As you watch CSI and Hawaii Five-O and other shows, notice all the people in the backgrounds of some of the scenes. These extras are portraying waiters, pedestrians, police officers, and the list goes on and on. I was once one of them, on a show called “Spenser for Hire,” a crime drama about a classic Mustang-driving private investigator played by Robert Urich, and his sidekick, played by Avery Brooks.
The show was filmed in and around Boston, and because I was living with my folks in Norwood at the time, I took a friend’s recommendation and worked as an extra on the show for a couple of days while I was looking for a job in broadcast journalism.
In the episode I worked on, my Rick Springfield mullet and I can be seen in the background about five times. The crew had me in a suit, walking around a courthouse and sitting in as a spectator during a trial. In one scene, they had me hanging around the newsstand flipping through a magazine.
It was an interesting experience while it lasted and gave me a new appreciation for folks who do that for a living. I remember sitting in a bus with other extras, and then being called in when it was time for “action.” They fed us really well as I recall, and the pay wasn’t too bad. Here are some shots of my big television debut.