I got a call from Joyce. I was in Nashville, Tennessee. Music City USA. She was in Austin, Texas. She asked me if I could be an extra on the TV show ‘Nashville’. They had seen my photos online. I told her I’d think about it.
I’d been an extra before on a Hugh Grant/Drew Barrymore movie in Manhattan, and it was quite an experience—a lot of waiting around, a lot of shooting the same scene a million times—but not something I felt like doing again. Not for $84, which is what I got paid for that 12 hour day.
But Joyce kept calling me. She called and told me the director liked my look. She called and told me the shoot wasn’t far from the Slim Shack. She called me so often, I felt like I was married. I finally told her I’d do the show. Joyce made me feel special. Plus, maybe the director would see me and cast me in a starring role in an upcoming episode…’Guinea Guy meets Cowgirl’, or ‘Mob Guy takes over Country Music Biz.’ Could happen…
Joyce sent me an email telling me to dress like I was going to the Grammys. The scene we were shooting was going to be a Country Music Awards show, and they wanted us dressed in evening clothes.
The next morning, I drove from the Slim Shack in the Green Hills section of Nashville to the Tennessee Titans football stadium, which is downtown by the Cumberland River. I checked in to the extras ‘holding’ area, which was on the club level of the stadium. There were a couple hundred people there…
So much for feeling special.
The women extras were dressed in cocktail gowns and high heels and up-dos, and they looked great. Lovely. I’ve said this once, and I’ll say it again…in the history of the world, Lady Peoples have never looked better than they do today…the hair, the skin, the nails, the…everything.
It was early in the morning. The gals, the guys…everybody was dressed in evening wear. Everyone except me. I wore a military jacket. It kinda looked like evening wear….if you were an officer in the Russian army at a ballroom dance in the 1800s.
They put out a breakfast buffet, and after about an hour, we well-dressed extras–men and women–left the stadium, got on a big old school bus, and headed to the General Jackson, an old steamboat docked on the Cumberland River, next to the stadium.
We boarded the steamboat, and went into the concert area–a ballroom on the first level that was decked out with a big raised stage. Tall cocktail tables were scattered around, and there was a second-floor balcony overlooking the whole scene.
The assistant director stood up, got everybody’s attention, and then described the scene we were about to shoot. An older female country singer, Rayna James, and her young rival, Juliette, are nominated for the same country music award—Female Vocalist of the Year. Juliette—played by Hayden Panettiere—shows up on the steamboat drunk, and does her new song on stage, all liquored up.
That was the scene. We extras were the audience members, and we were directed to be puzzled by Hayden’s drunken stumblings. The cameras started rolling…Action!
Hayden/Juliette came out and sang her song. I’ll admit this—it was a really good song. I liked it.
But I didn’t like it so much after hearing it for five hours straight. They shot the scene over and over again. Every time they changed an angle, they’d have to re-position the lights. Re-position the cameras. And then everybody–extras and actors–would have to go back to the exact same spots, and do the exact same thing. They did a bunch of takes–five hours worth. Then Director Dude told us to take a break. We went up to a room on the third floor of the boat, where they had a folding table laid out with…
Two big tubs of Costco peanut butter and jelly, loaves of bread, Tootsie Pops, and Goldfish crackers.
It was a nice lunch–if you were in kindergarden. After about an hour, we went back down to the concert area and shot the same scene…over and over again. After about five more hours—at around 10 PM–we broke for dinner.
We went back to the Titans stadium to the club level, and they had a big spread of food—lasagna, salad, fish, desserts. It wasn’t so bad. Better than PBJ…
After dinner, it was back to the boat. We waited and waited in an empty banquet hall. After a few hours, the assistant director walked in, and started looking over the extras. Then he looked at me and pointed his finger. I went over to where he was standing. He said…
“We need a guy to play a slick record executive type, an older guy. Are you interested?”
When he said “older guy” I felt like arm-wrestling the young whippersnapper to the ground and kicking his ass. But I just said “yes”.
He walked me upstairs to where they were shooting the scene. It was being shot on the open-air top deck, which was spiffed up with lights and flowers and had a lovely view of downtown Nashville. It was freezing. I stood in a small group of people, and the prop guy handed me a glass of champagne…
Joy. Except it wasn’t champagne, it was ginger ale. The director came over and told me what the scene was…one of the stars of the show, Scarlett, was coming over to talk to this small group of four folks, and I was supposed to have a fake conversation with this girl standing in front of me.
Fake conversation? The director wanted me to move my lips, but not make any sound. They’d overdub the voices later. Plus, they have to pay you extra if you talk. So I had a fake conversation with my fake glass of champagne with this really good-looking girl.
We finally wrapped up around 2:30 AM. We had been on the set for almost seventeen hours. Must have been hell for the girls in heels.
Before we left, they instructed us to come back fifteen hours later–at 6 PM. A lot of folks didn’t show up. I did. I wanted some more peanut butter and jelly, which they had waiting for us when we arrived. Joy. It was freezing again, but this time I wore my Under Armour thermals. Really.
We did another scene on the steamboat–the red carpet scene, where the BigWigs arrive at the awards party to check-in.
The assistant director paired me up with two gals. They were gorgeous. We shot the ‘entering the awards party’ scene a bunch of times. I didn’t mind so much…
After a couple hours of shooting, we broke for dinner. About an hour later, we went back to work. We waited in a banquet room for a few hours for our next set of directions. It was 4 AM.
People were nodding off. An assistant director walked into the room, came up to me and asked if I could be the “slick record executive” for the next scene. I accepted. He explained the scene:
Limos pull up, pick up the BigWigs and whisk them away. Easy enough.
We shot the scene outside the boat in the freezing drizzle. We shot it a bunch of times. A limo would pull up to the curb. The star of the show, Rayna James, would get in as I’m fake-talking to her manager–who gets left at the curb in the rain with Yours Truly. The limo would pull away…
Once again, one scene took hours. When we wrapped, the sun was coming up. My boots were soaked and my feet were freezing. I went back home, got to the Slim Shack around 7 AM. Batu was waiting. I was starving. The only thing I had in the house?
Peanut butter and jelly.
As a Manly Man, when I’m cooking for a Lady People, I have to be sensitive. I’m pretty sensitive already. It’s been a common complaint from most of the Exes…”You’re too sensitive.”
What do you say to that? “I’ll try my best to be insensitive from now on?”
When I’m cooking for a Slim Woman, I gotta be sensitive; make sure I don’t use butter and cream and fatty stuff. When cooking for the Lady Peoples, I don’t fry–I’ll bake or broil or roast. Roasted red potatoes is a good side dish when cooking for the Women Folk.
You’ve got to keeps the ladies happy.
Because if the ladies ain’t happy, you, my friend, ain’t happy.
3 pounds small red potatoes
¼ cup olive oil
1 ½ tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, plus a few sprigs
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
Here we go…
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Cut the potatoes in halves or quarters, depending how big yer taters are.
Put them in a large bowl.
Add the olive oil, and mix by hand, making sure they’re all coated.
Add the rosemary and garlic, and mix again.
Place them on a baking tray covered with aluminum foil (this be easier to clean that way).
Sprinkle with salt and fresh cracked black pepper, then turn them over and sprinkle on the other side.
Put the potatoes in the oven on the middle rack.
Bake for 25 minutes.
After 25 minutes, flip ‘em over with a spatula.
Roast for another 25 minutes. Stick them with a fork–if it goes in easily, they’re done. If not, put ’em back in the oven until they are.
Plate ‘em up! Make ‘em look nice, add a sprig or two of fresh rosemary, and…