RTW: Lights, camera, oops! Me, a Hollywood stagehand

As the saying goes, when life gives you lemons…

I know an enterprising woman in L.A. who not only makes lemonade; she savors every drop. One time she ended up in a wheelchair for months. Instead of twiddling her thumbs, she used them to write a script, which she sold hot off the computer.

Then she got an idea to combine some of her passions: fashion, romance and current events. The result is Pink Slip, a Web series that, in her words, is “Sex and the City meets Tootsie, meets Rent … a romantic comedy for tough economic times.”

The title refers to America’s jobless rate, as well as the playful gender-bending that goes on when an unemployed actor pretends to be an elderly Jewish woman —  “Aunt Florrie” — so he can qualify for government housing. I get it: I once had an Aunt Florrie. Who among us Jewish baby boomers didn’t?

It’s a clever and funny escape.

So what if she had no film degree and confessed she had no idea what she was doing when she embarked on this adventure? She designated herself writer, producer and director anyway. She did major in theater in college, but that wasn’t exactly yesterday. (She jokingly says she was born in 1981, adding “if you believe in my birth date, then I have a bridge I can sell you.”)

So what if she has barely any budget? She has a professional crew and fetching, dedicated actors who give her their all. Location scout? The credits should say, “Filmed almost entirely on location in one room.” You’d never know it. (Check out most of the finished episodes here.)

I met her through her husband, a former New York TV news colleague I worked with when we were all roughly half our ages. He’s no slouch either: He ended up in Hollywood as a writer, producer and story editor on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, among other stints.

She invited me to help out with the latest episode after I politely nudged her.

This time, the room had to look like a ’50s diner. The first day was spent arranging dozens of knickknacks she had picked up at yard sales and thrift shops. At this point, her apartment is a prop closet she happens to live in.

The key prop was a bar bought for earlier shoots. It was decorated to look like a tiled diner counter. Her husband, the executive producer, was dispatched to buy cupcakes for the cupcake holder (Exhibit A, above.) One of my jobs was to arrange them without messing them up or eating them. (That came later. They were from some chichi place down the street, and boy, were they good. )

After butterfingers here broke a pitcher, management understandably didn’t want me doing anything that involved gravity. The director graciously told me not to worry about it, but I knew I was a marked woman. It was then decided my abilities were best suited for security. I was put on the door, and let in some very convincing cable and carpet people.

(Later on, a cake plate became my second victim. I couldn’t believe it. A former banker told me not to worry about it because he  “broke” the economy.)

Another job was to make one of those boards you write on with a marker look like a diner menu.

But first, the boss approached the board and drew what was supposed to be an old-time glamour girl as a centerpiece. Just like that. In about four minutes. Then she told me to surround it with pretend dessert items.

Hadn’t had this much fun since high school drama club.

My high school scribblings. Can't take credit for the portrait.

There was concern one of the leads couldn’t make it because she had a stomach bug. But she showed up, and you’d never know she was under the weather.

There were lots of costume changes with the lead males …

Prepping for his closeup as a long-haired blonde.

… and lots of takes.

They were so funny — their improvisations had me laughing with every take. And I was a tough critic. I’d already been on the Groundhog Day movie set; snuck in to see Eddie Murphy imitate James Brown on Saturday Night Live; and sat in on a filming of Cheers.

This was just as fun. Which was impressive because it wasn’t backed by 20th Century Fox.  21st Century Crazy-Like-A-Fox was more like it.

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This entry was posted in Being a Hollywood stagehand, How to travel around the world with just a carry-on, Los Angeles, Web series and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to RTW: Lights, camera, oops! Me, a Hollywood stagehand

  1. Laura, thank you sooooo very much for this wonderful review. We loved having you too. I had no clue that you were taking pics and going to blog about us, but I am so glad that you did. Thank you sooo very much for this and for a job well done as my production assistant.

    Love,

    Muriel Campbell

  2. Laura, I want to post this on Facebook and twitter, but when I click the f for Facebook, it says access my basic information, which will not then be private. Can you add one of those facebook buttons that allows privacy? Just asking…..I’d love for the cast and crew to see this too.

    Muriel Campbell

  3. Not to worry. I just hit copy and paste & voila it’s up on my page and on the Pink Slip page and I sent it almost everyone I could think of. Thanks again.

    Muriel

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