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Keepin It Real ~ Chaper 7 by Jacqueline Nyahay

July 2011 ~

4th of July was suddenly upon us and we headed up to Starlight Bowl.  The music was fun, picnicking on the lawn with hundreds of people, drinking wine and enjoying the festivities.  My Anais Nin book was due at the library.  I did not want to let her go.  It was the last of her four unexpurgated diaries and I had taken my time leisurely enjoying her words for 6 weeks.  Almost three weeks had gone by before I finally got a call from Jessica's List.  A movie had just started up, Think Like a Man, and I was to play a businesswoman.  I had just had lunch with my friend Sean, talking about how slow it was work wise, how much I hated downtime and hiatus, wanting to get back to busy.  We were shooting on location in downtown L.A. in this heat in business suits and told to meet on a rooftop.  Sounded like a potential nightmare shoot but work is work.

I woke up early for the first time all summer at 4:45am.  After showering and having some coffee I checked the call time change box, only to find out the call had been pushed an hour.  I could have slept in longer.  I ate a piece of banana bread on my way out the door to set, thinking that there would probably be a breakfast being served on this new SAG film.  I followed the directions given and found the parking structure, parked and made my way to the roof.  Unfortunately, the entire roof was under construction.  A big event was being set up and some guy in the scaffolding told me that I was not in the right place and to go back to the lobby and ask security where I should go.  So I did and was told to walk down the street one way, toward the Ritz Carlton, then a block later yelled at that I needed to turn around and go the other way, back to the Marriott.  Oh God, disorganization, what next.  I finally found holding, thankfully inside the air conditioned lobby area of the Marriott Hotel banquet facility.  I was a half hour early.  A PA came in to tell us that a continental breakfast was being set up for everyone a block down the street at the Ritz but would not be ready until 9:15am.  He checked us in at 9am, then we were sent to wardrobe.  After we were free to go to breakfast.  But when we all walked to breakfast we were told it wouldn't be ready until 10:30am.  I pulled out Anais Nin and finished the last few pages I had left.  At 10am our holding was moved to a ballroom on the 4th floor.  At 10:15am we were being placed on set.  So much for breakfast down the street inside the Ritz Carlton.  I felt we had been lied to because obviously the crew ate before coming to set.  Everyone was upset and there was no craft service.  The 1st AD was making comments that the BG needed to get out of their heads and iphones and focus on the scene.  We were all seated at round tables attending a conference where the CEO was being recognized for her hard work when two of the wait staff stumble and spill a bunch of food.  One of the girls at my table found out that crafty was set up and snuck away to get something when the cameras were moving between set ups.  She brought me back a mini scone, which helped my ever-growling stomach.  Around 2pm we were brought back to the original holding downstairs.  The second scene of the day was in a restaurant at the Ritz Carlton a block down the street.  Everyone had to change over into their second outfit, but we had already been told that it would be mostly the guys used.  All the guys left for set and about 3 girls.  The other 30 or so women stayed in holding.  I was thankful that we were inside this beautiful hotel with air conditioning on such a hot day.  The scenes were easy, just sitting, applauding, listening.  No one could understand why they wouldn't just wrap us out since we weren't being used.  Crafty came to set up for us and brought mini sandwiches.  I was so excited and felt so much better after devouring the three little bites of that.   At 3pm we were not released to walk away for the one hour lunch.  Everyone was really upset that we were on location in downtown L.A. and told to walk away for lunch, had been denied breakfast and crafty had been slim pickings most of the day.  A PA came running back from set at 3:30pm to tell us to go to lunch.  We got stickers that said Think Like a Man Background.  We were told to use them for discounts at the LA Market located inside the Ritz Carlton Restaurant/Bar 25% off or Wolfgang Pucks 15% off.  I walked with some other BG to the Ritz and the hostess took us to a private back room where tons of food was set up and we were told we could order anything.  I said is this where we get 25% off?  Johnny, another BG said this room was for crew and we would get in trouble eating their food and so we all left the room and went back to the hostess.  She said the restaurant was closed and we could only sit up at the bar if we ate there.  I had no problem with this but the others went off to Wolfgang Puck.  Another BG, Maise sat beside me at the bar calling up SAG to ask if this was even legit that we could be sent to walk away lunch in downtown L.A. in the most expensive area and yet the crew would be eating for free in the restaurant.  Guess it is a new loophole I had never heard of in my 16 years in the union, but yes, that production did not hire a caterer and therefore did not have to feed us.  That they made a deal with the hotel to feed the crew and give BG a discount was all perfectly fine.  Well, I decided to order up a glass of wine and some calamari appetizer and enjoy the ambience at the JW Marriott Glance Lobby Lounge.  How the restaurant accumulated so many titles I have no idea, that was the one on the receipt.  Crew call had been an hour after ours so they didn't go to lunch until after 4pm.  I could have stayed out longer, but went back to holding when my allotted hour was over.  At 6:30pm all the girls were told we would finally work the scene in the turn around martini shot.  We all walked back over to the Ritz and I was placed at a little table in the bar behind the principal actors with some other BG to pretend we are having a drink and discussing business.  The majority of the other BG were used to cross in the big open hall outside the bar, making the hotel appear busy.  By 7:40pm we were wrapped out and I made it home in time for a late dinner with Ed and an episode of Breaking Bad before passing out for the evening.  Glad to be working again!

The following day I returned Anais Nearer the Moon back to the library, but did not leave without obtaining some of her fiction and more diaries, the straight ones this time.  I wanted to see exactly what the difference was between the unexpurgated ones and the original ones that had been published first.  I wanted to hear the rest of her story and the unexpurgated ones ended in 1939, while the others spanned more of her lifetime.  On Friday I finally finished catching up with my True Blood and was ready to go to Jodi's house Sunday night to see it on her big screen, after watching it on my laptop all week, when I got a call from Jessica's List.  Booked for Monday on 90210.  Last time I was there my grandfather died.  Some crazy whodoo voodoo energy seemed to be with me whenever I went to their stages, getting very emotional, crying, which is so not like me, but at least we would be on location.  Unfortunately early call time meant early wake up call of 4am and I was not going to be able to attend the True Blood party again!

I started reading Winter of Artifice, the novel Anais talked about working on in the last diary of hers I had read.  It was comprised of three novelettes.  The first story was of an actress who is single and self-centered and has issues with her father.  The second was of a girl reunited with her father after 20 years.  They both strongly revolved around her issues with her real father from what I gathered from her diaries.  It was interesting seeing what parts of her diary found their ways into her fiction.  I felt like she was working out her issues of her father in these stories and appreciated them more for the behind the scenes knowledge I had from the diaries.  Monday morning rolled around and I tore myself from the bed at 4am and hit the showers.  Thankfully there was no traffic at this early hour and I made my way to set smoothly.  Our location for crew parking was at the old Robinson May building on Wilshire in Beverly Hills, where I had parked before for the Bollywood movie, Damn Love, I shot forever ago 2008, so I knew exactly where I was going.  Once at set, I had some breakfast from catering and hung out waiting to check in.  I was only booked to play in the first scene as a Beverly Hills shopper.  It was overcast and chilly which felt great after all the summertime heat.  I knew it would all burn off eventually and be a hot day, but for the morning it was ideal.  After checking in and going to wardrobe, we hopped in vans and shuttled over to set at the Luxe Hotel on Rodeo Drive.  Our holding was on the rooftop penthouse, very nice!  Set was right out front of the hotel where some cute tables and chairs were set up for a brunch atmosphere.  The scene was of one of the girls getting out of her car and talking to some guy who had been eating at the table.  My action was to window shop down the street, go around the corner and come back down the street window-shopping.  It was so peaceful at 8am on Rodeo, all the shops were closed and no one out and about but us.  I noticed Brian Renolds was DP'ing.  I had not seen him since the BOT days.  Looked like he had his whole team with him.  Nice to see familiar faces.  I saw Genie the scripty walk by.  I had not seen her on this set since last year when she had given me her email.  By 9am things got a little bit busier as tourists woke and wandered out to face the day.  Everyone was excited to see a production in action and paparazzi showed up by 10am when most of the stores started opening.  The PA's were going nuts trying to keep a lock down on the busy street.  Tour busses were driving past, it was getting noisy and extremely busy and we were all happy when the scene was finished by 11am.  Back up to the penthouse for the BG while we waited for crew to clear out of the street and get shuttled to the next location on Melrose.  When it was finally our turn to shuttle back to base camp I tried not to get too excited over being done in case something changed and they decided I had to stay.  When we exited the vans outside the wardrobe trailer we were told only 6 lucky people would be leaving and it was just the way we were booked.  My voucher had only said Beverly Hills shopper so I was one of the lucky ones!  Everyone else had to change their clothes and get shuttled to the next set.  I got signed out and was home by noon.

I started reading the final story in Winter of Artifice but was not getting into it like I thought I would.  Jessica's List called me with a job through Prime Casting.  I had never worked for them before and found it a little different.  I was given no details by my call in service but instead told to wait for an email from Prime Casting with all my information.  That was at 7:30pm at night.  The job was for the following day and I had no idea what time until the email finally came through after 8:30pm.  My call time was 7pm, and I was going out to Lynwood.  Not my favorite neighborhood, especially at night.  I was told the project was called Lady Killers.  When I looked that up online, the only thing I found was a movie of the same name made a few years ago.  Since it was AFTRA I figured maybe it was a TV show based on the movie.

The following morning I got up and took Zyla to her swim class.  I called Jessica's to find out if this was going to be a night shoot.  They told me it would not, that crew call was 9:30am and we would not be there that long.  I decided to take a nap anyways after an early lunch of burgers grilled up by Ed.  I woke up at 2pm and started my day again, showering and getting ready for set this time.  I had a slice of pizza and watched the third season finale of Breaking Bad.  By 4:20pm I was out the door and on the freeway because with rush hour who knew how long it might take to drive 25 miles away.  An hour and a half later I find my exit off the 105 freeway and entered the ghetto.  I turned the wrong way down Imperial Hwy and made sure all my doors were locked.  I needed to check my map book, but it looked so sketchy everywhere I did not know where to pull over.  White girl sitting in her car, lost, looking through her map book screamed car jacking in my head, but I managed to figure out where I needed to be and headed back in the direction of set.  When I pulled into the Sheriff's Station, the security did not know the name of the movie but directed me toward the production trailers.  I thought this strange at first, but found out later the movie had changed it's name three times already so everyone pulling in might be giving different names for the project.  I was glad I was early and had arrived in daylight.  I hoped it would be easy to find the freeway onramp back home in the dark.  I hung out in holding for an hour or so before we were taken to wardrobe.  The scene was a Chicago cop party at the precinct and I was playing a cop's wife.  Wardrobe put me in the same clothes I wore on 90210 two days before, I thought that was funny.  Saw a couple of familiar faces in the BG, my Jessica's List peeps.  Some others had gotten this job through LA Casting.  We were told it was a Lifetime made for TV movie starring Rob Lowe.  It was based on a true story about a serial killer cop who kills a number of his wives.  We were to write on our vouchers the title as Untouchables, but that the title might change again as it kept happening.  I had brought Anais book with me, and finished reading the final story.  I enjoyed it more as I remembered her talking about writing this specific short story, how it was about her clients she had done analysis on in New York and her relationship with her analysist.  Ultimately I enjoyed her diaries best, but this was the first work of fiction I had read of hers and would still be reading more.  A little before 9pm we were told that our scene was up next to be ready because they wanted to get in and get it done and not buy a 2nd meal for crew.  But then they did end up buying another meal for crew and told us that anyone whose call time was after 5pm did not get to eat.  We were told we would still be on the clock watching everyone eat around us.  I was pretty upset.  I was starving.  It was going on 10pm and the last thing I ate was a piece of pizza at 3:30pm.  I went out to the crafty truck and found some bread and the last of the peanut butter and jelly for a sandwich.  After crew went through, the BG who had come before 5pm were told to go eat.  There was hardly anything left for them.  By the time they were done things were getting cleaned up and some of the later call BG asked if they could grab up the scraps.  It was Mexican food, so there were lots of chips and salsa left over, some beans and mac n cheese.  A PA said more food was coming, but no more food showed up.  I really could not believe it.  At 10:30pm we were finally moving on to the party scene.  Crew started moving all the camera and equipment to the location which was the room right off our holding room.  A break room for the cops with vending machines, tables, etc.  While they were rehearsing the scene 20 boxes of pizza showed up and all the late call BG were invited to eat.  I felt much better after having a piece of pizza.  We started shooting the scene around 11pm.  It was only ¾ page long with 3 set ups.  In the first set up Rob Lowe was there, but I did not recognize him until someone told me it was him.  He had a mustache and gray in his hair and I was told he was really made to look exactly like the serial killer.  At first I was placed by a friend of mine but then since we were both in brown they moved me to the back of the room to walk around with this other girl.  When we started rolling everyone was pantomiming as per usual, and the 1st AD said that the party looked boring and we could be more lively and actually talk since there really wasn't dialog in the scene just Rob laughing.  That changed everything, suddenly everyone was having a good time, joking, laughing out loud, saying crazy comments!  I had fun weaving through the crowd with my drink in hand.  Then the 1st AD wanted me to walk into the scene holding a pizza box with some pizza in it and a piece in my hand and pretend I was tipsy and make my way past Rob and over to some cop entertaining two ladies.  The next two set ups, a turn around then a wide shot moved pretty quickly and we were wrapped out by 12:30am.  The freeway was easy to find and I flew home with no traffic, crashed out by 2am. 

Started reading Tropic of Capricorn by Henry Miller.  He had been working on the book during the time of Anais last diary I read.  I was immediately impressed by his self-control not to fill each page with the word cunt and actually write an interesting story of his time in New York, working to support his first wife and child.  Around page 100 he started in on his ramblings, which bore me to tears, turning my eyes glassy and my mind to wanderings.  It is as if he is so in love with his voice, he just has to hear or see his words fill up the page whether there is much meaning to it or not.  Thankfully it didn't last long as I trudged through until he got back to a more coherent thought process and continued with his childhood tales of Brooklyn.  The sex stories he did sprinkle in were then appreciated as it added flavor but not gratuitously like the first book. 

I again caught up with True Blood and found my way to my friend Jodi's house to watch episode 4 on her big screen.  Finished up Miller's book and moved on to The Diary of Anais Nin Volume 3 1939-1944.  It picked up where I had left off in the unexpurgated ones and it was different reading her stories without all the sex.  Usually when she met up with Miller or Gonzalo she would talk about their work as well as sex play, but not in this version.  I also began to wonder who else she was probably having sex with and not mentioning like maybe Robert?  I liked what she said about Tropic of Cancer and no passion between the people who don't fall in love, just lust.  I also liked what Anais said to Paul at the Tavern on Macdougal Street, when he was bemoaning all sexual encounters as monotonous.  I was having fun coping quotes into my diary of favorite quotes. 

On Thursday, Jessica's called me for a night shoot on Oliver Stone's new movie Savages.  My call time was 6pm Friday night, so I took a little nap to prepare and headed out to the Odyssey restaurant for the evening.  We were supposed to look like we were in Laguna Beach having dinner on a summer evening.  Wardrobe wanted me in a skirt and gave me one to wear.  There were about 80 BG and we spent the night in one of the ballrooms, while production was filming elsewhere.  Hair and make-up were brought in for the BG and it took about 5 hours for them to get through everybody.  Around 10ish a handful of BG were picked to go to set.  I had flashbacks to CEDU sitting in circles telling our story, staying up all night in some profeet.  A slumber party for adults who never go to sleep and sit tentatively in readiness for set.  Around 11:30pm I was picked to go to set and walked half way there when a call came over the walkie that Oliver only wanted his Laguna girls.  Oliver had gone down to Laguna Beach earlier in the week for lunch and met a group of authentic looking Laguna ladies, rich, mid 40's, overweight, pampered type look, which none of the regular BG look like.  As a lark, he invited them to play in his movie and they drove up from Laguna Beach to Granada Hills.  I know he likes contrast and keeping it real and they sold the story.  The only principal actors there that night were the younger kids playing in the movie, Blake Lively and two other guys.  I am not exactly sure who since I never made it to set.  About 20 BG were not used.  It was all good because dinner was served at 1:30am giving me 3 meal penalties and we wrapped out at 6am giving me a few hours of overtime.  I drove home as the sun rose over the valley and crashed out until noon. 

Sunday was the celebration of my 12th wedding anniversary.  Ed and I spent the day with Zyla going to Mass where we were married and watching Zyla Alter Serve.  Then we headed to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to see the new Tim Burton exhibit on display.  It was amazing; I love everything that man does.  Dinner at the Stinking Rose, gave me my fill of garlic for the rest of the year! 

On Tuesday, Ed and Zyla went out of town and I had twelve days off to myself.  I was excited for some alone time, to work more on my novel.  I was expecting to book a few gigs as well.  I had never been away from Zyla this long and it was especially sad saying good-bye at the airport.  I did not have to wait long for work.  Jessica's called with a booking for the following day on CSI: Miami.  I had started listening to the hotlines last week, just to see what was going on, see if I could find a stand in gig.  One of the jobs on the line was for CSI: Miami.  They wanted a woman to be comfortable with sticking her feet in a tub of these little fish that eat dead skin.  It was a pedicure type treatment for an upscale day spa scene.  I thought of submitting, but did not feel I looked like a Miami type and probably wouldn't get picked.  It was also going to be shooting on Tuesday when Ed and Zyla were leaving and I wanted to take them to the airport.  I guess it got pushed a day and no one submitted because I was randomly chosen as one of the seven girls willing to have our feet eaten by the fish.  My call time was early and I had to set the alarm for 4am, meaning I did not stay up late my first night of vacation.  As I tried to fall asleep early, I kept having dialog and ideas for my novel pour through my mind.  I should have gotten up and just written it out, but I needed my sleep and hoped the ideas would pour through again with all my time off. 

The call time got pushed and I left for set around 6:30am.  Down to South Central, shooting on location in a warehouse, you would think we would be on location at a day spa or salon, with the stunt we were attempting, but no.  Unlike when I get a pedicure at a salon, in those big chairs with the tub of water that vibrates, there were barber chairs set up in front of boxes with glass bowls on top.  When water was poured into one of the bowls it leaked out the bottom of the box and all over set.  There was a button in the bottom that had not been pushed.  How they were going to then pour fish into these bowls and have us put our feet in, then rescue the fish out seemed like an animal rights activist field day with leaking bowls and fish all over the floor.  The fish were left in a big fish tank that was elevated on a tall box pillar.  Another glass bowl did not hold the water even with the button pressed and leaked everywhere.  The filling of the glass bowls with water was nixed.  In the scene, the girl working on my feet is just drying them, pretending they had just been washed.  This was just the wide shot master of the scene and we got it done fairly fast.  After that the camera moved in for coverage, moving down length of salon finally to a back room where a shoot out occurs.  Back in holding, we took pictures for wardrobe.  We had been asked to bring nude bra and panties with flip-flops.  Wardrobe provided the white bathrobes we put on over that.  Then a PA came in and asked to look at the seven girls feet.  We all lined up to show him our toes.  I had been worried I would need to have a pedicure done on my feet and when I asked Jessica's they said they would call back and let me know but did not, so I had given myself a mini one before bed.  That meant I was not picked as the girl with the most dead skin around her toes.  I was okay with that.  Later we were told that the close up shot of the fish eating her toes was cancelled.  It was just not working out the way it had played in the script.  The PA came in and played duck, duck, goose and whoever's head was tapped was wrapped.  I was one of the lucky ones and got out of there at noon.  Missing out on their catered lunch, but I had gotten the catered breakfast so it was all good.  With my afternoon off I relaxed at home watching Loving Annabelle and staying out of the rising temperatures.

Jessica's called me later that afternoon with another booking.  I was going be playing a county nurse on K-11.  It was through Debbie Wiesman Casting whom I had not worked for since 2008 when she used to book me on Big Love through XM.  Location was at the Sybil Brand Jail in Monterey Park.  Crew call was 7:30am, but I did not have to be there until 11:45am.  Traffic was light and I arrived an hour early.  The jail was currently no longer in use for inmates, but the property and most of the surrounding area was owned by the Sheriff Department, so there were some strict rules.  There was only one other nurse with me and we where given green and white scrubs by wardrobe.  Everyone else was either a male playing an inmate or a security officer.  Holding was inside; a PA escorted us down the halls of the institution, until we came to a large room just off the set.  The set was the cafeteria of the jail where we shot one long scene all afternoon.  It was sweltering hot in there with the lights and sun shining through.  But holding had a huge air conditioning fan that blasted cool air between takes.  In the scene, I stand in the deep background watching over a table of yellow clothed inmates eating.  We were told they were the mental patients.  The other nurse I was working with was a close friend of Debbie Wiesman and when Debbie showed up to set, she introduced me.  I saw a few familiar faces from my recent jobs.  As the day was winding down, Jessica's called with another gig!  I could not believe three days in a row, but felt very blessed.  Adam, the casting director whom I met on Better off Ted, requested me for The Mentalist to play a CBI Staffer.  The show had recently let go of a bunch of regulars due to attitudes and was looking for fresh faces to be new regulars.  I was excited for the opportunity to have a regular thing especially since it was shooting at Warner Brothers Studios down the street from my house.  I checked out of jail in just under 8 hours and headed home.

Woke up around 6am and found out my call time had been pushed one hour.  Sounded like they had long days like I remembered and expected to probably not wrap out until midnight.  I ate before set and then found out when I arrived that breakfast was served.  They were also catering lunch since the late call meant the commissary would be closed.  I liked this show.  Wardrobe was not impressed with my clothing options, but it was difficult to find much to bring with their strict rules of no black, blue, white, or red.  We had to wear FBI type dark suits.  She approved my outfit and gave me a shirt change for day 2 scenes.  Everyone on the crew and the regular BG were very friendly.  We had a nice easy day, doing crosses, etc.  A lot of the BG brought their laptops and were talking about the plunging stock market and fate of America.  Right before lunch we found out that they were way ahead of schedule and seven people could go home.  I volunteered since there were only two short scenes left and staying might not mean any overtime.  Signed out in under 6 hours and headed home to plan my evening.  My friend Jodi had texted about coming to her house to catch up on the True Blood episode 5 we both missed last Sunday.  Jessica's called with yet another gig for Monday!  I was on a roll!

I ended up watching episode 5 of True Blood at Jodi's house Friday night.  I brought over some Vampire Pinot Noir for the occasion quite tasty.  My plans on Saturday with Sean fell through for the Comedy Club.  I spent the afternoon watching 2 Girls in Love and talking on the phone with Ed and Zyla.  I got up early Sunday morning to go for a hike as the temperatures started to swelter and humidity hit the Valley.  I end up seeing Tony, the cameraman from BOT, after Mass for a nice lunch.  He was back in town working on House of Lies.  Watched Jay Baruchel in a great little comedy called The Trotsky.  Overall my weekend was very relaxing and I geared up for another crazy week of doing BG. 

Keepin It Real ~ Chapter 8 CLICK HERE to continue reading...