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Papa Papa Paparazzi…

Murder! Mayhem! A Movie Starr has been butchered at a Hollywood Hills Mansion Estate overlooking Tinsel Town! Call the Police! Call TMZ! And for goodness sake call ‘Paparazzi Johnny’ (have camera will angle). Who did what to whom and who cares?
Noon Call-Time starts with BBQ Burgers & Fries to warm up the Crew and Background Team.  How do you start a riot in Base Camp? Feed the Extras. Everybody meets at a Church Parking Lot off Sunset Blvd to take Vans up the treacherous winding road to where Star Maps pin point where the Film Folk Frolic.

Aloha Oye!

But 1st a tiny little mix-up with Wardrobe. Our Casting Voice Mail instructions say “Bring Loud Colorful Hawaiian Shirts” but on arrival we hear “No no no! Who the hell told you to wear that?” Adios to my Vintage Aloha number I bought at Ardvarks Oddark on Melrose Avenue in 1974 with my pal Ann & her then Roommate Lorna Patterson (a few years away from being cast as the Singing Stewardess in AIRPLANE & later TV’s PRIVATE BENJAMIN). Thankfully I have my Brand New $10 Bright Sky Blue Striped Target Tee underneath & a quick costume change later all is well. Someone wants Loud and I gave ’em Loud.  Give me clear correct instructions people.

Ornate anyone?

After several hours waiting for tons of equipment and people to be schlepped up this hill, we are ready to shoot in front of the Mansion by the Main Gates. People are placed to look like a crowd of neighbors gathering after hearing the sirens. An Extra dressed like a Rich Old Lady is handed an adorable 5 week old Puppy named “Daisy” to peek out of her purse (with a Licensed Animal Handler nearby off-camera at all times). There’s Rich Old Man Extra in his Pajamas and House Slippers (which he arrived on set with & wears all day…I’d have worn tennis shoes and worn my Slippers only while filming but what do I know?). A Hot Young Couple of Background Kids are in Skin Tight Workout Clothes as they jog past take after take. Dress Police Cars and News Trucks galore. 5 Background Performers as Cops and one Real Life Policeman who moonlights in TV and Movies on his days off. He is from Boston and never stops bragging how gang members love his accent . He mentions Mark Wahlberg a dozen times. Today everyone seems scared of pissing this guy off. Even the Director shows him respect which is weird because this Cop is as obnoxious as they come.  He keeps pressing the Director to give him a line and whenever they yell “ACTION” Officer Boston says “Don’t Break My Balls Charlie!” His bit works because he ends up getting Upgraded and makes more money. He shares his life story with anyone who hasn’t already walked away from him and after one “CUT!” he  inexplicitly yells “FIRE IN THE HOLE!” and freaks out the the Crew. This is only said on sets where pyrotechnics are about to be used and is a Warning to prevent dangerous accidents. Why did Boston do it? Who the heck knows. He thought it was really funny and no one else did. Everyone stares at him bewildered. He apologizes and starts talking about how much he loves “Duncies” (yes Duncan Donuts…can you believe it?). Must be his defense mode kicking in.  I shook my head in a dismissive passive-aggressive judgemental way that made me feel better than him. What?

A View to Kill?

I asked the 2nd AD if I was allowed to use the Flash on my Prop Camera while snapping shots of the Investigators entering the Gates and the Director came back “yes.’  On “ACTION” I went a wee bit crazy and they loved it. All the other Paps were told to do it and we laughed the day away “fighting” to get the best shots. Studio Secret: Among us Fake Paps was a New Media Production Assistant with a Real Digital Camera shooting footage to be used on the Network’s Web Site promoting this Hour Long Hit Drama. Shhhhhh…synergy.
Hot hot hot. Nothing like being on top of a mountain in 90 degree weather without any cover. Am I the only person who knows about wearing a hat, long sleeves & that secret stuff called Sunscreen out here in Los Angeles? People are now kinda dying all over, and the Complaint Department appears to be open.  “There’s no shade!” “Waaah I’m sweating!” “This is awful!” Unfortunately the Production Team is fighting the elements here and no one seemed to plan for bringing tons of water. That’s right…no water on set for over an hour and a glorious Lagoon Pool with Palm Trees that everyone is forbidden to touch or enter. One Extra gal dips her feet in and is fired on the spot. What part of the 2nd AD’s “Don’t go near the Pool or you will be sent home” didn’t she hear? Cue weeping and begging. Honey it doesn’t work on ‘American Idol’ and it doesn’t work here. Bye bye Lady who doesn’t follow instructions.  Her exit line… “You people are inhuman cruel Bastards!” Welcome to Hollywood Baby.  It’s murder.

8 Responses to “Murder Mansion Mayhem”

  1. Kami says:

    Ha ha! There’s always one! Well, in this case, two. Reading about the weeper, I almost forgot about Mr. Boston. Gotta love those characters. Another great piece, my friend! 🙂

  2. I’d be honored to have you snap my mug anytime. On the count of three: “fliman!”

  3. John Starr says:

    Thanks Carol (and for those who don’t speak Yiddish…”fliman” means “say cheese!”

  4. Andy Estrella says:

    Acting is easy. Comedy is murder!

  5. Westin says:

    Really laughed with the Cops’ “Don’t Break My Balls Charlie!” comment…

  6. Wolfie says:

    GREAT Post.

  7. Christine Lind says:

    OMG! I didn’t know your dad looked so much like you (or vice versa). Great interview.

  8. John Starr says:

    Chris-
    Thanks for watching my Dad’s interview!
    John

    Catch Ben Starr’s
    ‘Emmy Television Legend’ interview:

    http://www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/ben-starr

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