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I am an American Reporter in Iraq urgently running with a crowd through the shell shocked city to a run-down Baghdad Hotel for a Vital War News Conference. The front sidewalk Hookah Café sign reads مقهى (“Coffeshop”). Insurgent’s Explosions are heard in the distance while the Ex-C.I.A. Secret Battalion ACTION HERO strides confidently past the Armed Guardian Police in Bullet Proof Vests. The HERO knocks into me jarring my hand held HDTV Camera. Everyone is pushing into the Mobbed Lobby (in disrepair for a change). Fire & Smoke Pots clog the air (“Smoke Bump” – more Money…Score!).

Between each shot on this Tent Pole Summer 150 Million Dollar Blockbuster the Huge Grip Crew use Trucks to spray water onto the streets so that light is reflected, adding depth and contrast to the shot (we need a “Wet Down”). Ever notice most night scenes have wet streets? Water makes it look Pretty (look for this, trust me). The largest Steadicam Crane I have ever seen swiftly swoops down from the 5 story blown out building across the street directly behind the HERO following his every step.

The Publicity Still Photographer’s actual 10 year Son is costumed and made up like a filthy Aladdin Slumdog who begs the HERO for help in Arabic (taught to the kid by one of the 25 Middle-Eastern Extras dressed like Osama Ali Baba). This Boy’s real Sister is dressed in a Teen Burka and hangs with the HERO’s Real Life Award Winning Actress Girlfriend (recently Divorced and just a tiny bit older than our Mid-30s Brand Newly Minted Famous Male Movie Star). He’s been around 15 years doing Supporting Roles and struck it rich with a Comedy Smash last year.

This film I’m working on, was completed 6 months ago and the Final Rough Cut has “Tested” needing certain plot clarifications. Oh, we forgot to shoot those scenes where you understand what is going on? Oooops-a-doosie-daisy!  On the count of three say “SHOOT RETAKES” and pretend we are a Studio Head of Distribution (this is the part where you throw suitcases filled with money at this Project mere months before Release). Production has convinced the Producers of the other movie our HERO is currently shooting in NYC to release him to their Rival Movie Studio as a Favor for 36 hours over this weekend. Our Handsome Hunk is cut from the Harrison-Ford-in-his-heyday swath and he & his Star Gal Pal have been flown out to the Coast in a Private Jet and pampered within a Spray Tan of their lives. She’s really pretty, the size of a stick, talks to the crew, smiled directly at me before I realized who she was, and is Botoxed to the tenth degree. Still… she’s sweet and obviously loves watching her Man in Action. They’ll probably be broken up before this film is released and everyone on the set knows it but her.

Between takes the Extras are passing their iPhones around with this couple’s latest googled shenanigans. How weird is that? At the market this week I counted them on the cover of several Gossip Rags (he usually has his shirt off for some strange reason…). I really like that he keeps bumping into me just because the Director yells “ACTION”. Why can’t these Male Movie Stars keep away from me? I ask only for respect.

Wardrobe approved & complemented my “Desert Casual” outfit (it never gets old being told you dressed perfectly for the occasion, War Zone or not, don’t you agree?). It’s different shooting on a Saturday night at an empty Hollywood Studio (the large crew is thrilled they’ll earn Golden Time and they can’t stop talking about it whenever I am at Crafty snacking). Bragging about money in Show Business? Shocking! We work late and get a Meal Penalty (Score!). This night sequence when edited will be seen a total of 7-10 seconds in the Final Cut and probably cost slightly over $210,000. Pocket change. Signing out, I ask if I get a “Star Bump” cost increase because the HERO repeatedly touched me. The 2nd AD replies “Those were the old days Pal.” Ouch.

Watch my 1976 Movie Debut as “Saul the High School Track Manager” starring Steve Guttenberg …about 25 minutes into CHICKEN CHRONICLES on my IMDb Link: click here!

13 Responses to “Baghdad Café, eh?”

  1. Amy Jurist says:

    great post – whos the girl starlet?

  2. Adriana Sbardellati says:

    You should tell me the projects names so I can look out for you! 😀

    Glad you’re working – sounds like you’re doing great!

    Talk to you soon,

    Adriana

  3. Mandy Green says:

    Very funny – a good one.

  4. Lark Hackshaw says:

    Another engrossing read.
    OK i give…who is the star and the ex-wife/girlfriend?
    lark

  5. Beverly Tyler says:

    John,

    Are you the guy with the clip board in “Chicken Chronicles”? Thanks for giving me the 25 minutes into the film timing to find you. LOL,
    Keep me posted, I am enjoying the news.

    I was thinking maybe you should put the real names into these stories and start a book.

    Beverly

  6. Libby Harrison says:

    Loved that

  7. Carol Schneider says:

    luv this! your best written to date! excellent in every way!!!!! nicely done, broski! xxxxxxxxx

  8. Laurie Morgan says:

    You made me laugh sweetie J

    In Good Spirits,

    Laurie

  9. John Starr says:

    Hey everybody!

    Thanks for the positive feedback! Unfortunately due to Union Rules I can’t reveal the names of the Actors or TV/Film titles (otherwise I’d never get hired). Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful!

    Your Extra Pal in Hollywood,

    John Starr

  10. Phil May says:

    John,

    For film enthusiasts very informative and very entertaining. You write quite admirably… for an extra.

    Phil

  11. adriana says:

    Like always, love the story. I’ll be watching out for you in everything I watch from now on! 🙂

  12. Christine says:

    I’m ready for my wet down, Mr. DeMille.

  13. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by iget2work (sue wolf). iget2work (sue wolf) said: John Starr Extra … being an extra in a war movie: http://tinyurl.com/29wpeux […]

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