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Notes from "The O.C.," episode airing March 16, 2006. Posted March 14.


    The script: The show's lead guy Seth (Adam Brody) hires Cobra Verde to play the 18th birthday party of his friend, Ryan (Benjamin McKenzie). Ryan is a big Journey fan. But Seth prefers that other arena-rock dinosaur, Foreigner. So he hires Cobra Verde - Petkovic, vocals; Mark Klein, drums; Tim Parnin, guitar; Ed Sotelo, bass; Frank Vazzano, guitar - to play Foreigner's slow-dance anthem "Waiting for a Girl Like You."

    Manhattan Beach, California

    Wednesday Feb. 2, 2006

    1 p.m. Even my modest Midwestern roots can't save me from the ultimate Hollywood trap: narcissism. It isn't because "The OC" flew us out here to be on the show. Or that they put us up in this luxurious hotel. It's the water - so soft that it transforms limp, frizzy hair into something bouncy and luxurious. Everything here is geared toward making you look good for TV. 

    2:30 p.m. On the show, we play party-hearty arena-rockers. We sure aren't living it. Instead of trashing the hotel, we're watching a show about squirrels on Animal Planet and waiting for The Call from wardrobe. The phone rings: "OK, we're ready, c'mon over."

    3 p.m. We're driving around the parking lot of a Home Depot, looking for "OC" HQ.
    Frank: "I thought she said they're located by an Office Depot."
    John: "I thought she said Home Depot."
    We pull up to a warehouse. "This must be it," I say. A guy in a Home Depot uniform who asks if we're looking for a gas grill proves me wrong.

    Frank: "See, told you."
    John: "Maybe this is it."
    A beautiful tall, middle-aged blonde who looks like she could play one of the moms on "The OC" walks out of Home Depot.
    John: "Mark, you've always said that the moms are hotter than the daughters on "The OC."
    Frank: "Yeah, but I don't think she's on the show. She's carrying a bag of paint brushes." 

    4 p.m. We find the studio, a sprawling complex where "The OC" and other shows such as "The Abyss" are shot. After wandering around for 45 minutes, we end up in "The Abyss" studio.
    Tim: "Well, it makes sense - where are we anyway?"

    4:30 p.m. Finally, we find the place. "We thought you guys got lost," says our wardrobe supervisor.
    John: "For a while, we thought we were on 'Punk'd.'"
    She shows us racks of '80s threads, from trench coats to sleeveless tops to those floppy boots seen in Flock of Seagulls videos. She then pulls out a photo of Foreigner from their trench coat era. "See, we were thinking something like this - something rock 'n' roll, like Joey Ramone."
    Frank: "I thought the Ramones and Foreigner were on opposite sides."
    John: "I don't think it matters in Hollywood." 

    7 p.m. We're back in our own clothes partying in a retro Hollywood hole-in-the-wall. The bartender looks like a white Fred Sanford.

    Thursday Feb. 3, 2006

    8 a.m. Mark and Tim take the initiative to get everyone up.
    Mark: "We're supposed to be ready to go when they are."
    Well, they aren't - so we spend the day waiting and watching TV. 

    3:30 p.m. It's The Call. Minutes later, a white "OC" van takes us to the studio. We show the guards our passports, driver's licenses and social security cards. "They're afraid of terrorists here," says the driver. 

    4 p.m. We're greeted by Wardrobe Woman. "OK, we're doing away with the all-trenchcoat look," she says. She hands Tim a sleeveless zebra T and a gaudy blue belt. Ed gets a yellow vest that looks something a weird fisherman would wear. Mark and Frank get jeans, T's and Converse high tops. I get a turquoise blue top, red jeans and a dog collar.

    "Now that totally works," says Wardrobe Woman. An "OC" guy hands us some forms. One minute into the Screen Actors Guild and I'm already going to hair and make-up. 

    5 p.m. A man rolling around on a medicine ball pops up to greet us. "You guys look great - I don't have to do anything," he says. Upon closer inspection, our stylist decides otherwise. "I have to do something, so it doesn't look like I didn't do anything," he says. Ed has his hair slicked back. The rest of us have our hair fluffed.

    "You should try red Ken," the stylist says.
    "Who's he?" I ask.
    "No, one word: Redken," he says. "It's a conditioner; your hair will love it." 

    6 p.m. Back in our dressing room. Our babysitter, Jonathan, pops in: "Hey, want to check out the junk food buffet or dinner?" He leads us to two trailers in the parking lot that serve salmon, prime rib
    to chicken, you name it. "Man, this is like living next to a Ponderosa," I tell him. You can't even
    be a smart ass here; everyone is too cheery to be bothered. Our babysitter takes us to the cafeteria, where a large movie screen plays the newest episode of "The OC."
    Tim: "Man, turn the channel - I want to watch the Cavs game."
    Our babysitter: "I don't think we get that station."


    10 p.m. After a few raids of the junk food buffet - it has everything from gummy bears to jelly beans, Peppermint Patties, Snickers, Twizzler, sour candy, chocolate and a weird peanut thing -- my stomach is bit woozy.  I can't think about it, though -- because we get we The Call. The faux club we're playing looks snazzier than most real clubs. The OC folks even made posters that say "COBRA VERDE sings FOREIGNER."
    "Hi, nice to meet you, my name is Adam," says the show's star, Adam Brody. "Cool to have you guys."
    The director breaks in: "OK, so first you guys play very quietly while we film the dialogue. Then we'll film you playing with the sound up." 
    In other words, we lip-synch to the song, which we already recorded in Cleveland. A sound guy hands us earwigs - little electronic devices you put in you ear so you can hear the song without having to play it through the speakers . Mark tries twirling his drumsticks, quietly. The extras - almost all of them tall, thin and blond - dance, shake and jump around.
    Tim: "It's like they've conducted a breeding experiment and these are the results." 

    11 p.m. A break in the action - just in time to eat again, which seems like THE thing to do while waiting. This time, a taco stand pulls up. So does actor Peter Gallagher, who plays the dad on "The OC."
    Peter: "Man, you guys know how to put on a show - even to THAT song.
    John: "You must be a Journey fan?"
    Peter: "Actually, both were pretty bad."
    John: "Yeah, but Kansas is the worst."
    Frank: "No way. It's Styx, definitely."
    Peter: "I think the worst might be, oh, what was their name. . . You know,
    "All Out of Love"? 

    1 a.m. We hit the stage for the final take. It's late; even the extras look haggard. The director pops up: "OK, let's run through the whole song."  Adam Brody and Rachel Bilson - his girlfriend on and off the show - take their places in front of the stage to slow dance.
    Then Peter Gallagher waves and yells to the stage: "Hey, now I remember: Air Supply. They were the worst band ever."
    The song kicks in and it doesn't matter who was the worst or the best. We're actors and we have a job to do. And while it might not land us an Emmy, it beats shoveling snow in Cleveland.





    *The Foreigner guy really belts out the chorus --  "Waiting for a Girl Like You" -- on the original like it's some act of desperation. Somehow, I couldn't see Frank Sinatra doing that.


    *Why is it that the worst arena-rock bands were named after geographical entities?

    Kansas, Styx, Chicago, Europe, Asia, Boston.


    *Frank still maintains that Styx was the worst band ever. I actually find them a lot funnier than Kansas.

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