CLIMB EVERY BILLBOARD

A lot of Perfect Strangers' humor is based around slapstick and physical comedy.  Sometimes an elaborate set-up is called for to place the cousins in a somewhat bizarre situation.  Whether it's bungee cord jumping, motorcycle riding or chandelier sitting, the set and prop builders are often called upon to invent some kind of elaborate setting, and the results can be amazing. 

Valentine's Day, February 14th 1991, found a warm evening in Culver City as an attentive audience sat waiting for the Perfect Strangers filming to begin.  Robert G. Lee warmed up the audience, then turned to PS director Judy Pioli to ask if she were ready for the show, which she responded to jokingly by acting nervous.  The actors were introduced and the show began.

The song "I've Been Workin' in the Mailroom" with the "Dinah" verses to follow was performed once straight through (and yes, Mark did sustain that note for that long!).  One particular piece of dialogue that seemed to cause Bronson some trouble was when Balki talks about feeding the pigeons in the park.  They took that segment five times with Mark and Bronson breaking into "fee-fi-fiddle-i-o" on the second take and Bronson saying "Wait'll you hear this!" on the fourth.

Unfortunately, every once in a while people will not think about the fact that they are in a television studio and that silence is golden and will actually talk during filming, which ruins the shot.  After some people continued to talk, Robert got up and warned the audience that if people did not refrain from talking they would be escorted from the studio.  The entire audience, even the people who had been silent all along, became even moreso after this stern warning.  Bronson, sensing the tension, approached the bleachers and asked the audience "Did Robert scare you when he told you to be quiet?"  The audience didn't say anything, so Bronson softly encouraged "C'mon people, loosen up!" . . . and they did!

As the second scene began filming, Mark started one segment too early, then caught his mistake, looking offstage to ask "Did we do that early?"  They made it through the backpack scene without any troubles or retakes.

The next scene took place on the elaborate billboard set with a turning windmill and spraying aerosol can.  Bronson and Mark climbed aboard the sign as the scene began and a wind machine added a realistic touch.  Mark motioned small circles during a reset, then danced a little jig during the next reset.  Several pick ups were done to cover different dialogue and take the shots from different angles.  The giant aerosol can was also filmed going off several times to insert at the beginning of the scene.

While different angles were taken on the billboard scenes, the audience patiently watched and laughed at the pick ups.  After the scenes were filmed, an audio wild track was done to get the voice of the radio announcer for the scene.

As they began shooting the next scene, Bronson stopped them because the socks he was supposed to be cleaning were not wet!  They had to keep panning from the windmill to them to catch the shirt on the windmill in the shot.  When they were trying to set up windmill blades in the proper positions, the director asked the shirt to be at the two o'clock position.  After some discussion and various suggestions of 1:15 and other times, they placed the shirt at the twelve o'clock position.

They shot the scene up until the point Mark was to climb on the windmill blade, which he did, but the windmill immediately stopped and Mark posed prettily in conclusion.  Another audio wild track of the basketball announcer was made, and finally it was time to shoot the guys going around on the windmill.

As they prepared for the scene, Mark was confused as to which line to start with, and asked, "What was that line, babe?"  Miles headed over with the script and Mark said, "Just tell me .  . okay, come over here and show me."  After he'd finished, Bronson added in "Thank you, Miles . . . goodbye Miles."  They filmed the scene again until Mark got onto the windmill blade.  Then Mark was attached to the windmill with harnesses holding his body and ankles.  They began shooting again until Bronson climbed on, then the film was stopped again until Bronson could also be attached to a blade.  As they worked on Bronson, a man stood on a ladder and helped support Mark's weight as they waited.  Although the stunt coordinators took the time to make sure both actors were firmly and properly secured, there was an amount of hurry in their work, as they did not want the guys to be strapped on the windmill any longer than necessary.

They took quite a bit of film of the guys going around and around at 16 frames per second and 18 frames per second.  After a time they took Bronson and Mark down then reattached them again to get more film with them and the aerosol can going, too.  It was a grueling shoot for the guys, as the harnesses were obviously not very comfortable for them, but they put up with the inconvenience like true showmen and gave a lot of good reactions.

After this long, grueling scene, the last scene was a welcome relief, the only mistake being when F.J. O'Neill accidentally said "the Bills" instead of "the Bulls."

After the filming the cast came out to answer questions.  Most memorable was when one audience member asked Bronson and Mark how they started in show business.  Bronson stated that the answer for Mark alone would take two hours, and couldn't they just send her a letter in answer instead?  Mark commented, "It's a long road."

It was a long filming but the result was a hilarious episode.

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