Monday, October 22, 2012

A Happy Halloween Tail?

With my High Holy Holiday of Halloween approaching, I would’ve been remiss not to take advantage of the sales, plus I probably would’ve suffered some serious delirium tremors at not getting my yearly fix!
After all, if you know the first thing about me, my home is my sanctuary, and whilst the rest of the world may update their living environment on any given day, I’m somewhat limited to a short window of time when all manner of delightfully spooky accoutrements are trotted out on display.  (Yes, I confess to a once-a-year needle in my arm…!)

Sure, the fixation was temporarily quelled at a Rite-Aid store with the purchase of a tiny shelf dweller skeleton wearing a Mardi Gras mask and cuddling a black kitty (for only $3.00?):

But soon thereafter, I found myself on a full-blown Target binge!
There was a glow-in-the-dark skull and crossbones pillow!  There were even luxurious embroidered hand towels to spruce up my bathroom!

Not to mention the world’s greatest ever throw rugs that were reversible?  (Hello?  One for my bathroom and one for my kitchen?  Awesome!!!)

And whipping out my Debit card to pay for my yearly upgrade addiction, I didn’t even flinch at the total of seventy-six bucks for my purchases.  After all, we’re approaching my High Holy Holiday of Halloween wherein I feel most connected to the rest of the world, and I couldn’t help but smile stupidly at the local Smart and Final cashier later that day; a daunting scythe-wielding skeleton draped in shrouds, hovering ominously over his conveyor belt.  Joy!!!
And once again, my world made sense!

Halloween?  There’s nothing really scary about it!  Embrace it, I say!!!  (She typed innocently the week prior to the Holiday…)
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

Walking onto the stage early on a Monday morning, I blanched at an oncoming awkward moment that was inevitable as I encountered one of our Executive Producers in the tiny pathway to and from Craft Services.  (Now THAT, I find to be scarier than any Halloween movie ever created.)

“Good Morning!” I may have unnecessarily shouted (as I think his ‘good’ ear was further away, but I could’ve been wrong…)
“Ya gotta BIG part to play today, Pen” he responded; his comment trickling eerily up my spine to all the little hairs on the back of my neck.  And glancing down at the cover of my script, I noticed that he had personally written the episode.

“Well, thanks for your faith in me!” (???) I smiled, never entirely certain as to how to interpret the enigmatic minds of the Powers That Be.  Were they words of camaraderie and trust?  Or had I just been threatened with being fired if I sucked?  Plus he called me “Pen”, as though we’ve been BFFs all along?  (I didn’t think he even knew my name!)  “I’ll do my best” I offered cheerfully.
“Uch, I’ve heard ya do the accent a million times, and you’re funny” he waived me off with a flip of his hand and without a further thought beyond scarfing down his plate of bacon and eggs.

(Um, Fear Level, minimal?)

Now, as a Stand-In, I’m quite accustomed to the appropriate amounts of respect towards, distance from, and tact with our Cast.  I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again now, but I understand my boundaries and limits as to being visible yet invisible as necessary ala Casper the Friendly Ghost. 
That said however, I was required to fill in for a Guest Star, whom despite enjoying a rather meaty role, she was currently unavailable for the day.  And requested to sit side-by-side with the Actors at the table-read, I complacently took a seat to enact the part of our lovely Guest Star, who has to mimic the accent of my Gorgeous Actress.

Slightly anxious as I may have been initially, I must admit that table-reads are BY FAR the least terrifying experience for me as an Actor.  You bury your nose in the script, you deliver your jokes as written and you’re done!  EASY-PEASY!  And getting a feel for the timing of the laughter before you put the scenes on their feet, you learn when to speak, and when to shut up.  It’s not Rocket Science!
(Again, Fear Level, minimal.)

So not surprisingly, my day was going swimmingly throughout rehearsals.  I had multiple shared dialogue with my Gorgeous Actress (well, that was sort of bizarre as I normally Stand-In for her), but working out our comedic timing together, I was feeling relatively confident as the day progressed.
Tackling the first couple of scenes during our Network/Producer/Writer Run-Thru, my heart soared with joy as the Powers That Be laughed in all the right places!  Oh, they were ROOTING for me to do a good job!  Oh, I hadn’t tanked any of their jokes!  Oh, I would still be gainfully EMPLOYED!!!

Attempting to finish a scene wherein our Guest Star was directed to take my Gorgeous Actress’ dog (HER REAL DOG!!!) out of her arms, I fumbled a bit at grasping the sizeable girth of an eleven-year-old, deaf-in-one-ear, cataract-suffering, feeble-legged, twenty-pound (I think I’m being kind in regard to her heft) Chocolate Pomeranian, as I attempted to balance the rescued (and extraordinarily pampered) pup on top of my script from the arms of my Gorgeous Actress – all the while trying to clasp said canine, whilst trying my best to discern the boundaries between scooping up the doggie belly, without accidentally including our notoriously bra-less Actress’ breasts in the exchange. 

(Fear Level now escalating towards acute discomfort and unease.)
And somewhat bastardizing the dialogue (in my defense, I’d planted the puppy’s ass on my page, as I would prefer to be fired for ruining one line, as opposed to the guillotine I’d face if I accidentally made that helpless doggie yelp!!!), I attempted to smile (in absolute TERROR) as my Gorgeous Actress STARED ME DOWN as scripted for the day; her baby, cuddled in my arms…

“And, CUT!” our Director ended the scene, as my Actress softened, warmly reclaiming the enormous mass of her canine companion.
“She’s just a butterball, isn’t she?!  Mommy LOVES her daughter!  Yes she DOES!” she cooed affectionately to her pup, giving her belly kisses, as I wiped a bead of sweat off my brow.

By all accounts, the rest of my week appeared sunny and delightful!  Certainly there would be NO more horror stories, as our Guest Star was available on Wednesday through Friday, and I could happily return to my Casper-like invisibility!

With re-written scenes flooding the stage (as usual on our show), our Fearless Leader attempted to get ahead of the Zombie-esque stalking of our brains being eaten by all of the slow moving twists and turns of the script.  And throwing Second Team in head-first (if you will), we attempted to block as much as possible for cameras.  Sure, the dialogue was undoubtedly subject to change, but (and I don’t have the power to read our Director’s mind, yet the impassioned determination to find an ounce of dominance over a set that’s so cock-blocked (pardon my language) by the Powers That Be), come Hell or high water, our Director was determined to get SOMETHING accomplished on his own terms!

And as our ever-so obedient Second Team performed to the delight of our Director, we actually had a decent grasp of a show – even with a newly written scene which involved the delicate choreography of a bitchy, mud-slinging cat fight between my Gorgeous Actress and our Guest Star!
Oh, I could finally put my feet up after an eleven hour day (twelve, if you count lunch) and rest comfortably on my laurels!

“Wait, wait, wait!” my Gorgeous Actress suddenly stopped all production.  “Who remembers when I crossed stage left?” she wanted to know as I barreled onto the set with my script as a back-up plan should anyone higher-up have failed to take note.  And singling me out, she made the Executive Decision to watch me perform her blocking and remind her of the moves she had made earlier that morning.

“G’head Pen” she smiled.  “I need to see it, to be reminded” she nodded sweetly, as the entire crew fell ominously silent.
EEK!!!  (Fear Level at DEFCON ONE!!!)

Ever-so-tiny as my pea-brain may be, and ever-so-nervous of the random occasions when I’m relegated to perform a scene FOR my Actress AS my Actress, I sucked it up to the best of my ability as she watched my movements and kindly endured my impersonation of her.
“OK!  Most of that works for me!” she beamed.  “Thanks Pen!  I really appreciated that!” she smiled warmly as I IMMEDIATELY scampered into the shadows.

And nestled comfortably in the darkness with my crew, I welcomed the heartfelt blessings of two camera operators and a camera tech who all hugged me.
“Ya do great work kid!  Don’t let nobody tell ya otherwise!” my pal Vito patted my back.

(And just like that, Fear Level?  ZERO!)

Tired yet wired after a thirteen hour day, I retreated to my sanctuary to embrace my Halloween purchases, including two spectacular picture frames that I’d not yet filled.
And pulling out the first one (elegantly painted with spooky spider webs), I selected a photo from my Hollywood archives over six years ago:

(Yes, that would be the Divine Reba McEntire, the hilarious Melissa Peterman, myself, and the ever-so-handsome James Denton!)
But staring at the second frame, I couldn’t quite imagine what might fit into the tiny 2”x2” shadow box…

However, as The Universe tends to pay more attention to the obvious that we sometimes overlook, my eyes were drawn (for whatever reason) to a small plastic Ziploc bag I keep near my purse – a go-to packet of photos should an Earthquake hit and I have mere seconds to grab a handful of pictures of my family and other loved ones.  And just who might be staring at me on the top of the pile?
And with peace in my heart that I’d finally stumbled upon an appropriate frame during my shopping frenzy, I lovingly inserted my favorite pic of my heroic feline sidekick Pretty, lounging happily inside one of her favorite plastic baggies.


Celebrating today – which would’ve been our 17 year anniversary since her adoption – and every day this week on my first hiatus, (!!!)
~Casper the Fearless, Friendly P

Monday, October 15, 2012

That Gentle Touch

Pouting like a forgotten Valentine and stewing all alone, Cecilia (my 1997 Toyota Tercel CE), sat brooding on the roof of the parking structure at work, reflective sun-shield still held in place by her visors from the morning glare as the night swept dewily over The Valley.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry” I apologized profusely to my automobile.  “I thought we’d be done sooner, but camera-blocking took a long time, and we had FOUR pre-shoots!” I winced.  “I know it’s late, I know it is dark outside, but it’s not like I was carousing at a bar.  I had to work!” I explained logically.  And tossing my skull and crossbones backpack onto the passenger seat, I happened to notice that her right front tire seemed low on air pressure.

“Really?  You’re taking a passive/aggressive stance?” I sighed, knowing full well that I was facing a bumpy ride over the canyon into West Hollywood, wherein she would randomly give me the silent treatment and go all fuzzy with her radio.  Yet as if that weren’t quite enough, turning over her engine, Cecilia immediately blared a magnificently terrifying night-time orange “check engine” light (for the hundredth time in our relationship).

Negotiating her successfully into our parking spot at the bat-cave, I let Cecilia know that we had a late call the next day (Friday), and that (fingers crossed with the love from my new ADs), I’d be out early enough to treat the old gal to a trip to Jiffy Lube. 

“You DO realize we were just there six months ago, and you haven’t even hardly been driven for the last four months (except to McDonalds Drive Thru, of course); so you’re welcome!” I snarked sarcastically, blowing a kiss to the slamming of her door.  “And turn off your ‘effing check engine’ light!” I stomped away petulantly, already feeling guilty for going to bed angry…

Piling into my automobile at 9:30am, I couldn’t help but notice that Cecilia was still irate.  Clearly she had festered all night, and despite the cooler temperatures the following day, she continued to blare her garishly orange warning.
“I should be done with my sit-com today around 3ish, and I’d be happy to take you for a check-up” I attempted to appease my Toyota.  And only a few hours later, I returned to her side, to live up to my promises of taking care of my car.

With her “check engine” light off, her veins full of new oil, her other vital fluids (if you will) topped off, and her tire re-inflated to standard PSI, we tooled happily around the neighborhood together to run errands.
Oh, she was purring like a kitten!

And treating her with the respect of informing her that we were back to work Monday, and that we’d be headed over the canyon at 8am, Cecilia wheeled into our spot, gung-ho to prepare for the day after the weekend.
Now, odd as it may sound, we actually perform a Network/Producer Run-Thru on Mondays on my particular show, and as notes were being given, I was once again, lovingly released from the stage early that afternoon.  (!!!)  So with the soaring gas prices in Los Angeles (and gauging Cecilia’s belly at right about a half a tank full), I thought I’d continue the Glam Treatment of filling her up out of courtesy as part of my ongoing mea culpa.  (Plus, twenty bucks is waaay easier to stomach then coughing up $45 a pop if I waited any longer!)

Unfortunately however, approaching the pump, I made the classic stupid-girly mistake of not pulling ahead far enough to actually open the car door with a cement pole next to me.  And needing to move Cecilia one foot further, I attempted to turn over her engine which patently flat-lined in front of me.

“I’m trying to fill up your tummy!” I pled to my automotive friend.  “What the heck?” I tried again and again and again.

I’d just bought her a new AAA car battery in June, so THAT shouldn’t be an issue…  And sure, she’d been mad at me for driving at night…  But, REALLY??? 
Was it my Fate to spend the rest of my days pinned inside an immobile Toyota, unable to escape lest I clamber over my purse and work bag out the passenger door, or suffer debilitating paralysis in all manner of an imminent frenzied-panic-attack attempting to dial 911 and be extracted by the Jaws of Life??? 

But trying ONE LAST TIME, she cranked up properly, and allowed me to motor her carriage ahead before I shut down her ignition.  “How much more love can I give you?” I sighed to her, pushing the button on the pump to print out our receipt.  And hopping back into the driver’s seat, I nearly wept as Cecilia once again, dramatically REFUSED to budge.
Plodding into the gas station attendant’s bullet-proof cubicle, I hung my head in shame as I attempted to explain the awkward situation of my Diva refusing to move.  “I just filled up my tank, but my car withered and died.  I have AAA roadside assistance, so I hope you can bear with me as my car is stuck there at your pump until they arrive?”

“It died right here?” he restrained a giggle.  “No worries!” he laughed at the irony of an automobile taking its last breath at a Service Station.
Oh bother…!

But blanketed by the ongoing Protection of my Mom and Dad in Indiana, I whipped out my AAA card to request some help.  All I had to do was call Triple A, remind them that I had bought a car battery from them in June, and wait patiently for a truck to arrive to make Cecilia “Go”.
Unfortunately, as I’m still painfully challenged by the technology of my new cell phone, it took me about 15 minutes to figure out how to dial a number that doesn’t currently exist in my “contacts” file.  So, pulling out my AAA card, I slid my QWERTY board open to access numbers, dialed the number on the keyboard, made it to Step Two of declaring that I was not in the area of Indiana or Illinois, slid my QWERTY shut, vocally declared that I was in fact in California, narrowed it down to West Hollywood (ooh, I was on a roll!!!), and even ALMOST made it to the next step, until I was asked to type “1” or “2” for a specific service.  And sliding out the QWERTY once again, I apparently accidentally hung up.

AWW, C’MON!!!!!!
Second time around, I got so far as to enter my whole AAA number (leave the QWERTY out!  Leave the QWERTY out!), and was promised a tow –truck driver (should Cecilia need more than a jump) within a half an hour.

And THIRD time around, I was notified that the AAA driver was behind schedule, and may not arrive for yet another half an hour.
Meanwhile, plopped on my ass on a curb in the shade of the gas station sign, I nursed my Diet Coke from work and contemplated lighting up a frustrated ciggy.  But playing the scenario out in my head as the entire block exploding from gas fumes, I thought better of the idea…  And eventually seeing the AAA tow truck make his way into the lot, I waved cheerily to the driver to direct him to my car.

“Tell me what happens” he queried (with a German accent?) from his rolled-down window, eyeballing Cecilia.  And explaining her erratic behavior to him, he demanded I surrender her keys, to which she apparently immediately felt the Life Force of Dr. Frankenstein turning over her engine on the very first try.
“What the Hell?” I blathered.

“Ze car has a bad starter.  Take it to mechanic and replace” he dismissed me, heading back to his truck.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, can you at the very least pop the hood and show me what you’re talking about?” 

“I do zis all day, every day.  I KNOW ze bad starter.”  And with that, he was off.
NEVERTHELESS, Cecilia’s engine was running, and despite mundane errands (why aren’t they ever finished?), I drove her immediately to my visit my friend Jose; a brilliant mechanic whom I’ve known for over twenty years, and who has never ONCE tried to sell me anything that I (or my car) doesn’t absolutely need.

“What’s up, Pen!” he smiled as we hugged each other warmly. 
“I guess Cecilia needs a new starter…” I patted her hood affectionately, re-telling the tales of the day, credit card at the ready.

“Well, let me listen to her” he smiled (Cecilia’s very own Cardiologist!), taking a seat and stopping/starting her about twenty times with different configurations of her gear shifts.  “Let me pop her hood and have a look too” he added, double checking all of her connections.  And hopping again into her driver’s seat to confirm his suspicions, Jose assuaged all possible worries.
“Her starter sounds REALLY great, and Toyotas – even the older models – are seriously hard to beat!  She may have become a bit temperamental with age (as we all are! (he laughed!)), but let me show you a little trick” Jose pointed out.  “And I won’t even let you leave until you prove that you can do it” he added protectively.  “Go to start your car” he advised (as I did so).

“The next time Cecilia doesn’t start immediately, pull up the emergency brake, turn the key until all the dashboard lights are on, and then slide her gear into “Neutral”.  Now, put one finger on her gear shift and without touching the button, nudge it less than a teeny tiny space backwards as you twist the ignition.
“VAROOM!” Cecilia purred once again.  (Who the fuck knew a car could start in Neutral???)

Glomming on to my friend Tara at work (decades younger than me), I picked her brain for some technological advice should I find myself in any more precarious situations wherein I can’t figure out how to use my stupid/smart cell phone.

“Let me use your phone to call mine, then we’ll see if you can access a number pad on the touch screen to type in information or if it just locks up again, and whether or not you DO need to use the QWERTY” she fiddled patiently.  “OK, here’s you calling, which I’m gonna ignore.  Try answering the call, and then find the touch screen.”
And in yet another frenzied-panic-attack, I hit miscellaneous buttons and screens which seemed to accidentally erase all of my “contacts”.  CRAP!!!!!  Yet with two gentle slidey-tappy flicks of her index finger, Tara effortlessly restored my “contacts” to the main menu, as well as showed me how to edit my “home page”, which I’ve now proudly managed to include my setting for “tools” and my alarm clock!  HURRAY!!!

Oh, once again, my world began to make sense!
Wheeling Cecilia into the parking structure at work for yet another lengthy day of camera-blocking, I parked her on the fifth level at 7:10am, and respectfully informed her that I probably wouldn’t be done for the day until later that evening.  “No pouting!  I’m hoping to be finished around 8pm” I reminded her, blowing a small kiss to the sound of the shutting car door.

And with love in my heart, I tackled a particularly difficult day at work (my Gorgeous Actress occasionally unavailable), as our Director playfully batted me around the stage like a puppy chew toy as he contemplated camera options.  “Let’s try her over here” he postulated, as I scampered across the set.  “No, that won’t work for the next joke, so let’s try setting it with her at the upstage chair” he mulled as I scampered once again.   “Well now, she doesn’t have enough room for her exit line to herself!” our Director flustered as I stood patently docile and quiet.
Quite frankly, I didn’t give a crap if he made me do back-flips through a burning hoop whilst balancing a ball on my nose; because I had the distinct honor of performing a scene THREE times with none other the fabulous Florence Henderson.  (!!!)

And positively walking on air at yet another childhood dream come to fruition (I got to act with “Mrs. Brady”!  I got to act with “Mrs. Brady”!), I slid with all due buoyancy in Cecilia’s driver’s seat (uh-oh… sometime after 9pm…).

AWW, C’MON!!!!!!

For now, however, I think we’ve made peace.
Sure, Cecilia continued to pout as we headed to the bank the next day.  And yes, she blared her orange warning all the way Smart and Final for diet 7-Up; but pulling into the comfort of underground parking at Target, I stuffed her trunk with two bags full of delightful Halloween décor to upgrade my happy bat-cave; as well as one small  “Valentine” for Cecilia, who happily turned off her “check engine” light.

Remembering that a touch of kindness goes a long way,
~Gentle P

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Royal Treatment

Thrilled to receive my call time to return to work on Monday, I hung my head low subserviently I raced with all due excitement to retrieve a pen and paper to copy down my complete loss of autonomy for the loveliest summer vacation whatever-lived pertinent information!!!
Please don’t misunderstand kind readers – I know that I’m ridiculously fortunate beyond belief to have a career in a job that I adore and am honored to be working in television sit-coms!  Not one single day is ever taken for granted!

But I couldn’t quite ignore the pit in my stomach…
Yes, of course I was looking forward to the “Family Reunion” of my fellow Cast and Crew members (not to mention a steady paycheck after all of my STILL unresolved Unemployment crap!); but as far as Hollywood reunions go (which are generally rather flighty, as Crew members tend to wander like nomads from show to show), I correctly suspected that I’d be walking into a déjà vu of Thanksgiving last year.  (Don’t make me re-post that picture of moldy beans!!!)

“Great to see you!” a woman (who still doesn’t know my name) hugged me like she was my long-lost aunt. “Did you have a good summer?  Did you work?  Oh, I was sooo busy!” she sighed before I could answer, as she ladled out a plateful of breakfast.  “I was over at blah, blah, blah, until blah, blah, blah; then three weeks on blah, blah, blah, and I’m just EXHAUSTED!” she sighed, bugging her eyes out for full effect of her work magnitude.
“Well, good for you?!” I smiled, rather unsure as to a proper response.

“And you?” she wondered, finally taking a breath to nibble on her platter.  “What did you do this whole long summer?”
“Absolutely nothing…” I grinned with a shrug.

And not surprisingly, I received a very strange, confused look.

“We went to Costa Rica for two weeks!” one of my delightful Cast members shared his adventures with me as we gleefully reunited.  “The area that we travelled to is mostly geared towards tourists, so we had so much to do!” he beamed, sharing stories of beautiful exotic locations, riding zip lines, as well as loads of wonderful experiences with his family.  “We were basically busy the whole time!” he smiled.  “And you?” he wondered pleasantly.

“I didn’t do a thing!” I beamed, receiving the same mysterious look from him as from my “long-lost aunt”.  (What?  Did I accidentally grow a tail while I’d been hibernating for the summer?)

“Oh, I squeezed in filming a couple of movies” another Cast member shared wearily as we lunched together on stage.  “How about you, Pen?  How’d you spend your time off?” he wanted to know.
“Mostly I slept under the air conditioner with the blinds closed and atrophied for four months” I admitted honestly.  And waiting for the reactive silent response of utter bewilderment, I was delighted to see him actually smile at me, a nuance of envy twinkling in his eyes.

“Was it… was it… wonderful…?” he sighed like a teen-aged girl pining over hearing the tale of a girlfriend actually meeting Justin Bieber.
“Exquisite” I swooned, recalling the day that I accidentally napped until 5:30pm.  (Who knew that a bona fide movie star with a wife and two small children could ever possibly be jealous of my most humble life?!!!)

But all awkwardness and pleasantries aside, I was still a wee bit nervous at my return to the job.  My former ADs had effectively terrorized me that I never leave my Gorgeous Actress’ side, for fear that a Directorial note be given and I wasn’t within earshot.  I’d given up the luxury of bringing my aluminum water bottle to the stage as bathroom breaks were forbidden; and having been disallowed the standard of a call time a half hour early prior to rehearsal to prep my script, I’d become accustomed to having to arrive early to be prepared, as well as accepting the fact that I’d be texted every morning as to how long I would bear the pressures of BEING my Gorgeous Actress, followed by mentally preparing for the mundane idle sitting for no apparent reason for an eight hour day after Network/Producer Run-Thrus until my ADs were faced with paying us one red cent of overtime. 

And all of that, without ever so much as a “Thank You”!!!
So, sidling onto stage my first day (with a designated call time A HALF HOUR PRIOR to rehearsal – Whaaat???), I sat quietly in the audience seating with a couple other people as the Production meeting was about to take place below.  “Since we have some new Crew members, how about we go around the table and everyone can introduce themselves and what they do?” our UPM suggested.  And taking visual notes of my new ADs and who to introduce myself to should we have a moment later in the day, I also took note of our Director (for the first three episodes).

Oh, what if my acting skills had atrophied as rapidly as my muscles and tendons had done over the last four months?   Good heavens, there were two new ADs who didn’t know my work at all, as well as a Director and half of a Crew!  What if I let everyone down?!  What if I couldn’t live up to everyone’s standards?!  What if I completely humiliated myself?!?!
And gnawing worriedly on a piece of bacon, lost in my own thoughts, I heard my name called out by our UPM.  “And that’s Penny, of course!” he pointed me out, as complete strangers turned around and experienced the unbridled joy of watching me struck like a deer in headlights, wiping pig juice off my face.

“Hi!  I’m Penny…” I withered with a tiny cheerful hand wave, completely forgetting my title.
(Awesome!!!  Humiliation:  ACHIEVED!!! )

But as The Universe tends to cut one some slack after a proper bout of embarrassment, I must say that I was thrilled by the humane treatment from our new ADs this week. 

We took fives! 
We were immediately released from work after Run-Thrus! 

And for the first time EVER, not only were we thanked, but we were individually thanked BY NAME by our ADs!!!
And as if The Universe hadn’t yet dispensed all of its gifts for the week, I (and my fellow Second Teamers) stood in awe on what has traditionally been a tedious day of camera-blocking, wherein we were consistently forced to recreate each scene once with dialogue; then repeat the scene mutely as the Operators racked focus on our every move; followed by at least one more reenactment of each scene with dialogue once again for timing.  (This process has throughout the years, developed the derogatory term of “Second Team Theatre”, which I personally find incredibly insulting.  Sure I’m just a “meat puppet” like every other Actor in this Biz, but need I be debased any further?  You gotta mock me for not making millions of dollars and insinuate that my talents are on a par with struggling Actors who are treading the boards of a theatre for the first time in their life?  Well, let’s grab Darla and Spanky and put on a show in the barn!!!)

My apologies for hopping on my high horse there and referencing the old comedy “The Little Rascals”, but in my defense, I haven’t ridden in a while!

As I stated earlier, I and my fellow Second Teamers stood (literally!) in awe, as our fearless Director ran each scene precisely ONCE, without so much as a need to coordinate cameras with spoken dialogue.  (Heck, a trained monkey could’ve done my usually demanding job if you put a banana on the floor!) 
And by all accounts, my world should have completely made sense.

So what was with the remaining pit in my stomach?
Could it have been our visiting Guest Star, an iconic dramatic television Actress from the British Empire who arrived early to set in full make-up and a floppy sun-hat who threw me off my game?  (I accidentally caught her eye, and made the horrific Ethel Mertz mistake of saying “Good Morning!” – to which she summarily sized me up and down and replied with a guttural-sounding dismissive closed-mouth grunt -- “m”.)

Was it the fact that my world seemed too good to be true, to be treated like an actual human being by our ADs?  (I was at Craft Services at one point, eyeing a brownie, and actually hesitated anxiously that dare I pick it up, the curse of the previous Gate Keeper would scream my name to report back onto set!!!)
No, in truth, I realized, that as derogatory as “Second Team Theatre” may be, I needed to prove myself to the new Director (who thus far had only made eye contact with me once the entire week), as well as establish some love with the new Crew members.

So with the advanced notice that our Second Team would be revisiting the Cold Open with cameras (again, seriously, THANK YOU for the heads up!!!), we moved en masse professionally to take our places.  “We need this with dialogue, so let’s have some Second Team Theatre!” our AD announced cheerfully.
And for the first time on this show, after 24 episodes, I felt honored to perform!

Standing patiently on my “mark” (we don’t generally use tape on the floor), I waited (eagerly!) for The Voice to call us to Action.  And reminding us to wait for laughs, I and my fellow Second Teamers prepped for our first performance in front of our new Director.

And turning to deliver my first line with an all due proper Flushing, Queens, New York accent, I think I heard some laughter!!!
OK, OK, YES, I accidentally stomped all over my female co-worker’s comedic bit which earned me a small reprimand from the Director (MY FAULT!); but at least he laughed it off with the comment “Oh, lunch is gonna be awkward between you two!”

But it wasn’t until 2:30pm on Friday, that I came to truly appreciate “The Royal Treatment”.  Thanking us individually (yet again!) for a wonderful week, our first AD wished us all a happy weekend.
FREEDOM???  (And a chorus of Angels sang!!!)

Personally, I sincerely think we’re off to a wonderful start for the season.

Sure, there’s gonna be the occasional glitch here and there, and yeah, our show is NOTORIOUS for on-the-spot re-writes, but I have faith.
And opening my email tonight to read the script for tomorrow, I nearly toppled off the bed in excitement to read that I’ll be spending the week with two more Hollywood icons – an Actress who had a “bunch”, and an Actor who had a “hart”!

Looking forward to eleven more episodes with my Knights in shining armor,
~Princess P