Saturday, December 24, 2011

The gifts you can't return

One clear sign that it’s Christmas in LA is that you see more TV show jackets. For years that has been the Christmas gift of choice for staffs of television series. Which if fine if you work on THE OFFICE, not so fine if you work on WORLD'S BIGGEST LOSER.

You feel a little bit like a schmuck anyway, wearing a show jacket, like you’re bragging, hoping to impress “the chicks”. Trust me, an AMISH IN THE CITY fleece is not an aphrodisiac.

Other gifts are traditionally baseball caps (when show runners don’t want to pop for jackets for the crew), T-shirts (same deal), and if you ever get a show mug you know you’re about to be cancelled.

One year on CHEERS we received lovely dart boards. At the time everyone had young children. I don’t think anyone even took them out of the box. (I’m sure there’s still one or two floating around ebay). On MASH one year the cast gave us all engraved watches. It was a beautiful gift, one I still have. The next season the new writer on the staff was counting the days until the big gift. It turned out to be a custom 33 rpm album of all the scenes in which the cast sang on the show. He was livid. “You guys get watches and I get a fucking album of Loretta Swit singing?!” (I don’t even think ebay has that one).

Most studios gave out big gift baskets, silver key chains, bottles of nice wine, Walkmen, DVD collections, etc. For many years I worked at a studio where the holiday gifts were always disaster first aid kits, huge honkin’ flashlights, Thomas’ road maps, and earthquake preparedness guides. Everything spelled doom, especially the present that came two years ago…the mug. I’m no longer at that studio.

Oh well, I still have my memories. And my IT’S ALL RELATIVE fleece, BIG WAVE DAVE’S cap, ALMOST PERFECT sweatshirt, LATELINE jacket, KIRSTIN fleece, CONRAD BLOOM bowling shirt, ASK HARRIETT t-shirt, and GEORGE & LEO belt buckle…which I would all gladly trade for one MODERN FAMILY handkerchief.

12 comments:

Nat G. said...

I occasionally see show jackets in the local second hand clothing shops, and am so tempted to own something from even a clinker of a show.... but realize that they must be earned.

I always envied that Supertrain jacket that Jay Tarses wore on The Duck Factory.

Chris said...

Here's a question for friday: how much and what exactly do you write when you get a story credit and how do those situations happen where you just do the teleplay or story for an episode?

David said...

Personally I'd rather have a hat or a mug than a jacket, especially in LA.

David Schwartz said...

I worked on Solid Gold in the early 1980's and still have my black satin jacket with the show's logo embroidered on the back. I've worn it about 10 times in the past 30 years, but still enjoy having it!

Mike said...

So, you don't remember writing this article before, then?

YEKIMI said...

How I envy you! Just out of high school I used to work for a grocery store chain that every year gave out jam & jellies assortments from what used to be a small company that nowadays seems to be buying up almost every food/coffee/etc. business in existence. One year they gave out "collector" plates from the same company. Turns out no one would buy them when they had them for sale so they just re-gifted them to the employees. One smart-ass said "Great, at least my family has nice dinnerwear to eat on as we head to the poorhouse." The trio of brothers that owned the stores were always crying poormouth, saying they couldn't afford to give out raises but it was amazing that one of the brothers was able to afford TWO Olympic size swimming pools, one completely outside and the other one built inside a building so his family could swim year round.

Paul Duca said...

How perfect to present the gift I promised you!
Now, some families open all their gifts on Christmas Eve, others open one package. Mine really should be opened tonight, for the full effect...ideally, at 8:30 PM your time, Ken.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=edvnTztugPc

Now please take this package and place it under what I am sure is the prettiest Hanukah bush in the neighborhood.


P.S. Others are welcome to admire the gift, but please wait until at least midnight ET to comment on it. Thank you.

D. McEwan said...

When I was working as a doorman/emcee at The Comedy Store, 33 Christmasses ago, for Christmas Mitzi Shore gave us all satin jackets with Comedy Store breast patches. The patches were seperate, so you had to sew them on it yourself, which for me was like asking me to make a skyscraper from scratch. A lady friend sewed mine on for me. I have a photo of myself with Stephen King taken that year in which I am wearing it, the only surviving evidence of its existence.

The jackets were SO cheaply made (they didn't even have a lining) that they were all threadbare and worn out by April. In January 1979, if you visited The Comedy Store, every employee there was wearing one. No one ever saw one again after the end of spring. They had all gotten threadbare and torn by then.

We all would have been happier with just the cash.

Johnny Walker said...

Wow, there's an outfit for Halloween :)

Cap'n Bob said...

I never worked at a place that gave out gifts.

Brother Boomerang said...

I got a calandeer this year from work. guess I can start counting off the days until next year...

Unknown said...

At the end of season two of a big network show, one of the PA's came around with a clipboard and asked me what size jacket I wore.

I responded, she scribbled "XL" in a space on a goldenrod sheet and then handed it to me.

It was -- I kid you not -- an order form for our crew jackets that we were to complete, add our credit card number to and fax to the embroidery company. If we wanted a crew jacket, it would be $55.

Yeah, I ordered one.