Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Naked Brothers Band

On October 24 2005, The Naked Brothers Band won the Audience Award for a Family Feature Film at the Hamptons International Film Festival.

Last night (Saturday, January 27, 2007), it made its world premiere on television, airing on Nickelodeon, in anticipation of the show becoming a series, starting next week.

In a nutshell, this film is a "mockumentary," in the tradition of This Is Spinal Tap, only with a kid band.

At about halfway through the movie, Nat, the lead singer and keyboard-player, performs at the piano, mourning the fact that their band, The Silver Boulders, has broken up over creative differences, leaving Nat and his younger brother Alex, the drummer and, in true VH1 Behind the Music form, lime soda addict, alone in the world, as life goes on while fans mourn the passing of the Silver Boulders. Check out this 40-second clip:

Upon first glance, those who know the Kingdom of BillyBlog, may not notice anything unusual about that clip, other than that it seems geared toward a Nickelodeon audience. Well, let's just say it's a multigenerational gangbusters week for the family of BillyBlog.

Remember the two mourning fans, laying flowers at the memorial to the Silver Boulders?

How could you miss them? They totally steal the scene. Of course, I am only saying that because they are none other than Shayna and Jolee, in their motion picture debuts.

Did I mention that this film was a prize winner in an international film festival? So it's not the Palme D'Or at Cannes, but still. Jolee is proud of her technique, lost to many viewers, as below, she wipes away an imaginary tear.

She wasn't crying folks, she was acting! And she wasn't told to do that, she improvised it. A stunning debut, indeed.

So, you're all likely wondering how this happened, and why we may not have been crowing about it before today. And, yes, they do look rather younger in the scene, that's true.

Cut to my birthday, July 3, 2004, I get to choose where we eat and I have selected Tennessee Mountain Barbecue in Manhattan, more specifically SoHo. The family and I take the subway to the Broadway/Lafayette stop on the D line. It's my birthday, and I have a hankering to stop at the Housing Works Used Books Cafe and look at some books before dinner. So we come up in the late afternoon heat that is Manhattan in July and start down the cobblestoned Crosby street, that runs parallel between Broadway and Lafayette, and at the intersection of Crosby and Jersey Streets, a stone's throw from the Book Cafe, is a small group of people with film equipment.

An excited woman moves toward us. She's looking at Jolee and Shayna. She almost looks desperate, but also looks as if her prayers have been answered. She asks if the girls would like to be in a scene in the movie she's making about a band her sons are in. She says they have been waiting for some young girls to come walking by, but there haven't been many. SoHo is usually not a place where young, under-10, kids hang out, and usually not on Crosby Street, which is old and doesn't have nearly the number of stores as Broadway does, a block away.

She introduces herself as Polly Draper, probably best known as Ellyn in the show "thirtysomething" . We also meet her husband and co-producer, Michael Wolff. They explain the concept behind the Naked Brothers Band. The scene they're shooting is a simple one: they have set up a makeshift memorial to the Silver Boulders, the band of young musicians who have broken up. Jolee and Shayna are meant to be the mourning fans, laying flowers under the band's name where a makeshift memorial has been placed. They should look sad. They get it in two or three takes. They might have needed a fourth, just to be safe.

We sign releases, etc etc. As a former production coordinator, I knew the drill. I also gauged that the scene would most likely never see film. Jolee was particularly excited, but we cautioned her that it would be a while before she could see the movie, and that she might not make it into the final cut. The line producer, Caron Rudner, gave me her number to call for updates. Something may have been mentioned about coming to the premiere.

The girls also got to meet Alex Wolff, the younger brother who plays drums, and really steals the show. The drummer is usually the funny one in the band, right? In fact, while we were waiting for the set-up, Jolee played a little Frisbee with him.

It was quite the fun experience. Remember, at this time, Jolee was just shy of 8, and Shayna was 5. The Book Cafe was nice and the barbecue was excellent.

Months later, I called the producer, Caron, for an update. I didn't hear anything. More time passed and I received a message from Caron, but never got a return call after I called back. We kind of forgot about this whole deal until late last Fall, when we started seeing the promos from the show premiering in January 2007.

We braced ourselves as the plot line reached its set-up for Jolee and Shayna to appear. I kept telling myself, cutting room floor, cutting room floor, and then -poof!- there they were for one, two, thr, two-and-a-half seconds! Still, very cool.

Of course it was weird seeing them so much younger, but still it's great to see this come to fruition after so long.

In case you're interested, the scene comes at about 1 hour and 2 minutes into the show, which is re-airing on Nickelodeon Sunday, January 28, at 7:00 PM and Friday, February 2, at 8:00 PM.


R. Lachsvolkes said...

The movie was also featured in the New Yorker this week. Check it out!

watson said...

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