Sunday, November 6, 2011
So, my courtroom TV show finally aired, so I feel free to speak about it. I won’t mention the name of the show in this post. I found out it aired because a childhood friend of mine Facebooked me to say, “Are you Frank Goode?” That was my character’s name on the show. She happened to have the TV on about to change the channel when she saw me. Crazy.
Let’s do this one as a timeline.
11:00 I arrive on time with a couple of different outfit choices. It’s in the same place that I auditioned. They escort me across a soundstage and upstairs. It looks like an office almost. It’s a big room with a bunch of cubicles with doors on them. There are different actors, with different cases in each cubicle.
11:14 I arrive in my cubicle and meet my “accuser,” a nice guy named Justin. He just moved to town to try to get a job in sound engineering. He has dreads, I’m jealous.
11:31 My “wife” arrives. I was not there for their audition, so she wasn’t aware that she had a husband. I fake propose and make it fake official. She’s a nice girl, and I’ve been thinking about how to say this politely, but I’ll just say, she was one of the least smart people I’ve met. Ever.
11:33 My wife learns that we got sent an e-mail with a summary of the case. Here are the basics. My wife and I were at a movie when the plaintiff sat down next to us in a seat we had been saving for our son. We claimed he was drunk and obnoxious, he claimed that he wasn’t. He and my wife got into it shouting and I stepped in between. Then, depending on who you believe, I either shoved him down the stairs, breaking his leg, or he fell down the stairs, breaking his leg, because he was drunk. Fun fact: They select the cases from real court cases, just changing the names.
11:39 My wife says she wants to make it funny and has been thinking about different ways to do that. I say that I think we’re supposed to use what they sent us as a guide. She just wants to make it funny.
11:47 My wife gets a text from a guy who she is hooking up with, but not dating, saying he wants to be “emotionally connected.” I know the verbage because while we were reading to ourselves, she broke the silence.
Wife: What does “emotionally connected” mean?
Wife: What does “emotionally connected” mean?
Jeff: Yeah, I just don’t understand the context.
Wife: I just got a text from a boy saying he wants to be emotionally connected.
Jeff: I think it means he wants to connect with you emotionally.
12:03 We can hear other litigants practicing with producers through the cubicle walls. One of them has to do with a female rapper and a cruise ship. I wonder why I didn’t get that role.
12:16 I get sent down to makeup. I’ve got to say, makeup does make you look better. Suddenly, I’m bronzed with no blemishes. I’m always secretly hoping that when I go into makeup they’ll look at me and say, “Oh, he’s perfect, we don’t need to do anything.”
12:25 On the way back I see another case practicing in a board room. They’re really animated, we’ve got to step up our game.
12:43 Some of the evidence for the plaintiff is a picture of him in a cast. A guy comes in to take his picture in different clothes, then they’ll photoshop a cast onto his leg.
12:52 We’re not good on the whole. My wife is the defendant, and I’m more of a witness, but every time I try to interject, she just keeps talking, unaware. Insert that’s what it’s like to be married joke here.
12:59 Overall, we sound like the kid in elementary school who has to read a passage aloud, but is not at the same reading level as everyone else. We don’t really sound like people who have had this happen to them.
1:06 My wife decided she liked the idea of saying that when she confronted the plaintiff about being loud, yelling at the movie screen, he said it was “a bro thing.” Yes, she really liked that line.
1:19 We move to the board room, this means that we’re close. My wife keeps leaving the room and the producer is starting to get a little ticked. It’s the emotionally connected text message conversation she’s been having all day.
1:24 She comes back into the room.
1:25 She asks if she can sit down.
1:26 She declares that we’re good and don’t need to practice anymore.
1:27 The producer disagrees and handles it really politely.
1:34 We’re practicing over and over. I’m trying to look like a ticked off bad ass who would potentially hit a man in a movie theater.
1:35. It’s not working, the producer tells me that my face is too friendly. I furrow.
2:06 I’m getting tired of rehearsing now. They recognize that this is taking awhile. Apparently, they were having technical issues they had to fix. They ask us if we want any food. I’m thinking, “Yes! Craft services, the best part of Hollywood.
2:18 They bring the food in. Our choices are a granola bar, a bag of Fritos, and a Nutrigrain bar.
2:41 They’re ready for us! My wife gets in one last text.
2:52 We’re quietly walking down to the sound stage trying not to make a noise while another episode tapes.
2:58 They touch up our makeup and ask us our positions one more time. I overheard this conversation between the director and my wife.
Wife: He was belligerent and loud and he said it was “a bro thing.”
Director: Wait, bro thing? What does that mean?
Wife: I don’t know, he was just saying it was a bro thing.
Director: Did you make that up?
Director: Don’t say that.
3:12 They put us in our places to get the lighting right. They officially move me from the less prominent position to the more prominent position. They were losing faith in her, she was too nervous. The executive producer, Byron Allen is talking to the crowd. He comes into the store I work at all the time, I try to tell him, but he is too far away.
3:25 We are behind the doors and have to swing them open and walk down. We didn’t do it right.
3:28 Take two. We get it right. I have my bad ass face on, carrying a folder with our evidence inside. I got to use my own folder, which is a black University of Iowa folder I got when I graduated. I used it everyday in my last job, and now it’s on national TV. I was happy for it. The hardest part was not stumbling over swinging doors from the audience to the witness stand. I manage, awkwardly.
3:33 We have to stand awkwardly because there will be an announcer describing our case. I try to not look at the camera. Instead I pick out one point on the wall and look at it like it just tried to kidnap my baby.
3:36 Everyone rises for the judge. Our case is beginning.
3:41 The judge come back to me to ask for my side. I say, “Your honor, this man was being aggressive towards my wife, as a husband I had to step in. Did he deserve to get pushed down the stairs? Yes. Did I do it? No.”
3:43 She goes back to the plaintiff, then back to me, then back to the plaintiff. While she’s talking to the plaintiff, my wife whispers to me (with her mic on), “I want to talk next time.”
3:48 The rest of it basically went like this: The plaintiff said about talking to the screen, “That’s what we do.” The judge got on him for saying something racial like that, then she got on my wife for talking while the judge was talking, she even banged the gavel. I got yelled at by the judge for saying that the defendant had consumed jugs of alcohol, she said I was speculating, I said that I don’t actually know what kind of container he drank out of, but that he was drunk. She asked the plaintiff how much he had to drink, the poor guy didn’t know what to say since it was all made up, but it ended up looking like he was trying to lie to her.
3:51 The verdict. The judge sided with us! We won the case!
3:54 We’re off the set and everyone is happy about how we did. I wanted to interrupt more and say nonsensical things since they weren’t doing multiple takes and they couldn’t rehire me anyway since I had been on the show already. However, my improviser instincts took over and I didn’t want to ruin the scene to look funny.
3:57 I talk to the judge who is a “celebrity” until I get shooed away from her.
4:03 We gather our things in our shared cubicle. My wife reminds me that she had given me her number in case I had any friends she could date.
4:11 After a long involved day I’m sad to see my wife and the plaintiff go. We’d gone through a shared experience that day. I guess you could say that after all of that we were “emotionally connected.”
*The show aired, Friday, November 4. It will be on Netflix soon.