Day Four -- April 26
As I milled about my apartment this morning, I was struck by just how cool it is to be working on a pilot. And not only to be working on one, but to be one of the leads as well. The numbers are staggering. Given all the people in the world who would love to be actors, and the number of people who give it "a shot" at some point in their lives, and the hordes of people that migrate to Los Angeles every year, and the thousands of people who join the performers' union, and the hundreds of people that might read for any given pilot, and the very few people that go in front of the network to be considered for a role, and then at the end of all that, there's one person. Me. I have a regular role on a show. When you can get it, it's a fantastic job. So everything is smooth sailing from here on out. I'm the luckiest guy in the world. Nothing can rain on this parade.
So why are there such threatening clouds looming overhead? The day started off on its usual fun note. We did the same thing as yesterday, running the scenes in the show from top to bottom, a few times for each. And I am in every scene but one so I'm doing a lot of stuff. It's fantastic. The atmosphere is very light and supportive. The director, Andy Cadiff, is very easy-going and funny. He's been wonderful to work with. And his people are great. And the cast is great. (And how many times can I say all these things without sounding like a fourth-grader writing in her journal: "Mary and I played house and skipped rope. She is wicked cool. We're going to be the bestest friends forever." But it's true, dammit.)
But as the rehearsal plodded on and we got deeper into the story, bits and pieces of the show started to leave me a little unsettled. The rewrites have been very funny, but today I started to feel like every rewrite was an attack on Ford. Everyone was getting new lines that in some way got a laugh out of Ford being gay. Whether it was the banter from his roommates or the stinging barbs of his wife, Ford was becoming increasingly the object of derision. The climactic scene in the attic struck me the hardest. Ford was getting whipped about but was offering very little in the way of rebuttal. I approached Andy, the director, once we finished the rehearsals and voiced my concerns. He had some other ideas and we talked about them, but there was no concensus between us as to the best way to solve the problem. It was hard to point to specifics when my problem was a general feeling, an overall tone.
The run-through was about the same as yesterday. We were out there pulling teeth trying to get a laugh. The studio people are just plum laughed out on most of our jokes unfortunately. So again the run-through was a letdown from the amount of work we had accomplished during the day. I was a little more prepared for it this time so I don't think it hit me as hard. What did still hit me hard was the abuse of Ford. Andy and I approached Alan, the writer, after the run-through and tried to communicate our (or mostly my) concern. I think Alan got it. He remarked that there was possibly one too many gay jokes in the attic scene. He also said that Ford could benefit from a moment of strength at the end. Perhaps that's it. A little strength could go a long way after an full episode of being attacked. Ford can only try not to be defensive for so long. There has to be some backlash.
The remaning schedule has been altered a bit. I was looking forward to having a partial audience tomorrow for a full-dress run-through. That plan has been scrapped. Instead, the network will be there and we'll have a run-through for them. Should be another barrel full of laughs. The important thing is to remain confident in the jokes we know (knew?) are funny. They have to survive a few more days of rehearsal and then we'll have live people in the audience who have not been involved with this project for the last two months. Chances are better that they won't be tired of the jokes yet. I just hope they find them as funny as we do.
Go on to Day 5
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