BY: Regina Moore AKA Charlotte Frost



CPAC Tape - Parts One and Two)

Part One

As promised on the TS Talks LJ, here is a write-up of parts of the CPAC tape.

If I remember correctly, CPAC is a Canadian public channel. It did a behind-the-scenes segment on “The Sentinel” and the program was a good 2.5 hours long. I have included comments from a few people and departments that I thought were interesting, but most of the details of this two-part post concern when scenes were being filmed in Simon’s office for the episode “Foreign Exchange”. The filming situations were actually a very small part of the overall CPAC tape, but they were broken up into two segments – one before lunch (which took place at two in the afternoon) and one after lunch. The second one is the more interesting one and comprises all of Part Two.

As a side note, I was surprised that they even did rehearsals in one-hour dramatic TV series. I remember that one of the original “Bonanza” actors used to complain about the lack of rehearsals (due to time constraints). And I know that for the original Star Trek, they had “stand ins” (people of the same height as the actors in a scene) for the purposes of setting up the cameras for each scene. With TS, they were rehearsing scenes at the same time that they were doing camera blocking.

I don’t know the name of the main CPAC guy, so I’m just calling him Nar for Narrator.

The CPAC program starts out at about eleven in the morning. (The date is March 16th. No year is given but it’s surely 1998, since “Foreign Exchange” is near the end of the third season.) They’re out on location to catch up to TS’s co-producer and sometime-director Danny Bilson, who on this day is directing an episode of “Viper.”

If anyone has ever seen Danny Bilson on anything before, you know he is very good-looking and has an easy-going nature. I always wonder why he’s behind the camera instead of in front of it. Anyway, it was surprising when he said that the main part of the director’s job is “being nice”. *g* And helping to keep the communication going. He credited the hierarchy of assistant directors with being responsible for “bring everything together” for each scene.

He says that the director’s job is the “most fun” and a great one for control freaks. He recommends getting into the business via writing, since one can do it solely with one’s creativity.

He mentioned trying to get six hours of sleep per night to function, but sometimes he has to survive on only three.

He said that they’d originally wanted to have TS take place in Seattle, but they eventually changed it to a fictional city so they could shoot in Vancouver for financial reasons.

A couple of hours later, the CPAC crew was inside the soundstage, specifically on the set where the loft is housed. Producer Bob Hargrove was the man giving the tour. He mentioned that the loft has real plumbing but the electrical boxes on the wall are fake. They wanted to make the loft large and spacious so that they would keep the moving of walls, for camera placement, down to a minimum.

They showed the inside of Blair’s room, which we never see – except for very tight shots in “True Crime” and TSbBS, and a distant shot in “Attraction”. It was very neat and clean and in masculine colors. There were a lot of plush cushions piled up on the neatly-made bed.

They next moved to the set where they filmed the restaurant scene from “Foreign Exchange”. They had originally intended to shoot it at a real restaurant, but the fact that it needed to be at night – and then have the blackout – made for a lot of complications. So, they decided to build a set (which takes about a week) and then rent all the dishes, silverware, furniture, and other trappings.

As with the loft, everything the viewer sees outside the windows at the restaurant are actually inserts that are computer-generated later.

They showed us the room where Personnel was shot (in “Siege”), and that room also doubles as the Forensics lab and other departments, mainly via changing the doors and the angles of shooting inside of it to make it look like a different room.

Unlike the loft, Major Crimes and the surrounding halls have ceilings, including water stains that were put there on purpose to add realism.

As the CPAC camera moved into the bullpen, to approach Banks’ office where filming was taking place, there were a lot of extras dressed as cops sitting around the desks.

We didn’t see inside the breakroom, but Hargrove mentioned that none of the plumbing or such works in it, since there’s no need.

At 1:50 PM, the CPAC crew gets closer to Banks office. We see director Bruce Bilson (father of Danny Bilson) very focused and he has to tell everyone to be quiet a couple of times before it’s time to roll the cameras. (The first few times I saw the CPAC tape, I thought Bruce Bilson was a very harsh, grumpy person. But after seeing it more, I don’t agree with that first impression. He’s can be humorous and personable. It’s just that he has a very weathered look and a no-nonsense tone.)

As the cameras roll, he watches the action from a bank of monitors outside of Simon’s office. (In a later interview, he mentions that he usually prefers to watch what’s being filmed the “old fashioned way” -- looking directly into the actors’ faces as they perform.)

A crush of bodies surrounds Simon’s office, so we can’t see anything while they’re filming. But we can hear Banks, Ellison, and Sandburg discussing the background of the bad guys. Once the scene ends, Bilson tells everybody to get ready to go again, as they’re going to re-do the scene for close-ups.

This time when they film and Bilson watches the row of monitors, he breaks out into a grin. And then he calls, “Cut – print that”, and then announces a rehearsal.
Bob Hargrove tells the Nar that they’re going to block for another part of the scene and then break for lunch. He says that the block, “is not a rehearsal” but just getting the camera angles right.

We’re introduced to the very Nordic-looking Tony Westman (white hair nearly to his shoulders), Director of Photography, who says that each scene is shot from 2-6 different angles. But since they can usually only get one or two cameras in a scene, they have to do each scene “for real” multiple times, though on some of the special effects action shots they only have one chance at it.

The CPAC camera moves closer so that we can actually see into Simon’s office. While Anna Galvin is leaning over Simon’s desk and saying her lines (with script in hand), Garett Maggart (with thick-framed glasses and hair in a neat ponytail) it talking quietly with Richard Burgi (green cotton shirt with undershirt) as they stand in front of Simon’s desk. But they’re too far away to catch what they’re saying. The scripts the actors use are all about half the size of the 8.5X11 standard paper that the director uses.

At one point, AG turns to Bilson because she wants to change a word in her lines, and Bilson tells her it’s okay. When she gets to the point of mentioning why she’s really in Cascade (to get Bruenell), Bruce Young, sitting at his desk, enjoys telling her repeatedly, “You *lied* to us.” *g*

The CPAC camera moves closer as their conversation ends and AG exits. GM says his line defending her and asking Jim how many times he’s done something for personal reasons, and Jim/RB gives his quiet reply, “I didn’t lie about it.” Then Bilson looks up and loudly warns to people out of camera range, “We’re still rehearsing, people,” because it’s gotten rather noisy.

As they wind down the scene, GM chatters something with Bilson, and Bilson comments, then GM waves his arms and says, “But we can’t talk about it right now because we’re on lunch.” Then he waves his arms again and laughingly takes it back, saying, “No.” Then he spots the CPAC camera and sobers like he didn’t realize it was there. *g*

Bilson looks at RB and says apologetically, “You get to stand around a lot, Rich.” Tony Westman adds, “A man of few words.”

RB says good-naturedly, “It’ll all play in the editing. It’ll all play in the stimulating editing room.” Bilson grins and we hear Maggart, who is blocked by RB, say, “That’s right. The snip!snip!snip!snip! process.”

Bilson thanks them, making it clear it’s lunch break. GM and RB turn away to exit, but RB bends down to get his water bottle and Bob Hargrove snags him for the CPAC camera.

Of course, RB is very personable but I can’t help but think he was straining to be patient and *really* wanted to have his lunch break. He put up with the usual questions about what it’s like to work in Vancouver (“there’s a lot of Canadians”) and how to get into acting. He made a point of saying that he only wears his personal clothes “about an hour a day” and that being an actor means being told, “when to go, where to go, how to go, why to go – well, not why.” He calls the set “a large extended family outside of your gene pool” (and looks very serious *g* ).

His recommendation for preparing for a career as an actor was, “A few years of manual labor would be a wonderful thing, military training or some work with sports teams to understand what it’s like to work in tandem; a sense of dedication, discipline and hard work. And some suffering along the way – maybe a rejection by a girlfriend, boyfriend, death in the family, any hardships one could endure in the course of lifetime.” Then, “A chip on your shoulder doesn’t hurt.” And he laughs for an extended moment. But then he reiterates, “Get out in the real world and get some job experience. Get a job as dishwasher, or a bricklayer, you know… travel, keeps your eyes open.”

After deadpanning the great weather in Vancouver “once you get passed the torrential downpour 364 days a year”, he makes a point of saying, “My son is Canadian”, as though to soothe any insult against Canadians.

The CPAC Nar asks, “Who’s the gentleman standing over here?” and the camera pans to Bruce Young standing tall and stately at the back of his office, obviously more than willing to talk to the CPAC people.

RB introduces him as, “Captain Banks. You know, I feel a little on the short side and wish I had a better tan.” He laughs while the Nar says, “Which you won’t find in Vancouver.”

RB laughs more and quips, “Banks don’t surf.”

RB then gets serious and says, “What’s it’s like? It’s great. Every day showing up and having a trio of people to create and having the support – for the most part – of the individuals who put the show on. I love working with Bruce because he’s a very passionate and creative sort and you know…,” he looks up at BY, “he’s got a terrific haircut, too.”

The camera focuses on BY, and RB apparently takes his opportunity to slip away, since we don’t see him anymore this segment.

BY mentions how he likes that Simon gets to be an “active captain” and isn’t stuck behind a desk. He then gives a tour of his office and points out the fishing props and the little angels on his desk. (Which I never noticed until I saw this.) He said they’re all stuff he’s added. He has a portrait of his real son on his desk. Banks even has his own business cards.

He goes to the back of the office to present the jazz statues on the bookcase. He says, “Banks is a black man, so he likes having black men all around him.”

He calls himself “a stage actor, who happens to do television and film”. He put in a few words about how it’s been fun having Anna Galvin on the team.

Next was meeting co-producer David Wilson who was very involved in the creation of the sets. He said they purposely created the PD with a lot of windows to give a greater since of size, while still fitting it in the studio.

Wilson takes us further through the studio where we pass by a basketball court, which they “use for street scenes”.

They go outside and there’s a small camera crew shooting without actors and Wilson says it’s probably for a sentinel “hearing” shot. They first shoot RB’s ear a few times, and then actually finish up the rest of the scene “out here”, where they shoot whatever else they need to in order to create the special sentinel effect.

They continue on to rows of small RVs that act as dressing rooms. They call them “star wagons”. They go inside an empty one and it looks comfortable and plush. They’re all long-term rentals.

He was asked about where the actors memorize their lines and Wilson said that most of them actually have their scripts on the set so they can look at them right before a scene (inferring that they don’t necessarily have to study their lines ahead of time.)

We see one large RV with a satellite dish attached and Wilson says those are the trailers for the stars, directors, etc.

In the Art and Casting departments, they were working on gearing up for “Neighborhood Watch”. The casting crew was teasing the Nar about being ideal for a role in the episode.

Part Two

It’s now nearly five o’clock and the CPAC camera once again approaches Banks’ office, where filming is taking place. We’re actually in the bullpen looking toward the blinds of Simon’s office.

The director yells “Cut” and Anna Galvin tiptoes out to speak with the CPAC people. She mentions that it’s just her first week on the set and she was very nervous the first day, but each day has gotten better. She says, “Everyone has been very kind and it’s been a lot of fun so far.”

They then interrupt the interview because they have to be quiet while the next scene is filmed with Jim, Blair, and Simon in the latter’s office. From the camera peeking in the doorway, we see (and hear) it’s when Simon is firmly telling Jim and Blair to “escort her majesty back to her hotel”.

When Blair’s lines are done, GM steps back toward the blinds, almost trips, and then puts his hand to his mouth, like mouthing an “oops” gasp toward the CPAC camera. As soon as the director yells “Cut!” he comes out to stand aside to watch AG being interviewed. His glasses are perched atop his head.

AG gives a little background on her character and then mentions her friend “Sandy”. She looks over at GM and beckons him, “Come on, Sandy!” He protests, “No, it’s your interview.” But she insists so he comes to stand beside her. She says, “He knows more about The Sentinel than me; I’m learning from him.” GM keeps shaking his head like he doesn’t think he should be butting in on her interview but then relents and talks to the Nar, who introduces him to the camera.

The Nar asks him what it’s like working with AG, and GM turns playfully to the camera and whispers an emphatic, “BAD.” Then he laughs and says, “No, she’s wonderful.” She points out, “I’m taller than he is.” He replies, “That’s right; she can beat me up, so I have to say nice things about her.” Then he says, “She believes that women are infinitely more intelligent than men so I have to go along with that.”

GM is asked what he thinks of working in Canada and he seriously says it’s great and that the Canadian crews are great. Then he laughs and says, “Not that I worked that much down in LA so I didn’t know anything about the film crews down there.” The Nar says something about the Canadian exchange rate being helpful and with mock seriousness GM says, “No question. That helps me with a job.” He makes his hands like balancing scales and laughs, “As long as we keep that Canadian-American dollar difference, I got a job.”

They’re asked how difficult it was to get the legal paperwork to work in Canada and AG said that it took her “about five hours at the Canadian Consulate.” GM said, “It was actually pretty easy for me.” He adds, “They took care of it for me; I just had to come up and sign papers.” She says maybe the difference was because she had an Australian passport, but then she says it seems like that would make it easier because, “we have the same lady on our money.”

GM asks her, “You guys have that colored money – that weird money?” She says they do.

The Nar says something about it being easy to counterfeit (or something like that), and GM says, “Really?” He darts his eyebrows at the camera and says, “We’ve got a great art department here.”

The Nar goes on to say that American twenty dollar bills have a metal strip on them – which GM seems to already know – and then points out that if you take too many of them through the metal detector at the airport the security alarm will go off. GM looks amazed and said, “I didn’t know that.”

They then realize they’re needed back in Simon’s office, and GM says quietly to AG, “Sorry I ruined your interview.” But she isn’t bothered and the Nar had wanted to talk to him at some point.

They turn toward Simon’s office and the Nar says, “So, you’re going in to block?” GM says yes, they’re doing camera blocking, “which is another word for rehearsal”. (That’s a contradiction to what Bob Hargrove said earlier. *g*. )

Bilson is waiting at the door and waves AG and GM in and waves the CPAC cameras in as well, and they pass by somebody standing at the back of the office, eating a sandwich.

The CPAC camera moves to the other side of the office so that it’s facing the blinds. We see Bruce Young standing in front of his desk and he and AG start discussing the script with Bilson. We can hear GM continuing to discuss the twenty-dollar-bill thing with the Nar. In the meantime, AG and BY seem to be having a good time together, laughing a lot as they talk.

Eventually, somebody on the set does a “Sshh!” and tells everyone to keep it down. The trio in front of us grow more serious and BY mumbles his lines as he continues going through the script, with AG looking over his shoulder and Bilson following along with his own script.

Eventually, GM comes up to the group, puts on his thick-framed glasses, and looks over at Bilson’s script then pulls out his own to follow along. BY stops mumbling to shake his finger at AG and say, “… or I’ll use your head for a football.”

Richard Burgi suddenly appears next to the group, his own script in hand, and says, “We already said that.” GM looks up and reacts at RB and BY asks, “What?”

RB says, “We’ve said it before on this show.” BY says no and RB corrects, “Not on this show, but I told that to Sandburg before, out in the hall” and he points out to the hall. “We did a walk-and-talk and he did a bup-bup-bup-bup and then I said it.” He glances at GM, “Remember that?” before going back to his script.

(It was “Prisoner X” when Jim said to Blair, “You go near that place and I’ll use your head for a football.”)

BY, AG, and Bilson go into a discussion about what Banks can say instead.

In the meantime, GM’s focus is on Burgi, and he feigns offense and complains to him, “I’m always the football though.” RB mutters something, shaking his head back and forth while still bent over his script and GM presses, “Why is it always *my*head…?” He then makes a “tsk” noise and mutters something about, “That’s terrible.” RB says something but I can’t catch it.

All but GM are talking at once, and then GM suddenly butts in and says with a loud voice with an elaborate gesture toward Anna, “Would he [Simon] say that? No. He wouldn’t say it exactly the way it’s meant to be said, because he’s not Australian.” -- like “there, I’ve just explained everything”. *g* (AG grins while everyone else is buried in their scripts.)

The camera zeroes in on AG and BY and she suggests a cricket reference, and they start talking about wickets. Bilson says, “Let’s run it through once, let the guys work. And we can find the nuances.” They start to shift around and Bilson says, “Quiet please.”

Reading from their scripts, BY starts off the scene with , “Connor, I should chew you out,” while Bilson says something quietly to Burgi, who is just out of camera range. The camera pulls back so we see RB and GM. Burgi finishes off his water while reading along in his script. BY clearly pronounces some of his lines and quickly mutters through others. He eventually moves behind his desk, where he points his finger at AG and says, “But if you violate procedure again, we’ll have a very sticky wicket.” And she laughs.

There’s then a knock and Rafe walks in with a couple of thick, plain manila envelopes and hands them to BY. BY accepts them and said, “I told them not to send these to the office.” And laughs.

Bilson points out, “It *is* a plain brown wrapper.” BY is still laughing and says, “I know! I told them not to send these here.” He then goes back to reading his script and Bilson gestures for him to come back out from behind his desk.

BY mumbles more lines to Jim and Blair and Blair slowly says, “And we should do what with it?” BY/Banks replies, “Well, you should get acquainted with the bread and butter of police work, Sandburg.” He hands him the envelopes and finishes his line.

GM/Blair says, “This is quite a lot, sir.”

BY/Banks says, “Well, it ain’t gonna get any thinner sitting in here. Take it over to the operations room and look through it.”

As the CPAC camera pans the room, GM jokes, “Are you saying I’ve put on weight?” We see that there are a *lot* of people in Simon’s office, standing and sitting around and watching the rehearsal, some following along with their scripts.

Simon does an “Out! Out!” thereby ending the scene.

As the camera comes back to Burgi and Bilson, Bilson quietly jokes to him, “Good work, Rich.” Obviously pointing out that, once again, they have a long scene where RB has no lines whatsoever. (Whenever I watch this, I’m so amazed at his professionalism – that he so diligently follows along with his script and is so heads-up about what’s going on. I know that GM once said, in reference to both RB and BY, that, “These guys don’t just come in and say their lines and leave. They’re professionals all the way.”)

Bilson says to everyone, “Let’s block it this time” and everyone shifts to get back in position.

GM places himself in front of RB and starts babbling something about, “I think you should take it to him”, making elaborate facial expressions as the camera zeroes in. I can see RB’s mouth move but can't hear anything he says in reply.

All I can figure, from seeing this a half dozen times, is that there’s some sort of party planned “upstairs” later on – a farewell or “thank you” party of some kind – and GM is trying to tell Burgi that he should be the one to present the gift. That’s my best guess. I could be completely wrong.

The camera then swings back to Bilson, BY, and an assistant discussing some script point further. Bilson then loudly says, “Let’s try to get some marks, please” and steps to one side. We briefly see GM standing by himself and tipping back a bottled water. AG and BY are making some final comments to each other about the script.

Then we hear GM say, “*We* get to sit on it”, and Bilson says, “That’s right.” RB then steps toward BY and AG and quietly says something about “going upstairs” later. Bilson asks, “What?” Like naughty boys caught at something, BY casually replies “Oh, nothing.” As the camera pulls back to include RB and GM sitting at the end of the table across from Simon’s desk, GM is chiming in, “Ohhh nothing” and RB’s expression looks mischievous. RB says something to Bilson about, “It’s upstairs. Just a little thank-you.” And waves a hand dismissively like Bilson doesn’t need to worry about it.

Everyone steps out so that BY and AG are in the center, with RB and GM nearby sitting on the table. The director calls “Action!” and Simon starts in again with, “Connor, I should chew you out.”

From where he’s sitting, GM grits his teeth grit like a pit pull, leans forward, and does an “Ar-ar-ar-ar-“ noise.

BY turns toward him for a moment but continues on with his lines. At one point, Banks says, “Considering that there were no injuries on the street, you got lucky. You *all* did.”

In a deep voice, GM mimics, “You *all* did.”

AG/Megan says she as an explanation for her actions and Simon firmly says, “Save it.”

GM reacts and looks at RB like, “Ooooh.”

Burgi has his arms crossed and is watching the two actors. The next exchange of lines GM is reacting with a deep, exaggerated “Uhm-hmm” noise to everything BY and AG say, and when the camera pulls back RB is doing likewise. *g*

The director suggests that BY come his way on the “you all” line.

When BY starts back at the “I should chew you out” line, GM goes back to his pit bull response. And then continues doing the deep, exaggerated “Uhm-hmm” noises while frequently looking at RB beside him, who is doing the same thing.

As BY lectures Connor, he paces back and forth in front of RB and GM, and the second time he passes by, RB grabs the back of BY’s suit jacket and lifts it up. Don’t ask me why but BY ignores it and keeps going.

Even as Simon goes back behind his desk, and the CPAC camera focuses on he and AG, you can still hear RB and GM making their exaggerated reactions to every line. They continue as Rafe comes in with the two manila envelopes and gives them to Simon and then leaves.

BY is looking at his script after coming around his desk, holding the envelope while facing RB and GM, and says, “And somebody says….” He looks up and bounces the heavy envelopes in his hands.

GM/Blair says, “What’s that?” BY/Simon runs through his explanation, and GM, in a deep voice asks, “And we should do what with it?”

BY tosses the envelopes into GM’s hands and says his lines about Blair getting familiar with police work. (In the actual ep, I think they ended up with three manila envelopes, and one each was given to Jim, Blair, and Megan.)

GM looks at Burgi, and then looks inside one envelope and saying in a deep, almost British tone, “There seems to be quite a lot we have here, sir.”

Simon tells them to take it to the operations room and GM and RB look at each other and react again with the deep “Uhm-Hmm” noises.

BY opens the door and gestures them out. RB gets up and puts his hand on his hip and exits, swaying his hips like a woman (causing a few giggles). GM follows, reaches back for his water bottle, and also exits with swaying hips.

Once they leave, BY closes the door behind them and announces to nobody in particular, “It’s amazing we get anything done.” And then he laughs.

He and Bilson talk about a few more things, and then GM comes back into the room, stepping between them and going around the woman on the floor who is placing tape where each actor had been standing. GM whispers something to get her attention, and when she looks up she’s facing the CPAC camera with strips of tape hanging from her mouth. She smiles and says, “Not with the tape in my mouth.” He teases her for another moment and then the camera zeroes in on Bilson and BY, who are continuing to talk about the scene. AG comes in for a moment, sits down and sips her water, and then she and GM each leave a moment later.

The CPAC people then whisper to Bilson – obviously asking for an interview – and he says, “Sure” and leads the way outside. He stands close to GM a moment and says a few words to him. AG is a few feet away, talking with BY.

The CPAC people start interviewing Bilson, and GM stands in the background watching for a minute or two and then leaves.

Bilson makes a point of saying that Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo make complicated shows because “there’s always a gimmick or special powers”. He mentions the tremendous effort involved in “visual effects” with Jim’s senses, and how if Jim sees something two blocks away, they have to keep moving the camera and filming a little at a time to get the split-second “zoom” effect on film. He said they have a company that stays busy fulltime just doing visual effects for TS and Viper.

Bilson says this is 395th show he’s directed and some of his early experiences were directing Lucille Ball, with whom he became friends.