Hollywood Magic

Just got done watching the Academy Awards, soaking in the magic and bliss and splendor of the movies. I actually do believe in cinematic bliss, and love the theatre experience as much as the next guy.

However, whenever I hear of people describing what it is to be in a movie, I think back to a piece I wrote for TV Guide seven years ago, when a TV show named “Love Monkey” was being taped. I was assigned, by the magazine, to spend a day with the cast and crew as they worked out of a studio in, I believe, Brooklyn. I was pretty psyched—this was a new experience for me, and the program had an interesting cast of actors (Tom Cavanaugh, Larenz Tate, Jason Priestley).

Anyhow, I recall the whole experience vividly because it was soooooooooooooo fucking boring. Literally, I sat there for, oh, three hours and watched the same scene be shot approximately 35 times from 35 different angles. I mean, it wasn’t just painful. It was club-your-skull-with-a-steel-fist painful. Afterward I spent a few moments chatting with Priestley as he sipped from a cup of coffee at a nondescript table in a nondescript room. “I’ve gotta say,” I said to him, “this all seems kind of dull.”

“Brother,” he replied, “you have no idea.”

Truth is, I think most actors have little love for the making of a movie, but great love for being in a movie. Put differently—Daniel Day-Lewis, awesome actor that he is, probably lost his head repeating the same Lincoln lines time and time again. And while, surely, “Argo” was occasionally an intense filming experience for Ben Affleck, I’m assuming it was also long and meandering and … and … and long. But the pay is great, the perks are dazzling and the finished product is something that, if done right, stands the test of time.

Unless you’re “Love Monkey.” Which lasted six episodes.