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Leverage Relived

by Joe Donlon

Bio | Email | Follow: @pdxpeacock

Posted on August 18, 2009 at 4:40 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 2:32 PM

I was only on - for a few seconds. Okay, maybe 30 seconds. Still, I can't believe how many people contacted me about on my cameo in the TNT show 'Leverage.' Actually, I think 'cameo' is reserved for a BIG star - who shows up in an unexpected place. Let's face it, I was below a bit player. But the great thing was, the crew made all of us 'feel' like stars. Five different people connected with the show - called me with information and instructions - starting a week before the shoot.

Considering the response, I thought I'd share a bit more about my experience. We shot the scene almost two months ago. I had to be at the sound stage in Clackamas - at 8:00am. First stop, was the camp of trailers - where I was to prepare for hair, makeup, and wardrobe. As my escort lead me toward the first trailer - one of the stars of the show, Christian Kane, stepped out of the door and introduced himself. We talked for a few minutes, and then I started to enter the trailer - looking for a place to set down some of the things I had brought. That's when Christian smiled and said, "Dude, where are you going?" Frankly, I had no idea. Turns out, I was about to walk into HIS trailer. Oops. My escort then waved me down to the last trailer in the row - and showed me my designated trailer space.

From there, it was on to hair and make-up. It's sort of like a rolling spa. Talk about pampering. Not to complain, but I'm on my own with all this stuff - at the station. And trust me, I'm usually out the door -- in about 2 minutes. After 15 to 20 minutes in the make up chair - I shifted over to the next seat, and got a nifty haircut - which I needed.

sugarpussben (2).JPGHere's a shot I took in the makeup trailer. That's local actor Benedict Herman, with local make-up artist extraordinaire Stephanie Johnson. Benedict played 'The Congressman' in the episode - who had an unfortunate misunderstanding of 'Desire.' Think 'stripper.' Stephanie, btw, is a very funny and interesting follow on Twitter @Sugarpuss.

One thing that surprised me, was how many people involved in the production of this show - are LOCAL. I figured the vast majority of them would be from Los Angeles. Not the case. They've been very busy - with all the productions underway here this summer. For their sake, I hope that continues.

Yes, it's good work - if you can get it. I realized that, as I passed the 'Craft Services' bus on my way to makeup. If you're hungry, hop on board and help yourself. Sandwich? Peanuts? Fruit? M&M's? I missed breakfast on my way out the door, so I was more than happy to catch this bus.

After I got settled into my trailer space, there was a knock on my door. At this point, it was probably 9:30am, and I thought perhaps we were getting close to shooting the scene. Turns out, it was Bill Wheeler, the man I was to 'interview' in the upcoming scene.

bill.JPGBill is an actor from Seattle, who could not have been nicer. He offered to run through our lines a few times, which I appreciated. It was all a bit surreal, frankly. I'm not used to getting a 'second' take.

I spent the rest of the morning, walking around the sound stage - and watching the main actors shoot a number of scenes. It's amazing to see how much time and effort goes into EACH SCENE.

After a catered lunch -- Bill and I were on. The crew made arrangements to move the shoot 'up' -- so I could get to the station for our evening newscasts. The one thing that surprised me - more than anything - was the number of people who are 'behind' the camera during the scene. The hair experts were popping in - to make adjustments, the makeup artists were touching up their work, the wardrobe rep was tweaking the tie she picked out for me. And that doesn't include the directors, writers, producers, photographers, etc. who are responsible for the final product.

When we anchor the news, we are literally the only people in the studio. The cameras are all robotic, and the producer and director give us any necessary instructions through our earpieces. Anyway, we did probably 15 or 20 takes of the scene -- from a number of different camera angles. And just like that, the crew was breaking down and moving to set up and shoot the next scene.

For those of us who get the honor of drifting briefly into this lifestyle, it's an amazing experience -- and every bit as 'glamorous' as it seems. But for those who live it every day, it is a grind. They work LONG hours, and they work incredibly hard. At one point later in the week, the crew had been shooting more of the episode in the KGW studios. They were there all day and night. When I went into the studio to anchor our 10@10 show, I had never seen so much gear in the first floor hallway. It was literally lined up, floor to ceiling -- end-to-end. And when I came out of the studio a half hour later -- it was GONE. All of it. It was as if they had never been there.

beth.JPGEveryone I crossed paths with, was cordial and friendly. Timothy Hutton rode up to the studio on a bike. Beth Riesgraf stopped to chat and take a picture. They all talked about how much they LOVED shooting in Portland. Christian Kane has been playing in a band during his stay here. They were genuine in their desire to have the show return here - next season.

My thanks to casting director Lana Veenker (another local & fun follow @lanaveenker). She was literally looking for Anderson Cooper to play the role -- but had to settle for me. Click here to watch the entire episode - featuring a paranoid investigative reporter. My 15 minutes --- err -- 15 seconds of fame, are at the very end. It was a great day.