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MOTM Carnegie Hall Filming, Part One
by Daryl Nagamine

There are a couple of spoilers for some scenes from the movie mentioned below, so if you really want the movie to be a surprise, you better stop reading now. Actually, it's no big deal, but if I didn't mention it, someone would complain. ;-) I'll post the non-story line events in a separate post.

I was an unpaid extra for Thursday's Carnegie Hall scenes for "Man on the Moon". It was held at the L.A. Theater in Downtown Los Angeles. I'm not sure how many people were there in the crowd, but I I heard someone say it was about 1,300. They only used the lower level of the theater, because the camera crew and special effects folks were on the second level and balcony seats. This was supposed to be the last day of filming. The rehearsals started around 10:30 am and they didn't let us out until around 8:00 pm or so.

I think the concert originally took place in 1979, but for the movie, they changed the date to 1982 or 1983. I wasn't clear on the year, but the assistant director did announce that they wanted to place the date closer to Andy's death (for dramatic purposes, I guess).

It was supposed to be Christmas time in the Big Apple. The stage was decorated with large painted decorations of toy drums, dolls, stuffed animals, and other Christmas gifts. In front of the tree sat a row of orchestra members and off to one side of the stage a small band was set up (bass, guitars, piano, and drums). The ushers and stage hands were dressed as elves. It seemed to be an older and more mature crowd of extras compared to the previously filmed wrestling scenes. They were more patient in-between takes and seemed to pay more attention to the director's instructions. They were definitely into it though and seemed to know more about Andy Kaufman than did the other group. I heard many conversations going on about Andy's life and the crazy stunts that he pulled through the years. Pretty cool! The people around me shouted out using Andy's name during the shooting breaks, unlike the wrestling crowd who constantly used Jim Carrey's name.

I guess most of the concert segments were filmed before Thursday, but this was the "Grand Finale" and it was a blast! The part we saw begins with Andy wrapping up a bongo routine. Then a giant screen drops down and shows clips from the 1931 western/musical, "Jingle, Jangle, Jingle" (could this possibly be legit?). Andy annouces that the last surviving dancing cowgirl from that film is here tonight. They bring out the 94-year old retired actress (who supposedly was being played by a 94-year old former Ziegfeld Follies chorus girl. Another goof?) who gingerly walks out on stage. Andy mentions that they found the original hobby horse used in the film's dance sequences and he asks the old woman to show the audience a few of the old steps. She objects, but he goads her into it, and gets the audience to clap along with the orchestra music as she dances. Andy as conductor starts waving the baton frantically demanding that both the audience and orchestra speed up the tempo. Faster and faster he goes as the old woman desperately tries to keep up. Finally the strain is to much and she has a heart attack and collapses. Andy runs off the stage as someone stops the orchestra and calls for a doctor over the microphone. A doctor emerges from the audience and attends to her, but he is too late. The audience is shocked. Then, Andy reappears wearing an Indian headdress. Andy the Shaman chants and dances and revives the woman. The crowd erupts in cheers. Before the clapping stops, the curtain backdrop opens revealing the Mormon Tabernacle choir standing on a gigantic Christmas tree made of bleachers. The clapping and yelling from the audience continues as the choir breaks into the "Hallelujah Chorus". Then the Radio City Rockettes appear dancing in a line across the stage much to the delight of the spectators. Before their number if finished, snow starts falling from the rafters. An joyful Andy points up above and announces the arrival of Santa Claus who is flying above the audience in his sleigh and eventually lands in right on stage as he hands Andy his Christmas present. Can there be anything to top this? Yes! Andy announces that he wants to take everyone out for milk and cookies and he jumps off stage and starts walking out the door motioning the audience to follow him. A standing ovation follows.

I can't wait to see how this translates to the big screen. While the special effects crew was probably very competent, I sure am glad that I was not on the side of the audience that Santa's sleigh flew over! The fake snow was made from little silvery pieces of mylar. The biggest drag was waiting for that stuff to be cleaned up between takes. It was so light that it took a while to settle since every little breeze or draft sent the pieces floating upwards again.

My next post will have more details about Jim Carrey's performance as well as what went on during breaks.

MOTM Carnegie Hall Filming, Part Two
by Daryl Nagamine

The extras at the Carnegie Hall filming seemed to know a bit more about Andy Kaufman's background than those at the wrestling match filming. At the earlier shoot, most of the fans around me would shout Jim Carrey references such as "Alrighty, then" or "We love you Jim", whereas the extras at this last shoot were shouting Andy references such as "Elvis", "Latka", or even, "An-dy! An-dy! An-dy!".

Jim seemed to be responding more directly to this type of acknowledgement and you could tell he was really getting into it. Part of the reason was the smaller crowd which enabled him to hear individual comments a bit more clearly. Also, the wrestling scenes ususally began with Jim out-of-sight (presumaby in his arena dressing room) and once he entered the stage and was visible, there was no time for goofiing around, he had to stay in character for the filming. Except for the times when he grabbed the microphone out of Jerry Lawler's hand, you couldn't hear what he was shouting unless you were right down in front. Also, they had to keep stopping the shoot while the stunt double got in the ring and took the actual piledrivers.

The Carnegie Hall shoot was in total contrast to all of that. Here, Jim usually waited on stage for the cameras to roll. He had plenty of time to act up for the crowd and since it was a concert setting, there was a mike stand right there in the center of the stage for him to constantly speak into. While Milos Forman was setting the scenes up, Jim would get the orchestra and band warmed up, by dancing around to their rehearsing. There were a ton of highlights to witness.

There was a woman playing "Turkey in the Straw" on the violin while Jim danced. She really started getting into it and started to sing too. Jim ran to get the mike and placed it in front of her and she stood up and started belting out the lyrics (who knew there were lyrics?!?!) while the audience clapped the rhythm. Then Jim said that he was just trying to get "in the mood". Immediately, half the orchestra starts playing the old Glenn Miller tune while Jim cracked up and pointed at various band members encouraging them to take solos.

Later, Jim was talking to the piano player trying to find out what songs he knew. The guy starts to play "Come Sail Away", the old Styx tune, and Jim goes into full rock concert mode. He didn't get all the lyrics right, but when he started hitting the high notes, the crowd went wild. Courtney Love, who was sitting in the front row, went even wilder, jumping out of her seat and screaming . He also did Billy Joel's "Piano Man" which had the crowd cheering. There was a bongo routine that "Andy" performs where he does a call-and-response vocal thing similar to the "hi-dee, hi-dee, hi-dee, ho" part in "Minnie the Moocher". The only difference was that he was speaking in Latka Gravas-type gibberish! The crowd tried its best to keep up, but he had us tongue-tied in the end. In between shots, some folks in the crowd start to yell, "Day Oh, Day-ay-ay Oh" to see if "Andy" would respond. He obliged with a fine version of "The Banana Boat Song".

People wanted a bit more of the Latka voice, so they kept calling for it. After loosening up his vocal cords for about 30 seconds, Jim turns into Latka. He spoke in that same, halting manner that Andy used including the wide-eyed look where he seems to be searching for the correct English words. He ended it by saying, "I'm glad you all came here today to be in my movie. When you see how this scene looks in the movie, I hope you think it -- how do you say? -- kick ass!. Tank you, veddy much."

I think my favorite moment was when the calls for Elvis went up. First, Jim did the classic line, "You can all just watch me while I catch my breath." Then he took grabbed the mike stand, sneered, motioned to the band, and went into "Jailhouse Rock" - straight up. No hamming around. Dead on. It could have been the excitement of being there, but I don't know that Andy ever did it better. He had all the arm, hip, leg, and head movements down to a tee. The Elvis studio version fades outs, but this was live, so Jim was directing the band to do a slow, big finish ending. When he was done, everyone in the theater was on its feet cheering.

This shoot seemed to drag on and on at times. Most of the extras probably showed up well before 9:00 am and lunch didn't get served until nearly 2:30 pm (almost an hour late). Jim could sense the restlessness of the crowd. At one point, it was announced that lunch would be served after the next take. Immediately after the take ended with the director yelling, "Cut!", Jim screams into the mike, "Good! Now can someone get these people some f---king sandwiches?!?!?!" and he starts to walk off. The crowd erupted with laughter and cheers, but then the director asks for "just one more take". The crowd let out a collective groan and Jim sheepishly walks back to the mike. Looking in Milos Forman's direction, he bowed his head, and apologetically said, "I'm sorry I said -- SANDWICHES!!!!".

Reading back this post, some of this stuff doesn't look too funny or great. I know I'm not doing justice to these moments, but it's like they say -- You had to be there. I was and, boy, am I glad.

Oh yeah, we saw Danny DeVito walking around for part of the day. He was in the scene too, but he didn't say anything in it or to the crowd in-between takes.

What else? Hey, I won a copy of "Hair" autographed by Milos Forman! I guess that's about it.

When Your Dream Becomes Your Worst Nightmare
By Heather Wadowski
PR Manager of JCO

It was literally my dream come true, which is quite sad and proves how pathetic my life is. I got the rare opportunity to star in my future husband's movie, Man on the Moon, and see him perform live just a few feet from me. I dressed up in my 70s clothes and out the door I went, so excited I could just die right there.

So off I went to the Grand Olympic Auditorium, which is just a hop skip and a jump away from USC where I go to school. I was ushered into my seat and offered drinks and munchies beforehand but like I could really eat! Then as I patiently waited, it happened.

God appeared. Uh, I mean Jim.

At first no one recognized him and the crowd didn't even erupt into chaos when they did. Some people wondered if that was really him. He looked so different. He gained some weight, put on a wig (actually any TRUE fan would know that he grew out his hair for the part but for the normal non-Jim- worshippers, it was a "wig") and calmly waited for the scene to begin.

Then Travis, one of the ushers, came over and asked if we wanted to be extras for another day. If so, we had to leave for a bit and fill out papers and get a picture taken. Seemed simple enough. So I ran out and waited to be taken care of..... for almost two hours. Two hours of quality Jim time I was missing! I was frantic, but then I realized that we were right by the trailers. About ten minutes later I guess they took a break cause all of a sudden the door opened next to me and Jim was standing in it smoking a cigarette. Jim! About five feet away from me. Then, Courtney Love appeared and walked right by me to get to her trailer. I was in awe. (Not by Courtney, but she was pretty nice. )

Finally I made my way back to the seat that was mine and realized I missed the only scene being shot that day with Courtney in it. Oh well. I wasn't there to see her anyway. We were on a break though, scene change, and had Jim- wannabes do impressions for us. One was actually really good, and that says something coming from me. They gave away a few prizes and promised more would be given away, along with a few autographs (which is rare one guy said because Jim is not autograph friendly), after shooting was done.

After sitting for almost two hours doing nothing (they were having major tech problems), they resumed shooting. Finally I could see my man in action! I was in awe. Then I realized that my duty as an extra was to cheer not for Jim but for Jerry Lawler, the wrestler and Jim's co-star for the scene. I couldn't do it. I just couldn't. So I stood there quietly and watched Jim be Andy.

During takes Jim stayed totally in character. Poor Jim. He was sick and was losing his voice. But he still tried to tell jokes to the audience. When he didn't, Courtney waved and smiled. And when she didn't do that, Dante, some comedian, "entertained" us. Whatever. Get back to Jim!

Finally, it was the last scene and an hour after we were supposed to be done. People were restless and complaining, but I could have stayed forever for Jim. I mean this wasn't some movie, this was my dream coming true. I was having a blast and would've skipped school over and over again to be there. Everything was going fine and finally the final CUT! was given. Jerry, joking around, picked up Jim over his head and put him down. Then Jim being Jim, or should I say being Andy, continued his Kauffman-like persona and spit at Jerry.

Jerry chased Jim around the stage and Jim tried to run. He tried to get out and everyone thought it was just part of the scene even though the director yelled cut. Just Jim being Jim right?

Then why did Jerry grab Jim by the neck and not let go? Why did cops rush over to the scene and break the two apart? Why did Jim and his co-star ref go flying off the stage?

Why didn't Jim get up or move?

Suddenly the director quickly thanked us all for coming and security ran and kicked everyone out. No free gifts. No autographs. Nothing.

Now, I don't know about you but I wanted to know what was going on and if my man was seriously hurt. So, I went back in. And before I got kicked out again I saw the ref onstage, people giving him ice packs, and Jim still on the ground. People were surrounding his still, lanky body which was lying motionless on a strecher, his neck in a neck brace.

When I got back into the car my friend called NBC (who knew nothing about it since it just happened) and informed them of the situation at hand. Publicity stunt or not, better safe than sorry when my man is involved. Granted this was the fateful scene with Andy Kauffman reintacted almost perfectly, but Jim had a stunt double. This scene was never acted the other days. And it looked real.

So I sat at home scared to death thinking of some of the comments I overheard. What if Jim dies? What if Jim broke his neck and he's paralyzed? Pretty much what if history repeats itself and this is the last movie of Jim's career? The very thought made me cry. I called my mom and my friends in histearics. They calmed me down, or attempted to, but I wouldn't be fine til NBC called me back.

Finally NBC informed me that the crew was denying everything but extras were giving the same story. They got a hold of LAPD who said Jim was rushed into a downtown LA hospital (if I had the address I would have been there, trust me), had a cat scan performed and was released with a neck brace and diagnosed with neck strains. His manager later said that Jim didn't want to work with Jerry the jerk Lawler anymore, that they may press legal actions against Jerry's unperfessional behavior, and Jim would be back on the set the following day. (I called them and he was. So was Jerry. God give Jim a day off for Pete's sake and keep him away from Jerry!)

The following day the story was all over ET, E!, Access Hollywood, and every major network on television. Headlines read "Jim Carrey Attacked- Ghost of Andy Kauffman Strikes!" It almost seemed too convienent.

I still don't know if it was a set up or not. Maybe it was a freak accident that the publicists almost wished they dreamed up it was so perfect. All I know is the crew of M.O.T.M. Denies everything and says it was just a joke and then contradicts themselves and makes it seem true. All I know is if Jim was BADLY hurt I would have been traumatized for life. I mean I witnessed it. We are talking major therapy here.

Either way, joke or no joke, Jim is in a neck brace and if he needs anyone to take care of him he can give me a call.

Report from Sherri Pederson

My good friend Shawna and I live about 5 hours (driving) away from LA, but when we heard about the extras needed on the Man on the Moon shoot, we rented a car, each took a day off from work, and drove down to be a part of it! We had so much fun... an experience we'll never forget! :)

We were on the set for about 12 hours (at the Olympic Auditorium), and Jim Carrey (true to the one he was imitating) was in character pretty much the whole time. He was PERFECT as Andy Kaufman... there's no way anyone could have done it better!! In between takes when almost everyone was sitting down, Shawna and I would still be standing up, yelling things to Jim, trying to get a reaction... At one point, he was doing that Andy Kaufman monkey thing, and Shawna and I both spontaneously started doing it back to him... When he looked over and saw us he a broke into his great Jim Carrey smile!

Almost the only other time I saw him being himself was after the shooting was all done. He was off to the side of the room looking over some of the stuff that had been shot earlier, and he looked exhausted. Shawna and I went over to get as close as possible (about 15 feet away from where he was, up on the 1st level above the floor of the stadium), hoping to get an autograph. A dozen or so other fans were still there as well. After a few minutes went by, Jim got up to leave, and as he started to go, several people yelled out, "Bye Jim". As tired as he already was, when he looked back and saw everyone standing there, Shawna heard him say to his assistant, "My fans... I have to go sign some autographs" He came back and signed 10 or so, before he finally took off. He is so sweet! Unfortunately, Shawna and I just missed our opportunity for autographs, but we would never hold it against him. Thanks to him, we had one of (if not THE) most fun experiences of our lives!!

Report from Billy Hot Chocolate

I just got back from being an extra for one of the Man on the Moon wrestling scenes. It was quite a fun day. They only filmed the first match between Jerry Lawler and Andy, but did it many times so it was about a 7 hour day. Jim really captured Andy much better than I expected and really has the look down great. I was a little disppointed that Jim wasn't taking his own bumps and a double was brought in to take the back suplex and piledriver that Jerry gives him. The crowd of 3000 was really into it cheering on Jerry and vehemently booing Jim.

It was an exciting day and has just made my anticipation for the finished product that much greater.

billy hot chocolate

Report from Daryl Nagamine

Cool! I was at the shoot too as an unpaid extra. Jim Carrey was way better than I expected him to be. His voice is a little higher than Andy's and it's really apparent when he has to raise his voice, but I thought the facial expressions and body language were perfect. My throat is still killing me from all the yelling we were asked to do. It's obvious that Carrey has studied all the Kaufman/Lawler feud footage extensively and it has definitely paid off.

There were only a couple of downers on an otherwise excellent time. Namely, most of the folks sitting around me were big Jim Carrey fans who had no clue who he was playing, let alone that it was based on a real individual. During the first rehearsal, they booed when Jerry Lawler entered the arena and cheered when Jim Carrey entered. Pretty ridiculous for folks who were supposed to be citizens of Memphis! Director Milos Forman straightened things out though with the reminder that Jerry Lawler was a God to the people in this town. ;-)

Also, the timeline seems to be a little off. The bout is supposed to be taking place in Summer 1978 which is nearly four years too soon. Was 'Taxi' even on the air before Fall 1978? This seems to be a pretty big factual error. As a result, lots of folks in the crowd showed up in their Brady Bunch and Saturday Night Fever outfits looking like nothing like the real Memphis crowds that attended the matches.

Courtney Love was there and looked great although she didn't have any lines that I could hear. Being a crowd extra, all we could hear clearly were the lines announced over the P.A. system.

I'm looking forward to this movie with high expectations now.

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