Monday, March 17, 2014

And the Oscar Goes to...


“Good Morning, Peggy!” our seriously lovely and wonderful Dialogue Coach affectionately squeezed my arm as he whisked away from Craft Services with his breakfast in hand; hurriedly scuttling off to run lines with the children of our Cast prior to pre-shooting a multitude of scenes on a lengthy camera-blocking day.
“Good morning!” I happily shouted after him.

And so it was (without an ounce of malice) I’d once again for the gazillionth time in my career been re-dubbed “Peggy”.
Ironically, these are the type of “Hollywood” moments that truly seem to make the most sense to me.

After all, just as quickly as a Construction Crew can rip apart a set, so can they equally rebuild a new one over-night; just as Writers may drastically change the entire storyline of a script in a manner of hours, so can they too ideate and create a brand new vision; and needless to say, with little or no hesitation, every single Actor may be fired and recast on a whim.  Thus is the ever-changing flux of our business in Tinsel Town, and therefore the thick skin required for the art of adaptability.   
Meanwhile, my-Peggy-self standing (unusually) away from the hot-food queue of etnas, having just toasted up a delicious sesame seed bagel (slathering the halves with pats of butter, and drizzling a pot-bellied teddy bear of honey onto a perfectly crafted finger-sticky mess!), I sighed quietly as a barely-above-the-line lady ladled up a plate of bacon and eggs whilst simultaneously grabbing the entire last half inch stack of napkins.

Again, these are the “glamorous Hollywood” moments which I’ve become rather accustomed to.  (To be sure, resourceful “Peggy” could certainly root through her backpack for a possible tattered paper towel!)
And so (for me), these are the quiet hiccups of synergy amidst chaos when I simply shut up and embrace the Gratitude.  I’m blessed with my family, my friends, our good health, my happy home, my trusty Toyota, my temporary job and FOOD on set!  (Although I must say, a napkin would’ve been REALLY helpful!)

Now, to state that my morning was somewhat hectic was certainly true:  I’d been assigned multiple roles for camera-blocking in various scenes -– some of which entailed me making an entrance and an exit stage right; then scurrying like a lab rat through the maze of camera and boom operators in order to make an entrance stage left as a completely different character; all the while trying to maintain the distinction of the signs hanging around my neck as to who I was standing-in for.

Was I “Alicia”?  Was I “Wendy”?  Was I “Kevin”? 
“Run, Penny; RUN!” our Prop Master Brenda (who knew my name!) cheered me on, heroically repeatedly blazing a path for me as I scampered across the cables.  (Please feel free to mentally insert the soundtrack from “Chariots of Fire” here.)

So suffice it to say it was with great joy, that joining my Second Team after lunch on the glamorous pavilion of the studio outside of the commissary, I plopped all of my respective “Peggy, Alicia, Wendy and Kevin” weary butts down in a chair (tight fit, but we managed!) to eavesdrop on the conversation as our Director regaled the crowd with spectacular stories of his childhood in Hollywood.

As one of his neighbors happened to be none other than Walt Disney (THE WALT DISNEY); it so happened that our Director was not only AT the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of Disneyland, but having grown up as a child actor on a 1950’s sit-com, raised by one of THE most famous Radio Actors, and surrounded by none other than casual neighbors such as Liza Minnelli and Lana Turner (OMG!), he also managed to befriend Stan Laurel of “Laurel and Hardy”, simply by finding Mr. Laurel’s name in the telephone book.  (WOW!!!)  (Yes children of the Net, actual names, addresses and home phone numbers were PRINTED in paper BOOKS!)
“So where are you from, Penny?” our illustrious Director suddenly asked me out of the blue.

(Now, these are the type of moments in Hollywood that never make sense to me...)
Glancing over my shoulder to see whom what significantly more interesting person the Director might actually be speaking to, I was somewhat mortified to find that his question was pointed at me.  (But, but, but hold up...  Wasn’t I Peggy?!)

“Indiana” I blubbered (mostly stupefied that the Director knew my name.)
“Where exactly in Indiana?” our Director eagerly wanted to know.

“Fort Wayne” I stammered awkwardly.
“That’s where my parents met!” he beamed.  “Is the Emboyd Theatre still there?” he inquired as I searched my mental pea-brain archives to no avail.  “Oh wait, they changed the name to “The Embassy” in 1952” he recollected.  “But because there was a snow storm one night that kept them all stranded there, my mom (who was in Vaudeville), met my dad (who was in Radio) got together and now here I am!”  (WOW!!!)

Having run the usual gamut from “Peggy” back to Penny (and sort of everywhere in between); and contemplating the luminous current presence of my Hollywood career congruent to my proud Indiana past (I worked behind the scenes on a play in downtown Ft. Wayne when I was like twelve!); and appreciating the delightful dichotomy that The Universe is so willing offer when you listen to your heart, I once again sat quietly in Gratitude, embracing a Zen-like week of solitude on hiatus from my show.


“OK, so since we don’t service this type of unit anymore, we had to order a new model after you called The Gas Company  and told your Landlord about your furnace” the independent contractor wiggled around on my fleur-de-lis area rug with a flashlight as he stared up into the heart and hearth of my bat-cave’s building.
“Understood,” I nodded in acquiescence.  “I’m sorry, you are?” I asked, particularly ‘Peggy-Sensitive’ to the humble importance of actually knowing someone’s name.

“Oh, sorry!  I’m Luiz, and that’s Oscar” Luiz pointed as his co-worker suddenly arrived at my front door; Oscar eagerly shaking my hand as he loaded in a plethora of weighty tools, a step ladder and a hefty jug of Gatorade.  “We’re gonna have to cut a giant hole in your wall, so maybe you should just go into your bedroom and shut the door, ‘cause this is gonna get really noisy”  Luiz recommended as he pulled out a tape measure. 
(Oh dear...)

“Your home is going to be nice and toasty, just in time for the on-coming rain!”  Luiz assured me as he scuttled me away from every manner of floor-covering blankets and miscellaneous maniacal-looking mechanical apparatuses.  “But before we start sawing, can I use your bathroom?” Luiz asked politely as I indicated the path down the hall.
“Can I go too, after he’s done?” Oscar piped up eagerly. 

And so it was that all before 9:30 on a hiatus Monday morning, both Luiz and Oscar took alternating wizzes in my toilet.

As far as the moments in life (Hollywood or otherwise) that DO make sense to me, I think The Universe elbowed an excellent nudging reminder in my direction. 
Whether or not we’re “below-the-line” or “above-the-line” people, we’re all still equal as human beings and thus (at the very least), I believe we all deserve an ounce of kindness from one another.  (SERIOUSLY lady; I just needed ONE napkin for my bagel!  *sigh*)

My attitude of Gratitude could not be shaken.

My Zen-like hiatus week of contemplation on the great equality of humanity would know no boundaries. 
I was both uplifted and yet humbled as a human being.

I was truly blessed!
I had been enlightened!

After all, I was Peggy, er, um, Penny!

And yet...
With a bam-bam-bam bang on my front door shortly after my new furnace had been installed, I winced at just what fresh Hell could now be expected as I yet again welcomed Oscar into my home.  “I wanted to make sure you know how to use the thermostat!” he smiled, indicating the sliding temperature lever on the wall.  (It’s a LEVER.)  “Plus, your Landlord wants to see how we did”, Oscar bounced around from foot to foot as I once again tacitly pointed him back to the bathroom.  (Oh kind friend, I’ve seen the enemy, and thine enemy’s name is apparently Gatorade!)

Whilst thousands (?) of us in Tinsel Town have yet to be recognized for our Lifetime Achievements; whilst our often unappreciated hard labor maybe rarely noticed; and whilst our spectacular singular performances most worthy of any sort of coveted Golden Statuette are so often casually dismissed as a given:  I think I speak for most of us below-the-line workers who continue to embrace our good fortune as to the opportunities towards contributing to the collaborative process of creating the Magic of Hollywood.

And so, it is with great gratitude, humbleness and immense appreciation; that I wish to thank The Academy of The Universe as I present to all of my fellow unsung heroes, your very own “Luiz” in recognition of your most-often unnoticed yet spectacular accomplishments: 

(I'd give you an Oscar, but he had to go potty again.)
Cheers to all who give their all,

~Warm and toasty P