It was “lights, camera, action” for two Grove-area women who, thanks to generous donations to the 2010 GEFFE Banquet, traveled to Hollywood, Calif., and filmed a scene in a popular network television show.
Katie Johnson, of Grove, and Heather Elmburg, of Afton, recently flew to Los Angeles, where they met with casting agents and were selected for a scene in “The Mentalist”, a popular television show on CBS. The episode that features the local women will air Thursday, Nov. 4 at 9 p.m. on Channel 6.
The trip of a lifetime was auctioned off last year at the Grove Education Foundation For Excellence (GEFFE). The live auction item included airfare for two and a walk-on background extra part in any television show. The auction item was donated by Steve Williams, of Williams Homes and Dr. Don Plance, DO, a Los Angeles-area doctor with local connections who arranged the walk-on acting positions through Central Casting, a casting agency for background actors in Burbank, Calif.
“I knew when I saw this was a live-auction prize at the GEFFE Gala that I wanted to buy it,” Johnson said. “Before I got married, I thought about moving to L.A. to see if I could try my hand at acting. When Heather and I arrived in California, I learned that acting was an interest of hers, too, so she was the perfect companion for the trip.”
Johnson and Elmburg drove to the Warner Brothers studio lot in Burbank, where they were taken to wardrobe and styling before being led through the spacious lot to “holding,” the back of a studio where the background actors wait until their scene is being filmed. There, the women got to talk with other actors who did regular background work while trying to get their “big break.”
After the scene was set up in the site known as the “rose garden,” the two women followed the assistant director and other actors to the area, which was constructed to look like an outdoor auction for an upscale auction house. Their parts called for them to be auction assistants, which required them to prepare pieces for display as well as watch for bidders.
“We were on the set for over five hours and filmed our scenes several times for over 30 minutes,” Johnson said. “Our screen time, however, will probably be only a few seconds in a scene that will last less than 10 minutes. It’s amazing how much work from everybody—the directors, actors, stylists, set designers and various other workers—it takes to make a television show.”
Their scene is in the episode titled “Red Hot,” according to the Internet Movie Database, and it features the show’s lead actor, Simon Baker.
“We both were, of course, a little star struck by seeing Simon Baker, but our contract specifically stated that background actors are not to try to interact with the lead actors, who are preparing for their upcoming scenes, so we didn’t meet him or get any pictures,” Johnson said. “It was still a thrill to see him up close as well as two of the other main actors as we were waiting to be released.” The ladies did catch a glimpse of other television and movie stars throughout their week-long vacation.
“The casting agency informed us we could call them whenever we are in California, and they will try to book us for some shows,” Johnson said. “They actually did call us again our last night there, but it was to shoot for a television show the following Monday morning. We have also been called twice since we got back to Oklahoma. I think Heather and I will definitely try to go back.”
“We are so grateful for GEFFE and those who made the trip possible,” Johnson continued. “It was an amazing experience, and I feel doubly blessed knowing my purchase of the trip helped benefit GEFFE and our school’s wonderful teachers.”
Plans are already underway for the 2010 GEFFE Gala. The event will take place on Saturday, April 9, 2011. The planning committee has hinted that another Hollywood trip with a walk-on part might be offered at the banquet along with other fabulous items.
GEFFE is a 501c3 non-profit organization that, since its inception in 1997, has awarded over $650,000 in grants to Grove Public Schools teachers. To make a tax deductible donation, or for more information, visit www.geffe.org or call Kristi Wallace at 918-791-1974.