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Man vs. Dog

June 7, 2017 by in category Eye on Hollywood by Bobbie Cimo tagged as ,

Man vs Dog | Bobbie Cimo | A Slice of Orange

Man vs DogDuring one of my Canadian vacations, I accidentally came upon a film crew shooting in the streets of Old Montreal. The movie was called  Heavenly Dog. The star of the flick was comedian Chevy Chase (known for the Caddyshacks and National Lampoon’s vacation movies) and co-starring with him was a cute little scruffy dog named Benji. The plot of the movie is about a detective who is slain in the middle of a murder investigation and is given the opportunity to come back to earth—not as himself, but as a dog, so he could solve, along with the original murder, who was behind his own demise. I think it’s pretty obvious who played which part.

With hardly any effort at all, I somehow managed to get some one-on-one time with Chevy Chase. We talked about Montreal, the entertainment business and the movie he was working on. Widely known for his comedic behavior, I was surprised how serious he was when it came to conversing in small chitchat. I guess we all have this image of how we expect someone we see on film to act when we meet them in person.

Because I was on vacation, I happen to have my camera with me. But truthfully, there’s a reason why my friends and family used to affectionately refer to me as the Kodak Kid. If there was ever an opportunity for a photo, I’d be there with my handy dandy Instamatic. ‘Cause nothing says it better than a Kodak Moment (or to help you remember those things that age has a way of making you forget).

As we were posing together, I could tell Chevy was either making funny faces or doing some kind of gesture behind my back. I told him several times to stop, because I wanted to have a nice picture of us together. Every time I told him, he would humbly agree to stop. And like a fool I believed him. I didn’t realize until after I had my pictures developed, that he had put rabbit ears over my head. At first I was annoyed, but I guess Chevy being Chevy, he couldn’t resist. And now when I look at the picture, it just makes me laugh.

Several yeas after the release of  Heavenly Dog I was at a CBS afternoon Affiliates party when I met Benji’s trainer, Frank Inn. Frank, a world renown animal trainer, got his start as an assistant trainer to Skippy, the dog who played Asta in all of those famed Thin Man movies.

Man vs Dog | Bobbie Cimo | A Slice of Orange

Besides Benji (whose real name was Higgins), Frank trained Orangey the cat, who played Cat in Breakfast at Tiffany’s and  Arnold the pig who was best known for his fictional character as Arnold Ziffel on TV’s Green Acres. Frank was so fond of these animals that when he died, all three of their ashes were buried with him.

When Higgins, the original Benji retired, he was replaced by his daughter, Benjean. She was smaller than the original Benji , but fluffier, and the tips of her ears had to be dyed to match her father’s. The older she got, her own ears turned as dark as her dad’s, and dyeing them was no longer necessary. I’m sure she was thrilled. And Benjean forever became known as Benji and went on to star in the most popular of the Benji movies, including  Heavenly Dog, and then on to the popular TV shows.

Not only was Frank kind enough to have Benji perform several tricks when we met, but he allowed me to take a picture with the adorable moppet-like star.

After posing with both Chevy and Benji—man and canine, it’s hands down for me who of the two followed directions better.


Man vs Dog

 

 

 

Bobbie Cimo has worked in Hollywood for years. She has ALL the best stories.

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LOOK AT ME, I MET SANDRA DEE

April 7, 2017 by in category Eye on Hollywood by Bobbie Cimo tagged as , ,

Sandra Dee and Sonby Bobbie Cimo

The first time I saw the movie, Gidget, I was hooked on Sandra Dee. Not only did I think she was cute and spunky, but she ended up with Moondoggie. And who wouldn’t want to end up with James Darren? I’ve seen the original Gidget movie so many times that I’ve lost count of just how many times. And even to this day, although I have the DVD, every time the movie comes on TV, I can’t help but stop whatever I’m doing and watch it again. I found out I wasn’t alone in this weird addiction when at a recent concert I overheard a woman confessing to a friend the same thing–only she admitted to knowing the movie’s dialogue verbatim–whereas I can only paraphrase it. Oh, and by the way, headlining that concert, was none other than James Darren, looking as gorgeous as ever, which has me thoroughly convinced there’s a Dorian Gray painting somewhere in his attic, aging by the minute, as I’m writing this.

By the time I was old enough to move to Hollywood, Sandy had reached early adulthood and her promising career seemed to have come to a complete standstill. Either because the parts weren’t there for her, or she had decided to become a full-time mom to the son she had with Bobby Darin. Whatever the reason was, I missed seeing my favorite actress on the screen–and the chances of ever seeing her in person seemed even less of a possibility. And outside of being mentioned in a song from the movie, Grease called Look at me, I’m Sandra Dee, it was as if she had disappeared–or at least she had from the Hollywood scene.

It wasn’t until the early nineties that Sandra Dee, now in her late forties, resurfaced into the public eye by making the cover of People magazine and sharing with the world the story of her childhood sexual abuse. Later that same year, she made what many thought, including myself, a comeback to acting when she did a play at the Canon Theatre in Beverly Hills called Love Letters. Co-starring with her was another teen idol by the name of John Saxon. The two, many years earlier, had shared billing in the movie, The Reluctant Debutante. It was heartwarming to found out that the two were being teamed-up again. And I became ecstatic to learn as a birthday gift, I was being treated to the play. Finally, I was going get to see Sandra Dee in person. And what was even nicer is when I spotted James Darren in the audience. How sweet was that? Moondoggie there to lend his support to Gidget. Because I was on a date, I was forced to behave…no ogling in public, I could only admire Mr. Darren from afar. Darn it! I work so much better when I’m on my own. But I did have a seat close enough to the stage to see that although she was now older, Sandy still had a sweet face and the sparkle that she had possessed in her eyes during her youth was still there.

Even though her performance in Love Letters got rave reviews, she once again disappeared from the limelight. It wasn’t until 1994 when her son, Dodd Darin wrote a book about his mother and father’s life called, Dream Lovers: The Magnificent Shattered Lives of Bobby Darin and Sandra Dee, that she came back onto the scene. The book was well written and gave a true account of his parents’ lives, including his mother’s sexual abuse, eating disorder and her bouts with alcoholism and depression. He also wrote about his father’s drive to live every moment of life as if it was his last (the result of overhearing a doctor telling his family he probably wouldn’t make it to adulthood, due to a heart ailment).

When I got word, that Sandra Dee was going to be at a book signing with her son at Brentano’s bookstore at the Beverly Center, I was thrilled, but not really certain she would show up. But I was wrong. They were both there for the signing and to greet their fans.

Like all good mothers, she stood in the background and let her son enjoy his moment of glory as an author. And Dodd, like a good son, seemed protective, loving and respectful of his mother. It was obvious, together, they were a team.

Sandra Dee at the book signing was in her early fifties. She had led a difficult life, but there were no telltale signs showing in her face. And when I talked to her, she was just as down to earth as the girl next door, who was now grown up. I’m sure she had heard it a thousand times how much her movies had impacted a young girl’s life, but when she heard it from me, she pretended like she had never heard it before. Happily, I walked away with my dual autographed copy, signed by mother and son, of  Dream Lovers and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon over lunch with my own mother, who I had dragged with me to the signing. At last, I had met my girlhood idol and the real Gidget.

I’ll never forget the day Sandra Dee died, it was on Feb 20th (2005), which coincidentally happens to be the date of my own sister’s birthday. We were on our way home from celebrating when the news came across the car radio. I didn’t cry, I didn’t gasp in shock, I just kind of went numb. The way you do when you hear of the unexpected death of an old friend–one you hadn’t seen in a long time, but still considered them part of your life. The news is so surprising you can’t immediately register your emotions. I will always feel sad about her passing, but luckily, I can say, “Look at me, I met Sandra Dee.”

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IT’S A WRAP (DREW CAREY’S PARTIES)

March 13, 2011 by in category Archives, Eye on Hollywood by Bobbie Cimo tagged as ,

When Bob Barker announced he would be leaving “The Price Is Right”, I must admit I was a little pessimistic that the show would continue with the same success as it had in the past.

Well, it’s been over three years now and I’m happy to say the show is still on the air and a whole bunch of people are still employed because of it. Drew shows his appreciation to everyone associated with the show by throwing the best wrap party I’ve ever been to and pays for it out of his own pocket, too.

The first party he hosted was on a Saturday night in some hot spot in Hollywood. I wasn’t familiar with the name of the club, but I was told by my co-workers it was a popular place. But the thought of driving into Hollywood on my day off, after a long work week didn’t appeal to me, so I passed on the invite. A decision I regretted when I heard how fantastic the party was that I missed. Not only did he fly in food from New York and his home state of Ohio, but he gave all the employees who attended a gift. It was a video recorder you can play back on your computer. Not being computer savvy, I’m not sure what it’s called.

The next year when the invitations went out, I was the first one to RSVP. That year, the party was held at the Congo Room in downtown L.A. and Drew brought in entertainment. It was The Brian Setzer Orchestra, (formerly frontman of the “Stray Cats”). The food was delicious and as enjoyable as the music was, it was loud–good, but loud. And the gift was an iPod Nano (which I have yet learned to use).
This was also the year Drew lost over forty pounds and decided to become health conscious. So there were no signs of fried chicken, spare ribs, or macaroni and cheese dishes (some of the fattening food served the year before). This time it was all sensible eating inside the party except for the Lemon Drop Martinis and Cosmos that were flowing freely. And if you really wanted to be sinful, there was carnival type food outside the hangar, like hot dogs and cotton candy. I’m sure this was done to keep all temptation out of Drew’s vision.

All and all the party was a huge success and I can’t wait to be invited to this year’s shindig…only this time I’ve promised myself to go easy on the Lemon Drop Martinis.

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The People’s Choice Awards by Bobbie Cimo

January 13, 2010 by in category Eye on Hollywood by Bobbie Cimo tagged as ,

Not so long ago I received an E-mail from the Nokia Theatre, advertising for the People’s Choice Awards. The ad said they were on sale at a 50% discount. The $40.00 tickets were going for $20.00 and the $200.00 orchestra seats were now $100.00.
Surprised by the ad, I blurted out loud in the office, “They’re charging for them now?” It never dawned on me that they were probably always charging for these tickets, only I didn’t know it. For one reason, I think in the back of my mind, I always thought the attendees were invited guests of the celebrities who were receiving the awards. However, I did know who the people in the cheap seats were–the ones in the balcony. They were people like me, who got their tickets for free.
Every year at the end of November a flyer would come around the building at CBS, announcing the possibility of free tickets to the “People’s Choice Awards”. It stated very clearly that the dispensing of tickets depended solely on the availability of the production company. Which meant we wouldn’t know for sure if we had tickets, until somewhere between Christmas and the end of the year. That was cutting it close, considering at that time the event took place on the Sunday following the holiday. We were instructed to limit our request to four tickets per employee and asked to dress as though we were attending a party.

There was one more stipulation. If after making your request, you pulled a no-show, you’d be banned for life from requesting tickets again. Okay, maybe “for life” is a little strong…but the word “forever” was implied when signing the dotted line.

I have to tell you what sometimes seemed like a perfectly wonderful idea at the end of November, doesn’t necessarily seem so terrific by the following January. Especially after you had devoured every fattening type of food imaginable, in the past thirty or so days. So your first obstacle is finding something to wear that isn’t going to be showing every lump and bump you’ve just developed in the last month. And then there’s the shoes. Besides being dressy, they’ll have to be comfortable–keep in mind, you’ll be standing in line for approximately three hours. Did I mention, when you gain weight, your feet get fat, too?

Now if you’re lucky, it’ll be a cool January day, which means you’ll get to cover up your holiday sins with a lovely dress coat. Mine was velvet. Hopefully the day will be dry and you won’t have to worry about lugging around an umbrella or dripping water on anyone around you–or worse, ending up having a really bad hair day. And occasionally, like me, your friends at home will see you on TV. And thanks to the rain, you‘ll be easy to recognize, as you’ll be the one with the frizzy hair.

Anxiety grows as you stand in line, wondering if you’re going to get a good seat or if those annoying teenagers with the high shrieking voices ahead of you will be seated next to you. But as time goes on, you make friends with those around you. Your feet stop hurting, and you bless the person who invented the elastic waistband on your pantsuit.

Then miraculously, once you’re inside you find there are no bad seats. And the excitement of the audience, especially coming from the cheap seats, fills the air as everyone points out to each other the celebrities they’ve spotted below.

When the show was held at the Pasadena Auditorium, after the ceremony, you could actually stand on the proverbially red carpet and mingle with the stars as they waited for their cars. Some, if asked nicely, would even pose for a picture. The superstars like Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, would usually slip out a side exit into a limo. But even then, you could still manage to get up-close and personal and snap a picture or two.

Now, if you had asked me earlier this year if I was sorry that we still don‘t get free tickets to this event, I would have said no, that I had my fill. But that would have been before I knew that Johnny Depp and Hugh Jackman were both attending this year’s ceremony. Trust me, if I had, there’s not a doubt in my mind that I would have found an outfit and happily poured myself into it just for the occasion.

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HOLY STRIKE DUTY, BATMAN by Bobbie Cimo

November 13, 2009 by in category Eye on Hollywood by Bobbie Cimo tagged as ,

Today, most of the original stages at CBS-TV City are either being used for game shows or soap operas. But back in the day, along with soap operas and game shows, they were also used for sitcoms and weekly variety shows. Television City was so busy, it was practically going 24/7. In order to be able to get ready for the next day’s tapings , we would have to schedule a “turn around crew” consisting of stagehands, to come in during the middle of the night, to strike one set and set up a new one.

Almost every job dealing with production is attached to a union, whether it be a make-up artist, hairdresser, lighting director, stagehand, cameraman, or truck driver–all the way up to the director, actor, and even to the actor’s stand-in. Without any of these people, production would come to a virtual standstill or at the very least, making it difficult to complete. And when there’s no production, there’s no revenue for anyone.

Negotiations of contracts usually start months in advance between union leaders and Management–both wanting to get the best and fairest deal for their side. But no matter how hard each team tries, sometimes a mutual agreement can’t be reached. When this happens, a strike is called and all union personnel are ordered to walk off their jobs immediately, which leaves only management as their replacements, until a settlement can be reached.

When I say “management”, that means all employees who aren’t part of a union. And just like the union members have to abide by their leaders who ask them to leave their jobs, management is expected to fill in for them. It’s called working strike duty. Training doesn’t usually start until we learn that negotiations are going poorly. And then we start cramming, like college students for a test. We’re taught either by professional strike training teams or management, who use to be union people themselves.

Have you ever heard someone say, anybody can write a book? Oh, yeah, just let them try it.

The first union job I trained for was as a boom operator. For all of you who aren’t familiar with the term, a boom operator is the person who follows the actors around the studio with a microphone on a pole high above the talent’s head. Today, outside of the soap operas, booms aren’t used very often. They’ve been replaced with microphones hidden in the actors’ clothes. Being a boom operator sounds easy, right? Wrong!

After hoisting yourself up on a three foot high platform, the first thing you’re taught is how to put the microphone together on a long rod, that is swung over the actor’s head. Putting the thing together isn’t all that easy, and neither is operating the boom itself. You can swing it in different directions and use a reel to move it in and out, sort of like an upside down fishing rod. Not only is it heavy, but it’s hard on your arms, shoulders and neck. Your main goal is to have the mic just the right place above the actor’s head to pick up his voice, but out of camera shot. This would be simple if the actors just stood in one spot. Unfortunately they don’t. One moment they can be sitting, the next they’re standing or walking around the set. My greatest fear was I was going to hit someone in the head. More than a few times, my greatest fear almost came true…especially when I would relax for a moment and the boom would come crashing forward.

Besides worrying about your mic not showing on camera–picking up a balanced sound and concentrating on not conking anyone on the head, you have to be careful not to cast any shadows that can be seen in the shot. While I’m doing my balancing act in the air, below me is someone pushing and pulling me around on my Ivory Tower, making sure I get to where I need to be. Can anyone say, Dramanine, please?

They once relieved me from my boom duties and gave me a shot at being a camera person. When they did, I thought I’d found my niche. But I was wrong.

During taping of a show, they used what was called the multi-camera technique (something that started as far back as the “I Love Lucy” days). This is when they have multi cameras on the floor and the director calls the shots from the booth into a little earpiece inside the cameraman‘s ear. “And close up from camera three”. We did have rehearsals, but besides practicing your moves, and learning how to operate the side handles for those zooming in and wide shots, you had to know how to run backwards and from side to side–all while pushing your camera around, and avoid colliding with someone else’s. This is all done while looking through a lens. The pressure was enormous and I was glad to give up my post. Actually, I don’t think they ever asked me to come back to it.

Usually, professional stand-ins were hired for us to practice our skills on, but then there were those few times when they would ask us to pick up a script and read the lines for our co-workers to practice on. I, personally couldn’t act my way out of paper bag, so I found the whole thing rather embarrassing. The good thing was no “Soap” actress ever felt threatened about losing her job because of newly discovered talent.

A few years later, once again, I was called in for training. This time, I was placed in the audio booth to do sound effects. I liked this job a lot better, and my timing for ringing the doorbell, slamming a door and tooting a car’s horn were ingenious. Unfortunately, there was more to the job than just doing live sound effects. They also wanted me to perform the sweetening, which is adding sounds after the show had been taped. The audio board had hundreds of gadgets on it…rotary knobs, faders, power mixers and switches. So it wasn’t just a matter of pushing levers or turning knobs. Once the sound effects were used the first time around, you had to learn to cue it up by looping it on the machine so it could be repeated again for the next time. Everything was in the timing. This is not a job for a technically challenged person as myself. But I did get good reviews. But personally I wasn’t comfortable in doing it and was thrilled when there was no strike called for that year, either.

Years later, when another threat of a strike came up, I was assigned as a video tape operator. This called for late night training. I think of all the jobs this was the easiest, but by far the most boring.

The tape went from camera into film can and then transferred onto a video tape machine, where it could be shown over the network and into the viewers’ homes. Threading a video machine is like threading a sewing machine. The most important part of the process is remembering which thingamajig the tape is suppose to go around. But once that’s completed, the rest is simple. You just have to babysit the tape machine to make sure everything runs smoothly–and make sure you don’t nod off while doing it. We were also given lessons on how to edit the tape, by cutting and splicing it together.

Because I’m a night person, I was excited to find out that my training would be starting at 11PM. But the novelty soon wore off after a few days. Working all day and then returning again at night was not my thing. I realized my best night work was at home working on my book and in pajamas.

As luck would have it, (as much for me, as for “Production”) I never had to work strike duty for real. And I never lost any of my union friends over it. They knew, like them, I was following orders.

And the next time you look at somebody’s job and think you can do it just as good as they can, I would say to you, “Not so fast, my “Cape Crusader” friend, it’s probably harder than you think it is….POW!, WHAM! & BLAM!

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