"Quiet on the set!" cries an assistant director. Then, "Roll `em!" and "Action!"
Private investigator B.L. Stryker, a retired cop played by Burt Reynolds, walks into the scene - a large garden party at a Palm Beach mansion. He has a few words with a waiter, gets into a scuffle with him, and is hustled away from the party in handcuffs with the help of two large FBI agents. In a matter of seconds, it's over, and the director yells, "Cut!"This is not Hollywood, or even Palm Beach. The "Palm Beach" mansion is actually 40 miles north of Palm Beach. It's the home of Joan and Chuck MacGillivray. The garden party is an illusion, too, and involves some 300 actors and extras, many of whom are locals.
At the MacGillivray home, lights, cameras and boom mikes all are joined by criss-crossing wires that snake across their back yard. Extras, dressed up to look like Palm Beach luminaries, gather in clusters around the pool, sipping champagne and nibbling hors d'oeuvres.
Hair stylists and makeup people squirt hairspray on heads and pat rouge on cheeks. A band pretends to play; a singer mouths the lyrics to an imaginary song.
Two large tents fill a parking lot across the street. Inside are tables full of food for the hungry cast and crew.
Shooting the two-hour show takes up to 18 days, and wind and afternoon thundershowers put production behind schedule. The moment the sun peeks through the clouds, director Hal Needham barks to crew members, who dry off the equipment and shuffle the extras back into their places.
In all, 115 extras are on hand. The job pays about $45 a day - with bonuses if you have lines to speak.
For Joan MacGillivray, loaning her home for production guaranteed her a part in the show.
"I've always been a theater buff, so this is great fun for me," she said. "Considering the scope of this thing, there hasn't really been any trouble at all. And besides, I get to meet Burt Reynolds."