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YouTube link added 01.29.09
6:45 PM, Wednesday, October 11th, 2006:
Cold sweats are just weird. Anyone know why they happen? Would love to understand that whole thing a bit better.
So yeah, that whole sleeping thing last night didn't work out. I was horizontal but it made little difference. The unending shakes, then sweating profusely, annnnnd repeat. Do that for 2 hours and now you have a headache. Throw in phonecalls every couple of hours because you have to keep your cell phone on for your alarm at 4:30 AM - delightful. I just succumbed to the fact that I wasn't going to actually sleep and just tried to be as quiet and peaceful as possible.
Later on it was time to wake up, walk 20 minutes to a subway, take that for 15 minutes, walk a bit more, then take a van to New Jersey for the 7 AM call. A dry heave here and there, but goddamnit I did it. There was simply nothing that was going to keep me from being on that set yesterday. I felt like a New Yorker. Hell I've lived here for nearly a month and am now buying groceries instead of eating out. That vacation mode is slipping into just livin'. This was just another commute, albeit quite the struggle with how sick I was.
Get to the pick-up point and there's Max Casella (Benny from the show), but unfortunately you'll remember him as Vinny from Doogie Houser. I have to admit that "Hey Doog" entered my mind the moment I saw him. I'm sure he just LOVES that. The other people waiting were background just like me and were actually quite a drag. Complaining about the early call, pissed about all sorts of little stuff. These are the lifers. These are the group of people that have been doing background for 20 years. They do it because it's an easy gig and have given up on it becoming anything more. This is their job at the factory and they do it begrudgingly. When I did background before in 2002 everyone was so young that they still had a bit of hope... but this was an entirely different crew. They only thing they hoped for was something that would make the day end early because they get paid their 10 hour rate no matter what.
So the van took us to the Satin Dolls strip club where we were able to load up on some breakfast and then wait to be situated. I got a look at the sides (rundown of call times and the script) and was pretty excited because I was gonna be in THREE SCENES and Tony, Paulie and Sil were in all of them. No Christopha, but I'll live right?
They took the SAG background first and I realized that they were getting the primo spots, they then came back up and hand picked a few more background for more prime spots at which time I just came down anyway because I figured the guy would forget. Good move. I got the last "bar" spot and a primo angle on camera. Had I waited I would've been standing in the back with the last group. It was an intensely large group, I believe 50 extras in all. It took several hours just to put everyone in their place and give directions. 3 hours before the principals even showed up. But finally they did...
First Paulie (and those wings), Sil, then Benny...and no Tony. I actually didn't even notice because my eyes were glued to Paulie. I mean, I'm sitting in the Bada Bing, holding a beer and Paulie walks in. What the fuck. Also I'm sitting at THE part of the bar. If you watch the show, whenever anyone walks in - it's where Tony always meets with 'em. I made no attempt not to stare. I stared a lot.
So they set-up the shot and do a rehearsal and it still doesn't occur to me that Mr. Gandolfini hasn't shown up. We got our directions from the AD (oggle the stripper was actually uttered as a direction), and we were, uhm, concentrating on our job. And then they said they were gonna roll a take. So they just had a guy say Tony's lines off-camera and picked up what they could. Strangest part of the shoot? The robes for the strippers. There must be some law about the amount of time they can be legally topless because it was like a ticking clock. Anything over 60 seconds it seemed like the wardrobe people would burst in and give them their robes. !?!? Even the strippers seemed somewhat annoyed by it. They'd say "rolling", they'd take of their robes, and if they didn't yell ACTION within 10 seconds? Robes back on... then they'd say it again - robes off... this constant juggling act. It was kind of comical.
Of course I was in this weird place of watching The Sopranos in ultimate surround-o-vision. It was so fuckin' cool guys. Hearin' Sil and Paulie saying "What the fuck" to my right as I watched a Bada Bing Girl...so surreal. What I wouldn't give for a picture of me on that set. The wardrobe lady did take one, but I can't image I'll ever be able to get that. I was able to take a picture of the bar while they were almost completely tore down, but it's not like it's a big deal - it's a public place:
I'm ahead of myself, but unfortunately not too far ahead of myself. All of the sudden, after only an hour of shooting they yell "That's a wrap". And I went back upstairs to change for the next scene. Uhm, nope - they had to scrap the entire day. Tony wasn't comin' at ALL. Something obviously happened. I knew there were contract issues before but I thought they were cleared up.
What really sucks? Getting "The Bing" is apparently very, very difficult and incredibly expensive. Add to that, this was a HUGE group of people for 2 really big scenes. It seems pretty obvious that I was a little pawn in a big power move. If you want to show your muscle, this is the day you don't show up. The Sopranos rarely has more than 5 people in any room at any given time. Now I dont' know that. But had it been anything else, like a sickness or whatnot...they wouldn't have gone through what they went through. It's pretty clear that they had no reason to believe he wasn't going to show up - so they set everything up, all the other principles were there, ready to go... they even rehearsed and shot some things as if he was gonna come at any moment... and the finally just called the whole day.
The worst part was? Everyone was HAPPY. Fuckin' lifers! Yay! We just worked 3 hours and got paid for 10! YAHOOO!! Even the handlers said:  "Don't get too used to this, this NEVER happens...but you guys are already done for the day!!" Wahoo!!! Happy times! We didn't have to sit at the BADA FUCKING BING and watch an episode of The Sopranos from INSIDE THE TELEVISION. Thank the fuck christ huh? How lucky can we get?!?!
Dumbasses. LOL. Still though, the 90 minutes I got to sit on-set with Paulie and Sil, and watch them was a fuckin' riot. They are those characters. I watched 'em staring at one of the strippers and Paulie is talking to Sil and curving his hand to show that he likes her ass, and Sil is laughin'. It was so fun to turn your head and watch that, then turn your head and watch the stripper... It was like being a cameraman during the "off-times" in a Sopranos episode. And amazingly, it didn't take away the magic. Like, I first saw Paulie going into a trailer and it seemed really...wrong you know? But on-set - you were IN the Sopranos. They all sat there and acted exactly like you would've expected and it was fun as hell. GOD I want to go back...
...which I most likely will be asked to. They all but said they need the exact same background back and took specific notes on where we all were at the bar because they know they need to redo the scene - but man, it could be weeks from now. No way they fly in background for that. All I can hope is that it's during the week I'm in Ohio, because I can get a round trip for $100 and be there and back within 24 hours.
But honestly, what a cool fuckin' moment. And if they do use anything they shot today, the AD said we were in the shot - so that's exciting. Hell it doesn't even matter. It's a memory I'll have forever and I just can't thank Charlotte enough for being able to arrange that for me. I was able to snag a souvenir for her as a thank you.
Thanks a million.