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Well, it's certainly effective

October 01, 2006|Susan King

Tom Burman and

Bari Dreiband-Burman

Emmy Award-winning husband-and-wife makeup artists.

Current Assignments: "Nip/Tuck" on FX and "Grey's Anatomy" on ABC

Previous credits: "The X-Files," "Scrooged," "Tracey Takes On ... ," "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation"

Definitions: Tom: "We specialize in special makeup effects. I started that title, special makeup effects, because years ago people didn't realize what the difference was between special effects and makeup effects, and I wanted to distinguish that. That was 1977. I had gone to a screening where they were showing possibilities for awards for special effects -- rain, fire explosions, etc. -- and out of all the movies they were showing, I think three or four of the movies I had worked on had these effects that I had done that were being credited to the special-effects people on the show."

"Nip/Tuck" primer: Bari: "We get the scripts and we read them and then we ... meet with [creator-executive producer] Ryan Murphy and whoever is directing the episode and we discuss ... what we can create to tell the story."

Tom: "Every show, they have a surgery and something that's pretty outlandish, and sometimes people just watch the show to see how far we can go."

Research: Bari: "We have really honed our specialty as photo-realistic. They zoom right in to the point where people are unaware that this is not real."

Tom: "Sometimes we push the envelope a little bit because it's television, it's drama. Sometimes the operations aren't exactly as interesting as we make them."

Bari: "We will sort of magnify a nerve ... and when we do our photo-realistic duplications of heads, they will pull the skin of the mouth or push one of the medical instruments up the cheek. Did you see a few years ago when we did the Vanessa Redgrave head?"

Tom: "She had a feathered lift. It is something that really hasn't been done in this country yet and it's a new kind of a face-lift process where they take this long, hollow needle and place it down through your face and what they do is that they feed a thread through that has little hooks on it. It hooks into the flesh, and they pull it up and attach it, and it will pull a person's face up and give them a face-lift without being invasive."

Casting: Tom: "We take facial casts or body part casts in different materials, depending on what the final effect is going to be."

Bari: "One of the most challenging ones is when we did photo-realistic duplications of conjoined twins."

Tom: "They were actually 42-year-old conjoined twins we had to take head casts of and duplicate them because in the show we had to surgically separate them. So that was a pretty bizarre day. We also try to marry our work to the purpose of the surgery. What I mean by that is sometimes the surgery is not the starring moment, so we may want to make it a little more subtle, or the characters more sympathetic, so we don't want to make [the makeup] horrific. We try to balance whatever we do with what is going on in the show."

Challenges: Tom: "The most difficult part of the show is television ... doesn't afford a lot of preparation time. On a feature film, what we do in one week would [take] two months. And so we have been doing it enough that we know how to solve those problems quickly and get to the final product.

"Probably one of the most difficult things that we did is that we had to do a big 600-pound woman. The trick was that she had been on a couch for three years and she had actually grown to the couch. So they had to remove her from the couch and take her into surgery, and what happens is that they try to get her off the couch and they realize she is so infected that they might have to amputate her legs. While they are pondering what to do, she passed away.

"But to do that in 12 days -- to make her not just fat but to have that fatty, gelatinous feel was difficult."

Background: Bari: "My background is in fine arts. I had a real passion for anatomy, and my whole family are artists. I studied painting and sculpting and then I started at Universal. I was hired in the makeup department, and I would do a lot of tattooing and makeups and more artistic things. I started in 1977. I must have been 5!"

Tom: "My father was an artist, a sculptor. He came to California and went to work at Universal Studios. As a little kid, I met the man who did 'Frankenstein' and 'The Wolf Man.' His name was Jack Pierce. And he told me if I was half the artist that my father was I should be a makeup artist. That stayed in my mind. Eventually, I got an apprenticeship at 20th Century Fox."

Union or guild: Bari: "We are in Local 706" -- Make-up Artists & Hair Stylists Guild.

Resides: Studio City

Age: Bari: "We're timeless."

-- Susan King

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