Friday, July 21, 2006

Hollywood Heat and The Devil

It's a funny world I live in now -- right smack in the middle of "higher end" Hollywood, at the bottom of Runyon Canyon. Where lithe, young bodies go to exercise themselves and their dogs, on a street that's alive all hours of the night, and "Notices of Intended Filming" are posted on apartment gates like parking tickets. The 100+ degree weather has finally let up and I don't feel betrothed to the air conditioner.

Good puppy Nero seems to know everyone here, so I'm imagining Alan (especially) and Jeffrey are pretty social on their walks. Even really late (or really early :) there's always someone walking their dog... and I swear no one here looks like they're older than 40.

For the second night they're filming on Camino Palmero. The cast must be there because last night there were only security guards -- tonight I spoke with real LAPD.

After petting Nero and letting us cross the street, I asked one officer what they're doing. "Oh, it's 'Entourage.'" Funny, not even a preceding "the TV Show" or "a show on HBO" -- I guess Entourage is public domain now. :)

We took a different walk, and kept thinking I'd love to see the star, Adrian Grenier (the younger guy on the right), but then I thought, what the heck would I say to him? "I like your work," I suppose, so not to feel too stupid.

But the truth is, I like him because he reminds me of David Frankel (the older guy on the left).

It's funny, I tuned in to watch Entourage because much as I hate to admit it, I LOVE movies/shows about backstage show business shenanigans. Makes me still feel part of, I guess. How funny to find out that David Frankel, my ex-boss from The Ellen Burstyn Show directed the pilot to Entourage... and I bet he had a lot to do with the casting of Mr. Grenier. I have a picture of David at age 27 with the moppiest, curly mullet ever, and he was a dead-ringer for Adrian... and yes, you could say I was obsessed... David was my first "crush" on a "real" person in Hollywood. (Fan stuff -- Scott Baio and the like -- doesn't count!)

I was hired to work for David when we shot the pilot at Warner Bros. He was the Supervising Producer/Writer and I was to be his Assistant/Writer's Assistant. Whatever that meant because I'd never done that before! Previously I was typing a script on this new thing, a computer, with a producer named Norman Steinberg on the weekends on the Paramount lot (Yes! The same lot Scott Baio and Happy Days used tape at and I used to take the bus to see!). Norman's secretary, Juanita, didn't want to work on the weekends, so I got hired to type.

Boy did I learn a lot. At that point, I didn't know how to be an "assistant" to anybody, I was basically a production secretary on a magazine show before that and never had to "place calls" or "leave word" or "do a schedule." Juanita, the pro, taught me all of that. And when they shot they pilot, Norman asked me to work at the Warner Bros. lot for him and David since Juanita was already at his "real" office at Disney. Sure, why not.

So there I sit, all alone in a small office for this three-week shoot, and in comes David Frankel. I about croak... what a handsome guy! I was expecting an old person -- doesn't "Producer" mean "old"?

"Hi, I'm David."

I said hello back and he walked into the office to make calls. I'm sure I called Juanita, asking her why she didn't warn me -- he's so cute and only one year older than me! -- but she probably didn't think anything of it because David certainly wasn't HER type.

Anyhoo, I learned almost everything I know about scripts and assisting on that shoot. No one in the production office knew how to put out a script properly and I sure didn't either... someone finally brought one in from somewhere with all the colored pages for changes and headers at the top, etc. and I learned -- because I did I do everything! I put out pages, I xeroxed pages, I stayed at night to make the revisions, I drove to Disney to make the colored pages, collated and then distributed the scripts, and then I was back early in the morning for the scripts to be at the table read. OMG!

And in the meantime, David couldn't have been nicer. Quite uninterested in me, but really funny, super polite, even asking my opinion on jokes as we both learned about sitcoms. (Oh, and guess who played Ellen's daughter? Megan Mullaly, of Will and Grace fame.) Some other time I'll talk bout my six-month stint in New York when then show went into production... there are few good David Frankel memories there too and I don't want to forget them. :)

At the end final week of taping, I got a little crazy. (Probably from the sleep deprivation and all the responsibility!) I had befriended two of the actors, Billy Wirth and Maurice Davis, during the rehearsals and, yes even met David's dad. I got to speaking to him because I was on a "research project" to find out anything he might be able to say about David for the warm-up comedian -- only I don't know if I made that assignment up for myself or someone asked me to do that. In any case, someone in the office said David's dad was a really nice man, and wasn't it nice of him to take the time out of his busy schedule to fly to L.A. to see his son's show. (I thought this was normal as I'm sure MY parents would have come to see a show I had done!) I repeated that to Max, who said, "As long as I have a nice hotel room and the NY Times, I'm happy." Little did I know then that this was Max Frankel, Executive Editor of the New York Times -- what a humbling piece of information. I knew David was a Harvard man, but I didn't know from what beginnings he came... just that they were 100000% different than mine.

So the crazy part: at the final taping, I had bought congratulatory balloon bouquets to dear Norman, David, Billy and Maurice -- which, upon hindsight, sure seems like a HUGE faux pas! I mean, who the hell was I? An assistant on an assistant's wage paying over $120 for four corny arrangements! Well, it felt terrific at the time, and the look on Billy's face, just standing across backstage and waving at me with the balloons in his hand: PRICELESS.

In any case, I veered off in a weird direction, thinking about David Frankel in 1986 -- twenty years ago. Didn't expect that to do that, it was a nice trip down memory lane -- er, Fuller Avenue to be exact. Not much has changed for me but my name!... yet in saying that out loud, I know things are changing quickly... and I will always be a Hollywood girl.

Sending you good energy, David Frankel -- much happiness and thanks :)