one?

I have never identified myself as a Trekker, or Trekkie, for that matter. But I do own every episode of every Trek series, most of the paperback books, and all of the movies on Blu-Ray, so I guess I am one, huh? And it's high time this blog shows some Trek love!

 I saw this in the theater in 1982 - and while I liked Star Trek: The Motion Picture three years previously, I loved this movie.

I mean, you've got all the original crew - plus fun actors like Paul Winfield, Bibi Besch, Merritt Butrick, and Kirstie Alley; then you top it off with Ricardo Montalban as the greatest Star Trek villain of all - Khan, returning from the original series to go after Kirk one more time fifteen years after the events of the episode "Space Seed." What's not to love?


And you could be watching it with me on that Blu-Ray as soon as tonight! If you want to come to my house, that is!

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I Was a Teenage Production Assistant: Amos & Andrew!

Disclaimer: I wanted to have my stories of working in and around the film and television industry under a blanket title - and I'm going through chronologically - so here is another of these blog posts from before my time as a production assistant. If it helps, it's also pretty much the LAST of the entries that don't have me working on the crew. Mostly, anyway. This one really should be housed under the title Extra Extra Read All About It - because this is one of my experiences as a movie extra...

I moved to Wilmington, North Carolina in January 1992 to seek work in the film industry, after a very disappointing 18 months outside Chicago Illinois not getting work in the film industry. Work? Hell, I never even got an interview in the Windy City.

A college friend who was also graduating with a BA in Cinema and Photography had vacationed in Wilmington NC with his family years before, and he knew there was film studio located in the city and movies were made there. So, he and his wife and I packed up all of our belongings and drove down to the coast of North Carolina.

My friend and I made the rounds of any place we could think of to seek production work of any kind. We went to every video production facility, we went to the studio - at the time Carolco Studios as it was owned by The House That Rambo Built. We went to the local TV stations. We went tonearly every sound studio, production house, prop house, costume house, and possibly doghouse in the hopes of finding work.

The only place in the city of Wilmington with the word 'studio' in it that we didn't stop at. It's a long story.

I don't want this to turn into a domestic drama, but I'm going to quickly explain why my friend is about to fade out of this story - we agreed with a manly handshake that any job opportunities we found would be shared between us - both could put in an application or resume, and let the best man win. Well, an overheard phone conversation between my "buddy" and his parents (or maybe it was the wife and her parents) some time after we'd arrived revealed he'd put in for two or three TV production jobs he'd found listings for that I'd never been told about. So, I'd been upfront about everything I'd turned up - and he'd turned into a double dealing jackwagon.

Consequently, although sharing the same living space for a few more months on the same lease, we went our separate ways in our job search and our friendship faded away too.

Well, one of the places we'd stopped was a small sound studio the name of which I've forgotten. I know that their ad in the Yellow Pages indicated they were available for film dubbing or scoring, so my pal and I had stopped in their during our first days in Wilmington. We met a really nice guy there named Chuck, and while he had no work for us, he did give us some good advice about our job search, and told us to stop back in occasionally.

Time passed, my friend and I had our falling out - and I was still looking for film work. March had rolled around, and nothing was happening. Turning in a resume at the studio had gotten me nothing - and stopping by a location shoot for a CBS TV movie called Stompin' at the Savoy had likewise produced no results.

No, didn't work on this one - dropped by the location shoots a couple of times.
I just wanted to stick more pictures in to this post.

I'd come down with some savings - but with no income of any kind three months of living expenses had drained them away. I was in dire straits, money-wise - and it had already been discussed that the only option left to me if the money ran out was to head back home to my parents' in Illinois with my tail between my legs.

On March 11, 1992 I went back to the sound studio to see Chuck again - to see if he had any leads or anything at all. And much like a movie ending - Chuck told me he could put me on to something - a friend of his was working in extras casting for a feature film that had just started production. Her name was Pam, and she was at the studio right then signing people up to be in a movie called Amos & Andrew. I could only guess it was a new version of the old radio and TV show - possibly a strange choice in those days of political correctness as the actors who'd played the African-American characters on radio had been white, but a job was a job. Chuck told me to go sign up and mention his name to Pam, and that he'd put in a good word for me - but I had to promise him I'd be dependable and show up when expected. I assured him I would, thanked him, and dashed out to my car.

I got over to the studio, and jumped in with the line of people signing up as extras - and when I got up to Pam I threw Chuck's name at her like a ninja throwing star. She lit up at the mention of his name, and told me she'd definitely find me something on the movie. She did tell me the movie was not a redo of the old Amos and Andy show - but it was an edgy racial comedy that was playing off that old title. Other than that, all she could tell me is that the extras were being signed up for a sequence in the movie where several news crews surround a house. I would be "acting" the role of a TV news camerman. She also told us that a lot of the movie was going to take place at night, and the production had decided to work the night schedule for the bulk of the movie after knocking out the few daylight scenes in the first few days of filming.

This is the studio today, with two additional soundstages built since 1992, and the EUE/Screen Gems logo.
We did the extras casting for A&A in the little cafe up front, just to the right of the tiny little guard shack.

It was going to be a couple of weeks though as the movie was only getting started, so I had to go into survival mode in terms of money - I ate a lot of canned tuna and Ramen noodles for those weeks.

A few days after I'd signed up I got a call to go to the studio for a costume fitting, and to wear jeans and bring a few different shirts and any jackets I had. At the studio, a harried wardrobe guy had me try on my different shirts and one and only jacket - which was reversible, and he finally gave me the okay when we flipped the black jacket with green piping over to the green jacket with black piping. He snapped a Polaroid of me in the outfit for continuity. Then I went to see props - because they needed to make up a fake press pass for me to wear in the movie. The prop guy - Greg - took my photo so it could be put on the pass, and that was it - pretty painless.

The actual Polaroid - working with the same wardrobe crew
on a subsequent production - someone gave me the picture!

A couple of weeks later I got the call - Amos & Andrew needed me for filming! I got my first call time - something like 7 or 8 pm - and after a nap, headed out that way with plenty of time to spare. To keep the number of cars near set low, they had us park at a grade school a couple of miles from the set. (This kind of setup - the deal to let the extras park at the school - is the province of the locations department - who work out these kinds of deals all through preproduction - then act as liaison to the public at each location.) A 15 person maxivan was designated to take the extras to set - driven by a member of the Film Teamsters union. They would fill the van, then make the loop around to the set, let everybody out, then head back to the parking area - this took a fair amount of time - but it really helps not having all that car activity happening anywhere around the film equipment.

We got out to the set - and the first step was to do some paperwork. All of the extras checked in at the extras tent, and filled out the forms that would help us get paid. Generally speaking, extras made roughly $50 a day in 1992. But this had two caveats - 1.) it was based on an eight hour day - and if you went longer than that you started making overtime - and without getting into a lot of maths - if you went 12 hours you ended up making $87.50 minus taxes. Not too shabby. and 2.) you got paid a minimum of the 8 hours the minute you showed up. So, if you arrived, and moments later a huge downpour of rain opened up, and they decided not to shoot your scene right then and released you - BAM! $50 still went in your pocket. And you wonder why movies cost so much to make?

Not Amos & Andrew, but a representative picture of what extras hair and makeup
looks like in the extras tent.

After the paperwork, it was time for wardrobe, makeup, and hair to send representatives to make sure everyone who was supposed to look like they were going to be on TV camera in the story looked like they were going to be on TV camera. Because this was a movie that was set in 1992, they didn't have much to do on the rest of us. And then it was the waiting game. We stayed in the tent while they shot other things on set and generally got ready.

And here is where I learned the life of an extra. People who'd done it before brought all sorts of things to occupy themselves in these days before smartphones and tablets - there were books, cards, knitting, even sometimes musical instruments (guitars mostly) There were 30 or 40 of us in the early going and we chatted and read and played cards and got to kind of know each other - and it was fun.

Extras holding for a period production.

I eventually brought a book a few nights - but I never read a page - there was just too much going on around me - too many people to interact with.

We were told when we agreed to be extras that the shoot for our sequence would take at least a couple of weeks, and we had to agree to come back until that section of the production was finished with us. So I knew going in there were going to be several nights' shooting.

Catering truck - coffee dispensers almost dead center.

It was sometime in the first few nights that I went to get some coffee off the catering truck - which was set up very near the extras' tent - and someone got in line behind me for coffee - oh, it was that Sam guy who was starring with Nicolas Cage! Yeah, as in Samuel L. Jackson! But here's the thing - at this point he'd only done a handful of acting roles, and the best known was his zonked out character from Jungle Fever - so he wasn't that known a quantity to me. And this loops back around to something I said in my A League of Their Own post - sometimes it's better to chat up and get autographs from the people on the set you don't know all that well - because I guarantee there will be less activity around them moment to moment - and if they do go on to be better known you get a better story to tell!

Unfortunately at this time I hadn't come to that realization - so I did not get an autograph or a picture - I took my cup of coffee back over to my seat and continued chatting with someone about something. Think of the story I could tell now if I'd talked to Mr. Jackson!

I would love to talk to you, Mr. Edwards,
but I'm all tied up right now.

I kind of realized that while I can make sure I post these in chronological order - the actual writing is probably not going to go that smoothly - because my memory of the order of events is a little slack. I know what happened - but I don't always know when, or what came before or after it. So I'm going to get a little episodic here and just chat about the various bits I remember that were kinda cool.

This is an actual behind the scenes shot; you can see Dabney Coleman in character being made up to
appear on TV (or maybe it's the actor being touched up off camera?)
I don't see myself in here anywhere, though, dammit.
And check out the house nestled away top left. Info on that below...

When we got to the actual set - I discovered they had actually built an entire house - and a road for the set! The house was a shell - almost no interior stuff - but the road - while a tiny bit thinner than an average road like this - was really poured asphalt with painted on lines and everything - it stretched past the house for a goodly distance in each direction, then came to a curve on either end - and disappeared into the woods at each end just around that curve.

The fake road.

After the film was over – I went back out to the set – and ran into the location manager, a nice guy named Shaw – who cleared me to walk around and photograph stuff – so that’s where the pictures came from. All of my pics are daytime shots – the only time I was ever there in the daytime! They ripped the road up and tore the house down shortly after.

The Sterling home facade from the "road."

Walking one night very late back to the extras tent (also known as basecamp) - probably for a restroom run - I passed Nicolas Cage headed to set - he said "Hey how ya doin'?" I said "Fine, how are you?" He replied "Good." and that was my entire experience interacting with Nicolas Cage.

The house facade, closer.

When the newspeople come to surround the house - a bunch of news trucks and vans convoy out to this house - and while some of the stuff was shot elsewhere in Wilmington of these vehicles - when they get close to the house - the production had us extras driving them! (A little unusual, as it would normally have been the Teamster production drivers). And I am actually driving one of the big trucks with a satellite dish on it! I was terrified the whole time - but they had this adorable female Teamster named Lori helping me back the thing up and get ready for each take, and she was basically assigned to my truck - and well, she was really cute, so I drove the crap out of that truck just for her!

This is very similar to the truck I was driving - not huge - but that road was skinny!

The cast was pretty amazing for this movie - in addition to Cage and Jackson, you had Dabney Coleman, Michael Lerner, Margaret Colin, Bob Balaban, Giancarlo Esposito, Tracey Walter, Loretta Devine, and Brad Dourif. I had brief momentary interactions with everyone - and more with Lerner, Colin, and Dourif. I actually ended up standing in (being the lighting double) for Michael Lerner - and he and Margaret Colin were not trailer babies, so the nights we shot their stuff (later - after the news crew scenes) the two actors and me and Ms. Colin's stand-in - a woman named Lisa - more on her in a moment - spent a goodly amount of time together.
Margaret Colin and Michael Lerner. Yeah, they looked
like a real married couple.

Lerner was a funny New Yorker type - Colin was a sweetheart and very funny. I helped Lerner learn how to say the name of local grocery chain Harris Teeter - which around here is pronounced Heh-us Teetuh if you have a thick Southern accent. (Which I don't, by the way - I'm a Midwestern boy - almost no accent at all!) As for Brad Dourif - I knew him from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and more recently at that time as the voice of Chucky the Killer Doll from the Child's Play movies. I struck up a conversation with him at the catering tent one evening - and he was a very nice man - we chatted about this and that - and unfortunately I got no autograph or picture - it was my first show - and I was afraid to ask for stuff like that - so I have nothing from any of the actors - except nice things to report.

To finish up my stand-in stuff - I also stook in for TV reporter Waldo - who prowls around several scenes with his camerman Ernie. I.M. Hobson was that actor's name - another nice man - a journeyman actor who appeared in small parts in dozens of shows, perhaps most noticeably as a servant in Bram Stoker's Dracula that same year.

I.M. Hobson

So, that other stand in I mentioned - Lisa? Well, she'd been there since the news crew stuff - a tall, willowy brunette - just gorgeous - and they had her duded up as a TV reporter for those scenes - in fact, I was her camera guy in those scenes. Well, later, after this show and another I worked on with her - her husband became North Carolina State Senator Patrick Ballantine - which made her Lisa Ballantine - lawyer, state senator's wife - and almost NC First Lady when her husband made an unsuccessful bid for governor in the last few years! But imagine that! I knew her when!

Lisa Ballantine and Bob Sayer, downtown Wilmington 1992.
This is an unused version of a prop photo from a subsequent production we
worked on together.

I have to mention one other cool extra - although there were dozens I liked on the show - but Andrew Thielen was a lawyer or stockbroker or something of that sort when he wasn't being an extra - and he was also playing an on-air reporter as an extra. Good looking guy - perfect TV reporter look. Well, over the course of those two or three weeks of shooting the news crew stuff - we chatted a lot - he and Lisa and I - and he told us he was tired of the rat race of his job and he was thinking of chucking it and trying his hand at playing music for a living. Well, a few years later I saw The Andrew Thielen Big Band was playing in town - and now they're a really popular wedding and event band all over North and South Carolina - so he actually did it! That's really very cool!

Andrew Thielen these days.

I'm thrilled for him!

I had been told by Chuck that when I got on set I should try to prove useful to the Assistant Directors - as they would be the people who would be hiring me for any jobs as a production assistant - which was the next rung on the film ladder for me. The 2nd 2nd AD on Amos & Andrew was a gorgeous blonde woman named Cyndie Williams - and no, not the one who played Shirley. So I tried to be helpful to her -

Not this one.

I would gather up groups of extras for her; I retrieved items for her; that sort of thing. Well, one evening most of the extras were at set, but there were a few of us back at the tent. It was far enough into the day that the caterers were setting up for lunch (a lunch served at 11pm!). The catering company was called Ken and Art’s – and Cyndie was dating Ken. (She later married him!) Consequently she was helping their guy set up some of the stuff – and I pitched in too. Well, moments after I got started Cyndie got called away. So it ended up being me and Art’s girlfriend, who’d come to visit him on set that night after flying in – or so I’d heard. I grabbed a big bowl of macaroni salad and went and put it in the iced holder on the table just as Art’s girlfriend set a different bowl of something in the ice from the other side of the table. I looked up and she and I made eye contact – and this was the first time I’d really looked at her. My jaw dropped and I said “Uh…you’re Bonnie Bedelia!” Because I’m always ultra-clever in moments like this. Anyway – she was indeed the actress best known as Bruce Willis’s wife in the first two Die Hard movies! She was dating our caterer Art – and on my first movie in North Carolina I run into her while helping set up some food tables! She was very cool – and we chatted as we continued to set stuff up. She told me then they were looking around for a Die Hard 3 – but she didn’t know if she wanted to do it. (In the end, she didn’t.) And keep that Die Hard 3 thing in the back of your mind – because it’s going to rear its head again a few posts down the road…

Bonnie Bedelia. The one setting out food with me had much less Hans Gruber.

In the movie, author Andrew Sterling moves to an exclusive island community – and no one realizes he’s black. The neighbors see Sterling in his home setting up his stereo and think he’s a burglar. The police chief (Coleman) sends in his men, then realizes his error – but it’s too late – a crowd has gathered at the Sterling home. Trying to save face, the chief sends in two bit ne’er-do-well criminal Amos Odell (Cage) to act as the burglar – but he ends up taking Sterling hostage when he realizes the chief is trying to sell him down the river. What started out as a guy setting up his stereo becomes a hostage situation, and that brings in the news crews (us). This whole terrible situation is then worsened when a local mainland Reverend (Esposito) and his flock hear of the trouble and make their way onto the island and to the Sterling home to protest.

Samuel L. Jackson and Nicolas Cage discuss billing.

So, part of our sequence was just us newspeople arriving and trying to get the story going on in the house, and the second part has us covering the protest, which actually ends in a riot and thrown torches setting the Sterling home ablaze. Well, it just so happens that we were shooting these sequences – the riot and the inadvertent burning of the Sterling house – on April 29th, 1992. If that date doesn’t ring any bells – it was the day the verdict in the Rodney King trial was handed down and the LA Riots started. Although we were a couple of years from the internet and wall-to-wall coverage – we got word about the riots as we were shooting – and someone from the LA production office got caught up in it briefly, though I don’t believe they were injured. But it was sobering and even a little chilling to be shooting such a scene - with African Americans angrily protesting and rioting over what they see as a racial injustice - at the exact moment that real life rioting was going on over the same kind of issues on the opposite coast.

It was fun watching the production fake a helicopter in our news scenes – although there is footage of one taking off that was shot separately – when you see the spotlight and wind at the house it’s a light on a scaffolding tower shining down and giant fans (called Ritter fans or Ritters) making the wind. I love the illusion of moviemaking, and this was a prime example – and really the first I ever saw.
A Ritter fan.

As we worked our way through to the end of the original news crews segments – Pam lined me up for more work as a stand-in, first for I.M. Hobson (Waldo) and later for Michael Lerner. Somewhere along the way I also started working as an extra on another movie at the same time – doing night shoots with A&A as they called, and day shoots on the other flick when I wasn’t working on A&A. The other movie was Super Mario Bros, and it will be the next movie to be featured in one of these posts. But I’m going to mention a wild and funny overlap between the two movies – then repeat it in the SMB post in case people don’t read both posts (and if you do read both posts – just read one of the overlap bits with your eyes closed)

Well, I worked on Super Mario Bros one day as an extra - I went in early, like 6:30-7:00am. Worked all day, getting released for the day with no callback for the next day around 7:00-8:00pm. I got home and found a message one of my roommates had taken that said Amos & Andrew (which shot only nights) needed me as a extra - so I quickly showered, changed, and jumped back in my car and headed out to that set .
I arrive around 8:30-9:00 and discover they are happy to have me. I figure I'll shoot all night on A&A, then sleep all the next day. It was a looooong night. Around 4 or 5 am I was really sleepy, but I muddled through the rest of that evening into the coming dawn, which was always A&A's wrap time. I stumble back into the apartment around 6:00am, and find a message that apparently had come in five minutes after I'd left for A&A the night before requesting me to come in for another day's work on SMB! And by golly, I needed the work and the money!
Another shower, another change, and I drove back out to the cement plant, now past the 24 hours up with no sleep mark. I worked all day on the police station set, and most of the day is a blur. But on the back side of the day, I was sent into an office in one of the station hallways with the direction to "do office-y stuff" behind the frosted glass office windows while first unit shot some kind of action scene out in the hallway. There was a long lighting setup in there, and they just left us on set as we were out of the way and quiet, and I started drifting badly, not quite sleeping, but as close as you can get.
Thankfully they wrapped (or wrapped us extras) around 5-6 pm. I somehow managed to drive home, now 36 hours in and no sleep. I had no call time for either show and was planning to meet some friends for dinner. Got back to the apartment, half afraid that Amos & Andrew would have left another message for me - not sure what I would have done there, but thankfully they didn't. I got to my place, planning a shower before dinner, sat down on my bed - and it was suddenly the next afternoon. Slept straight through like 18 hours or something.

As we continued shooting, I started to become friends with some of my fellow extras – hanging out off set and such. I decided that we all needed to work on something – and I consequently started coming up with a script idea that we might work on together – some in front of, and some behind the camera. I’m still friends with some of these guys – so that was one definite benefit of working on the movie.
Dabney Coleman and Brad Dourif

I went to see the movie as soon as it premiered some months later. After all that time on set, I didn’t think you could assemble a movie from the footage shot and not include me – but they basically did. My truck driving is in there – though I’m not visible behind the wheel; I’m in the news crews crowd scenes – somewhere; and there is precisely one shot of about 10-12 news crew people looking astonished – and there I am, for about seven seconds. I’ve never rented the movie to freeze frame the scene – I need to do that and shoot a picture off the screen to put in here.

The movie was reworked a fair amount after the fact – in particular, the ending, which has Chief Coleman get his comeuppance from Tracey Walter’s tracking dogs – was added through a reshoot in California later. I don’t even know what the original ending was – as I never saw anything approaching a complete script. The movie was merely okay for all that star power – Jackson hadn’t yet found his full-on angry edge – which would have added immeasurably to the movie…and Cage ran roughshod over director Frye – looking too over the top and playing the character a bit broadly. For every funny bit that works – there are two or three that don’t. I love Frye’s script for Something Wild – but I think this movie shows why he hasn't gone on to become a well known name in movie directing.

One last story – one night while helping Cyndie Williams with something around the extras tent – she introduced me to her boyfriend Ken – our caterer. And she said “This is Craig Edwards. He’s one of our extras, but he’s been a great guy helping me out – and I’m going to hire him on my next show.”

Would she make good on her promise? You’ll have to come back to read the next post in this series to see!

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!