In February 1999 I was chosen for background atmosphere work for the made-for-Showtime TV movie based on
Inherit the Wind,
Jack Lemmon and
(the already late)
George C. Scott.
I was costume fitted, had my hair shorne to 1920s style, and I waited, told it would entail weeks of work.
A few weeks later... in early March...
I had been booked and was Taft Hartley'ed as a principal for the SAG
Frito-Lays Star Wars tie-in commercial,
shooting Thursday March 12th.
Tuesday the 9th I got a call for a one-day walk-on for Inherit the Wind for the next day (March 10th).
My call time was 9:30am, but due to some car juggling (my then-girlfriend's car was in the shop and she needed my car with which to go to work if I was to go to the shoot), I got dropped off at the Santa Clarita Studios location at 7:00am.
I got signed in, got my wardrobe (sans jacket, which would be worn for the trial scenes), and they evened-out my out-grown hair.
On Stage 4 were some facade work as well as a small Town Hall meeting room in which such notable actors as
comedian Jim Meskimen,
would be acting.
In the short scene near the top of the feature, the mayor (played by
along with some local town commerce/business owners, worry about the Monkey Trial about to start.
I bring in a newspaper (announcing Scott's character coming to be prosecutor), and plunk it down in front of the Mayor, and I walk out thankyouverymuch.
They shot various close ups of the actors, etc., and there were a few takes in which I actually come in.
Mostly I sat in a chair outside the door with the prop newspaper on my lap patiently waiting for my cue.
My "big entrance" is about seven minutes into the film.
It does not show my departure; it shows me entering, and putting down the paper (the camera follows the paper).
That's it for me: apparently my character just
out of the scene.
A little after 2:00pm the scene was complete.
I was amazed, and realized I might make it back to Glendale on my own.
Dan Petrie Sr.
was about to walk out to lunch as well when I politely asked, "Dan: am I wrapped?"
He stopped, turned and looked at me.
"I never answer that question!" he said, semi-seriously (and loud enough to get everyone's attention as he related the anecdote).
"I once had had an actor ask me that and I said, 'Sure!'
Four hours later or so someone calls for the actor as we needed him... and I had sent him home!
That was over forty years ago!" he stressed.
"So I never... answer that question."
Meanwhile, at the time I actually did not realize that for the day's work I received my first SAG voucher!
I was wrapped officially by AD
who seemed surprised I was in such a rush to leave (as I could have stayed and had a free lunch) so I explained to her the situation.
As it was the bus got me to the RR station late, but the following train (over two hours later) got me there by the time she was finished work.
The rest of the shoot, March 15-30 (1999), went amazingly smooth.
The efficiency of the crew was second to none.
Unlike most film shoots, the trial scenes were filmed in sequential order.
That is, instead of a few days Only Of The Audience, then releasing us and reverse the angle when the audience is out of the shot, the scenes went all but line-by-line in order of the script.
This did not slow down the shoot.
In fact, about a week and a half into it, Scottie was asked how on-schedule we were.
She indicated we were about three hours behind; however, considering that original schedule projections put us at that time as a full day behind, our being "only" three hours behind was awesome.
In fact, we (the trial audience background), finished and were released at lunchtime a day prior to (anyone's) expectations.
At the end of the shoot, we the background were also given a "photo opp" of several of the principals and director Dan Petrie,
(who I also met that first day), etc.
It was during the time working this shoot that I had befriended pleasant
who played one of the jurors.
That last day Ray and I decided to get some Additional Photos (than the "official" photo opp), so we "snuck" backstage where we were able to get photos of
as well as a good shot of me with Dan Petrie and Jack Lemmon.
By one of the shuttle drivers, Ray had been given one of the van-shuttle card announcing it was for transporting Inherit the Wind background from the parking lot to the studio.
Ray had acquired on it several autographs such as Jack Lemmon's and Dan Petrie's, but he also wanted the imposing George C. Scott's autograph as well (as both actors' names were listed on it).
Concerned over asking for it (his having already acquired an autograph from Scott only the day before), he asked me to get it.
Scott's assistant took it into the trailer for him and George C. Scott did sign it.
At one point however, the trailer door was wide open and my last true sight of screen titan and
acting legend George C. Scott...
was his shuffling past the open trailer door, wearing nothing but socks, a white "wife-beater" t-shirt and underwear...
In the finished film I am nicely visible numerous times throughout the trial scenes; Ray Savage was invited to the screening at which it was shown letterbox and according to him I was "all over the place."
Showtime aired it full-screen, so clearly I am mostly visible in a letter-boxed version, were they ever to release it as a DVD.