Day Eight -- May 2
Still reeling from last night's extravaganza, we all rolled back into work at 9am this morning and rolled right into hair and make-up. While we weren't shooting in front of the audience until 5pm, we would be shooting scenes all day long, usually two passes per scene, getting a couple of takes down on film so that we wouldn't have to be so dependent on the evening's product. So right out of the gate this morning, we were on camera making pilot history.
History Schmistory. The run-through problems of the first seven days didn't miraculously disappear on the last day just because of the cameras. We were still doing the same jokes day after day for an increasingly disinterested audience. And by this morning, not only were the producers tired of the jokes, but the cameramen could also care less what was coming out of our mouths as long as they got our heads in the shot. So for the first few hours, at least, we tried to rally all of our strength and enthusiasm for our dear old pilot, reminding ourselves how funny it's all supposed to be.
But then things started to change. As the day wore on, it became more and more palpable that we were about to fill the soundstage with 200 enthusiastic audience members, many of whom were close friends, to shoot this funny, interesting, and exciting pilot that has the possibility of fulfilling the dream of having a regular job on a sitcom. That does not suck. And for me, it became less about trying to force things to work and more about reminding myself why this was all so exciting in the first place. And it truly was. Each passing hour filled me with more energy and adrenaline and anxiety as I eagerly awaited the five o'clock hour. I could feel smiles creep across my face and tingles shoot through my body. Over a month and a half ago, I showed up at the Greenblatt/Janollari offices to audition for this show and within hours it would all finally be happening.
We broke for dinner just after 3:30 and went downstairs to eat. I sat still just long enough to finish my chicken breast and then got moving again. I went back up to my dressing room and tried to visualize everything going swimmingly tonight. The jokes, the lines, the entrances and exits, the guest stars, the relationships, the ex-wife, the kid, the art work, the beautiful set, the re-writes, the producers, the network, the costumes, the make-up... there was nothing I didn't think about in that half-hour. Was everything going to fall into place? The only minor distractions from the whirlwind of thoughts were the two gifts sitting in my dressing room: a monstrous gift basket of chocolate goodies from Greenblatt/Janollari, and a bottle of Cristal champagne from the writer. Were these lucky blessings for a successful evening, or were they premature parting gifts for a project that never really found its voice?
By five, the audience was nearly intact. Nina, Hilary, and Todd were in attendance from Pakula/King. Also providing support were two of my sisters, Anne and Ellen, and a handful of friends, J.P., Glenn, Lili, Daniella, and two Jeffs. (It's always smart to have two Jeffs, just in case.) Of course, other friends and family of the cast were sprinkled throughout the faces that looked down onto the set. We had been waiting so long for them to show, it seemed. At last, they were here.
And that's when everything went horribly wrong.
Well, no, actually, nothing went wrong, but that seemed like the time for things to go wrong, didn't it? In truth, the night sailed along very smoothly. We had already shot a number of scenes during the day so we only forced the audience to watch those scenes once. That kept them and us more interested and awake. Some of the jokes that we had sort of forgotten about came back to life with a vengeance. Some of the jokes that we still loved were also big hits. And there was the occasional joke that we thought might send the audience into an uproar that ended up producing little more than a peep or two. But by and large there was a sense that the audience was thoroughly enjoying themselves and enjoying all of the show's characters and personalities and relationships. That's going to be the most important advantage of the show. The relationships have to be engaging and interesting and fun to watch. If tonight was any indication, things seem to be on the right track.
The audience was let go by 8:30pm and we returned to work. We still had nearly three hours of "pick-ups" to do, re-shooting specific parts of scenes to fix a camera problem or a line rewrite. In fact, most of our pick-ups were rewrites. Based on the audience's reaction during the course of the taping, certain scenes were trimmed and tailored and even overhauled to try to spruce up the rough spots. By 11:15pm, Andy Cadiff called out "That's a wrap," and the night was over. The 14-hour day was over. The week-long evolution of the show was over.
And this creation called Oh Grow Up? Could it be over as well? Or could it just be beginning? In the next two weeks, the show will be cut together and delivered to ABC where they will decree the fate of Hunter and Norris and Ford and their voices that cry out from a Brooklyn brownstone and the outskirts of the television landscape. All of the bigwigs seemed pleased and excited as the lights were turned out on stage 22, but I remember a year ago how excited the same and/or similar executives were about The Hanleys. We simply will not know until it is official, until May 18 when ABC announces their fall line-up. On that day, Oh Grow Up either begins a brand-new adventure or else it really does become part of pilot history.
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