When TV and Vinyl Come Together, Starring Orchardite Ben Liemer

In recent years, The Orchard has diversified — our Film/TV department has been steadily staffing up offices on two coasts and raising its film industry profile in acquiring larger, more mainstream indie films. Even as we adjust to the new streaming-oriented musical landscape and how to best monetize it, our Film division is scoring big with new distribution deals on the film festival circuit. Will television be the next distribution frontier? And why would a member of the Physical Music Distribution department blog about Movies & TV?

Because I got cast as an extra in Martin Scorsese/Mick Jagger/Terence Winter‘s upcoming HBO series “Vinyl”! (See pictured left, in a vintage Nino Cerutti 3-piece suit on set.)

According to HBO’s website: “this new drama series is set in 1970s New York. A ride through the sex- and drug-addled music business at the dawn of punk, disco, and hip-hop, the show is seen through the eyes of a record label president, Richie Finestra, played by Bobby Cannavale, who is trying to save his company and his soul without destroying everyone in his path. Additional series regulars include Olivia Wilde, Ray Romano, Ato Essandoh, Max Casella, P.J. Byrne, J.C. MacKenzie, Birgitte Hjort Sørensen, Juno Temple, Jack Quaid, James Jagger and Paul Ben-Victor.”

Non-union, non-speaking role… I played a record executive at a 70s VIP album release party for Rod Stewart that was shot at the Connelly Theatre, just down the street at 220 East 4th between Avenues A & B, where the Fringe Festival stages many of their events. Apparently the open call casting supervisors liked my 70s era big hair from my Facebook profile pic. In fact, all of the extras, male and female, were dressed and coiffed like cast members of “American Hustle” and “Boogie Nights” (same era). Lots of stacked heels, afros, mini skirts, form-fitting 3 piece suits and hot pants!

For this day’s shoot, I was miraculously chosen to be at a table near the stage as Rock critic legend “Lester Bangs,” patiently delivered his lines over and over to actress Annie Parisse (“National Treasure”), who plays a band manager. After 3 or 4 lines of chit chat, “Boardwalk Empire/”Will & Grace” star Bobby Cannavale wound his way through the concert crowd, grabbed Annie’s arm and said “let’s go!” I stayed there, 5 feet from Bobby for 4 hours, as the scene was shot from every possible angle. Apparently, there’s no lack of funding when your name is Martin Scorcese! There were 100 “music business VIPs” (extras) at Rod Stewart’s party, and myself and another non-union extra were at the center of the action all day. I just tried to stay quiet, calm and do the same movements every time… In between takes, I spoke to the union actor who played Lester Bangs (complete with leather jacket, big beer belly, tight t-shirt and fake mustache) and discovered he had heard of us through The Orchard’s recent signing spree!

Last week, I got a text and call from Eric, the casting agent for the series, asking me if I could do another shoot today but unfortunately I had to tell him that my real life music business job was taking me to Transworld/FYE’s annual 4th quarter holiday retail convention upstate. I’m guessing my Andy Warhol allotted “15 minutes of fame” are over!

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