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Book’em Danno

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

By Bobbie Cimo

My first job at CBS was working as an Assistant Manager in the credit union. My boss Sophia was not your typical boss. She would do things like buy me a blonde wig for my birthday, (when I was a brunette at the time). Or give me a day of beauty, including lunch with her and her friends at the Beverly Hills Hotel for no other reason than just to be nice.

Then there was the time her boyfriend, the Vice President of Sales, gave me the keys to his red Corvette (that was once owned by actor Michael Landon) and told me to drive it back from lunch to the office for him. For those few brief miles that I drove through West Hollywood, I felt like a jet setter. But to be truthful, I couldn’t wait to get the car back on the lot. Not only was I fearful that I might collide with someone, but it wasn‘t very comfortable to drive. It was like being inside a race car, I felt like I was lying down behind the wheel.

Then there was the time I was all in a flutter because my heartthrob (Engelbert Humperdinck…yes, Engelbert) was going to be at CBS for a week, appearing as a guest star on a variety show. Being generous, she gave me the day off so I could sit on stage and enjoy watching him for a full day of rehearsal. Her excuse was that I wouldn’t have been much use to her anyway, knowing he was there. Now, that was a good boss.

But I think the most fun thing she ever did for me was when she arranged for me to work with the staff of Hawaii Five-O, for a day, while I was on vacation in Hawaii. For those of you too young to remember the CBS-owned show, it was about a fictional state police force in Honolulu, called Hawaii Five-O, named for the state’s status being the 50th of the Union. Heading the force was Steve McGarrett (played by actor Jack Lord) and assisting him was the young officer, Danny Williams (played by James MacArthur).

On the air for twelve seasons, all of the episodes, except for a few, were shot entirely in Hawaii. And of course, at the end of each show the criminals were caught and arrested, whereas McGarrett would turn to his junior partner and say, “Book ’em Danno”, and thus the famed catch phrase was invented.

Anyone who was lucky enough to work the show not only got to live in Hawaii, but they were paid well for it. Besides earning a full salary, they were given a weekly per diem allowance which covered the cost of their food and lodging as long as they were on the remote site. Some eventually sold their homes on the mainland, and arranged for their entire paycheck to go into their savings. They then took up permanent residence in Oahu, living solely on their allowance (since most of them received more than what was actually needed). Many became wealthy over the situation and yet many ended up divorced because of the long separation between spouses. I do know that Jack Lord himself was very active in any kind of monies spent on the show. And our own accounting department, here in Hollywood, would dread when he would make a long distance call to them. It usually meant he found an accounting mistake. Even if it was just for a few pennies–he wanted to know where the money went to. Which makes me wonder if any of those rumors that were flying around about him being a silent partner to the show were true.

Most CBS employees would use the credit union as a way to force themselves to save (this was when you could save money) by having a fixed amount automatically deposited into their savings from their paycheck. It was also a great way to repay a loan…but like any financial establishment, it had it’s share of deadbeats. One guy, after receiving a car loan from the CU, decided to quit his job and move to Hawaii. My boss would have been happy to see any type of good faith payment coming in from the guy, but he offered none. My mission was to try to contact him while I was in Hawaii and let him know if he didn’t come up with something, the repo people would be paying him a visit.

Sophia, called Bernie Oseransky, the Production Manger of Hawaii Five-O, and made arrangements with him for me to have my own office space for a day, while I was in Hawaii.

After a few days on the beach in Waikiki, I was ready to report to work. In my rented car, I drove to Fort Ruger which is on the eastern side of Diamond Head and to the production site of Hawaii Five-O…only there were no offices, only production trailers. And I found that all the staff were dressed Hawaii appropriate. Which meant the women were in mumus and the men in shorts and it was flip-flops for everyone. The atmosphere was so casual that I was surprised that they all weren’t sipping tropical drinks with little umbrellas in them at their desk, or maybe they were, and they were hiding them from me. I was given a desk, a telephone, supplies and a telephone book. After making a few phone calls, including one to my boss, I gave up on trying to track down our elusive deadbeat. Besides, the main purpose of my visit was accomplished–I was on the lot of Hawaii Five-O.

James MacArthur, who played Officer Danny Williams, couldn’t have been more charming. He would occasionally pop into the trailer to see how I was doing. When I was taken around on the set, they introduced me as “Bobbie, from the mainland”, which might have been a secret code to let everyone know they should be hiding their Mai Tais.

Jack Lord was a little more reserved than the rest of the cast and crew were. I later found out he was a bit of a recluse even with the people he worked with. The familiar dark curl that hung over his forehead on screen was the same way in person. I couldn’t help but imagine a gigantic ocean wave following him around on the set., nor ignore the Hawaii Five-O theme, playing inside my head. He was after all Steve McGarrett.

At the end of the day, I thanked everyone for their gracious hospitality and said my alohas. It was too bad I never caught the guy who stiffed the credit union. Because if I had, you know what I would have said, “Book’em, Danno.”

To see episodes of Hawaii Five-O on line, go to scroll down to the bottom where it has 30 days of classics.

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Eye on Hollywood

January 13, 2008 by in category Eye on Hollywood by Bobbie Cimo tagged as ,

Exercising with the Stars

by Bobbie Cimo

Well, I know you’ve all heard of the hit ABC TV show, Dancing with the Stars (DWTS). Here’s a bit of trivia . . . did you know that DWTS is actually shot on the CBS lot? If you listen carefully to the ABC Entertainment News, you’ll hear them refer to the location of their show, as being done in the Fairfax District. Big surprise, it’s really done at CBS. No need to be giving free publicity to another network–that would be like Macy’s telling you to shop at Gimbels Well, they did in Miracle on 34th Street . . . but that was fictional and look what happened to Gimbels at the end –free publicity and all, they ended up going out of business.

When DWTS is in Production it makes it difficult for us CBS employees to find a good parking space. Production people take up all the best spaces. So I usually end up parking far from my office, but close to the DWTS studios. Which mean it’s not unusual for me to see either a Derek, Maks or Cheryl (the regular dancers) or an Ian, Billy Ray, Cameron, or Heather Mills, (the celebrity dancers) practicing their turns or stretches on the sidewalks between the studio and their trailers. Or to see some of the dancers in a huddle, puffing away on their cigarettes. Yes, those young professional dancers who seem to be the embodiment of living a perfectly healthy life style, have some serious habits they’d probably like to break. And if you’re going to ask me to name names, forget it. To borrow a line from some B-rated gangster flick of the Forties, “I’m no dirty rotten stool pigeon.” Besides, with all that smoke, I never have gotten a clear view to tell who was actually holding the cigarette or who was just stand there to keep the others company. But it did make me wonder if these young, healthy-looking dancers had made a 2008 New Year’s resolution to do better on their life style choices.

I, for one, every year, promise myself this will be the year that I will lose weight, eat healthier and of course, exercise. Eating healthy and losing weight go hand and hand. If I can manage to do one, the other will surely follow. It’s the exercise one that I’m not so sure I’ll ever be able to master.

If anyone had to ask me, I’d be the first to tell you I’ve never been a mover or a shaker. Some days I barely feel like I can walk, let alone exercise. Oh, like the rest of you, I’ve held membership to health clubs, joined walking groups . . . have had a treadmill (even rented one), had a real bike, a stationary bike, a step-climber, stretch bands, a jump robe, ThighMaster, mini-trampoline, exercise videos, and a partridge in a pear tree.. Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful with all of them.

Then there was the time I exercised with the stars.

Years ago, when Carol Burnett had her weekly show at CBS, she decided it would be nice to share her exercise regiment with all the rest of us ladies. I hesitated to go at first because wasn’t thrilled at the thought of giving up my lunch hour (where I’d rather be in the commissary to do some serious star gazing). I also wasn’t eager to change into leotards and a pair of tights, get sweaty, then rush to the showers before hurrying back to my regular office work. But when I went to my first class and she told us how her hip measurements went from size 43 to 35 inches (please Carol forgive me if I have this wrong), I knew I had to be there. Keep in mind all I had to do was lose a miserable ten pounds at the time, and I would have been perfect . . . if only that was the case, now.

Carol is really a lovely person, but like most comedians that I have had the pleasure of knowing, they’re different than you think they might be. We get so used to seeing them on TV, and having them in our living rooms, we start believing we know exactly how they’ll act in person. When you see them in person, it’s almost a natural reaction for you to want to throw your arms around them and say “How the heck are you?”– thinking that they’ll respond with the same easy-going manner as the characters they’ve portrayed on TV. But in truth, most comedians are very serious-minded and even a bit on the quiet side.

This is not to say Carol didn’t display some sense of humor. She did. But just on a different level than we were used to seeing on TV. An example of this is the music she chose for us to exercise by. When we would lie on our backs, legs in the air, doing the famous scissors exercise, the song she chose, which never failed to get a giggle from us, was “I Want To Be Loved” preformed by Dean Martin’s singers, The Golddiggers. I still have the album. If you’re not familiar with the song, I can only tell you their rendition is very sensual and has a lot of deep sighs and sexy “Ah’s” in between the lyrics. “I want to be (long deep sigh here) loved. I want to be thrilled (Ahh) by your caress.” A lovely song to hear, while on your back with your legs apart.

Carol did fabulous with the teaching and was very dedicated to us. But one day I had to go to her to tell her of my neck problems. She was very quick to offer me the name and phone number of her yoga teacher. An 86-year-old woman who could do more bends than a pretzel. Carol said she had helped her and was certain she could help me. So rather than risk any future neck problems, off to the yoga lady I went.

The only thing I was good at in yoga was saying my “Oms.” You know that electrifying nasal sound you make at the start and finish of the classes? No, I never ran into any stars at yoga. I did miss out on seeing Lana Turner (the original star of The Postman Always Rings Twice) being interviewed by Mike Douglas. I had to leave work early to make it to my yoga class on time. A decision I regret to this day. Yoga did very little for me or my neck, except for those occasional times when I became so relaxed that I fell asleep and was caught snoring in class. I couldn’t even master the Lotus position successfully. Bottom line — I was a failure at yoga.

A few years later, I began regular classes at the Ron Fletcher Pilate Studios. Ron was a dancer who learned the art of Pilates from German-born Joseph Pilates. Some of Ron’s customers were considered the rich and famous of Beverly Hills. Except me –the poor and unknown–who required special attention because I was so uncoordinated. Within a few months, nothing surprised me more than when I was able to stand on my shoulders! Eventually I was even able to hang upside down by my feet. Somehow this regiment ended up realigning my whole body and besides putting me in the best physical condition of my life, it gave me the best shape of my life. As for the stars, there were many but the one that comes to mind and who I saw on a regular basis was Katherine Ross (star of Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid and wife of actor Sam Elliott). I did enjoy the classes, however my neck didn’t, so I had to quit.

That was the end of my experiences of exercising with the stars. Or so I thought until recently. A few months ago, while sitting outside of my beauty salon, I looked down and noticed I was wearing two different shoes. Same style, different colors. The lady I was talking to, thought I was being cool and was starting a new trend. Me, I was devastated by my own stupidity. Luckily, I had a spare pair of shoes in my car.

They say all things happen for a reason. Maybe so. Otherwise I would have never gone to my car at that particular time. Normally, I would have left later. And if I had, I would have missed the sound of the disco music, the sight of people — in all sizes and shapes — as they vigorously bounced around to the beat. I would also missed hearing the words of encouragement coming from a world-famous exercise guru. The place was “Slimmons.” The instructor was Richard Simmons.

So now, twice a week you’ll find me sweating to the Oldies with Richard as my instructor. Unless someone like Ricki Lake comes in with Access Hollywood, and a camera crew. They did and I walked out. I don’t need to be seen, by the world, on TV, doing my aerobics.

I can’t claim to have always been a fan of Richard Simmons. Never thought much about him one way or the other. Until you ask me now. He’s probably the only person who can claim that he got me moving.

I also learned what a kind and giving person he is. Whenever he sees me, he gives me a warm welcome and kisses me on each side of the face, to make me feel like I belong. And he always tells me I’m doing a good job even when I know I’m not. He’s being kind because he knows I’m really trying. And he wants to encourage me.

Just to give you an image of what I look like taking his classes, picture Lucy Ricardo trying to pass herself off as one of Ricky’s chorus girls but not knowing the routine. They go running to the left, I run to the right. They turn one way, I turn the other. When I finally catch up to where they are, they’re on to something else. And this is after two months of me practicing. But the one thing I am doing is moving.

I may never be as thin as I used to be, or as elegant as some of the dancers I have seen on Dancing with the Stars, but the one thing Richard has promised all of us is if we move, we won’t end up like those people we see in grocery stores driving those carts around rather than walking. He said he can promise us that most of them probably never used their muscles when they were younger. I have a tendency to believe him. And as long as I keep that in mind, I’ll continue to be exercising with the stars.


Bobbie Cimo is the OCC/RWA Programs Director who has brought us such notable speakers as Dean Koontz, Tami Hoag, Jackie Collins and Robert Crais.

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