A film actor is as worried about his career as he is about his new co-star: a dog. 2,421 words. Illustration by Thomas Warming.
Garibaldi Fox’s name was not at the gate. The guard recognized him even before the veteran actor handed over his driver’s license and said, “Nice to see you again, Mr. Fox.” But when the guard checked his computer screen, Garry’s name wasn’t listed. And even though he knew who Garry was and why he was at the studio, the guard couldn’t let him onto the lot until the production company vouched for him and called in a drive-on pass.
Garry could have been an asshole about it but he knew screw-ups like not leaving a drive-on could get an assistant fired. And producer Andrew Steele of Steele Standing Productions was not known as a patient man when it came to his assistant or others.
Garry didn’t stress. There were times he played the “star” card but, in truth, he wasn’t in any real hurry to get on set today. The movie was more of a Lassie knock-off than a remake of the much-rebooted Warner franchise Rin Tin Tin. Even though his canine co-star was a German shepherd, everyone in fact took pains to distance the new project Garry was starring in from those long ago iconic dog movies. Garry had heard a story somewhere that whenever Jack Warner was pissed off at a studio writer, he made him write a Rin Tin Tin movie. And hadn’t there also been a TV series in the 1950s?
Garry wondered who else had been offered the part he’d accepted. His new agent wouldn’t tell him and had tried to spin the gig in a positive light. (“This movie could launch a franchise. Hey, even Tom Hanks made a dog movie.”) So the way Garry would probably find out was by reading the movie’s “Trivia” section on IMDB one day: The part was offered to Greg Kinnear, Dylan McDermott and Rob Lowe who all wanted way more money than Garry Fox was willing to be paid.
A struggling actor has a career epiphany made possible by a pooch with an unexpected plan. 2,377 words. Illustration by Mark Fearing.
I was in the bathtub about to slide the straightedge into my wrist when I heard Marlon Brando call out, “Don’t do it, Paul.”
“Ronnie?” I called back in a voice that alarmed me when I heard it. Ronnie, the closest thing I have to a friend, is an impressionist. I thought maybe Providence had made him afraid for me and sent him, like the angel Clarence in It’s A Wonderful Life.
“It’s not Ronnie. Come here, I want to talk to you.”
I laid down the blade on the side of the bathtub, pulled my body out and sloshed into the main room of my studio apartment. I didn’t bother drying or covering myself. If it’s Ronnie, who cares. If it’s the ghost of Marlon Brando, let me present myself as God made me.
I didn’t see Marlon Brando or his ghost in my apartment. Only Bella, gazing up at me from the kitchen area faithfully and – I knew her so well – hungrily. I stared at my dog. A mutt, delicate, pure white, forty pounds give or take, her fur hanging down her sides long and fine but, on her head and face, short. I’d almost left her alone in the world, my personal Old Yeller to whimper endlessly over my grave. I scratched her behind an ear and sobbed as I pulled her head against mine. I’d bathed her recently and she smelled like vanilla cookies.
“I love you too, Paul,” she said in Brando’s voice. Her mouth moved, like the talking dog in Babe. She glanced behind herself and added, again in Brando’s voice, “Jeez, I wish I had balls to lick.”
Premieres for studio tentpoles are no big deal in Hollywood. But this afterparty was out of the ordinary. 2,325 words. Illustration by John Mann.
“Amazing. Truly amazing,” publicist Roxane Silver praised as she stood in the vastness of the Barker Hangar at the Santa Monica Airport. “It really does look like a 19th Century Siamese palace.”
The premiere’s afterparty for the fall release of The Lady And The Prime Minister was intended as the most elaborate ever put on by a major studio. Everything was replica, from the Royal Barges to the Temple of Dawn to the Grand Palace, including the Coronation Hall. A young Asian woman wearing a Kheynorey costume depicting a mythical half-bird/half-human from heaven danced in a Thai crown mokot around the film executives, her arms outstretched and fingers gracefully curled. Another dancer had on an elephantine mask called a Ravana of a frightening creature with wild eyes and tusks protruding from its mouth. Two men in boxing trunks engaged in Muay Thai whose bouts in ancient times often ended in death.
At least 1,000 guests were expected tonight to celebrate the Oscar-buzzed tentpole and the recreation of the Wat Phra Kaeo temple complete with ornate golden spires that gleamed under the overhead lights. Throngs of partygoers were starting to arrive, and all gawked at the enthroned Emerald Buddha, protector of the kingdom and identical to the one built during the reign of King Rama, founder of the Chakri Dynasty.
As Roxane moved through the crowd, she was told that the film’s director Barry Monk was so nervous anticipating the reviews that all morning at the Bel-Air Hotel he’d been downing shots of J&B and slices of mango. “I’m surprised he hasn’t collapsed into the arms of the Emerald Buddha over there,” his assistant confided to her.
“A Bloody Siam,” Roxane told the bartender. “Make it strong.”