Sunday, December 13, 2009

Life on the Lot, part 1

"Waitwaitwait.... are we pink or buff?"

No. I am not in West Hollywood on Saturday night.

I'm in my home in Laurel Canyon; Chris O'Donnell, my friend, client, and the star of NCIS Los Angeles, is (presumably) in his trailer somewhere near Venice beach. It's 8 AM, and we're running a scene for the current episode over the phone, and what he's saying and what I'm reading do not match up; we have this confusion --which is not one of tanning-booth settings or skin tone but about the "color" of the most current draft of the script-- from time to time.

(FOR THE UNINITIATED, A NOTE ON SCRIPT COLOR: It's something of a genius system, really: once a color progression is agreed upon --not unlike the Bronze-Silver-Gold progression of Olympic medals-- there's no more confusion about which script is current. If Green comes after Blue, and you got blue pages and see anyone walkin' around with green... you missed the memo, sport. You're out of date.)

Anyway. On a show like NCIS, there can be more than one script revision A DAY. Granted, those changes may be as little as a few lines, but still. Given that we have eight days to shoot those 60 pages (give or take), that's a lot, and they pile up.

P.S.: For those keeping track at home... it's Buff. We get back to work.

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I think I need to answer a few questions first.

- No, I'm not dead. I'm in LA. Feel free to insert a joke, if you want.

- Yes, I have a place to live here. So... since August, give or take, Laurel Canyon (technically the Hollywood Hills, north of Sunset Blvd) has been my home. For what it's worth, it's an awesome place (view, fireplace, the whole deal). True story: while I was first walking through the house, I called the owner (now my landlord), Leslie. She's in Jersey and was initially a little confused by my 917 area code-- but 15 minutes later, in the midst of talk of commute times from Weehawken to Sony Music, she said "...you know what? You want it, the place is yours. Just send me a check."

No app, no lease, nothing. I would not know Leslie if she walked in the room.

- I am here because primarily because my two most long-term actor clients, Eliza Dushku and Chris O'Donnell, both are leads in network series-- Eliza is the lead in Dollhouse, Joss Whedon's show on Fox; Chris is, as mentioned, the lead in NCIS. I am also here because, through a series of details too convoluted to go into here, when these shows were announced last spring I had no place to live in Manhattan. My friends claimed that this was the universe's way of saying, in essence: you've been talking about LA for years-- it's Now or Never, Pal.

I chose "Now." And here I am.

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There is a funny thing about moving without thinking it through: one has no idea of what one's life is going to be-- and one (OK, me) soon realizes how completely one (OK, me) has underestimated how much of a life one leaves behind. It's hard, this; the new life, all that.

Fortunately, as some of you know, once in LA I had to hit the ground running-- for in addition to Chris and Eliza, my friend Rick Fox needs "refocusing." I have never, ever met anyone in Hollywood who receives more varied, over-the-transom offers than Rick. And me? Scattered, running-in-ten-directions me-- compared to Rick? I'm friggin' Ghandi, I'm so calm and focused.

So I settle into this new, strange life, a life dictated by call sheets. They come in nightly, and it's always surprising to me how the next day's call sheets for two entirely different shows, halfway across town, arrive in my inbox in within ten minutes of each other. (Honestly, how is that possible?) As one might expect, the Universe seems to conspire to make Big Days (or even Big Scenes) occur at the same time for all my clients. So I toggle back and forth between the two-- who's shooting what, and when-- and where? It's kinda stressful, to tell you the truth. But one does what one can.

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Much more to say, but it's late. I'll tell ya more from the plane tomorrow.

Peter

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