THURSDAY – 7:30am Set Call Time at yet another abandoned Hospital now being used exclusively as a Movie Set. They shot SCRUBS here for 9 seasons. Our Key Electrical Grip was born here & now has an office in a former patients room. Twilight Zone much? Hollywood Hospital Secret – Wardrobe Supplied Scrubs don’t have real pockets so we wear our jeans underneath (otherwise no place for iPhone and our world ends).I’ve worked 4 episodes on this Hit Show and know lots of folks. But this is my first time playing a Chemo Patient.
Having a Shaved Head got me the job (who knew my 15 year look would pay off…literally?). When I walk on set the 1st AD says “Didn’t you die the last 2 times you were here?” I answer “Yes, and the time before that I was a Pedestrian when your AD paid $10,000 to the Little Tokyo Dance Club to shut their music off.” So he says “take your glasses off and you’ll be someone else today.” Voila I’m completely different. Now the fight starts…AD: “John take your Beanie Hat off.” Head of Wardrobe: “I think he should keep it on.” Gal #2: “Me too”. Johnny Extra wisely keeps his cake hole shut. Discussion ensues over private crew intercom system. Then Female Director: “I agree with Wardrobe” Case closed. My buddy the 2nd AD quietly tells me to take my Hat off. Director: “Action.” Guest Actor Doctor: “We’ll know more in a few weeks but hey, you’re lucky the Chemo didn’t make you lose your hair.” Sexy Male Young Lead Detective: “Thanks Doc.” Camera pulls back revealing ICU with me stuck with tubes everywhere in recline chair. The back of my head featured in Close Up with no face coverage. I am a Sight Gag! At lunch I submit for a possible Clown job from the Union Availability Line (I remind the Casting Director he received my hand-delivered New Clown Photo last week). 12 minutes later I book the Job! This new shot was taken by my talented in-house photog who doubles as My Boyfriend.
FRIDAY – 2:00pm Call Time. Great to have morning to Exercise and Do Stuff! For the 2nd day in a row I am a Chemo Patient (hello trend starting?) on one of the Grand Daddies of all Soaps at a TV Studio that I’ve worked on since the mid-70s. Got this job Old School by mailing in 8×10 (it still works!). As requested stop by to meet the Casting Director (she’d called asking “Is your head still shaved? Good, you’re booked”). She’s a theater pro who asked me to bring my original Ethel Merman GYPSY Program to look at (she had friend in that cast & was impressed it was my 1st Broadway Show seen as a kid). She ends with “Maybe after Chemo you’ll get better on this show and I’ll bring you back in a Restaurant Scene!” I tell her about my booking Clown gig and give her revised shot featuring new Multi-Colored Wig. Then in Make Up run into A Major Early 1970s TV Star who I worked with before Retro was Vintage. She kindly approaches and we remember great times. Her Show is a Beloved Classic (think LITTLE HOUSE but not). Today is her 1st Day being introduced as a 3-Month Guest Star dying of cancer (or will she live? just maybe if ratings improve?). The charming Make Up Lady worked on me years ago next door to the AMERICAN BANDSTAND Set (I often snuck over but was never on camera…too old at 19!). She expertly makes me look pale and ill. Only a 4 hour day and everyone has worked on this show forever and is a total pleasure. And the same fight about my Beanie Hat happens for the same reason! Wardrobe and the Female Producer go over the Director’s head after joking behind his back that they’d get their way. It was very funny and everyone (including the Booth Team) was in on it except the Director. My brand newly met best buddy the 2nd AD tells me to take my Hat off and the case is closed again.
MONDAY – 7:30am Call Time. Shooting a Low Budget Movie at an Animal Shelter in the Valley playing a Veterinarian. The Female Director is also the Star and Writer. She’s already won a Major French Film Award. The Male Star is from a TV Show I don’t watch. The Extras look him up on imdB and then say “Oh yeah. Him.” Nice calm fun set and only 4 other Union Extras. A “Small Call.” Last night the cool Casting Director who uses me a lot left on her Show Instructions Voice Mail “And John and Gary…sorry guys but Wardrobe only has Female Medium Sized Vet Scrubs for you …so you’ll have to Suck It Up Fellas! HA!” I’m in the 1st Shot walking by the Stars and into a room. I don’t know it but I am now done for the day and will spend the next 11 hours having a blast with rescue dogs and a wonderful film crew. Lunch is delicious and I get 3 hours Overtime! Receive Text that Call Time on Tuesday is 6am in Full Clown Make Up & Costume. Drive home and spend 2 hours prepping. Before early bed contact Change Line and hear Call pushed to 6:30. Hurray!
TUESDAY – 6:30am Call Time. Johnny the Clown is working on the Back Lot of Big Time Movie Studio Opened 85 Years Ago. The Leading Man discovers the Murderer was dressed like a Clown. This Killer places on-line audition notice and 40 Clowns show up just as the Police arrive! Bad Guy escapes and all Clowns interviewed. Cut. Print. When the 2nd AD first explains this set-up I raise my hand and ask in front of all Clowns “You’re saying we’re a Sight Gag?” Big laugh. During shooting I start a fake mini-riot by silently mouthing “HE DID IT!” and pointing to Bozo on my left. “NO HE DID IT” and so on for multiple takes. It is an amazing experience that many (but not all) relish. “It’s like the old days!” says Lighting Guy. I mumble “Send in the Clowns” and ask Male Police Extras could we all pretty please get into their car trunk? Two Midgets are Oompa Loompa Clowns (Green Wigs and all!). We share great stories and bits. I teach a Young Beautiful Hopeful Actress Extra how to Juggle Scarves then do Scarf Jump Rope tricks in Slow Motion (step don’t jump). Half the guys (and only 1 gal) have Tons of Experience. The rest are rag-tagged pulled-Clown-gear-together-in-the-last-minute types. But they’re willing and often eager to learn (and I also got lots still to learn, trust me). Unfortunately some of the Older Clowns are (as rumored) vicious, homophobic and a tiny bit racist. They are also talented funny Real Circus Clowns (in a mean a-holely way) and are angry that anyone can buy a great Circus Costume on-line and get film work now-a-days. I am proud to have Clowned for 35 years, designed my look & sewn my own costume (which was immediately approved by Wardrobe this morning thank you very much). They loved my Hand-Made Red Spotted Balloon Bag filled with a Rainbow of Latex Selections. Make Up Gal says “Love your Geometric Face Style.” Followed by yummy breakfast that smears all our mouths. We are inside a massive Barn that fronts Fake City Streets in Any Town USA Set. Uh oh. Ten other guys are wearing my same Multi-Colored Wig (immediately to be replaced be assured). Walking back to my car tired but happy, I pass hundreds of audience members waiting in-line for a Live Talk Show Taping. They spot me and start to giggle. Mid-way past I HONK HONK my Harpo Horn and get a blast laugh and smattered applause. Lastly I do a single HONK to a Security Guard asking “Was that me or you?