By: Noah Frank
As many of you no doubt recall, Chukchansi Park was transformed into a live-action Hollywood film set on August 27th during the penultimate game of the 2011 season, against Sacramento. Every fan in attendance was afforded a unique opportunity that day: the possibility of appearing on screen in a major motion picture.
But one person— or should we say, bear— impressed the cameras enough to land himself a larger role in the production. That’s right, not only did the cameras flock to Parker in Fresno, those involved with the film were so taken with the orange bear that they recently flew him down to the primary set just outside of Atlanta to do some follow-up shots. Yard Work sat down with the Grizzlies’ lovable mascot (and a bear translator) following his recent excursion to get all the juicy details.
Yard Work: So Parker, we heard you took a trip recently. Why were you out of Fresno during the offseason?
Parker: I was out of town to go be a part of the big movie titled “Parental Guidance” [originally “Us & Them”] with Billy Crystal, Bette Midler and Marissa Tomei. It was a great time.
YW: I heard you had to take a pretty long plane flight to get out there. Where were you guys shooting?
P: We were shooting in Atlanta, at the Gwinett Braves baseball park. It was a crazy long flight. My ears were popping nonstop— I mean, I’m a bear, what would you expect?
YW: Were there good snacks on flight?
P: I had all the soda and peanuts I could fit in my big, round belly, all the way from here to Phoenix to Atlanta.
YW: How did the other passengers feel about traveling next to a bear on an airplane?
P: They were staring at me, taking pictures, wondering what this crazy bear was doing on a plane. The little kids didn’t know what to do at first, but I let them rub my fur and they warmed up to me.
YW: Did you get a chance to hibernate at all on the plane?
P: I try to hibernate every chance I get in the winter, but I’ve never tried on an airplane before. It was a little hard to get stretched out and fully comfortable.
YW: What was your favorite moment shooting in Atlanta?
P: My favorite moment was when we shot the scene with all the extras. There were like 200 plus extras who had never seen me before, so I didn’t know if they were going to like me or not. I thought they might boo me, or throw popcorn at me, but as soon as I got on top of the dugout everything was great. They were following my claps, there was chanting. I think they were just excited to see this bear shake his belly and do the worm on top of the dugout.
YW: Were there any other particularly funny moments?
P: The funniest moment was when we were filming on top of the dugout. It was one of the first scenes we shot, and the cameraman was filming the fans instead of me. I’m running around like crazy to get everybody fired up. Finally the director yelled “Cut! Cameraman, stay on Parker, not the fans!” I didn’t even realize he wasn’t filming me the whole time, and you know, it’s the offseason, I’m not exactly in peak condition. So I had to catch my breath and film the whole thing over again.
YW: Did you get to meet anyone famous while you were out there?
P: None of the leads were on set, but I got to meet a couple of the supporting actors like Peter Luis Zimmerman.
YW: Did they tell you which scenes you filmed are going to make it to the big screen?
P: They didn’t tell me anything. They just had me doing a lot of crowd action shots. We did a Kiss Cam. I don’t want to give away the ending, but keep an eye out for it, it’s pretty funny.
YW: Is it true that you got your own trailer?
P: I did, but the trailer was super small. If I stretched out all the way my head would pop out one end and my feet out the other end. But it was pretty cool, it had my name on it and everything. And the food? The food was awesome, I loved every bite of it.
YW: Do you think this will help you land any future Hollywood roles?
P: Who knows, they didn’t tell me much, but they were glad I came out there. At first, they thought I was a fake Parker, but it was me, the real deal, straight from Fresno.
Yard Work and the Fresno Grizzlies will keep you up to date on news about “Parental Guidance”, tentatively scheduled for theatrical release on November 21, 2012. And keep an eye out for Parker— he might just be the next Hollywood star born out of Fresno!