"Love, Daisies and
Working on the first season finale
When I arrived on set
several days after I had worked the last episode of GG, there was a new
Director but that was about all that had changed. Steven was there,
a whole bunch of extras were milling around, and it seemed to be business
as usual in Stars Hollow. Except that as we gathered on the sidewalk
across from Miss Patty's Dance Studio I noticed that the crew was setting
up to shoot INSIDE Miss Patty's. Sure enough, after he had passed
out vouchers Steven told us that the entire day's shoot would be taking
place there and that it would be a town meeting. Most of the
principle actors on the show would be present and that we were all to be
on our best behavior. Well, this should be interesting!
This time Raquel the wardrobe lady didn't care for the shirt I was
wearing, so she fetched a flannel over shirt for me to put on and she took
my voucher so that she could hold it hostage until she got the shirt back
at the end of the day. I slipped her tasteless green plaid flannel nightmare
over my regular shirt and promptly relieved the craft services table of
some coffee and a couple of bananas.
Someone commented recently
that I seem to eat a lot of bananas, but I don't really!
It's just better than jelly donuts and when
a shoot is on a studio lot such as Warner Brothers where Gilmore Girls is shot, they
don't typically cater in lunch for everyone. There is a
commissary on the lot and they expect you
to go eat there, but I can't afford the six dollar sandwiches and four
dollar pasta salads. So, like most of the poor, broke extras working a
show on a studio lot, I raid the craft service table all day long. It
mainly consists of fruit, donuts, bread, bagels and assorted drinks
including coffee, but you can fill up on it and not need lunch. Now a
location shoot is a different story.. not only do they provide craft
services, but they cater in a fantastic lunch for everyone, also free!
The location shoots for feature films are especially dangerous.. one
could eat so much one would end up looking like Marlon Brando if one
Marlon Brando.. walking testimony of the
great food served on film shoots.
After the crew had set up, it was time for Chip and Steven to herd us all
into Miss Patty's and figure out where everyone was going to sit.
Two cameras were set up already at the podium area looking into the
audience and a few of the seats that the principles were going to be
sitting in were already occupied by their stand-ins. As I entered I
saw that my friend Paul had already taken a seat in the fourth row, so I
grabbed the empty chair next to him. The next half hour consisted of
lighting guys tinkering with lights, sound guys tinkering with sound, and cameramen
tinkering with cameras while everybody just sort of talked in a low murmur
and Chip continued to shush everyone so that the crew could tinker in peace.
Eventually a few of the principle actors had trickled in and they were
getting close to shooting, so the first AD (Carla) came in and made a nice
speech for us. She let us know what the scene was and what would be
required of us. Turned out it was going to be one long continuous
scene and they were going to run it about a zillion times, getting
different camera angles and going tight on particular actors who had a
line here or there. What she wanted us to do was simply to react to
whatever was said.. to show surprise at something surprising, laugh at
funny things and applaud when necessary. Then she excused the second
team from the set and asked for first team, which meant all of the
stand-ins could leave and the actors would take their places. Then
she called for a rehearsal of the scene and just asked that they run it
from beginning to end, then they'd fix anything that needed fixing.
Keep in mind we don't see scripts prior to a shoot, so we were all seeing
the scene for the first time as the actors rehearsed it. It was
hilarious! The town troubadour (played by Grant Lee of the band
"Grant Lee Buffalo") had a speech to give, asking the mayor to
have the citizens vote on who would be the official town troubadour, him
or the guy who had recently shown up
with guitar in hand and was giving Grant a bit of competition.
Everyone voted for Grant of course, just as the first AD Carla told us
too! By the way, the actor playing the other troubadour is named
DAVE, and it turns out he lives in my neighborhood. I've run into
him a few times at the local supermarket and just walking down the
sidewalk and we've stopped to talk each time. Dave has had some
nice acting roles in the past, including a Frasier episode and a spot as
a regular character on the hour long comedy/drama "Freaks and Geeks"
that got cancelled a few years ago. Ok, so just prior to the
troubadour/vote bit in the scene, Lorelai and
Rory had arrived, and after being scolded by the mayor for being
late they settled into their chairs and of course Lorelai had the
appropriate wisecracks and comments throughout the meeting. After
Grant gave his speech and just before the town voted on the troubadour
situation, Rory had a little speech of her own to give. She got
through it nicely, and earned a round of applause from the extras during
After rehearsal, the Director came in and tweaked a few things for about
ten minutes or so, then it was time to roll. The Director and Carla,
plus crew who weren't absolutely necessary had to leave because the
building interior is so small, and there was very little room to stand
behind the cameras in order to stay out of the shot. They were all
going to watch it on a console of monitors set up on the lawn just outside
of Miss Patty's. This first shot would just be a wide master shot
from the podium that would film EVERYBODY in the room, while a second
camera was going to go tight on one of the actors. So, they ran the
scene that way and got it in about eight takes. THEN they did some
adjustments, putting one of the cameras on another actor and the other one
on someone else and got it in about another eight takes.
After that, they decided to go tight on a few of the actors who had
special lines or things, like Rory's speech, so they had to readjust
lighting and set cameras for that. When they did film tight on Lauren
Graham and Alexis Bledel, our side of the room was excused because we
wouldn't even be in the shot. We just went and hung around the area
across the street from Miss Patty's for about the next hour or more.
(when they film something tight like that, they don't have to do the whole
scene.. Alexis just stands up when the Director yells "action!"
and gives her speech.)
After that was completed, our side of the room was called back in and
they excused the side that Lauren and Alexis were sitting on because now
THEY wouldn't be in the shot. We weren't in there very long
though, there were only a couple of short things to get down on film.
First of all, I had ended up sitting behind the town nerd, "Kirk", and
he had one line.. so they got a tight shot of that. Then there was
a part of the scene where Rory looks back at her ex-boyfriend Dean
(played by Jared Padalecki), and Dean looks at her in turn. It
seems simple, but Jared was sitting on our side of the room towards the
rear and they had to move out the chairs where Rory had been and put a
camera there.. so of course, Alexis was long gone and Dean's not really
looking at anything in that shot. That's the standard method used
in those types of scenes and it shows why film and TV acting is so
different from stage.. often there is nothing for the actor to play off
of.. just air. (Occasionally the Director will give an actor a
"focal point" to look at, so it will help them pretend the other actor
they are talking to or looking at is really there. Usually the
focal point is a stand-in, but sometimes they grab one of the extras and
say "ok, sit here while Jared stares at you".
They got those shots and broke us all for lunch. But they weren't
done yet, after lunch they were going to "turn it all around"
and shoot from the REAR, looking towards the podium this time.. and do the
scene again. and again.. and again... and again....
When we arrived back on set after lunch they had the cameras set up in the
rear, looking over our heads and towards the podium. Up on the stage
were several of the principles including the guy who plays the mayor, and
several extras that were "the town council". They shot the
scene again, doing a master shot looking in that direction and then they
dismissed the last two rows and moved the cameras in closer. After
that, they moved in even closer and dismissed our row. So we went
and hung out across the street and never did get back inside. We
were wrapped several hours later, and when I had Steven sign my voucher so
I could leave, they were STILL shooting. It was about eight pm.
THE NEXT DAY
Steven had asked me the day before if I was married, and when I told
him I was he requested that I bring my wife (Dorian) to the shoot the next
day because they were going to be doing street scenes again. He
liked getting actual couples to stroll down the sidewalk holding
hands. Dorian and I arrived at about eight am, and I must say she
was a bit thrilled to find herself suddenly walking around the streets of
"Stars Hollow." It was understandable, she's a fan of the
show as are her Mother and Sister. They tape every episode and tend
to discuss plotlines with each other fairly often.
After the usual sidewalk voucher/wardrobe/speech ritual, Dorian and I
chatted with other extras, had bagels from craft services and basically
just sat around for the next five hours. They were shooting
something at Miss Patty's, and it was taking a long time.. then the crew
moved over to Luke's Diner and shot a scene there which brought us up to
lunch. Poor Dorian didn't even get on camera! But Steven made
it up to her afterward.. when we returned from lunch it was time to shoot
a sidewalk scene and it turned out we'd be walking right by Loralei.
The scene had Loralei walking from Miss Patty's with Rachel and
they're having a talk. They stop in front of Luke's and Rachel says
goodbye and goes inside while Lorelai continues down the sidewalk.
The camera pans from her to Grant Lee, playing his guitar and THEN over to
the troublesome troubadour who has just arrived in town and is standing
across the street playing HIS guitar. During that whole thing,
Dorian and I are walking (hand in hand!) from the bank to Luke's and we
walk by Loralei just before the camera pans to Grant.. so we got pretty
well featured in that shot. Months later when that episode was aired
as a rerun, Dorian and I had missed it and didn't even know it was on
that particular evening. A friend that lives out of town who we
haven't seen in a long time called us out of the blue and said "Hey, I
saw you guys walking down the street in Stars Hollow this evening!"
By the way, all of this scene we were shooting out on the Midwest
Street set is the day of that meeting in Miss
Patty's. In the story, the meeting will be "tonight" even
though we were actually shooting all of this the next day. They
always shoot out of continuity. For that matter, the next scene they
shot was everybody going into Miss Patty's for the meeting.. but of course
there wasn't any meeting really taking place. Lots of people were
going down the street to attend the meeting, including Lorelai, Rory and
Max.. I'm placed WAY down the street so that I'm just a figure in the
crowd and you can't tell who I am. This is called
"cheating", because I'm supposed to already be in the meeting
when Lorelai, Rory and Max enter. Dorian was placed up near the
entrance because she wasn't in the crowd that was inside the day before.
We wrapped at about seven pm and went home,
carrying some happy memories with us.
GILMORE GIRLS question and answer
A while back, I asked the members
FANS OF GILMORE GIRLS on Yahoo groups to ask some questions about
working on the show. I received a great response (thanks guys!) and
will attempt to answer them here. If you have a question about the
show that you don't see here, feel free to email
me. But keep in mind that I'm just an extra and I don't
know a darned thing about scheduling and I certainly don't know any of
the lead actors personally and don't hang out with them. I saw
Lauren Graham going into the Mayfair market on Franklin Ave. in
Hollywood one evening and that's the only time I've encountered her off
Who are the coolest and who are
the sweetest (or most down to earth)
actors or actresses you've worked with?
I'm not sure if you mean just
on Gilmore Girls, or anywhere, so I'll talk about both..
As far as anything I've done, I worked on a film called "Clockstoppers",
which was directed by Jonathan
Frakes of Star Trek (you'll remember him as Commander Ryker) He was very jovial and nice on the
set. He joked around with
cast, crew and extras, and seemed to always have a smile on his
face. He was the first Director I had come across that showed NO
stress whatsoever.. amazing!
Most of THE WEST WING cast is pretty cordial and
Martin Sheen is amazingly nice. A couple of more people that deserve mention are
Krista Allen and Kurt Russell. Krista isn't that well known yet,
but I hope she does well and her career takes off soon. (See her WEBSITE
for a bio) Some time ago, I was booked on a film she was shooting called "Totally
Blonde" and at one point she came over to the craft services table
and introduced herself to all of the extras hanging out there. As
she did, she shook hands with each one and got their names.. I was
amazed because she's the lead in the film and they pretty much NEVER do
that! Now everyone knows Kurt Russell of course, and I was just
impressed while on the set of a film he's shooting called
Blue". He was just really friendly, outgoing and jovial,
and at the end of the second day of shooting (we had all been there for
two LONG fourteen hour days) he made it a point to grab a microphone and
thank all of the extras involved for their hard work. It was a
nice touch to the end of a long and hard shoot.
On GILMORE GIRLS, I'd say Sally Struthers (Babette) wins the
prize. Those of you around my age know that she's been in TV for
years and will remember her role in "All In The Family" from
the early seventies. She's somewhat of a cut up on set, cracking
jokes and just having LOTS of fun. She's quite a bit like her
character of Babette, actually! A close second to her would be Liz
Torres, who plays Miss Patty. I commented to her in passing one
day that I had enjoyed her character when she was on the John
Larroquette show a few years ago, to which she smiled and cracked
"So YOU'RE the one?" Oh, and I don't want to leave
out Melissa McCarthy who plays Sookie on the show.. whatta doll!
She's really a sweetheart.
Is Lauren Graham as cool as she
Lauren is an actor and she's
a good one, so if you're using her character of Lorelai as a reference
then keep in mind that Lorelai is a creation of the writer (Amy
Sherman-Palladino) and Lauren. I don't know her personally and
have had very little contact with her on the set, so I honestly don't
know at all what she's like as a person. I have seen her in
interviews, particularly on Craig Kilborne's show and she comes across a
LOT like Loralei.. very witty, charming and funny.
What I observed of her on
the set is that she's very focused, and that she works hard and
doesn't goof off very much if at all. At one point I was walking back to
our holding area and she was hunched over in a chair, the script spread
about at her feet and she was drilling herself on the lines that she'd need to know for the next scene
they were going to shoot.
A lot of principle actors on these shows are more than aware it's
television (as opposed to live theatre) and that if they blow a line
then there's always the next take. Producers HATE that attitude because
then the shoot takes longer and it costs them more money. But
Lauren seems to want to get her lines and character down completely
before she steps in front of the camera. That's another reason
she's so darn good as Lorelai, she's not concentrating so hard on what
her next line is when the camera is rolling and so she can give herself
over more to her character.
What is the funniest thing
you've ever seen happen on the Gilmore Girls set?
That's an easy
one! The day we were shooting the town meeting inside Miss Patty's
for the first season finale, Sally Struthers PICKED UP one of the AD's
(Chip) and started spinning him around like a WWF wrestler.
Everybody broke out into applause and cheers, but what earned the
biggest laugh is when one of the extras shouted out "Looks like
Sally's got a chip on her shoulder!" at which point she just
lost it and almost dropped the poor guy.
Is Alexis as shy as she comes
Yet another one that I don't
know personally, so I can't really say. She's pretty young AND
she's the lead in a hit show, which is a combination that usually
results in a fairly snooty attitude, but I saw nothing like that in her
at all which is refreshing. She just focuses on what she has to do
to make the scene work and she's very good at it. Between scenes
she's conversational with people she knows but otherwise just sits and
studies her script.
Is Luke as macho?
Scott Patterson (Luke) is a
lot like Lauren in his approach to acting. They both stay very
focused and seem to work pretty hard at what they are doing while on
Does Scott Cohen dress as nice
as Max did in the season finale in real life?
What ARE the main actors like in real life?
Are they all fashionable in real life (esp. Lauren Graham, she's so,
well, fashionable on the show, is she like that in real life?)
Again, I don't know any of
them personally so I can't say how they are off the set or how they
dress, since they all show up to do their scenes in the town plaza or at
Luke's diner already dressed as their character. Extras just
simply don't hang out with the actors on a show, and don't even talk to
them unless the actor speaks to them first which is rare. So all I
can tell you about is how they are on the set while working.
Have you ever been in a scene
with Melissa McCarthy,
has she ever done anything as funny as Sookie?
I was in the episode called "Sadie, Sadie" and got
to be in a scene at the Inn, AND at the big engagement party for Max and
Lorelai. Melissa was in those too, and she's just amazing.
She's cute, witty,
charming, funny AND talented! (No, she didn't pay me anything to
say that, it's all true!)
Melissa in the party scene from "Sadie,
I was standing about ten feet over when this
was filmed, just OUT of the camera frame,
Was there ever talk
around the set of cancellation,
did that make people worried and they worked harder?
I don't know if there
was ever any such talk, I had only worked the last two episodes of the
season and so by the time I'd gotten there it had already been picked up
for another season and everyone was pretty upbeat because of it. I
know that just prior to Gilmore Girls, Lauren had been cast in some
short lived roles. To quote E-Online..
"Then came the barrage of bit
parts and near breaks: A recurring role as Richard's annoyingly perky
girlfriend in Caroline in the City, guest spots on News Radio
and Law & Order and full-time roles in short-lived shows--Good
Company, Townies, Conrad Bloom, M.Y.O.B."
So I'm sure she wouldn't be crazy about a cancellation of Gilmore
Girls. But I can't see that
ever affecting the work of any professional actor, they go into a series
determined to work hard at it and do their best no matter WHAT. In
the film and TV business, the work you do on your current project will
be remembered by somebody out there for a long time to come (by
"somebody", I mean somebody in the business who may cast you
in a future project).. and if that isn't incentive to make you do your
best then I don't know what would be.
Are Jared and Alexis dating in real life?
I haven't the slightest idea who those two are dating in their
private lives. If anyone on the show IS dating a fellow cast
then I wish them luck since it's a really tough thing to date
someone you work with, especially in acting.
Have you ever spoken to any of the
such as Miss Patty, Babette, Morey, Lane, Mrs. Kim, Taylor?
No, not really. Extras don't speak to
cast members on the set unless they are spoken to first, it's just a
rule on all film and tv shoots. It's not because they are big
stars and are too good to speak with you or anything like that, it's
just that it's a work environment and the actor is trying to do their
job. It's very distracting to have extras coming up always telling
the person how much they enjoy their work (or hate it!) and asking them
questions.. so the rule exists to protect the actors so they can
concentrate and do a good job.
Does Gilmore Girls have unusually long
hours for an hour long drama,
because of the dialogue?
No, it's pretty average. TV
shoots tend to run 10-12 hours a day and film shoots about 14 hours.
Have you ever eaten real food at Luke's
Diner when you were in a scene?
It's real food alright, but it's cold
and not really a lot of fun to eat. When you're in the background
you can just pretend to eat it and nobody will notice because they are
really looking at Lauren's radiant beauty, er, uh.. I mean they are
really looking at the actors doing the scene. Also if the scene
takes ten takes to get it down and you have eaten your hamburger in five
takes so the prop guy has to run out to get you another one, I'd think
they wouldn't be too happy about that.
It's different for the actors in the scene. If they're eating
something in a scene they can't get away with pretending to eat it since
the camera can see them so well. They have to actually eat it, so
the crew makes sure they have enough on hand to get them through a
possible ten takes or so. If the scene calls for Lauren to come in
and take a bite of a hamburger when she sits down at the counter,
they'll give her a fresh burger each time they do a new take. She
might end up having to eat the equivalent of two or three burgers if
things don't go well! Oftentimes, food is substituted, so Lauren
may be eating a veggie burger in the scene when you think it's real beef
and generally mashed potatoes are substituted for ice cream to eliminate
that pesky melting problem.
What is your juiciest unknown tidbit
about the set of Gilmore Girls?
Nice try! But you'll
never see anything like that on my website.. I'd like to work there
again! I'm afraid you'll have to consult the tabloids for that
kind of thing.
Did Luke's Diner really get
painted? Because I didn't see a difference before and after
Lorelai supposedly painted it!! I watched that episode over and over and
compared it with before episodes and I didn't see any difference
I don't know anything about it, but my
wife noticed that Lorelai said she was going to paint it the same
colors.. so it should just be brighter and spiffed up more but not that
drastically different. However I don't think the crew actually
painted it at all. "Theatrical License"!
Are Lauren and Alexis as pretty in real
life as they are on screen?
It's funny you should ask that.. that
was one of the first things I noticed when I started doing this work.
The good looking people are better looking in real life, and the ugly
ones are uglier! I guess it has something to do with the two
dimensional nature of a film or television screen. So yes, Lauren
and Alexis are both pretty darn cute in person! DON'T even ask me
about Jared, ok?? :-)
Did you see any of the cast members
hanging out together outside a shoot?
Nope.. only on the set.
How many days does GG film? Do they film different scenes each day, or
do they try to squeeze filming into a day or two at the end of the week,
Friends is a sitcom, and as such is
filmed in an entirely different way. Almost everything is shot on
a single soundstage, four cameras at once are used and an audience is
present for a big part of it. On a one hour comedy/drama like
Gilmore Girls they work at a slower and more meticulous pace, and NO
audience is present with the exception of a few invited guests who were
lucky enough to know someone. Usually on days they're shooting the
town then that's all they do (including Luke's or the grocery store,
because they're IN the town.) Days they shoot on the soundstages,
then that's all they do too. The soundstages for Gilmore Girls are
about a ten minute walk from the Midwest Street set, and contain the
interiors of Lorelei's house and the Inn. The interior of Luke's
is actually the interior of the diner on Midwest Street and isn't on a
soundstage, as is the market. Sometimes some of the other shop
interiors that are actually ON Midwest Street are dressed up and used
for a scene.
How many takes does it usually take to complete a scene without
screw-ups, particularly cast members forgetting their lines? On the days
you were on the GG set, did anyone forget his/her lines? What happened
then? What do actors usually say when they forget their lines?
An average of three to ten takes.. it's
different depending on hard the scene is. Usually an actor will
flub a line and the Director just keeps rolling, saying "That's
okay, just back up and take it from (a few words back)"
Lauren Graham was wearing a particular
dress in one of the episodes and I
was wondering if I could buy it somewhere. It was a flowery pink long
sleeve dress with a low neck and it looked like lace on the sleeves and
around the neck. She was wearing it last night in the scene at work and
when she was walking thru town with a white hat on.
For ANYTHING that you'd like to know,
write to the Gilmore Girls at this address..
4000 Warner Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91522
You can write to anyone who works on
this show (including the actors) by using this address, but in your case
you need to specify "Wardrobe Department" on the envelope and they'll
forward it to them. Tell them the name of the episode you are referring
to and describe the dress. They'll probably jot you a note back telling
you who designed it and how to get it. There's no guarantee you'll get
an answer, but I understand that a lot of these designers provide
clothing so that it'll be seen and so requests of this nature are common
How did you manage to become an extra on
I would be very interested to know.
I have a section of this website that
tells how to be an extra, and answers questions on working in the film
and television industry. To see it, click
Regarding the Gilmore Girls in particular, I'm registered with Central
Casting here in Los Angeles, which is the largest and oldest extras
casting agency in town. They handle the extras for the majority of
film and television projects shooting in the area, and Gilmore Girls is
one of them. They operate a hotline for registered members and
each day I call up to see what work is available for the next day.
If Gilmore Girls is shooting, the Casting Director in charge will
have put a notice on the line saying that Gilmore Girls is shooting tomorrow and
what their needs are. Sometimes they won't need my type, they'll
just be looking for high school age to be extras at Rory's school or a
party. But if they need my type they will say so, at which time I
call that Casting Director's line. He'll answer and then bring up
my picture on his computer and hopefully book me for the shoot the next
day. Sometimes I'll call in response to Gilmore Girls townspeople
needed, and he'll book me on another show as something else instead,
either because the need is too urgent or I've been on Gilmore Girls too
much recently. They like to mix it up and try to have different
people walking around "Stars Hollow" so that the town doesn't look so
If you want to give the hotline a call just for kicks, so that you can
hear what it sounds like, call 818.260.6120 You will get a
recording, not a live person, and you don't have to be a registered
member to call the hotline.. you just have to be registered to book
If you have any questions about working Gilmore Girls, or extra work
in general, just EMAIL ME.
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