Cher’s Dressing Room …
Here I am in my huge super star dressing room. Why have I been given this for my 5-line speaking role as “Airport Ticket Agent”? I got cast in a bit part so why do I need my own Entry Hall, Make-Up Room, Living Room & oh-so-private Bathroom with Shower? Is it because of my box office wattage? Nope. Maybe my big shot contract? Hardly. Is it because the gal who has been this Soap Opera’s #1 Seductresses Siren for over 30 years is not working today so I totally lucked out and I have been given her luxurious rooms for a special once in a lifetime day ’cause I’m a lucky son-of-a-gun? Uhhhhh why yes that’s it. A Stage Manager says “oh by the way this used to be Cher’s Dressing Room.” What? Is my head spinning? Move over Nirvana ’cause today Johnny’s in heaven. I cannot decide if I like calling it “Cher’s Dressing Room” or “My Dressing Room” or “Our Dressing Room” better. Your thoughts? Did I mention that there are front and back doors including my own entrance that leads directly onto the Sound Stage? The living room suite walls are filled with over 100 framed photos of ‘Madam Not Here Today’ on multiple Soap Digest like Magazine covers. She’s very pretty. Everyone on the show is treating me great and I have my own make-up guy. When I call my Sister I remind her I used to come here in my teens to watch SONNY & CHER tape. My friends and I would only stay for the opening and closing numbers (shot back to back) because the rest of SONNY & CHER’s Variety Show was pre-taped due to all of Cher’s time consumingly amazing gorgeous Bob Mackie Gown changes and her fantastically different Hair Styles. Where’d that happen again? Oh yeah baby…once the star on the door said ‘Cher’ … but it is now ‘Our’ Room and kinda just this once-in-my-lifetime day ‘MY’ Dressing Room. All mine. Get out if I don’t like yah. Old School: Me in the Audience in this very studio (sweet 16 & finally driving). New School: Look Who’s Back In Town Folks? Big Johnny taking a bow & shares a bathroom with Cher. Yeah I did. Humility be gone just for a couple more hours please please. Confusing? No, but very Twilight Zone, right? I am getting paid for this magical day. I have an actual real life part with lines and everything and both Cher & I took naps here, too, I bet you by golly. When midnight strikes tonight I will be back to being an Extra but today I am An Actor. I’d like to thank the Daytime Academy for this “Best Under 5-Lines Bit Player of the Year Award who also got a Great Dressing Room”. And thanks to all the little people. Like me.
I’m doing my scene today with a couple of Male Soap Studs (one of them I watched for years on another show). They are both Dream Boats. Oh is that one of my three private phones ringing that Cher used to use?
Them: …. “Is this the Ticket Agent? Hi we’re in your scene.
Want to rehearse?”
Me: ……….”Sure. Where do you want me to go?”
Them:….. “We’ll come to you.”
Knock knock on Cher’s Door. Please come in guys. Welcome Handsome Men to my place. Have a seat. Let’s go over our lines. In my dressing room, not yours. Is this happening? You bet your ass.
Turns out I have mutual good friends with one of these ‘Mr Soap Stars’ (my “Famous Friend” knows him well) and we share a delightful story or two. Now down to the business of rehearsing our brief airport terminal scene. Yes I am a Ticket Agent and sorry that I am unable to help you gentlemen find the missing fugitive but please feel free to request me back anytime you do another scene in an Airport Set. Please. Running character asked back? I am available. Please call my theatrical agent as soon as I get one.
We do my scene in one take and it goes very well. At the end both Stars gave me the ‘Soap Stare” and held their glance looking at me as they raised eyebrows until we hear “Cut!”. Later the editor will add the classic soap music sting that ends scenes that go into commercial breaks. I do the stare right back at them. Look at him. Look at the other him. Look at me. Fun! Both Stage Managers say that I did real good. Yay. Just before we started to shoot an impatient old Lady Extra (that I am going to hand a fake airline ticket to on “Action”) leans in and complains “I’ve been waiting all day for this.” I laughed and thought…’me too honey’. I’ve been waiting a lifetime and have the paperwork to prove it. After wrapping I go back to Cher’s Place to change and stumble upon some French Le Bayberry Bark Hair Conditioner with a picture on the bottle of the same gal who is on all these magazine covers & doesn’t know me but I’m lounging in her current star space. Yes, she has her own product placement on shampoo that she keeps within private shower reach. This show must be a hit in Frenchie Town. And by “stumble upon” I mean it was under the sink. I just happened to accidentally open a cabinet door. Oops.
During my audition for this role last week I told the Casting Director that the day I was born my Father Ben Starr was writing the Pilot Script for PERRY MASON in this same TV Studio Building and it is always an honor to come here. I get a laugh by mentioning ‘destiny’ and end with “no pressure of course.” There are few things better than nailing an audition and getting the Hire Call a couple hours later for a job that does not include the words “Background Extra” on a contract. The audition and the shoot are thrilling moments. Finally the shoot day is done and I say goodbye to the happiness spirit that is Cher and on my way out I slip under the Casting Director’s door a 8×10 envelope with an enlarged photocopy of my birth certificate. I have yellow highlighted “Father’s Usual Occupation – Writer” and “Kind of Business or Industry” – with the name of this Iconic Television Studio underlined for subtlety. My note on the back asks “I’m guessing you receive few ‘thank you’ notes on birth certificates? Thank you for this treasured memory” Later that night I hear my note made the email rounds and went over well. I’m glad I showed restraint by not adding “I got you Babe.”
Check out my Dad Ben Starr’s amazing Producer/Writer Career on IMDb: