Thursday, April 28, 2011

Lights, camera, action!


In my 25-year career as a journalist -- all but the last eight months of it in sports -- I've gotten to do a lot of cool things.

I've been to two Super Bowls. Saw both Brett Favre and Tom Brady showered in confetti. Saw ZZ Top perform a stupendous halftime show.

I've interviewed both Manning quarterbacks, back when both were just babyfaced boys (very polite ones).

I covered the Baltimore Ravens' Ed Reed when he was a quarterback. And a punter. And a track star. And when he single-handedly won his high school team the district championship.


I've hobnobbed with Hall of Famers, been close enough to beach volleyballers to smell their suntan oil and had the wit to ask Shaquille O'Neal to come with me to just one Mardi Gras parade (he politely declined).

So it's easy to understand why I've been nearly suicidal over the last eight months, being relegated to writing receipts and  rewriting crime briefs and updating traffic blockages.

And making sure the office doesn't run out of toilet paper.

But today was pretty damned cool. And today was another day that made me glad I still do what I do.

Today I got to watch movie magic being made.

The television program Memphis Beat on TNT has been using our area as its home base, filming all over the region. We've all grown accustomed to seeing the big white trucks, the tents, the crew parking lots and the neon yellow signs pointing them all in the right directions.

And today I got to follow them.

First we spent a couple of hours at the local airstrip, watching a couple of souped up Dodges and a classic GTO chase a little prop plane filled with pretend bad guys.  I got to meet directors and producers, got to watch cameramen in action (all the while trying to keep my skirt from flying into the air).

Then I got to go watch them all eat lunch (and got to interview the son of Harry Morgan from MASH).

And finally, we were invited onto their permanent sound stage built inside a local civic building.  It's a mammoth production, and one of the producers  took me on the tour -- to the fake kitchen, the fake interrogation room complete with two-way mirror, the fake squad room that is so intricate in detail that it is amazing.

Even the fake jail.


Me, in the Mephis Beat jail.
Then, after what seemed like hours watching people set up cameras and lighting and moving furniture, I got to watch the stand-ins rehearse a scene.

And, a short time later, I got to watch the real actors -- Alfre Woodard, Jason Lee and Sam Hennings -- rehearse the real scene. But I had to get to aftercare to pick up Lora before they filmed the real thing.

No matter.

I had a blast.

A few weekends ago I was reminded why I still love what I do -- because I'm damned good at it. I'm a story-teller. And I got to tell an amazing story about an amazing woman.

Today, I just got to have fun.

I'll order more toilet paper tomorrow.

Here is the link to the newspaper article I wrote.

And the 2nd story I wrote.











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