Soon To Be Classics

Monday, October 29, 2007

Going Hollywood - Day 2 - Showtime!

We reported to the set at 7:30am last Wednesday for the first day of shooting the tv show NUMB3RS on the set of the mythical "AltCon 9 - Los Angeles". I actually own the shirt, suckers. We followed the signs, asked directions and ended up in a room full of roughly 100 other folks. It gets pretty strange from here. As we looked around, we saw people dressed as barbarians, aliens, samurai, and a LOT of people dressed in Star Trek costumes. (Note: NUMB3RS is owned by Paramount. That means at least the Trek costumes were authentic.)

We were asked if we had checked in and reported we had not. We made our way to wardrobe to meet "Fuller". We're not sure if this was his name or his job. The latter possibility made me cringe thinking what costume we might be pried into. Fortunately, he looked at our company polos and decided there was nothing he could do to make us look any geekier. We were sent back to "holding".

Once we got back, we immediately met Natalie, a lovely young woman wearing a Star Trek uniform who was sitting at our table. She is a "theatre person" and is only doing this because she's a Trekker that wanted to wear an original costume. A handful of other people sat down around us and we got to know a lot of these folks. Most seemed to have the same story. They do this 5-7 days a week. The pay sucks but you generally get fed three meals per day (Note: The alarms should have gone off right there.) and you get camera time.

After breakfast, the Assistant Director, Jeff, came to greet us. Jeff was the kind of guy who looked like he would be very mean but instead treated us like he was the coolest camp counselor ever. He gave us some instructions and tried to prepare us for the grind ahead. Most notably, we were not supposed to touch ANY of the props on the table. Meaning, I couldn't even touch my own stuff.

We got the first call to the set around 9am. Henry and I trudged down to "Alt Con 9", the fake comic con. It looked really good, but not really quite like a con. I assumed it would look great on camera so I didn't really say anything. It's very hard to do a con without any of the big licenses showing. They got very lucky that Dan Brereton (creator of Nocturnals) was on board as he supplied them with a shit load of art assets. That stuff looked really cool and was hanging everywhere.

We then spent the next 5 hours staging and rehearsing a shooting. Holy crap is that hard work. Henry and I assumed we'd be in the booth but instead we ended up as extras walking through the convention when the crime (it's a crime show, you know) occurs. My first Hollywood experience required me to hit the deck, look afraid, scream, and cower in fear. Pretty much the same act I do during financial analysis meetings.

Just prior to the beginning of shooting, Wil Wheaton came up to me while I was standing in the booth waiting for shooting to begin. We're not supposed to talk to the actors but Wil heard that WizKids was there and being the game geek he is, had to check it out. He asked me "Are you really from WizKids or are you just an extra? " I told him I was and we began a 20 minute conversation on gaming. He's a big fan of Pirates and HorrorClix. I gave him my card and invited him to send me an email and I'd hook him up with a care package of swag. He grinned and went off.

We finally got a break for lunch. It was well after noon, was getting very hot (it was already over 90) and my knees were starting to complain loudly. We sat down, took 1 bite of a sandwhich and Jeff came in yelling for us all to return to the set.

Yep, Day 2 was a long one. Continued tomorrow.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Going Hollywood - Day 1 Setup

Henry and I flew into Los Angeles late on Monday night. We could see the fires from the plane coming in, but other than that it was an uneventful travel day. Tuesday was setup day when the fake convention (dubbed "Alt Con 9 - Los Angeles") was going to come to life.

The next morning, we hopped in a cab and made our way to the Los Angeles Studio Center lot. One problem though, is that if you ask an LA cabbie to take you anywhere but the airport or the hotel, they don't have a frickin' clue where they are going. This moron couldn't get us anywhere near where we had to go and we were almost late.

When we finally arrived, we were greeted by Katherine, the Production Director (?) who was in charge of getting the set constructed. Our product had arrived and after warding off her staff who was drooling over the case of Pirates, we went downstairs to see "Alt Con". The actual set was the lobby of the building that they use as the lobby to FBI headquarters. Obviously, they have to disguise it as much as possible so the room was filled with banners, booths, and hand constructed sci-fi and comic elements. There was almost no licensed properties, as the majors didn't want to play ball. However, Wizard of the Coast, Dark Horse and a couple of artists as well as us had sent elements down. We were the only company to send staff and we were, quite frankly, treated like stars because of it.

Before we began, we got to tour the sets for NUMB3RS. This included the FBI cubicles, interrogation rooms, and the school and home sets. Hollywood is clever folks, they can fool you in ways you couldn't imagine. What's really cool, is that with the cameras becoming smaller the sets were more or less full sets with either no open "4th wall" or the ability to pull one back. When we were in the offices and the house, it was like we were in these places no matter which way you looked (except for up).

We returned to the con and were given the choice of where to put our booth. Having cleverly read the script the previous night, I knew where a lot of the action was going to take place so I picked what should be a good spot. We won't know until the air date in November for sure.

We got set up after a couple of hours, and left with seemingly very little else done. We both wondered how they were going to pull this off. I went back to my hotel, did email for a couple of hours ventured out into downtown LA for dinner (by the way, downtown LA closes at 6pm. Thank God for Qdoba!) I didn't get much sleep and that was definitely something that I would regret the next day.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Going Hollywood

This post is going to take me at least a week's worth of entries to tell, and to be honest, I'm not sure how much I can say. No one told me NOT to say anything, but I think that there are some things I should leave out for a time.

Last week, we got a call at work that Paramount Studios was putting together a mock comic book convention for the Friday night drama, "NUMB3RS". They were looking for props from vendors in our industry. We opted to do more than just send product, but Henry and I flew down to Los Angeles (amidst the fires) to set up and help out.

What happened from that point, is a bizarre tale of something I never thought I would be involved in in this lifetime. Mkae goes Hollywood.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, October 21, 2007

There's Always Next Year

The mating call of a Cleveland sports fan. I don't think any other city's sports franchises try harder to make it to the big dance and then so mind-boggingly screw it up more than ours. I actually turned off the TV tonight during the eighth inning between Cleveland and Boston. I scolded myself for being a fair-weather fan and turned the TV back on to see that Boston scored two more runs. Now I'm just watching the mercy killing.

Perfect way to cap an already shitty day. But, there's always next year.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Full Power on the Bullshit Detector

In case you haven't heard about it, Bill Maher had to help security remove an unruly, shouting, conspiracy theorist from the audience of a taping of his HBO show the other night. The full report of what happened can be read here.

So why am I declaring b.s.? A couple of reasons:

1) It's Hollywood, an industry that thrives on people doing just what I'm doing now. Talking about them and their narcissistic and desperate ploys for attention.
2) Maher, a narcissist in his own right, stands up and yells to security "Do I have to come down there and kick his ass?" Seriously. The host of a show would simply not do that. Ever. Plus, he really needs better writers.
3) With the high-powered guests that Maher has, it took security how long to get to this guy?
4) The protesters were also screaming about 9-11 conspiracies which makes them hecklers that NO ONE in the audience is going to defend when the host comes heroically running into the audience.

Maybe this whole thing is just symbolic of the impending Writer's Guild strike. They've run short of material already to make us think nonsense like this is real life.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Bring On #1

What a day for football.

I got a chance to watch #1 LSU let their unbeaten record (and thusly, the #1 ranking) slip away to a determined, if not flawed, Kentucky. It was a game that went into triple overtime and it was a real heart stopper. Of course, I could care less for either team and have never watched either play, but when Ohio State is #3 behind LSU, and OSU handily beat Kent State today, an LSU loss is a very nice thing indeed.

At this moment, California (#2) is about to be defeated by Oregon State. Of course, it's all up to the voters, but Ohio State should end up as the number one college football team in the country after tomorrow's sportswriters voting.

Now if the Indians can hold it together against Boston. :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

It's Good! No...wait!

The last second, bullshit, sideline time out calls a second before a team kicks a field goal has got to stop. I'm not just complaining because it was used against the Browns this year, but it's happened several times this season against different teams.

If you're not familiar with it, it's referred to as "icing the kicker". The opposing coach times his "time out call" so it happens just seconds before the center snaps to the holder. Neither team is looking at the sidelines at this time. This usually means that the play goes off and the kick is made. Only the officials (usually one) know the call was even made. Excited fans are then disappointed to see that, no, it wasn't a good kick, because the asshole coach called a timeout. The whole play comes back. I'm not certain, but I believe that if the opposing coach has enough timeouts, he can continue to do this.

This is possible because of an NFL rules change that allows the timeout call to be made in this fashion. It is legal to do this but it just adds an irritating, gaming, aspect to the game. If you look at the number of games that are won or lost each year by a field goal, this is only going to increase in use.

Football is an awesome game. I love watching it but the bullshit rulings by the NFL are really souring the entire experience.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Chuck Gets Lost

Did anyone else catch the subtle "Lost" reference on Chuck last week?

Also, there was a very lame Battlestar Galactica reference on Bionic Woman. (The old 'TV set playing the show's creator's OTHER series' gag. Bleh.)

Friday, October 05, 2007

And We're Back...

Ok, first, sorry for freaking everyone out. I think I'm far enough out from this situation to take a moment to write about it.

For the last 20 years, I have been taking care of my mom. She has either lived with me, my family, or in very close proximity. She's into her 70's now and her health is in serious decline. Recently, the situation became quite incendiary with flashes of paranoia, accusations, and just generally strange behavior. We're having her evaluated for a number of things, including (at the doctor's request) Parkinson's disease. (On a side note, my dad had that before he died.)

It became necessary to move mom into a facility better suited for her. So, we sought out and found an assisted living facility nearby. There was a ton of family strife and the damage done between mom's children is permanent. Literally, I will never speak with my sister again because of this issue. Ever.

So mom is in a place right now where there is a nurse on staff 24 hours, lots of people her age and she's having a ball. It was still incredibly difficult and we're certainly not through the worst of it yet as we await diagnosis after diagnosis. Note that this isn't a nursing home. Rather, it's an apartment with a watchful eye and nightly bingo matches.

Work has been about the hardest it has ever been and the 8 month rainy season has started with literally 3 weeks of straight rain.

That's it in a nutshell.