Trapped like an ugly little spud in a Containment Unit as our DP glanced over the new sets to check his lighting on camera, I attempted to dart out of sight behind a metaphorical chandelier in an effort to finish copying my blocking notes and grab a quick breakfast. “Penny, could you sit in the restaurant set for me?” our DP caught me temporarily in his photon stream.“Um, I’m HER this morning, so I just need to finish my notes; but I’m all yours in about a half an hour!” I smiled pleasantly with a mouthful of sausage, egg, cheese and biscuit sandwich, hoping to buy myself and my fellow Second Teamers our much needed (and scheduled) thirty minutes of prep time.
“OK!” he grinned happily as he is wont to do.
And scampering back to Craft Services for a side of bacon (as I’m won’t to do!), I overheard one Gloomy Gus as she eyed the extravaganza of foodstuffs laid out before us.“Uck… There’s NOTHING to eat that’s GOOD” she whined, bypassing sterno trays of eggs, egg whites, sausage, bacon, bagels; platters of fresh pre-cut melons and pineapples, bowls of yogurt, granola, tater-tots, assorted berries and heart-healthy oatmeal; not to mention an actual human being who had been hired to freshly prepare individual Belgian waffles upon request, who offered fresh bananas, strawberries, powdered sugar, butter, margarine and TWO kinds of syrup.
“There’s no turkey bacon?” Gloomy Gus scoffed, as if this personal travesty was somehow everyone else’s fault that happened to be within earshot.
Hunh…Talk about an ugly little spud!
Despite the alert from my AD the night before, and despite having read the script changes for the following day, nothing ever really prepares you for performing scenes with someone new on the set who is, by all accounts, a Hollywood Legend.“Could you feed me that line again, Pen?” our Guest Star whispered quietly to me, to properly set up his joke for the entire Crew standing in front of us.
“Yes, of course” I responded equally quietly and professionally (all the while, internally repressing some seriously career-ending Ethel-Mertz-Squealing at the fact that he had called me “Pen”!!!)And feeding him the line, he delivered his first joke as only HE could possibly do whilst the Crew naturally erupted in genuine laughter.
“Thanks, Pen” he smiled. (!!!) “Do you mind if we run the lines one more time?” he asked pleasantly as the cameras and booms rolled down the stage to the next scene.“I’d be happy to” I nodded most amiably (trying terribly hard to disregard the out-of-body experience of hovering overhead and watching myself run lines with a Ghostbuster!!!)
>>><<<“Pen-nay” my AD hollered as I obligingly scampered onstage. “Our Guest Star might like to go over his lines before we pre-shoot the first scene” he whispered, giving me a quick dart of the eyes and a sideways head-tilt towards The Legend who was sitting alone patiently in an unlit set with his script.
“Yes, of course” I replied (with yet another repressed squeal!) as I calmly sidled into the chair next to our Guest Star. “Would you like to run the dialogue?” I asked casually; confident that as we had already performed three scenes together (!!!) he’d feel comfortable either way, knowing full-well that I’m not just some whack-a-doodle nut case fan trying to be near him.After all, I’m nothing if not totally professional when it comes to my job.
“Can’t we just drop a movie quote or two out there, and see if he laughs?!” my Inner-Ethel battled for her God-given right to gush at a Movie Star.But quashing Mrs. Mertz as necessary, I continued to go over the script with The Legend a couple of times until he appeared at ease with his cues. And frankly, I kind of knew I could walk away at that point; but to leave a Ghostbuster all alone in the dark without a photon laser just felt wrong!
“Say out loud; “Listen… Do you smell something?”” my Inner-Ethel pummeled my pea-brain in a desperate struggle to bubble to the surface.“So how long have you known our lovely Leading Lady?” I inquired; smartly getting out of my own meddling Mertz way and gently guiding the conversation towards our Guest Star and whatever he wished to share with me. “And didn’t you appear on an episode of “Normal, Ohio” with John Goodman?” I queried politely (having been a stand-in on that show as well).
“Good memory, Pen!” he laughed as we nonchalantly whiled away the time.>>><<<
With the announcement that we were finally only minutes away from shooting, I allowed my Inner-Ethel ONE small gush as to my appreciation of The Legend’s other business of producing a certain Crystal Head vodka that I’d purchased a while ago (only the itty-bitty size), that I’d popped in the freezer and had spread out over a couple of days like a delectable appetizer vis-à-vis my usual cheap hooch.“I gotta say that was DELICIOUS, Dan!” I shared with my new BFF.
“Thanks Pen!” he smiled, patting my arm briefly before walking onto the set.“That’s GREAT! Actual physical contact! Can you move?” my Inner-Ethel giddily quoted our visiting Ghostbuster, infinitely pleased with her self-restraint. “Of course, you might have mentioned that ten bucks for the itty-bitty sized vodka seems a bit PRICEY…” Inner-Ethel elbowed me frugally at a missed-out voddy opportunity.
>>><<<Gathered together in front of our elephant doors outside the stage painted with our logo, our cast and crew (and a few Executives from the cable network) smiled pleasantly for our Season Two photo.
“That’s terrific!” the silver-haired top Exec shouted out of the blue. “But let’s take just one more, to see what you all look like knowing that you’ve been picked up for TWELVE MORE EPISODES!” he shouted jubilantly as we erupted happily.>>><<<
Finding myself in the presence of our Gloomy Gus later in the day, I was asked my opinion as to our “good news” she smirked with finger air quotes.“I don’t understand” I replied honestly, mentally savoring the meal of twelve more weeks of gainful employment this fall after hiatus.
“Uck…” she rolled her eyes in disdain. “I just hope I book a Network show before then” she sighed.
“I hope you do too!” I smiled enthusiastically!
>>><<<To the Belgian Waffle Man, may I please apologize to you on behalf of Gloomy Gus? You did a fantastic job, and please know that all your hard work and thoughtfulness did not go unnoticed or unappreciated.
To The Legend Mr. Dan Aykroyd, I thank you for your kindness, your wonderful sense of humor and for treating this humble stand-in like a true Co-Star.And to Gus… Let me know if I can make any calls for you; because for me, this week was mostly AWESOME!!!
Living in the Ectoplasm Cosmos of Gratitude,~Happy Little Spud P
(Completely unrelated, but working on the Sony lot last year, my friends and I stumbled upon "ECTO1" patiently waiting for its return to the silver screen.)