JIM PLAYS 'DEPUTY INSPECTOR" on "Law & ORDER:SVU" episode "COLD"(airing May 13 on NBC)!!

Thursday afternoon April 24th I received a call once again from Dave at Grant Wilfley Casting asking me to work on "Law & Order:SVU" the following day. I agreed--this would be the 6th time I worked on the show--but the first time I was being asked to report to a Manhattan location rather than their North Bergen NJ studios. I always drove to North Bergen--but usually take a bus into NYC from Allentown. This would be the first time I was playing a policeman on the show--and more specifically--an NYPD Deputy Inspector(full "Brass" regalia!) My call time was 1:00PM at St. Joseph of the Holy Family Church at 125th St. and Morningside Avenue in Harlem. This would be the "holding area" for the actors. Friday morning, April 25th I took a 9:15AM bus from Allentown and got to the Port Authority in NYC by 11:15AM. I then took the "C" train uptown to 125th Street at Nicholas Avenue and walked a block over to Morningside and entered the church "holding area". It was a few minutes before noon, and only two other actors were there. Soon the Production Assistant(PA)arrived and told us if we wanted breakfast it was a few blocks away at 128th street, so a few of us walked down Nicholas Avenue and found the breakfast truck(interestingly, there is a You Tube video of the area we walked at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLNMZFen2rA&feature=related ). When we returned, the wardrobe ladies arrived with various NYPD uniforms for myself and the other police "brass"; there were probably 75 actors called today playing various background roles from detectives to regular cops to photographers and press people. Our check in numbers were called(I was #2)and our uniforms distributed. According to the casting director, myself and others were to be "passerbys" and "neighborhood people" in the first scenes and then CHANGE into the police uniforms for later scenes. Around 2PM however we were told by the PA that our holding area was moving to another building closer to the set--it was at this time that a wardrobe girl told me "I should be changed into my police uni"...obviously the original sequence had been scratched or moved and now I only had a few minutes to make the change. I elected to do it at the new location, and just as I was putting my socks and black patent shoes on--we were called to "set"--just in time! The shoot location was a small junkyard around 127th street and Nicholas where a crime scene was being addressed. Cop cars with lights aflashing were parked strategically around the junkyard which was located on a corner. The real drama of today however was much greater than I'd ever had imagined. Today was the day that the ruling on the Sean Bell murder case came down--ACQUITTING the police officers involved. A link about this can be found at: http://www.blackvoices.com/newsarticle/_a/sean-bell-case/20080425093009990001?icid=templatized_template_test.M The opening lines read like this: "Three New York City police officers were found innocent of all charges Friday in the shooting death of an unarmed black man killed in a hail of 50 bullets on his wedding day. Justice Arthur Cooperman cleared two officers of manslaughter and other charges and a third of reckless endangerment in the death of Sean Bell , 23, who was shot, along with two friends, after a bachelor party at a strip club in November 2006. The case has generated outrage in New York's black community." As we prepped for the scene, being put in place by the assistant directors, the tensesness in the Harlem neighborhood was palpable. Those of us with NYPD uniforms were advised to either turn our jackets inside out or have other jackets on as we walked to and from the set--to conceal our connection to "NYPD". As we began shooting some scenes with most of the SVU star on hand(Chris Meloni, Mariska Hargitay, Ice-T, Richard Belzer and more to arrive to the set later)--a black woman in her mid-50's began taunting us from the fence that enclosed the junkyard. She screamed and carried on, cursing the NYPD that we represented as actors. Her tirade went on for a good half hour, until she was somehow removed from the area. Later in the afternoon, others would likewise bellow their resentment--and at one point I turned to see who was yelling--and a black man screamed at me--"Yeah that's right--I'm talking to you!" I was one of maybe five actors dressed head to toe in the impressive suit and tie and hats with gold brass medals and decorations. Later that day when actors Diane Neal(A.D.A Casey Novak) and Dann Florek(Lt. Cragen) joined the set--Diane looked straight at me and said "you guys look great!"--Dann then came over and chatted with us "in character" beginning by saying "you guys are my best--my brass!" We huddled together and talked about the derision we experienced earlier by the black community, and how hostile it was. Dann brought up the Rodney King LA riots of April 1992 and hoped that NYC did not follow that same path. It was interesting to talk to Dann and be intimately involved with the star cast of "Special Victims Unit"--and feeling like we were not just "acting"--but were--ourselves--in the midst of potential real danger. Fortunately, the powder keg did not ignite this day in Harlem, though it had been tense. We broke for dinner at 7:00PM--and were back on set by 7:45PM as we still had many more scenes to shoot. Tamara Tunie(medical examiner Dr.Melinda Warner)was on the set with her little dog when I arrived--it was a sweeter moment in a hectic Harlem day. As we began shooting, actor Chris Meloni(Det.Elliot Stabler)scolds one of our 'brass' for tainting the crime scene by standing in the blood on the ground of the junkyard. I and another inspector are standing behind him, and we look over and then move away from the area--various scenes like this would be shot tonight, with the 'brass' crossing behind or being "panned" by the cameras to acknowledge our presence at this crime scene. We were sent back to "holding" in the 11:00 hour, with still a few hours of shooting remaining. The PA told those of us who were "passerbys" to change out of our current look and into our "second change". This allowed for me to put the NYPD uni away and prepare it to give back to wardrobe; my second change would be my own clothers and so I could depart Harlem dressed that way. The hours went by and we were not called to set--I had prepared to stay with a friend in NYC in case the shoot went beyond 12:15AM--the time of the last bus out of NYC back to Allentown. Around 2AM we were told to return our wardrobe and prop items and so several of us walked to those trucks and did so. At 2:30AM we were finally called to set--but alas when we arrived director David Platt was thanking Diane Neal and others on set for a job well done--and that it was a wrap! We returned to holding, filled out our SAG vouchers and turned them into the PA who signed them and gave us our copy. It would be a good $$$ day for SAG members as we worked 13.5 hours; also various other items 'kick in' such as two 'night premium' payments and three meal penalties(not serving us a sit down meal at least 6 hours after 7:30PM)--a few of us took the A train from the 125th St. subway station to our respective destinations downtown--I had met several new friends on the set today and look forward to seeing them in the future(some others I actually worked with on the last SVU "Authority" episode)...this one we did today is entitled "COLD" and will air May 13th, 2008 on NBC-TV--look for me "IN THE BRASS"!!!