Monday, November 24, 2014 - 32°F

Burpee Museum (Northern Show)

I’ve always been a fan of the underdog. As a kid, I actually preferred the Dave Clark Five to the Beatles, Diet Rite to Coke, bad baseball teams to champions, Hydrox cookies to Oreos, and on and on. So when I see what a fabulous job a place like the Burpee has done with Jane the dinosaur, finding her on their first independent dig – well, I am thrilled. And underdogs have a way of becoming champions over time, don’t you know. How about those White Sox? Or the Steppenwolf Theatre? I think you catch my drift. (By the way, I wrote a song all about this underdog business, which you can hear a snippet of and actually purchase. It’s called Second City Blues.

Anyway, as is customary in this bloggy kind of environment, I feel it is my duty to let you know about things you didn’t see in the piece that actually aired – the behind the scenes scenes. And this place had a duesy*. Mike and Scott took us into a huge room in the basement where they house all the stuff that’s not on display. It was a still life zoo: stuffed bears, bison, birds, big cats, even a shrunken skull. It’s this kind of thing that makes us want to come back for a follow up.

* Note: Duesy (pronounced “doozy”) comes from the expensive automobile Duesenberg of the 20’s and 30’s. To call something a duesy is to say it really stands out as tops.

Okay, where were we? Oh yeah, the Burpee (not named after a famous car called the Burpenburg, but still a stellar place.) Tom, my partner in crime here on the Road Show, has gotten the most laughs out of the moment when I first arrive at the museum and am greeted so warmly by Mimi Des Rosiers out front. We practically embrace each other with enthusiasm and then I say, “Who are you?” That’s what cracks Tom up. This is my regular establishing line, as I learned in my first days of Wild Chicago. Not all that graceful, but, dang – to the point. It frequently goes like this, as I walk in the place we are covering: “Heyyyy—who are you and where are we?” Or a variation: “What is this place and who are you?” Feels very Chicago in its directness.

Oh, lastly, about the water fountain scene. We had originally thought how cool it would be to have a herd of people flee the great dinosaur coming to life as we see the behemoth in the foreground chasing them. But once I saw the animation of the little dinosaur buying it whilst drinking at the watering hole, a new flash of inspiration hit and he had our scene. Also, there was a school group of kids there, little ones, like 6 year olds. We knew we couldn’t show them on camera without parental approval, but we could get their voices screaming. So Tom very gently explained to them what we wanted, we all covered our ears, and at the countdown of 1-2-3, they let it rip. Thank you to all who screamed. We used that sound under the intro and with the dinosaur attack. Another note of interest: I had the good fortune of doing a corporate video in 1999 with Underwriters Laboratories (UL) which took me all over Asia on a “Safety Safari.” In the Tokyo office we shot a nice piece meeting all the folks, finding out what they were up to there, then finishing with a friendly sayonara from the entire staff, maybe 25 people. Then someone yelled, “Look – Godzilla!” And the Great One appeared in the frame, coming around the corner while the UL Japan employees fled in terror. One of my finest moment as a writer/director.

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