An Extra in Westhampton Beach Filming “Royal Pains”

It’s always summer on Royal Pains. Except when it’s winter. In September. In Westhampton Beach.
 As crowds of “background people” pour into St. Mark’s Church on Main Street very early on this cool, crisp almost-fall morning dressed in their best version of Hamptons “holiday season attire,” the middle of downtown is transformed into a Christmas greeting card: boughs of evergreens in the window boxes, a stall selling wreaths next to WHBPAC, and snowy scenes in the shop windows. There are women in fur coats, crewmembers in tank tops moving large cranes, lots of cables and cardboard boxes of fake snow. The magic of television!

I am excited to be cast as one of almost 100 extras for this episode of the popular USA Network television show starring Mark Feuerstein, but I’m unprepared for the huge amount of waiting time. First, we stand on line to meet with “wardrobe.” They scrutinize each outfit, add a scarf here and a hat there. A rakish fedora turns an ordinary fellow into a dashing Hamptonite.

More waiting. Filling out the paperwork is an exercise in community activity as experienced folks help the novices with tax forms—are you union? Non-union? Union gets you more money and a better place in the food line. Then more sitting. Waiting. “Headset Girl” directs us down Main Street where stand-ins for the stars are being moved around in front of the theater as the camera is placed.

Finally—our big moment! Walk down the street and behind the stars. Ten paces apart. Again. Reset. Again. Reset. Again. Maybe 15 times. Again….Reset! Whew—this is hard. Someone calls “break” and we are off to the catering truck. A few muffins later, we are back pacing the sidewalk. In between calls for “Action!” I make some new friends.

The pretty blonde woman 
in the gorgeous purple suede 
coat is Lyn Tabatchnick from
 East Northport. She is at a
 place in life where she is 
trying new things. She went on 
another casting call but wasn’t 
right for the role. “When I was called for Royal Pains, I said yes immediately,” she says. “You have to jump at opportunities. I am on a new journey and I am not sure where it is taking me, but I have to be receptive.”

Emil Boccio a lovely gentleman from Baldwin who has brought me an iced tea refill from across the crowded “holding room” in the back of the church and has been working as an extra for three years, including more than 12 episodes of this show. Retired after 32 years with Verizon, he enjoys “going to different places every week. Its fun,” he says with twinkling eyes. “It’s my hobby.”

“Who has a luxury car?” Headset Girl yells. They chose 10 people to move their vehicles to selected positions within the camera’s eye. Others change to summer outfits for another scene. I am not called for that. There is nothing to do but wait. I move to another table to chat.

Dawn Brennan Hagen and Noel Love are both realtors in Sag Harbor and full-time Hampton residents. Dawn is a newbie at extra work but Noel has done this before. “It’s fun,” he says, “something different.” He had a stellar career in the music business with huge clients like Aerosmith, AC/DC, Metallica and Def Leopard as well as a stint on NBC as a celebrity real estate expert for the Hamptons.

Dawn, who has been with Saunders and Associates Real Estate for many years and is a fourth-generation native of the region, agreed when Noel suggested they play hooky and work on the show. “It’s a blast,” she says of the show itself. “I like the energy it portrays…a side of the Hamptons that is enjoyed by the rich and famous. It brings a lot of attention and money into the community and a national audience to our small towns.”

Lunch is at 4 p.m., then a few more trips to town where the autumn light is quickly fading. I walk behind the stars 19 more times. It’s close to 7:30 p.m…. and for the background people it’s finally a wrap.

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