Hollywood

My son, Garrett has a special bond with Garrett Morris. It’s gone far beyond, “that’s who you’re named after.” At this point, my Garrett demands to speak with Adult Garrett whenever he calls me on the cell.

While at a restaurant one Sunday evening, Garrett called for an update on a project. After quickly discussing the status of the film, my Garrett request my phone so he could speak with Adult Garrett. Immediately, I watched my son take on my business mannerisms and phone etiquette. And then, Garrett began to pitch Garrett:

Ok, Garrett! I have an idea for a movie. It’s a car chase movie with a Tesla. I want you to write it. When will you be done? (Turns to me) Dad – we’re making a movie. (Back to the phone.) Ok, Garrett. Next time I see you we’re gonna make this movie. Don’t forget about the Tesla car chase. Bye!”

I sat across the table from Garrett in bewilderment. He got on the phone with a Hollywood legend, told him what he was going to do, and ended the call…like a BOSS!

I probably should call Garrett and let him know that my son isn’t kidding. He wants that script and he wants it by yesterday!

One of the reasons we wanted Justin to have a phone had to do with some of his Summer vacations this year. We planned on having him spend one week in Atlanta with his grandparents. He also spent a week in NY with GWE. We wanted him to have a phone just in case he got separated from GWE, needed to reach me, or uncovered an emergency Poke-Stop that contained a Nidorino he really needed.

During their trip, there was one morning when GWE had a meeting that she could not bring Justin to. Her plan was to leave Justin with Aunt Rori – a casting director in NY. He was going to ‘work’ for Rori for a few hours and then GWE would catch up with them later.

I knew when Justin was supposed to be in the office. I thought it would be funny to call him on the main office line and pitch him some of my clients. When I called, an assistant answered the phone and I explained that I was Justin’s dad and I wanted to talk to him and pitch some actors to him. (Ha Ha!) I was put on a brief hold. When she came back on the line, she responded, “He said he’s very busy. He said to please call him later.” And, then she hung up.

I thought he was joking with me, so I called his cell. He picked up on the third ring. “Hi dad. I’m really, really busy right now. I can’t talk. I’ll call you later.” I could hear the exasperation in his voice and imagined him rolling his eyes as he saw my caller ID on the phone. He didn’t give me a chance to utter a single word. He simply said, “Bye” and hung up

In less than 5 minutes, I went from thinking he was kidding, to being pissed that he wouldn’t talk to me….to hearing the lyrics to “Cats in the Cradle” in the back of my head. It was a sobering moment.

The more I thought about it, the more it became apparent that this was a double-doozy of self-realization. Not only did Justin (sort of) reject me by not taking my call….but, it also dawned on me that I’ve probably had the exact same exchange with my own dad a few times too many. It sucks to be on the other end of that conversation.

“I’m gonna be like you dad. You know, I’m gonna be like you.”  The older you get, the more sobering those lyrics become.

Excuse me while I make a call……..

Script1There are certain things in life that I don’t want my kids to experience. I don’t want them to experience war on a battlefield. I don’t want them to experience the inside of a jail cell. And, I don’t want them to experience life in Hollywood as actors.

I realize this is an odd thing to say considering I represent actors. But, this business is not meant for children. Most of the “mom-agers” are nuts, the pay sucks, and (even in success) this business has the ability to affect even the most grounded person. Plus, no child should have to endure that much rejection. Once the boys become adults and graduate from both Law School AND Medical School, then they will be free to make their own choices. But, for now, I will be making these decisions for them.

So…with all that being said and against my best personal and professional judgement, I allowed Justin to audition for a major motion picture. I don’t know why I caved. Maybe it was a moment of weakness. Or, maybe I was curious to see what his experience would be. Either way, he was going to have this one-time-only experience and it would be in a controlled environment.

Several weeks ago, there was a casting ‘breakdown’ (a detailed casting call of each of the characters) that came out for “The Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul.” This is one of Justin’s favorite books. Twentieth Century Fox was looking for the two lead kids: “Gregg” and “Rowley.” The studio wanted kids within the age range of 8-10. Initially, I ignored the breakdown because I don’t represent kids. It never crossed my mind to submit my own 9 year old.

However, someone sent GWE the public casting notice on Facebook, she forwarded it me and tagged “FARB” (You know who you are…I’m keeping you anonymous, but I’ll send you a note explaining your acronym.) because FARB is associated with the project. Reluctantly, I agreed to facilitate a taped audition. Normally, an actor would physically go to an audition where they would read for a casting director. I opted for taping an audition in the privacy of our home with GWE and Uncle (Actor, Producer, Director, etc.) Ethan.

So, on a Tuesday evening, with MoGWE by my side (as my witness) – I explained to Justin that Twentieth Century Fox was making this movie and he had the opportunity to audition for it. It took a few minutes for him to wrap his head around what I had just told him.

His first question was: “Am I going to be famous?!?!?!?”

“This is just an audition, buddy. Just a try-out.” I tried to explain.

“Will I get fan mail? Where will I put it? Do I get to do “Dancing with the Stars???” (I found his last question odd considering I had never seen him show an interest in dancing before.) His questions and level of excitement began to escalate very quickly. The best way to describe it is by imagining you’d handed someone a lottery ticket and having them assume they already won.

His final question was: “Can I tell my friends I’m going to be in the movie????” I had to keep lowering his expectations. “Justin – You don’t have the role yet. You have to audition for it. And, I’m sure 10,000 other kids are going to audition as well.”

That night, Justin went to sleep and dreamt of fame and fortune.

The next morning, when Justin realized that the audition was for “Rowley” (the side-kick) and not “Gregg” (the lead,) he was disappointed. Like I’ve done 1000 times with my clients, I had to explain to Justin that just because YOU see yourself as a certain role, THEY may not. BUT, if THEY see you do the role THEY requested and then THEY decided you’re more right for the other role, then YOU get to do the other role. I also explained to Justin that he would have to memorize the sides to audition. “Gregg” had 8 pages of dialogue. “Rowley” only had 3 pages of dialogue. He seemed satisfied with that explanation (and a little relieved to not have to do all that work.) GWE heard my explanation and marveled at the brand of bullshit I just fed my own son. She laughed and said, “You really are in the right career.”

Script2

Over the next few days, I heard Justin going over his material so many times that I could do it for him. I heard several logistical discussions between GWE and Uncle (Actor, Producer, Director, etc.) Ethan about how to put Justin on tape and who would be reading with him. I heard about the lighting and acoustics in his bedroom not being optimal for this type of recording. I was asked 500 times if I knew how to send casting the audition. I may have tersely reminded my wife….”Um, this is what I do professionally! Yea, I got it.”

And when everything was said and done – Justin had officially auditioned for a real movie!

Much to my relief, he didn’t get it. It’s not that he’s not talented and it’s not that I didn’t want to support him. I just want him to enjoy being a kid for as long as possible.

I guess I’ll have to wait a little longer before I can commission his allowance!

vigonormalGarrett and Justin wanted to see “Ghostbusters.” I knew they were too young to see the new one, so I rented the original. They loved it. LOVED IT! They kept running around the house for days pretending to ‘bust’ ghosts. Whenever we got into my car (once referred to as “The Hotmobile,” now referred to as “Ecto-1”) they would request the “Ghostbusters” theme music on repeat and sing it as loud as they could over and over and over as Garrett made the siren sounds with his voice.

That all changed when the DVD of “Ghostbusters 2” arrived at the house. What started with excitement and anticipation ended in tears and a fear of going to the bathroom alone.

While the boys loved “Slimer” and “The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man” in the first movie, they were a lot less jovial after seeing “Vigo the Carpathian.” Garrett didn’t seem scared. I would describe his reaction as ‘reserved.’ Justin was clearly bothered by the character and covered his face a couple of times.

I should have been a little more observant and understanding of Justin’s fear, but I wasn’t thinking. All I saw was a way to have fun scaring the kid who’d spent all week trying to scare me.

While the boys continued to watch the movie, I went to my computer, printed out a picture of Vigo the Carpathian, taped it to the inside of Justin’s toilet seat, and then quietly closed the lid. My trap had been set. I just needed Justin’s bladder to set this prank in motion.

Potty3

When it was time for dinner, Justin asked for us to pause the movie…and he never returned to it. Hours later, it was time for bed and I asked Justin to get ready. He put on his pajamas, brushed his teeth, and then climbed into bed. Knowing that the trap had not yet been sprung, I asked Justin to go potty. He told me that he didn’t have to.

“Justin – go potty before you go to bed.” I said.

“I don’t have to,” he replied.

“Justin – you’re going to have to go in the middle of the night. You might as well go now,” I reasoned.

“I don’t have to,” he said, again.

“C’mon, Justin. Just go!” I said in my deepened dad-voice as a ‘do-it-or-else.’

Begrudgingly, he got up, walked into the bathroom, turned the light on and then turned the light off and got back into bed.

“Justin! There is no way you went potty. At least lift the lid this time!” And then I waited………

Once again, he got up, walked into the bathroom, turned on the light, flipped the lid…..and then he SCREAMED a scream I had never heard before. At first, I was very pleased with myself. I got him and I got him good! I was expecting him to come out of the bathroom smiling with an “Oh dad. You got me so good” look on his face. That was not the look I saw when he came of the bathroom.

What actually happened was that he raced out of the bathroom and into his bedroom with tears streaming down his face and he was white as a ghost. He collapsed on the floor where I was standing and he began to shake while screaming, “HOW COULD YOU DO THAT TO ME????” My prank had blown up in my face and now my son was a crying blob on the floor who refused to go into the bathroom by himself for any reason.

Thankfully, Garrett was the one who saved the day!

As I got Justin into bed and tried to calm him down by telling him that everything would be ok, there was a moment of silence as we both heard Garrett walk into the same bathroom. I thought, “oh shit, it’s gonna happen again.” In silence, Justin and I stared at each other as we heard Garrett pull down his pants, then lift the lid…….and then, we heard him quietly laugh to himself……and finally, we heard the sound of him peeing. As if nothing was amiss, Garrett pulled up his pants, closed the toilet lid, flushed, and walked out.

Justin and I could not contain ourselves. We erupted in laughter. The thing that almost scared the (literal) crap out of Justin actually made Garrett laugh as he went potty!!

So, now we know, a Carpathian in the crapper isn’t for everyone!

 

Thanksgiving-at-Woodcrest-6We’ve all had moments when there is an opportunity to appear cooler than we actually are, but then something unexpectedly happens and our lack of coolness is revealed to those exact people we were trying to impress. This is one of those stories.

If you’ve been a follower of this blog, then you know that I represent some recognizable actors, writers, and directors. One of my clients happens to be one of Justin’s favorite characters on a show that was recently cancelled. Occasionally, you can still catch it in reruns.

One afternoon, Justin was in my office when I needed to call this particular actor to go over scheduling for an upcoming appointment. (I usually keep work and family separate, but this was one of the few times I didn’t mind crossing that line…because I thought it would make me look cool in front of my son.) As I was dialing the phone, I quickly explained to Justin who I was calling. I told him that I would put the call on speakerphone so he could hear the actor’s voice, but he was forbidden from making any sounds. Excitedly, Justin agreed.

The phone rang once.

The phone rang a second time.

On the third ring, the client picked up the phone and in a jovial manner exclaimed, “WHAT UP, BITCH!?!?”

I have to give Justin credit. He was dying of laughter, yet managed to keep silent…even as he fell to the floor in hysterics. My moment of cool was gone. Karmically, I probably had it coming.

I maintained my professional demeanor, responded with, “Hi there! How are you?” and pretended like my son didn’t just hear me get called “bitch” by someone he’s a huge fan of.

Mystery-MachineJustin is a very happy kid. However, there are the moments of fake laughter and there are moments of genuine laughter. I caught a moment of the latter while we were at Universal Studios in Hollywood one night.

We were having dinner at Saddle Ranch when two musicians asked if we had any requests. GWE requested “Margaritaville” while Justin completely ignored the situation while watching an over-head television. I caught him off-guard. Enjoy!