Today’s cuppa: French Vanilla cafe au lait

Chuck_Adam_Baldwin_Yvonne_Strahovski_Zachary_Levi.jpgIn tonight’s episode of “Chuck” on NBC, called “Chuck Versus the Tic-Tac,” spy John Casey (Adam Baldwin, left) goes on a mission for his former commanding officer, James Keller (Robert Patrick) that leads him down a dark path.

It’s then up to his spy partners — Chuck (Zachary Levi, right) and Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski, center) — to bust Casey out and clear his name.

The episode actually filmed last November at the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, Calif., and I was on hand for a chunk of it. Click here for the feature story I did, and click here for a profile of Baldwin.

I did my interview with Levi sitting in his tricked-out golf cart, resplendent with the Nerd Herd logo (his character, Chuck, has a day job as a tech at the fictional Buy More big-box electronics retail store), custom oversized wheels and an upgraded (and removable, for security reasons) sound system.

The cart did come up in my feature story, but what I didn’t tell you at the time is I actually took a ride in it — driven not by Levi, but by Baldwin, who had to head to another part of the lot to do ADR (automated dialogue replacement). He had to re-record some lines from an episode filmed earlier, “Chuck Versus the Mask.”

But to get to the ADR stage, there first was a trip with Casey at the wheel.

“How many golf-cart interviews have you done?” Baldwin asked.

I told him two, including this one. The first was with Katherine Moennig of the late CBS medical drama “Three Rivers.” She was a fair hand at the wheel, I must say.

As the cart got held up in a narrow passage between a building and a truck, Baldwin said, “Dude, there are some really crappy drivers on the Warner Bros. lot today. Sorry. Trying to get around this van, but it’s probably a Teamster driving. I love Teamsters! I could joke with Teamsters. I’ve been working with them for 30 years.

“They’re only slightly thuggish.”

The van finally moved, then, “Let’s see how fast this thing goes.”

While charging across the lot (no doubt keeping within the speed limit, though I don’t know forChuck_Nerd_Herd.jpg sure what that is, or how fast we were going), I asked Baldwin how he felt about Casey, once again, having to be saved.

“Been captured again,” he said. “I’m the best worst secret agent ever. I’m good in act one, excellent in act one; I inevitably screw up in acts two and three, get captured or beat up, somebody gets the drop on me. Then I get rescued in act four, or I save the day.”

If Casey gets saved, it’s either by Chuck, a nerd, or Sarah, a woman.

Asked how he deals with this, Baldwin said, “It’s PC stuff. I just complain to the writers all the time.”

After a potential close call with a pedestrian (fear not, nobody got hurt), Baldwin said, “Look at this. They don’t care. They take it for granted that you’re going to stop for them.”

We arrived.

“Wow,” said Baldwin, “they got rid of the parking spot.”

We found another place to park, which may or may not have been in a designated parking space.

“Nobody’s going to take the Mayor’s cart,”
Baldwin said. “This is the Mayor of Warner Bros. cart. Let’s go do some ADR.”

For the record, Baldwin can turn that Casey voice — tight-lipped,
urgent and growly, occasionally breathy — on at a moment’s notice. Then, recording done, it was back in the Nerd Herd cart and back to set.

Another actor, another ride, still alive to tell the tale.

Posted by:Kate O'Hare