Donna in Hollywoodland

The blog from Los Angeles and Hollywood by Donna Grayson

Monday, May 23, 2005

Filming A Television Show

I though it was going to be just a typical Monday. I was sitting at my desk at the office keypunching and coding invoices. About 3:00 ish get a call on my cell phone,
and since I don't recognize the phone # coming through... I don't pick it up. They leave a message, "Hi, Donna, This is Steve from Ricki Maslar Casting . I wanted to bring you in to audition for a role in Michael Jackson Trial Reenactment on E! Entertainment Television. I need to see you right away, and you would be filming tonight".
I call him back right away and we make arrangements. I am to stop off at my apartment and get a white shirt. Then drive over to his offices in Universal City for an audition.

The bummer is that my boss is not in the office today, and I am helping with some of her work. My boss' boss is on the phone. I quickly send him an email saying I am leaving - but if filming is finished before 10 pm, I will come back to the office. I tell two other employees what has happened and I take off.

After stopping at my apartment and digging through the clothes in my closet, I rush to the casting offices in Universal City and make it there around 4:15. Since they don't have the transcripts from todays trial yet, Steve has me read from another witness's testimony to get a feel for my voice. I read it the way I would say it
if I were on the witness stand. Then Steve asks me to say the lines with authority, then say them with a really bad attitude. I am assuming he wants to see if I can
do different things with the same dialog, since it is an unknown what the director will require. He tells me I have done a really good reading, and he is pleased with it. But he has me in mind for a different character than the one he brought me in for. He asks me to wait in the lobby, and I take the opportunity to run to the ladys room.

When I get back Steve is still on the phone with E! Entertainment. When he gets off he shows me a pictures from online of the Witness that they are having me reenact, Marion Arvizo. He tells me to stop by my apartment and get a similar outfit to what she is wearing, a black scoop neck with a jacket. And then gives me the address to E ! Entertainment and tells me to get there right away. There is another women in the lobby who is there for an audition as well.

After stopping off at my apartment in Hollywood again. I drive over to the E! Entertainment offices on Wilshire Blvd in Beverly Hills as fast as I can. I normally am a pretty slow driver, and it is rush hour. I make it there about 6:30 pm. Just in time to miss the dinner they were feeding us. Oh well, I ate a South Beach Diet Cranberry Cereal Bar in the car on the way over.

I wait in the fancy modern lobby for the assistant to come and get me. They take me to the Green Room where I put the bag of clothes I brought. Then they take me to the dining area, where dinner is just winding down. I grab a Diet Coke , and I meet two other women in my age range who are re- enacting two other witnesses from todays trial. One of them was the women who was in the Casting office as I left. We sit at a table and chat about the acting biz, and how we got cast in this. We all seem to get along really well, so this should be a nice evening.

After eating, one of the other ladys get called into make-up. The second woman and I decide to head back to the greenroom. As we walk down the hallways we see other actors in makeup and wardrobe. Its all pretty exciting.
We sit in the green room, and chat and watch TV. One of the assistants bring us all the legal paperwork to fill out, W9s and whatever. I am surprised to find that in addition to my drivers license, that my social security card is actually in my purse. I didn't even know I had put it there. Thats good, now I know my paperwork is finished.

Soon, it is my turn to get called into Make-up. I sit in the chair and the Make-up artist puts hot rollers in my hair to make it curly. Then she tweezes my eyebrows to make them thinner like the Witness that I am reenacting. And she trims my bangs. Hey, I'm getting alittle mini-beauty treatment while I am getting ready to shoot my character.

I finally ask one of the assistants if there is a tape of the women I am portraying, or some way I can tell exactly how to act like she does. It turns out no - thats why they are doing Trail Reenactments on TV, because no cameras are allowed in the courtroom. All we have are the pictures that are taken as they go to and from the Courtroom and then posted on the internet news. She brings me one of the scenes I will be shooting so I can read over and get a feel for my character.

We start to pick through all the clothes I brought, and they seem really happy that I brought a selection of wardrobe. I brought everything that was dark with a scoop neck that I own.

Here is a Pic of me portraying the Witness Marion Arvizo :

Here is a Pic of Marion Arvizo from the internet news:

Finally, it is my turn to go on the sound stage. The assistant gets me a bottled water, and we walk toward the filming area. Wow, I feel like a Real Actress, with an assistant holding my water bottle and everything. This is so exciting.

We get to the Filming area. Its set up just like the real courtroom. The judge, lawyers, jury and everyone is there - even the actor playing Michael Jackson. The Director comes up and introduces himself to me. I go sit in the witness stand. The other Actors say their hellos and greet me. Everyone is really nice, with great attitudes. You can tell they are all having a great time filming this show.

The Director gives me the scenes to read over. But there is a Teleprompter to read over the shoulder of the lawyer who is asking me the questions. I have never read from a teleprompter before. It wasn't as hard as I thought. Except at the points were I had to stammer or change my train of thought mid-sentence. I am sure there are parts where I look like I am reading, but I got used to the teleprompter very quickly.

The first funny thing that happened was the actor playing the lawyer kept leaning over to far and blocking the Teleprompter. And I kept messing up because I couldn't read the words. And being the new Kid on the Block here, I didn't feel comfortable telling the other actor he was blocking my view. Finally the third time, the Director laughed and said "Is he blocking the Teleprompter?" and the actor moved over alittle to the left, and they moved the teleprompter alittle to the right - and everyone chuckled about it.
I thought, oh, these people are really nice - this is a great experience.

There were about 5 "scenes" I had to do. Testimony from today's trial. Each scene was at the most one and a half pages long. I would read over the script, then tuck the pages out of site. Then we would film and I read from the teleprompter.

We finally got to one scene, where the Lawyer questioning me asks "Are you okay ?" As I read the script, I called the director over and asked him "What is going on here ? He is asking if I am okay. Is she upset ? Do you want me to cry or yell or what ? "
The Director stopped, and looked at the script and said "Wow, you caught that. That is really good that you caught that. What was your name again?"
I said "Donna"
He said "And your last name?"
So me, the director and the actor playing the lawyer had alittle chat about why he would ask her if she was upset.
Finally, I said to the other actor, "Okay I will get upset in this scene".

One of my lines has a cus word, then I say something else - both of which I got very upset, raised my voice, kind of mad yet crying. I am sure for the situation
I really over-acted.
The other actors thought it was great. They all applauded. "Keep it, Keep it" said the actor playing Michael Jackson. I am sure since they are acting in a Trial, most of the day is like an actual courtroom - so getting some emotion in the room livens things up.
The actor playing the lawyer said "That was really good. What is your name again?"
"Donna Grayson".
Wow - I really got a chance to ACT.

It appeared that the Director was talking to people on his headset. And they were figuring out what to do. The next time I did it, I played it more sad and crying, kind of whimpering.
Then the Director seemed to be talking to people on his headset again. And they asked me to do it very low key, like I was trying to hold all the emotions in.

After that, it was one more scene. And the Director said "Thats it, you're done".
I was shocked, I was sad. I wanted to keep going.
All the other actors went "Awwwh" and applauded.
I said "Thank you. This has been really great."
The actor playing Michael Jackson asked me to sign his board, which I did.
And one of the Lawyers walked with me over to the Makeup area to get the rest of my things, stopping at the munchie table to grab some snacks. The makeup lady asked me if I wanted to take my stage makeup off. No, I was keeping it on until I absolutely had to take it off.

In the makeup area, the last Witness was getting her makeup done. I grabbed my things and they signed me out.
One of the other assistants walked with me and the first witness to the elevators. The two of us road the elevator down to the parking area and chatted about our experience playing Trial Witnesses. The other actress seemed really really tired. She said it has been a really long day for her.
It was along day for me too, and since it was only 9 pm - I was heading back to the office to do more work. I was totally wired. Completely flying and soaring. Almost psycho wired. And the only caffeine I had had was right when I had arrived.
I wondered if it was my Hypoglycemia and made a mental note to mention it next time I was at the doctors. I mean, I was flying on adrenaline and there was no coming down.

I got to the office to continue keypunching invoices into the computer. We are in a security highrise, so its ok to be there. One other coworker was still there, and they were surprised to see me with my hair all curly and all the stage makeup on. I told them all about my experience today.
Its a good thing I went into the office to do more work. If I had gone home to my apartment, I would have literally been bouncing off the walls. I can't remember ever being this wired on adrenaline before. It felt alittle weird, and I was alittle worried about it. Needless to say though, I sure got alot of paperwork finished.
Then my brain started to get tired. My eyes were alittle strained. But my body was still flying. I went home about 11:15.

When I got home I emailed all my friends and relatives and told them to watch E! Entertainment tomorrow night. I posted it on the website.
I figured they can't show all my scenes. Especially since there are other witnesses on the stand that day. But I figured I would at least have four lines on the tv set. I was so excited.

Trying to un-wind. A glass of wine, or two. Laying in bed reading. I finally fell asleep at 2:30 am in the morning.

What a fantastic day !

Catch My Performance on TV Tuesday Night

I am in Tuesdays edition of the Michael Jackson Reenactment on E ! channel.
It is at 7:30 Tuesday 5/24/05 night ... thats Los Angeles time so check your local listings.

My characters name is Marion Arvizo... and she was planning the blood drive for the little boy. She was a witness at todays trial.

You'll get to see me all fixed up with a curly hair-do, as I portray this person on TV.
(Not THE character, because they only had the transcripts, no one saw how she actually behaved on the witness stand. So I had to wing it. )

Here is the Website for the Show

Here are pictures of the woman I am portraying: Marion Arvizo

I will post more about my experience in a few days. Right now I am really tired from my long day. But I will tell you the whole story about how I got cast and everything,
very soon. I still have a few days of blogging to do, so I will get caught up soon. Please check back for the rest of the story.
In the meantime, I hope you get to watch the TV show.

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