Monday, January 30, 2006

Dork Streets

Jan. 29, 2006

I got called yesterday afternoon to see if I would work on a movie called DARK STREETS this morning. I thought there was a fifty percent chance it was a horror movie, judging by the title, so I agreed. Actually, I'm not in a financial position to turn down work, so even if it was called BRIGHT STREETS OF SODOM, I would've taken the job. Beggars can only be choosers if they're in the union.

Well, it was a 1930's period piece and we shot in a downtown nightclub called the Tower only three or four doors down from the Orpheum where I worked on Friday. I wore the same damn suit I wore on Monday and Tuesday ("Criminal Minds"), Thursday (CHRONICLES), and Friday (SPIDER-MAN). Once again, there was smoking on the set, so that, combined with my sweat, has to make the suit smell like a damp gym sock filled with string cheese. It's my only suit, though. What can I do?

Compared to SPIDER-MAN, of course this was a low-budget shoot, but there were still forty extras, a dozen dancers, Bijou Phillips, and enough of a crew that there were always at least five people sitting around doing nothing. That's something I've never understood, but is all part of show business, I suppose.

The crew was very cool, though, with a lot of young guys with entertaining t-shirts (one said "Department of Redundancy Department," which got less funny as the night progressed, and another said "I AM NOT A GEEK. I am a Level 12 Paladin."), and wacky hair.

Quite the opposite of CHRONICLES, where they told me not to put anything in my hair and brush it out so it looked somewhat mop-like, they greased my hair down with some waxy pomade, and I was quite taken with the effect. They bent my shirt collars up and gave me a cravat (is that the word?).* We were just nightclub patrons, enjoying a performance, and they even gave me a cool walking stick with a round brass head. It wasn't hard work either (I've been lucky this week), but it sure was a long day--longer even than the twelve hour days I had on Thursday and Friday.

I don't want to call Bijou Phillips a diva, but she does have to replace Tim Allen as the most difficult star I've seen on a set. When I first heard her shouting in her sqeaky, unnaturally babylike voice, I thought, "This has to be the most demanding child actor I've ever heard of. Is that Dakota Fanning down there?"

I don't have time to go into it right now (it's almost three in the morning, just getting home from the shoot), but I do want to share this:

Right before Bijou shouted, "I hate every one of you!" a couple extras and I were chatting our time away, introducing ourselves, etc. One of the guys said his name was Eric, and a lady asked if he spelled it with a C or a K at the end. He said with a C, and always found the K spelling to be strange. He then told us he once met an Eric who spelled his name with a Q. "Why would you do that to your kid?" the lady asked. "Right," said I, "It's almost like naming your child Bijou or something." "Exactly," the lady said, "What the hell does Bijou mean anyway?" "Oh, it's French for 'mov--'" I started to say, but another girl interrupted me. Deadly serious, she said, "It's French for 'bitch.'"

Jan. 30, 2006

Today was better. True, we went until three instead of two, but we started hours later. Either due to luck or my own physical deformities, I hardly worked at all tonight, and nearly finished my book. When I did work, it was more of the same nightclub stuff as yesterday.

One of the Thirties ladies I was partnered with mentioned that a male friend of hers had also worked SPIDER-MAN on Friday, and that it was an awful experience. I was curious, having so enjoyed myself, and asked what was awful about it. She said he told her they had to sit for hours, listening to a sappy, lovey-dovey song and watching Kirsten Dunst make doe eyes at Tobey Maguire. I don't know if I was out of line, but I suggested her friend had a little dick. She laughed, but did not disagree.

I don't know if I've ever detailed the daily life of an extra (and I won't do it here if I haven't), but after one has gotten their pay voucher (and had their name crossed off the list), the first place we go is holding. After that, it's off to Wardrobe, then Hair & Makeup (sometimes different departments, usually the same). All Wardrobe gave me both days was a tie (the same one), and makeup did paint me lightly. As I said yesterday, on CHRONICLES, they told me in December not to cut my hair or my sideburns, so when I finished with that this weekend, I quickly ran to the barber and had myself sheared. Today, though, I was taken to task for cutting my hair off by the Hair lady (who turned out to be the same woman who gave me my hair command for CHRONICLES). She told me I should always leave enough hair so the departments could do stuff to it (whether brush it out or comb it down or trim it or add to it), and that I now had "the haircut of a five year old boy." For some reason it bothered me.** I had felt good about my hair for one whole day.

Gabriel Mann is one of the stars of the film, playing the nightclub owner, and he'd gotten his sister a role (which mostly consisted of standing around in a cocktail dress). The other star, Elias Koteas (who's in the upcoming SKINWALKERS, the werewolf movie Stan Winston was so excited about), was in some kind of strange leather armour yesterday (mayhaps the film is not set in 1939 after all). Both of them were friendly guys, especially Mann, who I guess I've seen in a couple of flicks and didn't know it.

The holding they kept us in was the balcony of the theatre. It was pitch black, and it was uncomfortable, so while I mostly slept and marked up an old screenplay yesterday, today I listened to the radio and crept to the (lighted) stairs to read my book. It was still semi-difficult to see, and I would wake up the next morning with an annoying crink in my back. But I'm trying not to complain.

Music-wise, it was a slow, soulful, sad number tonight . . . what I believe is commonly known as a torchsong. And it was not sung by Phillips. We were told to be transfixed by the music, and after several hours, I wondered if maybe we looked zombified rather than captivated.

Regardless, that is now over. I suppose I should go to bed.

Rish Bijou Outfield

*The clothing was fine, but several of the girls had to have their tattoos painted over. Guess there weren't a lot of whoremarks in the 1930s.

**Maybe it's because, if you've ever seen me naked, you know I have a lot in common with a five year old boy.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Spectacular Spider-fan

January 27th, 2006

Excelsior, true believers! Unca Rish is here with a semi-update about today's work.

Just lining up to check out on SPIDER-MAN 3. Except for one embarrassing and/or humiliating moment, which I may not elaborate on, this has been a nice day. I need to grow a thicker skin, really--

You know what? Today WAS a very nice day. That's better.

I love Spider-man. Since I was five years old, probably before you were even born, he's been my favourite superhero. I love the excellent, poignant work Stan Lee did way back in 1963 and how it continues to resonate with me today. And I have more Spidey comics than anyone I know (as opposite-of-impressive as that is*). I've adored him pretty much all my life.

I was such a fan that when I first moved to L.A., and had nary a piss to pot in, I worked on the first SPIDER-MAN for free. Then I was lucky enough to get to come back (and be paid) to be a high school student in the cafeteria scene (you know, where Peter catches the lunch tray and it gets all over Flash Thompson?). I've told many the story of how I felt the first time I saw Spidey in action that day (January 17th, 2001, it was), and once was moved to tears in telling a friend of how dear Gwen Stacy died.

I worked on the production the very first day of shooting SPIDER-MAN 3 back on November 5th, and here I am again. Honestly, I'm just glad to be a part of it.

Raimi was on the set again, still dressed in a suit and tie, while everyone else has jeans and t-shirts on, but though he dresses super-professional, he's a jokester and very entertaining to watch. He mocked Tobey Maguire a couple of times solely, it would seem, for the extras' amusement.

I found out a thing or two about the movie I didn't know, and I'm sort of hesitant to talk about it, since when I called my friend up, he wanted to hear absolutely no spoilers (our conversation ended up something like this: "I worked on SPIDER-MAN 3 today. It looks like it will be good. Kirsten Dunst is hot. So, what have you been up to?"). I have no heavy spoilers (except one, which I'll keep to myself), so will lightly talk about my day.

And yes, sad to say, Topher Grace is indeed playing Eddie Brock/Venom.

The scene we were shooting was at the beautiful Orpheum Theater in downtown Los Angeles (and how any building in Downtown can still be beautiful, I don't know), subbing for a big Broadway playhouse. It was much nicer than I'd expect it to be--after all, who really goes to plays anymore?--with lovely architecture and carvings on the ceiling and lighted chandeliers.

I was just an audience member, dressed in a suit (I brought my Spider-man tie, but they wouldn't let me wear it), sitting next to my buddy Mark. About half down below and three-fourths in the upper level were inflatable extras, with still over five hundred of us live ones spread throughout the theatre, moving according to where the camera was.

It's the opening night on Broadway of a sort of Irving Berlin Revue, and Mary Jane Watson sings the opening number, "They Say It's Wonderful." Peter Parker (looking like the same ole Tobey Maguire) arrives just before it starts and sits, oddly enough, on the front row (either he's moved up in the world since SPIDEY 2, or MJ got him those primo seats).

The curtains open and she's at the top of a black staircase with a sparkling electric starfield behind her and a fog machine below, dressed in an old-time (though almost too sexy to be worn in 2006) green silk gown. As she slowly walks down the stairs, singing, "I can't recall who said it, I know I never read it; I only know they tell me that love is grand," she gives Peter a little smile. Oh, and the heart melts.

Peter says something to the person next to him (the music cut out every time he said this line, to get a clean dialogue track), and continues to watch. Mary Jane finishes her number and we applaud. The camera sweeps across the audience and up in the balcony, where everyone is looking down at Mary Jane except for one person. He lowers his opera glasses and glares menacingly at Peter Parker. This is Harry Osborn's reveal in the film.

I came close to buying a digital camera on my day off on Wednesday, but decided against it when I found out I know nothing about cameras or their capability or what I'd be getting for my not-hard-earned-but-still-scarce dollar. Regardless, it's doubtful I would've had any Spidey stuff to show you had I bought the camera. They have been SERIOUSLY strict against taking pictures on the set, and warned against even bringing cellphones in, since most of them have photo capability now.**

They broke us several times to go back to our tent and wait while they shot other parts of the show. I dozed for about half an hour, and read my book. Right before lunch, I saw (Executive Producer) Avi Arad for a moment, and he was as friendly as ever. I asked him whether this was the opening scene of the film, and he, always closed-mouthed, said, "Somewhere around there." Later, from the sides, I found the dialogue was from page eight of the screenplay.

Kirsten Dunst, with her hair all up in a bun, was cute and personable, keeping herself amused while she did take after take of going up and down the staircase. It wasn't Dunst's voice on the guidetrack, but you could hear her singing along with it take after take, so it will at least look like she's really signing. It would be nice to hear give it a try with her own voice, but if they were doing that, it would probably already have been on the playback.

Tobey's stand-in looks just like him. People were speculating that it was his brother, but there's something so humiliating about that possibility that I discount it. James Franco I said hello to (even though we're not supposed to) and he looks the same as ever. I really like what they've done with his character, since I wouldn't even have thought to have him back in SPIDER-MAN 2.

The day was long, especially for those who showed up at five or five-thirty (in retrospect, I wish I'd have been one of them, since it's the end of the month and my bank account is not exactly full), but it was reallllllly easy work, even for us.

At the end of the night, when everybody--even the lowliest non-union extra like me--was making really good overtime, people were bitching and complaining to no end. Indeed, the people on the row behind me produced so much whine . . . it would've drowned Earnest and Julio Gallo.***

Sometimes it is tiring work to be an extra, especially--and this is somewhat hard to express, when after all, we are in show business, surrounded by the rich, handsome, and famous--since we are sometimes reminded that we are not people, not important pieces of the puzzle, but just human props, no more integral to the production than those inflatable ones who simply sit, noncomplaining, all day beside us.

To be honest, I could've sat there all night, hearing that song play and watching Kirsten Dunst go up and down those stairs. And not just because she was lovely, but because it was SPIDER-MAN 3.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Rish Outfield

*Which reminds me of something Kristina said back in the day. It freaked me out for almost a year. I think I'll write an essay about it . . . maybe for Valentine's Day.

**NEVERTHELESS, during one of the takes at the end of the day, a flash went off among the background, and the A.D.s freaked out about it, saying there would be hell to pay if it happened again. It didn't, but there is a picture out there that somebody took of Kirsten Dunst in the green gown . . . somewhere.

***Which I realise is a dated and unfunny joke, but I couldn't think of anything better. And believe me, I tried. I thought about drunkards, other winemakers, or celebrities that drank themselves to death, even of Jesus, but no inspiration came.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Chronicles of Outfield

January 26, 2006

I haven't been writing much the last few days. I have a really good book and there hasn't been much of interest in the last few days. I worked on "The King of Queens" and it was fun, well-organised, with very good food, and I got to chat with Mr. Robert Goulet. That was at Sony, in the stage next to where they are shooting a second sequel to a certain web-slinging superhero film. I longed to be there.

Also, I did two days on "Criminal Minds" at their own little stage in Culver City. That too was well-organised and enjoyable. The A.D.s let us govern ourselves, and I spoke with one of the stars, Shemar Moore, who has to be THE most approachable actor I've encountered in my travels. Pretty much everyone there was cool. I saw actress A.J. Cook, who I've not liked in a couple of horror films, and decided that, given the chance, I would do her. Mandy Patinkin, who I really wanted to meet, I glimpsed for a brief moment, but was always busy, so no signed PRINCESS BRIDEs for this boy.

I was going to work on "The Office" yesterday, but Steve Carrell got sick and they canceled it (the episode, not the show). I told people he had the clap.

Today, I'm working on CHRONICLES, which according to the internet, they are retitling ZODIAC (a much better title). It's about the pursuit of the Zodiac Killer and is directed by David Fincher. I was supposed to have worked on it at the beginning of the month, and it didn't work out, so I feel I've been growing my sideburns out for nothing.

Today's scenes take place in 1971, at the opening of DIRTY HARRY in San Francisco (a special SFPD screening) and we're shooting it at the old Mann National Theater in Westwood. I'm writing this on a napkin. Here tonight are Dylan McDermot, Chloƫ Sevigny, ETERNAL SUNSHINE's Mark Ruffalo, and tyranist's object of heterosexual desire, Jake Gyllenhaal. We're shooting in the big, block-sized moviehouse that's showing BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, which must be strange for Jake. They've changed it so it looks like 1971, with period colours and cars outside, posters for KLUTE and MCCABE & MRS. MILLER on the walls, and a fifteen foot cardboard cutout of Eastwood, but they've blackened out his face and the sign says "Harry Callahan is 'Dirty Harry'," where the actual posters say "Clint Eastwood is 'Dirty Harry.'" Guess it's a clearance issue.

The weirdest thing is that they're having people smoke in the theatre, which I found disgusting and never saw before. Only 1 out of 15 people has cigarettes, but since they're period, filterless smokes, they make a stench like that of Beezelebub's taint.

Did they really let people smoke at the movies in those days? Were there Non-Smoking sections and Smoking sections like on airplanes and at McDonaldses? Did only certain theatres allow smoking? I know the whole "Cigarettes are bad" thing is a relatively new phenomenon, but it's so revolting. I just can't imagine going to see THE SOUND OF MUSIC or GONE WITH THE WIND or SOYLENT GREEN and having someone puffing away in the row behind me. I know they're paying us extra for being around it--even the non-union maggots. For that I'm glad, but I may have to dry clean my suit to get the smell out.

A third of the theatre is us actual live extras, done up with sideburns or bad Seventies hair. The other third is inflatable people with wigs on. I haven't worked with them since FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS, so it was nice to see 'em again. They keep having us move to make the giant theatre appear full, and I was stupid enough to leave my notebook, novel, and radio at the holding camp, not knowing we'd not return until eleven or so. A long day to do nothing except sleep or watch the flickering lights that simulate a movie (and induce seizures, of course).

Once I was in front of the hottest babe there, then I was briefly next to an old man who was smoking, then right behind a kid chain-smoker, but he broke his ashtray and after he dropped ashes on the theatre floor he was told not to smoke. So I've been lucky. It's now six pm and they broke us for lunch, but before that I was in the same row as Jake Gyllenhaal, about five people away. I made a friend on the set of "The Sopranos" (he taught me how to play Spades and we've talked on a couple of sets since), and he sat three people away. He's a talented artist and is creating his own comic book called "Raspy the Hangman," a kind of effed-up Frosty parody. He lent me a pen to write this with. Friends are cool.

Aside from my dislike of ALIEN3, I really like David Fincher. I brought the DVD insert to FIGHT CLUB and tried to work up the courage to go ask him to sign it (some people are just easier to walk up to than others). First, I had to find out what he looked like. He was much older than I had guessed . . . or maybe only older-looking. We're all getting old, it would seem. Finally, I approached him during lunch and he signed my sleeve, "Why? David Fincher."

No clue.

Tomorrow I am excited to return to SPIDER-MAN 3. I hope to have many cool experiences on that set, like I did on the first one. I hope the Topher Grace Venom rumours are only that. I hope that they don't do anything untoward with my favourite dead comics character, Gwen Stacy (I love her). I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I'll be sure to give you a report as soon as I can.

At the end of the night, they shot a scene down in the lobby, and I was stuck in the theatre itself talking and playing Hangman with my new pal Jonathan. They finally called me and nine others downstairs and had us do crosses (where you pass in front of the camera--in the background or foreground--to create a sense of movement or busyness for a scene) right behind Ruffalo and Gyllenhaal. I crossed from one side of the lobby to right behind the "video village," which is the cutesy term for where the director sits to watch the goings-on on the monitor*. We did twelve takes that I counted, with director Fincher prompting the actors to change things up each time, whether saying their lines differently or ad-libbing new lines. But looking at the monitor's playback over Fincher's shoulder, I was witness to just how ugly a person I am. Dear Saint Agnes And The Burning Train, Paul Walker I am not! By the sixth take, I thought I looked like Steve Buscemi being hit in the face by a waffle iron. Three takes later, I suspected that my character was heading for a bell tower. By the eleventh take, I should've been walking through the London streets crying "I am not an animal!"

I'm here to make you feel better about yourself, kids.

They wrapped us soon after and I had to battle to get checked out promptly. I actually had a pretty good time and there was plenty of overtime, so except for my personal appearance, you'll get no complaints from me. Today.

Rish "Narcissus" Outfield

*See, yoo evin lern stufff bye reeding thiz enformitive blogg.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Bo Knows Videos

January 21st, 2006

I worked my first music video today. I sort of hope it's my last.

Today I worked on a music video that was as inefficient as the day is long (and it was a very long day). They did pay in cash, however, which is better than a couple of the gigs where I have not been paid. Which reminds me, I guess I ought to call them again. It's always something. If it's not one thing, it's another . . .

I had sort of heard of Bo Bice in a nebulous, vague sort of way. I assumed he had won "American Idol" last year or the year before. Turns out he was a runner-up.

Regardless, it was his first music video too.

At first it was fun, since the huge crowd (300 plus people) thought it was going to be a short day.* The song wasn't bad, and Bo seemed friendly (sort of a Country-Rock guy, and totally gung ho to repeatedly pretend to sing his song in front of crowds of adoring fake fans). But as the hours stretched on and the sun came and went and still we sat there, people started getting grouchy and ready to leave. Most of the time we were shooting in an alley between two warehouses downtown in Los Angeles. First the alley was cold, then once the sun rose high enough, it became warm, and by the end of the night, it was back to cold again.

The track was called "The Real Thing," and was catchy enough I thought I would download it when I got home. Around noon, I was pretty much convinced it would be a hit song, and by one-thirty, I was SURE that Coca-Cola would use it as their new jingle someday soon.

Unfortunately, after hearing it again and again and again and again (about eleven times more times than the goram Foo Fighters song two days ago), I not only hope Coke doesn't use it, but I don't want to ever hear the song again, even if my gruesome face is all over the video.

The director was a young man, but if he wasn't, I'd be sure he was the same guy who did "West Wing" the other day. People were friendly, the girls were beautiful (I recognised many of them from "CSI:Miami," the Aleve commercial . . . and my own fantasies), and a lot of us really got into it, dancing around, jumping and waving our arms in the air, and eventually even singing along.

At one point, though, one of the guys leaned over and said, "Dude, this is totally that song by Avril Lavigne." Sure enough, the chorus of "Complicated" fit PERFECTLY over the chorus of "The Real Thing." Strange.

When we weren't shooting the video, we were all sitting in a coldish empty warehouse and around six o'clock, the water ran out in the honey wagon toilets out back. You can see why some people didn't count it among their favourite days of the year.

It was seriously inefficiently run, and terribly understaffed for how many of us there were. Also, because they were paying us in cash, the wait to get checked out stretched off into infinity. First they had us line up to hand in our paperwork, then they gave us numbers (I assumed, if they gave us numbers, they'd be checking us out in numerical order), then they ignored the numbers and wrapped people alphabetically. I have NO DOUBT there are people with last names that start with W or Y that are still in line to be checked out.

Because it was non-union shoot, we realised, the crew could keep us just as long as they wanted. They were paying no overtime, no meal penalties, no bumps, and because it was non-union shoot, we realised, the crew could keep us just as long as they wanted.

So, what seemed like a cushy, easy gig in the morning, ended up trying the patience of every man, woman, and in-between at night.

But I'll say it again: it still beats working.

Or wearing a leprechaun suit, come to think of it.

Rish Outfield

*They had told us we'd only be shooting until the sun went down, so while that's not a super short day, it's still a reasonable one.

Friday, January 20, 2006

January 19th, 2006

I had a fitting in the morning, and it was so short (it practically took longer to park than to go through the whole process), that I called my agency to see if they had any more work for me.

A couple of hours later, they called to see if I would head to Valencia to work on "The West Wing." Valencia is to the north, way up past the L.A. County border. It was a Rush Call, which is where somebody didn't show up for a gig and they call someone to replace them at the last minute. Sometimes these pay extra (they say you can get union work that way), but I've never been that lucky. I may just have one of those faces.

They were shooting in an airplane hanger, where the Air Force One set is (I peeked into the huge set, though we weren't using it that day, and longed to work in it). There was a big convention hall set up with balloons and election decorations, along with many of us dressed to vote and celebrate (I got one of those goofy old-time white Styrofoam hats like barbershop quartets wear).

I mentioned when John Spencer died that I had worked with him before. His character, Leo McGarry, is running for Vice President alongside Matthew Santos (Jimmy Smits), and I had worked as a Santos staff member, a reporter, and a Santos supporter. I was the latter again, and this was the big election night episode. For drama's sake . . . spoilers ahead . . . they decided to have Spencer's character Leo McGarry die on election day.

Amid this somber scene, the band Foo Fighters is playing at the election results party. Janeane Garafolo interrupts the song, saying "Congressman Santos has a statement he wishes to make." He comes up and mentions Leo's passing and that, while it's sad, the election is more important than any one man. It was a long speech, and except for the thousand year old Fuyvish Finkel, nobody I've seen has a worse time remembering dialogue than Jimmy Smits. But he actually did alright.

At first, it was somewhat touching (though I thought it was more heartfelt when the A.D. came out and told us what the scene would be about and how it was a moving scene for the crew and they required our understanding). The director however, was infuriating, doing take after senseless take--of the entire scene mind you--until Smits actually did start to flub lines. It was really cold in the hanger--the coldest indoor set I've been on--and as the hours went on, people got grouchy and unhappy.

I like Jimmy Smits. I was a big fan of "L.A. Law" as a kid and absolutely loved one of the sketches he did when he hosted "Saturday Night Live" around that time (my pal Dennis and I never said the word "enchilada" the same after that). There was a middle-aged fat woman standing in front of me who had no idea who he was and we argued over whether he was a handsome man or not (she said she much preferred Antonio Banderas). When Smits came by, I grabbed at the woman and said, "Okay, here he is, I'll introduce you. You can let him know that he's not a good-lookin' guy." She seemed horrified, as if I were seriously going to do this thing. Ah well.

There were a lot of us--maybe seventy--and as the sun set and the scene went on, people might have lynched the director (some of the extras were getting angry even at the Foo Fighters for "playing" the same song over and over again.

We shot more later with Bradley Whitford and the blonde woman, and this too, took take after take after take. Not sitting in front of a monitor watching what the camera sees, we can only note when someone stumbles or forgets dialogue or gets distracted. I can only imagine what went wrong for the director to continually call for more takes (they were using a Steadicam, and I've been on countless sets with one that didn't require multiple takes).

Later, we did another whole scene with Whitford talking on the phone, and even I (having arrived hours after everyone else) was on double-time by then. It was past midnight when we were released, and luckily there was little traffic to keep me from my drafty little apartment.

Now that it's in the past, it doesn't seem so bad, I guess. There are hard days (like this one or on SPIDER-MAN 3) and there are easy days (like SANTA CLAUSE 3 or "Malcolm in the Middle"), so I suppose it balances out.

Rish Outfield

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

January 17th, 2006

Worked on the dread “Gilmore Girls” today. I survived. Compared to Lucky the Leprechaun, playing a Bat Mitzvah attendee was a cakewalk.

It wasn’t that bad, actually. But to be fair, neither of the “Girls” were on set today.

Maybe I'll add more later, but today really wasn't all that interesting. If I may be so bold as to infer that my days are ever interesting at all.


Sunday, January 15, 2006

Lucky Enough For Now

Jaunary 13th, 2006

Day two of the pre-Golden Globes luncheon get-together giveaway spectacular was very similar to day one. I left a couple of hours earlier, still missed my turn and had to drive around until I realised my mistake, and parked in roughly the same place. When I arrived, most of the booths were just setting up, so I had a few minutes to look things over. Mostly, it was products for the very rich that serve no practical use, such as a forty-five dollar cloth dog collar.

Since I knew the day would be longer, it was with gritted teeth that I put on the thick costume and stifling head again. Due to yesterday's soreness, I started out in pain, and gradually eased into discomfort. I didn't suffer so much that I had to "go to my happy place," but I did have to concentrate on breathing and avoiding back and neck pain by reminding myself that in a few hours it would be over and I would never have to do this again.

I had been told that today would be much busier and I'd be lying if I didn't say I was hoping to meet some A-list stars (or even some B-listers, why not). And it was a little busier than on Thursday, but not overly so. There were, however, even more hot chicks this time, though not as many celebrities as they led me to believe. Mostly soap and reality program personalities, as well as lower-tier actors on shows like "CSI," "Prison Break," "House," and "Entourage."

Two implausibly-cute sisters came over and posed with me. I put my arm around one of them and because I couldn't feel anything in my oversized hands, I didn't realise where my left hand was. Her sister laughed and mentioned, after the picture had been taken, that I had my hand on her breast. Apparently the girls, Courtney and
Ashley Peldon, are part-time actresses and full-time socialites, but to their credit, are much more attractive than the other two sister socialite teams.

A huge Maori-type guy came by and instead of posting with me, scooped me into his arms. When he said his name, I recognised him as Sala Baker, who played various parts in the LORD OF THE RINGS movies. He was very cool, but in picking me up, he popped part of my headpiece off, so I had to go back and adjust it again.

It was an ordeal to get back to where I could fix the head, since they decreed that I wasn't to be seen without my head on (I guess that would spoil the magic for the three children that made their way through there each day). Every time, I had to be led out of our room through the doorway, out of the salon, and down the hall to where the waiting room was (my visibility was so bad that when I tried walking through alone, I hit my head on doorways and tripped over a bed).

In examining the head, I discovered another tab that had been loose the whole time, causing further discomfort and awkwardness. Once I snapped it into place, the damn thing was much more comfortable than it had been.

Hilary Duff's sister Haylie came over and hugged me. Had I known who her sister was, I might have hugged her longer.

Because I couldn't take my head off in public, the people who came to the back room or saw me after the show were surprised by my actual appearance and were vocal about it. It was as if someone saw the STAR WARS Prequels and, in doing the math, were shocked that Darth Vader was not a forty-five year old Hayden Christensen when he took the mask off,* but instead, a feeble, crusty old white man. Luckily, they didn't treat me like I was the Elephant Man or the Phantom of the Opera and most of them were very sympathetic to my situation.

There was one guy, though, who took five or so pictures of me with the mask on, then followed me and took . . . jeez, maybe thirty pictures with the mask off. Heck, it might have been more than that, since he filled his digital memory with it. He told me he was going to use one of the pictures for his St. Patrick's Day card, which makes sense.

Wait a minute, St. Patrick's Day cards??

Back on the floor, Andy Dick came along and took pictures with me twice. I'm not sure what level a celebrity he is.

Finally, it was breaktime. I went into the waiting room, sat on the couch, and took off my outfit. I started eating my lunch, when suddenly, one of the Lucky Charms girls ran in exclaiming, "Quick, get your suit back on; Adrian Brody is here!"

So I did. I hurriedly stuck everything back on and waddled out in front of the booth again.

Adrian Brody, Oscar-winner and star of KING KONG 2005, took one look at me and said, "No, I don't want a picture with Lucky." Then he walked away.

He was the biggest star to go in there today, unless you count Tori Spelling.

Brody was also one of only two people who wouldn't come to our booth or be in a picture. The other was Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He wouldn't come over because he claims he doesn't eat sugar. I considered asking him if he ate blood, sex, or magik, but he couldn't have heard me in the leprechaun head anyway.

I did see Jeff Daniels, who was in DUMB AND DUMBER, a fine film, and told him so.

There's really not tons to tell about my experience. I went into much detail with yesterday's post, and I don't feel like spending much more time to basically say, "It was more of the same." If more comes to me later, maybe I'll stick it in here, but it really was more of the same: standing, sweating, posing, hugging, and waiting.

Last to show was the illegally attractive girl who plays Pocahontas in the new Terence Malik film. Her name is unpronouncable, let alone spellable**, so I just called her Pocahontas. She didn't seem to have a problem with that and was very sweet. Unfortunately, by the time she came by to eat some cereal, my superiors told me I could head for the changing room, and I didn't argue.

I was given some of the free stuff from other booths, as well as all the Lucky Charms I could eat (which is six boxes, I believe), and people were very cool to me, which I appreciate. In the spirit of full disclosure, which I'm sure you demand, I did tell them if they needed help in future promotions to give me a call. Famous last words?

Rish "Charmed" Outfield

*And that's generous math, imagining that Luke and Leia are already twenty by the time STAR WARS begins.
**It's Q'Orianka Kilcher, if you must know.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

even more pics

The Lucky Charms booth gang

Rish with Lisa Edelstein from TV's "House."

Isaiah Washington and Rish

Little shot of Courtney Peldon and me.

Rish and the one child who did not fear him . . . recreating the poster for E.T. (THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL)?

Michelle Deighton and Lucky. See, I told you!

more pics

Still trying to get the hang of this.

Melissa Rivers and me.

Mario Van Peebles, star of JAWS: THE REVENGE and yours truly.

Rish with Eighties Sorta Rock Star Tiffany

This is me with Bobbie Sue Luther. Unfortunately, I cannot recall who she is.

Michelle Deighton and me.

Rish with actress/socialites Courtney and Ashley Peldon.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Feelin' Lucky

January 12th, 2006

I was in the middle of chatting with my pal tyranist about my lack of work today when my phone rang. It was a guy from my booking agency, telling me there was a gig for me if I was still available. I told him I was and he said that they needed me as soon as possible to do a promotional gig at a pre-Golden Globes party in Beverly Hills. "Okay," I said. "You don't have to take it," the semi-agent said. That had never been said to me before, so I said, "Wait, what is it?" He told me it involved wearing a costume and some people might not be comfortable with that. I told him I would wear a James Brown costume at a KKK rally, so he said, "Okay, you've got it, then," but by his tone, I knew something odd was up. But ah well.

I drove across town, missing my turn and circling for ten minutes, but eventually making it to Chevy Chase Drive, where there was a Golden Globes Hollywood Buffet (or that's what it was called, anyway. There were no golden globing or buffets going on). As I walked toward the entrance, I saw Chris Kattan yapping into a cellphone--a portent of things to come?--and went inside. I still can't explain what was going on in there. Apparently, people were registering for the Golden Globes dinner and awards show that happens on Monday afternoon (so it can air live on the East Coast that night), and there were several booths set up by different companies with free products to give the attendees. I never really understand why the mega-rich are the ones people always want to give free stuff to, but I digress.

Anyhow, one of these booths was for the greatest cereal the world has ever known, General Mills's Lucky Charms. Standing around it were two young women in tight blue Lucky Charms t-shirts, a man in a black one, a photographer, and a pregnant woman. I guess they have a new flavour, Berry (as in "Berry Lucky Charms"), and wanted to give boxes of it away to people who go without food by choice. And here was the costume . . . a giant Lucky the Leprechaun outfit, including mega-sized head.

You see, they originally had a woman in the suit that morning, but she complained almost immediately about neck pain and claustrophobia (and I'm sure there were kids always trying to get her Lucky . . . well, you know), so they called for a replacement. I saw the woman before she hobbled screaming to her car, and wondered why they'd have an eighty pound middle aged woman in the costume to begin with. Little did I know that she had shown up that morning as a morbidly obese twenty-two year old. Before the dark times. Before . . . the costume.

I was told what to do, then told to put on the costume. It was as follows: baggy styrofoam pants, tiny zip-up vest, suspenders, big green jacket, scarf, four-fingered flesh-coloured gloves, and giant head, complete with hat and shamrock. The head was difficult to get on, even more difficult to see out of, somewhat difficult to breathe in, and almost impossible to wear in a comfortable way.

But I am the type to give it my all, whether it was shattering one of my mother's wedding glasses for a comedy video (to be honest, it wasn't supposed to break), eating peanut butter and mung for a fellow film student's entrance film, or baring my naked arse for my own, and I vowed not to complain, give up, or pass away while there was a job to do.

My job, pretty much, was to stand there, at the Lucky Charms booth, and look adorable, something I'll admit I've no experience doing. The others were giving out samples, as well as gift boxes, of the new cereal. I stood in our corner, waving at people, peering out of the costume's mouth, and posing for pictures with whoever wanted one (I'll try and post some of those today and tomorrow).

What I couldn't predict was that a) there would be so many attractive women there, and b) that they would all want to take a picture with Lucky the Leprechaun. I've had fantasies where I saw less action than today.

First, it was fairly predictable. Both women and men put their arms around me, I got a few hugs, and a Germanic model babe gave me a kiss (two great things: she actually asked if she could kiss me--like that's ever happened before--and second, she said, "He is a leprechaun for cereal?" in the exact same accent as Frau Farbissina on AUSTIN POWERS). Comedienne Kathy Buckley molested me a little, but I'm sure the picture was good.

I really tried to give it my all, waving and posing and dancing around (anything to keep the air circulating through the mouthhole), and I guess I was quite impressive, because they complimented me a lot and asked if I could come back tomorrow. They told me they'd pay me double my normal rate, and I didn't argue with that.

The booths spread both inside and out, with jungle decorations (including trees, fake animals, and a mix tape of various songs, from "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," "Welcome To The Jungle" and "Lime in the Coconut" to "The Circle of Life," "The Bear Necessities" and the theme to RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK). I was unable to see well enough to walk around (even assisted, I tripped once and hit my head on doorways and a chandelier) and wasn't allowed to walk around without my gargantuan head on, so I didn't know what was happening outside our room (which had booths for lingerie, European Designs clothing, and Wonderbra) until it was all over.

It was a very casual environment, and a great many of the people there had brought their dogs, whether on leashes or carried around like a certain celebrity who shall remain nameless. All in all, I saw only three children, and two of those were afraid of me. Mostly it was young women, some gay men, and a few couples.

I didn't recognise many of the people there (a lot of them were assistants, or musicians, or in daytime soaps). Kevin Sorbo was the biggest star we saw for the longest time, and he was quite friendly. Before that, the only person I recognised was Mario Van Peebles, and when the girls asked me what he'd been in, I could only think of JAWS: THE REVENGE.

Next came Nicole Eggert, who just this week I referred to as a Former Celebrity in a new HFC review of a flick she was in, DECOYS. I have to admit to having something of a crush on her way back in her "Charles In Charge" days, but I can't say I'd been attracted to her in a dozen years or so. Until today (she looked pretty good).

A guy, flanked by a cute blonde, walked past and I peered at him through my small viewport. It was Neil Patrick Harris, television's Doogie Howser. He was wearing an Ozzy Osborne t-shirt, and though the rumour has been that he's gay, he was holding hands with the blonde girl. When I pointed out I'd heard the gay rumours before myself, but he sure didn't look gay to me.

All this time, I was in varying degrees of discomfort inside the suit. It wasn't terribly hot, but the whole damn thing was damp with sweat by the end of the day. The oversized shoes made me clumsy, and the gargantuan head made me even more awkward. The head just didn't want to balance on my somewhat-scrawny neck, and the skullcap which I had tightened as well as I could kept shifting and wobbling on my scalp and forehead (it's past midnight as I type this and I still have a scuffed pink patch below my hairline). I have renewed respect for the poor souls at Disneyland who must parade around in the hot sun in costumes such as mine, with thoughts of sweet death or possible sex from Furries their only solace.

Luckily, no pun intended, the girls at my booth were kind to me, often asking if I was alright, and the attention from the various female attendees kept me going.

One of the hottest was a chick who was apparently on "America's Top Model" and exuded sexuality like I must exude . . . antisexuality. She had reddish-brown hair and bit my ear when we posed for our picture. Since I couldn't see that, it was only when she wiped my ear off and explained that I knew. Later, she went to the exotic underwear booth across the room and actually tried on one of their bra and panties sets. It was all I could do not to walk--er, stagger--over and demand another photograph.

The way I rate celebrities goes like this: the men are judged on how talented they are (and that includes acting talent, comedic talent, athletics, or just plain likability), and the women are judged on how attractive they are (and that's pretty self-explanatory). I tell you that because, after the sun started going down and the day was coming to a close, a buzz started up that zillionaire heiress and sometime actress Paris Hilton had arrived. You woulda thunk that the orphanage had been told that Santa Claus was on his way, the crazed reaction that spread through the building. My team was almost giddy with anticipation of giving Paris Lucky Charms and hopefully, of getting a photo of her with Lucky.

Irritatingly, we were told beforehand of the rules of conduct Princess Paris required of those around her: people could not approach Paris, she had to approach them, no one was to hug, kiss, or unprofessionally touch her, no one could ask her to come over or ask her to pose for a picture, and no one could videotape her having sex with night vision lensed (okay, that one I made up myself, but it seems logical). The people around me were so intimidated and excited about Ms. Hilton and there was much discussion about what could be done and how they could get her to come over if they couldn't approach her. I leaned over, gigantic head suffocating me, and said, "I'll just wave at her and signal her over." They seemed to think this was genius, but I guess they were just too starstruck to not have considered it.

The countdown commenced, and by this time, my head hurt, my neck was sore, I could barely breathe, I was sweating, and even my legs ached. Finally, Paris showed herself, dressed in her usual revealing sundress and indoor sunglasses. She went from booth to booth, just like a normal person, picking up free stuff, and was no different than the other attendees, except that she had an entourage around her and nobody was taking her picture. As she walked by me, I waved and held out a bag (with cereal and a t-shirt in it), and she came right over. Being inside a seven foot costume is incredibly freeing, and as she took the bag, I just put my arm around her like she was a normal person. As soon as I did, the photographer popped up and snapped a picture. She was looking in the other direction (there was a guy with a video camera in the corner), so he took a couple more.

As far as Paris Hilton goes, I guess she's attractive, but I'd say around sixty percent of the women I saw today were more attractive than her (though none were more famous and none could possibly have been more rich). She didn't grab me, hug me, or do anything you'd think someone of her reputation might do. Instead, she seemed a little bored, which I guess I understand, considering her lifestyle.

Well, the photographer, pardon my French**, was absolutely jizzing in his jockeys about the Paris Hilton picture, predicting that it would appear in newspapers and magazines across the country, showering the man with so much cash he'll be able to buy a shower that runs on water and not just paper currency.

As soon as she was gone, the climate relaxed, and it was only a few minutes more before I was told I could go change out of the deathsuit--er, wonderful costume. I seemed to have survived my ordeal and really ought to get to bed, as they say tomorrow will be much busier and a longer day.

Wish me luck,

Rish Berry Berry Outfield

*I've hated crap like this since 1995, when local nobody musician Kurt Bestor had handlers briefing people on his Cher-like rules of conduct.
**French . . . Paris . . . pun not intended.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Summer in January

It's the beginning of January and I'm at the beach, in shorts, sandals, and a t-shirt. And people wonder why I moved to L.A..

I'm on the set of "CSI: Miami" today, whihc completes my CSI baseball card collecion. We're shooting some beach scenes and an awesome sequence where I'm a spectator watching a women's volleyball game, one of the volleyball players makes a dive for a ball . . . and discovers a dead body under the sand. Reminds me of every Sadie Hawkins dance I ever went to.

The bad news, for me, was that I had to get up at 5:25am and drive out to the beach in Marina Del Rey. It's January, so it was cold until and hour or two after the sun came up. Now it's a wonderful 68 degrees and just sunny enough I will be beet red tomorrow for SANTA CLAUSE.

Oh, the good news, I almost forgot. The good news is that there are more hot chicks in bikinis than I have EVER seen in my life. There are about a hundred guys and two hundred girls, and while not all of them are beautiful, there are plenty of curves on display, and a couple are Top Tier gorgeous.*

I suppose the male extras are attractive too (or most of them). You may not believe this, but I am literally the fattest guy in the whole bunch. Yes.

But fear not, I have resolved to lose some weight in this new year (actually, I haven't, but I'm resolving right now to do so), and when I saw that Craft Service had brought God's own ambrosia, Krispy Kreme donuts, I didn't eat a single one. Nope. Though I now wish I had (donuts are goooooood). We'll see if I can say no two days in a row.

I chatted with a couple of hot girls (the neat thing about talking to extras is that most of the time, they can't walk away, once they've been placed in the scene). A lot of these girls are really cool, to be honest. And that's nice, since attractive girls usually find it easy not to be. There's also a lot few visible tattoos than I'd have guessed.

We shot until sundown, and it didn't seem too long. All in all, a good day. I'm even a little sunburned.

Oh, and I never went to Sadie Hawkins. Darn it.

Rish "Beach Boy" Outfield

*Referring to the girls, but hey, the curves are too.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Live long and . . . feel good.

January 6th, 2006

Seems like just yesterday I was talking about the death of "Star Trek" (not sure if I did that here or not). It would be nice if that franchise were to come back in some way.

Today I worked on a commercial for Aleve. Commercials are nice because they usually pay more than films or TV shows. But this was a special commercial, to me, at least.

I'm going to make a confession to you . . . something I think I've only told one other person: my father is Keyser Sose.

No, actually, the confession is, the reason I first signed up to be an extra, was so I could be on "Star Trek." There was some kind of Star Trek FAQ I discovered around 2000, and it mentioned that to be an extra on "Star Trek," you had to register with Central Casting. So the moment I got fired from whatever job I held at the time (it was neither the first nor the last time I'd be fired), I went on down to Burbank to register with Central Casting and qualify to go boldly where . . . well, you know.

Thinking back, I guess "Voyager" was the only Trek on TV, but that show was quite difficult to get on because its premise necessitated that there be the same extras week after week (much like "Lost" is now, I suppose). I never got close to being on that show, and when "Enterprise" started up, I think I had already moved on to a new (and menial) job. I guess there was NEMESIS--I know a couple of guys who were extras on that--but it too came after I'd stopped doing extra work.

I'll admit that my love for "Star Trek" has waned in recent years (that's easier than admitting that I love "Star Trek," I suppose), but I was quite excited when I found out I would be playing a guy at a Star Trek convention for this commercial. It was shooting down at the Long Beach Convention Center, and it was another big call of around two hundred people.

"If you have a Star Trek or Sci-Fi costume, wear it!" the information line announced (the Aleve people must have made some deal with Paramount). Sadly, the closest I have is a Doctor Frank-N-Furter costume my mother made me for Halloween two years back. And even if that qualified, I've gotten much too fat to put on the fishnets again.

I did get a STAR TREK: NEMESIS t-shirt for attending the opening of that worst-of-all-Trek-films*, but I have kept it in the trunk of my car alongside a pair of torn pants, extra socks, underwear, shoes with a hole in one, and a big bottle of cheap cologne. So I dug it out, ironed it, and wore it to the shoot.

I was one of only a half-dozen or less who actually wore Trek-related clothes. The rest wore normal clothing or Wardrobe provided a vintage Trek t-shirt, an ill-sized uniform (though there were two hot girls they squeezed into form-fitting jumpsuits), or a generic Sci-Fi outfit. There was also one Klingon, one Ferengi, one . . . what were they called? Like Major Kira, one Vulcan, and one Borg. These trademarked aliens were semi-professionally done, and all were paid extra to be made up that way.

Most memorably, however, was a fat, balding guy with sideburns and the most ridiculously tacky Seventies Buck Rogers/Flash Gordon-type space robe on. He looked so indescribably gay (sorry, I searched for a more appropriate word and found none) that in the end, I had to draw him, rather than describe him. I put him with his arms outstretched, ribbons of sunlight coming from his chubby head. "San Dexter, Patron Saint of Geeks and Nerds," I christened him. Hopefully, he'll catch on in some way and I can light votive candles to him next time a superhero flick comes out or I feel the need to put on WRATH OF KHAN.

I've only been to one Star Trek convention ever, but let me tell you, there were more hot babes in ONE SEAT at today's mock convention than EVER attended a real convention. To be fair, I'm sure the male attendees were exponentially handsomer at today's gathering also.** I'd say that only one in five of the extras was "appropriately" dressed, and was informed that only those pre-selected, Union extras, will actually be seen in the commercial.

The ad tells of one Leonard Nimoy, who, due to muscle ache and/or arthritis, is unable to repeatedly make a certain gesture that he made famous. But here comes Aleve, a glorious medication that does wonders for his sore hands, and when he comes on stage before his anxious fans, he's able to spread his fingers and drive us into a frenzy of elated, almost orgasmic, appreciation. And that's it.

Nimoy looks good for his age (though not quite as spry as the great William Shatner) and came out time and time again do his scene. While I'm sure Aleve paid him a princely--even obscene--sum, he carried himself with a quiet dignity (that Shatner has never seemed to need) and was impressive in his patience and ability to laugh at himself.

We weren't required to do much but stand, applaud, pause, then erupt in applause. Because there weren't enough of us to fill the convention center, we had to move to various sections of the auditorium, to be comped together in post-production. It took a while, but it was actually one of the easier shoots I've been on. And there were many familiar faces, including my friend Hagopian (Mark). Not to mention the hot chicks and Nimoy himself.

We didn't even have to work that late in the day, and I had enough time to go see MUNICH afterward. Today's commercial may be the closest I get to fulfilling my aspiration to work on "Star Trek." It sure beats working for a living, that much I know.

Rish Tiberius Outfield

*Yes, worse than THE FINAL FRONTIER.

**At the con I attended, I was disturbed, rather than elated, to find that I was among the more attractive convention-goers in the audience. Yes, me.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

January 5th, 2006

Back on SANTA CLAUSE 3 today. I didn't do a great deal, except watch a musical number in which Jack Frost (or Santa Frost, as they're calling him) sang a rousing "North Pole, North Pole" to the tune of Sinatra's "New York, New York." Many apathetic elves, deemed "Elfettes" danced around him, which was funnier than anything Martin Short did. I saw many of the same faces as yesterday and was briefly given a little Aryan boy as a son. It didn't work out, though, and he was taken away from me.

Once again, I was not on time to the set. I guess I need more near-death experiences to fix my priorities.

Or near-life experiences, actually.

The highlight of the day: Martin Short closed a door on an elf during one of the earlier takes. Afterward, the star said, "I just crushed a child. Did you see?"

Said elf went on to deliver the best performance of all the elves. Hopefully it will make the DVD.


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

North Pole Confidential

January 4th, 2006

Alarm didn't go off this morning. I don't know why, exactly. I awoke with a start, instinctively aware that I'd overslept. In the kitchen, my alarm was on zero, but no sound was coming out. That had never happened before. I may have to stop somewhere tonight and get a new one.

I called the man who booked me (he answered personally) and he told me to get on over to the set anyway. On the drive overon the 10 Freeway, I was worrying about it (this was a big-shot casting director and this was the first project he'd booked me on) and mentally beating myself up, though it was no more my fault than the extinction of the dodo bird was, when an old codger in the lane to my left turned on his signal, then moved into my lane. He was right next to me--so close I could see that he was an old codger--and I mindlessly swerved out of the lane. I don't know how close he came to hitting me, these things always seem a millimeter off, but I was damned lucky there was nobody in the right lane for me to hit into, especially with morning traffic. After that near miss, I cared a lot less about oversleeping and getting on Bill Dance's tish list. Funny how life can do that.

Initially, I was booked on the new David Fincher movie CHRONICLES today--I'd even had my hair cut for it--but that was canceled yesterday for some reason, and I was booked instead on THE SANTA CLAUSE 3. I didn't know what to think about that. I loved the premise of the first S.C., even though I'm the opposite of a Tim Allen fan, and I didn't see the second one.

I'm in Downey now, at a big ex-aircraft hanger, and except for missing out on two hours' pay, I don't seem to be suffering for my lateness. We're supposed to be at the North Pole, so I'm pretty bundled up (not compared to yesterday, though). After Wardrobe, they actually sent me to Makeup, where I got a working over. It had been a long time since I'd had makeup put on me (not counting the experience of Oliver Stone's September 11th movie*), and I don't imagine it did much good (kind of a Band-Aid on a bullet-wound sort of thing), but it felt nice.

There are a lot of extras here today, half of them kids, and some of them are made up as elves. Elves are cool. My buddy Merrill married one, but she was from Canada, not the North Pole.

There are so many of us that instead of calling us all to the set, they've been asking for volunteers. I didn't volunteer earlier because I was writing this, but maybe I'll do it now.

Okay, there's WAY too many children on this set. Sure, they're professional kids, and not prone to running around and screaming and killing and such, but there are supposed to be 400 (that's four hundred, folks) of them today, and that's about 370 more than I can handle. The scene is set in some kind of Christmas-themed amusement park at the North Pole, with rides and photo ops and toymaking and shaved ice. It's quite magical, even if Spencer Breslin is here, as fat as ever. I saw Tim Allen briefly, but feel nothing about him one way or another (even though he was "in" 1995's best movie).

The only scene I worked in, I was a parent waiting in line with my family to get our picture taken in one of those cardboard cut-out things. I was given an unremarkable-looking boy with longish hair to play my son, and as I spoke to him briefly, I became more and more convinced that he was actually a girl. I guess I should've asked her name.

They just fed us and now the children and elves are having some kind of Arts & Crafts session, which booted me from where I was sitting. An old guy was watching EPISODE III with his grandkids, and he let me watch the deleted scenes with him. While interesting, I didn't feel these scenes were as great as those cut from EPISODE II. I was at Circuit City Monday and they had REVENGE OF THE SITH on sale for $13.99 and I weightilly considered buying it. EPISODE III is the only STAR WARS movie I haven't purchase on the day it came out. If you know me at all, it's absolutely mindblowing that I haven't bought it at all, but I just didn't enjoy the film. I have since begun the arduous process of training my mind to think of STAR WARS as three films again. It's an uphill climb.

I don't know if I need to go into this or not, but a bad installment of a movie franchise does not stand alone . . . it damages the series as a whole. The awful third MATRIX film and the uneven second one sully the first film. Really shitty Freddy movies make the whole ELM STREET series, including Craven's inspired original, weaker. An abominable ALIEN RESURRECTION leaves an ugly stain on Ridley Scott's and James Cameron's excellent films. If you disagree (and I recognise that a lot of people do), just as STAR TREK: NEMESIS how that franchise is doing.

But enough unpleasant conversation, let's get back to Santa Clausing. We shot an extensive later scene on the North Pole set. An ancient idol of mine, Martin Short, is playing a phony Father Christmas (I guess he's Jack Frost masquerading as Santa), and was all but unrecognisable in the hair, suit, and makeup. I have to admit that my taste for Mr. Short has soured since the Eighties (and meeting him a couple of times at LaserBlazer, the video store I used to work at). Still, he wasn't a TOTAL ass, so I should endeavour to like him once again.

In this scene, I was given a beautiful, dark haired daughter to take pictures of and hang around with. She was preternaturally lovely, but also WAY too smart for her age, the kind of hyper-intelligent maturity that is only cute in children named Simpson or Rushton. She was nine years old, but very still, quiet, and professional, even though she claimed this was her first acting job. She used words like "supposedly," "outspoken" (though she really meant "outgoing"), and "not necessarily" twice. The lass was adorable, though, and I'm sure she'll soon learn to pretend to be dumb, since it's so much more attractive.

Still, it's weird--in just an hour with her, I did feel some sort of connection to the girl (and not in a pedophillic way, either). I enjoyed wandering around with her and felt protective of her, trying to shield her from the streaming masses of kids, crewmembers, adults, elves, and Christmas Tree People that scurried through the set as if Easter Egg hunting. When it was time for us to part, I was just a little bit jealous of the many parents waiting to hear their kids excitedly tell them what we'd done. A strange statement from someone who claims to hate children.

Or is it? After all, taking my own little sister to be an extra on a Kirsten Dunst movie years ago was a highpoint in our relationship. Now she's all grown up and juggling two jobs, three boyfriends, and a drug habit, with very little time to be a kid at my side like the old days.

Because of child labour laws, they dismissed all but a handful of children before the final shot of the night (the "martini"). I was given a mulatto child, but when she was taken away, I was instructed to pretend there was a kid beside me. It was now something like three adults to every one child, including the elves, so they placed the children up front (there were actually a couple of dwarfs walking among us for that last shot).

After that, it was time to go home, but amazingly, I was recalled for tomorrow. I'm pretty happy about that, even if it is way down in Downey. We'll see if I can actually make it on time then.

Unca Rish Outfield

*Did I tell you that they refused to pay for the makeup, wardrobe, and prop bumps on that project? After ruining our bags, my shoes, and making us seriously uncomfortable, they did away with our bumps just as they did lunch on those days. I guess that anti-SEPTEMBER woman was right.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

First New Year's Post

January 3rd, 2006

Well, kids, I'm back in the saddle again. Here we are in sunny California (Pacoima, to be exact), and back in the extras life (on "Commander In Chief," to be exact). I got the call to do this show on my vacation a few days ago (the first one longer than a week I've taken in three years), and was delighted to hear that I'd be playing a sniper. The other two times I'd done the show, I was a White House Press Corps reporter. But now I'm at the Pacoima Airport (who knew they even had an airport?), dressed in the most extensive costume I've ever had the pleasure to wear.

I've got black boots, t-shirt, jacket, flack vest, belt, elbowpads, kneepads, gloves, ski mask, and helmet (where's the pink neckerchief, though?), but unlike some of the other outfits I've worn (like World War II-era soldier uniforms), this one is pretty darn comfortable. Even the boots are nice and padded. I was about to say, "I could sit in this one all day long"--and then I realized I most likely will.

In a getup like this, even I look cool. Maybe I should've asked for a digital camera for Christmas so I could stick pictures of myself in my wardrobe on the blog. Ah well.

There's apparently a bomb aboard Air Force One (or right below it) and we briefly shot a scene where we four snipers rushed to the base of the plane and accompanied a suited man and a amazingly busty babe reporter to safety. The two attractive civilians were descending the plane's stairs, but Air Force One itself (herself?) will be digitally added later. We were given rifles, belts, holsters, walkie talkies, pistols, and microphones with earpieces, but almost no direction. They basically said, "Get in formation, run over there, then quickly walk back," and that was it. We rehearsed it once, shot it twice, and then broke for lunch.

Since that time, the sun has gone down, the temperature dropped, a bunch of extras have gone home, and I've begun to dislike my knee and elbow pads (they cut off my circulation). Perhaps the uniform is not as comfortable as I'd originally proclaimed it. But I'm still being paid mostly to sit here, writing, reading, eating Oreos, and even sleeping.

There's a fair chance I'll be recalled on Thursday and Friday. I wonder how I'll feel about that then.

After night fell, we worked in two more shots. In one, we stood beside police cars and trained our weapons on the general area of the bomber. It is the first time I've ever seen a human being through a rifle scope, and I have to admit that it was an appealing sensation. Still, it reminded me of childhood Lazer Tag battles rather than genuine potential bloodletting, so I suppose that makes it okay.

The other scene was when the bomber finally gives himself up. We and the Bomb Squad foursome rush at him, surround the man, and then take him into custody. This scene we rehearsed a few times, then shot maybe four takes of before hearing the blessed words "That's a wrap!" from the First A.D..

I was second-to-last getting changed and checked out, mostly because the darn wardrobe took so long to get off and hung up. There was a fat German sniper named George who finished after me, but he was so friendly that no one gave him a hard time. Hard to believe, I know.

I've gotten quite weak in my old age, because it sure seemed cold out there tonight. Except for the Bomb Squad guys (who were bundled up in so much gear you'd think they were giving a vaginal exam to Fairuza Balk), we snipers had the most layers of clothes on, and I was still shivering.

Wasn't it the late, great Fred Rogers who said, "Light a man a fire, and keep him warm for a night. But light a man ON FIRE and keep him warm for the rest of his life?"

It was good to come home, where it's still cold, but I've the unhealthy glow of my computer screen to keep me warm.

Rish "Happy New Year" Outfield