The TV show Homeland shot a scene in the Observer newsroom. Very exciting for anyone whos 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.
Thats the problem with these things everyone thinks its so glamorous, when really theres nothing Hollywood about it. When the set dresser came to dress a reporters desk where the scene would take place, everyone rushed over to see it, like itd be something straight out of All the Presidents 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 Ive ever seen a newsroom full of people anticipating their Hollywood counterparts. But when the extras filled in the newsroom, you couldnt tell who came from Hollywood casting and who came from HR.
The extras look just like us! my co-worker scoffed. Theyre supposed to be a better version of us. Like a Jennifer Aniston-type to play ME. Why cant we just be the extras?
Because we are a continuity nightmare. Just in the past hour Ive taken off my sweater, Anistons 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 wed have been better actors. I cant 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.
Theyre not even reacting! spits Aniston. Talk about newsworthy, wed be freaking out if something like that happened in here!
I dont 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, Im actually very excited. I recognize the director, the fabulous Lesli Linka Glatter. I worked on her movie Now And Then. Shes 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 ODonnell 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.