Showing posts from 2009

Another "happy" day on Sex & the City2 as a piece of human background

Just did another day on Sex & the City2 (the movie sequel)...once again, I was merely a "person on Fifth Avenue" sitting on a bench behind Samantha (Kim Cattrall), looking at my book as Carrie & Charlotte (SJP and Kristin Davis) strolled by, and finally, strolling in front of Cynthia Nixon in front of Bergdorf Goodman.

It's so funny...the good things about being an "extra" in a film like SATC:
1. being part of a pop culture "event" like this that people will talk about for years.
2. being paid to be close to these fabulous "star" ladies and observing them and their "star attitudes" and conversations up close. At least now I have a LOT of great first-hand stories for my personal tours of New York City from every experience like this.
3.being on a major film set amid all the noise and craziness and watching how the big money is thrown around (dozens of trucks and trailers, huge lights suspended over Fifth Ave., lots of hired NY…

Working in the Background on Sex and the City2: warts and all

Today I was part of the sexy, glamorous, fabulous life of Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda for a dozen hours...I was an extra (background actor) on the new SEX AND THE CITY2 movie, the sequel to last year's smash summer film. Today the scene was one of the opening shots of the movie...all four girls meeting up in front of Bergdorf Goodman Department store on Fifth Avenue, dressed in fabulous summer frocks (even though it was a chilly, barely 71 degree day in Sept. instead of a 90 degree day in July.
Everybody was there for the shots we did....Cynthia Nixon (Miranda, the redhead), Kristin Davis (Charlotte, the prim brunette), Kim Cattrall (Samantha, the nympho), and Carrie (SJParker herself).
Patricia Field was there (the wardobe genius), as was series creator/writer Michael Patrick King, and all the usual suspects. The scene on Fifth Ave was sheer madness...hundreds of people gathered: tourists, office workers, and paparazzi by the score. And EVERYone was snapping pictures, b…

Just worked on "30 Rock" Friday 9/4/09

So much fun! I got called by casting director Barbara McNamara to work on 30 Rock this past Friday..Sept. 4. A really nice, professional crew that knows exactly what they want and is very efficient about lighting, camera work, and getting what they need so nobody has to waste time bumbling around.

My "call time"...the time I had to be there was 4:30pm!! last few call times for The Bounty and Law & Order were 6am and 7am!! 4:30pm was a I got there just as they were serving dinner....a wonderful spread...absolutely yummy ribs and sushi, and all kinds of various meats and veggies, all served on the 4th floor with huge windows facing the Manhattan skyline and the 59th St. bridge. Oh yeah, 30 Rock films in Queens at Silvercup Studios (NOT in Rockefeller Center at the real 30 Rock, the NBC Studios bldg).

After a quick nosh, I played a game of chess with another actor (Gary Silberman) and then we reported to wardrobe, did a couple of quick camera rehearsals …

More "background" work---The Bounty

I worked last week on The Bounty...a new romantic comedy starring Jennifer Aniston and Gerard (Gerry) Butler scheduled for release next summer. Another background job...but it was 3 days work, all filmed at The Belmont Stakes in Queens. Actually in two scenes I'm quite visible. In the first scene I'm a security guard by the racetrack entrance, and Aniston flees past me (wobbling on high heels), into the parking lot where Gerry Butler (playing her bounty-seeking ex-husband) grabs her and tosses her into the trunk of his classic car.

Sound fun? It was fun, looking back on it...but that one scene took one entire day of shooting to get right. First, there's setting up the lights and cameras which takes forever. Then doing a bunch of rehearsals using Jennifer Aniston's stand-in, Kelly (who looks just like Jen). Then we did a few takes with Jennifer. In between takes, her hair & makeup and wardrobe has to be adjusted because of the extreme heat & humidity.

I was so cl…

Human Furniture anybody???

Well, they say whenever God closes a door, someplace he opens up a window. And since the door seems to have closed for awhile on my group tour business, magically my showbiz career has reopened in recent weeks as an "extra" or "background player."

Recently, I worked a 16 hour day on Law & Order SVU in the extreme New York August heat & humidity but I was just a background player (extra)...also known as "human furniture"--still it was fun. Other SAG extras were chatting on break about how we got our SAG cards and they were all amazed that I had starring roles (called "principals") on major national TV commercials, but until now, I had NEVER done "extra" or "background" work.

A few weeks back I registered with Central Casting, Grant Wilfrey Casting, and several other outfits and they began calling me almost immediately because a. I'm union, b. I'm tall with a normal appearance, c. I'm punctual and don't ma…

Getting Treated Like CRAP at the RACHEL RAY Show

I attended a taping of the Rachel Ray Show last week and let me tell you: this was a nightmare. Once we actually got into the studio and the cameras were rolling, things were O.K., but Oh My God…what an ordeal just to get your butt into one of those 124 turquoise plastic seats on the giant lazy susan platform that rotates the audience around to whatever set Rachel is taping on. Off camera (and on), the chunky, plucky Rachel seems nice enough (she's Miss Personality on camera), but her staff and the treatment of her studio audience was the worst I have ever experienced. I’ve been to most of the shows that record in NYC and LA (Regis, Ellen, Letterman, Martha, Rosie O’Donnell’s old show, etc.) and I’ve never been searched so thoroughly, treated so rudely or made to wait for so long. We arrived at 9:30am (our ticket said “ticket holders check-in at 10:15 am) and we waited ON THE STREET (like we were waiting for tickets to a Springsteen concert) for TWO HOURS before they let us in…

Manhattan Chronology of Dates--A TimeLine, just for fun

Manhattan Island Chronology—Some basic dates to make it all make sense

1600’s and earlier- Manhattan Island inhabited by Lenape Indians. Used as a hunting ground-14 square miles, 62 bodies of water including streams, creeks, ponds, lakes, swamps. By modern times, the island is 22 square miles with landfill all around.
1626-Dutch West India Company establishes New Amsterdam at the southern tip of Manhattan. Shortly afterward, Harlem and other country towns established on the island.
1664-British take over New Amsterdam, renaming in New-York. Within a few years, most of Manhattan is parceled out in land grants and the real estate booms: farms, villages and country estates cover Manhattan, north of the baby Metropolis “New-York” (still hyphenated).
1703-Bloomindale Road is built, along the lines of an old Indian trail now called Broadway.
1753-New York’s FIRST Broadway theatre is built: The Park Theatre.
1776-Revolutionary War rages all around New York…the city is burned on Sept. 4, many peopl…

Finian's Rainbow and Broadway By the Year (1931)

Saw Finian's Rainbow at City Center Saturday night (Encores Series)...oh my Gosh....somebody quick make Kate Baldwin a star. This show should be moved to Broadway immediately...that score, that gorgeous, gorgeous score played by a full orchestra and sung by people (like Kate) who know HOW.
How Are Things in Glocca Morra? Look To The Rainbow, Necessity, etc. Just a magic tonic for what ails you. Gosh I had forgotten what a wonderful, haunting score this is...I got goose bumps up and down my back and a jaded New York City audience was on its feet for Kate Baldwin.
Last night I attended Broadway By the Year with another group of Broadway pros: Chip Zien, Mara Davi, Karen Akers, F. Murray Abraham, Tony Yazbeck and others. These pros wowed us at Town Hall on W. 43rd St. with Scott Siegel's "Broadway By the year--this time songs from Broadway Musicals of 1931, a year much like this year with an economy heading southward and people trying to "cheer up." Songs like "…

Natasha Richardson Dies Tragically; Great Star Resided in High-Rise on NYC Rich & Famous Tour Route


Flying Saucer Picture Snapped by NYC TourGuide & Actor Jim Dykes

Check it out: a real flying saucer picture I snapped at sunset over Riverside Park in New York City-- just as darkness fell-- when overhead we both noticed a hovering craft, cloaked in surrounding cloud cover. It was amazingly quiet-- it had a circle of flashing lights underneath, and seemed for a second to be silver, as if a force-field cloaking device was momentarily lifted, and then almost instantly, it began reflecting the exact color of the clouds around it. Our mouths were open and we watched in amazement, when my friend Mike said: "Wake up--you have one picture left...snap it!" So I did.

Could these crafts be intergalactic tourists? Just unobtrusively observing the more primitive race in our daily environment? Have they been coming for centuries? Is Earth part of the Interspace Travel Agency Special for vacationers a la Liberty Travel or ABC Tours for little green men and their little green wives?

Isn't it interesting how historically, everybody who has seen such t…

Duplicity film has some New York scenes, but film is a pretentious, confusing, over-edited MESS!

Just went to a ridiculously “secure” screening of the new Julia Roberts/Clive Owen film DUPLICITY—we were all forced to open our bags at the door and be searched by guards as we entered the Director’s Guild Theatre on West 57th Street in New York City. The same guards roamed with aisles with night vision equipment during the screening to make sure no one was trying to record the film or it’s soundtrack. It was pretty amusing… This happens more and more at screenings. It’s very insulting…and why? The movie is a huge, muddled mess: overedited, over-imagined and over-thought…it’s a whole lot of “nothin”… It’s a “spy thriller” ala James Bond but without the cool gadgets and the bloody death everywhere. The film has wonderful actors…the wonderful Kathleen Chalfante, the aforementioned Roberts & Owen. Also, Tom Wilkinson is reteamed with his “John Adams” co-star Paul Giamatti and they start the movie with confusing slow-motion fisticuffs on a private plane runway. The movie, written …

"Bernie Madoff's Luxury Apt. Building a Huge Hit on My Tours" says New York City Guide Jim Dykes

Bernie Madoff’s posh Eastside building where the Ponzie-schemer has been under house arrest for several months has become one of the most requested sites on Jim Dykes’ New York City tours as well as his Rich and Famous New York City tours. Madoff gave himself up 3 months ago after his $50Billion scheme was revealed due to the plummeting economy. The building is located on East 64th Street, which is notable for having an extremely high number of billionaire residents. Television host Matt Lauer, of NBC’s TODAY SHOW (not a billionaire) is a resident of the building and is said to “despise” the attention Madoff has brought to the building. “On many days, there are huge crowds of TV crews, TV satellite trucks, security guards, reporters and photographers, policemen, bystanders and MY tourists outside the building,” says Jim Dykes. The rich ladies and gentlemen in that neighborhood are furious…they loved the recent movie about Madoff starring Richard Dreyfus.
“Everybody wants to know …

Jim Dykes Joins NYC Tour Guides on Special Seminar Tour of St. John the Divine-the "unfinished" Cathedral of New York City

Recently a group of New York City tour guides were invited to increase our knowledge of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine—the “unfinished” Cathedral-- by attending a specially organized two-day seminar on two of the coldest, snowiest days of the winter. Day One, in the morning we had a general highlights tour of the cathedral. The guide Kevin Blum, was a very nice young fellow from Iowa, who had followed his studies (and his girlfriend) to New York City. His tour was fine and efficient, but not for a group of well-read New York guides who had been leading groups to the Cathedral for many years. In our group alone, we calculated about 100 years of NYC guide experience, including myself, Mike Brennan, Tour Goddess Jane Marx and Juliette Frydman. Kevin soon began letting us all contribute and embellish his memorized accounts of Cathedral history, including the struggle between two architectural firms in the 1890s which ended up with part of the Cathedral being Romanesque Revival and…

New York Post cancels gossip queen Liz Smith's column: Jim Dykes's first gossip mention!

OMG, I couldn’t believe it when it was announced that the reigning “queen” of NYC gossip columnists, Liz Smith, was being canned by the New York Post after nearly 20 years. I mean, the woman is an institution (older than the Empire State Building)… Liz Smith calls herself “The 2000-year-old gossip columnist.” She arrived in Manhattan from the University of Texas journalism school in 1949 and has worked constantly in celebrity/show biz media for 57 years including a stint as a radio and TV producer.
I immediately called a friend who is a theatre reviewer/columnist who knows Liz and who has ghost-written her column on occasion (he and I just went to the theatre tonight) and I asked him what was going on with Liz and Rupert Murdoch, publisher of the NY Post and owner of Fox News (where Liz still appears).
“Rupert Murdoch and Liz’s agents just couldn’t come to an agreement because of several reasons: her money demands are ridiculous…Murdoch had already cut her back to 3 columns a week i…

“I wanted to laugh! I wanted to love it!” -but it didn't happen