On the Set of Another World
By David Hedison
Up at 5 a.m. A quick breakfast. A shower. No need to shave, thank God.
The car picks me up at 6 a.m. Twenty-five minutes later I’m in Brooklyn, the old NBC studios on the corner of 14th and M Streets, where Bill Cosby used to film his series–the one with all the kids and the lawyer wife. I rush up the three flights of stairs to my dressing room on the third floor. I grab a cup of coffee, one sugar, a splash of milk–then back to the dressing room to go over dialogue for the day’s work.
7 a.m. Sharp. In the rehearsal room, next to my dressing room on the third floor. Boxes and card tables set up for furniture, actresses with their hair in curlers. The actors rehearse and block the morning’s work with the director and go over any major problems with the script.
8 a.m. Go to the wardrobe department in the basement, grab the clothes that have been assigned to “Spencer” for that day’s work. Hop up to the second floor makeup department for a fast makeup job, which is usually a little goop to cover the dark circles under the eyes. And believe me , I’ve got ’em!
Back to the third floor dressing room, into the Berdorf Goodman wardrobe, check the tie, look in the mirror. Viola! David Hedison has become “Spencer Harrison”! Down the stairs again to the first floor. Fast!
Stage one. A quick run-through of the first three scenes with the director using a particular set. This takes about ten minutes. The director races back to the monitor. Another ten minutes. Back on the floor with the actors. Quick notes. Such as: Dull, Pick up the pace, Stand closer, change your reading on this line, Cut that line. Add this line. Bla, Bla. Fast. Fast. Five minutes.
Director races back to the control room. Taping starts. First scene. The stage manager announces, “Okay, we’re rolling. Quiet Please. Five, four, three, two…” And before the number one registers, the action starts, and the actors do their thing. The scene finishes. A 30 second wait. The stage manage again announces, “Okay, that’s a Buy. We’re moving on!”
Next scene. Same process. Then the next. And the next. And seconds before each one there are the actors frantically shuffling through the script and checking lines in the 50 seconds left before that dreaded five, four, three, two…resumes. Fast. Fast. Move.
This continues until 1 p.m. Then up the stairs again, third floor, rehearsal room for the p.m. session. I have to to go the bathroom. Later! Later!
Rehearse from 1-2
From 2-2:30 breathe, grab a carrot stick, a piece of celery, avoid the Danish. No coffee. Have a yogurt. Go to the bathroom.
Then the whole process is repeated. Some days–of course, it’s easier, and the actor may be lucky to finish all of his scenes in the a.m. session. Then again he could be unlucky as well and work past midnight. That one hour show has to be completed in one day at all costs.
You collapse into your limo that takes you home. Those last 25 minutes before you reach your door you think a nap would be nice. But–instead you reach into your briefcase, grab a script and start to memorize some of tomorrow’s material.
Soap actors? I salute them.