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Monday, November 15, 1999

Hollywood called at 3:30, 4:15 and 4:45 p.m. today. It left a message on my answering machine.

It was during the typical blistering heat of a Rock Hill summer that I was among several thousand people standing in line at Winthrop University where the production company of "The Patriot" was accepting applications for extras. Thinking that I was exactly what they were looking for, I even stayed behind and joined the line for the casting director who was looking for soldiers to fight the battle scenes.

But it was not to be. The casting director, Riley Flynn, took one look at by 5' 11" 235 lb. frame and declared me to be not their type to be a rail-thin Redcoat. Stardom was not to be this time.

Three months passed, and the voice on the answering machine, a fellow named Gary from "The Patriot" casting, was inviting me to join the movie's largest battle scene.

I called back and got the details. They needed at least another 50 or 60 soldiers to fill the ranks, and if I was interested, I needed to be at the Darby Farm, outside Brattonsville, ready to work the next five days and possibly seven if need be.

They needed me tomorrow.

They needed me at 7 a.m.

They needed an answer tonight.

Ulp.

Fortunately, my wife was an ex-Navy officer and willing to bear minding the kids while I was gone for four days straight. My boss was willing to let me come in late and leave early, provided I did my work.

I checked the scheduled and decided that sleep was a luxury I was going to have to miss. The 7 a.m. start on Tuesday was Hollywood's idea of sleeping in. I was to be fitted in the wardrobe tent, then throw into work that day, which would end when they couldn't film anymore, round about 5 p.m.

The next day, I was to be there at 5 to 5:30 a.m.

Hollywood called. Now I was wondering why I answered.

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All material is ©2000 Bill Peschel unless otherwise noted.