Happy April 1st!
To celebrate the re-release of the first three books in the Adrenaline Highs series, (at a whopping LOW price!), I thought I’d tell you one of my favorite Hollywood stories.
I considered telling you all a HUGE story full of giant television stars doing and saying outrageous things then ending with: April fools!! But I didn’t want to take the chance that you’d never read another one of my books, LOL, so I didn’t. Let me assure you, this next story is very true…
So, 20 something years ago when I was in my very early twenties. I was a stand-in on a show called “Second Chance.” The stars were (a very young) Matthew Perry and Kiel Martin. (The pic above is Matthew and Kiel. You might remember Kiel from Hill Street Blues.) “Second Chance” turned into “Boys Will Be Boys” and starred Matthew and Billy Gallo. (This was Matthew’s first sitcom and I think he was barely eighteen years old. Very adorable and very sweet.) My job was to fill in for the guest actors before they arrived on set. Meaning, I was in the rehearsal hall, rehearsing with the main cast for the first one or two days until the actor actually shooting the role was cast. (It’s less expensive to hire a stand-in for a couple of days than to pay an actor a weekly salary. In many instances, I would spend more time doing the scene than the actor actually doing the role on camera, but I digress…) I often stood-in for the “girl” du jour. Usually every week, one of the boys had a crush on a different pretty girl or there was a special day player that I stood-in for. Aside from standing-in for guest cast, I also stood in for the youngest cast member, Damian Slade. The show was very reminiscent of Happy Days, with a Fonzie-esque character (“Francis Lottobucci”-ie: Arthur Fonzarelli-played by Billy) and straight laced friend (“Chazz Russell”-ie:Richie Cunningham-played by Matthew).
On this particular week, we were shooting a double – “special” Las Vegas – episode where the Boys go to Vegas. Poor Billy came down with something nasty. I think it was Bronchitis, but I don’t really remember. I just remember he was sick as a dog and he ended up going home before we did our network run-thru. (That’s when the cast puts the whole show on its feet so the network and producers can see the show before the first camera day.) Since I knew his role – where and when he had to move and what props he used – and since I was the only stand-in on the show – I ended up standing in for him. Now, keep in mind that Billy – who played “Booch” – had a serious Brooklyn accent. So me, being the goof (and newbie) that I was thought I should do the part as much like Billy as I could so the executives could get a real feel for what the show was going to be like when he did it. There I am, pretending to be a seventeen year old boy with a Brooklyn accent. I went all out. No fear. I was so nervous I thought I was going to be sick, but I dove in head first with every scene. And sweet Matthew was so supportive since he had to do the whole show with me and not Billy. They usually had just about every scene together too, so he was stuck with me. <G>
I got through run-thru and the plan was to give Billy as much time as possible to recover so I did most of the work the next day too (our first camera day). Billy would come out just to shoot the scene then he’d leave and lie down until we were ready for the next scene. There’s a lot to consider when you put a show on camera for the first time. Hitting “marks” are critical for the camera men, the lighting department and the sound department. I worked my ass off. (I smelled it too. I was mortified. I’m sure when Matthew thinks of me, he just remembers that smelly chick from the big episode. LOL. Although I did run into him about a year ago which is a story I’ve already posted, so you’ll have to scrounge for that one. Haha. But, back to the story…)
When the whole thing was over, I discovered the executives actually discussed the possibility of bringing in a new character. They thought giving Booch a sister might be an interesting twist for the show. Guess who they were considering? Yep. Me. Apparently they got real kick out of watching me “Booch” it up. But as Hollywood is the place of “out of sight, out of mind,” and true to my luck in this town, this episode happened to occur at the end of December and the show took an extended hiatus. By the time we came back a few weeks later, the idea was forgotten. I still remember that day with a combination of nerves and laughter. There was nothing better than getting laughs playing a character that was completely – in every possible way – opposite me. (I’d like to hope that when I narrate my books for Audible, I use the same “show no fear” idiom when it comes to tackling all those voices.)
Realistically, I probably wouldn’t have gotten the role anyway. I’d have had to dye my hair black (which I would’ve done in a N.Y. minute!), but I had no track record and that can be a deal-breaker when it comes to the competition in this town. It was without a doubt one of the highlights of my life. I had so much fun acting and making the material work, not to mention spending all that time with Matthew, who I genuinely liked and admired (even at eighteen).
What about you? Any stories you can share about diving into a situation where you were scared, but pulled success out of a hat?