Mystic Pizza Box

Mystic Pizza Box
A slice of heaven

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

YAI International Conference and LO:CI Filming "Icarus" in Times Square 5-3-2011

Today was a lot of mints in one! Yummy! I'm exhausted from today's activities, from attending the 32nd annual YAI International Conference at the New York Hilton, which I will do until Thursday, to visiting the LO:CI set in Times Square and all sorts of things in between. This morning, I attended my first session of the conference about the film industry, which was hosted by actor, filmmaker and former special education teacher Joey Travolta, brother of actor John Travolta. He founded Inclusion Films for the purpose of helping young aspiring filmmakers and actors with developmental disabilities to learn how to make films and hosts workshops and camps across the country at various universities. We saw a short film about Inclusion Films and their various activities during the session. Afterwards, I got to meet Mr.Travolta and talk with him briefly about his work. He told me that he's able to use the acting process with autistic kids to help them learn to express various emotions, but noted the irony in that kids with autism are learning to "lie" in the acting process ( I used the word "pretend") when in working with someone with autism you want to get to the truth. Hmm.

I gave Mr. Travolta a copy of my brother Alberto's coloring book and spoke about his artistic talents. Joey was very impressed with Alberto's drawings and said that there are jobs for people like him. I've been told this before, but Alberto has behavioral issues that need to be addressed before he could ever work at a regular job. Right now Alberto attends the YAI Brooklyn Day program and has art studio sessions every other Friday, where he is learning to paint on canvas. Alberto also makes his own videos and takes photos that I have posted online, and I told this to Mr. Travolta. Here's a photo of Joey Travolta with the coloring book:

Here's the link to the Inclusion Films website-

Later this morning, I walked over to Times Square to locate today's LO:CI set and found there were three, one on W. 48th Street and two on W. 44th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues. While I strolled around taking pictures, I happened upon a crowd in the middle of Times Square, which is nothing unusual. I also saw lights and TV cameras and ventured over to discover a TV interview was being taped for BET with LO:SVU star and rapper Ice-T. How about that, eh? Here are some pics:

At about 11:45 AM I returned to W 48th Street, where Set #2 was located and I saw Vincent and Kate outside posing for pictures with fans. Although I usually get nervous before meeting Vincent, today I found it easier to approach him, as I had an altruistic motive. Yesterday I visited the NBC Experience Store at Rockefeller Center after Monday's conference and bought some LO:CI items that I wanted to have Vincent sign, with a twist. I greeted Vincent with a handshake while he was having a smoke break (believe me, I was glad to interrupt him then, LOL) and told him I wanted to contribute something for his Meth Cops fundraiser. Vincent was gracious enough to sign two LO:CI t-shirts and two LO:CI caps for me, and I gave him one of each item for him to either sell or auction off in June. Here are the pics:

After Vincent went back inside 168 W. 48th Street, home of MRS Studios, to shoot more interiors, I went to a nearby restaurant for lunch and tweeted one of these photos to his sister Toni, as I had told Vincent I would. I also explained to Vincent that I couldn't be in Utah for his event because my family is participating in the Central Park Challenge in New York the same day, June 4, which made Vincent smile. Aww. He remembered me from our meeting last year at Joe's Pub and the coloring books I had given him made by my brother Alberto, who has autism. Alberto Acevedo's Team for the 3K Walk

 I was proud of what I had done and happy to support Vincent. However, I didn't get the chance to meet Kate, as she had left before I had finished speaking to Vincent this morning. I also had a gift for her and wanted a picture with her, so I decided to return to the LO:CI set later this afternoon after my sessions were done.

Here's the link for Meth Cops

It's after midnight, so I'll post Part 2 tomorrow-my meeting with Kate and pics from the set on W. 44th Street. Good night.

Here we go with Part 2 of my entry on the "Icarus" filming in Times Square, with a few surprises, thrown in.

I returned to the LO:CI set shortly after 4 PM after my afternoon sessions at the YAI International Conference were done, although I skipped my last session to visit the set. Set #4 was located in front of Sardi's Restaurant and Grill on West 44th Street next to the Helen Hayes Theater and directly across from the Shubert Theater, which was Set #3 and the current home of the musical "Memphis." After I arrived, I noticed a young woman taking down the No Parking signs on West 44th Street in front of Sardi's and I asked if I could have one. She looked at me as if I had asked for her first-born child and cautiously said  "I don't know." before she added "I don't see why not." I replied that I just wanted a souvenir and she smiled and gave me the orange paper sign, casually remarking "I was going to throw it away, anyway." I had always wanted one of the No Parking signs from a LO:CI set and finally got my wish.  The Set#3 signs were also being removed, which meant that shooting would soon begin on Set#4. I crossed the street to check out the crew setting up outside the Shubert Theater and the nearby Broadhurst Theater, home of the musical "Baby  It's You." Just as I was about to cross the street at the corner of West 44th and 8th Avenue to head back to Sardi's, I was surprised to see a certain black Escalade turning into the intersection from 8th Avenue. "Oh snap! It's Vincent's car!" I thought as I scooted to the other corner and out of Vincent's way as his car made its way down the street and stopped in front of Sardi's at about 4:30 PM. Now I was certain that filming would soon begin. Yes!

We watched from the sidewalk as Vincent, Kate and the guest starring actor rehearsed a scene where they walk from the Helen Hayes Theater across the street and stop to talk on the sidewalk outside the Broadhurst Theater. After several rehearsals, the scene was filmed and we were required to step further away from the actors, which annoyed me because my view was obstructed by one of the crew trucks and the associate producer who kept pacing around in front of us during filming. Also, I've lost count of how many passersby, many of them tourists, who kept asking, "What are they filming? Is that a movie?" It was also funny how many people wondered who the actors were, especially Vincent. Some recognized him, some didn't, but I was amused by several people, some in heavy foreign accents,  who asked me "Who is that tall man over there? What is his name?" Of course, I was distracted by this while I was taking pics and even filming the action, but I did my job of enlightening those around me. "Yes, that's Vincent D'Onofrio. They're filming "Law and Order: Criminal Intent." "That's Kathryn Erbe." "The show is on Sunday nights at 9 PM." "No, not SVU, Criminal Intent." etc, etc, All in a day's work. One woman standing behind me kept telling her friend "That's Vincent Somebody. He was in Men in Black. He played the bug." Naturally, I turned to her and said "D'Onofrio. Vincent D'Onofrio." She finally absorbed the information and went back to telling her friend about Vincent D'Onofrio who played the bug in "Men in Black." Good grief!

Vincent was kind to his fans, as usual, and posed for a few quick photos between rehearsals. Kate did also, but there wasn't much time for fan photos during the filming,  which was moving along at a rapid pace. Vincent waved to us several times from across the street during rehearsals, and at one point looked directly at me and waved to me. What a thrill! :D

Filming wrapped at 6 PM, and the best was yet to come. As I crossed the street to take more pics of the actors, I was stunned to see none other than rock legend Patti Smith on set with Vincent. I was already aware that Patti Smith will be appearing in an upcoming episode of LO:CI, so it must be "Icarus." She even has her own cast chair with her name emblazoned on the back. Film producer Erika Hampson was also on set, as she was on Wall Street for the "The Last Street in Manhattan" shoot last week, and she sat in Vincent's cast chair next to Kate. I finally got to meet Kate and pose for a photo with her, and she was just the sweetest! We talked about the season premiere and I told her how much I enjoyed the show and was happy that she and Vincent were back and she thanked me. Kate also told me that she's very happy to be back and hopes there will be more episodes after this season. I told her that I also want to see another season of LO:CI and that we will be watching every week. I gave Kate two coloring books made by Alberto, the same as the one I gave Joey Travolta earlier today and mentioned that I had given several to Vincent last year. I tried to take a photo of Kate holding the book for my blog but my camera phone died, due to a weak battery. I tried to use my camcorder, but the memory card was full. Darn! Well, I did get my pic with Kate and she is truly lovely, inside and out. As she departed, I also gave Kate a t-shirt with all three L&O series logos emblazoned on the front, size small, of course. She looked stunning in her Eames costume, including a sexy leather jacket, her Eames boots and a hoodie! Kate said she had to go home and get dinner for her kids, and I told her I had to get home to my family, too. After I said good night to her, I realized that Vincent had already left the set, so I hopped on the M train near Bryant Park and headed home to Brooklyn, tired but very pleased with the day's events. What a remarkable day!    Here are more pics:

Don't worry, video is coming soon! Good night, all! Mwaah!