Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Check your ego at the door

In Hollywood, people tend to think an awful lot of themselves. Maybe it’s because we give out trophies for every industry job there is. “Best Craft Services – the nominations are…

But every so often it’s good to get a reality check; to realize we’re not such hot shits.

One such example for me came when I was writing MASH.

MASH was headquartered on the 20th Century Fox lot. Our offices were on the second floor of the (appropriately named) Old Writers Building. It was a very cool building, looked like a Swiss Chalet and in fact, appears in shows and movies to this day.

We were on the second floor with large windows that looked out on an apartment building that was just beyond the studio wall (that kept out illegals and rapists).  

One afternoon we’re rewriting and notice four or five people hanging on the apartment balcony looking in at us. Yes, it was a little disconcerting at first, but also somewhat flattering. It’s not completely unheard of to assume people might want to see how MASH is written, right? At least in our swelled ego state that’s what we thought.

So we decided to really give them a show. We started acting out scenes and gesturing in an exaggerated manner. We were killing it.

At the end of day we stepped out of the office and noticed there was a lot of smoke. It seems the giant HELLO DOLLY New York skyline set was on fire. That’s what the spectators were looking at, not a bunch of idiots writing army jokes. I slinked into my car and drove away.
I often feel the entertainment industry would be well served by taking down the HOLLYWOOD sign and replacing it with HUMBLE.


Richard Y said...

Great story.

Johnny Walker said...

I don't think HUMBLE will cut it... everyone will just assume it applies to them. ARSEHOLES seems more fitting, and it has the right number of letters :)

Pete said...

Here in Canada we have a restaurant chain called Swiss Chalet that's decidedly uncool (albeit popular; the words "festive special" will make even the most staunch vegetarian drool). Threw me for a second when you seemed to be referring to it!

B.A. said...

"Vanity...definitely my favorite sin."
-John Milton

Steve Pepoon said...

I worked on "ALF" for three years as a writer, our stage taking up one-fourth of a large warehouse in Culver City. Late one night after an exhausting rewrite, we stepped outside to find a swarm of excited people milling about. At first we thought they'd found out where our show was produced and were in an ALF frenzy, but no. We shared space with C&R Clothiers and they were having a midnight madness sale. The people were running around carrying cheap suits. No one paid any attention to us.

jcs said...

@Steve Pepoon

You should've relocated to Germany at that time to cash in on your fame. ALF was an amazing success story here during the late 80s. If it had been up to us there would have been more than 4 seasons. There wasn't a department store in this country that did not carry ALF merchandise. MASH never made it in this neck of the woods (sorry, Ken), but everybody knew about Gordon Shumway.

Charles H. Bryan said...

Friday Question: How does a production work stunt doubles into a multi-camera show? I was just watching a MIKE & MOLLY in which Mike's mom got into a wrestling match with her sister (played by Margo Martindale!). Given that neither showed her face during the tussle, I'm guessing that stunt performers were used. Are these scenes pre-taped? Or would the show stop for a setup with an explanation to the audience?

RandomQues said...

Do you ever think that TV shows nowadays aren't as impressive as before because there has been so much TV? By this I mean that in 50's, 60's etc TV was still a relatively new thing. But now so many shows have been written and done that it gets harder and harder to do something truly original. Do you think this is true?