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YouTube link added 01.29.09
1:59 PM, Wednesday, October 18th, 2006:
As I went to sleep I saw my beloved Bears down 23-10 with 9 minutes left in the 4th quarter. They were undefeated and I was parallelling their unfathomable fairy tale with my own and thought to myself: "Well, at some point it all does come down to earth, at least they're 5-1..."
"...and if by some miracle they win this game then there's really no denying how unbelieveable this month has been."
When my phone went off at midnight and I saw it was Marty Moose, I didn't even have to answer (nor was I going to, Sopranos in 5 hours), I knew: They won 24-23. I just laughed as I drifted off to sleep.
I woke up yesterday morning and checked Espn.com and amazingly they did it. The most unprobable of comebacks down 23-3 they somehow keep my ridiculous winning streak alive. I just giggled merrily as I headed out to have the day of my life.


It was a ridiculous version of Deja Vu to start out of course. I wasn't as deathly ill as last time and it occured to me that Mr. Gandolfini called in sick while I dragged my ass in at $7.50 an hour. He makes $1,000,000 an episode. LOL. I guess maybe that's the point. Whatever, I still think it was a power-move on his part. We were way too far into the shoot for sickness to be the reason. Who knows. Everyone in the van was still buzzing about the "wonderful" day last week.

And let me just get the whole "background" part of this out of the way. I touched on it in the last entry, but yesterday was ten times worse...
You guys are BACKGROUND. I don't care if you've got a SAG card...today, you're playing the part of "blurry man behind Tony Soprano" so shut the fuck up already. That's what kills me about this crew of people! They are actually snobs. I mean, legitimate fucking attitude. "I've been doing this for 27 years" was actually uttered today...and it wasn't thought of as a bad thing. Most of them aren't even aspiring actors, they just think they have some leverage because they have been in CROWD shots their whole life.
And the set treats 'em different too! Like, they get to eat first in their LUNCH line. I mean what the hell, has it come down to this? Levels of seperation between BACKGROUND? And the worst? None of them had ever seen the SHOW and said it with pride as if that would make them "amateurs". Who involved in the entertainment industry would ever brag about skipping The Sopranos? AHHH - Enough...
Click me I'm HUGE!
I was here for one reason. Tony Soprano. I've never loved a television character more. To me being on the last few episodes of The Sopranos is like being on the last few episodes of Cheers, All in the Family - hell being in the lockeroom with Michael Jordan and the Bulls the year they won 70. Just moments that are etched into time that seem timeless. Certainly you'll be able to see James Gandolfini on other sets, but it'll never again be as this character in this setting with this crew. I was in a goddamn candyland and it was about to get even crazier.
Obviously, cameras aren't allowed on set...but as was the case with Jordan signing my jersey in 1995, this transcends those rules. You risk this. You weigh the worst that can happen and you jump. These pictures, souvenirs and memories will mean more than "being good". And, I'm really goddamn good at finding "holes" in sets as it was my #1 goal to get pictures and/or video of as much as possible...
...so I snuck my videocamera onto the set while at the bar and just flashed my jacket open when the opportunity presented itself. Initially the wardrobe people just said to wear my shirt, but I figured I could at least take the jacket and put it on the back of my chair. I ended up wearing it for the scene.
This is where you realize "The Game" as a background person. You get seated, but haven't the fuckiest idea what's gonna be shot. Once you're there, and they do a take - you ain't movin', so for the hours of takes all you're doing is this abstract form of spacial geometry. Seein' where the camera is gonna see around the principles, off certain mirrors and where you should edge left or right to be in the shot...somehow.
The guy I was with, Neil, was quite a bit bigger than me and had a great shot at being seen because when he jumped up to root for the game, he towered over me. In one shot the camera was facing Tony & Paulie (where the TV is) so I think we'll both be very noticeable...as shadowy figures behind Tony. And that's alllllllll ya want.
BTW - the last 2 pictures are of Tony throwing peanuts at the Directors and then Paulie pointing at T as if to say: "It wasn't me!" It was surreal to watch them interract when the camera was off exactly as they would in the show.
Then, on a re-shoot they needed just the South Side of the bar (I was north side). Then they weren't sure so they brought the North side down... then they agreed with their first thought and sent us all back upstairs...
...except me. I saw a chair open on the North Side and jumped on it and FROZE. I knew I wasn't in the shot but if I just stayed still, no one would notice and I just wanted to be on-set as much as possible. So they started shooting the scene from an angle behind them and I was able to get the whole scene from my jacket. I was scared shitless. After the scene I closed my coat and kept watching everything when the unthinkable happened:
Tony turns around (sorry, Gandolfini) hunches down on that railing and stares me dead in the eye. I was only aout 10 feet from him. As serious as a heart attack he shakes his head "no", slowly, left to right about 5 times. He had somehow seen that I had a camera. I, was, frozen. I shook my head back to him in the most submissive: "I understand, I am retarded, I have piss running down my leg, please don't whack me" head shake I could muster and he just kept on staring.
In my mind I thought, well this was what you were risking. You had to try, here's how it worked out. He then stands up and I see him talking to one of the sound guys and then the sound guy looks at me. I'm fucked. Right at that moment they tell all background to go back to holding and I JET.
Suddenly I'm in a James Bond movie and I have to get to a private place to switch out the tapes so if they confiscate my camera or the tape inside I'll have the real, secret tape. My heart is pounding through my chest and my hands are shaking ridiculously. I went into the bathroom and switched the tapes and then just had to videotape my hand...
To have Tony Soprano stare me down like that may be one of the coolest moments of my life. It was like I was at the Sopranos Theme Park and I had just done the "Tony scares the shit out of you" ride. Yeah I was scared, my heart was racing and my hands were shaking...but it was fun!!! I went out on the roof (right off the holding room) to call everyone to tell them what just happened and I saw him walking back to his trailer - I figured might as well keep pushing it.
Don't Click me, I get no bigger... :-(
While staying on the roof to get this shot and the first shots from the entry with my good camera - I MISSED being in the next scene. They called all non-SAG people to be in their final scene and wouldn't ya know I fugged up. Wouldn't you also know that this was fated? Wouldn't you also know that had I gone down with them I would've ruined the best part of the story?
So we break for lunch and the non-sag go back down to finish up the scene and when they come back up they wrap ALL NON-SAG. This was my cue to act...like I was sleeping. I "slept" through about an hour of signing off on the non-SAG people, the announcements of "Only SAG here now, right?" EVERYTHING. In my mind I was conjuring up how I was gonna pull this off. A lot of people assumed I was SAG because I just "looked" like an actor, but I told them the truth. Silly me. And of course the girl who signed me in and out KNEW I was non-union...but that was it. So I changed into my 2nd outfit, took off my hat and made my hair all..."Living Room Live" and when she said she was taking the SAG actors down I jumped ahead of everyone and lead the way. She didn't notice. Heart racing time. I knew that all I had to do was sit at the bar and be silent until that first take and then they're not gonna touch me.
That's when I get a tap on the shoulder. (sigh).
"Alright, I need you...and you. Walk out of the club while putting your jacket on in front of Tony as he walks in and then exit past him."
Any background guy will tell you, that's what you're praying for. There will be no "I think that's my head", you will see me in a Sopranos episode right before Tony walks in and starts yelling at Georgie. No ifs, ands, or buts. We also ended up doing the scene like 17 times, each time I nearly run into Gandolfini, brushing up against him, and one time I hit him with the 2nd door because he was late on his cue - it was the shit. :-)

Afterwards I was able to shake his hand and said "nice workin' with ya". He kinda smiled and laughed as he said "nice workin with you too". To Sopranos fans it was that look. When Tony is being sarcastic and is making fun of you? It was like:  "Oh we worked together just then? I thought you just walked past me." LMAO. But ya know, he could've had me removed very quickly and didn't. It was very cool of him. A couple asked for pictures, I did not...

...wonder why?!! Yeah, there was just no way after all of that, that I was gonna bring out my video camera and point it at his face. Even the thought of what he'd do makes me cringe. I snuck the one dark shot of him posing with the camera by my side, but again - knew very well not to ask for anything more. Being in the scene with him was enough for me.
Got one final shot as he was walking away, and that ended my day on The Sopranos...

I ran upstairs and grabbed my stuff and made one last walkthrough of the set to see if I could pick up any souvenirs. Got a few more call-sheets and grabbed a certain something I knew was seen in the last shot...
May I never drink another shot from any glass other than the one from the Bada Bing that I got the day I was on The Sopranos, October 17th, 2006. One day in the midst of an unbelieveable month. A month of absolute miracles, absolute perfection and a month that made me believe in never giving up the dream. Everyone has this month in them, but we stop ourselves before we can live it sometimes.
Goodbye again NY.
Thanks for the memories...
...and the life partner
...and the career
...and the inspiration for the rest of my life.