Two-Bit Parts in a Million Dollar Quartet
by Tommy Towery
Sue and I came out of retirement last week and actually worked for the first time since 2008. A couple of months ago my daughter Tiffany sent me a link a web site where you could put your name in the hat to be an extra for a six-part TV mini-series being filmed in Memphis. I signed up, but never heard back from them - until last week. They were looking for extras to be the audience in a concert scene for the upcoming CMT series about the million dollar quartet. It is based on the story behind the night Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins all got together for a jam session at the Sun Studio in Memphis.
I quickly replied to the email and signed up Sue and I both and within 30 minutes got a reply back telling me we had been selected and gave us instructions on when to show up for a fitting. We were asked to wear the best Fifties outfit we could come up with, since the scene we would be working in took place in 1952. They only wanted normal and small sized people, due to the limited number of period outfits they had available. I don't know whether to brag or apologize, but the outfits both Sue and I wore were perfect and I did not require anything but a necktie from their costumes and Sue was told to wear exactly what she had on. It turned out we would be part of the audience in a scene shot at the Grand Ole Opry - even though it was being filmed in Memphis. My signed contract prevents me from going into details, but it was a fun experience to say the least.
We were guaranteed eight hours of work, and we had a show time of 9:30 AM, and ended up getting the guaranteed eight hours plus four hours of overtime, finally getting to leave at 10:30 PM. We sat most of the time waiting to be called and different groups were in scenes while the other groups waited. Although we worked 12 hours, I doubt if we will actually show up in any of the scenes, since most of the time we were sitting at the back of the audience with many other participants sitting in front of us. It was quite nostalgic for those of us who really lived through the Fifties to see all the girls running around in pony tails and cute little outfits and the guys in their Fifties hair-dos and rolled up blue jean cuffs.
They did cater lunch for us, but we didn't get to eat it until 4:30 PM. The funniest thing that happened concerned the time frame of the concert. It was supposed to be a hot sweltering night in July, but the auditorium in which we were sitting was freezing cold with the air conditioning blowing full cold I think. They had girls running around with spray bottle spraying under people's arms, back, and faces to make them appear to be sweating profusely - all the while we were freezing to death.
It was only a one-day gig, and I do not know if we will be able to add on any other days or not. It depends upon what age and size people they need in the future, and whether or not our own schedule can be worked around.