Thursday, June 14, 2007

Planet Hollywood

I recently found out through our friend Rusty's online movie "prejudgments" that the film 1408 is being released this summer. This isn't normally the type of movie that I'd go see, since the older I've gotten, the more nightmares I tend to get by watching anything scary, creepy, or dark. I'm fine if I watch a dark movie early enough in the day to block enough of it out by bedtime, but occasionally if I end up watching anything too intense too late in the day, I'll have horrible nightmares.

So while I don't necessarily plan on seeing 1408, I am interested in it because of the role it played in delaying our honeymoon in Ireland by a week. A couple of weeks before we were set to leave, Ted booked the role of "Kevin O'Maley" in a 'test film' for a studio. The deal was that this production company had greenlighted this film, based on a short story by Steven King, but they were undecided on who they should hire to direct it. There was this young director who wanted to do it, but he'd only directed music videos up until that point. The studio wasn't willing to give him full control of the film until he'd proven what he could do as a director.

So, they hired him to direct a 15 minute excerpt from the screenplay in order for him to show them his stuff. What's amazing to me is how much money they threw his way, just for a test. While I'm not an expert on these things, it really seemed like he got the full carte blanch for his fifteen minutes. I know this because Ted got paid his quote and I got to sample the yummy victuals from the craft services. That's some good food let me tell ya, one of the few things I really liked about living in Los Angeles.

Because Ted was getting paid decently for this and because we thought maybe there was a chance he'd get hired for the actual film, we decided that it was worth it to put off our honeymoon by a week. Being new to Los Angeles and especially to "the industry," I was interested in visiting the set too, though I seem to have chosen the wrong day to visit. Earlier in the week, as Ted was leaving the studio, he noticed this woman digging through a garbage bin, pulling out chunks of styrofoam and talking to a little Asian boy about his day at preschool. Yes, it was Angelina herself with Maddox. I guess the stars really are like us, just as People magazine tries to convince us of each week (though I'm not sure I ever have or ever will dig through a dumpster for styrofoam while talking about preschool).

I showed up on the set around lunchtime and walked around the sound-stage looking for Ted. A grip could see I was a bit lost and asked if I needed help. When I told him who I was looking for, he said, "Oh, the monster--sure, he's in his dressing room." It's always nice to hear someone refer to your newlywed husband as "the monster." So I went to his room and was genuinely shocked at what I found. Here's a picture of Ted, taken earlier in the day, getting his make-up touched up before filming:

There's the hottie I'd married a month before. I wish you could see his fingernails better here. It was the grossest thing about the whole make-up job. Apparently the story with Mr. Kevin O'Maley is that he'd killed himself in room 1408 and exists now as a ghost, living mostly in the air vents, which is why he's a tad moldy and covered in so much dust. Here's another photo, this one of Ted enjoying his dessert. The guy in the red shirt is the talented make-up artist.

I was genuinely weirded out eating lunch with Kevin O'Maley. I'd try to look mostly at my plate. These pictures don't accurately show the layers of mold on my husbands face, neck, hands, and even teeth (they had to do a fair amount of touching up after lunch).

I decided to stick around to watch the next and final scene being filmed and got my first taste of how awkward it is as an observer on set. You feel like you're constantly in the way, no matter how friendly everyone is or even if they've given you your own chair to sit in. I also got my first taste of how boring it usually is on set. You just do a lot of sitting around reading or doing crossword puzzles. Lastly, I got my first taste of how long the days can be on set. The idea with me coming to have lunch that day was that there was only one more scene to film in the afternoon, and then the whole thing would be wrapped. Since we were sharing a car at the time, I was also there to pick Ted up at the end of his work day.

That work day stretched until after midnight, the night before we were scheduled to leave for our honeymoon. In that final scene they were filming, the guy in the main role (which ended up going to John Cusack) decides to crawl into the air vent to prove the non-existence of this ghost. As he's crawling through it, he looks down into a room through a vent and then up again to find the ghost face to face with him before disappearing.

Ted was put on a small skateboard-type contraption on his stomach in the even bigger contraption they were using to film the inside of the vent so that when the main character looked up and saw the ghost face to face with him, Ted could be quickly pulled backwards with a rope and thus "disappear." You can see the final version of this scene that ended up being used in the film in the trailer. Even though it was pretty boring most of the time watching the first version of this scene being filmed with Ted, it genuinely looked pretty scary when they played it back on the monitor.

The production team knew that we had put off our honeymoon by a week and that we were leaving the next day, so as a thank-you, they paid the change fee of our plane tickets and gave Ted this really expensive bottle of scotch. It was nice of them.

So why didn't Ted end up being Kevin O'Maley in the final version of the film? Who knows? It was another realization for me about how Hollywood works: you never count on anything "until the check's in the mail," as Ted says. We do know that the young director who worked with Ted didn't end up getting hired by the studio, though I'm sure the studio honchos were really nice about it, letting him down easy. Everyone in Hollywood loves ya babe, with a big smile, so no hard feelings. Hey, the director got paid too, and I hope he's still doing at least music videos. We thought he did an awesome job on the 15 minutes he shot of 1408.

Here's a final picture of Ted on set, getting his nails inspected, my very own Monster.

The trailer to the theatrical release of 1408 can be seen here. If you have young kids at home, just a warning: the trailer is surprisingly frightening, despite it being approved for viewing by "all ages."

And no, Ted's feelings weren't hurt by not getting cast in the final version of the film. I believe that the reason Ted has lasted so long in the job he has is because he refuses to take anything personally. He just goes to work, which he sees as auditioning. If he books a job, then that's extra credit. He doesn't tell anyone at all (sometimes not even me) about his auditions because when an actor does this, he's setting himself up for the inevitable letdown of telling well-meaning friends over and over, "No, I didn't get it." Actors don't book 90+ percent of the jobs they audition for, and it becomes psychologically damaging to think too much about all the work they're not getting.
On the adoption front: Our friends Jim and Rusty (thanks, guys!) have both mailed in their notarized letters for our dossier, and we're sure the third will go off soon.

On Monday night, I found out that a lady at our small group is a CPA, so she's working on that final financial form for us as we speak. Then that's it people. Job done.

Our social worker should be finishing up her report and sending it in to CIS, at which point they call us in for fingerprinting. Then the whole thing goes off to Kate and we wait and wait and wait.

In the meantime, we're getting ready for our trip to Ireland with our dads by going to see Once tomorrow with my father-in-law. We're also listening to this song, just because it's funny (thanks, Debra, for turning us on to Flight of the Conchords!). I think anyone married for longer than a year can appreciate it (or c'mon, maybe six months...).


Amy B. said...

I enjoy reading your blog soooo much. You really are a great writer. I can't wait to see and read about your little one. Amy

Anonymous said...

Last night I was flipping channels and whoa...go back one...there's Ted playing violin. Oh, and there's dead Ted. It was an episode of CSI where Ted played some delivery guy who was murdered and the crime scene was set up to look like a scene from a Sherlock Holmes book. I didn't watch the rest. I figured that since he was dead in the first minute, he wouldn't be showing up again in the episode.

It's like "Where's Waldo?". Except with Ted. And tv.


Lori said...

Ooh boy diggee, did you miss out then! Ted was in the whole episode, in flashbacks. It was actually a sort of cool episode, and I normally despise CSI.

Sarah Bradford-Burton said...

I went to see "Once" last week and I think it is one of the best movies I've ever seen. It was truly real and beautiful. The songs were moving and I even liked the way they were sung, heartfelt and strained and loud. If anyone has a chance to go see it, you will be moved.
It ends in a way you don't hope for, but it's like reality.
Plus I love Irish guys!