Wednesday, May 24, 2017

STRICTLY ON BACKGROUND, PT. 10: BULL

In early April, I traveled to Miami for a couple of days. All I had to do was take the Q to 14th, then switch to the L for the Halsey Street stop. What a wondrous age of travel we live in!

When last on Bull, I was sampling pickles at a greenmarket. For my second appearance, I was promoted to courtroom gallery spectator. Counting my previous spots on Blue Bloods and Law & Order: SVU, it would be my third time essaying this difficult role. Typecast already!

As you might have gathered, the Bull studio is located in Brooklyn. Still, there was that legendary Hollywood magic as we walked down a hall into a huge dark room, past flats, lights, and other TV accouterments, before entering... a courtroom with all the fixin's, right down to the official state seal on the wall.

But this wasn't just any courtroom. One look out the window, with the soothing azure sky, bright sunshine, and palm trees swaying in the breeze, and we were immediately transported to Miami.  And considering that in reality we were in Brooklyn on an overcast day in the low 50s, it was all rather bittersweet.

Like the leads on SVU, Michael Weatherly kept it light on the set. He took it one step further, however, by actually interacting with the extras between takes. (He even struck up a little conversation with me as we examined the breakfast offerings on the second day.) 

Much of the back-and-forth on set was of the "you hadda be there" variety, but it went a long way to contributing to relaxing the atmosphere -- to the point where some of us were still laughing when the cameras started rolling, for Weatherly is a funny, gregarious guy to the last second between takes. Fortunately, we weren't the focus of the scenes...

Except when we're looking for ourselves when the show finally aired. And, brother, I was all over the place. This was my most generous screen time yet, with two changes of clothes.

Here I am peering over Michael Weatherly's shoulder. Note how some other guy is doing the same thing opposite me, like we're those "good" and "evil" spirits you see in old Donald Duck cartoons. No wonder Weatherly appears to be in the throes of some serious tsuris.

In another shot, I got to show some real acting chops by walking into the courtroom. I'm the guy with the plaid shirt to the left of the woman in the white sweater. I forget how many times we did this, but, like Frank Sinatra, I nailed it on the first take.







And just to spread some love around, I also paid close attention to the Chris Christie-ish District Attorney on the other side of the room during the second day of the trial. If I appear stunned, it's because the D.A. has just lost the case due to a technical error. And I had such faith in him.

There were several other shots with my face sticking out from the background. If Bull were a Quinn Martin production, the narrator would have given me one of those solemn "And featuring..." credits for sure.

I can't end this without mentioning that Bull had, without doubt, the best food of any show so far -- and I've had some great meals.

Imagine walking into a room one cool, cloudy April morning, and being greeted with your choice of breakfast foods. Now picture the room having the square footage of your average suburban home. Pancakes, waffles, bacon, eggs -- made to order! -- ham, cold cereal, hot oatmeal, fruit, granola, fresh juices, coffee, a dozen kinds of tea... I had already eaten breakfast at home, but there was no way I was passing up this layout.

Then lunch -- steak, chicken, pork loin stuffed with chorizo, stews, soups, salads, veggies, sushi, king crab legs, four kinds of dessert... God almighty! And there was more! If I worked on this show regularly, I'd gain 50 pounds by the end of the season.

And they encourage you to bring some home with you. Let me tell you, my wife and I had a couple of real good dinners that week. They held up well during that trip from Miami, too.

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