What is this again? Dirty Close-Up what? Let me explain.

My first encounter with the people that work behind the scenes in the entertainment business was almost twenty years ago, and to this day I still think that their stories and experiences are usually more interesting than the PR spin that any actor would reveal. On most shoots I hear the most insane stories about Hollywood in the location scout van, or at the craft service table and I always wanted to give these below the line types a place to share a few. The Dirty Close-Up interview is just that. I am starting them as written interviews and will be posting video interviews soon, both give a behind the scenes look at the personalities and quirky individuality that make up a call sheet on any film or television shoot. Oh yeah, in film slang a “dirty close-up” is a close up shot of an actor with a little bit of the back of the actor they are talking to in the shot…but I digress.

A couple months ago you met Thomas (TK) Keith, my good friend who works as a 1st Assistant Director and 2nd Assistant Director on many of the projects I art direct. TK works hard, keeps his cool and from the moment I met him shared great tales from Van Halen music videos (read about those in an earlier post), the Seinfeld sitcom and multiple sightings of the Virgin Mary, so of course, he is my first Dirty Close-Up interview. 

TK worked on the Seinfeld sitcom for years, here’s what he has to say…

tom 2 Dirty Close Up Interview: TK the AD (Part 2)

Here is a great picture of TK in Jerry's apartment.

GK: How did you end up at Seinfeld?

TK: I worked on an American Express tv commercial with the regular 2nd AD on the show. THAT was a big deal and it was a lot of fun. She liked how hard I worked and asked if I wanted to work with her as a part time 2nd 2nd AD. I had never worked on a sitcom before.  

GK: Last time we were in a van on a location scout you were telling everyone some great Seinfeld stories, I was in the back and couldn’t hear any of them. Hit me with one.

TK: Seinfeld would shoot in front of a live audience on Wednesday nights. We would pre shoot many scenes on Monday and Tuesday because there were just too many scenes. The day we were shooting the “Festivus” dinner scene turned into a long night. It was now about 9PM and the cast and crew were all tired. When Julia would get tired, she would get giddy. She would begin to break up laughing, and it would be hard for her to stop. About 11PM everyone hit a wall so they just did what they could to finish the scene and call wrap. It turned out very funny; but it wasn’t something everyone thought would develop such a cult status.  

GK: Was working on the last episode an incredible experience? How did they pull it off without the plot leaking to the media?

On the last episode, the producers decided to use a different name on the permits and call sheets so media and photographers wouldn’t know it was the Seinfeld crew. The name they used was “A Tough Nut To Crack” except everyone on the crew showed up on location with the Seinfeld logos on their hats, crew jackets, T-shirts, etc. Only the director and one writer had a full script for the last episode. The day player actors were only given the pages of the scenes they were in, and at the end of the day, the pages had to be returned. During the (last episode) courtroom scene, we had every single dressing room on the CBS Radford lot filled with our actors. We never had to go to their rooms to find them. Every actor got dressed and stayed on the set for hours. Every one of them wanted to be part of the history.

Thanks TK, we really need to be on a show together again soon. Maybe the Seinfeld reunion? Oh wait, that’s already happening but I am not allowed to talk about it…

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