The Incredible Adventure of a Paid Movie Extra...
This is the true story of a now unemployed radio Dj/wannabe actress who got the chance of a lifetime to appear in a real Hollywood movie filmed in Milwaukee;
OK, I'll cut the crap...
I wasn't always a "recently unemployed" radio Dj...Nope, there was that summer of 2003, when the late, great comedian Bernie Mac decided to film a movie about baseball in Milwaukee at Miller Park...I'm sure you've heard of it...Mr. 3000? No? You must not be from Milwaukee then...Obviously his film company was hoping for a repeat of movie magic left over from the 80's when another movie was filmed at Miller Park...another famous baseball movie called Major League starring Charlie Sheen...I'm sure you've heard of it...Yes? OK, then we're now on the same page...
As I mentioned before, this was the summer of 2003, and there wasn't a lot of news going on, or maybe there was but none of the news channels covered it...Nope, it was all about Bernie Mac filming a baseball movie here in Milwaukee and it was covered like the Second Coming......And when the news went out that they were hiring for EXTRA WONDERFUL PAID EXTRA'S...well, here it was, the proverbial brass ring and I was going to reach for it!!! And in June, 2003, it happened...and as another late, great radio announcer, Paul Harvey use to say, "and now for the rest of the story..."
My journey from radio DJ to (no one gives a crap) Paid Extra started with me going to a local hotel that was holding an "open call." I had had professional modeling photos taken of me 3 years before and I now looked nothing like them...it should of been a tip off when they looked at the photos, looked at me, looked back at the photos, and then hired me...it turned out they hired darn near everyone that came through the line that day...But that's OK right? It's a baseball movie...you need a lot of people...Bingo!
I spent the next three weeks at Miller Park working on this movie from 6 at night til 6 the next morning...and I'm embarrassed to tell you that at the very beginning of the shoot I was crazy enough to think I would somehow actually be discovered..."sure I'm a little plump and of well, average looks, but by GOD someone on that set is going to discover I can't act AND they are gonna make me a STAR!!! The only problem is EVERYONE on that set the very first day had EXACTLY the same thought...(and there were 60 of us that day - later the numbers swelled to 800 people)
I consider myself a realist, and by the third day I realized that there was ABSOLUTELY NO WAY that anyone would ever see me in this movie which freed me to think about much more important things like; "what's for supper"? (which on the movie set was served anytime from 11 pm to 2 in the morning...and usually involved some incarnation of boneless, skinless chicken)
So, as the glamour of being in a movie faded, I sat in Miller Park night after night watching the sun go down, and then coming back up 12 hours later and thinking about how I was never going to be famous and wondering if it was going to be chicken again for supper (it was, night after night after night--meanwhile, you could smell the steaks barbecueing outside for the real actors)...But, more importantly, I ended up making NEW friends who were just like me, real, non-famous people who were never going to become famous in this movie with names like Hollie and Zimdog and that chick from Midwest Airlines who had been laid off...freed from the burden of fame we resorted to playing card games and talking about what we were going to eat for dinner...One hint...tastes like chicken!!!
So, what did we do 12 hours at night sitting in the bleachers at Miller Park...you know, when we weren't eating chicken or talking about eating chicken?
Well, some nights it took the movie crew hours just to set up a shot and it seemed like sometime between 2 am and 3 am they would trot out Bernie and then they would film a scene...other nights they would trot us up and down the seats of Miller Park...shoot a scene...move us to another section of the ballpark...shoot the same scene again at another angle...and then again at...(you get the gist)...and we would cheer (but don't make any noise...(the sound effect guys would add that later)...look to the right...look to the left...jump up and cheer...(please people...NO NOISE!)..."OK, we have the shot"...now back to the subject of food again...The coolest nights were when Paul Sorvino or Chris Noth showed up...then someone would yell "HEY PAUL!" Or "HEY BERNIE!" They'd wave, and then someone from the film crew would call someone from security and the person who yelled would be ejected from the movie...
And that's about it...that's all the dirt and everything...Yeah, being a "paid extra" is one of those things I'll always be glad I did even if it did ruin the glamour of movie making...in fact, for me it ended up ruining movies and TV shows altogether because now I'm so busy looking at the people in the background that I miss what the MAIN actors and actresses are doing...(look at the young guy in the background holding a glass of wine pretending to talk to that middle age woman in the pink dress...I bet he's eating chicken later!)
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