Monday, June 28, 2010

"The Pony and Balloon Show"

Today I started at six in the morning on a background extra job. Several of us were in wardrobe being fitted into white Tyvek suits with brand new hard hats. The director held up a metal garden rake with the price tag still on it from Home Depot. "Who knows what this is?" After several seconds of silence I responded "A rake?" "You got the part." The other two background extras were issued a black trash bag and a roll of paper towels.

Loaded into a van and driven down to the gulf coast where we sat in the extras holding area until about 10:30. A production assistant barged in and announced the camera crew had arrived and the principal would be there shortly. We were ushered out onto an oil covered beach to take position behind a stand in. Carefully arranged by the director to our needed places. "Don't get any oil on the suites, we need to re-use them tomorrow." He pointed to me "Same thing for the rake, keep it clean so we can return it to the store."

Seeking direction I asked if he wanted me to actually rake the tar balls on the sand. "Hell no, that will leave a bare spot and show how bad the rest of the beach actually is." The director scanned the shore and went flew a fit of rage. "HOW THE HELL DID THAT GET INTO MY SHOT?" A dead water fowl was bobbing in the surf. A skittish grip replied it must have washed up in the past few minutes. "Well, get rid of it, it defeats the purpose of us being here."

Soon after the TV news cameras took position a shiny heavy SUV pulled up. Dozens of official looking men secured the area as President Obama took the place of where the stand in had stood. A half a dozen handlers milled around him. "Where is it?" Obama asked. "Too windy to use the teleprompter sir, just stick to the key words, you'll do fine." "Mannerisms?" "Thumbs up when you mention the Federal Government, angry fist when you speak of BP. Point to the beach to show concern and resolve."

Ten minutes later cut was yelled and the president and camera crews had left. The background extras crammed into the van. "Hurry up, Governor Jindal is holding a press conference in the next parish at three o'clock, we need you to stand behind him. Remember, don't get your suites dirty."

I should have clarified that was a satirical blog. Reports from the coast
are that oil clean up crews are only around when TV new teams are. As
soon as the cameras leave, so do the clean up crews. Many of the news reports have a "staged" look. Guys in pristine white suites with rolls of Bounty paper towels wiping down blades of oily grass. Numerous members of clean up crews have been sent to the hospital because BP refuses to allow them to wear respirators. If the workers wear the masks, then it would be an admission by BP that the oil slick is in fact toxic. So if an individual tries to wear any respiratory protection he is fired from the clean up work. Remember what happened to the 911 clean up crews?

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