I arrived in Baltimore at 11:00 a.m. Friday. After check in at the Admiral Fell, I walked over to the station house, took my requisite pictures of it, the Daily Grind and the Waterfront. I did not see anyone, nor did it look like anything was being filmed. Then I took the water taxi to Harborplace and spent about an hour there. I came back, looked in at Kooper's (it was still early) and no one was there.
I wandered around Fell's Point some more, and decided to go shopping at the Admiral T since I promised Brenda I would get her some things she can't get in England. After I finished shopping I went back to my room to drop off my purchases. While I was there, Jim Jenkins called from Richmond and we spent quite a while talking and telling war stories. After I got off the phone, I wandered back down Thames Street. No one was in Kooper's. I checked out the Waterfront and met Maura and Jenn (that's GMaura and Barking Dog to you). They were still floating on Cloud Nine. While I was playing tourist and shopping, they had met Reed Diamond. I was so jealous, let me tell you. But, on the other hand, I was so happy for them.
We saw Bill Grossman (Bill G Man) on the street and we headed for Kooper's. People started showing up -- Judy and Jim Lawrence, JoAnne Schmitz, Nixe (another Maura), Melissa (Wearart), The Other Cheryl (CWagg), Kathy (KWLAW1) -- the list was growing. We had a very good-sized group. I apologize for the names I left out -- I don't have my notes in front of me and my brain is still frazzled. Anyway, we had a good time discussing the show, dissing certain individuals and extolling others. We had dinner there, along with drinks. David Simon, James Yoshimura and Julie Martin came in. They autographed our books, etc. Something was going on at the station house. Trucks were moving in and out and David Simon was there forever, but alas no new sightings. We watched David Simon for a long time. He needs to get a life just like we do. We called it a night after a few more rounds.
Saturday morning I was up bright and early, hoping to make up for what I missed on Friday. I wandered the streets taking photos, went down to Henderson's looking for the boat that was used as "Case Closed." No luck. Met Cheryl and her friend Diane for breakfast and later retrieved my books from Jenn who had taken them back to Celie's. It was getting close to the time when we were going to meet everyone at the Daily Grind, but I had to go up to my room and Jenn went with me (she hadn't seen the Admiral Fell). When we got back to the Daily Grind, we found out that Clark Johnson had been there, talked with the group, signed autographs and took pictures before he had to leave for a golf tournament. That was twice now I was in my room when the action was going on. I figured this was going to be indicative of my trip. Boy, was I ever wrong.
Coming up the street was Reed Diamond and Michelle Forbes. They waved at the group and then Reed saw me and said, "I know you. I met you before. At Homicide LIVE." I was shocked that he remembered. I know I wasn't drunk or obnoxious at the time so I was totally amazed that he recalled me. Michelle was the same. She told me I was one of the very few who had stopped to talk with her that night while she was waiting for Reed. Anyway, this time I had a number of pictures taken with him so hopefully one will turn out. At Homicide LIVE even though he posed with me for several minutes, only one picture had been taken and in that one two women had walked by so it was a bust (and not mine either). Reed also gave me a big bear hug. He was absolutely the nicest, sweetest person you could ever hope to meet. I asked him a lot about Mike Kellerman and told him I had been his staunchest defender on the internet regarding the shooting. He said he'd never met a police officer who didn't feel that the shoot was good. He also said that he believed it was a good shooting. We talked a little about other things. He signed as did Michelle (who had just flown in the night before to spend the weekend with him). They were both really great. They got a great laugh out of Kalat's book (they had not seen it). He said he was pretty much computer illiterate (like me) and had just about figured out how to turn it on. He was amazed that there were so many sites devoted to the show. Oh, yes, you should have seen the look on Judy Lawrence's face when she came up and saw Reed and Michelle. It was absolutely priceless. I hope we have a picture of it.
I had to go back to the hotel to look for our tour guide. I found Paul and he was pretty much beside himself. He had come back from vacation to give us a tour and the new bus wasn't ready and he was trying to track it down. We ended up leaving for the tour 30 minutes late (1:30 p.m.). We were worried about Lauren who hadn't arrived yet (turned out she was pretty sick and had to miss the entire weekend), and several other people (Amy included) who had RSVP'd but had not shown.
Anyway, the tour finally began and it was a hoot from beginning to end. The bus had a VCR and Bill had brought his tapes so we were able to see the sites and the film at the same time. We learned that the Subway was supposed to be the Downtown station, but was actually a station further out so they wouldn't tie up traffic. We saw the place where Adena Watson was found as well as the location where LaTonya Wallace was found. We saw the Belvedere, Mahoney's condo, Poe's grave, Federal Hill, you name it we saw it. Probably the most interesting was the house where Georgia Rae was killed and Bayliss was shot. The owner was home and she allowed us into her backyard and pointed out different scenes to us. She said when Bayliss fell he took out several shrubs too. There were holes where the rounds were fired. The field where Bayliss' shooter was killed was just beyond her fence. It looked eerie watching kids play where the shooting occurred. All told, it was a great experience. I was so worried (well, maybe not worried, but I was concerned) that this tour would work out. It exceeded my wildest expectations. Paul deserves a lot of praise, but so do JoAnne Schmitz and Jeff Spence for getting me some addresses.
When the tour was over, we did a little shopping at the Admiral T (got to use that discount), met for drinks and then took the water taxi over to Harborplace for dinner at Phillips. Actually, it was appetizers at Phillips because they couldn't get our reservation right. But it was enough to tide us over -- the mini-crabcakes were great. We split up and some went elsewhere for dinner and some like me went back to Fell's Point. We met up again and hit Kooper's, the Waterfront and ended up closing Miss Irene's. No new sightings, but we watched some great arrests.
Sunday morning, same old same old. Out in the morning, meeting with the group in front of the station house. We met the security guard. I think his name was Nate, but I do know he has played several bodies including Nate the Nigerian. He told us that all of the cast are friendly, and that people seem to be intimidated by Yaphet Kotto, but if you approached him he was always very friendly. He told us stories about how Belzer would crack the cast up, but especially how funny and nice Clark Johnson is. He took our pictures, we took his. A really nice kid.
We then took the water taxi to the Bay Cafe where we had brunch and a good one it was too. By the way, except for misting on Friday and Saturday morning, the weather in Bawlmer was great. Then we went back to Fell's Point. I was going to go with Melissa up to Towson's Mall. I had to go back to my room. When I came out and was crossing the street, I heard a car honk and saw someone wave. I gave them what I call my "Queen Elizabeth" wave so in case they were waving at someone else I wouldn't look stupid, but if they were waving at me I wouldn't be accused of ignoring them. Anyway, the waving got more furious and as I walked toward the car, I saw it was Reed. He and Michelle were apparently on the way to have dinner with their veterinarian. He asked how the tour went and asked me again if I could stay through Tuesday. I guess I forgot to mention that he had asked several times if I could stay and I told him I was expected back at work on Tuesday. Anyway, he was rather insistent but I told him no. He and Michelle both shook my hand and said they had been happy to see me again and if we didn't run into each other again, he wanted to say goodbye. Melissa asked if it were true about seeing the set on Tuesday and how we were to get in touch with him. He told her he wouldn't forget but Michelle punched him on the shoulder and told him that we should stick our heads in the production office and tell them we were to ask for Reed. He said he would leave our name there. He again told me I should stay.
Well, heck, at that point what else could a girl do? I asked Melissa if she wouldn't mind waiting while I tried to work out the logistics for an extended stay. USAir cooperated as did the limousine service, my sister and a friend at work. Voila! I'm there for Tuesday. Anyway, we spent awhile at the Mall and met back at Fell's Point with Maura, Jenn and Kathy. By that time most everyone else had left to go back home. We had dinner and bar-hopped again. We closed up the Waterfront and headed for Kooper's. I certainly was not three sheets to the wind but I wasn't feeling any pain either. At Kooper's they were playing the BareNaked Ladies CD and by the time "What a Good Boy" was played, I was pretty much verklempt. I couldn't find my hotel key in my bottomless pit of a purse and I had pictures and stuff on the table when who should come in but Reed and Michelle. They, of course, stopped to talk, and I told Reed that I was staying 'til Tuesday. He appeared genuinely happy. Michelle asked if there'd been any problems and I told her just finding a sitter for Bubba. Like everyone else she thought Bubba was a little boy, but I assured her he was a little boy dog and showed her his pictures and she oohed and aahed over him. She told us she and Reed had a little terrier and that she had lost one of her dogs a year ago. She also saw a picture of Emily and said she was a pretty little girl (not little, she's 17). Then she proceeded to buy us a round of drinks. She and Reed left a few minutes later.
Monday morning we met at the Daily Grind. Who should be there but my new best friend Reed. He stood up and waved at us and said a few words. David Simon also came in. They talked for awhile and then Reed came by our table and told us who was scheduled on the set Tuesday. He said Belzer and Seda (he rolled his eyes when he said that and then started to laugh). It was obvious he was taking breakfast back for Michelle. BTW if I haven't mentioned it yet, he is back to looking like the Mike of season 4 and 5. His hair is longer, the top is curlier and he's put back a little weight. And girls, he is 6' or better. So, for those who have worried, it looks like Mike Kellerman is a survivor and doing well.
We spent the rest of the morning sitting on the steps of the station house. Jenn and I decided to do our shopping and actually walked into the shops at Fell's Point instead of walking by them. Then we met at the Waterfront. Sometime during the weekend I had given the Waterfront owner one of my Kansas City, Missouri Police Department patches and he put it up with the other patches (not that many, really) on the bar. I figured they'd take it down later and they just had it there to amuse me, but they said no, it would be a permanent fixture. So now I'll at least see a piece of myself in every episode starting with Kellerman, P.I. part II. The owner gave me a black and white ink sketch of the Waterfront suitable for framing. We later had dinner at Kooper's and Reed and Michelle came in and schmoozed some more. BTW, she smokes, he doesn't. We left Fell's Point relatively early for us because Melissa was kind enough to let Maura and me spend the night in her apartment in Bethesda. Have you ever slept on a Murphy-type Futon bed? Every time I moved, the bed tried to fold up on me. It was a hoot, but I didn't get much sleep at all. We went to bed around midnight and the alarm went off at 4 a.m. After all, we had to be on the set at 6 a.m.
Actually, we beat the crew to the set. We were a little late but made it into Fell's Point by 6:15. We had breakfast at Jimmy's and then ventured over to the Waterfront. Gene, one of the owners, had said we could stay in the back room and watch the filming. Unfortunately, they were going to use the back room but the crew let us stay and watch them set up the bar. They rolled in the pool table and the juke box, took down all the regular pictures and put up the show's pictures. The big picture of Tim, Munch and Meldrick in the old police gear has a prominent place at the bar (my patch is just to the right of it).
There was filming going on all over Thames Street that morning. Outside the station house, Falsone is supposed to come out the door, yell "Stivers" and then walk over to the car and talk. Extras were being put through their paces. I can't begin to tell you how many takes they made on that scene. Usually it was Seda who messed up but Toni Lewis did a time or two.
The bar scene inside the Waterfront concerned Munch, Ballard and Falsone. Apparently Falsone broke a date with Ballard and she's none too happy about it. Munch, rather Belzer, would curse every time he flubbed a line. Although we couldn't watch the filming from inside, they let us watch on the monitor right outside. The crew could not have been nicer.
Reed came down around 11:00 a.m. and "sneaked" us into the station house. How you can sneak Maura, Jenn, Melissa, Nixe, Ted, Jeff, Jim and me into anything is beyond me, but we "sneaked" in. Reed took us up the ramp where he and Falsone had their quick-draw contest. He pointed out the weight room and the roof area where everyone goes to have a private chat. We saw the desks and the Board. The lights were not on, though, so the only light was through the windows. We each got our picture taken with Reed at the Board. We saw the door he kicked in in Fallen Heroes I. We saw the new box, as well as the old box that is now Gee's office. He gave us a running commentary of details as we went through. I think he was about to give us some real spoilers when he was summoned to go for makeup. So, our little tour ended. I can't tell you how special that man is.
We went to the Admiral's Cup for lunch. There was more shooting at "The Horse You Came In On" saloon. Most of it was inside but there was some shooting outside. Apparently Falsone and Kellerman have words inside the saloon. I was hoping Kellerman would punch out Falsone. Maybe he will, but it wasn't there. Anyway, here is where I prostituted myself. I had my picture taken with Jon Seda and I had him sign my book. I mean, after all, Jon Seda is a very nice person. Not a great actor, though, especially after I've seen this in person. But he is a nice guy. Reed came over to say goodbye. He said he still had more scenes to film but they were almost wrapped and he was leaving town tonight. It was nearing 4:00. My plane left at 6:30 so time was approaching to leave.
But not yet. Maura, Jenn, Nixe and Melissa and I went back to the Waterfront for a last goodbye. I thanked the owner for being a real sweetheart as did the others. Reed came back down the street and went into the office. I got my camera out for a few last shots. I was hoping to get a whole roll of Reed and I was complaining that I had 14 shots left. Anyway, who should come out of the office but Toni Lewis. We went over to talk with her. She was genuinely surprised that we knew who she was and that we thought so much of her and the show. She signed our books, and we each got our picture taken with her. We talked for awhile. There was a man standing nearby listening and then he said, "Come on, come on." He gave us another tour of the set, this time with the lights on and the Christmas tree lit. We spent about 45 minutes with him. At 5:30 I told him I had a plane to catch at 6:30. He said, "Don't worry, it's only 20 minutes to the airport." He was very friendly and intimated there would be a season 8 and Reed would be back. I definitely finished up my roll of film. Nixe got me to the airport at 6:05 so I made my flight and made it home before midnight.
I forgot to mention that Belzer was filming spots for Homicide on U.S.A. so it looks like that's where the reruns are headed.
I'm sure I've left a lot out, but other attendees will probably fill in the blanks and add a lot more detail. I can only say that the best thing that happened to us was that the officials turned us down for any formal tour or meet and greet. This was so much more personal and memorable. Reed Diamond has always been my favorite because he reminds me of a friend of mine. He was great at Homicide LIVE, but he outdid himself at HomiCon. The way he treated everyone -- well, his parents should be proud. They raised a real mensch.
I've probably bored you a bunch now, but you'll get a feel of what my time in Baltimore was like. I might have missed the boat at the beginning but someone managed to get me to it in time to get in on most of the voyage. I met a lot of really great people, and I'm now able to put faces with the names I've corresponded with.
By the way, Andre will be in town in February to direct an episode. They said something about it being the 20th show. We need to do this again. With a little more planning who knows how great or big these meets can get.