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Geoffrey Gould
Reports from the set/s...

Sabrina the Teenage Witch

The then-WB

In mid September, 2000, I was booked for an episode of the TV series sitcom Sabrina the Teenage Witch in which once again I was to play a cult member of some kind, scheduled for a September 21st shoot. This was doubly ironic as not only would it be similar to my work on the Dude, Where's My Car? movie, but it turned out I would again be teamed up with my friend Michael Beardsley, with whom on Dude I also worked.

Sabrina the Teenage Witch
Paramount Pictures

Thankfully, what with the MTA bus strike going on at the time, Michael was gracious enough to give me a lift to and from Paramount, at which I had worked on the then titled Untitled Barber Movie, eventually titled The Man Who Wasn't There. Understandably I was apprehensive about any reaction I might receive with my "recent hair loss" from that feature film project a mere month earlier. The top of my head had been shaved for an Alpine Rope Toss fake-hair appliance.
[Thankfully there was no reaction or problem and it didn't prevent my being placed rather prominently.]

Michael Beardsley [this particular link goes to a 'Freaks and Geeks' site: the direct link to Mike's own site is via the banner at the bottom of the page]
Michael Beardsley
Melissa Joan Hart as 'Sabrina the Teenage Witch'
Melissa Joan Hart

September 21, 2000
On the Paramount lot, et al
As per our pre-planning, Michael picked me up at my place at 5:45am.
Arriving at Paramount for our 7:15am call at 6:30am (what with poor directions having us have to seek out the correct parking structure), we signed in first.To what to our wondering eyes should appear but Jim Goldthwait, pleasant A.D. with whom Michael and I worked on Dude Where's My Car?! Michael had earlier suspected Jim being a possibility for our both having been booked.
Jim mentioned to us that preliminary completion work on "Dude is so good" that it could be released in December 2000 instead of spring/summer 2001!
He also told us that director Danny Leiner apparently "stumbled" across my Dude page and that apparently he liked it! We figured most likely through the Internet Movie Database entry page for Dude that lists that page's URL.

Jim also gave us (those playing cult members) the Call Sheet and the script over which to look as we waited to go on set.
Phil LaMarr lookalike William (also a Dude cult member) was booked as well and also on hand was the lovely and pleasant Molly Hagan lookalike Rebecca (we didn't get her surname).
Yes, Melissa Joan Hart (Sabrina) is quite pretty in person. Meanwhile, veteran TV actor Soleil Moon Frye now plays the role of Roxie on the series... and has grown up astonishingly and eye-poppingly attractive. Also new to the regular cast is the friendly Trevor Lissauer as Sabrina's friend Miles.
Veteran actor Richard Klein guest stars as scamming cult leader Jim Thom. One of his victims is Chuck, played by the extremely affable instantly recognizable character actor Leslie Jordan, who was very pleasant the entire day, chatting with us on various projects on which he's worked such as Lois & Clark and Heart's Afire, etc. Principal actor cult members also included "newcomer" Danni Wheeler as the lovely Heather and Dave Engfer as Jason.

On the new season of 'Sabrina,' Soleil Moon Frye now plays her roommate Roxie: 'Punky Brewster' is HOT...!
Soleil Moon Frye

With our 7:15am calltime, we hung out at holding. At one point I went to craft services to get some sort of breakfast, during which I could hear Leslie Jordan being recorded for a video that would later be played back on a large screen TV in the cult room during our scenes. We actually began shooting our scenes around 10am and were on set about 98% of the time.
We had a walk-away lunch from 1:00-2:00pm; Michael went with me to Astro Burger a couple blocks west of Paramount Studios.
Michael and I also had sufficient time to wander the Paramount lot a bit, finding one of the sets to Star Trek: Voyager, seeing the exterior of what is used for interior shots of the Delta Flyer.
We also checked out the rest of the Sabrina sound-stage (Stage 12, btw) and saw the regular Spellman household sets: living room and stairs, as well as the second floor landing set leading to Sabrina's bedroom as well as to the closet used as the portal to the Other Realm.
The cultist group was wrapped at 7:06pm, and got pay bumps for wardrobe and for working in smoke (oil smoke was used for some of Jim Thom's entrances). Michael got me home just before 8pm.

The episode is titled Welcome, Traveler and directed by Brian Roberts.
(On the Call Sheet there was no mention of Frank Conniff still being series story editor; I'd figured perhaps only as he wasn't needed that day but it's been reported to me by my friend Dave Gold that Frank no longer is on their staff.)
Apparently, Sabrina's new college friend Miles is a loner and she encourages him to become more social. Inadvertently she ends up encouraging him to join a group which turns out to be a cult (and a scam cult, at that).
Run by a self-proclaimed New Age Guru Jim Thom (Richard Klein), his cult promotes inner peace while simultaneously promoting the members to give over their worldly possessions to him...
At one point Jim Thom later brings in Salem for his cult to witness.So while the animatronic cat was on hand during one of our scenes, the voice of Salem (Nick Bakay) was not, as Salem does not speak in the scene.
Michael and I got some great screen time, usually placed next to each other on the small cult room set.
First thing (with us) is Miles arrving with Sabrina and Roxie.Miles is greeted by Heather who brings him over to meet Jason, Michael and myself as Roxie leaves after she and Sabrina meet Chuck (the very pleasant character actor Leslie Jordan), who then comes over to us to meet Miles.
Later Sabrina comes in looking for Miles while we are all eating some mush (made of baked beans, rice and apparently [we were told], "turkey sauce"): in the script the dish called Mund Beans and rice. It was actually tasty, the baked beans being the prominent flavour. I had no problems with eating the stuff. At least it was nice and warm: it wasn't room temperature or disgustingly cold. In fact, I finished each serving I received (a mere large serving-spoonful given to each of us at the beginning of the take, and I think we did four or five takes). Few of the others ate any of theirs.
Hey, it's free food, folks...!

Now Michael had taken down some additional information from the Call Sheet to which we had access before it disappeared from the table. Accordingly, as he relayed in an email: [T]he Sabrina fifth season premiere is [September 22nd; the first on the WB...]
Michael and I Calculated that our episode would be on in a couple months: it's the 7th episode of the 5th season, putting it November 3rd, barring any re-runs in there or pre-empt it for a week.

November 3rd, 2000
The episode airs
All in all a cute episode in which certainly Michael Beardsley and I got some pretty good coverage. Michael frame-grabbed a few shots and emailed them to me.

Fifth season premiere of 'Sabrina' was September 22, 2000

Later Updates
Editing, truncating, updating and shifting the content to its new page here
The episode re-aired Friday December 22nd, 2000 and Friday May 18th, 2001, the third "first run repeat" following a new episode at the regular time.
In time for us to catch it, Mike notified me the episode's first syndicated airing of the episode as Thursday November 15th, 2001.

Tuesday February 17, 2009
DVD
Picking up developed film at Target, I discovered that the fith season of Sabrina had been released that day on DVD.

Frame grabs from the Season 5 DVD:

Meeting Miles
At left in blue shirt;
Mike Beardsley in striped shirt.
Meeting Miles Sabrina tries to explain that Jim Thom is a fraud
Sabrina tries to explain.
The Jim Thom cult Sabrina shows us the truth about Jim Thom Sabrina shows us the truth about Jim Thom
The Jim Thom cult
Jim Thom's cult as Salem is brought in
(next to Michael Beardsley, Leslie Jordan at far right).
Spellman living room set
Behind the scenes: the living room set.
Spellman closet door to the Other Realm
Behind the scenes: the closet door to the Other Realm.

Sabrina the Teenage Witch:
The Fifth Season

Sabrina the Teenage Witch:
The Complete Series
With Leslie Jordan at his 25 August 2008 SAG Conversations event
With Leslie Jordan at his 25 August 2008 SAG Conversations event.

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