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Showbiz really pays!

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By Geoff Hamill

Talk about a great day; we sure had one in Springfield Sunday.

After a weather delay on Friday, Sunday saw sunshine and blue skies as the crew of Two Popes Production Company began filming a TV commercial for Bluegrass Cellular on Main Street.

When filming was ready to begin, Kathy Elliott and the folks at Springfield City Hall made it known that they needed extras for the shoot. A few people showed up early Sunday morning, and lots of others came later that afternoon for the parade scene.

Before the sun had come up completely, and while it was still quite chilly, six extras were used to film a scene on Main Street in front of some local businesses. I was standing around watching, and ended up being one of those extras. I thought it would be pretty neat to be in a commercial, if only for a few seconds, and we all had fun in the filming process.

One of my fellow extras, Jerry Effner, was wearing a dark blue shirt very similar to mine. We both had observed the “no shirts with logos” rule set forth by the filming company, but after shooting one scene, someone with the crew decided our shirts were just too much alike.

While we stood on the sidewalk gawking at the painstakingly detailed work the crew was doing for just a couple seconds of action, a lady with the crew approached us, took me by the arm and said, “Your shirts are too much alike. I need you to come with me to wardrobe. We’re going to get you another shirt.”

Wardrobe? Wow, I was going to the wardrobe trailer. If they were going to go to the trouble to put a new shirt on me, I must be about to get my big break into show business.

I put up no fight, and we were off to the wardrobe trailer, which was filled with all different styles and colors of clothing selected for possible use in the commercial.

Once we were in the trailer, I noticed I wasn’t alone. A couple of young actors who appeared to be the stars of the commercial by all indications in earlier scenes were also there, so I knew this was the place to be.

The lady who had taken me to wardrobe began going through a large selection of shirts. There were long-sleeved and short-sleeved shirts, and they came in all colors. She looked at the shirts, then back at me, and to the shirts again, before picking out a green, short-sleeved shirt and smiling.

“This one will work,” she said. Then she opened the package – that’s right, it was a brand new shirt – and removed the pins. You know how new dress shirts can be. If there’s one pin in a new dress shirt, there are at least 100!

Once the pins were removed, she passed the shirt to another lady who then steamed and pressed it before handing it to me to put on.

I slipped into the new shirt and was told to go back to the part of Main Street where the crew continued filming. Yes, this would be my shot. I was about to get my big scene. I was ready for my close-up!

I stood close behind the director and the crew members as they continued to film, and the minutes on the set turned to an hour. The next thing I knew, we were breaking for lunch.

I had yet to shoot my big scene, but I knew it had to be coming any minute after lunch. After all, they had sent me to wardrobe!

Lunch came and went, and filming of the parade scene began. Still, no word on what I needed to do, but I was undeterred. If they take a guy to wardrobe and put him in a brand new shirt, there’s no doubt he’s going to be used in the commercial, right?

The parade scene ended, and the crew moved on to filming a scene featuring some young boys on skateboards and bikes, which included my son on his bike.

Ah, now I see their plan. They had put me in this new shirt and were just waiting to include me in this scene for a father-and-son shot.

The boys went through several takes on skateboards and bikes, and I watched, but not quite as patiently as I had before. Still, I knew my time would come.

After the bike scene, one of the Pope brothers (I’m not sure if it was Jerry or Greg) said, “OK, we’ll shoot one more scene of you waving, Kathy!”

They were talking to Kathy Elliott, who along with Laurie Smith and Nell Haydon had made the commercial a reality for Springfield.

They wanted Kathy to wave to the camera as she walked out of a downtown doorway. Oh, yeah, this was it. I would be the guy across the street that she would wave to for the final scene.

Kathy did her bit, and the crew met in the middle of the street beside the Washington County Courthouse. After a few pats on the back for all involved, someone yelled, “That’s a wrap,” and the few folks who remained cheered, shook hands and exchanged hugs to celebrate a job well done.

Done? We can’t be done. I’m still wearing the shirt, and it came straight from wardrobe! There has to be another scene!

Nope. Looks like my scene was apparently cut before it was even filmed. Some folks worry about having their scenes end up on the cutting room floor. Not me. My shot, well, it was never shot at all!

I walked over to the lady, the same one who had taken me to wardrobe in the first place, and asked her if I should go back to wardrobe, change and leave the shirt there.

“No, that’s OK. You can just keep it,” she said.

I didn’t get my scene, and I didn’t get my big break, but I did get a brand new green shirt, and that’s not bad, even if some of my friends didn’t think it was the best looking shirt they ever saw. One of them even likened my shirt-in-waiting to the lone bullet of Deputy Barney Fife of the Andy Griffith Show. Remember? He never got the chance to actually use it, but ole Barney always had his bullet ready if his chance came along. I guess my shirt was no different.

At the end of the day, I began to wonder if they were ever really going to put me in a scene at all, or perhaps they just didn’t like the shirt I wore to the filming in the first place.

Well, I didn’t get my close-up, but I did get to take part in one scene as an extra in the background, and that’s probably where I belong. I had a good time, spent the day with good friends and my family on a sunny day in downtown Springfield, and, oh, yeah, I got a brand new green shirt!