Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tales from the Set

So I have officially beaten NaNo with the completion of SUNSET SONATA at 85K....and I'm off and running again with my next novel GHOST FOX GIRLS (sample and synopsis are up on the site under my KalenO profile - feel free to add me to your buddy list if you haven't already).

But I thought I'd take a break from all that for a second and revive a short-lived series from earlier in the weekly Tales from the which I give a nitty gritty view of some of the shenanigans that take place on the sets of some of the most popular TV shows and movies.

Be forewarned.  This week's installment is SCANDALOUS.

Now, aside from being SCANDALOUS, this week's tale is also from my early days as an extra, and takes place on the set of a popular medical drama...but do not bother speculating as to which show precisely it is, as I CAN NEITHER CONFIRM NOR DENY!

Unless you bribe me with books, of course.  I'm the literary equivalent of a cheap date.

ANYWAYS.  So there we were, on location at a real, actual hospital for filming.  This show had its set on one of the major lots of course, but it also used big, sweeping shots of the outside of a hospital, people going in and out of the entrance and scenes that took actors down long, hospital hallways that simply couldn't be replicated on a small soundstage.  So for shots like those, they used a VA hospital that allowed them free reign of one wing of it after 4 pm one day a week.

Now, most of the extras on this show were regulars...they liked to establish us as background doctors, nurses and orderlies so there was a familiar feel to the hospital rather than the sense that it was a Magic Hospital that contained thousands more doctors, nurses and orderlies than the Rules of Physics would seem to allow.

So we were all friendly, we knew each other well, joked around all the time, knew the cast, the fact, to the new, virginal extras who came on the show every week to be patients and visitors and never return, we seemed an impenetrable clique.

As such, in accordance with the Laws of Cool Kids Everywhere, we didn't really associate with the new extras much.  And for that, I blame society and accept no responsibility.

ANYWAYS.  So on the day in question, we were pretty much being left to our own devices while the cast and crew shot scenes on the far end of the hospital wing opposite where we were positioned.  There was a grand, Very Dramatic scene wherein a mob of doctors swept through the halls of the hospital following the lead of one doctor, and we were all positioned in that last hallway they were to walk through so they'd have people to Dramatically Sweep Aside as they passed.

However, they were taking a very long time with the scenes at the other end of the hospital, and they hadn't gotten to us for hours.  Needless to say, we were very bored.

So a group of us 'regulars' were sitting on the floor in the hallway we were supposed to be waiting in.  Playing on our phones, chatting, being silly, and rolling a tennis ball back and forth to each other.  Oh yeah.  Hollywood, baby.  You know you're jealous.

All of a sudden, one of the new extras came running up to us.  She'd been stationed in a small alcove further down the hall, and I guess due to our Unapproachable Cliquey-ness had remained there rather than come closer and join us in our highly fulfilling game of 'Roll the Tennis Ball'.  So imagine our surprise when this petite little blonde girl in nurse scrubs comes running up to us, all wide-eyed and out of breath.

"What is it, Lassie?  Did Timmy fall down the well again?"  One of us (possibly me, I admit to nothing) inquired somewhat asininely.

"So I was waiting in that alcove like they told me," she huffed, still out of breath.  We nodded along, hoping this was going somewhere good.  As I said, we were very bored.  "And I had to sneeze, but I didn't want to make any noise, you know, cuz they're filming over there!"

We nodded somewhat less enthusiastically, no longer convinced the punch line was going to be worth our attention.  She clearly had no idea how to get to the point.  It was very different from how I tell a story like this, for instance.

"So I opened the door behind me and stuck my head in to cough - " Here she paused dramatically, so I will do the same....

"And there were two people in there HAVING SEX!"

"Just to clarify, when you say having sex, you mean..." 

I received a few dirty looks at my effort to seek clarification, and shrugged.  "What?  We don't know what she considers to be having sex.  I feel its a valid question.  She could be Amish and referring to heavy petting, for all we know!"

"Well, there was a guy laying on a bed and a woman on top of him and she had no shirt on and when they saw me the woman said 'Can I help you, sweetie?'"

"Yup, that counts," I said.  I was mostly ignored.

Instead everyone exchanged wide-eyed looks and started down the hallway.  This was by far the most exciting thing that had happened since lunch, and we were all a bunch of pervs anyways.  It wasn't like we were going to look in the room or anything.  It was just that it was after 4 pm, so the only people still in this part of the hospital were members of the production like us and we were very, very curious to see who would come out of that room.

Now, since we were regulars and had been to this part of this hospital many times before, we were familiar with the layout.  And like veritable Nancy Drews we staked out all exits to the Room Behind the Alcove...and sure enough, we spied with our little eyes, Let's Call Her Helen (one of the make-up artists) and Let's Call Him Drew (one of the key grips) sneaking out of the room not long after.  Looking miiiiiiightily disheveled.

This would have been pure titillation, were it not for one thing.

Being 'regulars' on the show, we were familiar with most of the members of the crew.  Including Let's Call Him Drew.

And Let's Call Him Drew's wife.  A very lovely, very sweet woman.

Who was definitely NOT Let's Call Her Helen.

In that empty, echo-ey hallway, you could actually hear the sound of a dozen eyes narrowing militantly.

Now, here's the thing about Hollywood.

Gossip is kind of its lifeblood.  Doesn't matter how much you moan about it, or whether or not you abstain from partaking personally.  Everyone knows everything about everyone....or in the absence of actual knowledge, makes stuff up to fill in any gaps.

Even sequestered away from the rest of production in our little hallway at the end of the hospital, somehow, within ten minutes, every other member of cast and crew knew what was going on.  Except for the first AD who was growing increasingly frustrated at his inability to locate Let's Call Her Helen anywhere (she was hiding in one of the trailers)...and the smirks he was getting whenever he asked.

And for the record, there's nothing quite like watching an A-list actress and major star of a show royally ream out one of the grips for being 'a dick-weaseled ass monkey', to paraphrase loosely.

Now, the moral of today's tale is you never know who might be watching - or just sticking their head in to sneeze, so be careful what you do and say and where you do it and with whom.  That shit'll always come back to bite you in the ass.  ESPECIALLY if you're doing something interesting and observed by people who are bored.

And further for the record, that describes 99% of the internet.  Just something to keep in mind when social networking.

Oh, and just don't do the dirty at work.  It's never worth it, kids.

Unless you're getting paid for it.

(Which incidentally ties into next week's tale.....but that's a story for another time.)


  1. Oh, Kalen, you little tease. I guess I'll have to come back next week then *dramatic sigh of ennui*. And congrats on finishing Sunset Sonata!

  2. A highly entertaining tale!

    Congrats on the completion of your work--are you saying you are writing TWO books during nano or is that just crazy-ness? That would be like NaNoNoWriMo!

    Me, I am cheating and working on something I already had started. And I still suck at this word count thing.

  3. LOL thanks Sophia. And I guess you will!

    PONY! I have MISSED you! Where have you been all my life - I mean the past couple weeks?

    And yeah, I'm kinda gunning for the two novels, we shall see!

    And cheating and sucking at word count is totally allowed during No Rules NaNoWriMo! Thus sayeth I!

    And yes Cherie, lol, that does say it all, doesn't it?