"My work as an actor on location/set
is to have the Producer's and Director's visions
up on the screen...!"
- - Badger
Badger "in" John Hamburg's
Along Came Polly
Tuesday, December 10, 2002
When I got home from my day-job I checked my email to find:
Date: Tue, 10 Dec 2002 16:59:16
Subject: Ben Stiller Movie
From: Tammy Smith
I have been trying to reach you all day, but your line is busy... so I got
your email address off of the Extra's Casting Guild website.
I submitted you for the Untitled John Hamburg Project to be in a play within the movie (jesus christ superstar).
It will film during New Year's Week (12/30, 1/2 & 1/3).
Are you available and can you please call me right away and leave me a message regarding your availablity as soon as possible?
You were chosen to play Pontius Pilate.
It is extra work as an ensemble as the cast for the play, but you will be featured and it is a cool gig.
Please call as soon as possible...
Being hard-wired to be on a set, to me "anything" sounds like a cool gig; one doesn't have t'ask me twice
I returned the call and indicated my complete availability.
Tammy indicated a possible wardrobe fitting but that the December 30th date as certainly being a paid rehearsal day.
Originally the appointment that was set for the wardrobe fitting was to be at 10:00am at Universal Studios costume building.
I spoke with the costume designer who inquired if I had any clothing that could be considered having "just come in from work," and she was intrigued about my ACO (Animal Control Officer) coveralls and asked me to bring them.
Due to the easy (and bus'able) location) of Universal backlot, I knew I had enough time in the morning to bus up to my storage unit, find the coveralls, and still be early at Universal.
Then Tuesday I got a sudden page that the appointment was still at 10:00am Wednesday, December 18th, but at the Loofah Production base offices much farther away.
Only one bus went by it, the 108, but to get there by 10am, I had to leave my place around 8am, so so much for getting to my storage unit.
I arrived about 9:45pm and was fitted with several different Romanesque oufits, settling on a gold and mustard gold colour tunic and robes with similar but darker trim.
I was done relatively quickly, and the first to be fitted at all.
I asked about the wardrobe fitting voucher, about which they realized they had no idea.
I waited around for about fifteen minutes whilest the vouchers were found.
I filled out my voucher and was actually done and out 10:30am.
While I had been waiting (being the production offices, after all), I noted some sheet copies of Information, and took ntoe that (at least) December 30 (and surprisingly listed, the 31st) would be at the "1st Congregational Church at 6th and"
Only being a two day listing, their calendar program cut off the rest of the information.
I was told that I'd be contacted as to the call time and location of the first day of work (the rehearsal, December 30th).
At home I did a quick Internet search and found there "is a" First Congregational Church at 6th and Commonwealth.
I immediately tracked down which bus lines would get me there both from home and from my day job.
Friday, December 27, 2002
Realizing I'd received no word as to the call time and location of the first day of work, I left a message with Tammy Smith.
She got back to me with the number for the recorded information: she had been informed by the production company that everyone had been given the information at the fitting.
No one had.
The swift and efficient Tammy contacted her booked people and provided the information on the recording.
Sure enough, it was the same church about which I'd already learned, already making life a lot easier.
My call time on the 30th was 2pm.
I confirmed and then checked with
for transit info.
Apparently I could go to my 7:30am day job and leave at 1:00pm, bus up to 6th and the 6th Street bus would get me there by about 1:45pm for my 2pm call time.
Monday, December 30, 2002
I left my day job at 1:00pm and caught the bus up to 6th and the second immediately caught bus took me the few blocks to Commonwealth.
I signed in (a half hour early) for my 2pm call.
I was shown the holding area in the church downstairs gymnasium and brought up to hair and make up.
Back in holding while waiting, I met Joseph Wise, with whom I conversed at length.
Apparently in the morning they'd been filming people (audience members) milling about (lobby, with play programs, etc.).
They were wrapped enventually and we were brought up to wardrobe.
Joseph and I met Kimberly, a Fabio-haired mighty lumberjack of a man, not surprisingly from Washington state.
He and Joseph were each to be priests, and we all got into our respective costumes.
We were brought in and they were rehearsing the Jesus Christ Superstar title song at the crucifixion.
I did not point out incongruities I suspected (that the title song isn't the crucifixion scene, and I don't think King Herod attends the crucifixion either), as it's been a long time since I've seen the show back east (and I do not have handy the sound track).
Herod and I were placed far stage left (in the film it'd be the far right); no idea if we'll be visible and if so, for how long.
The actual sequence will be filmed Thursday and/or Friday.
Tuesday, December 31, 2002
I had set up my schedule to arrive at the station at 5:05am or so.
When I arrived at the station, the previous train was arriving so I caught it.
Emerging from the station, a lovely girl asked me which direction was 6th so she walked with me.
I had my bus schedule at figured I would probably arrive at the base camp just as the bus was arriving there, when the same girl asked if I knew if Commonwealth was within walking distance.
"You're headed to the John Hamburg movie set then as well," I told her, and the very pleasant Adrian and I walked together to the set.
She is new to the area (and even to acting), and she had been Taft-Hartley'ed into the role (of one of the Apostles), as a Day Player; awesome for such a relative newbie.
We signed in and headed over to breakfast where we stacked up on food.
As usually I had scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage.
Usually such have gallon jugs of skim milk: these guys had li'l individual half pint containers.
The one I chose may have gone bad it was awful.
Their chocolate milk was great, thankfully.
On our way back towards the honey wagon, Adrian introduced me to Toni Blair, who noticed my Starfleet patches on my jacket.
It turns out she captained a ship (Starfleet chapter) back in (Oklahoma?) but with nothing with which to write it down, I did not get the chance to commit to memory the "long" name of her ship.
The others showed up and after approval from wardrobe we were shown to Holding.
I was taken up to hair and make up and done up as Tammy Smith showed up for make up, amused and pleased she had been given a cameo role.
From holding we went up to the auditorium where one of the rehearsal scenes was shot.
I "had made the mistake" of showing wardrobe my "alternate choice" (a light blue mechanic shirt), which they chose over my ACO coveralls.
Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Sandy playing Judas (unintentiionally coming across like Frank Conniff as TV's Frank), ruins the rehearsal scene by suddenly singing the lines meant Jesus in the What's The Buzz? song.
Understandably, the actor playing Jesus (as well as the rest of the cast) is surprised.
The small Asian actor playing Jesus interupts, reminding Sandy that the song is for Jesus, and Sandy is playing Judas.
Sandy slowly builds, pointing out that he is the lead, it is his presence in the show that "puts buttocks in the seats," and while he realizes the song isn't "technically" his, it was "a moment" and he'd "decided to go for it," adding that they (Jesus and the rest) should "shut [their] A Holes and let [Sandy] "rock out."
The cast is stunned into silence by the outburst, as Sandy casually but firmly addresses the table in front of the stage: the director and stage manager (the latter being Tammy), demanding [the song] start from the top
I have no idea of I will be visible in this scene.
When Jesus begins to interupt Sandy, I cross from the left to two empty chairs between the piano and the director/stage manager table and I stand there and watch in amazement at the outburst.
Kimberly and Joseph sit behind the director/stage manager table doing stretch exercises until the outburst and they stop to watch and listen.
Ben Stiller comes in from the back in time for and to his horror, witnesses the outburst.
Soon other angles were used and I was (obviously out of frame enough) not to be needed directly on set, so I watched by a working yet "abandonded" monitor in the back area.
Eventually those on the auditorium floor also were no longer needed for the moment and the cameras began to focus on the stage players.
Before we headed back down to holding, Phillip did his outburst with (improvised?) variations, including but not limited to correcting the Jesus actor's mispronunciation of Judas, and indicating that he (Sandy) could have played Jesus (had he wanted to), but allowed the other actor to have it "as a break, as he clearly needed one," and reiterated Sandy could have played Jesus, demanding of the Jesus actor to state that (Sandy) was Jesus.
It was all very evil and hilarious.
I also deduced at the time that the crucifixion scene we rehearsed of "the performance" may be Sandy's come uppance; as someone else is playing Judas in the "actual performance" and that Sandy is relegated to the show's distant background.
Lunch came at 12:30pm (the slight lateness which should create a small meal penalty).
At lunch Tammy showed us all her utterly adorable 7 week old black pug puppy.
Captain Toni Blair
and I discussed some Star Trek: she has little intention of seeing the sad excuse of a "final film of a series," Star Trek: Nemesis, the coming attraction being enough to put her off seeing it.
A relative newlywed, due to her being booked on this gig (also a Day Player), and "not being able to afford not to take it," off celebrating their honeymoon in Florida were her husband and his brother
Adrian didn't know the area enough to know if she had any plans for New Year's Eve this evening.
Toni indicated that with her own husband out of town, she probably have a glass of champagn in their hot tub.
I chuckled with amusement, pointing out I'd probably be in my sleeping bag with my cat sleeping in my arms
After lunch Joseph learned the possibility that, due to a SAG provision of which we were generally unaware, due to our working a single project the day before and the day after a "SAG recognized" holiday, it seemed we might be paid for January first, even though "not working" it!
Before we wrapped, Tammy confirmed indeed we would be paid (extra equal compensation for labour) for the January First holiday!
We were wrapped at 2:30pm.
Joseph offered to drive me home, and on the way offered to take me to my Sherman Oaks rental box.
There I recovered my day job paycheck for last week's labour and for the wardrobe fitting.
As the Bank of America of late has been screwing up my account again, I figured to start cashing my checks first.
Being the end of the month, I had already put aside enough that with the current checks have the amount with which to pay for January rent.
With five days' film work pay to which to look forward, February rent might be able to be paid mid month.
Joseph dropped me at the Hollywood check cashing place I needed, and once I was back at my flat I took care of January's rent.
Thursday, January 02, 2003
With an 11am calltime, for a few hours I went to work at my day job (which starts at 7:30am).
To our collective surprise, we (the Tammy Smith JCS Costumed / Featured Background Players [TSJCSC/FBP]
) weren't used today; upon our arrival we noted they had audience members, and clearly in the morning they'd been filming "pre-show" stuff (audience members arriving, etc.).
Eventually they began working in the hallways with principal players, one of whom (I learned from her stand-in) was
We learned that the shots they were trying to get "weren't working," and they were several shots behind, and time wise they were way behind.
We relaxed and waited.
After lunch Tammy Smith made an announcement that as [the crew] had no idea as to what time they'd be finished, she'd be changing her outgoing call time number and for those booked for the next day to call and check it around 10pm.
The audience was wrapped while we (the TSJCSC/FBP) were to wait patiently in holding until later in the evening.
When it was clear to the crew they'd be going very late into the night, we were wrapped around 8pm.
I'd later learn the crew wrapped about an hour or hour and a half later.
The A.D. who signed us out had earlier informed us that it was her First Day (on this shoot).
As each of us were given our part of the signed vouchers, with strong conviction she repeated to each of us firmly that our collective call time the next morning was 7:00am.
Again, Joseph was kind enough to scoot me home in his car as it was barely out of his way (he's over near the Western Red Line Station).
Knowing how early we would each have to be at the shoot in the morning, the entire TSJCSCFBP group individually (at our respective domiciles) got to bed relatively early
Friday, January 03, 2003
Rising at 5:10am, I was shaved, showered and off to the Red Line by about 5:45am.
I arrived at Base Camp about 6:10am, figuring many of the audience background would be showing up, and I preferred to avoid long lines (particularly for breakfast).
Base Camp was dead.
No lights, and apart from a security guard or three scattered about, no activity.
I began to suspect I was Too Early, even for me.
By 7:00am, Joseph, Kimerbly, Byron and Micah had all arrived, curious as to what was what: I informed them that I'd just learned from an audience background person (who, wondering the same thing himself, called the Tammy confirmation line about which none of us had thought to do), and learned the New Calls Times,ours having been moved to 9:00am !
They were as stunned as I had been.
None of us had rememebered or thought to call the number as having wrapped so late (an hour before Everyone Else did of the crew, et al), we were not told, "Your call time is 7:00am but remember to call the recorded line Just In Case."
Even several of the Day Players had been told 6:00am when they wrapped after us, and they had not been informed as to any call time change either. We were told our call time was 7:00am, with surity and finality.
The guys inquired as to it, but the same A.D. who gave us our call time refused even to pretend to sympathize about it, mistakenly claiming the (single) announcement, made several hours prior to our being wrapped, was made "several times" (notwithstanding that in reality it had been announced to the room only once
We were all flummuxed, none of us still having the number given to us two weeks earlier.
However, no more inquiries after it were made, our being pleased enough that we were being paid for the January first holiday.
I had my scrambled eggs and we went inside after getting our vouchers.
Our little group of stage folk got our second vouchers so we'd get the January first holiday earnings (for our having worked the day[s] before and the day[s] directly after the SAG-recognized holiday).
Knowing we'd not be needed for several hours, wardrobe had us hold off getting changed.
We settled in.
Between reading chapters of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire for the umpteenth time, I snoozed in my green folding camping chair.
For various shots, groups of audience background went up and back and up and back as they filmed the sequences in which Sandy and the actor playing Jesus physically come to blows, the scuffle making its way onto the stage.
We broke for an hour lunch at 1:30pm pork and some sort of ziti and banana cake for dessert!
Banana cake was my traditional birthday, which I've not had in years.
It was as fantastic as the (based on results, discontinued) Sara Lee banana cakes we would consume.
On the food line I met Joshua um West(?): d'oh I did have with me anything with which to write down his surname.
If I run across him again I'll update this bit.
As it was, the affable young fellow is very new to acting so he has less to "unlearn" about the business, so I told him (and later gave him the hard copy information) on the informative
Eventually my little group got into our ornate costumes.
Once we were being brought upstairs, but it turned into a false alarm and we were herded back to holding.
We managed to enroll someone to take photos of us together with our respective cameras.
When a massive break took place, I went up to say hi to Adrian and Captain Toni (I also got kisses from Tammy's on hand adorable little pug Harley).
Around 5pm or so, The Call came down.
Our little Jesus Christ Superstar cast group were brought upstairs to set and told to sit "up front."
We actually got put into the fifth row or so.
We watched them filming close ups of the actors for during their show's "final number" and their curtain call, the actual JCS musical having a lot more show to go.
My original deduction turned out to be inaccuate, btw: Sandy does change (at one point having been fired from the show altogether), and somehow comes to realize Teamwork or such and gets himself somehow back into the show as part of the chorus.
We watched as Our Scene was being filmed without us in it.
What was the deal, we wondered.
At one point Joseph and I jokingly felt they had brought us up to be shown In What We Weren't Being Included.
Joseph began to deduce correctly from a few of my glances to him that it was becoming clear that We Were Being Excluded and Not Going To Be Placed/Filmed.
Returning from the bathroom, My One Chance presented itself to speak with director John Hamburg as he happened to be standing in the row directly in front of our costumed group as the cameras were being set up.
Before I sat back down, I managed to get his attention and, shaking his outstretched hand, introduced myself and told him,
"I just wanted to thank you and also let you know that
sends his warmest regards."
His eyes slightly widened at the name as he replied, "Wow, you know Brian?"
"Yes, he wanted me to Say Hi when he found out I was working with you.
When the funding comes through for his
Ride With The Dragons
film, I am booked to play the father,Peter Harris."
He congratulated and thanked me and politely returned to his own work.
Joseph later told me that his impression was that the director seemed to come across as "feeling a bit awkward" talking with me.
I took the same hastiness merely as Being Busy, but even I cannot discount the possibility that director John Hamburg realized that our group, all sitting right there in front of him, were Not Being Used
I had no intension of asking why we were not being used: I'd relayed the message as I committed to do.
Audience chairs began getting arranged back so the audience could be brought back up.
I glanced at Joseph and jokingly wondered, "Think they'll notice us when they get to this row?"
Sure enough, when they got to our row, we were sent to the back.
I spoke with Toni, who gave me her email address (which later I learned I did not remember correctly).
"Well you can always email me via my husband," she added.
When she gave me his email address, I recognized it.
"Wait a minute," I asked.
"He attended the networking event at the Myron Estate a few Sundays ago, right?"
"We both did," she clarified.
"I ran registration for the event," I pointed out.
"That's why I thought you looked familiar!" she exclaimed.
I told her how I'd noticed his bright green business card and glanced at it, and how it was pretty nigh impossible (for me) to forget a URL like
The next day I'd check the site again and was amazed again at how much science fiction work he'd done (usually as aliens):
Star Trek: Next Generation,
Star Trek: DS9,
I was signaled by the main A.D. to "Come down to holding 'for a minute'"
"Uh oh," I realized.
"I think my guys and I are getting wrapped."
I asked Toni to say my farewells to Adrian if that were the case and I zipped downstairs where, in fact, we were thanked and told we were wrapped.
It was a strange mixture of disappointment and bafflement.
Kimberly, Joseph and I each figured That's The Business.
We got our vouchers done and we were shuttled to the car park from which Joseph again drove me home.
Only able to access email and Internet from work (where he's a computer consultant for a law firm), Joseph looked forward to checking my web site and staying in touch with me, echoing my own thoughts that email friends are great.
I did aptly warn him that via emails, he must expect Really Bad Jokes (word plays, puns, et al).
Tuesday, January 07, 2003
Date: Tue, 7 Jan 2003 13:51:33 EST
We wrapped at 10:00 pm, I believe.
That four days was the best four days I ever had!
It was a pleasure to meet you.
I am sorry that they did not use your little group after all.
I am afraid some of the decision was due to where they eventually placed me . . . they decided not to place someone on the ramp, since they had me all over the thing (although I assured them that I would be able to work it out with whomever they put there) . . . then they decided that there would be too many people on stage, in the way of the cross installment.
So, they cut the rest.
Not surprising; Such Things Happen and are all but to be expected.
Having actually worked the film (being filmed for and in the rehearsal scene), I will retain this page/project report until I see the finished film when it is released
October 13, 2003.
Thursday, August 15, 2003
Verifying other things, I checked and I see the current release date is scheduled for
January 16, 2004.
I was aware of it being finally titled
via Toni, and that John Hamburg hates the title and wants to title it
Sunday, September 14, 2003
As the movie title
is being used currently for a
thriller with the same title
when I checked the other day, I found the new/current title for the John Hamburg film as being Along Came Polly.
I am amazed I neglected to update this At The Time.
I did go to the see the finally titled
Along Came Polly
its opening day.
I liked it.
It is a very funny film (and despite predicatly poor "review," the film [somewhat unexpectedly] kicked butt at the box office).
The Jesus Christ Superstar subplot was shaved down almost to being eliminated.
(It should be interesting to see what Deleted Scenes are on the DVD.)
In fact, the final performance scene (in which Philip Seymour Hoffman is in the chorus) is eliminated.
Toni Blair is in the ending credits but she is in one Very Fast shot in the background while Philip Seymour Hoffman is in the foreground on the phone with Ben Stiller.
Ironically, "I" am "more visible" than Toni!
When Ben goes to the play, in the lobby he runs into the fellow who gave him Salsa lessons.
The two men hug and directly between them is the bulletin board with the Who's Who In The Cast photos.
It is unlikely it will translate to Full Screen, but in widescreen (theatres and the DVD), there is my headshot!
Right between the two mens' crotches....