“Did y’all know that Penny cheated on us during our last hiatus with a Network pilot?” my Texan friend and fellow Second Teamer CJ announced to the rest of our Stand-Ins on our current cable show. “And I think she actually LIKED it!” CJ added pointedly as I squirmed uncomfortably; my Scarlet Letters of working on a rare SAG contract burning further shame into my betrayal.But, but, but I didn’t mean to cheat on my loved ones!
I certainly hadn’t actively pursued any outside interests!And yet with one simple text, the sultry offer of four days of work which magically coincided with a week off from my regular show, how could I possibly say no?
>>><<<Motoring toward Laurel Canyon (where naturally I got “gutter-snaked” at Mt. Olympus by a guy who sped up in the right lane to cut off EVERYBODY at the merge point red light), the flood gates had been opened to my sense memories of working on this particular Studio Lot as I tooled over the hill into The Valley.
To be sure, some of my most challenging shows had been filmed there (I still have the emotional scars!); yet like a lover’s cologne entrenched on a bed pillow after an unpleasant break-up, I couldn’t help but bury my nose in the scent of comfortable familiarity.“Good morning, Maclovia!” I beamed, handing over my ID to the Security Guard at the gate.
“Oh my gosh, it’s so good to see you!” she smiled, entering my info into the computer. “Penny has the best known name on this lot, but she’s always had Security Badges from all of her shows, so we rarely get to see her!” Maclovia jocularly elbowed a co-worker who was infinitely more interested in gnawing some unwanted dead skin cells off of his index cuticle.“I know I’m supposed to park here, but since I’m working on the back lot, can I possibly park over in the North Structure?” I asked Maclovia hopefully.
“Anywhere you like, my dear!” she waved me graciously through the gate.And with one ounce of flattery, I was off like a prom dress.
>>><<<To be perfectly honest, for the next four days, I did indulge in an absolute betrayal of my current cable show, as I positively wallowed lovingly in the camaraderie of a UPM who has always protected my back. Additionally, I threw myself willingly into the arms of our Craft Services guy for a salacious hug as he offered not only every possible breakfast choice in the world for any early-to-set arrivals (OMG, sausage gravy with biscuits?): and I even immediately began building a burgeoning friendship with a fellow Capricorn lady (new to the Stand-In world) who graciously suffered my infinite questions about her fascinating career in Stunts!
Adding to my debacle of debauchery, with the reunited companionship of my dear friend “Eyeball” who started with me in the Biz a lifetime ago (who now works for a major Network and their Safety Dept.), I clung shamelessly to his arm for warmth as actual rain sporadically barreled down “New York Street” whilst we tediously filmed exterior scenes.(FYI: I adore Eyeball’s wife Elizabeth, but my shriveled fingers were helplessly curdling into a magnificent marbling of ‘see-through-the-skin’ white and a most worrisome magenta; so I choose to believe The Universe will forgive that particular indiscretion on my behalf in lieu of preventing any potential digital amputation.)
Lastly, I’d also been capriciously drawn to the alluring charisma of the sweetest disposition of another fellow Stand-In –- an extraordinarily impressive six-foot four gentle giant German (Run-Way/Print-Ad Model) who possesses thick black hair, stunning crystal blue eyes, impossibly fantastic cheekbones, a Masters in Literature, fluency in a flabbergasting amount of European languages (I kind of impolitely eavesdropped during a cell phone conversation between him and his Husband – flawless transition from French to Italian); and whom by all accounts, should’ve had the singular impact of nothing less than whipping me into a warped skew of my self-esteem.Yet rather than focusing on what I deemed to be my personal inadequacies, I instead immediately adopted the German as my friend, and heretofore have hence nicknamed him “kitten”.
(Hey – if you’re gonna cheat on your cable sit-com, go big or go home!)>>><<<
Yes, the Network pilot was a welcome exotic adventure after seven years of (mostly) cable TV, and an itch well worth scratching. (Did I mention that our fantastic Craft Services gentleman maintained a fresh buttery popcorn maker, a fully stocked ice cream freezer AND that he baked homemade chocolate chip cookies every single day so the stage always smelled positively seductive?)And true, I felt ridiculously blessed to be surrounded by so many beloved faces and friends with whom I don’t generally keep in touch (I don’t wish to participate in social media -– at my tender age of 48, I can barely track my own train of thoughts, let alone a string of conversations... Wait, why did I just walk into my hallway?)
And lastly, for those of you unbelievably kind readers who have been so patiently faithful as you cheered me on throughout my difficulties with my unsteady beau “Eddy” (aka the EDD Unemployment Office), I hereby raise a hearty glass of voddy that for at least ONE hiatus week, we didn’t need him!!!
>>><<<In the end, I must say that I was truly thankful to return home to my happy cable family as we are warmly embracing the hearth of our final six episodes together.
Granted, there exists an aura of betrayal on our set as well, as whilst the Cast will be filming their conclusive weeks together, the majority of our Crew are already sort of “pre-hired” for the launch of a new series –- another cable show (we completed the pilot in December) which is apparently set to take place on our current stage approximately three weeks after we wrap.(I know, I know; ... a new cologne on our pillow so soon?) But therein lays the rub of the fickleness of the Mistress known as “Hollywood”.
“SECOND TEAM!” one of our ADs shouted as I loyally barreled down the stairs onto the set, selecting a seat in an “airplane” for what was apparently nothing more than a random Special Effects test run.
(Obviously this is NOT the actual photo from our low-budget cable show, as we could only afford one fan which sat directly on the stage - but yes, it was THAT BIG!!!)
And mildly oblivious to the greatly unexpected powerful “wind” generated by a massive monster machine, which (I kid you not) amped from Zero to Gale Force in an alarming heartbeat, I do believe that the last words I heard before my script fluttered violently off my lap were “Hey Penny, you might want to put on the protective eye gog...”
Mercilessly whipped and thrashed in the face by my own ponytail, I’ve been told by my Second Team amused onlookers who watched with laughter, that not only did I strive to secure the eye goggles, I also attempted to block the gale force winds by flailing my limbs uselessly – a ridiculous reaction further enhanced by the vis-à-vis visage of my calm and cool co-worker Dev, who apparently gracefully rode out the wind ala “King of the World” aboard the prow of the Titanic.YEESH!
I bet Marilyn Monroe at least got a “heads up, Norma” before they blasted the bejeezus out of her backside. But WHEE!!! (That was stupidly freaking FUN!)>>><<<
As a lover is wont to recall reflective moments of a tryst, I find myself typing tonight with the singular thought of a rare conversation I shared with a Camera Operator on the pilot whom I’ve known for decades.With a lengthy gap of time prior to the next run-thru for the Network and Producers, we lounged in the variations of sunshine and shade stippling about the Los Angeles sky as we shifted here and there in someone’s unclaimed golf cart.
“So, Penny...” he mused (more to himself than me). “Life in Hollywood... Is it everything you thought it would be?” he questioned sadly, the unmistakable cologne of “Recently Divorced” wafting gloomily in the air.And without even so much as taking a breath, I blurted the following truthfully:
“WAY better than I EVER expected!!!”Wishing you all a wonderful week of whatever blows your dress up!