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Jewish World Review
March 23, 2009
/ 27 Adar 5769
After all these years, still not ready for my closeup
I figured out why movie stars generally are young. It's not just because they look good naked. It's also because their brains still work.
I learned this recently when I became an "actor" in a movie being made in Miami based on a book I wrote about guys. I put "actor" in quotation marks because real actors can, you know, act. Whereas my job in this movie was to walk into the scene where the real actors were acting, and say a line like: "Now, that's a good example of what I'm talking about!" Sounds easy, right? You just walk in there and say one sentence! What kind of moron would have trouble with that?
An older moron. Me, for example. Oh, I'd memorize my line all right. I'd say it over and over, walking around the set like a deranged person, muttering to myself: "Now, that's a good example of what I'm talking about! Now, that's a good example of what I'm talking about! Now, that's a good example of what I'm talking about!"
After maybe 600 repetitions, I'd be ready to go. The problem was that the movie crew was never ready when I was. Movie crews are, basically, never ready to go. There's always a problem. Sometimes the light is too bright; sometimes it's too dark; sometimes a key actor develops a flagrant booger. It's always something. And on those rare occasions when everything is perfect and you're set to go, suddenly, out of nowhere, a guy will appear about 50 yards away and fire up a leaf blower. It seems to be the same guy every time, no matter where you go. You could be filming a scene at the North Pole, and just when the director said "Action," vroom, there'd be your leaf-blower guy.
The point is that there are endless delays on the movie set while the crew scurries around changing the lighting, wiping the booger, shooting tranquilizer darts at the leaf-blower guy, whatever. During these delays, I would strive to keep my line "Now, that's a good example of what I'm talking about!" foremost in my brain. But mine is an older brain, already crammed to capacity with vital information, and soon other thoughts would start seeping, like sewer gas, into the forefront. For example, my brain would decide, for reasons of its own, that now right now, on the movie set, when I was about to do a scene would be an excellent time to review the song sung in "Animal House" by Otis Day and the Knights, "Shama Lama Ding Dong."
So I'd be walking around, with my mouth muttering, "Now, that's a good example of what I'm talking about! Now, that's a good example of what I'm talking about!" But my brain, in a loud brain voice, would be singing, "You're SHAMA LAMA, my rama lama DING dong!" over and over and over until this was all I could think about, and just then the director, Jeff Arch, would say "Action," and, with the camera and microphone pointed at me, and everybody watching me, I would say: "Now, that's an example of a good thing I am talking about!" Or: "I am talking about a good example of a thing now!" Or: "It's a good thing I have been talking now, about that example!" And Jeff would say "Cut," and we'd have to do it again, and then again, until it became clear to everyone that, dialogue-wise, the scene would work better with just the leaf blower.
I did one scene with I swear I am not making this up a trained Chihuahua named Sidekick. I was supposed to pick Sidekick up off the ground, and, while walking toward the camera, say three sentences. Are you familiar with the old expression, "He can't walk and talk and carry a trained Chihuahua at the same time?" That describes the situation perfectly. I'm holding this dog, walking forward, looking at the camera, sweat gushing from every quadrant of my armpits, and the boombox of my brain is going: "You put the OOH MAU MAU, oh oh oh oh, back into my SMILE, child!" So we did it over and over, me picking up this poor defenseless dog, apparently for the sole purpose of blowing my lines. I bet when Sidekick got home he really chewed out his agent.
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