Friday, October 7, 2016

Days In The Life Of A Momager

Dead on Blue Bloods

Yes, just call me Kris Kardashian. I'm a "momager". Except I'm not really like Kris K because I'm not pushing E to be famous or making us millions. However, E wanted to "be on tv" so that's what I'm helping him do. Basically I'm an Uber driver for him as he does mostly background work on tv shows and movies filmed in NYC.

Now that I think back, he's done a decent amount of work on tv. The first one was Blue Bloods - season five, episode eighteen. He also worked on The Americans (FX), The Good Wife (CBS), Red Oaks (Amazon Prime), The Blacklist (NBC), The Affair (Showtime), and The Path (Hulu). As far as movies, there was The Intern (Anne Hathaway & Robert DeNiro) and last week, he's worked on a movie was filming in Coney Island.

Two seconds on The Americans
He has an agent but thankfully his agent isn't trying to take ten dollars here and there for E's background work. I get him this background stuff. It's not a big deal for me to get him there and stay on set for a day. B would rather have me at work, but we both agree that it's a cool experience for E and it's making him a little money. Not a lot of money, especially relative to what I pay in gas, tolls and parking, but it's money he wouldn't have otherwise. His agent is the one who gets him the auditions for real parts vs background. He hasn't snagged anything of high caliber yet though. But even just the memorization of lines and the audition experience itself is a great experience. They say "there aren't any small parts", right?

Hair & make-up
While a lot of the process, for me, is kind of lame- a lot of driving, filling out paperwork and sitting around. Some real Kramer-esque stuff happens on our little acting adventures. First of all, sometimes just getting to a shoot is a lot of craziness. Many shows shoot in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. I guess that's fine. I've never been to Greenpoint in nice weather. I only know it in an ice storm and in snow. When E worked on Blue Bloods, which films there, snow banks were everywhere. There was nowhere to park. No garages, so you have to park on the street, IF you can find somewhere to park. Luckily I still had the Mini Cooper so I found a spot, far away, on a snow bank. Then I got the mom-sweats as I dragged his mini suitcase with his options for wardrobe that I was asked to bring with me.

The mom-sweats are a thing- especially when you have to be in Park Slope by nine o'clock in the morning, the traffic is standstill, and you know that even though you left the house at six-thirty, it's only thirty-two miles away on the map, you're still not making it on time.

Blue Bloods "family"
A few weeks ago, for an NBC show, I had to be in Yonkers at six-forty five in the morning. Which means E had to be up at five-fifteen and I had to leave the house by five-thirty-ish. Because who knew how long it was going to take. Even if there isn't traffic, I have to make sure there are no detours or getting lost. You just never know what's going to be on one of these drives.

This time, I was thrilled that I got there even a little early. Except that I was given the wrong address and ended up at the actual set for filming, which was a diner next to a bowling alley. A guy working on the production saw that I had a kid in the car so he told me just to park and we'd worry about the car later. Great! The other option is to be sent to "crew parking" which is always like a mile away and they need to put you in a van to get to set. It's always better to have the car as close as possible so I don't have to drag suitcases or whatever around with me like I'm a golf caddy.

E and I got out of the car and a production assistant was called by a wardrobe person who happened to see us standing there. He rushed over and told us that he was glad we were were and would show E to his trailer for hair and make-up. I immediately knew something was...not right.

I've been on numerous background shoots with E and while we've been treated decently most of the time, we weren't ever greeted with this amount of warmth. The PA opened the door to the trailer we were in front of and told us to go in, put on the wardrobe and wait. I told him that I think he's mistaken, that E is not that important. The PA got indignant, and asked what I expected. As if I was saying E needed a bigger, better, nicer trailer. I said, "No, no. You don't understand. E is not said E is that important and I don't believe he's supposed to be in a trailer or have hair and make up". The PA got even more indignant, said that E *is* that important and that he is in charge of E for the day. I gave him a weak ok, and went in the trailer to just wait. E, of course, decided this is how things should be going down all the time and just wanted to turn on the tv in the trailer. He was a second away from looking for a mini-bar and making requests.

The PA came back minutes later. He told us that this was a case of mistaken identity and I was correct. He'd just spoken to the kid's dad who was supposed to be in the trailer, and that I needed to take my car off the set, drive to crew parking a mile and a half away and take a van to set. Awesome! Our Macauley Culkin moment was over. No trailer. No hair and make-up. And as it turned out- No work. Oh, he got paid for being there. But they never used him. First time that ever happened. We got up at five o'clock in the morning, drove to Westchester, NY, sat in the basement of an old bowling alley for four hours, where I was starting to feel claustrophobic, only to not work. Those are the breaks!

The next two jobs later that week made up for it though. It just happened to be a busy work week. Two other shows, both shooting in Westchester, which is great for us, because that usually means no parking garages. Going into the city, I know I'm pretty much paying out in tolls and parking like half of what he's making. Westchester, Long Island, or almost anywhere else, the parking situation is almost always easier and cheaper.

The first one, for Showtime, was the most fun for both E and me. It was filmed in a prison. Neither of us had ever been in a prison so that was kind of cool. Because it wasn't on a set, the principal actors were having to just be around the rest of us lesser folks. There was no where else for them to be. No dressing rooms or anything. Their director's chairs with their names on them were in the hallway, right outside where the background actors were being kept until needed. Call time wasn't until five thirty so I was thrilled. No getting up at the crack of dawn and driving in morning rush hour.

We got to the prison and it was a whole scene. Anyone playing an inmate had to take their costume shirt off every time they went outside to Craft Services. Otherwise they would've been mistaken for an escaped prisoner. Apparently that wouldn't have ended well.

I was thisclose to three principal actors for almost the whole time we were there, and I got to speak to one of them. There are usually strict rules not to approach the principal actors (also no photos on set), and I never have, but this time, they called- "It's a wrap", so I felt like it was okay. We were walking out of the prison at the same time, because I made sure of that. I just sidled up to him and said- "I don't think I'm supposed to be talking to you, but I'm a fan. Look, my friend Cohen told me to just yell the name of our favorite movie of yours at you but I didn't think that was appropriate". I didn't know what else to say or do. I was pressed for time too. I had to say whatever I could, fast, before having to get the bus back to holding with the rest of the background folks.

He couldn't have been nicer. He thanked me and told me E did a good job. I told him the movie Cohen wanted me to yell out and he said- "Yeah, that was a good one! It really held up". I didn't get a photo or anything but it was just a cool moment. It made being on set with a seven year old until around ten o'clock at night totally worth it!

The second job- it was in Pearl River, which isn't far. I had to be there at ten o'clock in the morning which meant no rush hour. He had to be in and out of a pool, playing, for an hour, on a gorgeous sunny day. We were back in our town, at our town pool, by twelve-forty-five in the afternoon. The only issue was that there were bees everywhere. Neither of us got stung, he got paid, and it was all good. 

In a nutshell, that's what it's like. A lot of running, sitting, running, cramming E with lines, doing self-tapes, taking an hour or so to get into NYC for auditions that last two minutes. But he loves it. He really does. He learns lines unusually quick, he likes being on sets, he loves when there are other kids to work with, he enjoys having faux-parents. He likes knowing he's working and making money. He understands that even though it's often long hours, he doesn't even get paid that much. So, when he's twenty-two and getting out of college, if that's his path, that a six figure job doesn't just fall into your lap. That's probably one of the best lessons he takes away from his work.

I don't know if it's just E's personality or having auditioned and NOT gotten so many parts, but he can totally handle the rejection like a champ. The only part he didn't get that he was bummed about enough to say "Aww. I really wanted that one!", was in The Deuce, a show James Franco is in for HBO. He just loves James Franco and was excited to meet and work with him. He was "Franco" on General Hospital! Well, and in the movie Oz and "Ceasar's dad" in Rise of the Apes.

The only time he ever cried having to do with this work, was this past week, when he was done working on this movie. He was crying from being overtired, but also because he was sad to leave the friends he made in those two days. He gets very attached to the other kids he works with.

However long we do this for, I put it in my category of interesting life experience. We've eaten a lot of good and bad craft service, we've met some cool people, made some friends, and E's had a few moments on tv. He's learned the discipline of patience, sitting on sets for hours on end. He gets to do something not everyone gets to do and he'll always have the memories. I'll have the moment I sidled up to one of my 90's crushes and fed him a silly line because I couldn't come up with something better. Lastly, he and his dad have baseball, skateboarding, and whatever else they do together to bond. This is our bonding time. And rituals. Like getting that damned street soft pretzel any time we go into NYC!

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