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Saturday, April 19, 2014
Extra! Extra!
A Herald editor’s day filming a TV show at BHS
Chris Connolly
Director of photography Ethan Mass captured a close-up of B.J. Gruber and Ali Dwyer. Gruber’s character, Robert, a popular band teacher, had affairs with two different students 20 years apart.

The band didn’t sound very cohesive. In fact, the musicians filling up Baldwin Senior High School’s music room last week weren’t even unanimous on what song they were trying to tackle. The first chair flutist couldn’t produce more than a whispering whistle on her instrument, and Olga, the Ukrainian xylophonist, was banging away with all the precision of a delighted 2-year-old.

All of this was just fine, of course, because the band was only a simulacrum. These kids weren’t trying to make music, they were only trying to look like they were making music. This was the set of an Investigation Discovery television show tentatively titled “Bad Teachers,” which filmed for two days at BHS last week.

The show, slated for a three-episode trial airing in the fall, is in the vein of “America’s Most Wanted.” Each episode explores the misdeeds of a real-life teacher who became embroiled in scandal, and recreates the salacious stories using both paid actors and volunteers like me.

Reprising my role

Until I was out of my teens, I was pretty sure I was going to be a stage performer. At the age of 12 or 13 I learned to juggle, do magic tricks and even escape from a straitjacket. I took my act to the streets of Manhattan in the late ’80s, passing a hat to collect dollar bills. I also attended the LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts as a drama major, where I spent many happy hours in a leotard trying to believe I was a mushroom.

I gave up my theater dreams in college when I dedicated myself to writing, and have never regretted that decision. But when I heard that a TV show was going to be filmed at BHS and that they needed extras, I decided to embrace my inner actor once again and volunteered to spend a day on set.

Deep cover

Being a large white male who frequently wears suits, I am often mistaken for a police officer. In fact, I look so much like a cop that I once managed to disrupt a fight between two vagrants merely by looking at them gravely and clearing my throat. Knowing that I have a certain inherent cop-ness, I wasn’t surprised when “Bad Teachers” director Peter Hutchison took one look at me and declared, “You’re going to be our detective.”

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