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.

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