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Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Directors: a brief return
A recent post discussing directors prompted an e-mail from an old friend and fellow below-the-line veteran. Having followed the links therein to an earlier post on the subject, he wondered just who those two sit-com directors I mentioned – the pseudonymous “Bernard” and “Mr. Herman” -- really were. I e-mailed the answer, which was followed by his reply.
"Mr. Herman. Yup. I know that guy. Came out of theater. Nobody likes him. Except producers, I guess.
I've worked with Bernard too. Before he became a familiar face to millions on television, he’d been a cast member in a famous big-budget bomb that hit the theaters in the early 70’s when I was still in school. I liked that film more than most people because I was apparently one of the few college students living at the time who never read the 800 page book the movie was based on.
Still, even though I already knew a lot about the making of that big-budget bomb with the stellar cast, I was really, really curious to hear some first hand experiences from Bernard. So, I bides my time, you know, waiting for just the right moment to talk to him, so as not to bother him and all.
The second day of the two day shoot, as I was scraping my plate into the garbage can after lunch, I see Bernard sitting alone at a lunch table, finished eating, staring into space.
And I strike.
"Excuse me, Bernard, you know, I really enjoyed your work in The Famous Big Budget Bomb*, and was wondering if you could share a story with me of what it was like spending 6 months working with Mike Nichols and Orson Welles and Dick Benjamin and Paula Prentiss and Tony Perkins and Jon Voight and Alan Arkin...?"
He gave me a long, dead-fish stare.
A little panicked, I said, "Any special memories of working on that movie"?
"Naaah", he said.
Well, I guess I'll just slink away back to work now.
And that was my memorable encounter with Bernard...."
Having worked with that director more times than I cared to, this story came as no surprise at all. Fortunately, I haven't seen or heard of him for several years now, and I can only hope he's moved on to yet another career -- in which case, we're all better off.
* At this point in the e-mail, he used the actual title of the movie, which I changed to “The Famous Big Budget Bomb” (using his words) for the same reason that I won't print either of these directors real names. There’s enough information here for anyone sufficiently curious to figure out what the movie is, and who that particular actor/director might be...