Years ago, I was a TV star! Well, not really. Ok. I was an extra on SeaQuest DSV and Family Matters. And here are my stories.
I worked in several episodes, but there's only one where you can really see my face. It was the episode entitled "The Sincerest Form Of Flattery" and was about a rogue robo-sub planning to nuke a city. You can see me in the very last scene where Michael DeLuise is talking to his aunt on the video phone. I'm the one doing all the "head shaking" behind him. (Be sure to tape it when it airs on the Sci-Fi Channel!) As for the orange uniform... I moved boxes onto the launch bay elevator about 10 times but you could only see my back in the episode called "When We Dead Awaken."
I also remember walking past a doorway during a red alert, but heck if I know what scene or which episode (probably one of those above two.) And I was in another scene that was cut where I was standing with that blonde girl (in the 3rd photo from the top) in the launch bay watching incredulously as this man jumped out of (or was taken from) the hatch. I guess the producers didn't think it would look right to just have the crew standing around watching!
Now that I've seen the episodes again (after so many years) I see that the blonde girl got a nice walk past in "When We Dead Awaken" and so did the other guy in the orange jumpsuit. He was pressing "buttons" on the main launch bay screen. Boy, I wish that had been me!
Of the cast, I think Ted Raimi was probably the coolest. (You may best know him as the geeky guy from Xena.) He actually stopped and had a conversation with all of us lowly extras. I got to meet most of the cast, however Jonathan Brandis was off in his own little world and wouldn't talk to anyone. He was a little full of himself I think. I was most surprised that Roy Scheider, the main star of the show, actually came by and asked us if we had been on yet. I would have asked for a picture, but I didn't want to seem like a crazed fan. One of the extras got her picture with him though.
I worked on another episode after "TSFOF" (either "Lostland" or "When We Dead Awaken") and I ended up walking to the set with Michael DeLuise. I said to him, "Man, I could hardly be seen it that episode where you're talking with your aunt!" He said, "Well, you shoulda just moved me outta the way!" I thought that was funny, even though he was probably thinking, "Who's this guy??" I hope he knew I was only kidding. I also asked his brother Peter DeLuise how long it took to make him up. He simply said, "Too long."
Lunch was an interesting experience. Rosalind Allen was the coolest one here, if I remember correctly. She was sitting with some of the crew and extras in the lunch trailer. Yes, the lowly extras and big time cast all sat together (except Brandis... Hmmm...)
As An Extra
Then you get to see the makeup person. That was kinda neat. Although the guys didn't have much need for it. The gals usually had their hair fixed up in some manner (see the girl in the second photo sitting there reading a book? She didn't come to the set that way. She's the same girl from this photo.)
After that, you spend most of your time sitting around waiting to work, so bring a pack of cards! We just sat around for hours on end waiting for someone to call us into the set. Some extras would go, others would have to wait some more. It was like winning the lottery or something.
One of the things I did my first day was climb the scaffolding and run around above the set! Luckily, there wasn't anyone around to see it. I also remember this storage "hanger" near where the extras sat. I got to see the Hummer parked in there along with all these weird trees and foliage.
I also took a few excursions to the bridge and the medical bay. I got pictures of the medbay and the launch bay, but didn't have any more pictures left by the time I got to the bridge (this was before digital cameras, you see.) And the bridge was the coolest set! D'oh! I didn't want to spend too much time there for fear someone would chase me off the lot though.
In one of my braver moments, I talked with the guys doing the special effects with the video toaster. He said they had some really great new shots for that particular season (2). I asked him how he liked the toaster, but he didn't sound all that enthused about it. "It's ok," he said as I remember.
One thing you NEVER want to do if you become an extra, is give anyone suggestions. During the filming of a scene, there was supposed to be this basket of laundry with a bra on top of it. Well, it just didn't look right and I mentioned it to the crewperson there. He said something to the effect of, "Did I ask you? If you want to keep working, keep your mouth shut." What a jerk. When I watched the episode on TV, I noticed that the mistake was fixed, making that guy an even bigger jerk!
Another interesting thing about the set is that there was really only one water tank. The one in the bridge actually connects to the one in the aqua bay. It was empty most of the time presumably to keep scum from affixing itself to the glass. I did get to see it filled once and hoped to see the Darwin puppet, but he was no where to be seen. :-(
I also stood in for Ed Kerr in the aqua bay (or whatever it was called) for the episode called "Lostland." I remember seeing that creepy head in a jar... Anyway, I guess his regular stand in was sick, and I'm just about his height. This was much more fun than the first time. There were cameras, people, and equipment all around me. I really felt like the center of attention! Then Ed came up behind me, patted me on the shoulders and said, "I'll take over now." That was cool...
For a brief moment, I thought that perhaps this might turn into a more permanent gig. The extras "wrangler" (for lack of a better term) said they might need me again if the regular stand-in couldn't come back. I said I would definitely come back if they needed me, but I never heard of it again. Ah well...
It Was... Fun.
Now, where's that guy in the orange jumpsuit? I still have your photos waiting for you... ;-)
I'm in both of the scenes for the science contest. The first time, I'm in the very front and can be seen quite easily. Later, during the same first science contest, I can be seen as David Lander (Squiggy from Laverne & Shirley) drives his car into the crowd. Yes, I am in two places at once.
Pay close attention to the end of the scene when everyone gets up to walk out. I disappear because I exited stage left... D'oh!
The next time I can be seen is the second-part, when the Contest continues. I'm much harder to see, but I'm wearing my black Atari Jaguar hat!! :-)
Much of the filming was done after the Disney parks were closed. Unfortunately, that was pretty late at night. The only part that was filmed early was the dance club scene. It was filmed at the Mannequins night club at Pleasure Island at about 8am. Seemed funny to me that day shots were done late and the late shots were done early!
As An Extra
I worked several other scenes in this show, but I couldn't be seen at all. I'm in the crowd at the dance scene and in the huge crowd in front of the castle. For the dance scene, my agent said I should wear 70's style clothes. All I had were some white pants and a black shirt (at least, I think that's what I wore.) Everyone else there was told something entirely different to wear! I probably can't be seen because I'm also the world's worst dancer. :-P
The Wrap Party
So, if you ever have the chance to be an extra, don't turn it down. I guarantee you that it will be an experience that you will NEVER forget!
I'm a HUGE Three's Company fan. Ever since the show originally began in 1977, I've loved the antics of John Ritter, Joyce DeWitt, Suzanne Somers, Norman Fell, Audra Lindley, Richard Kline, Ann Wedgeworth, Don Knotts, Jenilee Harrison, and Priscilla Barnes. So, when I discovered that Joyce & Priscilla would be appearing at the Florida FX Show 2006, I had to attend!
It was just amazing to meet them. My eyes were tearing up as I saw them for the first time. I had a lot to say to them, mostly thanking them for their work, but I didn't want to take up all their time. I know it's annoying when people in front of me monopolize the person I want to meet. Joyce was all smiles and very nice. I couldn't imagine a nicer celebrity. Priscilla was very accommodating and nice too. She was busy sorting out all her photos.
I had Joyce sign the inside of my "Come and Knock on Our Door" book. She was worried that the sharpie marker would bleed through the paper, so my friend handed her a different pen. She signed it, "For Greg - with much love. Hope you enjoy the 'read'! Joyce DeWitt" If only she had known I had already read the book twice! Then the book got passed to Priscilla and she signed it, "To Greg, Love & Laughter, Priscilla Barnes, 'Terri Alden' 2005" (I guess Priscilla was still on 2005 time!)
Priscilla was very eager to take a photo with me and I just spontaneously said, "I just love you!" and squeezed her. Then we had to get Joyce over so I could get my "trio" shot. What was nice was that they both called me by name. "Joyce, do you have a moment to take a photo with Greg?" Priscilla asked. Joyce signed another autograph and then we three posed together.
By this time, anything I had wanted to say to them went right out the window! I wanted to tell Priscilla that License to Kill is my favorite Bond movie (for which she was the bride at the beginning who got gunned down.) I wanted to joke with her that I was glad Terri made it back from Hawaii. I also wanted to tell Priscilla that we share the same birthday (Dec. 7.) I wanted to ask Joyce if she consciously changed her acting style over the years, as I've always felt Janet got softer as time went by. I wanted to say, "It must have been a joy to meet Lucille Ball when she hosted the retrospective." I wanted to tell them that I truly watch Three's Company every night, that I began writing a reunion script, and that I've even begun to catalog every character detail of the show. I wanted to say that I feel Three's Company is one of the most important and influential TV sitcoms in history (right up there with I Love Lucy) and that the pleasure of meeting them comes from that standpoint, and not from your usual celebrity adoration. I had even thought I might say how much we all miss John Ritter... But I didn't say any of that.
After the photo, I turned to Joyce and said, "Thank you for your time on Three's Company. I just love it." I think that summed up everything I wanted to say to her in one breath. Joyce then said to me, "It was a pleasure to do the show. It was nice meeting you, Greg!"
It was all over too quickly and I hope that I get to meet with them again sometime soon.