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Interview with Ron Harris
Exclusive to TheReel
Posted December 2008
Ron Harris was Vincent D’Onofrio’s stand-in (in his role as Detective Robert
Goren) on NBC/USA’s ‘Law & Order: Criminal Intent’ during the first four
years of the show through 2004. He has granted us a tour into his work on the
show and generously shared many of his memories and behind-the-scenes stories
The following article is an assemblage of conversations with Ron in 2007 and
includes some excerpted portions of his forthcoming book. (Title and release date

of the book are TBA)

:::
TheReel: How did you begin your work on Criminal Intent?
RH: I got the gig because I previously stood in for Oliver Platt on the short-lived
"Deadline" series under the same Director of Photography, Frank Prinzi, who had
dubbed me "the best stand-in in New York". When CI started shooting tests, Frank
had me called in. (I am blessed with a photographic memory and since it is a standin's job to remember every movement of the star and on what line he did each
movement, I was well equipped for the job.) Incidentally, Frank Prinzi is one of the
best DPs in the business and has also proven himself to be a fine Director as well.

TheReel: How did that experience compare with standing in for Vincent
on CI?
RH: Apples and oranges. Oliver Platt always called me buddy, spoke to me every
time he came to the set, always thanked me when he took his position and asked
about my wife and my life. Vincent was different. He explained to us one time that
he had grown up an Army brat, had been moved all over the country and had never
really had much of an opportunity to make friends. He ended up playing by himself
a lot (probably where a lot of his acting skills developed.) and he really didn’t get a
chance to be “socialized” well. I think that explains a lot. I also think that there’s a
certain shyness to Vincent that makes him seem standoffish. There is, however, one
place where that shyness goes away completely... in the presence of attractive
women.
Vincent rarely came to the set early. If he did, it usually meant that one of the
young ladies who was standing-in for that scene was a beauty. He had excellent
taste in that department and I got to where I could anticipate when he would show
up early. I’d be sitting across from a very attractive young lady and I’d suddenly feel
a TAP TAP on my shoulder. It would be Vincent, ready to take his place. I’d pop up
:: Copyright Ronald Harris 2007 Ê All Rights Reserved ::
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Permission to reproduce all or any part of this interview in any format is expressly not granted.

2
out of the chair, Vincent would slide into it, give a big smile to the young lady across
the table and say, “ Hi. I’m Vincent. What’s your name?” Well, the fact that the
star of the show was asking her for her name would usually make the beauty light
up like a Christmas tree. As I said, Vincent had excellent taste and when he wanted
to, he could be the most charming, courtly and attentive man on the planet.
Nowadays the sole recipient of those attributes is his lovely wife (there’s that
excellent taste again). They have 2 terrific kids, and I hear from the crew that
there’s a third on the way. That’s one lucky baby...Vincent’s also a world-class
father.
TheReel: Were you employed as a stand-in elsewhere during Criminal
Intent’s hiatus?
RH: On the off-season I stood in for Oliver Platt on a show called “Queens
Supreme”. I also served as a backup stand-in for James Gandolfini on “The
Sopranos”. Both of them were wonderful, approachable actors who were generous
to a fault. Oliver Platt had a great love affair with Whitecastle Hamburgers while we
were shooting in Queens so every day he’d send a teamster out to do a crave case
run. He’d come back with them and we’d all be on the set working and scarfing
down Whitecastles. Jim Gandolfini used to send out for these incredible meatball
subs from a local place near the studio, and he’d buy enough for everybody. Then
he’d walk around asking people, “ Did you get a sandwich? Did you get a
sandwich?” What a guy.

TheReel: Were story ideas or dialogue a source of tension or argument?
RH: Constantly. On both counts. About a week or so before shooting began on a
new episode, a read-through would be scheduled during our lunch break.
Producers, writers and actors for the new episode would get together, lunch would
be brought in and the new script would be read and discussed. Vincent was usually
the squeaky wheel. He insisted that every element of the storyline be realistic and
true-to-life. When a writer stretched credibility or made a jump in logic to fudge a
bit and make the storyline work, Vincent was all over it. Consequently, on readthrough days you never knew how long your lunch break would be. For particularly
thorny scripts, downtime during lunch would almost double. After an hour the
crew would be back in and we’d prep as much as we could, then cool our heels until
we had Katie and Vincent again.
Another script issue, particularly early on, was that shot material ended up being
way too long. A one-hour episode of a TV show usually runs about 44 minutes
without commercials. I recall one episode coming in at a staggering 61 minutes!
(As my grandpa used to say, “ There were a lot of ugly faces made” over that one.
Sometimes whole subplots would have to be excised, then additional footage shot
(or re-shot) in order to make the storyline work. Occasionally a few loose ends still
:: Copyright Ronald Harris 2007 Ê All Rights Reserved ::
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Permission to reproduce all or any part of this interview in any format is expressly not granted.

3
dangled a bit. I’m sure you’ve watched an episode or two where you wound up
scratching your head at the end of it because something felt like a blind alley or
didn’t quite add up. That was probably one of those earlier episodes.

TheReel: Did you ever feel intimidated while working on Criminal
Intent?
RH: I always felt a bit intimidated when a new director was doing his first episode.
Repeat directors who were acquainted with my work knew my skill set and
appreciated my professionalism. Sometimes a new director would see right through
stand-ins or deal with us like mindless chess pieces. One director actually moved us
around like furniture. So much so that I finally said, “Hey guys... I’m a meat
puppet”. To this director that’s exactly what stand-ins were... not actors duplicating
what other actors had done in rehearsal, but meat puppets to shove around like toy
soldiers to get an idea of the scene. Finally Jonathan, the camera operator said, “
You don’t have to do it that way. Our stand-ins are the best. They got it all. Just ask
them to do it.” By the end of his episode he respected us and even apologized saying
he’d never worked with stand-ins like us before. But yes, it’s intimidating if they
don’t know your work and treat you like you’re nothing. You had to prove your
value to each new director as they came along.
When I stand in for an actor I give them as much room as possible, do my best to
assist them and only speak to them if they speak to me first. I think that’s the
professional thing to do. If Vincent is preparing to do a heavy scene the last thing
he needs is me up in his face trying to strike up a conversation.
Time and again I’d see a background player get in his face and strike up a breezy
conversation. Sometimes Vincent obliged and sometimes he didn’t. When he did I
always felt a bit jealous that “Joe Blow” was bending his ear about nothing while I
wouldn’t allow myself to do that. It’s not professional.

TheReel: Did you bring family or friends to the set?
RH: Never. It would have been nice, but I’m a bit of a stickler about
professionalism. It’s the same reason that I never tried to strike up a breezy
conversation with Vincent. He also seemed like a very private person to me and I
wouldn’t have disturbed his process for all the tea in China. I gave him as much
space as possible out of respect for his talent and grueling schedule. I would have
loved to have been his friend but that wasn’t what I was there for.

:: Copyright Ronald Harris 2007 Ê All Rights Reserved ::
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Permission to reproduce all or any part of this interview in any format is expressly not granted.

4

TheReel: Can you describe a typical day as a stand-in for Vincent?
A Day on the Set -No day was ever "typical" on the LOCI set. First of all, the stars are contractually
required to have a 12 hour turnaround... in other words, 12 hours of rest between
wrap time and the next day's call. Monday morning's call was always as early as
possible... (i.e.- 6 AM). If you worked until 8:30 in the evening, then your call time
the next day couldn't be before 8:30 AM. So every day your call time would get later
and later. By Friday your call time could be 1:30 in the afternoon and you could
finish up as late as 3:00 or 3:30 AM Saturday morning. Then on Monday you'd
start again at 6 or 6:30 AM. It's a schedule that's hard on your system. It took a bit
of getting used to.
A TV or film crew travels on its stomach and a good producer knows that. (Before I
get too far along, I want to say that John Roman was the nicest, hardest-working
Producer that it's ever been my pleasure to know. He respects and supports
everyone involved in a way that is quite rare in the business.) Breakfast was always
the first order of business, served starting an hour or so before call time. Virtually
anything you wanted for Breakfast could be ordered. Lists are boring but just this
once I will attempt to list everything available on the breakfast menu: Eggs any
style, Bacon, Sausage (patties or links), Ham, Omelets cooked to order (my favorite
was chicken, spinach, mushrooms and cheddar), pancakes, waffles, Bagels,
Croissants, smoked Salmon, cream cheese, fresh fruit salad, a wide selection of dry
cereals, oatmeal, breakfast burritos, quesadillas, danish, donuts and other assorted
pastries, orange juice, tomato juice, and lots and lots of really good coffee. What
better way to start your day then with a good pampering? I've been on sets where
they were so cheap they'd quarter the bagel halves! If you wanted a whole bagel
you'd have to gather up eight pieces! Ridiculous. The work always suffers if people
don't feel cared for. Vincent usually arrived pretty close to call time and was always
very careful about what he ate. He'd grab a little something and take it to his
dressing room or send someone out for something.
After breakfast (at call time) shouts of "we're in! We're in!" from the Production
Assistants would signify the real start of the day. Shortly after that a first team
rehearsal would be called. (first team = the stars, 2nd team = the stand-ins) Now if
it was the first day of an episode with a new director, Vincent always seemed to have
a little "test" for them. Vincent studied a script harder than any actor I've ever
known. I think he felt as if his credibility (and Goren's) was on the line. If
something didn't ring true to him or if he sensed that the writers had taken a short
cut and sacrificed believability in the process, he would balk. So during the first
rehearsal with a new director, Vincent seemed to always have a question for them.
It was always an excellent question with the answer buried deep within the text. If
the director had the answer, Vincent would respect them and work proceeded
nicely. But if the director put him off or said something like," Let me think about
it." or "We'll see" Vincent would have trouble respecting them. It got to the point
:: Copyright Ronald Harris 2007 Ê All Rights Reserved ::
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Permission to reproduce all or any part of this interview in any format is expressly not granted.

5
that we would all wait for the question and almost hold our breaths waiting for the
answer. If the director hedged or worse bluffed, you could see everyone's face fall.
You couldn't really blame him. Vincent prepared hard for an episode and he
expected his director to prepare just as hard or harder. If he caught a director not
doing his or her homework, it meant that we were in for a bumpy shoot.
After first team nailed everything down, second team was called in to watch the
scene, it was absolutely imperative that the stand-ins know every move and on what
line each action occurred because once the stars left the set to go through hair,
makeup and wardrobe it was your responsibility. As we rehearsed with the crew
(so they could work out camera moves, lighting, etc.) the DP would ask," When did
he do the lean?" or "When did he cross and pick up the book?” and if you didn't
know the answer, you were done. I've seen "nuevo-stand-ins" come in to watch the
rehearsal and they'd be so in awe of the stars that they would just stare at them
raptly and not take notes or memorize the blocking. Folks like that never lasted
very long.
It takes 8 days to shoot a 1-hour episode... that's about 6 to 10 pages a day.
Sometimes you'd shoot up to 12 pages a day. A 12-page day could take 14 to 16
hours. On "Aria" days we usually went that long. ("Aria" day was the day that we
shot the big scene at the end of the episode where Goren wove it all together and
collared the killer. That huge (and usually dreaded) scene was called the Aria.
Some people called it the Jessica Fletcher scene.
:::
Vincent’s Unique Technique
One day I was sitting behind the set with Marie (my good friend and Katie’s standin) while an “interview” scene was being shot. Suddenly, through the walls, we
could hear Vincent shouting profanities at the top of his lungs. We both jumped up,
trying to get closer (behind camera) to see what was going on. When we got close
enough, we realized that he was saying his lines in the scene, but now they were
laced with every profanity in the book, cobbled together in obscene strings of
terrible abuse! The actress he was questioning was still doing her lines normally
except, in the face of this verbal onslaught, she was stammering a bit, nervous and
red-faced. Then an even stranger thing happened. When they got to the end of the
scene and the director said, “cut”, the actress that Vincent had been screaming at
said, “ Thank you! Thank you so much for that!” Here’s what had happened:
They were shooting the actresses close-up and she was having trouble being
nervous enough for the scene. She was very at ease with Katie and Vincent and try
as she might, she just couldn’t be nervous.
It was then that Vincent suggested this highly unorthodox (but effective) technique.
Being careful not to overlap on the soundtrack, Vincent would heap abuse on the
woman prior to each of her lines. Then he would stop cold and let her deliver her
:: Copyright Ronald Harris 2007 Ê All Rights Reserved ::
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Permission to reproduce all or any part of this interview in any format is expressly not granted.

6
responding line “clean” so that it could be cut together with his own calm lines from
his close-up coverage. Cut together, you then have a scene where Vincent is calmly
asking questions of the woman who is trembling, red-faced and nervous. Now the
scene was perfect. Vincent used this technique a few times.
There was another time when Vincent’s enraged voice echoed across the set but this
time the recipient was not a grateful actress, but a headstrong A-list brat-pack actor
who insisted on doing his guest star role in his own way. The director loved him,
the crew loved him and yet he was fired 6 days into his episode. That story will be
in my book along with tales of Michael Jackson, Al Pacino, Alfred Hitchcock, Martin
Sheen, Barbra Streisand, Spike Lee, Bill Cosby and Robin Williams (among others).
The Reel: Who was your favorite guest star?
RH: For me the old pros were the best. People like Linda Lavin, Joel Grey,
Michael Gross and Griffin Dunne... self-assured, seasoned veterans who were
prepared, polite and gracious. The business is hard enough as it is without wading
through bastards and prima donnas. Thank God those types were few and far
between. Occasionally you’d get a “lesser light”, whose career was firmly on the
periphery, but that fact was clearly unbeknownst to them. I will not name names...
they know who they are.
:::
A Day on the Set – Part 2
For every scene a "master" was usually shot, followed by close-ups, 2 shots etc. For
example, in an interrogation room scene, a master would be shot that took in the
whole room and all four actors - Goren, Eames, Perp and Perp's attorney. Then one
side of the table would be shot (Perp and Perp's Attorney) then the other side
(Goren and Eames ) then 4 more shots, (a close-up of each actor). So on average
there would be 7 different set-ups to complete one scene. (Keep in mind that for
many of these set ups whole walls of the set are removed to make room for the
camera, tracks and crewmembers. This all takes considerable time.) Occasionally
you could get lucky and they'd decide to shoot the whole thing with a good
steadycam operator. That would mean the whole scene could be filmed in one
shot! It saves a tremendous amount of time. (You can always tell that a scene was
shot with a steadycam because there are no cuts; only panning from character to
character.) Jonathan Herron was our steadycam operator and he is a genius at
what he does.
Nine times out of ten no close-up would be done of the Perp's attorney. On the set
they used to call the perp's attorney "the potted plant" because they rarely said
anything and were seldom written for. Vincent, however, could be very kinetic. I
recall one particular interrogation scene that was 3 and a half pages long. In those 3
:: Copyright Ronald Harris 2007 Ê All Rights Reserved ::
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7
and a half pages Vincent made 27 different moves. When they ran it for second
team I made tons of notations because I could tell that it was going to be a bear.
When they finished running it for us, someone on the crew suggested that they run
it a second time because it was so complex. Vincent wanted it to be fresh when they
filmed it, so he was dead set on not doing it again. He stalked out of the room and
everybody looked at me nervously. I said," it's okay... I've got it." I had every move
down in my own brand of "shorthand". (I think they had tried to get a second runthrough strictly for my benefit.) When we ran it and I had every minute detail, my
prestige on the set rose a little more. It felt good to nail it.
Of course, having it down cold wasn't necessarily a guarantee that Vincent wouldn't
change it to keep it fresh for himself. One time Katie and Vincent rehearsed a scene
where they were sitting across from each other at their desks. The scene was a
couple of pages long. It was about 7 in the morning. Vincent came to rehearsal
looking a bit sleepy and out of sorts. As they rehearsed it, Vincent slouched, put one
foot up on the desk and generally made some bizarre choices. Periodically the
director would ask," Vince, are you going to actually do it that way?" Vincent said,
" Yes! Let's go!" They finished the first team rehearsal and the two of them went to
hair and make-up. Second team stepped in, we started running it and I
started duplicating all of the odd choices Vincent had made (i.e.- slouching, putting
one foot up, etc.) Someone on the crew laughed and said," Ron, I got to hand it to
you. You're matching him EXACTLY." As he said that, Vincent happened to pass
by. He stopped and watched me for a while. Well, later, when he came back to
shoot the scene, he didn't do one single thing the same way. Nothing. After they ran
it, the crew started scrambling to move the lights and change everything for all the
new stuff that Vincent was now doing. I went straight to the DP and started to
apologize. I said," I'm sorry Frank..." and he cut me off. " Don't be sorry. It's not
you. Believe me. You were right on. I know that."
About 4 hours after the day started the call would go up " Hot food at craft
services!" Now there was always food at craft services, but twice a day - 4 hours
after we started and 4 hours after lunch - the "Hot Cart" would roll out with
"snacks" for the crew. (In 4 years of working on the show I put on nearly 20
pounds!) There was always a big salad on the cart and at least 2 hot dishes. Some
of the hot dishes were Chicken Parmigiana, Chicken wings, spaghetti and meatballs,
fried fish, chicken fingers, hamburgers and hotdogs, egg rolls, burritos, etc., etc.
There was a "pecking order" for any foodstuffs... crew and stand-ins went through
the line first and then the extras and background players could go. This made sense
because the crew was constantly working... extras and background players usually
had a lot of down time when they could go to craft services. I've seen times when
crewmembers would get to the food cart and everything would be gone because 50
background players had gotten there first. After that happened a few times, greater
care was taken to be sure that the crew went through first.
Now a word about the craft services table. The craft services table on a set is always
stocked with edibles and is set up for the entire day. It's basically a buffet of quick
grab snacks, mostly sugars and starches, to help keep everyone's energy up. The
:: Copyright Ronald Harris 2007 Ê All Rights Reserved ::
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Permission to reproduce all or any part of this interview in any format is expressly not granted.

8
Craft Services table on L&O: CI was one of the best in the business. Here's an
example of what could be found there on an average day:
A cooler full of a variety of sodas, large bowl of fresh fruit, Krispy Kreme donuts,
drakes cakes, granola bars, assorted candy bars, Chips, pretzels, Biscotti, assorted
nuts, bagels, bread, peanut butter, crudités, assorted yogurts, cubed cheeses and
assorted cold cuts, an assortment of teabags, cocoa, and coffee. Also, periodically,
the angels at craft services baked chocolate chunk cookies and served them up fresh
and piping hot! Sometimes they'd even circulate around the set with a fresh tray of
them during a break.
Now if this sounds like an awful lot of pampering you have to consider the fact that
the crew is regularly pulling down days that are anywhere between 12 to 15 hours.
Many times I've heard heart-breaking phone conversations where a crew member
would call home on their cell phone around 9 at night to "tuck their kids into bed
over the phone". Many of these guys almost never got to see their children until the
weekend... and by then they were so exhausted that they'd sleep half of their
Saturday away. The personal sacrifices of a TV crew are hardly ever mentioned in
the scheme of things except by their union during negotiations, but believe me, they
give up a lot to bring you a weekly one-hour show.
After 6 hours it was time for lunch. If they didn't break you for lunch after 6 hours
you went into what is termed "meal penalties". Meal penalties are basically fines for
not breaking you for a meal at the proper time. On a set as heavy-laden with food as
the L&O: CI set was, it seems ludicrous that the producers would have to pay
penalties for not feeding you on time, but that's the contract.
The meal penalty structure was as follows:
First half-hour
Second half-hour
Every half hour after that

7.50
10.00
12.50

So in other words, if, instead of breaking you after 6 hours for lunch like they were
supposed to, they chose to complete a scene before lunch and shoot for 2 more
hours, your meal penalties for those 2 hours would come to an additional $42.50
added to your check. I got a lot of meal penalties because they were always pushing
to complete a scene before the lunch break.
For many years I held the record for meal penalties received on a single day. That
was on the set of the movie "City Hall". I was standing-in for Danny Aiello and they
were shooting an effects shot: a scene where he blows his brains out in a parked car
under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in Brooklyn. They never broke me the whole
day and I made 21 meal penalties. A grand total of $265.00! The funniest part of it
is that they set up a buffet right next to the car and everybody ate all day as we
worked on the shot. 21 meal penalties and I went home nauseous from grazing all
day! What a business!
If we were shooting in the studio a lot of times they would cater lunch. If we weren't
too pressed for time lunch would be a "walkaway". A walkaway simply means that
:: Copyright Ronald Harris 2007 Ê All Rights Reserved ::
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Permission to reproduce all or any part of this interview in any format is expressly not granted.

9
you were on your own for lunch and went out to a local restaurant or takeaway
place. If we were shooting on location on the streets of NYC it was almost always a
walkaway, unless you were in a location where there were no restaurants (like a
cemetery or a warehouse district.)

TheReel: Did you enjoy shooting on location?
RH: Shooting on location in New York City can be one of the most uniquely exciting
experiences that an actor can have. You get to do things and experience things that
no one else in a lifetime will ever get to do. Some of the many unique experiences
I’ve enjoyed on location are:
- Driving a New York City police car at top speed down the boardwalk in Coney
Island
(“Car 54, Where are you?”)
- Chasing Al Pacino through Grand Central Station with my gun drawn.
(“Carlito’s Way”)
- Chasing 2 murder suspects through the crowded heart of Times Square at midday.
(rehearsal for “Law and Order: CI”)
- Waltzing around the clock in Grand Central Station with a Nun in my arms.
(fantasy sequence in “The Fisher King”)
- Shooting a wedding reception for Woody Allen’s “Crimes and Misdemeanors” in
the ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel (After Shawn Young spoke to the press
about the scene, Woody, who is highly secretive about his projects, fired Ms. Young
from the film, rewrote the entire sequence, and we had to go back and shoot new
material for 3 more weeks!)
- Speeding in a police car across 42nd Street in driving rain at 60 miles an hour.
(“January Man”)
During my time with LOCI our location shooting took us everywhere from
incredibly expensive penthouse apartments to decrepit wharfs in Red Hook to the
high security basements of Wall Street banks. You name it and we shot there. Even
a warehouse in Brooklyn that clearly had red hazard tape around it imprinted with:
“WARNING - ASBESTOS - DO NOT ENTER”. Hmmm.
At every location there was one constant for me: my trusty folding camp chair.
Now there was always a holding area for background players and stand-ins, but
many times that holding area would be several blocks away. I tried that for a day or
two, but since Vincent was in practically every shot, I spent too much time sprinting
from holding to the set when they called for 2nd team. Since there was nearly a
:: Copyright Ronald Harris 2007 Ê All Rights Reserved ::
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Permission to reproduce all or any part of this interview in any format is expressly not granted.

10
constant need for me on set, it became clear that I had to stay on set the entire time.
After a few God-awful locations where I ending up standing for a twelve-hour day, I
decided that I needed a portable “headquarters” where I could be relatively
comfortable but available at a second’s notice. This “headquarters” also had to fit in
tight spaces. Enter my good ‘ol camp chair! I went through 3 of them in four years.
My other must-have was a good bag that would hold everything I might need on the
set. For that I bought a contractor’s bag. It’s made out of stiff canvas with tons of
pockets and compartments for everything I needed to have with me. What did I
take with me? Here’s a partial list of contents:
Cell phone, mini-umbrella, sun block, sunglasses, poncho, earmuffs, warm gloves,
chapstick, CD player with radio, earbuds, first aid kit, mosquito bite balm,
Emergen-C packets, multiple vitamins, digital camera, assorted pens and
mechanical pencils, writing pads, toothbrush, toothpaste, breath mints, sugarless
gum, shout wipes, Kleenex, cordless razor, NYC map, penlight, mini booklight, good
book, allergy pills, cough drops, scissors, hand sanitizer, Swiss army knife, lint
roller, band-aids, hand lotion and a harmonica. (I never used the harmonica.)
I prided myself in being fully equipped. If anybody needed anything, a lot of time
they’d check with me to see if I had it. I had so much good stuff in there that I
always had to be mindful of security. Once I set up my chair I had a special way of
entwining the shoulder strap through the chair’s frame so that if a street person
tried to snatch my bag he’d have to drag the camp chair with it and that would at
least slow him down until somebody tackled him. P.S. -I never had a single thing
taken.
If the weather was nice, or at least tolerable, I would set up on the sidewalk in front
of the set. There I could sit and watch the world go by when I wasn’t needed. Since
the crew was always pretty exhausted, I usually found a weary crewmember sitting
in my chair when I came off the set. I always tried to give them space and let them
sit as long as they wanted to but the way it usually worked, once I came off the set
and Vincent went in, that meant they were about to roll and most crew would be
needed on the set anyway.
A lot of times on location we would be shooting “walk and talks” where Goren and
Eames would be walking down the sidewalk with someone they’re questioning. At
those times I’d have to place my chair carefully so it wouldn’t be in the shot.
Location shooting went on year round, so sometimes I’d be sitting outdoors
bundled up in 20-degree, see-your-breath misery or sweltering in a Vincentesque
suit and topcoat in 101-degree heat. You had to be ready for everything.
Shooting in luxury penthouse apartments wasn’t as thrilling as it sounds. First of
all, the folks who owned these palatial places severely limited the number of people
who could be inside. A lot of times, all the extra equipment and any crew that
wasn’t needed inside had to be jam-packed into the hallway just outside the
apartment. This usually led to a turf war between various departments for places to
put their stuff. Certainly me, ensconced in my comfy chair in the middle of precious
little space, was an unwanted sight, so I did a little reconnaissance and discovered
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11
the PERFECT place to stash myself. The one thing that all penthouses have in
common is a door to the fire stairwell in the hallway... And since folks living on the
35th floor have no interest in ever taking the stairs, it is virgin territory! The landing
had just enough space for my chair and me. Now granted there wasn’t much
elegance to be had in a gray concrete stairwell, but compared to a cardboard-lined
carpeted hallway jam-packed with a ton of equipment, a craft service table, and 40
or 50 pissed-off crew, it was paradise! My secret didn’t last for long. Once the
sound guys found my secret lair, they co-opted it and I had to move. That’s one nice
thing about a high-rise stairwell...you can always relocate to one landing up or down
and you’re pretty safe. (Nobody wants to shlep up or down steps.) I settled on one
landing down from the set. It had to do.
Naturally, on location the stars had trailers that served as their dressing rooms. The
sumptuousness of a stars trailer usually indicates either A). How big a star you are
or B). How good your Agent and/or manager negotiated for you.
Vincent’s trailer was sort of a Valhalla on wheels. It was huge and after it was
parked it would make a humming sound and one side of it would expand out over
the sidewalk to make it even bigger. I was never in it, but I’m told it was quite lush
and pretty much state of the art.
Katie, on the other hand, had a trailer half the size of Vincent’s and only half of that
was hers. The other half was a second dressing room that was usually occupied by
the guest star. Katie’s trailer had no bells or whistles, no “state of the art” anything,
but she never complained. That’s pretty much Katie’s nature. She is one of the
nicest people I’ve ever known in the business and I miss her sweet open nature.
Now granted, Vincent is a big guy and Katie is a very petite woman; but this
inequity always bothered me. As time passed, Katie got an upgrade to her trailer,
but Vincent got many additional perks too. I guess the “goody clause” in your
contract is only as good as the individual negotiating for you.
One of my most memorable location shoots was at a construction site down in Soho.
A twelve-story building was going up and the top 3 floors or so consisted only of the
poured cement floor and steel girders... no walls. We were all required to wear
hard-hats. The plot of the episode (Season 2 episode titled “Blink”) had to do with
a construction worker who had murdered someone. He was part native-American
and had absolutely no fear response. Goren tests this by pretending to lose his
balance, almost falling backwards 12 stories, but the suspect grabs him, keeping him
from falling without showing a speck of fear.
In order to line up the shot, the stand-in for the suspect and myself had to copy
exactly what 1st team had done in the rehearsal. In order to maintain the focus
when Vincent topples backwards, the camera crew had to see me in the farthest
position back in order to set the camera correctly. This meant doing a backbend
over a twelve-story drop with my feet on a girder while the other stand-in held on to
me. I was in that position for 10 minutes or so. Luckily my “safety-harness” friend
kept me from going over. A few times the camera operator said, “Ron, lean back
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12
further...further...little more...GOOD! Now hold it right there.” Then they’d make
adjustments.
I will always owe a debt of gratitude to that fellow stand-in who literally took my life
in his arms for those 10 hair-raising minutes. We were both working at our
professional peak for those 10 minutes. Everything they asked us to do, we did.
(It’s the only way that I ever worked.) I suppose that’s why they dubbed me “the
best stand-in in New York” I always tried to live up to that moniker.
Weeks later, my wife and I drove through the area and I pointed out the twelfth
floor of the still uncompleted building. “That’s where I was hanging over the edge.”
Jane lost it. She’d had no idea how dangerous it was.
A lot of times we would shoot in well-heeled residential neighborhoods on either the
upper eastside or upper westside. When shooting on a residential block, if the scene
involved moving vehicles (i.e.- A taxi pulling up, someone hailing and getting into a
taxi, police cars speeding onto a scene, Goren and Eames driving away, etc.) regular
traffic would have to be diverted to keep strange cars out of the shot. A vehicle that
is not “with us” is called a Bogey. If a strange car drove into the shot, you’d hear, “
Bogey in the shot! Get that bogey out of the shot! Stop that guy! Etc. To keep such
“non-coms” out of the shot, production assistants (P.A.s), with the aid of the NYPD
movie unit would lock up the block. This usually involved police line barricades.
Sometimes a lock up has to be done without barricades because if the camera is
looking a long way down the block, you might be able to see the barricade blocking
off the street.
Most residents were very accepting of our presence on their block and some were
even excited that L&O: CI was shooting there. But occasionally you’d get a hothead
or two who would be furious that they were being inconvenienced. It usually
started over on-street parking issues. You see, a film company on location has a
tremendous number of vehicles to park. Here’s a partial list:
1 Trailer for Vincent
1 Trailer for Katie and a Guest Star
1 Honeywagon - (2 bathrooms, 6 dressing
rooms/offices)
1 Craft Services truck (food & catering)
1 Hair and Make-up truck
1 Camera Truck
1 Prop truck
1 Wardrobe trailer
1 Lighting truck
1 Rigging truck
4 Teamster Vans (to run errands, etc.)
20 to 30 crew cars.
Now imagine that you live in that neighborhood. Signs are posted 24 hours in
advance that there will be no parking on your block from say 5:00 AM until
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13
10:00PM the next day. That means that you have to find somewhere else to park
your car for that period of time. If you don’t heed the signs (or don’t see them) the
city tows your car away promptly at 5:00 AM depositing it in the nearest legal space
they can find. Sometimes that can be 5 or 6 blocks away. To park every production
vehicle, approximately 6 linear blocks of spaces are needed. With parking already
at a premium in NYC, you can imagine how pissed off a lot of car owners get when
deprived of their precious parking space. I would guesstimate that about 85% of all
confrontations on location between neighborhood folks and crew have to do with
parking issues.
The other type of disgruntled neighborhood type is the “I smell money” variety. I
never even knew these folks existed until one night on the upper west side when a
situation snowballed. We were shooting a night shot on a quiet residential block
and of course lights were set up here and there to light the action. Most light stands
are of the chrome-plated tripod variety, and whenever possible they are set up in
the street or on the sidewalk. Occasionally, a light stand has to go on someone’s
stoop, walkway, etc. There is also a multiplicity of wires running to and from these
lights. The crew is always quite careful about covering these wires to avoid folks
tripping, etc. Well, one gentleman noticed that a light had been set up on his
property in a little concreted area opposite of his ground floor entrance. It was in
no one’s way and did not create any kind of hazard so it wouldn’t have killed him to
be a nice guy about it. However, this fellow smelled money. He ordered them to
remove it from his property. This particular light was quite important because it
illuminated the action, which took place on the stoop and sidewalk of the house
next door. It was actually vital that the light be in that exact spot. Someone from
the crew (it might have been one of the producers) arrived to speak to the man and
explain the situation.
I recall the man said something like, “Give me a thousand dollars and you can keep
the light there.” At that point both men lapsed into hushed negotiations. Finally
(evidently) the man was given some money and the light remained where it was.
This opened Pandora’s box big time and suddenly everyone on the block that had so
much as a single wire going across their sidewalk had their hand out for a payoff.
The feeding frenzy was a bit disgusting. I’m pretty sure it had been set off by the
first man who quickly spread the word that he had gotten successfully “greased”.
After that night, if someone didn’t want a light on their property, that light would be
moved and everything reconfigured regardless of how much time we lost. No more
blackmail or bribery. If a lot of these New Yorkers knew how much money film
production brought in to the city (I think at the time it was something like 30
million dollars a year) they might have cut us some slack.
At times however, certain crewmembers could be like a bull in a china shop. The
Alaskan Art gallery incident is a good example. I still cringe when I think about it.
We were shooting in a very high-end Art gallery on Madison Avenue. The plot
involved a killer who was obsessed with his young, beautiful lover even though she
was trying to break it off with him. He buys her an expensive piece of expensive
Inuit art even though she insists that he’s making her uncomfortable by doing so. It
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14
was a small, second floor gallery and space was tight, but the script called for exactly
this type of Art and we were surrounded by magnificent Inuit pieces including a
miniature totem pole about 4 feet high, beautifully hand-carved and painted. Well,
there was one gentleman on the crew (he shall remain nameless) who was always
rather thoughtless when it came to other people’s property when we were on
location. As we say in the business, he was a bit of a “numb-nuts”. Time and again
he would scratch up hardwood floors, mar walls taking things in and out of
locations, yank cables without checking to see if that would cause a domino effect,
etc., etc. This crewmember was doing something near the totem pole (a $1,500.00
piece). I think he had a hammer in his hand. He finished what he was doing and
turned sharply. When he did, the hammer in his hand struck one of the wings that
protruded from either side of the totem and knocked it completely off! At the time
there was a first team rehearsal in the front of the gallery so most of the attention
was concentrated there. The owner of the gallery was sitting at a desk in the back of
the place, pretty close to where the totem was. Someone on the crew asked myself
and Katie’s stand-in, Marie, to go back and chat with the owner to block his view
and buy the crew time to glue the wing back on before he could see it. They found
some kind of glue (it might have been Crazy Glue) and carefully stuck it back on.
Now Crazy Glue is a great product, but it’s not for porous materials like wood. Just
then it was time to roll on the shot and Katie and Vincent started meandering
through the Art pieces interviewing the actor playing the gallery owner. As they
neared the totem pole, as if on cue the wing stopped defying gravity and fell off into
the floor. This got a laugh, the director yelled, “Cut!” and the cat was out of the bag.
I never heard the outcome from the ensuing negotiations. Chances are the repaired
totem now resides in a producer’s home somewhere.
The Reel: Your favorite places in the city to film?
RH: My favorite places to film in NYC were always the major landmarks (i.e.observation deck of the Empire State Building, Grand Central Station, Times
Square, Staten Island Ferry, etc.)
When shooting in these locations you were always doing something that no one else
would ever get to do. Because I played a lot of cops, the scenes that I would work in
usually involved a major crime, crisis, or catastrophe. “Living out” that kind of
drama in the heart of New York City was always a thrill. Also, these wonderful
locations helped you out considerably as an actor because you were in a very real,
even renown place, running around with a drawn weapon defending innocent
civilians from criminals, terrorists, and in one case even a monster.
When Godzilla was shot I played a cop in a bumper-to-bumper city evacuation
scene on 42nd street. It wouldn’t have been so bad except that they made rain.
When a movie company makes rain the drops are huge. (They do this because
regular rain rarely “reads” on camera.) Even if the production company gets lucky
and it’s actually raining, it has to be coming down in buckets before the camera can
even “see” it.
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15
The rain-making rig consists of two crossed pipes, a giant “X” if you will, that is
lifted by a crane 10 to 12 stories above the set. Basically, it’s a giant sprinkler
system. As I said, the drops are enormous but to the camera it looks terrific.
I was stationed at 42nd and Fifth Avenue on the edge of the shot near the end of one
of the two crossed rainmaking pipes. Unfortunately, this particular rainmaking
machine had a defect. The end of the pipe directly over me had a bad leak in it,
creating a waterfall effect right on my head. Because we had been placed, I had a
mark that I had to stay on. Moving was out of the question. Now I’m a big guy, so I
could plant my feet wide and withstand the onslaught, but I took a pounding.
Wardrobe had furnished me with a standard, police issue raincoat, but after one
take of this waterfall pouring into my collar, I was soaked to the skin. The shot went
for some 14 takes. Ah, the joys of filmmaking!
On location in Chinatown
Chinatown is a fascinating location to shoot in. Several factors make it interesting.
First of all the overpopulation in the area makes for crowded, narrow streets and
lots of Looky-loos. (“Looky-loos” are people walking by who rubberneck, gawk at
the Stars and stare into the camera.)
The worst actually wave into the camera. In Chinatown you also have a rather large
language barrier to contend with. So if a PA says, “ Sir, please don’t stare at the
camera.” approximately 75% of passers by don’t understand them and go right on
staring. The best way to avoid these problems is to use a location that is relatively
isolated. In Chinatown that’s hard to find, but there is this one little curving side
street off Pell that is off the beaten track. Even at midday there is relatively little
foot traffic. There’s an old restaurant along there that proved to have an ugly little
surprise in the kitchen. First we shot a scene in a booth of the restaurant where
Goren and Eames were interviewing a mother and a small child. That scene went
like clockwork. Then it was time to shoot a scene in the kitchen where a restaurant
worker was being arrested. When the crew started to set up the shot, everybody
kept tripping over layers and layers of cardboard that were strewn all over the floor.
One of the Assistant Directors finally said, “Let’s get all of this damn cardboard out
of here!” Everybody started to gather up the cardboard but the more they got rid of,
the uglier it got. It was soon discovered that there was (literally) a mud hole in the
middle of the kitchen floor. Keep in mind that this was a working restaurant,
normally open for business. There was also a nasty, sewage-like scent to the mud as
well. Needless to say, after a stirring round of dry heaves, fresh cardboard went back
down. Several crew members slid like a surfer on the stuff and the mantra of “ Be
careful, guys... be careful.” became commonplace. We finally got the shot and (trust
me!) Never darkened that particular doorway again!

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16

The Stalker
Another feature of shooting on location is the need for increased security. When
shooting in the studio you are basically in a “closed universe” where access by the
public can be tightly controlled. On the streets, however, it’s another story. Usually
the worst problem you encounter is an exuberant fan who wants to talk to, touch,
praise and/or get the autograph or photo of one of the stars. Occasionally though,
you get a looney in the mix.
We were shooting on the Upper East Side one morning when I noticed that Vincent
now had 2 gentlemen walking him to the set. Up until this time a PA (production
assistant) had performed this function. Once Vincent was on the set, these
gentlemen would wait nearby, usually near the craft services table or in the vicinity
of the stand-ins. That was how we learned about Vincent’s stalker. Death threats
had been received, so the producers were notified and precautions taken.
I’ve always found it fascinating the way some random viewer at home can suddenly
fixate on a television character and decide that they have to kill that person. TV
stars are constantly struggling with the folks who think they really ARE their
character. Soap stars seem to have that problem the most, even to the point of
being chased around retail stores by irate fans who are telling them off for their
fictional infidelity to another character on the show. Needless to say, these fans are
showing off a glorious lack of sophistication. (or as my daddy used to say, “Dumb as
a bag of hammers.”)
Occasionally an enthusiastic fan would discover us on location in their
neighborhood and hang out, virtually all day, to see the stars. That was the case one
day (prior to the death threats and the upping of security) when a middle-aged
woman fixated on Vincent and dogged his tracks from his trailer to the set and back
again. It got so bad that Vincent sought refuge in a teamster van outside of the set
that was being used as a holding area for the stand-ins. It was brutally cold that day
and this woman was on Vincent like white on rice. Marie and I were sitting in the
teamster van talking to the driver when suddenly the front passenger door flew
open and Vincent piled in and slammed the door. We said something like,”
Well...Hello.” Vincent then explained about the woman and how there had been no
escaping her all morning. As we looked out the tinted windows we could see her
walking up and down the sidewalk in front of the set wearing freshly applied makeup and a big smile. She seemed to be questioning various crewmembers as to
Vincent’s whereabouts. There was a slightly “over-the-top” energy about the
woman. She wouldn’t give it up. Eventually, Vincent was called to set (via walkie)
and he had to leave the van and hurry past the woman to the door. She eventually
went away, but it wasn’t too long after that the death threat business started and
Vincent got 2 bodyguards. It’s a troubling aspect of celebrity that most people
seeking stardom rarely consider.
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17

A Day on the Set - Part 3
If we were shooting in the studio at the Chelsea Piers, lunch would take one of 2
forms: If we were behind on the shoot day, lunch would be a half-hour catered. That
got us back to work faster. If we were on schedule, we’d be given a one-hour
walkaway lunch which included 15 minutes walking time and you were on your own
as far as where you went. Walkaways were good for clearing your head and
reminding you that there was, indeed, a world out there.
There was one other alternative on walkaway days: there is a world class health club
at Chelsea Piers complete with a huge pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, stream, running track,
gym, climbing wall, health food café etc, etc. That’s where I usually headed on
walkaways for my last year or so on CI.
(I was trying to outrun the hot cart... I’m afraid the hot cart won.)
Sometimes, start-up after lunch was a bit slow. If it were toward the end of the
week, a lot of sleep-starved crew would be strewn about the set, curled up in any
comfortable piece of furniture they could find. Some of these folks lived way out in
Jersey or out on Long Island so on each end of their 12 to 15 hour day was a 1 to 2
hour drive. It was tough and occasionally (particularly toward the end of the week)
fuses would get short and tempers would flare. God bless those guys (I use guys
here as a unisex term). They are truly the unsung heroes of Criminal Intent.
Anyway, post-lunch shooting would begin with cries of “We’re in! We’re in!” and
everyone would start to stir. If we had been in the middle of a scene when we broke,
we’d go right back into it, but usually we would try to complete the scene prior to
lunch so that the crew could start with a new scene afterwards. Post-lunch the Craft
Services table was restocked, this time primarily with candy bars, snack cakes,
packs of gum, mints, etc. Real food items were lacking, probably under the
assumption that you had just HAD real food. It was sort of a dessert bar. Now,
keep in mind that the hot cart would be due about 4 hours after lunch!
(Obvious philosophy: A well-fed crew is a happy crew)
Now a word about walls. Those blue-gray walls you see on Criminal Intent that look
so solid? They are constantly taken down and put back up during a shoot day. The
camera has to go where it has to go and if that means that a wall, window, door unit,
etc. has to come out, it comes out. The interrogation rooms are cleverly constructed
so that the end wall (opposite the door) is on a track and can be slid aside to open
up the area for camera and crew. Then, when the camera “turns around” and looks
toward that wall, the wall is slid back into place, masking tape put on all the seams
and all the seams repainted. This process takes place countless times on an average
day. (Imagine playing one of those interrogation scenes with the smell of fresh latex
paint in your nose.) It’s pretty time-consuming work but the crew has it down to a
science. Sometimes there’s a lot of down-time while walls, furniture, hand props etc.
are gotten rid of or carefully put back in their exact positions. As they say, it’s a
“hurry up and wait” kind of business.
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18

Pickup shots are also very much a part of a shoot day. As changes are made in the
script, certain little pieces need to be added to key scenes to clarify plot points. Also
pickup shots can consist of insert shots (usually close-ups) of book pages,
documents, a piece of evidence that’s being examined, etc. You see, a Star is really
paid too much to take up his valuable time getting a close-up of his hands as he leafs
through a book. That’s where hand-doubling and photo-doubling comes into play.
At times I was called upon to slip on Vincent’s shirt, jacket and overcoat, put on a
pair of latex gloves and examine a dead body, etc. When you see only Goren’s
hands, sleeves and cuffs in a shot, those hands could belong to one of three people:
Vincent, me, or the Producer, John Roman. Roman (as we called him on the set)
has great hands and always seemed to enjoy hand-doubling for Vincent. His hands
are well shaped with just the right amount of hair on them and, as producer, he
knew exactly how he wanted the insert to look. While I’m on the subject I must say
that John Roman is the finest Producer it has ever been my pleasure to work with.
Not only is he brilliant at what he does, but he has excellent people skills and all the
savvy and finesse of a world-class diplomat... and believe me, on the Criminal Intent
set he needed to be. I walk a bit of a tightrope with these tales and I must be
careful; but I can assure you that as the story unfolds certain juicy bits will surface.
Needless to say, it is a tribute to John Roman that we made it through so many
minefields and perilous situations. As I may have mentioned before, Roman’s office
was nicknamed ‘Camp David’. I cannot tell you how apt that designation was.
The Screen Actor’s Guild rules are that every 6 hours SAG members must have a
meal break or the company has to pay a meal penalty every half hour. On the Law
and Order: CI set we usually averaged 4 meal penalties before lunch. The sign that
it was going to be a very long day was when a second meal break was planned for
late in the day. Naturally, by the time this second meal came around, most of us
were already a little nauseous from all we had already consumed so a lot of us didn’t
eat anything. Rules are rules but I think most of the time people would have been
just as happy to continue working so we could wrap for the day and get home to our
families.
After so many hours the background players in the holding area would put their
heads down on the table and sack out. One of the hardest things about Background
work was the “hurry up and wait” syndrome I mentioned earlier. Depending on
what direction the camera was “looking” background would come and go.
Sometimes background actors would sit around waiting for 4 or 5 hours and then
have to be ready on a moment’s notice, look perfect and perform with full energy for
several hours. The other thing that background players do a lot of is change clothes.
If 4 scenes occurring on 4 different days were being shot in the squad room, the
background would be told, “Wear 1 and bring 3" That meant that you wore one
outfit and packed up three more complete changes in a garment bag or suitcase to
change into later in the day. Background cops had it a bit easier... they only had to
bring the cop uniform. They could NOT however wear their cop uniform to the set.
That would be impersonating an officer and since 9-11 the City of New York frowns
mightily on that practice. The situation has become so strict now that you have to
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19
take your SAG card down to 1 Police Plaza and get a letter of authorization from
them to have a uniform in your possession. It got particularly dicey after 9-11
because when security went up in the subway, if they searched your bag and you
had a cop uniform in there, it would be confiscated by the NYPD! During that time
a lot of movie cops car-pooled or walked so they wouldn’t have their uniform taken
from them.
Years ago I was part of a shoot in queens where about 50 of us were playing cops.
During filming a fire broke out a block and a half away and one of our guys (in his
fake uniform) impulsively ran down to see if he could help. He actually got involved
in the rescue efforts. As things were winding down, a real cop at the scene looked at
our guy’s precinct numbers on his collar and knew they were fake (there is no 22nd
precinct, so those collar numbers are used a lot.)
Our guy explained that he was a movie cop working on a movie shooting down the
street. The real cop didn’t miss a beat... he immediately arrested our guy for
impersonating an officer. You really can’t blame him. The City gives film
companies permission to use their official uniforms in movies, but if you are
mistaken for a real cop and someone is hurt or killed because of that mistaken
identity, the city is liable and can be sued.
Incidentally, for each change a background actor brings they receive $9.25. If you
bring a cop uniform you’re paid $35.00. If you bring a prop (i.e. briefcase,
umbrella, roller skates, etc.) you got $5.00. Every day on the CI set began with a
sense of excitement but as the day wore on (and on) many days ended with the
thought “ How long, oh lord, how long?” You always knew the end of the day was
close at hand when it was announced that the next shot would be the “Abby Singer”.
(That’s the next-to-the-last shot of the day). It’s called the Abby Singer in the
business because Abby Singer was a director who was always confused about what
his last shot for the day was. Abby would announce that this was his last shot of the
day, shoot it, then realize that he was wrong and that he needed 1 more shot; so in
his honor the next-to-the-last shot of the day is named after him. The final shot of
the day is referred to as the “Martini” in anticipation of having a good, stiff drink
after wrap. When the Martini was called, a mini wave of rejoicing would ripple over
the set and folks started to work with newfound energy at the thought of getting to
go home. When “checking the gate” was called on the Martini it signaled the end of
the day.
(For the uninitiated, ‘checking the gate’ means to check the small metal window that
the film travels through as it’s shot. If the gate is dirty or has a hair in it that means
that the negative has been fouled and the hair, dust bunny, etc. has been imprinted
on the film. If the gate is dirty you have to do the shot all over again. The gate is
rarely dirty but when it is, it’s a big disappointment to the crew. Shooting outdoors,
especially in windy conditions, can foul a gate on occasion if the crew isn’t careful.
They tend to be extremely careful.) At the end of the day the exodus from the studio
was at warp speed. It was like some people were shot out of cannons. I’d say in 10
:: Copyright Ronald Harris 2007 Ê All Rights Reserved ::
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This interview appears exclusively onhttp://www.thereelvincentdonofrio.com/.
Permission to reproduce all or any part of this interview in any format is expressly not granted.

20
to 15 minutes the place was dark and locked up tight...Until the next morning when
it started all over again.
My years on Criminal Intent? It was the most exciting, frustrating, nerve-wracking,
fascinating, boring, complex, stimulating, thankless, lucrative, scary, mindless,
glorious grind - that I’ve ever loved.

TheReel: Were the long hours and personal sacrifices the reason you left
the show?
RH: I rarely thought of leaving because I made such a good living. So many actors
in New York (and I mean FINE actors) have to also work a survival job (i.e.- waiter,
office temp, proofreader, word processing, telephone solicitation, etc., etc.) It is
rare when an actor can make a solid, steady living in the business. I made between
$250 and $300 a day standing in for Vincent.
I was only tempted to quit once and I considered it because of something Vincent
did that hurt me very much, but I went off, found a corner, had a good soulcleansing cry and got over it. There were days when Vincent took no prisoners and
everybody on the set paid a price. The day he hurt me was one of those days. We all
have them.
No, I didn’t leave because of the long hours. Certainly I had burnout... we all did.
But when the money’s that good, it’s a sure thing and it’s making your pension fatter
by the day you just suck it up and get though it until the summer break between
seasons. You LIVE for that.
No, I left the show (and New York) basically because of 9-11.
The day the towers fell my wife and I lived a mile and a half from the World Trade
Center, just over the bay in Brooklyn. That day we got a half-inch of off-white ash in
our backyard out of a clear blue sky. The city was never the same after that. I didn’t
like living with machine guns on every corner and men with mirrors on sticks
checking the underside of your car before you entered the battery tunnel. It felt like
the terrorists had done exactly what they’d set out to do... change our way of life
forever.
The night I decided to leave CI was a late Friday night (actually Saturday morning)
in November. We wrapped at 2:30 AM, and I called my wife to drive in and pick me
up. At that time of night it usually took her 10 to 15 minutes to get there... She’d zip
through the Battery Tunnel and was there in no time. It was fall and about 38
degrees out. After two and a half hours she finally pulled in at Chelsea Piers. I was
insane by then, certain that something terrible had happened to her.
Here’s what had happened:
When she got in the tunnel under the harbor there was a security alert and they
closed her tube of the tunnel with her in it. We both had a cell phone but cell
:: Copyright Ronald Harris 2007 Ê All Rights Reserved ::
No portions of this material may be republished, reprinted or otherwise reproduced without express permission.
This interview appears exclusively onhttp://www.thereelvincentdonofrio.com/.
Permission to reproduce all or any part of this interview in any format is expressly not granted.

21
phones won’t work in a concrete tunnel under 60 feet of water. She’d called me on
her cell as soon as she’d cleared the tunnel. I got in the car, turned to her and we
almost simultaneously said “ Let’s see how much the house in worth and get the hell
out of here.” The house was worth an obscene amount of money and we lived
happily ever after.

TheReel: Is there one particular thing you really miss about being in New
York and working on CI?
RH: I miss the friends I made there. Terrific people, all of them. I miss my mentor,
Frank Prinzi the Director of Photography. He was my biggest fan. And I miss my
“partner in crime” and Katie’s stand-in, Marie Flaherty, a very talented young
woman of Irish-Italian ancestry.
Hair, makeup and wardrobe people seemed a bit closer to the stars because they
had to work so closely with them. Everybody on the shooting crew was pretty close
because it was a little like going through a war together. Let’s face it, when you
spend 14 to 16 hours a day with a group of people you’re going to bond. One time
we were all packed into an interrogation room set working on a very tight set up
with three cameras and all the crew for each, 3 prop guys, lighting crew standing on
the table setting lights and four stand-ins sitting in the middle of it. It was hot, it
was a small space and everybody in it was sweating like pigs. Suddenly one of the
prop guys said, “ Whew. It smells like somebody opened a fresh can of ass in here!”
Everybody howled. It was just so true. That’s family.
TheReel: One thing you don't miss at all?
RH: 6:00 AM call times on the set. And of course, I don’t miss the incivility that
comes from living in a place that has become too big, too full of people and most of
them on the phone. 9 million people and yet I find it the loneliest place in the
world.

TheReel: Will you share a story about Kate Erbe?
RH: If you go into the dictionary and look up the words kind, giving, selfless,
maternal, nurturing, sweet, good-natured, patient, professional, caring, or goodhearted, chances are you’ll find a picture of Kate Erbe.
On the set most people call her Katie. You would be hard pressed to find anyone
who has ever worked with her who would have a single bad thing to say about the
experience. She is one of those amazing women who can put in ridiculously long
hours on the set and still manage to be one of the finest mothers I have ever seen in
action. Katie’s daughter is almost a carbon copy of her. Sometimes this little girl
:: Copyright Ronald Harris 2007 Ê All Rights Reserved ::
No portions of this material may be republished, reprinted or otherwise reproduced without express permission.
This interview appears exclusively onhttp://www.thereelvincentdonofrio.com/.
Permission to reproduce all or any part of this interview in any format is expressly not granted.

22
would stand with one hand on her hip and twist her mouth in a certain way and the
resemblance to Katie would just steal your heart away. Katie managed to find a
salt-of-the-earth nanny to assist her and together they are doing a remarkable job
raising two wonder kids on the set and off.
One of my measures of a true “star” is how they treat background actors and standins. Well, Katie passed that test with flying colors. Here’s an example:
Ever so often some young, hotshot producer comes in and decides to “revamp” a
classic to shoot for a younger demographic. It happened on the Michael J. Fox
series “Spin City”. When the show began, because it was set in New York’s City
Hall, it started out with background actors who looked like civil-servant types (reallooking people in their 40’s to 60’s) people who looked like they’d just walked out of
the real City Hall. Then a young hot-shot producer came in and told the casting
director, “ I want a whole new look: 20s to 30s and all eye-candy. T & A and GQ.”
(To translate that for you: Tits and Ass and Gentleman’s Quarterly) Suddenly reality
went out the window and a lot of our friends lost their jobs.
Well, the same thing happened on Law and Order: Criminal Intent. When Jamie
Sheridan was out and Eric Bogosian was in, some genius decided it was time for the
T & A and GQ crowd. A dear friend of ours, Jill, had her desk outside the captain’s
office since the show began, but suddenly she was gone.
One day, Katie ran in to Jill on the street and said,” Where have you been? I haven’t
seen you in ages!” Jill explained that casting had stopped calling her. Katie went to
the producer and said that from now on she wanted Jill to work on all of her
episodes. From that day on, Jill was back. Katie made that happen and even as I
write this my eyes well up with tears.
Show business is a hard life. But when a star comes along with that much heart who
realizes that people are just people and that we are all in this hard business
together-- when they defend and even nurture the little guy-- then I know I’m in the
presence of greatness. God bless you, Katie.
TheReel: Thank you, Ron, for time and generosity in sharing your
memories with all of us. Best to you, Jane, and Buddy.
:::

If you'd like to check out Ron and Jane's candy business,
please visit them online at www.gethappyballs.com
They make Happy Balls! ..Handmade Kentucky bourbon candy... In
fact, they started the business with a case of Knob Creek 9 year-old
single barrel bourbon that Vincent gave Ron as a farewell gift.
:: Copyright Ronald Harris 2007 Ê All Rights Reserved ::
No portions of this material may be republished, reprinted or otherwise reproduced without express permission.
This interview appears exclusively onhttp://www.thereelvincentdonofrio.com/.
Permission to reproduce all or any part of this interview in any format is expressly not granted.

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