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Date posted July 26, 2002

A Night as an Extra
by Michael Wills, Jr.


While surfing the net one day, I happened to stumble upon beinamovie.com, which offered an opportunity to be an extra in the Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson film, Anger Management at Yankee Stadium. Since I am an amateur filmmaker and actor (currently in a film called “Fight to Dawn”), I decided that this would be an enlightening experience for me and my filmmaking comrades.

I reserved 13 spots for June 21st, the first day of shooting. The day after I reserved my spot, I made sure to ask everyone (twelve people) in “Fight to Dawn” if they were down for the 21st. I got a lot of replies like, “Hey Mike that’s sounds cool, count me in” and “Yo Mike, are you serious?” and “Mike, I guess I’ll go if everyone else is.” So naturally, on the evening of the 21st, I only got two other people (my friends Terrence and Kyle) to come with me.

The e-mails sent to me from beinamovie.com hyped this shoot up to the max. I was told many things. Upon arrival, I was promised a “Snack Pack,” consisting of a fruit, a pastry, a bag of chips, a piece of candy, and a refreshing beverage. While reading this I thought, “hey this does not sound half bad.” But wait, there was more! I would also get an unlimited amount of stadium food. I was also guaranteed that a “Be an Extra” table would be set up for people interested in the “Star Life.” I was also told to print out (using my expensive laser printer ink) 10 pages of confirmations and affidavits. So I was ready on the 21st.

The evening finally arrived and all three of us were set to go. I persuaded Kyle to drive because his car was much crappier than mine (well, my mother’s car – but that isn’t the point) was and we were going to the Bronx. He agreed and his father, who is a fire marshal at the fire house nearest to Yankee Stadium, let us park the car at the firehouse and had a friend drive us to the stadium.
We arrived about 15 minutes late, and I was nervous as hell because on of those confirmation papers told us that we may not get in 15 minutes after the scheduled time. Well when we got there, there was a line that made us question whether it is we really wanted to be here. Ten minutes later, we got to the desk and were asked for the signed affidavit. While walking through the door, everyone got a wrist band. Some guy named Manwell, who thought he was a real comedian, fastened our wristbands. He seemed to have a crack for everyone, because when I got up there he told me to close my mouth because my braces might shine too much light into the camera. Yo, what kind of crap is that? I almost gave Manwell a damn Dentene Ice before he killed all the damn extras. (trust me, his breath was critical and dangerous). When he got to Kyle, all Kyle got was a “What kind of parents would name their kid Kyle?” Hardy Har Har - I hope this guy had no part in the “Anger Management” script. Of course, he put the wristband on so that the tape would rip about 10 strands of hair off your arm when you take it off.

Well we got to the door and all I could think was “Snack Pack” (we decided not to go to McDonalds that night because we were going to be fed). Boy, I couldn’t wait to rip into that pastry. I was handed a damn plastic bag with a warm Capri sun, a tiny pack of two hard cookies, a fully bruised banana, and a Hershey’s Kiss. It was an outrage. I drank the Capri sun, ate the Kiss, and gave the rest to Terrence (who decided to give me back the empty plastic bag to throw out).
So then we were lead to the bleachers of Yankee Stadium and thought, ok now we are in action. Since we were late, we were led into the emptiest part of Yankee Stadium, far from civilization. Our group leader (who we were supposed to be with the entire night), Danny, spoke to us for 10 minutes about nothing important (except for the fact that he would make sure we got our dinner pack), and led us to the action. Once we were situated with the other extras, I never saw Danny again. Now we were on one side, and the cameras were way on the other side. Kyle, Terrence, and I were having a hard time trying to see Woody Harrelson and Adam Sandler as they walked in and, of course, the tallest guy in creation (whom I properly dubbed, “Big Country”) decided to stand on a freaking chair in front of us. This too, was an outrage.

We decided that we were not going to get anything out of sitting so far, so we decided to make our move towards the cameras gradually. We moved a couple sections over and were lucky enough to get to sit behind a group of water throwing college students. One girl poured two bottles of water on some guy’s lap. Well, as long as I did not get wet, I was happy. Five minutes later, some guy named Dante, who was supposed to entertain the crowd, came around with his comedy routine. It seemed like nothing he said was funny. However, the insults from the crowd had me dying of laughter. Five minutes after that, I watched one of the college students take a swig of water and decide to throw the quarter filled bottle onto the field. What prompted him to do that? I don’t know. However, a Production Assistant saw the bottle fly and told him to get out. Being the brave guy he was, he proceeded to try to persuade the P.A. that he did not do it and, when asked who did it, turned around and began to point at us, until he saw Terrence – who is a big guy. He and his college friends were escorted out of the building and all of a sudden, the noise level went down tremendously.

At about 11 P.M., we decided to make another move towards the camera. We got close enough to possibly be in the shot. Unfortunately, the director decided to call that scene a wrap and moved to another section, which – OF COURSE – was the section that we just moved from. We decided to try and get back to our seats, when a little lady, another PA (who I dubbed Mini Ally McBeal), went psycho on us and gave us a little interrogation: “What are you guys doing? You must get to your seats or we will have you removed! This isn’t a place for tomfoolery!” I mean, her frail little nervous 5-foot body yelling at us? Terrence and I are both 6’3’’. It was a sight that made even us laugh. Therefore, very politely I told her to calm down and explained what we were doing. She eventually allowed us pass.

Finally, we made it into a section where we were sure to be in a shot. It was about 12 A.M. when the cameras were finally positioned properly and I saw many people with the coveted dinner packs. Now, I was about to get up when a PA (who I suitably dubbed Baldy) instructed us to sit down and promised that our dinner packs would be brought to us. A half hour passed and I still did not get my dinner pack. I called the guy over and politely asked about it. He told me to be patient and that I would eventually get mine. I trusted this guy, I really did. Another half hour passed and it seemed like everyone around us were eating. Now I was getting angry. Kyle was telling me that I should make a run for it and go get our own dinner pack. I refused – Baldy promised me my damn dinner pack and I want him to run his self in back and get me one. Kyle proceeded to explain that Baldy did not give a damn about me. I waited about 15 minutes and started to complain: “Listen man – I did not come here and wait 4 damn hours for free for a damn banana and Hidden Spring water – you told my friends and I that we would be served dinner packs, and I would like it Now!” He finally agreed and brought us our dinner packs. Unfortunately, the meal was awful – a tortilla filled with lettuce, tofu, and melted cheese. I took one bite and threw the rest out. At least I got potato chips and another Capri Sun. That was our unlimited stadium food – There was an unlimited amount of uneaten tortillas throughout the stadium. It was an outrage.

Now the acting began. The director instructed the crowd to pretend that the teams were on the field warming up before the game and that the audience was just arriving. Sandler was supposed to go down one of the aisles onto the field. Our job was not to pay much attention to Sandler but to find our seats and the players on the field. I thought that these people were competent enough to understand that. As soon as the director called “Action” people went mad. The stood on the seats, waved their caps, yelled to Adam, etc. Yeah, as if they actually thought they would get on film like that. So, the director explained to them the deal and, after about 100 takes (ok about 95), the people finally understood.

At about 2:30, Terrence started getting terrified, because his curfew was at 2:00. He kept telling us that we had to go but didn’t tell us before we went that he had to get back to a certain time. We were not about to leave. His parents are very strict and he kept talking about his mother putting him over his knee – which is highly impossible (trust me). I gave him a dollar in change to call his mother. He woke her up and she told him, in a cold voice, to get home within an hour. Again, we were not about to leave. I could not conceive how an 18-year-old man has a damn curfew on a Friday night. I mean, it is not as if he had anything important to do at 4:30 in the morning. So, for the rest of the night…ehem…I mean morning, he was in a nervous, jumpy, agitated, and angry mood.

The last scene (and the simplest) was shot in the distance at 4:45 and it took place in the far bleachers. It called for many real people to be mixed in with cardboard people, which when shot from a distance, would look real. Now the three of us knew that we would not get our close-up, but we chose our location carefully – we sat on the top row right in front of the yellow Snapple sign. The director told the three of us to stand up and walk around. Kyle and I walked and talked realistically, while Terrence (still nervous) paced briskly back and forth in front of the Snapple sign. It isn’t as boring as it sounds. Kyle and I were cracking up at the acting of people who thought that the camera would pick up on it. One man, an above middle aged black man with a tacky suit, decided that it was necessary to walk all the way up from the second row, look at the Snapple sign, put his hands up, say “Ah hah,” turn around like Michael Jackson, jook and jive his way over to us, shake both of our hands while briskly nodding his head, tell us hi and call us youngsters, lean on the Snapple sign, pretend to drink something, and then stride on back down to the second row. I appropriately dubbed that man “Slim Shady Grady.” Now, of course, the director wanted that scene to be perfect so he shot it about 94 more times (as usual) and every time that man got up, Kyle and I began to crack up.

Now it was 5:30 and the director called the shoot a wrap. Terrence was more nervous than I had ever seen him before. As we were walking out, we noticed packs upon packs of Capri Sun drinks (obviously for the other days of shooting). A little kid, about 14 years old went to take some but his mother called him back. What do you know? Ol’ Slim Shady Grady turned the corner – and eyed the drinks. When I looked back, I saw him struggling to rip the bag open. Kyle and I were in hysterics. He had to be the sleaziest man we have ever met.

We then realized that we would not have a ride back to the Fire House. So we had to walk about 10 blocks to get back. About half way, Terrence asked me for the time. I told him it was 6:07 and spontaneously jumped up and kicked the gate. I proceeded to explain to him that he wasn’t late anymore, he was early so his parents cannot really get mad – He wasn’t buying all that jazz. We were clear of traffic on the way back, but took a wrong turn and accidentally went into JFK airport. JFK airport, unfortunately, makes you go through the whole airport before it lets you out. We got back on the Van Wyck expressway and hit traffic. Terrence did not get home until 7:15. We both felt guilty, but the guilt was overpowered by the humorous situation.

Well, I learned a valuable lesson; do not expect the red carpet treatment as an extra, especiall y if you are a free extra. The whole evening was full of misfortune and stress. I guess it is ironic that the movie is rightfully dubbed, “Anger Management.

Look for me in the movie “Anger Management” next year – Audience Member 2,077.

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