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Comic Book Men on AMC, Part 3: What Happened?

13 Oct

October 13, 2014

So as Allan Keyes explained yesterday, he had a bunch of comics on eBay and a producer reached out to him and asked if he’d like to be on the show. After he recorded a demo tape (in which he held the comics with their backs to the camera and I recorded him upside down) we were asked to come down to the store.

So for all you reality TV fans, including Hardcore Pawn, this is how they get those weird items. Most of them DO NOT just walk into the store, the producers seek them out. And the weirder the people, the better chance they’ll make the show. Why do think that in a  busy store like the one on Hardcore Pawn people walk in the front door and straight up to one of the owners, who is not working but looks like he’s standing there waiting? That’s because he is waiting. The producers set it up that way.

But at least the owners appear on that show. Kevin Smith is nearly never at his store. (In his defense, he is busy with other things.)

We went to the Comic Book Men production studios, located right across the street from the store. You can walk right past it and never know what it is, since it looks like an old, closed restaurant. But inside, it is a hive of activity. In addition to doing all the production and editing work on the show, the podcast is recorded there too. If you are a comic book fan dreaming of seeing the inner workings of the show, I’m about to throw some cold water on you. This is a working TV studio, not comic geek heaven. Other than the comic book posters on the walls, this could be the production studios for General Hospital or Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. It was cool to us in the sense that it is something we never get to see, but it isn’t cool as in you’d like to hang out there. And trust me, we did hang out there in the microscopic green room, in which there was a basket of Sun Chips and a couple of bottles of water for us. It was not fancy- two folding chairs and nothing else but the snacks. While we were waiting for our turn to shoot, periodically the camera man would pop in (for a camera test), a producer (to get us to sign forms) or an assistant (to take the comics away for some close-up and insert shots.)

Then it was time to go to the store and film.

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Despite how they make it appear, the store is NOT open on filming days. Only pre-selected people get to enter. They pretend on TV that the store is open and people just randomly walk in with items to sell, but the truth is that the guys have already been prepped on what is coming in. They have done research online, they know what things are selling (or not selling) for, and have already researched the history of the item. The guys seem like know-it-alls on the show, but they’ve already done their homework on the items days before. And the banter while they are hanging behind the counter? Well, it isn’t scripted, but they’ve already discussed what they are going to discuss.

On way they make it seem like the store is open is by having paid extras in the background. On the day I was there, one of the extras was actually the mother of one of the guys, two were extras hired from a company, and one was me.

I was told to stand in a particular area (which was, luckily, near the counter where the filming took place so I had a good shot of getting on camera.) The only directions were 1- flip through the new comics on the wall or the old ones in the bins, whatever I felt like 2- don’t talk and 3- don’t look into the cameras. I more or less obeyed that one.

Before I go on, a note about the store. As you’ve seen on TV, it looks very cool. They have a ton of toys on display, and posters, and recent comics on spinner racks in the back. But when I was there, I got the impression that the store had been shut for filming for awhile. The new comics were in reality a couple of weeks old and bent and creased as if they had been badly handled by all the extras who had come before me.

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So I was in one area and the two company extras were across from me. One was a business suit type who couldn’t care less about comics, this was just an acting job to him. The other was an old hippie with a pony tail wearing a Hawaiian shirt. He hadn’t seen a comic since he was a kid and was in such child-like rapture that he couldn’t keep his mouth shut.

“Whoa, whoa man, the Fantastic Four! “
“Hey, Batman! I didn’t know they still made him!”
“Justice League? Hey, hey, I remember that man, I remember that!”

The producers had to remind him to be quiet.

So filming got started and I flipped through the back issues because that kept my face toward the filming, otherwise all you’d see would be my back. Then Allan Keyes walked in and I had to keep myself from laughing at how stiff he was. While he filmed, as he described in yesterday’s column, I kept creeping closer and closer. The filming took maybe half an hour, with retakes and inserts, close-ups and better quips. Keyes had one funny line I cannot repeat not because it is unsuitable for television, but because his wife may not have the sense of humor we hope she has.

And then it was over. Keyes didn’t sell his items to the guys, but after filming the producer bought them from him for a pretty good number.

Then we waited for the show to air and we never saw our segment. I didn’t find out why but two funny things happened since then. Right after the third show of last season (the one we expected to be on) aired, the casting director called, said she saw our demo tape, would we like to be on the show? We told her we just filmed it over the summer and she never got back to us.

Then, just a few weeks ago, the same casting director called and said she saw our demo tape, would we like to be one the show?

Sure, love to!

 

About these ads

H.G. Wells was a blogger.

19 Sep

September 19, 2014

Long time readers (those of you are still mentally stable) many recall this image which used to grace the sidebar of this blog.

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Here’s an example.

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While H.G. Wells may not have been a blogger, he knew them intimately. He knew the psyche of the type of person who wrote cranky letters to the editors of scientific journals. Or maybe just wrote mean letters to the local penny press. Who is more invisible than the anonymous blogger? Like the Invisible Man, the anonymous blogger blows up institutions, metaphorically. He uses words but the effect is the same. What put this into perspective was one of those internet “Which character are you?” quizzes. This one used Universal horror monsters (Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, the Wolfman, The Invisible Man, etc.) I took the quiz and got The Invisible Man, and the accompanying graphic put it all in focus.

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That sums up bloggers in my book. Of course, the “genius-level smart” and “extraordinarily clever” parts may exist only the blogger’s minds, but I say the “kind of a dick” part is right on the mark.

Take it from a blogger.

 

 

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A New York Minute (18) September 2014- Al Pacino!

17 Sep

September 17, 2014

Hello, and welcome to your New York Minute. This week’s episode is brought to you by Pharell’s big hat.

Al Pacino was born in Manhattan, but it took some Brooklyn law breaking for him to become one of Hollywood’s biggest stars.

I live in South Brooklyn, and in more than one New York Minute I talked about organized crime and the movies. There was Kid Twist and Coney Island, the Bowery Boys, even the mob shaking down the crew filming Saturday Night Fever. Al Pacino starred in some of the greatest organized crime films ever made, The Godfather and The Godfather Part Two. Many years later, he also starred in a Godfather parody called The Godfather Part Three.

Pretty much for as long as I can recall, I had been told that one of the houses in The Godfather was actually located right around here, so the other day, just for you, I set out to find “the Godfather house” and sure enough, it was right in my backyard.

As seen in the movie

As seen in the movie

Turns out it was the house that Clemenza lived in, and although I already had the address, I found out that the neighbors are pretty good about people, like me, who still come around looking for the house and taking pictures. I’d ask if you go, please be nice and respectful, as it is a quiet residential neighborhood. It’s a narrow street, so don’t try to double park, and also, please don’t knock on the door and ask if Martin Scorsese ever drops by from some capicola. Um, not that I did that.

The house today. I took the shot on the right.

The house today. I took the shot on the right.

The most interesting thing about the house isn’t the building itself, which is pretty nice, it’s the neighborhood. It is located just a few minutes away from the inspiration for another famous Al Pacino film. Just the next year, Al, (we’re on a first name basis, we’re good like that), was back in Brooklyn filming Dog Day Afternoon, and unlike The Godfather, this was based on an infamous bank robbery that happened wayback when I was a kid. And it turns out that I pass the robbery location almost every single day.

The scene of the crime: then and now

The scene of the crime: then and now

I’m not talking about where the film was shot, this is the actual robbery scene. Back in the 70’s this was a Chase bank, but today it is vacant. Want to rent it? The way this area is going, it’ll be sure to be a hipster juice pub thing any day now. Anyway, the building has gone through a few owners, it still has the cut corner that was a trademark of Chase banks of the era.

The movie was filmed in Windsor Terrace, still in Brooklyn but with Prospect Park as a backdrop. In a nutshell, the bank robbery went bad, hostages were taken, and it turned into a police standoff with the hundreds of onlookers rooting for the crooks. In the end, the cops seem to give in to their demands but Pacino’s character gets 20 years in prison. Spoiler warning! That was a spoiler.

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Interestingly, both films also starred the amazing yet odd John Cazale, and if he were born in Brooklyn this would have been a neat and tidy way of wrapping things up but he had to spoil it be by being born in Massachusetts. No foresight there, thanks a lot.

Although I was too young to see any of the filming of these movies, in 1991 I did get to see the filming of Steven Segal’s Out for Justice, and believe me, that’s not a feather in anybody’s cap.

This has been your movie star, and Steven Segal, -filled New York Minute, and like Pacino said in The Godfather III- “just when I think I’m out, they pull me back in!”

What, you were expecting Scent of a Woman? “HOOOOOO-AH!” There you go.

An audio version of this story recently appeared in the amazing FlashPulp website. Check them out for awesomeness and goodies!

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