"Regular Guy" on TV
July 9, 2004 9:12 AM   Subscribe

So one of my very good friends was on television last night (he did a bit on the Graham Norton Effect) and I was wondering...is that neat? I myself was on TV half my life ago, on the Dr. Fad show, and I thought it was pretty cool at the time (as a kid). But, obviously, it was a much different situation...I mean, have any of you been on television, or know others who are in tv and movies? How famous are we?
posted by taumeson to Media & Arts (48 answers total)
Whne I was in first grade (1975 or so) I was on TV because my mom was on Candlepins for Cash.

It was pretty neat at the time and I'd kill to have a tape of it.
posted by bondcliff at 9:25 AM on July 9, 2004

In the, um, early 1960's I was on the Bozo Show in NYC. I had hoped to get some of the Bosco chocolate milk but they only gave that to kids in the front row. I was very disappointed.
posted by tommasz at 9:32 AM on July 9, 2004

I work for MSNBC.com, so I occasionally appear on MSNBC Cable to talk about a story I've written or edited. Usually it's about reality TV, so my mom tunes in and has no idea what I was talking about, but she tells me I looked nice anyway. Ah, moms.
posted by GaelFC at 9:36 AM on July 9, 2004

How famous are we?

Not very, but being on TV is still pretty cool in-and-of itself. If your friend, though, did a stand-up bit on the show (never seen it, so I don't know its format), that's pretty great, because you've landed spotlight time to yourself. As for whether that tidbit will get you laid, well....

Since I started dating my current g/f, who's an actor (never did tv or film), watching movies on cable is an ongoing string of "oh, I know that guy" with supporting characters, or guest stars in dramatic series, or random people in ads. I never know who any of these people are, but there are a handful who have been in a bunch of movies I've seen but never noticed them in.

It may also depend on where you live. If you live here in NYC, at least, you probably have met someone who's been on one of the "Law and Order" shows.
posted by mkultra at 9:37 AM on July 9, 2004

I think it used to be cool but no longer is.
posted by rushmc at 9:45 AM on July 9, 2004

I was recently part of a televised focus group put together by Channel 4. My fifteen minutes of fame lasted a fleeting 10 seconds although I did get to put the boot into the Blair administration for sleaze and corruption.
posted by dmt at 9:51 AM on July 9, 2004

My husband and I were briefly interviewed on a fluffy local news segment following our victories (speed AND creative--woo!) in a milk-carton boat race. We became instant celebrities...among our families and friends.

Translation: those who love you already will think it's neat. Other than that demographic, very few people will care.
posted by clever sheep at 10:20 AM on July 9, 2004

I think it used to be cool but no longer is.

yep - with 100+ channels, 24 hr programming, pretty open calls, and a tendency to "reality" shows (ie, no particular ability or talent necessary), basically anyone who wants to get on TV can, if they bother putting the effort in. (As mkultra says, in NYC, there's a general sense that "everyone's been on Law and Order" - it's not exactly true, but they're one of the big shows still filmed in NY, and they need lots of bit parts... so it doesn't seem impressive, just means the person is interested in getting onto tv -)

I think whether it's 'cool' or not is going to have a lot more to do with what you're on TV for. In itself, it is no longer cool, far as I can tell.
posted by mdn at 10:44 AM on July 9, 2004

Was your friend the guy in the bar bathroom stall or was he one of the people wearing their bathing suits which should have been destroyed long ago? Even if he was one of the audience members who Graham speaks to at the beginning of the show, I think it's pretty neat. Then again, I'm part of that small group of people who would a) recognize the show and b) find it neat.
posted by onhazier at 10:49 AM on July 9, 2004

Appearing on TV is not nearly as cool as being published on the world-wide web.
posted by sfenders at 10:49 AM on July 9, 2004

I've been "famous" a few times for different reasons, in that 15-minutes-and-then-I-was-forgotten sort of a way. It's always a really big deal at the time, but it's amazing how immediately that it's forgotten. People really just don't care.
posted by waldo at 10:53 AM on July 9, 2004

My TV exposure has been strictly small-time. In elementary school, the choir I was in (I was in a catholic school from 2nd through 5th grade) once sang in a local church that broadcasts its Sunday services on television.

When I was a senior in high school, an arts & entertainment reporter for the local NBC affiliate came to do a promo for the production of "Bye Bye Birdie" I was in. She interviewed the director and the cast performed "Healthy, Normal American Boy" live on the air. Had we performed "The Telephone Hour", I could have had my star turn since I played Harvey Johnson.

Many years later I worked for that TV station cleaning up the teleprompter scripts and posting them to the station's web site.
posted by emelenjr at 11:01 AM on July 9, 2004

I've never been on TV per se, but I was in "Legends of the Fall"* with Brad Pitt, and Brad Pitt was in "Sleepers" with Kevin Bacon. Make of that what you will; apparently there was some sort of cock-up at the wealth-fame-and-groupies office and all I got out of it was a hundred bucks Canadian, some free KFC and an anecdote.

[*] I was an extra during a "cast of thousands" type battle scene, and probably was never even visible on screen. Best part of the experience: The guys playing officers going down the trenches, between takes, screaming "There's not enough of you DYING out there! We're supposed to have 80% casualties in this battle! You, you and you--next take, you DIE!"

Oh, and I've still never seen the movie. Was it any good?
posted by arto at 11:16 AM on July 9, 2004

I was on "Masterpiece Theatre" in a scene with Mandy Patinkin (in "Broken Glass").

I don't think of being on TV as cool, but obviously many people do. I constantly am amazed at how people are willing to humilate themselves on reality shows. And I can't understand why they would do it. Then I remember: to be on TV.
posted by grumblebee at 11:20 AM on July 9, 2004

Anecdotally speaking, I don't think it's all that common at all to be on television. I know one person at work who participated in a local TV station's "we redecorate your house with cheap crap that looks good on TV" show, and because she's really photogenic my daughter was interviewed by local news a few times -- once on a playground, once for being a little kid "running" the San Francisco Bay to Breakers, and various things like that.

Other than that, I don't know anyone else who has appeared on television at all.
posted by majick at 11:45 AM on July 9, 2004

I've been on TV a couple of times. Once when I was 7 or so, as an extra in a TV show, and on news items for both of the big anti-war marches in London (in the crowd, etc). I was also interviewed for Chinese TV during one of the marches, but of course did not see the result of it.
posted by Orange Goblin at 12:52 PM on July 9, 2004

I've never been on TV, but I was on the cover of an early 90's tech magazine. Got $50 for it.
posted by cmonkey at 12:57 PM on July 9, 2004

I had a small speaking part in the movie "Gleaming the Cube," which starred Christian Slater. I said, "Quick, dial 911!" Touch me now.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 1:04 PM on July 9, 2004

I had a small speaking part in the movie "Gleaming the Cube,"

You win. That's rad.
posted by cmonkey at 1:16 PM on July 9, 2004

I and Doogie Howser both started acting in the same school play.

posted by WolfDaddy at 1:52 PM on July 9, 2004

My wife and I were on one of those home improvement shows, they built a cool fishtank thing out of an old outdoor fireplace. It was fun to do and should air in the next month or so (it was shot last November)
posted by zeoslap at 1:59 PM on July 9, 2004

I was on the CBS Evening News when I was in 8th grade. Wendy's had an advertising slogan that included the word "ain't" and our English teacher had had us all write letters to Wendy's corporate headquarters (we lived in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio, where Wendy's is). The local ABC affiliate sent a reporter out and then, about a month later, CBS sent out Bernard Goldberg. They interviewed about a dozen kids each time and chose two or three, and I made the cut both times.

Looking back, it was pretty stupid to spend my fifteen minutes of fame protesting the word "ain't."
posted by kindall at 2:01 PM on July 9, 2004

My TV story - I was walking down the street with my friend, and we were stopped by a local TV news show doing a person-on-the-street story about the upcoming postal strike.

My friend, a small business owner, gave an intelligent and considered response about the way that a postal strike would affect his business.

I didn't really want to be on TV, so I decided the most fun thing to do would be to say the stupidest thing I could think of, thus absolving me from any chance of being broadcast. I put on a 'duh' face, and said very flatly, "The mail strike will be bad because people won't get any mail".

Guess whose opinion showed up on the 6 o'clock news?
posted by Gortuk at 2:05 PM on July 9, 2004

In 1990, I was in the UK TV show "True or False." It was one of those shows to do little documentaries and then have a panel of C-listers debate if it was fiction or documentary. There was a bit of a Tales from the Darkside sort of spin most of them. The crew was in the American South filming a bit in Nashville. One of the producers had family in Alabama, so they came to my college to find students to do this story they worked up. It was about an Alabama guy who moved to Alaska to work on the pipeline, was in a plane crash and ate his dead boss to stay alive, then moved back to Alabama and opened up a hot dog stand, much to the chagrin of his neighbors. It was silly, but fun.
posted by spartacusroosevelt at 2:27 PM on July 9, 2004

I've been on local TV news broadcasts a few times, mostly in the background while they filmed something at my school or at the pool, and once when they did a short story on my high school chess team after we won State. Yes, I know I'm a nerd.
posted by gyc at 2:41 PM on July 9, 2004

I was an extra in the movie Wonder Boys. There's a scene where Michael Douglas's character comes home to find a roaring party at his house. As he approaches, he sees three guys carrying beer and pizza to the party (though you can't tell that's what we are doing). I'm the guy on the left. Woo hoo.

I'm in another scene later on in the movie, in an auditorium full of people attending a literary conference. If you pause the DVD just right, I'm in the same frame as Frances McDormond.

Probably the coolest part of the whole experience, though, was being directed by Curtis Hanson, who told me to turn a certain way while avoiding being run over by Michael Douglas in his old junker car. In the final cut of the movie, I'm just out of the frame in that shot, though I did make Michael Douglas chuckle with a quasi-humorous comment between takes.

Oh, and I was once in a crowd shot at a Pittsburgh Steelers game broadcast on CBS, if that counts.
posted by arco at 2:48 PM on July 9, 2004

Hey, does Wil Wheaton have a Metafilter account? I know we used to joke around and "pretend post" comments from Wil, but I'm not sure if he's actually "here." If so, the whole Wesley Crusher thing might beat out strangeleftdoublethink's Gleaming the Cube bit.
posted by arco at 2:53 PM on July 9, 2004

That's me on the penny.
posted by dong_resin at 3:59 PM on July 9, 2004

My hand was once on the local news.
It was my right hand.

Also... Really, really sorry about Graham Norton. We should never have sold you that show.
posted by seanyboy at 4:25 PM on July 9, 2004

I have one friend was an extra in Matrix Reloaded (two weeks of filming resulting in two frames of screen time), another who was tied to a chair in some Schwartzeneger movie (her only direction: look menaced), and another who played "token white girl" on a Korean soap opera called Bullsae a couple of weeks ago. Me, I was in a Sask Wheat Pool commercial when I was 7. I played a nerdy kid who looks nervously at the cute girl. Not much has changed.

They make for interesting annecdotes but rank fairly low on the cool scale.
posted by Monk at 5:09 PM on July 9, 2004

Oops: Schwarzenegger, Bulsae
posted by Monk at 5:11 PM on July 9, 2004

I had my own cable access show called "DIY" in 1996 with my buddy. We ripped off the intro to Reservoir Dogs for our intro, and then we got cancelled because we covered a pro-vegan rally/hardcore punk concert. Considering where I live (cattle country) it was kind of a big deal at the time. I still get recognized for it at the local record stores.

strangeleftydoublethink, I used to love Gleaming the Cube. "Someday there will be a 7-11 on every corner."
posted by Quartermass at 6:05 PM on July 9, 2004

The 1987 Mets (the World Champion Mets, I might add) had acquired a fine young pitcher named David Cone from the Kansas City Royals. Abe Lebewohl of the 2nd Avenue Deli, for some reason I have long since forgotten, offered a free salami to anyone who showed up at the deli with a ticket from the first Mets game won by Cone. I went to a lot of Mets games in those days (the World Champion Mets!), and I (along with a drunken friend of mine) was at the first game Cone won that year. Tickets in hand, we made our way to the East Village and headed for the deli. As we approached, we noticed that there was an ABC News team filming. We went in, got our salamis, and left in high good humor. That evening we watched the local news, and there we were! What's more, my family called from California to say they'd seen me—apparently the national news had thought it was a cute story and added it to the show. So there you have it, my moment of fame: looking like a complete idiot in a blue-and-orange Mets cap, waving a salami "that'll give you a goiter as big as Philadelphia," in the immortal words of the sports anchor.
posted by languagehat at 6:20 PM on July 9, 2004 [1 favorite]

Oh, and I've still never seen the movie. Was it any good?

Arto, I regret to inform you that it was one of the worst movies that I've ever seen. Me and my friends, who saw it in the theater, actually cheered when the damned guy finally got ripped to shreds by the bear.
posted by waldo at 6:44 PM on July 9, 2004

My shoes were in a instructional video about not drinking, and I produce shows for broadcast.
posted by drezdn at 7:18 PM on July 9, 2004

Response by poster: he was the guy in the can.
posted by taumeson at 7:34 PM on July 9, 2004

One of our best friends was an extra in "Pretty in Pink," which is really weird because I loved that movie for years before we met. He had the rare honor of playing both a dweeb (one of the kids who hung out in the back playground where Molly Ringwald brings Blaine) and a richie (you can see him at the prom in a white tux dancing with a girl in a yellow dress. All in all, he's in three scenes and is onscreen less than 10 seconds, which didn't stop us from getting the DVD and putting it on constant rewind for his parts.

Also, a couple we are friends with had their kitchen redone to the tune of $50,000 on one of those kitchen remodeling shows where they make you work along with the people, but it's just three days and you get the kitchen out of the deal. But that's partly because our pal was the grip, so he recommended them.

And another friend was the grip on Mystery Science Theater. So really, for not being from California or NY...lots of TV people in my life.
posted by GaelFC at 7:46 PM on July 9, 2004

Oops: Schwarzenegro, Bukkake
posted by yerfatma at 8:12 PM on July 9, 2004

I was on a game show called "WinTuition" on the Game Show Network in late 2002. While I didn't win the whole enchilada, I did win a set of encyclopedias and a stereo which I'm using right now. It was cool to get phonecalls from friends who said, "Hey...are you tv right now?"
posted by RakDaddy at 8:22 PM on July 9, 2004

Several MeFites have been on Jeopardy.
posted by Guy Smiley at 9:09 PM on July 9, 2004

The Charlestown Chiefs, in the movie Slap Shot were based on my dad's hockey team at the time, The Johnstown Jets. I grew up with the Hanson Brothers hanging around my house and a bunch of other hockey players.

While my dad has a part as an extra in the movie "Slap Shot" my mom was one of the hockey wives. She had like 3 or 4 lines the whole movie. She can be seen in lots of scenes knitting in the stands. She's even in the IMDB!

To this day, she still gets a check in the mail for like $50 every time the movie is on TV.
posted by punkrockrat at 10:25 PM on July 9, 2004

I went to Bozo's Circus when I was about six or so.

More recently, I was in the audience of Jenny Jones about five years ago. I went with a few of my friends on my birthday, and we showed up on screen plenty of times. (We were sitting right behind where Jenny usually stood)

I was also on The People's Court in 1999 or 2000, when Ed Koch was the judge. I happened to be walking through the Manhattan Mall when they were taping crowd shots for a few episodes. I got to meet Harvey Levin and even commented on the verdict of a case.

Those were my big moments of TV stardom.
posted by SisterHavana at 11:43 PM on July 9, 2004

Walking around the university campus one Friday afternoon, a news cameraman was trying to get some students to talk about their prom memories. Since no one wanted to be on TV, and was generally avoiding him, I stepped up to the task since no one I know watches the local news anyhow. Asked what my prom memories were I blurted out, "Line dancing to techno music".

Big mistake, it turned out that the cameraman was actually for a national newscast piece on prom season around the country, I must have been on screen for like 10 seconds or so, but come Monday morning, I would walk into lecture halls to face my professors pointing a finger "You! I saw you on TV!"
posted by wannabehippie at 12:46 AM on July 10, 2004

I was on KBOI's The Merry Milkman Show while in kindergarten. I wore a sandwich board cardboard apple costume and sang I Wish I Was an Apple Hanging on a Tree along with classmates similarly attired. My family went down and watched me on the set in the lobby of the Bancroft Hotel---we didn't have a TV yet.

Decades later, I worked as a groundskeeper on the campus of the University of Washington. I was filmed raking leaves one Indian summery day and my mother, who lived in Bremerton at the time, saw me a couple of years in a row as a local station ran stock footage for autumn scenes.
posted by y2karl at 1:06 AM on July 10, 2004

Regis and Kathy Lee, and not in the audience; it was a fun experience, although I rarely think about it anymore.
posted by shinynewnick at 1:09 AM on July 10, 2004

Postroad probably got on TV during the 1939 World's Fair--otherwise I suspect I may win in the first among Mefites category.
posted by y2karl at 1:14 AM on July 10, 2004

I have been on TV several times - twice on Saturday Night Live, twice on Late Night With David Letterman, Conan O'Brien, Santa and Son and Tales from The Darkside. Also on commercials for Activision, Decor Noel, Savin Copy Machines, McDonalds and New York State Lottery. I've also been in 6 movies (Ghostbusters, Identity Crisis, Muppets Take Manhattan, Turk 182, Under the Rainbow, The Hebrew Hammer) and appeared in "The Wizard of Oz" at Paper Mill Playhouse (invited to national tour)

I often appear in the Saturday Night Christmas specials, in a skit called "The Night Hanukkah Harry Saved Christmas". I have the dubious honor of holding a bucket for Santa/Phil Hartman to throw up into....:)

I don't work as much as I used to (disability), but it was a great run while it lasted and it's fun to still get residual checks! :)
posted by garypratt at 3:22 AM on July 10, 2004

I was on Jeopardy! in 1997 and on Ask This Old House (PBS) ~two seasons ago. I was the woman who had a dryer vent rerouted from a basement window out through the brick foundation. It was fun and they did the work for free; no residuals, though.
posted by initapplette at 2:04 PM on July 13, 2004

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