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Another multi-tasker on set was Erica Meditz, 24, the production designer. A Calhoun graduate from Merrick, Meditz has striking red hair and a youthful face, which enabled her to handle a French horn in the band scene in addition to behind-the-scenes responsibilities like steaming the wrinkles out of a Hawaiian shirt for leading man B.J. Gruber. It was also Meditz, I learned, who suggested filming in Baldwin. “I knew a lot of schools on Long Island had the right look,” she said. Merritt later told me that a donation was made to Baldwin schools on behalf of the production.
Long arm of the law
Most details of the events we re-enacted last week were withheld. Being a trained thespian, however, I prepped for my role as a detective by finding out what I could. Gruber, I discovered, was playing a married band teacher named Robert who had an affair with a student in the 1980s. Robert’s wife, my sources revealed, stayed with him despite this indignity, only to have her husband repeat his crime with another young girl some 20 years later.
Gruber, as Robert, was clearly the popular teacher-type. Part of his costuming consisted of three Hawaiian shirts, two of them bright and vibrant, and one gray/blue number that Meditz and Kosheva called the “sad Hawaiian shirt.” He pulled on that one to film his scene with me.
My triumphant return to acting was to be what Hutchison called “the long perp walk of shame.” I was to take hold of a handcuffed Gruber and escort him firmly down a long school hallway. At the end of the corridor, we were to pass Hobbs, Nicolari and Joe Loffrens — in the role of teachers — who would give us admonishing glares before we exited the building. The heavy school doors would slam forebodingly behind us.
Ethan Mass, director of photography, preceded us during our first take, walking backward and holding a stabilized camera tight on Gruber’s face. Because the only part of me the camera would capture was my right arm, I didn’t feel much pressure. I stayed in character, though, stoically leading Gruber down the hallway, past the teachers and toward the door.