So, I have to say, newspapers are an incredibly difficult prop. When I saw the script for Mr and Mrs Fitch, which is about gossip columnists manipulating the headlines I thought to myself “those newspapers are going to be a pain in the ass”. Why did I think that? Custom headlines, articles read out loud, multiple papers.
And they were.
So, what makes newspapers so hard? Mostly its the issue of printing on newsprint, particularly in large format, and especially in color. And even more so if the printing needs to be double-sided.
Mr and Mrs Fitch has 5 newspapers. All of them are modern (therefore in color), 4 out of the 5 are read from, and one of the ones that is read from is also perishable. Meaning we destroy one per performance… Yup.
At first, we thought we would have to make fully custom covers and interior pages for all of these papers. Meaning color, double sided, many many copies. It made my head spin just thinking about it. But, costs and resources being what they are, we came up with some alternative solutions.
1. Curating the covers.
With the exception of one paper which has a custom headline that we have to put in, all of the papers simply had to have covers that could be seen onstage each night. So, I needed newspapers that were not depressing (it is a comedy after all), and not super super current (ie. about the Jets). Needless to say, between Haiti and the Jets, that got a little tough.
Also, once we found a good potential paper, we needed to get it approved within the day, so that we could get as many copies as possible (we need about 30 of each paper, and 90 of the perishable paper for the run). I DID look into reprints. Newsday, for example, charges $10 per reprint, with a 5 reprint MAXIMUM. Yikes.
So, thus far, I have found the NYTimes we needed, and the USA Today (I don’t want to spoil it for you, but that is the perishable one), and purchased the requisite number of copies of each. Note: 30 copies of the Times, and 90 copies of USA Today. I managed to get all 120 copies of these papers with the help of my incredible bag, in 40 minutes in the Port Authority. Check it out:
Note: on the cover of the Times theres an old white dude standing behind a podium (that will never change), and on the cover of USA Today theres a picture of Obama looking like the Democrats are in trouble (not to seem pessimistic, but I dont anticipate that changing in the next 3 months either).
2. The Insides
This seemed like a much more difficult project, until it didn’t. Basically, most copiers will run newsprint (although not double sided, and not large enough to make a full newspaper page) if you ask them to. And most printers will print color on newsprint, if you take it slow. So we had at our disposal the ability to make 11″x17″ copies on newsprint in black and white, and 8.5″x11″ copies in color.
So, taking the papers we had, we made inserts for the articles on the inside, using the words in the script to make headlines, and then “greeked” text as a background. This meant that when the actors looked at the page, the only comprehensible words were the ones they had to say. Nifty.
We also made color inserts for the custom cover, so its just a stick on.
Heres our custom post cover and interior
The font isnt perfect, but I console myself with the genius of the “Gridlock!!” headline. Its kind of news in nyc. But not specific at all. Also not serious enough to dampen a comedy.
So, newspapers. Never simple, always time consuming or expensive. Or both.