Easy roles for them to play Television: Governor Glendening and Mayor Schmoke walk 'Homicide' streets for episode to air in May.

March 07, 1997|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN STAFF

Nothing unusual about this scene: a gaggle of reporters crowded around Gov. Parris Glendening and Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke. Pens in hand, microphones and cameras at the ready, they stand poised to record all the smart stuff these two politicos are undoubtedly about to say.

Only nobody's writing anything down, nobody's pushing to get a better vantage point, nobody's shouting out questions. In fact, nobody's really talking -- except for Schmoke, who halfheartedly asks Glendening who he likes in the NCAAs. Basically, everybody's just standing around and staring.

Welcome to the wonderful world of make-believe, as the governor of Maryland and mayor of Baltimore film guest spots on NBC's "Homicide: Life On the Street."

For a supporting cast, there are about two dozen print and media journalists crowded into a room of the show's mock police station on Thames Street. Lured here by the promise of watching as Schmoke and Glendening play themselves in their prime-time series debuts, they've been recruited to act as unpaid extras.

"This is great," says Schmoke, who's not used to facing such a well-behaved press crew. "You tell them to go to the back, and they go to the back."

Both the mayor and the governor seem to be getting a kick out of their moments in TV land. The show, scheduled to air May 16, has them showing up at the police station to remember a detective who's been killed in the line of duty.

Glendening makes a speech, he and Schmoke unveil a plaque, Schmoke says a few words as he hands a small memorial trinket to Lieutenant Giardello (Yaphet Kotto), and Giardello wraps things up with a tribute to the slain detective.

In all, the scene lasts maybe three minutes. But the crew films it over and over again, to be sure they get it right. Today is the only chance they'll have; not only would it be tough to find time for re-shoots in the governor's and mayor's busy schedules, but Screen Actors Guild rules prevent non-union actors from working more than once without a union card.

In all, the two men go through six takes between noon and 2 p.m., Glendening carefully intoning his praise for a detective who made "the ultimate sacrifice," then standing each time with hands crossed in front of him while Schmoke and Giardello speak.

"This is too-hard work," the governor says in mock exasperation between takes four and five. "These people work very hard. Imagine doing this every day, for scene after scene after scene."

Schmoke speaks his lines just as carefully (he doesn't get to say as much; after all, he's only a mayor), but does shift his hands from scene to scene: sometimes they're in his pockets, sometimes behind his back, sometimes at his side.

"I'm not ready to change careers," he says after it's all over. "I think you can tell from my performance that I should keep my day job."

Glendening, too, acknowledges Hollywood is not for him. Still, his stint on the small screen hasn't gone unnoticed.

"I used to be a hero to my son for doing the little things," he says with a smile. "He's 17 now, so I'm not so much a hero anymore. But when I said I was going to be on 'Homicide,' now I'm a hero again."

Pub Date: 3/07/97

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