Monday, April 26, 2010
H&H Part 17 - A new player
I've made a ritual out of going to a little coffee place on Sunday mornings for breakfast. The cottage was built in 1918 and has been turned into "Hava Java" serving expresso and lattes to the tourist trade and an increasing local clientele.
Louise, the woman who owns it, is a dark-haired French Canadian who's friendly and also fills me in on the local gossip. This will lead to some interesting situations in the next week.
I show her how to make breakfast burritos like they do in little Mexican cafes in L.A. and she adds it to her menu. But right now there's the scent of slightly burnt biscuits and hot coffee and the world of television has been put on hold for one day.
Later my actor friend Paul and Loreen the production coordinator and Simone, a local P.A. drive up to Crystal Lake which is higher up and still covered with snow. Up there there's still 5 or 6 feet of snow and we struggle to get to the lake itself. Loreen manages to fall backwards, leaving a perfect snow angel in the deep snow.
I realize that I do enjoy this valley and it's people, probably because I grew up in a small town of only 500 residents. It seems like a million miles from Los Angeles and the deals and winners and losers. Up here it doesn't seem all that important what LA does. Life isn't all that hard in heaven.
But it's a little harder in hell. And that begins tomorrow.
Monday begins with a wake-up call from Marilyn, the sister who totally intimidates me just by saying "good morning, Jim". Turns out the power was off in the hotel last night and she is making calls to the cast and crew. I remind her that writers don't have to be anywhere until 9am at the earliest to which she replies, "If I had to get up, so do you." Why do women sound so incredibly great the first thing in the morning?
My smile turns to a frown when I get a call from the IRS who remind me I owe them taxes. So much for that property I wanted in Flagstaff.
Today, there's a new director coming and I have worked with him in the past, only he was acting in a series then. Morty Stuart is one of those great American character actors, his credits go back to the early 60's and played in a favorite film of mine, Kelly's Heroes, opposite Clint Eastwood.
Morty's a Texas native but has traveled the world and made more movies than anyone I've ever met. He's also translated his acting work to directing, something not uncommon for many actors. Morty's also got a good b.s. detector and I'm glad to see someone on my side of the fence.
His first indication of the way things are is when we spend 30 minutes in the production meeting deciding if a kitchen scene should be day or night. Rino and I have to resist Kaplan's opinion and Morty finally sides with us. Jonathan has shown up, as has Mahon as Morty is the biggest star we have here, even though he's directing. And they want to be sure they hand with the biggest star.
The rest of the day is quiet, one episode is being filmed and the next one, Morty's job, will start in a few days. The evening again ends at the bar where they set the tables up for us. Some of the locals don't like the attention we're getting but most of them are still excited about a series being made in Jackson.
And we're pretty open with the locals, often inviting them to sit with us and have a beer. I meet several people with whom I'm still friends to this day. Lauren, the serious sister sits on one side of me while Marilyn sits between two men who seem more interested in each other than her. Not that it's a bad thing.
Lauren has heard I tell good jokes so she asks me to tell her a joke. This is not always the easiest thing, to suddenly "be funny". I struggle to find something appropriate and have minor successes.
For the most part, drinking seems to be the big thing, drinking beer rather than wine or liquor unless it's for dinner. The bar is always lively and the TV shows hockey games. There are drugs in town, as the police tell me later, a lot of marijuana and cocaine. So far very little Meth.
And some of the crew indulge in that, a practice that goes back to the early 1900's when movie studios in California would go on location. They would hire circus movers who knew how to set up a set, pull it down and drive overnight to the next location. They used bennies mostly, uppers, as that's the only way they could stay up for such long hours.
And the movie industry grabbed onto it, going from laborers to crew and then to the cast. Since writers are in an odd zone between both sides, we rarely get involved in any of that. It's very rare for a writer going to re-hab?
Rino and I decide to walk to the Springwater hotel downtown where live music is playing and more of a local crowd. On the way there, Ari the Greek drives by, stops and drives us to the bar. Again I feel the comfort of a small town and people who know you.
We enter the Springwater and see our young actress, Mindy, in the Dead Animal room, so called because of a dozen or more stuffed moose, elk, deer and bear heads lining the wall. She's talking to a good-looking Search and Rescue guy who is just happier than hell getting this attention from a real actress.
The evening ends with me walking back to my hotel and I notice a ring around the moon. This is sometimes called a Hunter's moon and usually means cold weather. It also means that the week-end is over and work begins again tomorrow.
(Wed: Jim gets a stalker)