Extras! Extras! from page 11
Rabbi Harold Loss
Above: Actor Bradley Whitford,
director Jon Avnet and author
— Mitch Albom confer.
Far left: Temple Israel extras stand
during filming of a service.
Left: Actor Martin Landau takes
some direction from director
Julie and Caren Bass
ily units, the Friday afternoon before the
Monday-Tuesday shoot and was glad to
get an email back confirming him as an
"I wanted to be an extra because I'm
familiar with Albom — his writing [as a
columnist in the Detroit Free Press], his
books and what he has done in the local
community — and because it's a bucket-
list kind of thing. Recently, I hit a hole-in-
one, which was on my bucket list, and I
was in a good mood from that so I thought
I'd do this for the fun and experience.
"My guess is that most everything the
extras are in will end up on the cutting
room floor. I sincerely doubt I'll win Best
Marla Stern of West Bloomfield was an
extra, along with her four children: triplets
Ethan, Jonah and Noah, 7, and Emily, 10.
They sat in a back row of the section of
extras, where the boys fidgeted a bit dur-
ing the eulogy scene — just as they might
during a real funeral. At one point, Emily
turned her head and held her nose with
her fingers. One of her brothers had gas,
she explained later.
She was much more interested in dis-
cussing her stardom.
"Oh, my gosh, I'm going to be in a
movie," she gushed. "Both my brothers
have been in movies, and this is my first
one. It's fun, interesting — and boring."
She plans to use her earnings to buy a new
Caren Bass of West Bloomfield was there
with her husband, Stuart, and daughter
Julie Sidder. When she told her father they
were going to be extras in Have a Little
Faith, he told her something she had never
known before — that when he was in
the Army, he'd been an extra in a movie
that starred Robert Mitchum and Greer
"I guess I'm following in his footsteps,"
Melissa Klimkowski of Highland and
her daughter Megan, 12, were fascinated
by their brief glimpse into the magic of
"It takes a lot of hard work, a lot of time
and a lot of people just to film a small por-
tion of the movie," Melissa said.
Megan was impressed by actor Bradley
Whitford, who had to deliver the eulogy
several times back to back.
Extras! Extras! on page 13
July 28 2011
Three Grande Dames, One Part
In Have a Little Faith, the role of Sarah Lewis, wife of Rabbi Albert Lewis
of author Mitch Albom's hometown synagogue in New Jersey, was con-
sidered a plum character role for Jewish Detroit's three grande dames
of theater – Henrietta Hermelin Weinberg, Evelyn Orbach and Shirley
All three auditioned for Jon Avnet, the film's director. None was
selected. The part went to Chicago-based actress Deanna Dunagan, who
has said she comes from a long line of Southern Baptist and Methodist
"I was offered the role, abut it was not final; they asked me to keep
the dates open," Orbach said. "Ten days later they called and said 'never
mind.' Then a week after that, they asked if I was free. Then a week later,
they released me. I had a very good feeling after the audition. I would
have enjoyed it a lot. It's a lovely role."
Benyas got a callback. "The casting agent said he couldn't think of
anyone better for the role than I was, but a lot of things are involved in
casting. It's a crazy business," said Benyas, who landed a role in Smooch,
a Hallmark channel movie that aired in February.
"You have to talk yourself through these things; you get called more
than cast," Weinberg said. "They are looking for something; sometimes
they know and sometimes they don't. Henrietta, Shirley and I all know
one another, and we know it's not in our hands. We do the best we can
and come to the audition with whoever we are."