“Me? Judge you?”
Today I have a ‘featured’ silent bit as an agreeable Judge for a ‘Little Miss Sunshine-ish’ Children’s Beauty Pageant on this Smash Teen Show (the adored sweet funny beautiful Star is 17 & she has a current Top Hit Song on iTunes that your 6-12 year old daughters love
love love). Spoiler Alert…her Fake Younger TV Sister is gonna win the Pageant today, I just feel it (okay the Script may have tipped me off). Hello the fix is in?
Some 9 year old girls have been booked to be intentionally talentless & Casting has out-done themselves. Oops…no one told their Stage Mothers. Luckily these little pre-teens are made-up & big-haired & are acting like Divas-in-Training. Someone should tell these children they are booked as Extras. And yes they are all dressed like Strippers and no one can believe how vulgar their costumes are. Example? Too tight Spandexy Sparkle Low-Cut Red, White & Blue mini-skirt that would be over-the-top for Charo. Contestant Number Slutty, step forward with your Hula Hoop please. Before 1st Rehearsal finishes, one Little Miss Marker is close to tears because The Teen Star is not in our scene.
“Why not?” this girl whines … for what turns out to be an endless line of non-stop questions all day. She is repeatedly told politely by Production to pay attention and be quiet. Unfortunately all their instructions go in one ear and out her highly lip-glossed mouth. And there is such a thing as too much rouge.
My Co-Judge is the actual ‘Dialogue Acting Coach’ on this series & the Producers have kindly thrown her a bone in the shape of One Line in this Pageant. Three years behind-the-scenes, helping all the kids act on this show & learn their scripts and Madam Judge gets to say some tongue twister like “Will Willa Winkerwiddle please come to the stage?” She gets a huge laugh & is a total wonderful gracious Pro. Very lucky me. Wardrobe has her in a bedazzled Day-Glo Green Leopard Print 1960’s Dress that stops traffic. They have hired Rupaul’s Hair & Make-up Team (yes really) to transform her into a Beehived-Up-Sweep Hairdo adding Bright Lime Cat Eye Glasses & cartoon-like round pink cheeks & blue eye shadow that turn her into a jaw dropping sight gag. She loves my line “they may have gone one sequin too far.” I stole it from a Hairdresser who does Drag (yes really). Feel free to use it. It comes in handy in Tinsel Town.
Luckily my Co-Judge is a doll & she treats me like an Actor not an Extra. We get to share a ‘Two-Shot Close-Up” which also got a laugh. On “ACTION” we beg the Young Fake Sister Contestant to come on down to sing & dance for the crowd (but to save money on an Upgrade my instructions are “Use your hands & face but DON’T TALK OUT LOUD”). No bump for me. Waah. After the 1st Take the Director yells “Do it bigger! Action!” We gesticulate until we hear “Better. Perfect. Cut.”
We think we are done then someone behind the set yells through a microphone blaring “One more Take please. ACTION!” Suddenly the 17 year old Teen Star fulfills every one’s dreams by running onto the set towards our table on stage while we are still rolling (something extra for the DVD release no doubt?). What’s going on? She is wearing someone’s borrowed Crew Headset & appears to be a Production Assistant. Huh? My new pal the Dialogue Acting Coach/Pageant Judge is flabbergasted to suddenly be dressed down by The Teen Star she has worked with for 3 hit seasons. “You call that acting? Could you please bring it down a couple notches & make a commitment to the role instead
of chewing the scenery Honey?” The Crew breaks up & no one in the Studio Audience watching our Taping has any idea what this inside joke is about. But…because she is a Star everyone starts laughing, much much too loudly. All the Extras sitting on set don’t know what’s happening either but they want to appear ‘in’ on the joke, too, so they begin laughing. I however know what’s going on because I am “In” with the “In Crowd.” I go where the “In Crowd” goes. But I am not a Hollywood Phony. I laugh loud but not too loud. Just right loud. Don’t make me put on my fake head-set…
“Oh Rickie I’m home!”
During breaks they have us Background Performers in ‘Holding’ on an empty Sound Stage next door. Name Drop for one…did I mention it is the “I LOVE LUCY” Stage where they shot the most iconic original comedy television series in history? I am working amongst the shadows of giants. This is the same small Hollywood Studio that used to be Desilu Productions in the 1950s & once was a “B” Movie “Gower Gulch” Down Market Film Company from 1930-1949 (Westerns & early Mae West & Marx Brothers shot here). Oh and in the 1920s it was originally opened/owned by Silent Film Comedy Giant Harold Lloyd (the bespectacled guy hanging from the Top Floor Downtown Skyscraper Clock Tower in “SAFETY LAST”). Who is that pretty 20 year old you are talking to John? Oh that’s Jackie Lloyd … Harold’s lovely Great-Grandaughter who tells me about him opening this Lot so he could make and own his own Pictures. I did not know that and I am a huge fan of his. She is thrilled that I share my story of me sneaking onto his Massive Beverly Hills Estate “Greenacres” (don’t you dare sing) in Benedict Canyon in 1967 with a buddy who lived up the street from Harold and snuck on all the time. Yes yes we see the 40 year old Very Tall White Flocked Christmas Tree that was never taken down through the Living Room Window. Yep we also crawl through the Child size Cottage Dollhouse with plumbing that still works & touch Hand Made Kid’s Furniture in all 5 adorable rooms. It was built for Harold’s Daughter (or as I call her, my BFF Jackie’s Mom’s Mom). And they shot my Dad’s MR. ED on this same Lot too! Wow. Sometimes the nostalgia makes my head spin & I get giddy. Oh so giddy.
THE LUCY STAGE
One of the Extras is a Scottish Gent who’s been in Hollywood a while. He looks & acts like the Sea Captain on THE SIMPSONS (thick brogue, rich head of white hair & all. Give him a pipe & you’re ready to go). We both know he looks like an old man. He becomes embarrassed when we discover that we are the same age. He stutters “You look good Laddie” (okay I added the ‘Laddie’ but this nice guy who doesn’t take care of himself has a stage name like Shamus O’Stereotype).
Name drop for two. My 6 year old Niece is thrilled I am working on her favorite show. Uncle John is cool. She does not care that our VIP Guests today are Mrs. Tom-Katie Holmes-Cruise and her Daughter Suri with the fringe on top (who is an incredibly beautiful, friendly, well behaved young lady & obviously a big fan of this show). Guess who cares? The people on-set really care. A lot. I loved watching the Extras, Crew & Production be nonchalant to the max (me, too, who am I kidding?). Thankfully I was wearing sunglasses outside when Katie & Suri stood 3 feet away from me talking to The Teen Star while I waited to get into Wardrobe. Otherwise due to shear Star Power my retinas
would have detached…