Wednesday, December 14, 2005

And the winner is...

Congratulations to all my colleagues nominated for Writers Guild Awards. Note to nominees: wear a tuxedo. David Isaacs and I were nominated several times, rented tuxedos and lost. We always noticed there were a few people in dark suits and felt even more like schmucks. So one year when we knew we’d lose we just went the dark suit route. And of course we won. We sheepishly walked up to the podium and David said, “Sorry, we dressed for nomination only”.

Later we took pictures with our presenter, Jimmy Smits. Click click and he was gone. A few minutes later the photographer wanted to take a few more shots. They said Smits had left so the photographer said, “Okay, then never mind.” Jesus, writers get no respect even at the Writers Guild awards.

To put “winning” in perspective, let me share with you what it was like to win an Emmy. The envelope is ripped open, your name is read, you can’t believe it, and you race up to the stage. You stand at the podium.

What’s going through your mind at a monumental moment like this? For me, honestly, I thought of all the assholes I went through basic training with in the army who thought I was such a fuck up. I was hoping they were watching and having heart attacks from shock. I was also aware that everyone in the audience was glaring at me. I saw the red light of the camera, knew that yes, this was my one big moment on national television. But I also knew that if I didn’t get the hell off quick – I mean REAL quick -- millions of people I didn’t know were going to hate my guts.

So I rushed through my prepared speech, thanked my wife, son, and I think Drill Sgt. Miller then was led off.

Backstage, we took photos with your presenters. In our case, Arthur & Kathryn Murray. Who knew they were even still alive? Then we were led from one interview room to the next. National TV, national radio, local press, national press, foreign press, magazines, food product surveys, I dunno. Light bulbs flashing. Questions coming from all sides. Microphones shoved in my face. And after a few minutes we’re ushered into the next room because the next winners are breathing down our necks. We were in a daze. We just went where they told us. Finally we were told to go through “that door”. We did. It closed and locked behind us.

And we found ourselves outside. In the alley. Next to the garbage dump, surrounded by buzzing flies. In our tuxedos, holding our shiny new Emmys. What the fuck?! We banged on the door to get back in. Nothing. We walked along the side of the building, trying other doors. All closed. I thought of maybe using the Emmy to jimmy one of the locks. No dice. It took us fifteen minutes to finally get back into the hall.

Which more than matched the fifteen minutes of fame.

So again, congratulations to the nominees. Wear tuxedos and know your exit strategy.


Robert Burke Richardson said...

How many nominations do you need before it becomes more economical to own your own tuxedo? Or does everyone always rent?

By Ken Levine said...

Depends on the show you're working on. If you work on LOST buy, if you work on KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL (congrats to that writer nominated even though his show was cancelled) rent.

Warren said...

No! True story, about being locked out of the Emmy's? That's definitely not how I picture it happening in my head. And that thing with Jimmy Smits - Ouch. Love the insider scoop, though.

Paul said...

An Emmy as a lock pick.


ScriptWeaver said...

But wait--

Sounds like wearing a tuxedo was BAD luck!

What kinda blog you runnin' here?!

I'm wearing Harry & Lloyd suits all the way!

Robert Burke Richardson said...

^Thanks for the clarification on the tuxedo ownership issue, Ken.


If you're on a successful show wouldn't your waistline tend to grow, thus making renting a more attractive alternatuve? It seems like you're really making a commitment to your body shape by taking the step of buying a tux. Or do you work so hard on a popular show that you lose weight?

We non-Hollywood types need to know!

Julie Goes to Hollywood said...

Did this perchance inspire the Frasier episode with The Silver Door? When Niles & Frasier finally get the key to the mysterious VIP room at the club of their dreams, only to find themselves in the alley? I love it when life imitates sitcom.

By Ken Levine said...

I'm sure it did. FRASIER won a lot of Emmys. I'm sure we weren't the only winners banished to the alley.

Charlie said...

What is it about ex-Army writers?

I dream of the day I 'make it' and my old CO flips on his TV (hopefully from a nursing home somewhere), sees me accepting a (insert award name here... fuck it... I'll settle for a razzie) and realizes I'm really not the fuck-up he claimed I was.

Or at least, not as I writer. I suppose it wouldn't change his opinion of me as a soldier, huh?