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Scenestealer

The Cone of Silence

June 26, 2008|Patrick Kevin Day

While preparing the big-screen update of "Get Smart," director Peter Segal got an interesting bit of trivia from his visual effects supervisor. According to a friend who once worked in the CIA, the Cone of Silence, the original series' bit of poorly designed spy-tech, had been used in the early '70s in the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. "It was a plastic device that people got under and they played music so they could have conversations and not be wiretapped. It didn't work very well," Segal says. Segal wanted to give the device an updated look -- a silvery, stretchy beam of light. On the set, the new cone was just a small metal device that emitted a blue light. In post-production, a CGI electronic beam was added, that, Segal says, would "bounce off the ceiling and surround anything that was a heat source -- i.e. a body." To get the full comedic effect, Segal took the half-page scripted scene and let the actors run wild, ending up with an original cut of the scene over eight minutes long.

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