STEVE INSKEEP, host:
Napoleon once said that an army marches on its stomach - turns out that all kinds of troops need care and feeding, including moviemakers, with their long hours and tight schedules.
NPR special correspondent, Susan Stamberg, presents her annual pre-Oscar series, Hollywood Jobs, with the role of craft service.
SUSAN STAMBERG: Movies just love food, making food...
(Soundbite of movie, "Julie and Julia")
Ms. MERYL STREEP (Actor): (as Julia Child) Dont be afraid.
Ms. AMY ADAMS (Actor): (as Julie Powell) No fear, Julia.
Ms. STREEP: (as Julia Child) Take your knife, confront the duck.
STAMBERG: Serving food.
(Soundbite of movie, "Big Night")
Mr. TONY SHALHOUB (Actor): (as Primo) Well, um, this spaghetti comes without meatballs.
Unidentified Woman #1(Actor): There are no meatballs with the spaghetti?
Mr. SHALHOUB: (as Primo) No, sometimes spaghetti likes to be alone.
(Soundbite of laughter)
STAMBERG: Or scaring you to death with it.
(Soundbite of movie, "The Silence of the Lambs")
Mr. ANTHONY HOPKINS (Actor): (as Dr. Hannibal Lecter) I do wish we could chat longer. But Im having an old friend for dinner.
Ms. JODIE FOSTER (Actor): (as Clarice Starling) Dr. Lecter.
(Soundbite of conversation)
STAMBERG: Offscreen, the army of moviemakers must eat. And on any set, its up to craft service to feed them.
Mr. CRAIG CONOVER: Well, today I set up a little breakfast. Some need a little coffee to get people going.
STAMBERG: Servicing not so much the stars, but the crew - the craft workers, gaffers, prop masters, costumers, electricians. Craig Conover began in craft service, years back, now he works at their local union.
Mr. CONOVER: The actor that makes $20 million a film, they can have fresh lobster flown in every day. That's not the problem, but it's the guy thats hauling around the lights and the camera - they need that sustenance so that they can do the 14 to 16-hour days in some reasonable amount of comfort.
STAMBERG: In the old days, craft service didnt do food. Movie folks either ate in the commissary or brought in brown-bag sandwiches. Even big stars did that -Humphrey Bogart, maybe, Gary Cooper. Then Hollywood became big business. Workdays lengthened. People wanted pizza to tide them over.
Mr. CONOVER: You know, who's going to order the pizza? We'll have the craft service guy do it.
STAMBERG: Thats how their food duties began. Theyve always done all the odd jobs. Craft service sweeps up broken glass after a movie car crash or fake ash from a volcano. Craig tells an old saw about the movie elephant who divests itself of a meal on location. Someone nearby runs over to clean it up...
Mr. CONOVER: ...and the craft service guy stops him and says, no, no, no. It may look like crap to you, but it's my bread and butter.
Mr. CHARLIE SCOTT (Craft Service): Tomato, carrots, broccoli.
STAMBERG: Charlie Scott, craft service on the film "Burlesque," has been buying the bread and butter, the veggies, the hot dogs for movies for 15 years. First thing every day, six days a week, 57-year-old Charlie pushes a cart through a supermarket.
Mr. SCOTT: It doesnt matter what time I get off. I get what you call a wake-up call at my house at 4 oclock in the morning. Cottage cheese and strawberry...
STAMBERG: Going to buy any chocolate?
Mr. SCOTT: Everyone eat chocolate.
STAMBERG: And this is just the morning snack. The hot movie meals - breakfast, lunch, supper - are done by a caterer. Charlie Scott is Mr. Between-Meals, Mr. Food-on-the-Run. His morning shopping cart runneth over - $260.67 worth of in-between. By day's end, he will have spent 1,000 bucks to feed 250 people. Thats nothing. Charlie did craft service on an Adam Sandler football film with thousands of extras in the stands.
Mr. SCOTT: It was called "The Longest Yard." We had 5000 background a day for 30 days. Thats not even include the crew. In the summer months, I had a crew just for water. I had another crew with just the cleanup. I had another crew with just food.
Can you take this out for me?
STAMBERG: Fewer mouths to feed on todays shoot. At Sony Pictures Studio in Culver City, Charlie hauls the groceries into his trailer.
Mr. SCOTT: And this is a craft service truck. This is my truck, (unintelligible).
STAMBERG: "Burlesque," the film hes servicing, stars Christina Aguilera, Stanley Tucci, Cher. She has her own chef but comes to Charlies table too. He says she eats lots of veggies and drinks water from glass bottles only, no plastics.
Mr. SCOTT: Good morning.
STAMBERG: Theyre shooting on sound stage 23. When it was MGM, Fred Astaire and Paul Newman worked here. Just off the set, Charlie and his son, Charles Scott III, fill long tables with platters.
Mr. CHARLES SCOTT III: We have a fruit basket - bananas, apples, chips, bagels, peanuts, Cracker Jack. Theres also...
STAMBERG: One of the dancers in "Burlesque" inspects the offering.
Youre very scantily clad. I cant believe you eat anything here, because youre very slim as well.
Unidentified Woman #2 (Dancer): I actually eat a lot, surprisingly.
(Soundbite of laughter)
STAMBERG: Shell dance it off on the set. Its a once-grand burlesque club, lots of gilding, silk-swathed stage, round cabaret tables with little lamps. The light is soft and sexy.
(Soundbite of blender)
STAMBERG: Back in the food trailer, Charlie Scott is making a smoothie for someone whos not feeling well.
Mr. SCOTT: Strawberries, blueberries, banana - you (unintelligible) a natural fruit, natural fruit.
STAMBERG: A little Mother Nature healing from Mr. Craft Service. Then its time to get the next round of snacks going.
Mr. SCOTT III: Would you like me to do, Dad?
Mr. SCOTT: Get me a bag of mangos, a bag of apples.
STAMBERG: Charlie put two sons through college. Charlie III has worked for his father for nine years. So its going to be a dynasty. Youll inherit the business one day, maybe.
Mr. SCOTT III: Similar to the Ming, yes. Similar to the Ming Dynasty, but you know what? I love what I do. Im very passionate about feeding people.
STAMBERG: Its a family passion and the reason Glenn Gainor, of Sony's Screen Gems Division, hires Charlie Scott. Glenn says the hardworking Charlie is good for the stomach and the psyche.
Mr. GLENN GAINOR (Sony Screen Gems): Hes definitely the first person on the set. And he, you know, hes got to make sure that when everybody struggles their way at 6 oclock, 5 oclock in the morning to the set, that the coffee is on and the coffee is hot. And Charlie is always smiling, and hes always happy to see you, and he gets your day going. Both heart and mind and soul and spirit - theyre all taken care of in that truck.
Mr. SCOTT: How we doing today? This guy love tuna. He love tuna.
STAMBERG: Keep the food coming, keep the plates clean, keep up the shout outs.
Mr. SCOTT: Hey, Peter.
STAMBERG: Mr. Craft Service, Charles Scott II, keeps his long day going and starts all over again tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.
(Soundbite of "Julie and Julia")
Ms. STREEP: (as Julia Child) Bon appetit.
STAMBERG: In Movieland, Im Susan Stamberg, NPR News.
(Soundbite of music)
INSKEEP: The pre-Oscar series concludes tomorrow, with some of the secrets behind the special effects of "Avatar."
Its MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Im Steve Inskeep. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Gone are the days when actors brought their own lunches to the set in brown paper bags. It's a full-time job feeding the hundreds — sometimes thousands — of men and women working each day on major films. Susan Stamberg spends a day with craft service — the crew responsible for the snacks that keep moviemakers going during long days of filming.
Charlie Scott II (in plaid) has worked in craft service for 15 years; his son, Charlie Scott III, has worked alongside him for the past nine. Together, they keep everyone on set — from electricians to extras to actors — fed, hydrated and happy.
Cindy Carpien / NPR
Scott readies a fruit platter in the craft service truck, a narrow trailer where all of the "in between" snacks are prepared. Hot meals — breakfast, lunch and supper — are handled by a caterer.
Cindy Carpien / NPR
A fruit platter prepared in the craft service trailer is ready to be brought to the set. "More and more people on movie sets are into health," Scott says — though he still keeps plenty of chips and candy on hand.
Cindy Carpien / NPR
When Napoleon said that "an army travels on its stomach," he was talking about military troops, but he might as well have been talking about Hollywood. Moviemakers, with their long hours and tight schedules, count on calories to keep them going — and on any set, it's up to craft service to tend to their care and feeding.
In literal terms, craft service assists not so much the stars, but the crew: "craft" workers such as grips, gaffers, property masters, costumers, electricians, hair and make-up artists. These days, the job is mainly known for providing workers and actors with lavish snacks — all day long.
"The actor [who] makes $20 million a film can have fresh lobster flown in every day. That's not a problem," says Craig Conover, who used to be in craft service and now works for the local union. "But it's the guys that are hauling around the lights and the cameras that need that sustenance so they can do their job day after day after day — 14-, 16-hour days — in some reasonable amount of comfort."
Not Just About The Food
In the old days, craft service didn't deal with food at all, because there was no free food service on the studio sets. Actors simply brought their own food in brown bags, and there was a break for lunch.
Universal Studios started a tradition of rolling a coffee and doughnut cart to each stage — everyone would put a nickel in the cup in the morning. But then hours on set really began to stretch out.
"Now you get into issues of people being tired, being hungry," Conover says. "Well, who's gonna order the pizza? We'll have the craft service guy do it."
Craft service was already doing odd jobs: digging a hole to place a camera at ground level, laying out protective material on sets — and cleanups, too. After a movie car crash, for instance, craft service would sweep up the broken glass.
Conover tells an old saw about the movie elephant that "divests" itself of a meal on location: Someone nearby runs over to clean it up, "and the craft service guy stops him and says, 'No, no no! It may look like crap to you, but it's my bread and butter.' "
Bread And Butter ... And Much, Much More
Eating has become an important production on set. The main hot meals are catered, but all the snacking between meals is the domain of craft service.
Charlie Scott has been feeding people on movie sets for 15 years. His latest job is with the film Burlesque, starring Christina Aguilera, Stanley Tucci and Cher. Scott works long hours; no matter how late he stays on the set, he gets a morning wake-up call around 4:30 a.m.
Today, he needs to keep about 250 people on the set fed and hydrated, so he'll make numerous trips throughout the day to various stores and supermarkets for fresh bagels, doughnuts and snacks.
"I've been doing this so long there's no need to keep a list," Scott says. "Sometimes I go to the store for 130 items — never a list."
In the supermarket, Scott grabs lettuce, handfuls of radishes, and celery for a salad and veggie platters. He piles bananas, oranges, mangoes, pineapples and strawberries in his cart.
"More and more people on movie sets are into health," he says. (Though he already has an ample supply of chips, candy and chocolate back on the set.)
"They eat all day," Scott says. There's only half an hour allotted for lunch. There won't be any leftovers, either. "By the end of the day, it'll all be gone," he says.
His morning shopping cart runneth over — $260.67 worth of "in between" snacks. By day's end, he'll have spent $1,000 to feed 250 people snacks.
This 250-person movie set is nothing compared to the time Scott worked on The Longest Yard — the 2005 football movie with Adam Sandler. There were 5,000 extras in the stands for 30 days in the summer months, Scott recalls. And that wasn't even including the crew.
"I had a crew just for water," Scott says. "I had another crew just for cleanup. Another crew just for food."
It's All About Preparation
The film Burlesque is being shot indoors on the Sony Pictures Studio lot in Culver City, Calif. Scott prepares the food, cutting up the fruit and vegetables, in a trailer a few hundred yards from the studio stage door.
His son, Charlie Scott III, is in the trailer with him, helping out. The two Charlies have been working together for nine years.
"A lot of times when parents are in this industry, they really don't get to see their children," Scott (the son) says. "In the morning, you know, Dad's gonna be there. Like death and taxes."
Charlie Scott III carries a large fruit platter from the trailer into Stage 23 and places it on a 12-foot-long table just off the set. The table is full with the food his father bought this morning. People wander by, look and graze. At various times throughout the day, crowds of people will swarm the table.
The Heart And Soul Of The Set
Back in the trailer, Charlie Sr. flips a switch on a blender. He's making a special fruit smoothie for someone on the set who isn't feeling well. ("Strawberries, blueberries, banana ... I'm giving her some natural fruit," he explains.)
But there's little time to waste, Charlie and Charlie (and another helper) have to prep for the next round of snacks. Glenn Gainor of Sony's Screen Gems says a craft service veteran like Charlie Scott is on top of everything — he's good for the stomach and the psyche.
"He's definitely the first person on the set." Gainor says. "He's got to make sure, when everybody struggles their way at 6 o'clock in the morning, that the coffee's on and the coffee's hot. Charlie is always smiling and happy to see you. ... Heart and mind and soul and spirit are all taken care of in that truck."
Keep the food coming. Keep the place clean. Mr. Craft Service Charles Scott keeps this long day going ... and starts all over again the next day, and the next, and the next.