I was reminded recently of some run-ins with Hollywood during my 39 years in the business.
I once took photos of a small-budget film involving actor Brian Keith, who played the role of a small-town baseball coach in the fifties or so. The day of my shooting was not unlike recently, upper 90’s I’d say with no breeze whatsoever. About 15 minutes of the movie were recorded that entire day, and after Keith would make an appearance on the mound to talk to his pitcher, he would return to right field, out of camera’s view, to the comforting air conditioning of a Lincoln Continental.
I took my daughters once to California where we were extras in the filming of Semi-Pro, the Will Ferrell, Woody Harrelson and Andre Benjamin take on the old ABA basketball league. We sat in the stands and chanted “CORN DOGS” on our cue during one scene, but after about three hours we got bored, found a cab and found better things to do.
A fellow writer was friends with a guy who helped produce the former Jay Leno Tonight Show. He said they had been shown around backstage and were instructed to take their seats just prior to the show’s opening. The walked right across the stage to a standing ovation until the audience realized they were no one special, at which point they took their seats in almost shame.
Another friend was friends with a writer on Spin City, which starred Michael J. Fox. After the show, my friend, the writer and other various struggling actors went out to eat. The subject of Seinfeld came up and my friend, knowing every scene to date on the classic, began mocking an actress from a Seinfeld episode about going “to see the baby.” He finally realized he was getting kneed under the table by his friend. He stopped and later learned one of the guests had been the extra on the Seinfeld show who had the line about “going to see the baby.”
Then there’s the friend who was president of the Mountain Meadows Monument Foundation, honoring the 121 people who were killed in America’s first religious-based massacre, also on a September 11, only this one in 1857. His efforts to get a national monument erected at Mountain Meadows, Utah, where Brigham Young had ordered the execution of a wagon train involving people from Arkansas and Missouri because he was tired of being pushed by the U.S. Government and thought these people were sent by the government, although they were actually just looking for a better way of life.
My friend’s efforts inspired the Church of Latter Day Saints to admit their involvement although Young and Joseph Smith and other had originally placed blame on the Paiute Indians.
The story was so great Hollywood came calling. Director Christopher Cain was on board as well as actor Jon Voight and Dean Cain, he of Superman fame. Hollywood somehow managed to turn “September Dawn” into a love story – imagine that – and the premier was held in Hollywood and several friends of the aforementioned stars attended. Unfortunately, so did my friend. He had taken his family to Disney Land earlier in the day. That night, he “partook” in many of the offerings presented to guests at the premier. He obviously over-indulged.
Surrounded by some recognizable stars, my friend saw a guy loitering around a salad bar and decided to approach him.
“I want to tell you that my family loved your ride as Disney Land today,” my friend said. “It was awesome. So was your movie.”
The guy, who was not Michael J. Fox from Back to the Future fame, turned to my friend and asked, “Who do you think I am?”
My friend thought Fox was being a little stuck up and returned to his wife’s side.
His wife had to inform him that he had been speaking to Emilio Estevez, a friend of the Cains, and not Fox.