As a way to write a story for TV Guide magazine, I am going to be a guest at Eva Longoria's wedding. Not that wedding! I will be an "extra" at Gaby's wedding to Victor (played by John Slattery). I hope she doesn't get cold feet — after last week's episode, I am worried.
Of course, I immediately think I have to lose 10 pounds, or have liposuction. You know how thin those "housewives" are? My inside source on the set tells me that Eva is so thin she is a "size zero-zero." Maybe I can fast for a week and then binge. That what's all the movie stars do for the Oscars.
Day 2: I am going for my costume fitting today! It just sounds so damn Hollywood, I love it. Chandler Hayes, the ABC publicist for Desperate Housewives, asks me for my measurements in advance. I tell him: 36-24-36.
How will they know to pick the right size? I'm sure costumers have spent their careers fielding fake measurements from insecure actresses.
Cate Adair runs the Desperate Housewives costume department. She is a vibrant and enthusiastic English woman who reminds me of Mary Poppins. Karo Vartanian is her second-in-command. I quickly learn that he is a man with the eye for detail and amazing accessories.
There are dozens of sketches of wedding dresses strewn around the wardrobe department. They are amazing — it's clear that Cate Adair could give Vera Wang a run for her money.
Although Eva's dress is hidden from prying eyes, I get a scoop about the diamond tiara she is wearing in her hair. The tiara, which was designed by Doris Panos from NYC, costs a million dollars and is being hand-carried from Basel, Switzerland, and delivered to the Universal Studios lot by Brinks Trunk.
I get another scoop — Eva is a bit crazed about this fantasy wedding because she thinks people are going to confuse this with her real wedding to basketball superstar Tony Parker in Paris in July. She has insisted that Gaby's dress look nothing like her real one. Her final fitting for Gaby's dress is tomorrow, and I can tell people are nervous.
Now it's time for my costume fitting. Cate and Karo have set aside a room filled with racks of dresses and shoes and jewelry for me. The dresses are so sexy. Is this my room? Or is this the dressing room for Nicolette Sheridan?
Under the fluorescent lights of the camera crew from the TV Guide Channel that is following me around, privacy is not an option. Never having done this before, I feel shy and modest, but Cate quickly snaps me into Hollywood mode. With each gown I try on, she tells me to imagine I am a different character. With one I am a sexy playgirl, with another I am a Miami divorcée, and the last one (a tight gold number) I am Donald Trump's wife. Don't ask!
I choose a gorgeous royal blue rhinestone-encrusted St. John knit, which must have cost at least $5,000. Now for the earrings! This is where Vartanian's keen eye for detail comes in. He picks out a pair of dangling diamond earrings that cost $35,000. I feel like a princess.
Little do they know that yesterday I was regrouting my bathroom — all by myself.
Day 3: Wedding Day!
I arrive at the location site in the San Fernando Valley and am ushered into my own private "star" trailer. I can assure you that no "extra" on any Hollywood set has ever had a trailer like mine.
I'm excited that I am finally behind the scenes. I wonder what the women are really like. I've heard all the rumors about feuding (they always say things like that about women who work together), and I hope they are not true.
Eva Longoria and Felicity Huffman are a few feet away in Felicity's trailer having breakfast with Doug Savant. "Eva can eat anything she jolly well pleases," says Huffman, who knits during breaks in shooting. "I had oatmeal with nothing on it, and she had a breakfast burrito with the works. What happens on a location is that your trailer becomes the green room, the place to hang out with your girlfriends."
Speaking of girlfriends: Marcia Cross is back. She has returned from maternity leave for the season finale. I run into her in the makeup trailer. She's not there for makeup; she wants advice about a child-care issue. "I really miss the babies," she tells me. "I'm glad this is the finale so I get to spend the summer with them." She'll bring them to the set next season.
The Housewives clearly have missed Cross. "I love her energy, " says Huffman. "Marcia is really grounding and she has a really big heart. She is so light and easy, she brings a real tranquil and joyous quality to the set."
It's time for the big wedding scene to be shot. It takes hours, and with each hour it gets hotter. Marcia Cross hates being in the sun; she's afraid of the damaging rays. During every break she puts a hat and long-sleeved shirt over her costume and has people stand over her with umbrellas. All that skin care caution has paid off — her skin is luminescent.
Finally, the bride and groom appear at the top of a waterfall. Eva is transformed into a fairy-tale princess in a dress of organza and silk and pearls. "I wanted her to look like meringue," said Adair.
She's a whirling dervish when the cameras are off. She's constantly on her cell phone finalizing the plans for her real wedding or talking to Parker. Or she's on her blackberry sending text messages to Teri Hatcher who is sitting about 10 feet away.
"We're gossiping about people," says Longoria.
I learned a lot of secrets on the set. Bree has an unexpected and shocking surprise to deliver. Lynette is battling a life-threatening illness, a problem that "trumps everything else that she and Tom have had to deal with," says Huffman. "And we meet the mother she has been estranged from for years [played by guest star Polly Bergen]." And Gaby and Victor aren't the only ones on Wisteria Lane getting married in this episode. "The good news about what's happening in this episode means I will be back next year," says James Denton. "We wanted to milk the Mike and Susan thing for as long as possible, like Sam and Diane, now we will get to play it out."
And now for the real scoop! No matter what you read in the tabloids, the women of Wisteria Lane seem to really like each other. I was on the set for almost 10 hours and I saw many signs of affection and absolutely no sign of feuding. "That stuff's all bunk," says veteran actress Kathryn Joosten, who plays Mrs. McCluskey.
At the end of the day, with the sun dimming, the wedding is over, the reception is in full swing and everyone is happy on Wisteria Lane. Well, not exactly. "Carlos is devastated when he sees Gaby in her wedding dress," says Ricardo Chavira, who plays Carlos Solis. "And there is definitely physical contact on her wedding day!" After all, this is Desperate Housewives.
As for me, I had a great time as an extra. There was only one minor tragedy. I had to return that $5,000 suit and those $35,000 earrings.
It was the end of a beautiful Hollywood fantasy.
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