JIM DOES HIS 7th EPISODE OF LAW & ORDER:SVU("SWING")--rehearses scenes with Mariska & Co.!!

Back on April 24th, 2008 I did my 6th episode of "SVU" on location in Harlem(scroll down this JOURNAL to read)--it was the only time I was "on location" rather than being at the North Bergen NJ studios. On September 8th I got a call from Dave at Grant Wilfley Casting in NYC to return to the set of SVU the next day. Call time was 8:00AM on September 9th, this time I was to portray a "Paralegal"--my first time back in "the courtroom" at the studios since my first episode "STRAIN"(where I was a featured jury member). It was to be two scenes of arraignment hearings. I got to the set by 7:15AM and after checking in with the Production Assistant(PA) and helping myself to the plentiful breakfast buffet, the PA asked me how tall I was. When I told him 5' 10" , he handed me the "Sides"(small script for the day)and told me to report to set for the 8AM rehearsal--I was to be the stand-in for the Judge in todays scenes--Judge Alan Ridenaur played by veteran actor Harvey Atkin (www.harveyatkin.com --of "Cagney & Lacey" fame). I, along with about 6 or so other actors who were also plucked from the courtroom "cast" to be stand-ins, headed for set to watch the rehearsal. I circled my lines on the script and watched the first scene unfold. The episode was entitled "SWING" and involved some drama close to home to the character Elliot Stabler(Played by Chris Meloni). His daughter Kathleen(played by Allison Siko)is in trouble with the law, and Stabler's estranged wife Kathy(Isabel Gillies) is seated adjacent to her daughter. Tempers flare in this scene and the Judge has to restrain Kathleen; Kathy storms out of the courtroom after strong words to Stabler. The stand-ins are referred to as "THE 2nd TEAM" and so not long after several rehearsals we took the places of the "1st TEAM"(the stars)...how cool was it to sit in that big Judge chair with the gavel to my right ready to pound away! Our job is to help the crew set up camera angles/lighting and so forth, sometimes running lines to cue each actor and keep the scene flowing. Later we would report back to set as our actual "characters"(seated in the gallery of the courtroom simply watching the arraignment proceedings). The crew runs the scene several times on camera, changing the focus so as to get closeups of various actors and their lines. Originally the right side of the courtroom where the defendant was not standing was not in camera view; but after the crew got what they needed on that side of the room, they reversed angles to catch our reactions on our side of the courtroom. The defense attorney for "Kathleen" was ironically played by C.C.H Pounder--a recurring role she has as "Carolyn Maddox"--it was this actress who asks me the hypothetical question in my first SVU episode "STRAIN"--"You've got a gun--would you shoot him(Osama Bin Laden)to save the city?" The camera then zooms in on me and my pensive closeup. Well later in the day during rehearsals for the second arraignment scene, the "1st team" returned to set, but Harvey Atkin(the judge)was nowhere to be seen...I stayed put in the chair and was asked by the Assistant Director if I minded saying his lines. I certainly needed no prodding and jumped in with glee. The scene actually "belonged to the judge" in that it was his verdict rendering of Kathleen. I was told to pick up the scene at the very end where the judge says to Kathleen "See you back in six months for a status check"--he then pounds the gavel and bellows "Call the next case!"...I can't tell you how cool it was to see C.C.H Pounder and Mariska Hargitay(Olivia Benson--the show's co-star)along with Meloni in the back of the courtroom watching me and avidly listening to my decision. Mariska(as Benson)stares at me(as the judge)with a look of agitated disbelief and makes a quip to Stabler(Meloni)as she exits the courtroom unpleased with the verdict. We reheased this for at least 20 minutes and then broke for a late afternoon lunch. After lunch we returned to the courtroom to finish this second scene--I and a few other actors were selected to walk past the courtroom doors as Mariska is exiting the courtroom(as described above), so look for me when she exits(if you catch the episode). Being a stand-in has perks of a higher pay rate--and I would also learn at the days end(we had what would be considered a short day today--wrapped at 5:18PM)--I learned that my "offstage lines" during the rehearsal also counted for a few more bucks. We have vouchers we complete with all this info recorded, and the the PA signs it and gives us our copy. I went outside the studio as there had been showers forecast for today, checking to see if it was raining. I noticed the SVU director *David Platt having a cigarette--he saw me and said "Nice job today." I took this opportunity to introduce myself, saying I'd worked on a few "SVU's" that he directed, and said I do TV and film as an actor AND a musician(I cited two recent on-air roles as an organist and pianist in "Confessions of a Shopaholic" and "Unorthodox" respectively). I gave him my card and he put it in his shirt pocket saying "Thank you--I'll keep this." And so I gathered my things and headed back to Pennsylvania very proud of another great day on SVU--and the chance to technically "audition" for David Platt and his directing crew...one never knows when those little moments arise--if they will yield bigger things... ***THE AIRDATE FOR "SWING" WILL BE TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th AT 10:00PM E.S.T. ON NBC--it is the 4th episode of the new season of "SVU". *more about David Platt at http://www.film.com/celebrities/david-platt/14624960