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Geoffrey Gould
Reports from the set/s...
"Even Money"
[formerly "Jump Shot"]

Monday January 31, 2005
I'd been between temp assignment for a little over three weeks and had just completed a fun day of work in the Téa Leoni, Jim Carrey (and Dean Parisot directed) comedy Fun With Dick and Jane, remake the previous Friday.
The super Tammy Smith had booked me on Fun With Dick and Jane, and I'd set her number on "lock" on my pager (in case there was an emergency, I'd have handy her number). Normally I remove it when a project is done. When my pager went off, the only number was hers. My voice-mail had no new messages, so I risked calling and sure enough, it was Tammy who had paged me, asking after my availability for a probable five day gig for a new film Jump Shot,
Directed by Mark Rydell, the project stars Danny DeVito, Kim Basinger, Carla Gugino, Cassandra Hepburn, Shanelle Workman (the latter having the dubious honour of being in one of the worst movies ever made: The Skateboard Kid [suggested by a friend who actually worked background on it], a film so wonderfully awful that to demonstrate our MSTie-prowess, friends and I got together and MSTie'ed it without having previously viewed it), Forest Whitaker, Nick Cannon (who was the voice of Louis the Mouse in the Garfield movie on which I worked), Kelsey Grammer, Ray Liotta and Jay Mohr.
Tammy indicated the possibility of a recall as well, which would be very nice indeed. I called the hotline, got my 8am calltime (Tammy had already told me it was at the Ambassador Hotel on Wilshire near Normandie: I knew the location well), and I was set.

Tuesday February 01, 2005
I arrived for my 8am calltime at 7:20am.
The night before I was already nearby the Ambassador, and a security guard (albeit for next door), had told me the front entrance would be open. So I did go through that way, and recalled my way through the labarynthal passages, helped by "catering" signage. I soon found breakfast and due to my being so early, had my breakfast, during which I found out where they would be signing in people.
I headed up and was signed in and got my voucher. Tammy showed and spotted me. As she was taking to someone, she gave me me a huge smile and wave and a quick, "Hi, Badge!"
Thankfully I have no problem with this. I don't know why it is, but the more people are familiar with me and/or become closer friends, they begin to abbreviate or augment my Badger moniker (to "Badge," etc., and often independently females occasionally to frequently call me "Badger-babe").
Wardrobe liked my outfits: my blue flannel shirt for early, and for the later shot, a blue Hawaiian shirt. I could wear my hat for the first outfit, not the second.
It had somehow been decided to move holding closer to the set. The background performers who had not brought their own chairs were brought to the "old holding" (next to the catering truck), and were to carry their own "provided" folding chair up on which to sit at the new holding.
"Craft Services" had to relocate as well, much to their grumbling and complaining. This is probably why craft services provided next to nothing for us throughout the day.
The casino set was right next door to us, separated by an open patio. As I stood facing out, my back to the door to the set, something rather forcefully brushed past my left arm. The sensation was strong enough not to just move but to shove the fabric of my shirt. The sensation took just long enough time that I could look down and see the fabric resuming its position from being pushed. It was as though I had been in someone's way, and my shirt had caught on their passing. There was no wind on the bright and sunny day, and I first glanced up at the tree, then down to the tiled floor. There was nothing that had fallen from the tree and grazed me. I thought about it for about a minute, and deduced what must have happened, having had other unexplained experiences before.
Tammy came up and was chatting away with us, and as director Mark Rydell happened to walk by us, Tammy relayed to us that he is very background-actor friendly. We also discussed how the Ambassador Hotel was where Bobby Kennedy was assassinated, at which point I asked Tammy casually, "So this place is haunted...?"
"Oh yes, absolutely," she said, indicating cold spots and (as she is somewhat of a [psychically] Sensitive Nature), experiencing strange feelings.
I told her about a little while earlier being brushed by something moving past me, but didn't get into my previous, more extensive ghostly encounter on another shoot.
It took a while, and some people went in and out of the set. The wardrobe woman has also asked me not to wear my pager as "that screams Background Performer Waiting For [His] Next Gig." But without my pager, I had little way to noting the passage of time.
I was brought in and we were all placed and set up just before lunch was broken at 2:30pm. I was placed in what's called Deep Background (meaning there's a very slim chance I'd be visible). While a brunette, frustrated Kim Basinger does poorly on a slot machine, and has to go get more money for it, I am off playing craps.
Movie productions that have casion scenes always work at hiring actors who possess actual casino experience and knowledge. So I was at a proper craps table with two other players as well as a full pit crew (two dealers, a stick man [one who pushes the dice with a stick so as not to touch them with his hands], and a pit boss). We used chips with which we bet and properly won or properly lost, and as one person seven'ed out, the next player took the dice, so I was tossing them quite a bit myself. The dealer opposite me wasn't As Into It as the othe dealers. The stick man had to remind him how much to pay off my wins.
It should be noted I love Las Vegas. When I go I go for the Fun Of It, but I do spend a bit of time at the tables. I don't throw away my money on slots or blackjack (as does the rest of my immediate family), I play roulette and craps. Roulette is my main game: craps I'd not played in so long I'd be concerned playing it without a refresher course. But here with our fake Real Game going, I was getting the hang of it again. I'd still want a quick refresher course if I wanted to do it in Vegas, but I wasn't doing so badly here. It was essentially A Simulation, and we continued to play at all times while we were at the table, whether the camera was rolling or not.
A while after lunch and a few takes, several actors were signed out early. Then it was learned that the next day, 50% of those working today (myself as well) were not being recalled the next day (and no definitive word if we'd be recalled at all). And to the slight annoyance of the casino dealers, they were be recalled... as casino patrons.
My table's pit boss theorized that the production wanted to make sure the casino dealer actors didn't find gigs elsewhere, and that retaining them as patrons, made sure they were essentially kept on a bit of a leash for when they needed them again as dealers.
I just knew I wasn't going to be working five days on this. Tammy had already left for the day. I figured she'd be deluged with calls about this, so I figured not to bother her myself. The story is the star, so I don't want to come off all complain'y. I'll be recalled or I won't. Tammy knows I'm available and this work isn't just some lark for me: that I will be always professional. (One real aspect of my work is to make look good the person who booked me...)
Key Second AD Peter Merwin reported how they/he wanted to keep as many of us there as much as possible, and told us we'd be working "all night." He was forced to keep trimming down those that were there as the evening went on, but he did ask for volunteers. Many who were tired of just sitting around took him up on the offer. Without any clarification I'd be used again after today, I remained in service to the project for while I was there.
As a Taurus, patience is my primary nature. Plus, I got to pass Danny DeVito as he headed to set (and found myself walking with him briefly at the end of the night when we did wrap).
We changed wardrobe and for my second scene, Danny DeVito is in the restaurant. I'm unsure if Kim is in there too. I believe that Kelsey Grammer is who I saw with crutches. During their scene, I could hear Danny's voice but couldn't make out his lines. There is applause at one point.
What second second AD Pamela Monroe had us doing were various crosses. With a cute sense of humour, she had me walk down an aisle towards the open doored restaurant. I am glancing at the slot machines that are in use. I am wearing a medium-dark blue Hawaiian shirt and black pants: no hat but my glasses are still on. As this shirt was worn untucked, I could wear my silent pager on my belt without it being seen.
At first I see "a friend" (a bemused, unsmiling elderly gent who resembled Buster Keaton if he were two thousand years old), and walk back to him. I see his small plastic bucket (more like a large cup) which is supposedly got much winnings in it. I make a move as though to take a few, and he comically slaps my hand. At least it's supposed to be comical. The guy didn't actually slap my hand until the final take. Up to then he kept making as though to slap, but he'd pull back, no matter how much I insisted he actually smack my hand. Pamela had given us the business to do, I do slapstick, slap my hand already!
At any rate, from there I return down the aisle and make a right (which will be screen left). After a few moments, I do a straight cross past the door and head back around up to Pamela and wait for the Back To One call.
After the rehearsals, as picture rolled, Peter had directed my crap table's pit boss and stick man (now already dressed as patrons) up my first aisle (e.g., their backs to the camera). The stick-man was in jet black, included a black fedora. He looked like a fugitive from a community theatre production of Guys and Dolls. The shaved-head pit boss now wore a golden satin-like shirt with a pattern of squares on it.
We wrapped and changed and headed back to the honey wagon. I'd already obtained a callsheet for the day (hence my guessing at Peter's name, but I did know Pamela's). We knew we were getting a sixteen mileage bump, smoke bump, five and a quarter overtime, and an hour and a quarter meal penalty (lunch finished at 2:30, so the next meal "should have been" by 8:30pm).
Not a bad day.
I am used to surly MTA bus drivers and non-arriving buses. I decided that as I was by the Wilshire/Normandie station, I could take it to Wilshire/Vermont and transfer to the Red Line to home. Thanks to surprisingly incompetent Red Line subway drivers (engineers?), it took me an hour to get home. The train to Wilshire/Vermont took a long time to arrive, but worse, arriving at the Wilshire/Vermont station at 10pm, the 10:06 train simply never arrived, and I had to wait for the 10:26 one.

Wednesday March 29, 2012
An Unexpected Update
I'd neglected to put this report on the updated site, as the project "wasn't important" beyond the paranormal experience aspect. As I was making reference to it on Facebook, I checked and discovered that the still never-released film had had a title change, to Even Money, which did little to nothing getting it into theatrical release.
But I checked anyway and with amusement discovered it had become a straight to DVD film. I was surprised it's even on Netflix so I tossed it to the top of my queue so in a couple of days I could see if there's a blur of me anywhere during the few scenes on which I worked.

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