post Five Pair at HC Casting Call 

June 23rd, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 5:08 pm

Vintage Reprint, Tucson Daily Citizen 6/10/70

The “High Chaparral” brass waded into the room ready for the showdown. Except for Henry Wills.

He tippy-toed into the room, sneakily skirted its center and folded quietly and wisely onto an out-of-the-way corner chair – far from the action. Which seemed like a chicken thin for Henry to do because he is action director of the NBC-TV series and usually is in the thick of things. But Henry’s action means gunfights and falling from horses and tumbling off cliffs and barroom brawls of the knock-down, drag-out variety.

That forenoon last week, though, the action was of a different sort. The room – a Hilton Inn banquet room – was knee-deep in babies and that action needed more of his direction. Somebody had written a baby into a Chaparral script to be filmed at Old Tucson, beginning this week.  (ed. note “A Matter of Survival”) That meant identical twins must be hired for the role  so the tykes could spell one another before the camera.

Frank Kennedy, who operates a casting service here in Tucson, rounded up five sets of twins ranging from nine months to a year old.An assortment of mothers and fathers, grandmothers, aunties, friends, brothers and sisters was seated around the room, juggling diaper bags, nursing bottles and toys and tattles that jingled when you shook them.

And clustered on the carpeting in the center of the room were the babies – 10, count ‘em, 10 – anad that’s where the action was. “Now, watch where you step,” said Jim Schmerer, producer of the series, as he led the group into the room.

So production manager Kent McCray, director Bill Wiard and assistant director Ray DeCamp watched where they stepped. That’s when Henry Wills tippy-toed off to his quiet place in the corner. McCray dropped to his knees and crawled into the throng.
Jennifer – or maybe it was Janette – offered him a rattle.

Wiard, who will direct the baby segment, folded his fingers into a frame and squinted at babies through its knuckly aperture. Kimberly (or Kelly?) took off at a fast crawl for the open doorway and DeCamp outdistanced her and pulled it shut. There were squawls and screeches and shrieks of delight.

A mother wiped at a candidates drool with Kleenix and explained simply, “Teething.” James and Joseph faced each other down and Lea Ann – or Lisa Ann – tried to scale the heights of Kent McCray.

The Chaparral brass stepped back, away from the babies and parents, and held a whispery conference. Larkelyn followed them but Lynnelyn stayed behind with the other twins.

Somebody flung a nursing bottle and somebody else cried.  One baby yanked a rattle from another baby’s mouth and started gumming it herself. A mother made a quick grab – wiped the rattle – and handed it back to its owner. Usually she’s not this fussy,” another mother explained. “But it’s almost nap time.”

The director nodded knowingly. They returned to the floor-full of matched sets. Schmerer hunkered and eyed a fat-cheeked baby and the baby crawled over and put out her arms to be picked up. The producer lifted her and tickled her under the chin.

Wiard picked up one baby and placed her beside her twin and studied them together as somebody else’s twin crawled between the director’s legs.

A little miss in a polka-dotted sun-suit pulled herself up, walked an unsteady couple of steps and flopped to the floor. She cried. McCray was back on his hands and knees again, crawling, looking from little face to little face, doing funny noises to make the babies laugh.

There was another hush-hush conference and then the Chaparral men said their thank-yous and told the parents they’d be in touch with them. And the producer and director and production manager and assistant director left the room.

Action director Henry Wills left his quiet corner and followed them.  There was a look of relief on his face as he tippy-toed out.

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