Friday, January 29, 2016

Life Among the Eloi


Tom as Mr. Trask
It is high summer in LA. All the hills are brown and covered in dry, fire prone chaparral primed for wildfire by the hot, incessant Santa Ana winds.

The WORKING GIRL pilot has been shot and is in the can, ready for the big Fall TV schedule when the network rolls out its best bets for ratings hits. And we have a highly coveted time spot on that fall schedule. Things are looking up. Tom and I are eagerly awaiting the call to start shooting the next episodes.

We've been invited to a cast party by one of the assistant producers on the show. The address is Beverly Hills and the mansion does not disappoint. It is truly palatial, perched in lordly fashion atop the brown canyons, with the endless, flat suburb city of LA splayed out in wrap around views from every room and terrace.

We wander out onto the terrace carrying our gigantic wine bowls made of crystal far more delicate than egg shells and sipping wine more fascinatingly, palate pleasing than Olympian ambrosia. Tom surveys the LA basin and makes his standard observation: "LA is the end of Western Civilization". And as proof, he cites the movie The Time Machine with Rod Taylor. "We're here with the Eloi," he says. "It's perfect. They're all blonde with perfect bodies, nobody looks more than 27 years old, they live on fruit, they don't work, they're totally indifferent to anyone's suffering, like when Wena almost drowns; they don't read or write, their books have turned to dust, and they spend their idle days cavorting in the sun. H.G. Wells described LA perfectly."

We go back inside. He's right. There are beautiful people everywhere. We do our best not to be conspicuous Morlocks in non designer clothing. This is a big moment for both of us, but especially for me, because these days I'm moming it at home with a three year old as full time cook and bottle washer. So I've heard about all the excitement and glamour second hand from Tom. This is my night to mingle with the big shots.

Tom knows a couple of people, cast members, production people, and they converse; I listen attentively. Big excitement of the night is: a real mountain stream runs through the middle of the house, have we seen it? We see it later, replete with rose petals drifting by. WOW. This house belongs to one of the producers who redoes homes and resells them. He's just sold this one to a Japanese couple for nine million. Cash. WOW. AND DOUBLE WOW. This is the nineties, when Japan seems to be rolling in cash. MGM has also just been sold to Sony for some amazing sum. And we're told not to miss the upstairs bathroom with floor to ceiling views of LA from the throne. We visit it and are suitably blown away. Do people really live like this? It's just staggering. WOW. WOW. WOW. It may be the end of Western Civilization, but the Eloi have it very good indeed. 

We circulate and notice that Nancy McKeon, our star, has not arrived yet. Maybe she's skipping this party. After all, she's a pretty big TV star already. Circulating to the bar to get free drinks, Tom reconnects with me. Someone has just told him that Nancy McKeon has left the show and that WORKING GIRL is no longer on the fall lineup. We switch our drink orders from wine to vodka. We are shattered. I'm hardly able to remain standing. We hear people around the bar, producers, writers, etc. discussing the change. Everyone says it will be fine. The new girl tested just fine with the studio audiences. We look at each other. We've been gut punched. Our big chance. Now what? No nine million dollar houses in our future. The rest of the evening is a blur.

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