Saturday, April 16, 2016

Another crazy " Writers Assistant" story

Now they're called "Writers Assistants".  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 craziest 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.

Re-posted from several years ago.


MikeK.Pa. said...

Sally is now a studio exec. She greenlighted BIRDMAN and THE TREE OF LIFE, among others.

Unknown said...

And then there’s true story of the lady who called 911 because they ran out of Chicken McNuggets:

H Johnson said...

Many years ago we had a lovely, mature secretary working for us. She was very organized and her desk was always spotless.
One late afternoon after hours one of our crew trucks went down on the way back to the yard. I needed the file to get some info for parts but I couldn't find it any where. I looked in the vehicle files, equipment files, F for Ford, T for trucks, everywhere. Finally I called her at home. "Hi Faye, could you tell me where the file is for Dennis' truck please?" "It's in the file cabinet behind my desk, dear" "Well that's what I thought, but I can't find it" "Did you look under'W'?" "No, why would I look under 'W'?" "Because it's white dear". "Oh... thanks" "Bye bye dear"
I looked and there it was. Silly me.


Loosehead said...

That was great. More secretary stories please.

Unknown said...

On one show I was running we had an assistant who took it upon herself to "improve" the writing after the writer's room had turned in the rewrite pages. I'm not talking grammar or spelling. I mean she actually changed dialogue, jokes. I told her never to do that again. She did it again.

Anonymous said...

"After that the conversation got weird." This is the opening to the follow-up sequel.

Calling the studio stunt department is definitely a huge leap in problem-solving, but someone over there at Paramount was certainly looking to capitalize. $20k to rescue a bird? Were they bringing a horde of trailers and the camera crew? As crazy as Sally was, the studio accounting / estimate floors me.


Anonymous said...

What I took away from this is stuntmen are heartless men.

This was a woman, by herself, who had a small BIRD stuck in a TREE! Did they want it to die up there? Would they be happy to know, a month from then, that poor woman would look out her kitchen window, and see a rotting small bird carcass, still attached to the branch, perhaps leaning to the side at a 65 degree angle, staring at her from where it's eyes used to be, as if to say "why? why didn't you help me? I was just a little, tiny, scared... bird. I didn't mean to. I didn't mean to."

Yet these stuntmen wouldn't bother to shake off their cheap hangovers, and slide out from under their semi-conscious hookers, to help a poor distraught woman, and her bird, on their own time.

I think this just goes to show, being a stuntman may be a profession, but it's not an honorable one.

– Snarky Joe

Hiram said...

Sally should be your next Celebrity Guest Blogger!