Friday, November 11, 2005


I worked on "Scrubs" today and yesterday, my first time on the show (and second, if you have to get technical, sir). They shoot it at a closed hospital not far from where the 101 Freeway meets the 405, and it's pretty unusual. The bottom floor is waterstained and fairly unmaintained*, the upper floors are where they shoot and have dressing rooms and such, and are quite impressive. I guess they're in their fifth (and last?) season, so it's been a good investment for the production, or studio, or network, or whoever.**

I have never been in a more familial atmosphere on a show than I have on "Scrubs." There is a big twisting room that is for extras, and they have couches, and magazines, a radio, tables, and a television/VCR with several donated tapes to entertain them. People know each others' names, many actually have I.D. badges with their own faces on them, and the regular extras have been known to get to deliver lines from time to time. Also amazing was that each day, there is a new face among the background, that of a common person who won an internet auction to come and be on the show, hang around the set, and meet the people who make it, all for charity. The man I talked to today was from Connecticut, had paid his own airfare and lodging to come do the show, and had donated over six thousand dollars to charity for his one day's work (he can expect his check for fifty-some dollars at the end of the month).

I really like it when cast and crew eat together, and this show is no exception (and the food was excellent). Yesterday, I sat down for lunch at a table, with John C. McGinley at the far end, and no one else. Soon, however, three more members of the cast and today's episode's writer sat down there too, filling every seat. I felt like a fly on the wall to their banter, conversations, and shenanigans, but a little uncomfortable, since I clearly wasn't one of them and never will be. Still, they seem like a close-knit group, a family of sorts, and I'm SURE that fans of the show would kill to be where I was on that.

Later on, they picked me and another guy to be paramedics, and we acted in a scene with McGinley, one that I screwed up two takes on. The first was, in pulling a stretcher out an elevator and toward the camera, the stretcher ran over my foot. The second was more embarrassing, as I pulled the stretcher into the room, my butt hit the Steadicam. D'oh.

Even so, there was no yelling, and I was still asked back the next day, where people continued to hang out and be extraordinarily friendly to one another. And me, as a couple people shook my hand at the end of the day, and one of the actresses (she who was on the stretcher) actually gave me a hug.

Often, as an extra, you don't know what you're going to be from one day to another. For example, my last week's gigs have been as
1) a restaurant patron ("The West Wing")
2) a New York City pedestrian (SPIDER-MAN 3)
3) a courtroom observer ("Boston Legal")
4) an airport traveler ("Malcolm in the Middle")
and 5) on "Scrubs," a hospital visitor, a bathrobed patient, an orderly, an EMT paramedic, and a surgical intern.

It beats the order entry job I had in '02-'03, where every day was almost a Xerox copy of the day before (the only variances were my colour of tie, where I'd eat lunch, and what salesgirl I was infatuated with each day). Not in pay, of course. Or hours. But who's counting?

Today was also unique in that, to my knowledge, it was the first day I've ever had my name on the call sheet. Even when I was a stand-in, years ago, I think it was a last minute thing. But there it is, first and last name on the sheet, which maybe I'll take home to remember. Should be a bigger deal, I guess, but since I'm still making Taco Bell wages, name on the call sheet isn't quite so glamourous.

But it could be worse.

Rish Scrub Outfield

*Actually, after writing this, they shot some on the bottom floor too, so I was wrong.
**I also didn't find out until after I wrote this, but the show isn't even on the air anymore. They're a mid-season replacement coming on in January after my pal Jeff's favourite show, "My Name Is Earl."


katherine the shrew said...

I had fun reading your blog. The first time I came across a human prop hehehe! kidding aside I read the whole blog and find it funny how you share your ups and downs and views on things you observe. nway on to my next blog :-)

Jeff said...

I'll take Scrubs over The Office any day to follow up My Name Is Earl. As it stands, I just tell the TIVO to ignore the station for a week.

baylink said...

I, personally, find it amusing of Hollywood that even the *extras* don't follow TV much. :-)

Scrubs has been a late-starter something like three seasons running now, going into their 6th (and reportedly, yes, last) season. So no, they're not off-the-air, as we usually mean that phrase.

Nice piece, though; those of us who *are* into TV love these little postcards from the edge.