Sunday, July 10, 2011

Another typical Hollywood story

I was doing ALMOST PERFECT, the CBS mid 90’s sitcom that starred Nancy Travis. In the show, Nancy’s character had a cat, “Charlie”. We used him in about five episodes. Then I get a call from the cat’s owner/trainer/agent. He tells me that Charlie has been offered the lead in the remake of THAT DARN CAT but I was not to fret. Charlie really liked working on the show and with us. So he’ll stay with our show if we would up his fee and guarantee him all episodes produced. Naturally I was touched by Charlie’s loyalty.

I said as much as we too loved working with Charlie and greatly admired his many talents, I would hate to stand in the way of his feature career so I passed on his offer.

Unbelievably, we somehow managed to find another gray cat that could sit in a chair.

But here’s the thing…

A year later ALMOST PERFECT gets cancelled. I’m driving home, feeling really bummed out and I gaze up at a billboard touting a certain movie. My entire cast is out of work and there’s Charlie, the fucking cat, starring in a major motion picture, staring down on me, his Cheshire-like face plastered on a HUGE billboard on the Sunset Strip.

I lost track of Charlie after that. To my knowledge he didn’t catch on in films. That business can be so cruel. He probably returned to television and if there’s any justice he’s doing ARSENIC & OLD LACE in dinner theatre somewhere in Iowa tonight.

The moral: Use a litter box because you never know who you’re going to meet on the way down.

19 comments:

LouOCNY said...

Just how hard is it working with a cat on a three camera shoot? There's
a reason you hardly see cats in sitcoms at all...

Anonymous said...

I heard that Charlie fell on hard times and had to take a night job as a pest control agent in the West LA warehouse district.

Nathan said...

I sooooo would have written the cat out of the show...and every once in a while, someone would ask, "Where the hell did that darn cat go?"

Bob Summers said...

I saw the exit maybe like this:

Voiceover: Tonight, on a very special "Almost Perfect". say goodbye to Charlie.

[CHARLIE runs out the open door into the yard. We see him a little confused, looking around for his next move. He runs forward, hauling ass to the street.]

Nancy [off screen]: "CHARLIE?!!"

[ON NANCY as she appears at the door with one of those "Holy Fuck" looks on her face. We hear tires squeal and a little bump. NANCY starts running to the street.]

ANGLE-a car-Two men step out. They are talking about "M*A*S*H" and baseball. They walk over to where CHARLIE is in the street, mortally wounded. NANCY is crouched by his side.

NANCY: "Please, can't you help me?"

One of the guys from the car is looking around like Kevin Smith as Silent Bob, like "I only write. What do you want from me? The other man, The other man, wearing glasses, looking like he could win the Radar lookalike contest at a M*A*S*H convention, looks down on them.

MAN: "Charlie pissed off the wrong people. I would never advise other writers to use a tired phrase, but sorry, Charlie. YOU'RE OUT!"

FADE TO BLACK

RCP said...

Ken - I hope this experience hasn't soured you on using feline thespians. I just happen to own two seasoned performers (backyard/alley circuit). Charlie, white and orange, isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he looks good and will stay where you put him. Luna, black, green eyes, petite, evokes the mysterious sensuality of Sophia Loren. She prefers shows with comic flavor and a hint of irony.

Both will work for Friskies and Trader Joe's pine litter. Of course as their agent, I need to eat too, but my cut will be reasonable.

If you wouldn't mind spreading the word in Hollywood?

BigTed said...

He probably joined his pal Poochie back on their home planet.

Tallulah Morehead said...

Didn't that remake bomb? Another tragic tale of Hollywood Pussy.

Now I see that They are recasting the baby on MODERN FAMILY, who probably scored a second remake of The Parent Trap. That's it! I'm not watching it any more! Jaden and Ella Hiller's crack comic timing and way with delivering a line of dialogue (Once they learn to speak, which by now, they should have) MADE that show.

The producers say that Jaden & Ella are bored on a set watching the same scene shot over and over. I'm supposed to believe that? What's the matter with them? If they're bored, read a book. They're two. I had read most of Proust by that age. They say the two tiny children would rather be home playing! Get off your lazy butts, kids, and WORK! Next they'll want toys! Toys aren't free, lazybones! Don't they know there's a recession on? Lots of twin babies are unemployed, yet they just want to "play".

AMATEURS!!!

Phillip B said...

Two and Half Cats?

Mac said...

That's what you get for not respecting Charlie as an artist. You know he had script approval on THAT DARN CAT?

cshel said...

Charlie left Hollywood to pursue a career in legitimate theatre in New York. Wait for it... He's starring in the Broadway revival of CATS! Bah-rump-bump!

Anonymous said...

Hi Ken,

You very graciously answered my "Will there ever be another Cheers/Frasier" question a couple weeks back and I realised I didn't leave my name.

To clear up some of my anonymity:
I'm Alicia from Australia am and a definite aspiring comedy writer. We pretty much make no sitcoms and the only primetime comedy shown is either Glee, Two and a Half Men or The Big Bang Theory and if you're not a fan of them (which I'm not) then you're stuffed.
Cheers is repeated here twice a day and often Frasier will pop up as well. I just often compare these two with other shows that are on and I wonder...
But thanks for answering my Q and I hope this lets you know I'm a genuine person and not a not genuine person.

Ref said...

Tallulah, that's good news. Those kids were KILLING the show.

Rene said...

Actually Alicia, we get Modern Family, The Office, 30 Rock, How I Met Your Mother, The Brady Bunch. All the fabulous US sitcoms. And no, we don't do good sitcom but we're not a comedy backwater. Series like Laid and Wilfred are great examples of the type of comedy we do really well.

Michael said...

I recently saw a couple episodes of "The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show" on AntennaTv and have a couple of Friday questions.

1) 5 or 6 writers shared the writing credit for both shows I saw - I assume they were the show's entire writing staff. Are there union rules that would prevent that from happening today?

2) At the end of each show, George Burns broke the fourth wall and addressed the audience directly. Do you think that direct style would ever work today as opposed to shows like The Office where the audience is asked to believe the characters are addressing comments to a documentary crew?

Paul Duca said...

Tallulah, as an insider, can you tell me about the recasting of Marshall and Cameron's little girl?
Are they going to do what they did on I LOVE LUCY, FAMILY TIES, GROWING PAINS, and MURPHY BROWN--the replacement being an older child, to allow more plot development?

I can see Lloyd and Levitan surround with head shots...all those pictures of Lily.

Lea Cortez said...

I heard that the pressure really got to Charlie during the movie. Seems he used to take Catnip recreationally, and it ended up spiralling out of control. Poor Pet. Last I heard, he was working the seedier part of the strip, and would give you a leg rub or belly flash for no more than quarter gram of Catnip. Oh So sad.

cube said...

I heard Charlie was in and out of rehab... catnip addiction is hard to beat.

te said...


I can see Lloyd and Levitan surround with head shots...all those pictures of Lily.


Who?

Tallulah Morehead said...

"Paul Duca said...
Tallulah, as an insider, can you tell me about the recasting of Marshall and Cameron's little girl?
Are they going to do what they did on I LOVE LUCY, FAMILY TIES, GROWING PAINS, and MURPHY BROWN--the replacement being an older child, to allow more plot development?"


I believe that's the plan.