Tuesday, September 18, 2018


If you expect me to go to church, it better be for a wedding, or when it's the holding area for a background gig. And we all know which of these I prefer. 

So it was no problem when, on August 2, I found myself at St. Teresa's Church at 141 Henry Street at 5:44 a.m. (Thanks for Google Timeline for providing exact time and location. People can complain all they want about Google, but I find it invaluable for occasions like this. As Gary Hart told a reporter, go ahead, follow me; you'll be very bored. But I mean it.)

This was the day when I was going to film a commercial for Jet.com, the kind of gig I'd been vying for since I started background work. Not only do commercials pay at least double TV and movies, it's bound to be seen several times a day. Unless, like me, you DVR 95% of what you watch and fast forward through commercials.

My Thursday go-to-meeting look.
I'd gotten a call from the casting agency the day before while on a break from doing background for the HBO series Crashing. The director not only liked the photo I'd submitted, but insisted that I wear the same tan suit -- the one that's become famous for its appearances on Gotham, A Crime to Remember, Blue Bloods, and at my nephew's wedding. 

And unlike other jobs, they wanted me to wear the sun clips over my glasses as well as my Panama hat. People must have heard a phone ringing, because I looked off the hook!

Although St. Teresa is the patron saint of Spanish people, her church is located around the block from Chinatown, the location of our shoot. The concept sounded simple -- a skateboarder glides alongside a busload of tourists until reaching a stop light -- but we filmed from about 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. 

Mom always said life was like a box of
dry scallops.
Aside from the skateboarder, another guy and I were the only actors not on the tour bus. All we had to do was walk on the sidewalk across the street from the bus for the first part of the commercial, before crossing at the traffic light when the bus came to a stop. 

While my fellow "businessman" was given only a briefcase, I was asked to carry a briefcase, a bag of Chinese take-out, and a flip phone to talk into. Never let it be said I'm unable to do three things at once. Four, including crossing the street.

Cherry eyes, however, are included in the price.
There was plenty of downtime during the day, allowing me to take a few photos to capture local flavor (literally). I'm tempted to give my wife the box of dry scallops for Valentine's Day next year, but am unsure if she shares my sense of humor on such matters.

As for the meal on the left, I definitely know that she wouldn't be interested in tucking into a whole pig. And, yes, that will set you back 148 bucks. That's what they mean by living high on the hog.

There was no way to know when the commercial would air, but dumb luck came calling when it suddenly appeared on a website my wife and I were reading. It was the 15-second version, barely enough time for me to say, "Hey, that's my commercial!" 

But my dumb luck got even dumber the next day, as I was fast-forwarding through an episode of Better Call Saul DVR'd the night before. There it was, this time the 30-second cut. You couldn't see me in the first half, but I was there near the end, one of the dozen or so takes that made the final edit.

To the left is another shot, enlarged for your viewing pleasure. The woman in the pink is a real pedestrian, as was everyone else in the street other than the skateboarder, the other "businessman", and me. The p.a.'s did their best to keep pedestrians out of the shot, but you tell New Yorkers they can't cross the street. 

As I explained in an earlier post, my suit is a hand-me-down from one of my older brothers. It must make a welcome difference from the current narrow cut/shorter pants style, which makes the wearer look like Pee-Wee Herman. Not only did get me another gig, but a compliment from a woman, no older than 30, who was waiting to cross in other direction: "Nice suit".

I replied with a startled, "Oh, thank you," when, deep down, I wanted to drawl, "Yup, this is what a real businessman wears." Or at least a guy playing a real businessman.


In case you never see it on your laptop, smartphone or TV, here it is. Or you can fast-forward like you would through any commercial. 

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