Monday, February 24, 2014

Another crazy secretary story

And yes, back in the ‘90s they were still called secretaries. We’ve had several that proved to be total loons. Sweet people but seriously bonkers.

One of the bat-shit carziest was Sally. This is when we had a development deal at Paramount. We had our own production company and the mandate was to sell pilots and get shows on the air.

Sally lived in a modest apartment in Brentwood, a half-hour drive to Paramount. One morning her pet parakeet got out of its cage, flew out the window, and perched in a nearby tree.

When this happens, what do you do? Call the fire department? Yes, that’s what you or I or anyone sane might do. But not Sally.

She called the Paramount Special Effects department and ordered that two stuntmen to come out to her apartment to retrieve the bird.

I got awoken by a call from the Special Effects department. They wanted my okay for this. How much would be charged against our production deal? $20,000. “Fuck no!” I said and told them to cancel the assignment.

Sally called me moments later, frantic because Paramount gave her the bad news. What was she going to do? This was essentially our conversation:

ME: Did you call the fire department?

HER: Why would I call the fie department?

ME: To get your bird down.

HER: There’s no fire.

ME: They also rescue animals. You’ve never heard of fireman raising ladders up against trees and saving cats?

HER: This is a bird.

ME: So what?

HER: Do they have nets?

ME: How would I know?

HER: Well, how will they capture him?

ME: They’ll send up the Dalmatian. He’ll put it in his mouth. I don’t know.

HER: Maybe I can pay some kids to climb the tree.

ME: Just call the fucking fire department!

HER:  Can I tell them I'm a producer.

ME:  No!

HER:  But I want them to come here first.

ME:  You think they go out on calls based on your status in Hollywood?

HER:  Well, maybe they're actors.

ME:  So if they think you're a producer they'll recite a monologue from King Lear as they shimmy up the ladder?

HER:   Well how else can I get them to come here first?

ME:  Tell him the bird is the Maltese Falcon. 

After that the conversation got weird.  She eventually phoned the LAFD.   The bird was rescued. It took all morning. And we got no work done. Hey,  I’m just glad she didn’t call for the corporate jet to fly her the ten miles from Brentwood to Paramount in Hollywood.

Sally was one of our better secretaries by the way.  So that gives you some idea. 


Mike Barer said...

She must have been a Republican and didn't want to use public money to retrieve the bird.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

2nd to last paragraph: she *fired* the LAPD? Or phoned them?

I recall that my father, in the 1960s, had occasion to hire a new bookkeeper and had some trouble finding someone suitable. One of the women he tried out for a couple of months for some reason didn't like invoices and bills of lading, so she just piled them up in a drawer along with a very large kitchen knife. (The knife freaked people out and got her fired; the pile of unreconciled paperwork was only found after she'd gone.)


Richard Y said...

As a firefighter (retired) I have participated in multiple of animal rescues, dogs, cats, horses, snakes and others but never recall having to rescue a bird out of a tree.

Anonymous said...

The other day I was half listening to the TV and heard the underdog song. When I looked up it was being used in a running shoe commercial. Then I heard the Cheer's theme - and was surprised it was for an automobile. How does that happen? Thanks

RCP said...

Obviously you've never experienced the joys of being a parakeet parent, Ken. For those of us who are, your boorish attitude is obnoxious.

Terry said...

Question: A show I saw the other day had a credit for "story by" and for "teleplay by" on one of its episodes. What prompts an unusual situation such as that?

DrBOP said...

Did you mean "bird-shit crazy"?

(Or are you a secret devotee of HST? :+)

Hamid said...

I just read the horrible news that Harold Ramis has died. I can't quite believe it. He was a terrific actor, writer and director. I guess most of the coverage will focus on Ghostbusters, but Multiplicity, Analyze This and, of course, Groundhog Day are fantastic too, Groundhog being unquestionably a classic. RIP

Joe in DC said...

“After that the conversation got weird.” AFTER that? :-)

allan appleby said...

Ramis was terrific! RIP

LouOCNY said...

RIP Harold Ramis - when you look at his credit list, it really makes your mouth open realizing how much he was a part of the great SNL/SCTV comedy revolution of the 70s...which is really the Second City revolution.

Cap'n Bob said...

This is the first I've heard about Ramis. Too bad. I also liked him in Strypes.

Pat Reeder said...

I was also saddened to read that Harold Ramis died, then baffled to read a report that it was an Internet hoax. Now, it's all over the major news outlets, and I don't know what to believe. The Internet: greatest invention ever for spreading misinformation in seconds.

BTW, as the foster parent of (currently) 14 birds, ranging from a budgie up to two cockatoos (we rescue homeless, abused and disabled exotic birds), I sympathize with your secretary's panic at her bird getting out. FYI, if you're not going to clip a bird's wings, then never let it out of the cage when a door or window might be opened. Or when you are cooking on top of the stove. One of our rescues is the world's sweetest cockatiel who was badly burned and lost both her feet because her idiot previous owners let her fly around when they had a skillet on an open range. She didn't know it was hot and landed on it. Her survival was such a miracle that our vet wrote a paper about her for a veterinary medicine journal.

Anonymous said...

This has to do with your Capcha. It takes forever to get it to work and usually I give up. But I have seen Captchas that are simple math problems like 3+3= and you fill out the 6 in order to prove we're something resembling human. Any way you can make it easier on us who can't seem to make sense of the weird captcha program you're using?

Johnny Walker said...

"After that the conversation got weird."

Dear lord.

Re: Harold Ramis. I think it's been pretty much confirmed now. Very sad, but I was glad to hear that Bill Murray said goodbye, he always sounded very distressed in interviews when talking about their collapse of their friendship.

Dale said...

I echo the sadness over Ramis' death. Very sad news. :-(

Cap'n Bob said...

We gave our cockatiel to my wife's nephew. One day he walked out of his apartment with the bird on his shoulder. It flew off and was never seen again.

By Ken Levine said...

My thoughts on Harold Ramis tomorrow. What a huge loss.

Mike said...

Sally: I did the right thing in calling out the Fire Service for this? I mean, you guys have all the equipment, right?
Fireman: Yes, ma'am.
Sally: So why aren't you unloading the ladder?
Fireman: Ladder? We're using the hose jet.

DrBOP said...

Harold Ramis.....part of that Pride of Young Lions of writers/performers that brought us TVTV/SecondCity/NatLampRadio/SCTV.....really the first group of people who reflected our sense of humor back to us.
Their later movie success was tremendous of course ; but that belonged to everyone on the planet. That earlier period was where it still felt "naughty", felt like we were getting away with something, something that was solely OURS ; that we were the only ones who really got the gist of the dig. And,in turn, they taught us that you COULD go that far....and make people ROAR with joyful laughter. WHAT a gift!

But also, being a Vet, Stripes stays with me in so many ways....we had also done some fine soul-marching during basic training....we had EPIC battles with our Drill Sergeant (and how about Sarge's retaliation of rousting us out of bed at 3am, handed two dinner knives, and ordered to crawl on our hands and knees CUTTING THE GRASS....and he and we rolling around laughing at the sweet ridiculousness of the situation)....and particularly the scene where the Recruiting Sergeant asks Harold and Billy "Are either of you homosexual?"
And Harold IMMEDIATELY replies...."No....but we're willing to learn."

Freakin' gets me EVERYtime :+)

"Huge loss" is absolutely correct, sir.

Rest In Rhythm brother.

Hamid said...

A few great scenes to remember Harold Ramis by as an actor as well as a writer/director.


Groundhog Day


Knocked Up

Storm said...

In the same week, I've lost Bob Casale, the guitarist/keyboardist of my favourite band, DEVO (Screw "Whip It", check him out on "Gut Feeling/Slap Your Mammy". Holy CRAP, the man was underrated), my ancient Pug dog, and now Harold Ramis? Fuck it, I'm going to bed for a few months.



Anonymous said...


Cap'n Bob said...

I meant Stripes.

rockgolf said...

I didn't like Harold Ramis in Stipes. They made him look fat.

Jay said...

Reality >>> Fiction.