Tuesday, April 04, 2006

In Which Pho Makes His Television Debut . . . Maybe

Many more cool things have happened as a result of blogging than I ever would have predicted. Getting mentioned in the ABJ – moderately cool. Sitting on a Leadership Akron panel – quite cool. Participating in Meet the Bloggers – extremely cool. Establishing genuine friendships with the likes of Jason, Jill, George, and Bill, by far the coolest.

Today fell somewhere in the middle of the coolness spectrum. It started yesterday when I retrieved a voicemail from Betty Sutton’s campaign manager. On the callback she said they wanted me as an extra in one of the Betty’s campaign ads. “You’ll be posing as a reporter,” she said. Perfect; I pose as a reporter every day. “They’ll be shooting the back of your head,” she said. Excellent; that’s my good side.

“It starts at noon.” Hmmm, this is starting to sound like a fool’s errand. I have to pick Kid Z up from school at 2:20, and shooting schedules are notoriously unreliable. But in all the times I’ve been around campaigns, I’ve never been tapped for a TV ad, much less a TV ad produced by DC consultants. Of course there’s a reason for this (back of head = good side), and I’m supposed to be keeping my mind open until all the MTB sessions are done, but should I do it for, you know, the blog post of the experience inside a high-end commercial shoot, I mean dammit I OWE IT TO MY READERS. So I said yes.

A few hours later the Consultant calls. The time for the reporter bit has been bumped back to 1:15. Now it’s pretty much impossible, but I’m too far gone to overcome temporal denial. 1:15 it is.

Today I’m getting ready and I’m totally into it. I need to be in shirt and tie. Striped shirt? No, not on video you fool. White shirt? Too formal for a reporter. My light green Oxford – perfect. Jeans or dress pants. I’ll be sitting down and they might catch a knee in the shot – definitely dress pants. I pocket a memo-pad with a cover I got as swag from some charity thing. I have a prop. I’m so there.

Check the mirror. God, I need a haircut. Don’t really have time, but . . . Yes, I actually tried to get my hair cut, but the girl who does my hair (very fussy hair I have) is off. Damn. Meet Shaggy the Reporter. Oh, well.

So I get to . . . Oops. The location is embargoed. Dammit, that was going to be the next two graphs. Suffice it to say we are in one of the two or three coolest indoor locations in all of Akron, a place I’ve been wanting to blog a thoughtpiece about for some time. I’ll have to wait.

I’m there early, so naturally we wait.

And wait.

And have some lunch.

And wait.

It’s kind of OK because, of the campaigns I’ve been around, this one is a pretty good hang. The candidate is readily available, the out-of-town talent doesn’t put on airs. I learn a couple gossipy, but-I’d-have-to-kill-you tidbits. I share a couple things I don’t have on record to blog. We talk MTB. It’s fun, but I’m getting antsy about the time. I can be a bit late and one of the pickup moms will guide her to an already scheduled activity, but I shouldn’t push it.

Finally, I speak up and say I have to go soon. Unfortunately, they have to shoot another scene – the walking-down-the-hall-with-staff scene – before they get to mine. (I shot one of these for a news crew when I was in Sherri’s office, and there’s a broadcast news slang for it that I can’t recall.) The solution is to recast me as Staff. Good on me for wearing the dress pants. So I’ll be walking down the hall with Betty and a very cute young woman. Very cute young woman, Betty and me. Two very telegenic people and me. Hmmm.

As they were setting up the shoot, the director apparently noticed that the guy in the office where we shoot is tall and handsome. I didn't catch exactly how this happened. I was talking to someone I know in Mystery Office, I turn around and suddenly this guy is in the shot. So Tall Handsome, Young Cute and Betty set up and go walking down the hall looking Serious and talking about Serious Policy Stuff. Actually, they were talking about dogs, but it looked damned impressive. I lost count of how many takes – at least five. Felt like seven or eight.

Then they put me in the shot. Now it’s me, Tall Handsome and Betty. The coolness of Mystery Office results in an unfortunate narrowing of the hall, so I’m trying to maintain a serious expression, look kind of back and to my right at Betty as she talks and avoid running into some very cool support pillars on my left. Actually brushed the first one, I guess we’ll do . . . no that’s it. One take. I’m done. Thanks for coming.

Because, um, I really nailed it, right?

I’m totally cool with it. I got to see something I hadn’t before, got a couple bits that may pan out into something, and collected fodder for this post. I may actually make it to air, but probably can at best expect some stills on the website. If it happens, I’ll link to it so you can see how well Kid Z did on my avatar portrait.

If there’s a serious message in all this, it’s that Betty Sutton’s campaign is ready to come out swinging. They didn’t have money for a series of infomercials, but they have been marshalling resources for a serious air war. I've also heard from a source outside the Sutton campaign that EMILY'S List is pushing this race as hard as any race anywhere. People who are writing Sutton off for being quiet should keep an eye out, she may yet have some surprises in store.

The other lesson – don’t expect to see me running for Congress any time soon. After all, you can’t run with commercials showing only the back of the candidate’s head.


scott bakalar said...

What a cool experience. Thanks for sharing that.

If it were me, I would of said:
"OK, I'm this staff member, right?
And I'm walking down the hallway, right?
What's my motivation?"

Jill said...

What a fun read - more fun experience, I'm sure. Thanks.

redhorse said...

Yes, the lesson to take away here is that Betty will hit the airwaves.

Good. For all the promise this race had, it's better pretty tame, so here's to a great stretch run. 27 days...