The Lowest Rung On the Hollywood Ladder, Part 3
I was raised up in Hollywood, having been a child actor way back in those halcyon days of the mid to late 80s. I stopped working around 1988-1989, because my grades and attitude slipped faster than a giraffe on an icy, downhill slope. My IMDB entry for some of my work can be found here. It's very incomplete, not even mentioning my guest spots on Benson or Knight Rider, my voice over work for the Chutes & Ladders VCR game, or my VO work on G.I. Joe. I really should update that... nah. Too lazy. Although IMDB finally caught on to the fact that I wasn't ever on The Munsters or Sgt. Bilko. Guess I should be thankful for small favors.
This time around, I'm going to branch out a bit. The days and nights on the sets I worked on will be here, as always, but I'm also going to include some stories about other projects I've done over the years. Expect rank humiliation.
Who is drinking? OMG bear is drinking how can this be?
(Forgive the catchphrase. It's just so damn appropriate. I'm weak.)
Drew Carey is fat. Let's just get that out of the way at the beginning of the story. He could lose 300 pounds and he'd still be a lardass. In spirit. There's more to tubby than just pounds. He will always, no matter how much he hits the gym, come across as fat and jolly and looking like he craps egg custard and sweats cheeseburgers. He's fat. Ok.
Drew Carey is also insanely generous. Now, this is completely apocryphal, having passed to my ears by a fourth generation "witness" to the story. Apparently, Mr. Carey was lounging about, yakking it up with the background talent, when one of them mentioned that he didn't have a car. And how damn impossible it was for him to get around in Los Angeles. So Drew reaches into his pocket, pulls out a key on a leather fob, and tosses it to the extra. "Here you go. Take good care of her." And then he walked away. Turns out the key was for Drew's Porche parked right outside the stage. It was yellow. The guy did not ask for a refund.
Although I'm willing to bet he sold it, once he figured out how much insurance he'd pay on that sucker. I would have. Besides, I would have held out for the Corvette. Fuck Porches.
Possible urban legends aside, he was also very congenial with all the cast and crew. And extras. He, like many other comedians, know who they rely on to get their show out on the air. And what word of mouth can do to a show. So he's nice. Nice, fat and generous.
All he's missing are the red suit and reindeer. Ho ho ho.
I had never worked this show before, although I had worked on the stage right next door. Gilmore Girls filmed right next to the Drew Carey show. How's that for cognitive dissonance? So I'd seen the cast before. Including Mr. Ryan Stiles.
Holy shit, the man's made of arms and legs. The top of my head barely came up to his sternum. He could have bent over double and still been taller than me. Jesus, what freak accident of pituitary overload caused this to happen? He's got this goofy, wide-eyed insanity, too. This is a man who, if he'd been born in the 19th century, would have been in a circus.
I never got to interact much with Diedrich Bader. This makes me very sad.
The morning I checked onto set was a pre-record day. Pre-records are for the scenes in a sitcom that, for whatever reason, can't be filmed in front of a live studio audience. Outdoor scenes, sets on different stages, etc.
Meet that day's etc.: a twelve foot tall, 450 pound brown bear named Chuckles. And his back up, stunt-double bear, Poodle.
I was noodling about at craft services, getting my third donut of the morning, when the loading doors at the back of the stage opened, and the bears were carted in. If I could draw, I'd give you a representation of how big my eyes got when I saw these monsters. I was told I looked like an anime girl, my eyes got so big.
Yeah, they neglected to mention that there would be bears on the set when I booked the job. God bless Central Casting. They did mention "no perfume" but that's a standard rule when working on an enclosed set. And, besides, I don't wear any.
I beat a hasty retreat to the audience bleachers, and clutched my bag to my stomach, the fight or flight instinct firmly nudging me toward "flight." BEARS! OMG MOTHERHUMPING BEARS! BEARSBEARSBEARSBEARS! AAAH!
"Ok, guys," came the call from the production assistant. "As you can see, we have live animals on the set. We have a few ground rules. Ladies, if you're wearing perfume, you can't go near the bears. Guys, if you're wearing aftershave, you can't go near the bears. Ladies, if you're menstruating, you can't go near the bears. No food on set at any time. No pictures at all. The flash could make them go crazy. Do not approach the bears and try to pet them. They are tame, but they are still wild animals. Do not give them a chance to bite you. Please do not speak to the trainers, they cannot be distracted."