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In my opinion


‘Homeland’ filming not all glitz and glamour

By Tracy Curtis
Tracy Lee Curtis
Tracy Lee Curtis is a humorist, writer and speaker. She writes family humor for the Charlotte Observer. Her column appears each Sunday.

The TV show “Homeland” shot a scene in the Observer newsroom. Very exciting for anyone who’s never seen filming before.

But as a former production assistant, who used to work 18-hour days on movie sets, I was happy to be able to just sit and watch. And not have to wear a radio headset into the bathroom.

That’s the problem with these things – everyone thinks it’s so glamorous, when really there’s nothing Hollywood about it. When the set dresser came to dress a reporter’s desk where the scene would take place, everyone rushed over to see it, like it’d be something straight out of “All the President’s Men.”

But it was more like an episode of “Horders” – just like ours. It was a cluttered mess, complete with a snow globe collection. It fit right in. I sit next to someone with a giant inflated tomato.

Then came the extras. A group of 25 regular folks dressed in plain clothes to portray us – 25 regular folks dressed in plain clothes. It was the weirdest, most anti-climatic thing I’ve ever seen – a newsroom full of people anticipating their Hollywood counterparts. But when the extras filled in the newsroom, you couldn’t tell who came from Hollywood casting and who came from HR.

“The extras look just like us!” my co-worker scoffed. “They’re supposed to be a better version of us. Like a Jennifer Aniston-type to play ME. Why can’t we just be the extras?”

Because – we are a continuity nightmare. Just in the past hour I’ve taken off my sweater, Aniston’s body double here now has on glasses, and half our staff has wandered over to a table where someone put out cake. Not ideal for editing purposes.

But I think we’d have been better actors. I can’t give away plot, but suffice it to say the scene is a brouhaha with Claire Danes in the middle of the newsroom. The extras were trying so hard to act natural, they forgot to act in a natural way.

“They’re not even reacting!” spits Aniston. “Talk about newsworthy, we’d be freaking out if something like that happened in here!”

I don’t know whether to shush her or try to get her a job with the crew. But I could have told her, the actual award-winning show is much more exciting than watching extras try not to make eye contact.

But suddenly, I’m actually very excited. I recognize the director, the fabulous Lesli Linka Glatter. I worked on her movie “Now And Then.” She’s a superstar in TV and film, and boy can she rock a leather jacket. I rush on the set – we hug, we gab, and we re-tell a story about Rosie O’Donnell getting food poisoning.

I walk back to my desk. Aniston is flabbergasted.

“Hey do you want a job?” I ask her. “I know the director!”

I love Hollywood.
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