Thursday, September 27th, 2001

Local band leader featured on "FRIENDS" wedding show
By Scott Cronick

BRIGANTINE -- When millions of Americans turn on the season premiere of "FRIENDS" tonight (at 8:30 p.m., WCAU-TV 10 and WMGM-TV 40) to see the wedding of Monica and Chandler, they'll also see another face that should be familiar to area residents.

Dane Anthony, a popular local entertainer, especially in Atlantic City casino lounges, will play himself as he fronts the band for the much-anticipated television wedding.

He was on the show before, and they just loved how everything worked out," said Andrea Kauffman, a producer and talent manager. "So when they needed a swing band, they immediately thought about Dane."

Anthony -- whose real name is Dane Tamburino -- said his first appearance on the show was in 1999 for the season finale, "Barry and Mindy's Wedding." In that episode, Courteney Cox Arquette and Tom Selleck ended their love affair on the dance floor as Anthony crooned Cole Porter's "Someone to Watch Over Me."

"Marta needed a wedding singer in a hurry and they were all sitting around a production meeting and she said something like, "Why don't we get the real deal. My brother-in-law does weddings. Let's get him.' The next day, Dane was on a plane. He recorded the music that night and he taped the show the next day," Kauffman said.

"That was fun," added Anthony. "It was a minor part at the time when the show was at its peak. It was great."

This time around it wasn't Anthony's connections that got him the job. It was his past performance.

"This time it was a bigger deal," Anthony said. "The whole premise that started last season was that Monica was going to give up her real expensive wedding dress so Chandler could have a swing band. That band ends up being me. It's pretty cool."

Anthony was in Hollywood for a week recording his own takes on standards, including tunes by Bobby Darin and Jackie Wilson. He recorded them in the studio of his brother-in-law, Michael Skloff, who is the writer of "FRIENDS" theme song, "I'll Be THere For You," which was recorded by The Rembrandts.

In tonight's episode, aside from performing with a band comprised of Los Angeles musicians, Anthony opens two scenes by making general wedding announcements.

"My first line is: 'Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to introduce for the first time, Mr. and Mrs. Chandler Bing'," Anthony said. "The song we do right after that is the instrumental 'Our Love Is Here to Stay' by Gershwin."

Although it wasn't planned, Anthony will appear as himself. The band fronts that stand in front of the performers and appear on the drum kit will boast Anthony's trademark logo of his profile that prominently features his nows, mustache and an earring. The fronts on the show also boast his real-life band's name: Dane Anthony and Jungle Swing.

Anthony said he was treated like a guest star on the show. He had his own trailer, attended production meetings with the entire cast, sat through read-throughs and even got introduced to the studio audience after the taping along with the rest of the cast.

"The first day I walked in there, I looked at the table with all of the names -- Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, all of them," Anthony said. "And then there was one with my name on it. I was like 'Holy God, this is so cool.' I was nervous when we read the script through for the first time, but after that I was fine. I felt real comfortable because the set looked just like a wedding with cameras in front of you. I felt very comfortable. I didn't mess up once."

After the show wrapped, the producers realized they shot 33 minutes of footage, about 11 minutes too long, so Anthony doesn't know what will make the final cut.

"I feel like my two lines will stay because they open the scenes," he said. "But I'm as interested to see what airs Thursday as everyone else. I don't know what's going to make it."

Part of Anthony's anticipation is to see if his son, Isaac Tamburino, 9, and his daughter, Monica Tribuiani, 21, make the cut.

Family May Appear

"My son's in a scene where David Schwimmer gets stuck at the kids' table, and my son is sitting at the bale," Anthony said. "And my daughter got to bring some of her friends to fill up the place as wedding guests. And at one point, I saw that she was talking to Monica while the camera was on them. So we don't know what's going to make it."

(On a side note, Monica Tribuiani's name was the inspiration for Courteney Cox's character, Monica, as well as Matt LeBlanc's character, Joey Tribbiani, which was spelled differently.)

While Anthony's real dream would be to land some type of recurring role on a sitcom, he's more realistic to think that it is his band that will be the most affected by the appearance.

"I'm hoping people see this and say, 'I want the band that played at Monica and Chandler's wedding," Anthony said. "That would be a big boost for us."

Tonight, Anthony's wife has a small party planned for some close family and friends at their Brigantine home.

"That's her idea," Anthony said. "I would've been fine to just watch it in my pajamas."

As for any inside dirt, Anthony really didn't notice anything out of the ordinary.

"Everyone was nice to me." he said. "I wasn't around them all of the time, but they all seem to be very chummy and nice toward each other. They seem to have a real bond."

And which "friend" is pregnant.

"I can't say," he said with a laugh. "But I think it's pretty obvious when you watch the premiere. But there is one surprise in the show that I can't tell anyone. People that know me will be asking, 'How did they get Dane to do that?' I had a blast doing this thing."

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