They get their own dressing rooms, their own food. Someone picks through the bag and makes sure they only get red M&Ms if that’s what they like. On location they get their own trailers, stocked with water and sodas of their choice and a bed for … resting between scenes.
But one of the most-seen and prolific television stars these days, appearing regularly on shows and flicks, is definitely low maintenance! GLOCK’s workhorse, the 9×19 service pistol and all its variants, can be seen regularly on such television shows as Law & Order, Without a Trace, The Unit and The Closer.
GLOCKs can also be seen in the hands of TV’s intrepid Crime Scene investigators in the hit CSI series: CSI: Vegas, CSI: Miami and CSI: New York. Since the cinematic “New York” headquarters of the television police lab rats actually exists a few miles from my Hollywood home, I decided to head over to the set and see how a real star gets treated.
While the crew was busy lighting and the actors were back in their trailers being dressed and running through their lines, I met Sean Jones, CSI: New York’s set property master. With nearly twenty years of experience on such projects as The Whole Ten Yards with Bruce Willis, Iron Eagle III with Fred Thompson and F/X TV’s hard hitting cop drama The Shield, Jones is the man who makes sure anything that isn’t nailed down is where it’s supposed to be.
On CSI: New York, as on many other televisions shows, the property master is also responsible for the handling of firearms on the set. Along with badges and cell phones for the CSI gang, Jones keeps the character’s firearms in running condition. Because the detectives portrayed by the actors all carry GLOCKS supplied by Hollywood’s Top one-stop prop shop, ISS, Sean Jones’ job is made a little easier.
“They’re reliable,” Sean told me, “They’re ultimately one of the most reliable, actor-friendly firearms providers out there.”
What does he mean by “actor-friendly?”
“Actors are thinking about a lot of things, their characters, the lines in the next scene, their motivation, you know; they don’t need to be thinking about their weapon. When the actor is ready to go, so is the GLOCK. When I hand them a hot GLOCK, they’re ready to go—just keep your finger off the trigger until you have to shoot.”
That sounds a lot like the same reason the GLOCK has found “real” world success with police and military units around the world.
The head of this squad, Detective Mack Taylor, portrayed by Gary Sinise, star of huge box office hits like Forrest Gump and Apollo 13, gets the full-size GLOCK 17.
“He’s the leader of their unit, he has to have the most impressive gun,” Jones explained, “Carmine Giovinazzo carries a GLOCK 19, Melina Kanakaredes has a GLOCK 26 and Eddie Cahill has a GLOCK 21. The women and younger male actors want the smaller GLOCK because it doesn’t ‘print’ as much—show up through their costume. It fits their hands better.”
When the Characters in The Shield went to GLOCKs, replicating the real-life LAPD switch, Sean gave film legend Glenn Close a GLOCK 26 because she has small hands.
Back at CSI: New York’s secret southern-California location, Sean Jones starts his workday by checking which guns are on the shooting schedule. On days when Detective Mack Taylor’s sidearm will be featured in the scheduled photography, the GLOCK 17 used by Gary Sinise comes out of the prop department safe at seven a.m. That’s when Sean gives the gun the once-over, cleaning and lubricating the semi-automatic. Because the guns used in movies and television have been modified to shoot only blank ammunition, there’s usually more powder residue to deal with. Even though Sean cleans the show’s guns at the end of the previous day’s shooting, this is still an important step. Even with blank cartridges, misuse of a firearm on a movie set can cause injury or death.
The GLOCK is secured in a large rolling lockbox and rolled onto the set. It will stay under Sean’s watchful eyes until the scene is ready to shoot. Before he hands off a gun, he does a quick instruction test, showing the actors that the gun is unloaded by putting a streamlight down the barrel while his fingers are in the open action.
Then, because he knows his GLOCK stars are 100% reliable, all he has to do is watch the actors, constantly reminding how to hold the guns like they’ve been shooting their whole lives.
For most of the shooting of dialogue scenes, the real GLOCK stays safely in Sean Jones’ hands. Gary Sinise and his costars go through their paces with stand-in airsoft GLOCKs in their holsters. Gary in fact, has two GLOCK 17s—one is set up to give a full muzzle flash, which requires a 20-foot stand off area between Gary and other actors when he fires.
When the actors are closer, Jones supplies Sinise with another GLOCK 17 that has been set up with a barrel constricted to cycle the gun with “half power” blank loads. In either case, actors never point a gun directly at another actor; they always “cheat” the angle so that the camera makes it look like they are pointed in the right direction. From his experience with the ultra-reliable pistol, Jones has becomes a huge GLOCK fan.
What does Sean think of his human star?
“Gary Sinise is a really great guy, a stand up, solid, civic-responsibility guy.”
We asked Sean what Gary thinks of his Austrian co-star?
“Gary lights up any chance he gets to shoot his gun in a scene. He loves his GLOCK” says Sean.
At the end of the shooting day, the superstar GLOCKs are cleaned and oiled. They are returned to the safe, ready to save the world from T.V. bad guys.