Pink Flaming0

Guest Stars, Extras, and Alligators

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Pink Flaming0

From the book "The Making Of Miami Vice" by MacGregor and MacGregor (I recently purchased)It's a "club" of sorts, and a strange one, indeed. It's members include such diversepersonae as musician Frank Zappa, former Watergate conspirator G. Gordon Liddy,poet Leonard Cohen, ex-basketball great Bill Russell, and auto magnate Lee Iacocca.There are others less known, like Father Raul Augulo and Miami city planner JulioMachoso. And, there is Elvis, an alligator.They are the guest stars and extras, the characters who people the scenes of MIAMIVICE behind and beside the seven principal cast members. The show has a propensityfor casting non-actors, often rock musicians, in guest star slots. Sometimes it works, likewhen Phil Collins played Phil the Shill, a double-dealing game show host. Or whenGlenn Frey, another musician and non-actor, played a drug smuggling pilot in"Smuggler's Blues." Other times, the results are not as impressive. But it's alwaysinteresting.Joining the club, in fact, has become a hotly pursued goal, especially among lesserknownactors. The casting offices in New York and Miami are inundated with actorsseeking a chance to appear on VICE. The selection of guest stars and actors for some ofthe speaking roles are made in New York in the office of Universal Studios castingdirector Bonnie Timmerman.A native New Yorker, Bonnie is a petite woman with long, thick black hair and darkeyes. Unlike the pastels and vibrant colors seen on VICE, she tends to dress in darkcolors, black leather skirts, black tights, black silk blouses. She could pass for thegirlfriend of a VICE bad guy. But Bonnie would never cast herself for a part in theshow.What she has that works for VICE is a vivaciousness that belies her somber clothing.She leaves an immediate impression as she talks about herself and her job and herdedication to Michael Mann. What she's saying may sound gushy, but there's no doubtabout her sincerity.She clearly recalls the moment her future was cast in a new direction. It was the dayshe met Michael Mann."He was working on The Keep at the time at Paramount Studios. He shook my handand said, 'You'll be doing everything that I'm doing.' And he was right." Bonnie, in fact,has been involved in every project Mann has initiated since their meeting."When the VICE project came along, Michael called me up and simply said, 'This isyour job.' He put me in New York with a video camera and a desk. I'd never done anynetwork television before. It was new."Her background as a casting director is largely in feature films such as TradingPlaces, Easy Money, Amadeus, Fast Times at Ridgemont High. "There were also some playsand PBS stuff. Until I met Michael, I was like a casting bag lady, going from one job tothe next. I've always been a casting director. Someone said try it. I did. I guess I'm justone of these lucky dames."Her inexperience with television, however, may have been one of her best assets.Bonnie didn't follow any preconceived notions about how a TV show should be cast. Asa result, VICE's list of guest stars is like no other show. Since the pool of guest stars isn'tlimited to actors, you never know who will appear."I like going out on a limb as far as I can. Being unconventional is frighteningsometimes, especially because TV is basically conventional. You don't use non-actors."VICE has unquestionably been her greatest challenge. "You really have to ripyourself open in this job when dealing with actors and their personalities. I have to dealwith the barriers around them, and tell myself, don't let this person go, even thoughhe's incredibly rude."One actor who she says was not rude when she met him was Don Johnson. Heshowed up one day at her office to audition for Crockett. "When Don came to visit me, Iwas supposed to give him eight minutes as a try-out. Well, Don is very charming. Iended up walking across Central Park with him to another appointment I had, and Ishould've taken a cab."Saundra Santiago, who plays Gina, says Bonnie Timmerman has been instrumentalin her career. "She saw me in the play A View From the Bridge and contacted me aboutthe part in VICE. I can't say enough about Bonnie. She's a good friend."Once all the main characters were selected, her job became casting actors and gueststars for each episode. "When I get a script, I close my door and as I read, the imaginarycharacter comes into my head. The producer may say, 'I see a blond carrying a Bible forthis part, and I'll say I see Little Richard. That happened. Little Richard is a preacherand was great for the part."Michael Mann strives for a fresh look; it's Bonnie's job to accommodate him bybringing unexpected faces to the show. "You don't have to be an actor with twelve yearsof experience to be on this show." She quickly adds: "But we have had many talentedactors. Dan Heydaya and Graham Beckel, to name a couple. But we also have G.Gordon Liddy and Phil Collins." One week it might be Miles Davis or the Fat Boys. Thenext, from the world of sports, Roberto Duran or Bill Russell."There's a magic here. It's like no other show I've ever worked on. One day I wasgetting ready to go to L.A. I was looking out the window at the snow, and suddenly forsome reason thought: Frank Zappa. A few days later in L.A., I called him."Bonnie met him at his home and cast him for the part of a drug dealer. "I didn'tknow Frank Zappa. But I can call anyone and ask. Zappa picked up something aboutme he liked. I try to be personal and straightforward."She pauses. "It's a great job. If I can imagine it, then it's there. It can happen. I calledup Leonard Cohen in Greece. He said VICE is his kids' favorite show and agreed to playa part."Later, when the poet was asked about his appearance, he commented: "The weatherwas good; the hospitality impeccable; and the payment appropriate."No matter who they are, the top pay for a guest star is the same: $2,500. Theexpenses, however, vary. "We flew Bianca Jagger in from Switzerland. She broughteight pieces of luggage with her."Not everyone, of course, agrees to appear on VICE. "A lot of musicians don't want toplay drug dealers, which is understandable. David Lee Roth turned us down because heonly wants to do films. Mick Jagger didn't have the time. I know that if I approachedBruce Springsteen right now, I couldn't get him."Bonnie admits that the fast pace of the show occasionally causes some frustration."But I've got a lot of hair to pull," she laughs. Still, she's had time to squeeze in otherprojects which Michael Mann is working on. For instance, she was casting director forRed Dragon, a feature produced by Mann in 1986.Even though her casting office is in New York, and by the end of the season she'dvisited the Miami office and set just twice, she doesn't work in a vacuum. "I doeverything by video, and send the tapes to Michael in Los Angeles and a copy to Miamifor approval."Sometimes Bonnie just talks with the actor or guest stars, other times she asks themto rehearse a part. "I take the camera right into their faces, their eyelashes and ears, andpan down their body to show the way they dress." That way, anyone viewing the tapecan see and hear the person almost as if he were in the same room. She's also gettingideas continually from others for guest stars. Michael Mann and Don Johnson havemade several suggestions regarding musicians. "Don is in a position where he's meetinga lot of famous people. That's great. I need all the help I can get. He may call me up andsay he met Sting and he'd like him cast for a part." There was talk that vice presidentGeorge Bush would appear on the show. Bonnie won't say whose idea that was, exceptthat it wasn't hers. She does take credit, however, for G. Gordon Liddy, and concedeshis appearance was controversial."Some people didn't like it. But everyone thought he was great to work with. He sentme a dozen roses thanking me. He loved it."The idea of casting Liddy came to her after she read the script for the episode "Backin the World," which Don Johnson directed. "When I talked to Don and told him myidea, he listened. Then he let out a holler and said 'I love it. Let's do it."Actually, casting Liddy, a former Watergate break-in convict, as an undercoverfigure, was fitting. When former basketball great Bill Russell was cast as a corruptjudge, the significance was more subtle. While the judge tries to fix a basketball game inwhich his son is the star player, there is also an understated irony. We can no longer"look up" to a judge who has lost his integrity, even if he's seven feet tall.Even the casting of extras in non-speaking roles, a task handled by a talent agency inMiami, takes into account details like the height of a judge. A defendant in Russell'scourtroom who goes free because of a pay-off is Veronica Reidel—who stands over sixfeet tall.Reidel started out on the VICE crew in the computer office handling scripttransmissions. Later she wrote the storyline for an episode called "Free Verse," and waseventually cast in "The Fix," in a non-speaking role as the woman who goes free. Likeother actors who have no lines or fewer than five lines, she was cast by Dee Miller ofCasting Directors, Inc., a North Miami-based firm.When Miller's company was hired, Dee was told the job would entail casting threeor four people an episode. "But the first show called for eighteen people to be cast," sherecalls. "I think the most we had for one episode was twenty-two."Although Miami is a long way behind Los Angeles and New York in theentertainment industry, the city is considered the third-largest talent pool andmoviemaking market in the country. Dee attests that there is no shortage of qualitytalent in South Florida. And many experienced actors have repeatedly auditioned forparts.Dee draws talent from the 1,750 members of the Screen Actors Guild and the 602members of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists in South Florida.She also has thousands of other locals to choose from who, because of a facial scar or aweird haircut or an ineffable something, are ideal for a bit part on VICE.Take Monti Rock III. The exuberant and admittedly wacky entertainer pesteredMiller and VICE producers until he was cast as the manager of a club called SexWorld in "Little Miss Dangerous," a second season episode. "You gotta be persistentin this business. I auditioned seven times before I got a part. But I knew I was right forthe one I got. I was very elegant. Well-dressed. Lots of jewelry. I felt like I was doingDiahann Carroll's role in Dynasty. George Raft in drag," he laughs. "I hope they bringthe character back."Monti says that the role on VICE prompted him to lose nearly twenty pounds andalso gave his career a boost.He's now talking to New York producers about doing a cable TV show calledMONTI ROCK'S SEXY PEOPLE. "I'd be kind of like Dr. Ruth, but it'd be streetpsychology."He points out he learned one important thing on VICE. "Don't get yourself killed ifyou want your character to return. If you're dead, you have to come back as someonenew." Words of wisdom from Monti Rock III.So many characters are killed on VICE that Dee Miller and her staff continually castnew extras. "This was my first experience with episodic TV, and the pace is frantic."After forty episodes, she realized her other commitments were suffering and left theshow when Universal Studios didn't meet her terms for a new contract.Miller's previous experience included casting for TV commercials, TV shows andabout thirty films which included: The Champ, Angel City, Dogs of War—for thesequences shot in South Florida—Blue Skies, Spring Break, the two Porky films, and Harry& Son. "I've been involved in the business since I was thirteen, starting out as a modeland actress, then moving into films as a makeup person, then a script supervisor. I'vealso taught modeling and been an agent. Episodic TV was about the only thing I hadn'tdone."When Miller received a script, she typically focused on the descriptions of charactersother than the principal cast and guest stars. "Every script and every director isdifferent. Some scripts will give you a very visual description of characters and somedirectors will go along with those descriptions. Other directors give you more of aleeway, so you can show them the character from one extreme to another."She met with the director and producer to review each part and from that was bornthe precise character descriptions. Dee then drew on her talent pool, calling the agentsof actors she felt were right for the parts. Once actors had been called, she had the oneswith the lines do prescreening readings. The best of these readings were put onvideotape in her studio. The tapes were then shown to the director and producer, whosuggested the strongest candidates. From those suggestions, Dee usually interviewedthe actors one more time in order to make the final selection.The scheduling, she attests, was often incredibly tight. Characters changed from onescript revision to another. "It's not like a feature film where you've got a script a monthahead of time. Many times, casting was completed on an episode, we were shooting it,and then all of a sudden there were some script revisions that called for a newcharacter. For instance, you might find out on Saturday night that thirty extras havebeen added to scene five, page 31 and the scene's going to be shot Monday morning at 6AM."Sometimes Dee was given help in her search to fill parts. In an episode called"Buddies," the script called for a priest to do a baptism scene. Producer John Nicolellasaid he wanted an "unusual Latin looking priest,' and told Miller there was a priestsomewhere on Miami Beach who looked exactly right for the part.However, Nicollela didn't know his name or his church. So going only on hisdescription, she began her search, and eventually found the cleric, Father Raul Anguloat St. Patrick's Church on Miami Beach. Father Angulo agreed to visit Dee's studio inNorth Miami, where he read for the part and was videotaped."Sometimes, even when people are trying out for a part which is exactly what theydo in real life, they freeze up in front of the camera," Dee notes. "But he was very good.He just happened to be a natural."Father Angulo got the part and spent two hours at St. Mary's Cathedral pretendingto baptize a baby. He had three lines and was paid $150.When the wardrobe people called him and asked how Johnson, who was in thescene, should be dressed for a baptism, the priest said he wanted to see him in a tie. Itwas the only time Johnson has worn a tie on VICE. "When we were doing the scene, Itold him I was the one who made him wear it, and he just winked at me and pointed tohis shoes. He wasn't wearing any socks."Miller, who has the largest casting office in Florida, worked an average of sevendays a week, fourteen hours a day while casting for VICE. "I also had to hire three morepeople in my office. You've got to love this work to do it."Miller's job even spilled over into what little free time she had. At a party, forexample, she spotted a man named Antoni Carone who was wearing a double-breastedtux and white undershirt. She walked up to him and told him he was perfect for a partin an upcoming show on VICE."I told him to gave me a call and he did. He was eventually used for two episodesand was very good." In the first, he played a maniacal murderer. In the second episode,he was killed off on page 79, but the part was large enough so he got star billing.Although billing is vital for an unknown, some actors take at a stab at VICE for otherreasons. Denise Allen came to Miami from New York specifically to get on VICE so shecould obtain her Screen Actors Guild card. "I was laying in bed one morning in adepressed state because I hadn't gotten to first base yet and the phone rang. On thethird ring, I picked it up and it was Dee Miller, asking me to read for a part on VICE."She notes that to get the SAG card, she needed a role with a speaking part. The part shetried out for—as race car driver Danny Sullivan's wife, Katie Tepper—included threescenes, one with Crockett and Tubbs, and one line."I prepared for about forty-five minutes out in the parking lot at Dee's studio, then Iwent in and read in front of the camera. As usual, I wasn't satisfied with my work and Ithought I'd blown it. But Dee Miller's assistant told me she liked what I'd done andwanted me to meet Nicolella that night."She went over to her acting teacher's house for some coaching, then that eveningwent to her reading. "There were probably five women trying out for the part. JohnNicolella was just great and I felt very relaxed until after I'd read. I was so sure I'dmessed up, I drove over to Coconut Grove and immediately applied for a job as awaitress."But when she got home, there was a call from Nicolella, telling her to return. So shedid. "Then the pressure was really on, because there was only one other girl and me. Iread again and was positive I hadn't gotten the part. I waited and waited and twoweeks later, Dee Miller called me. She wanted to make sure I wasn't leaving town. Iasked her who Nicolella was leaning toward, me or the other girl, and Dee said itlooked like I had a good chance and that she'd let me know on Monday."The Big Day rolled around. "I just went about my business that day, trying not tothink about it. I kept telling myself, 'Hey, no big deal. It's just a part. It just means mySAG card, that's all.' But then when I came home, Dee called and said I'd gotten thepart. I was ecstatic."But she had to wait another week to find out when her scenes would be shot. Shevisited the set one day and met Danny Sullivan, who told her he was leaving the nextevening for California. "That meant if they didn't shoot the next day, my scene would becut."Her scenes in "Florence Italy" were finally shot the following evening. "What's ironicis that the scenes I originally read for had been cut and rewritten. It turned out that Iwasn't in a scene with Crockett and Tubbs, which was disappointing. But there's noquestion when I go back to New York with my videotape and the credit on VICE, it'llopen doors. Now I'm in the union."A few people Dee Miller cast for parts in VICE have appeared in more than oneepisode. Julio Machoso, a community planner for Dade County and a part-time actor,auditions for roles on his lunch hour. He originally tried out for a one-liner on the show,but was liked well enough to be asked back for seven more episodes—five withspeaking parts and three as the same character, Lester Kosko."After a couple of episodes, people started recognizing me on the street. That's neverhappened to me." One director actually turned him down for a part in a film because hesaid he'd seen him too often on VICE.During his stint as Lester Kosko, an electronics wizard who wired characters forsound, he nearly used up all his vacation leave from his job. But the experience, he says,was worth it. "Everybody was just great to me. Don and Philip were helpful andencouraging. But the two guys who really went out of their way were Gregory Sierraand later, Eddie Olmos."Sometimes, people who work for VICE in another capacity are selected for parts asextras. Ilse Earl, an actress who also owns and operates her own acting school in NorthMiami, was working as a dialogue coach with VICE when she was asked to play a role.She appeared in "Dutch Oven," as Rose, an elderly woman on Miami Beach whoCrockett befriends."Dee Miller had recommended me as a dialogue coach for Charlie Bennett, whoplayed the character of Noogie. Then I got a part. There was talk for a while ofdeveloping the sensitive side of Crockett through his friendship with Rose, butunfortunately for me, that didn't materialize."Since then, she has also coached Roberto Duran, the boxer, who guested on theshow, and several of her students have appeared as extras. "The show's been awonderful door-opener for many people who never would've gotten to first baseotherwise."Susan Hatfield, who played G. Gordon Liddy's wife in "Back in the World," calls herbit piece on VICE the most fascinating experience she ever had. "I was so nervous at theaudition with Don Johnson staring at me from across the room that I flubbed my linesand had to start all over again. But Don came over to me, put his arm around me, said,'We all go through this. Now, you're on the right track, so carry on.' Later, I found mynervousness gave the part the touch of wackiness they were looking for."One extra who never worries about botching his lines is Elvis, Crockett's petalligator. Although his only line is an occasional gator growl, he has attained the level ofstardom warranting a double to "stand-in" for him on some scenes. His protégé, whogoes by the name Presley, substitutes when Elvis gets hot and tired.Elvis won his role more on the basis of his size than his acting abilities, explains ArtyMalesci, who serves as VICE's casting director and trainer for animals. "You can't trainan alligator. You just use his natural instincts to get what you want done. Getting him toopen his mouth is no problem. Getting him to close it on something is also no problem.If you tap him on one side of his tail, he'll turn that way to see what's bothering him.That's about it."It usually takes Arty and three assistants to handle Elvis on the set. "We carry himonto Crockett's boat on a stretcher and tie him so he can only go so far. If he gets toomuch room to move, he'll beat people up with his tail or take a chunk out of the boat. Inscenes where he's close to the actors, his mouth is usually taped and covered withmake-up so it's not noticeable on camera."Once Elvis broke a chain in a scene in which he was walking down the dock next toCrockett. It happened suddenly and before anyone could do anything he was over theside and into the water. "Since it was salt water, he was really buoyant and disoriented.So the second time he popped up, I got into the water and got a rope on him. That'swhen I discovered he'd gotten the tape off his mouth, but we got him out of the waterbefore he caused any trouble. If it had been his normal fresh-water environment, hewould've been gone."Jumping into water with dangerous animals is nothing new to Arty. His backgroundincludes performing stunts with sharks in movies, as he did in several of the JamesBond films. "I got started in this business ten years ago while I was working for MiamiSeaquariam collecting animals for them—the dolphins, the killer whale, and all thetropical fish. We worked on a boat and the boat would be hired to do things for movies.The first thing I did was Salty the Sea Lion. Then I got into working underwater doingstunts with sharks."If you've seen a Bond film where the sharks are chasing James Bond, we actuallyhave them in our hands. When they're released from cages, we catch them and hang on.Then we let them go so they can swim through the shot, and another group of diverscatches them before they get away."Arty talks about the work as if he were describing a day at the beach. "It's all done inthe open water. As the sharks start slowing down, we replenish them. To do Never SayNever Again, I caught over one-hundred-seventy sharks for a ten-minute sequence."He's worked with Tiger sharks up to sixteen feet long, weighing 1,200 pounds.Sometimes the sharks are initially too large and powerful to hold for a scene. "I've hadthem take me away for ten or fifteen minutes before I could wear them down and bringthem back."Besides handling the animals on VICE, Arty maintains the two Ferraris used on theshow, and has also filled in as a stunt man. "I usually double the bad guys or thecostars. I do fights, some falls. I don't really act as much as I die well."A life-long south Florida resident, Arty has done stunts in nearly fifty movies. Herecently worked on Michael Mann's Band of the Hand, and before that Chuck Norris'sInvasion U.S.A. "I was in charge of all the airboats in the Everglades. I've invented a lotof stunts with airboats that have never been done before, rolling them over, crashingthem."Arty also once owned an animal rental business, and provided animals forcommercials. Although he no longer rents out animals, he maintains contact withpeople who do. Among the creatures he's found for VICE are leopards, monkeys,parrots, snakes, and long horned steers.But among the animal "extras," Elvis is clearly the leading beast.

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Guest MetroVice

I've mentioned this a couple times over the years here but I tried out as an "extra" on Vice in 1986 but didn't get picked. I really wish I had though because it would have been so cool to have done something like that. They were holding try-outs in Fort Lauderdale and I had a few days off from my bodyguard job so I was able to have the time to try out as an extra (they called it a try-out but all they really did was have you come in so they could see you and take head shots, physique, etc). Even though this would have just been a nothing little part of maybe walking by in the background or sitting at a table in a cafe and being seen for all of two seconds, just having the experience of doing this on the best show there ever was would have been absolutely thrilling to me. The day they interviewed me I actually saw Bonnie Timmerman there. I had no clue who she was but I distinctly remember hearing them calling her Mrs. Timmerman. It still didn't mean anything to me at the time but years later I realized just who this was. I'm just sorry I didn't get picked but hey, that's life . . .

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miamijimf

Thanks for posting these excerpts. It is a must read for Vice fans. I got it through inter-library loan. At least your tried Metro, I was there and wish I had tried out for at least a walk-on. Bonny Timmerman certainly made the right choice selecting Fiona Flanagan for the role of Jackie in LMD. One "non-actor" I guess you could call him that, the book doesn't mention was Alex Daoud, Mayor of Miami Beach. He had a cameo role as the judge in The Fruit of the Poison Tree.

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Matt5
Thanks for posting these excerpts. It is a must read for Vice fans. I got it through inter-library loan. At least your tried Metro' date=' I was there and wish I had tried out for at least a walk-on. Bonny Timmerman certainly made the right choice selecting Fiona Flanagan for the role of Jackie in LMD. One "non-actor" I guess you could call him that, the book doesn't mention was Alex Daoud, Mayor of Miami Beach. He had a cameo role as the judge in The Fruit of the Poison Tree.[/quote']Agree with Jim - some marvellous tit-bits here thankyou so much :D:):thumbsup:

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jenny

This scene STILL makes me laugh!

 

:p

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