29 January, 2010

Carousel 2.0

"The world belongs to you as much as to the next fella-- don't give up..."

27 January, 2010

The LA Times

Enjoy this little feature on Carousel 2.0 and myself in the

It has been a total joy returning to my birthplace.
More on the entire experience to follow (after our opening tonight!)

What a surprise and what a homecoming.

10 January, 2010

Law & Order

I am the self-proclaimed doyenne of a few things. (I will now, with excessive pleasure, list these things in numerical points... as I am want-to-and-ever-so-fond-of, doing.)

1. Lists
2. Raspberry Jam
3. Peanut butter
4. The Piccadilly Line (though, technically, my friend and Dickens-of-a-accordion/concertina/piano-player-who-is-incidentally-in-the-film-NINE, Mark Bousie named me 'Doyenne of The Piccadilly Line'...much to my delight...)

and, I think we could safely say, that though I may not be the greatest living expert on, though someone may attempt to challenge my semantics, I DARE YOU to challenge my enthusiasm, my discerning pallet, my penchant for



And so, dear readers, it is with extraordinary glee that I announce to you my first-bitingly-exciting appearance on the crime drama to end all crime dramas. The ultimate, the epic, the one-and-only


Yes. I get interviewed by Anderson and Sisto. Yes. I am slightly nefarious and suspicious. But i couldn't possibly tell you anymore than that... I can only encourage you to tune in on Friday, January 15, 2010 at 8/7 Central on NBC to watch the episode entitled "Blackmail" and watch me and half of New York's Theatreland take to the screen and COMMIT SOME CRIME PEOPLE!!

* * *

We filmed on 15th street between 7th and 8th, near to Union Square. My call was at 8am to report to my "honey wagon," check in with the Second assistant, then report to hair and makeup. 

I got some coffee from the breakfast wagon and settled into the trailer before reporting to Lisa and Leslie -- the hair and makeup ladies extraordinaire.

We chatted, (both were huge musical theatre buffs so there was a lot to talk about). Leslie went about curling the giant hair (of which I expressed mild...how should I put this...? --crestfallenness at the idea of a center parting-- but Leslie replied that it "had been specially requested"). I paused. I made a face that expressed something like this: "?!!" --I couldn't imagine anyone giving so much care to a minor character's hair parting, but there you go.

Lisa made me flawless and added a little cheek definition because I was concerned my face would look like a balloon on screen... especially with a center parting... she chuckled and said "absolutely, here you go darling," before making me promise to keep a watch on her love of "too much lip gloss" She paused and then looked very serious "...It's a problem..." she admitted, deadpan.

The "L-team" were totally gorgeous.

Half of The L teams asks me if I had cut my own hair.
I stared at them with a child-like look of guilt on my face.
     "No..." I lied.
     "Have you dyed your own hair too...?" she asked.
     "....No...." I lied again.
     "Don't do that. I mean the home dying thing. Fine. Don't tell me about it but fine. The home cutting thing? Never. Never ever. Don't do it again. Promise."
     "...I promise."

Then "I'm Every Woman" came onto the iPod and we all danced and sang...
...Into the hairbrushes...
...At the top of our lungs.

Over and out.

* * *

Then of course you get shuffled over to "set."
Not "the set."
No: to "set,"
     ...reminding me poignantly of one of my favo(u)rite British-ism peculiarities: HOSPITAL. What is going on there citizens of the United Kingdom? What? "My uncle is IN HOSPITAL" versus., "My uncle is in THE HOSPITAL." Perhaps the "the" missing in "THE HOSPITAL" has escaped to the second most delicious British peculiarity: "THE MENOPAUSE."

Perhaps this is a subject for another post altogether. That is, if I can avoid being sent TO HOSPITAL....

... Anyway...

This particular set was an actual apartment near Union Square. I was shuffled, the "look" (including the center parting) was shown to the director, approved of, and that was that. The next step was rehearsal.

A few minutes later I arrive on set surprised to see three freakish people that are dressed and look exactly like me, Anthony Anderson and Jeremy Sisto. This is "The B Team"-- the people who are on set long before you for the slightly duller roles of lighting, spacing, niggly production details. This made me realize I was part of "The A Team"... and I suddenly felt extremely cool.

Then Anderson and Sisto arrived. Fun times infinity. Sleepy, over the morning, not-at-all-certain of what episode this is; for it is, as I like to call it, an un-theatrical hour. They'll turn it on for the cameras, they care a lot about the quality of their work, but right this minute? They're asleep. And both totally adorable.

I am doing that thing I did with John Cusack-- pretending this is no big deal. Pretending I don't care, I mean, after all, please, neither of them is Jerry Orbach. But we make some nice small talk about England and how the food sucks and I embark upon the "HOSPITAL" thing mentioned above with Anderson. Sisto has found a magic eight ball and is entranced. He is lost to us for a moment before he put it down and spontaneously asks everyone on set who is Jewish. "Jews?" he exclaims raising his fingerless-gloved hand.
Half the set.
And me.
Ahhh New York. 

We rehearse the scene. The director and director of photography make choices about camera angles and shots. Sisto has his lines in his pocket. He returns to the eight ball. We all laugh about the twist in the storyline WHICH I CANNOT YET MENTION TO YOU BWAHAHA!

Then we break. "B team!" They call and they set everything up with the B team and we are swished away to get some coffee.


The thing is, so much has gone in to the production to get us to this point. More than even I have a conscious understanding of. To many viewers, Law & Order is a TV institution, a cops and lawyers serial crime show that's "maintained a remarkably high standard of quality for nearly 21 years" ... hm

The primary goal in pre-production is to take the script and create a schedule where the production team can film an entire episode in under eight days. The first assistant and the crew go out in the company van with several other people and they choose the locations that will be in the episode. When we're filming, it is essential to make sure everything and everyone is where they are supposed to be at the right time to film as efficiently as possible.

It takes eight working days just to get the schedule together, to find the locations, cast all of the guest stars and supporting roles, have production meetings, wardrobe meetings, prop meetings, extras casting meetings, etc. Law & Order shoots about seven pages of script a day which is extremely fast considering that on a feature film, you average about two pages a day. Television in general works much faster (Soaps, of all TV, shoot at break-neck speeds, having to turn over an episode a day!) Most of the days average 12-13 hours. Mondays usually begin at 6:30 a.m., and Friday night can finish anywhere from 7 to midnight (Mondays are often very long and due to an extraordinary 18-hour day in Season 1, Law & Order Mondays that run long are affectionately termed "Black Mondays").

And of course, the star of all Law and Orders is New York City itself.  They shoot in plenty of restaurants (the café we shot in had photographs of the entire canon of Law & Order casts on the walls, signed stills from specific episodes and all sorts of L&O memorabilia that naturally had to be covered up for our shoot!), apartments (my scenes were shot in an actual person's place that she rented out for the day!), office buildings, schools, government buildings (they sort of have a set up "camp" outside the city chambers). According to some of the assistants I spoke with, they tend to shoot about three or four days out of eight on their Chelsea Piers stage. They have space to build sets for each specific episode, so they've done it all: two level offices, high school locker rooms, the very famous courtroom, a funeral parlor, tons of motel rooms, prison cells and hospital rooms.


Back on set. We've returned from the break and are ready to shoot! We take our places (I'm lucky because all I have to do is sit-- there are no marks to meet on a certain line, no weird places to glance at, etc.), and the director quickly reviews what we're doing and off we go! They get the boys first (which, quite thoughtfully of the director, gives me a chance to sort of "warm up"), they rearrange and shoot me. They do close ups. Sisto screws up his lines, they do it again for him after he hits his head a few times.
We're done.

Between takes we are laughing something silly and they are going to town on their iPhones. That's a wrap. Lunch!

We report back to our trailers, eat, change costumes (this second of which is my actual dress), and then back ready to rock for scene number two.

It's the same story, perfectly nice but creepy identical people escorted away, shot decisions (more complicated due to key props, and a scene with a fair amount of movement in it), rehearsal, and shooting from every angle.

For this girl, for whom her head in many ways was in 'London Still,' it was a real trip.

I thanked the director, he thanked me right back, invited me to the office Christmas party, and glancing over to Aderson and Sisto I said,
"Bye boys. Thanks."

And in response... I got a double fist bump.
Now, that is the kind of cool one expects from "The A Team."


I report back in two days to shoot the teaser... but I couldn't possibly tell you anything more about it... you'll just have to tune in and see for yourself.



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