Life in Hollywood, below-the-line

Life in Hollywood, below-the-line
Work gloves at the end of the 2006/2007 television season (photo by Richard Blair)

Sunday, August 10, 2014


                                  Still going strong...

I've noticed certain patterns emerging in the visitor statistics for this blog over the years. Week in and week out, a few select posts from way back keep drawing hits -- not a just-gone-viral tsunami of fresh eyeballs, but a steady drumbeat each and every week.

Posts like The Biggest Asshole in Hollywood , which occupies second place on the all time list of most-viewed posts here at Blood, Sweat, and Tedium.  For whatever reason (and I’m not judging here), people are fascinated by the giant egos and rude, don’t-you-know-who-I-think-I-am behavior of Hollywood’s legendary assholes.  Although I’ve managed to avoid working for some of the most difficult personalities in modern times (directors like Joe Pytka, Michael Bay, and Doug Liman*), I’ve toiled for my share of major-league assholes over the years.  Too many.

Those days were no fun at all.  I’ll just leave it at that.

Then there's The Golden Scrotum, a weak attempt at humor back during the last go-around of the World Cup in 2010.  The World Cup Trophy still strikes me as astonishingly ugly,  but if you happen to find what appears to be an enormous one-ball scrotum painted gold and turned upside-down to be aesthetically pleasing, that's your business.  There really is no accounting for taste… but love or hate that trophy, the post has accumulated enough hits over the years to rank third on the all-time list.

Go figure.

This post on the then-recent death of Evel Knievel is another from the distant past that continues to attract interest many years after it went on-line.  A glance at the “search terms” used by visitors to find this post dispels some of the mystery here  -- they’re usually some variation of “Evel Knievel fights Hell’s Angels at Cow Palace,” a succinct description of the take-no-prisoners donnybrook that erupted after Evel performed a motorcycle jump in South San Francisco one night more than forty years ago.  People have heard about the fracas down through the decades, and want to find out what really happened.

I watched the battle unfold from down on the Cow Palace floor amid the angry, out-for-blood crowd that rainy night -- not as a combatant, but an anxious observer trying to keep from getting trampled by the surging crowd as the battle raged.  I'd gone to see some motorcycle races, then watch Evel attempt a jump, not join an enraged mob as it beat the holy crap out of half a dozen Hell’s Angels.  

I had a chance to say hello to Evel during a break in filming a “Trivial Pursuit” commercial many years ago, mentioning that I'd seen him jump twice up in the San Francisco Bay Area.  

“We had one hell of a fight up there,” he replied.  

Other than that, I’d never read or heard another account of what went on until now.**  With nothing on TV the other night, I put on a DVD from “The History Channel” and  sat back to watch Absolute Evel: The Evel Knievel Story.

Although rather hokey in places (mostly due to the macho posturing of young Mathew McConnaughey doing the wrap-arounds), the documentary lays out the bruisingly turbulent life of Evel Knievel as it unfolded, warts and all, in becoming one of the last -- and perhaps the greatest -- of the 20th Century's true daredevils.

In the process, he helped pave the way for the modern wave of extreme sports. Whether that’s a good thing or not, I leave up to you.

For those interested, the film offers a vivid description by Evel (with a short film clip that may or may not be from the actual incident) of that ugly night at the Cow Palace.  Anybody curious about the event can hear the story straight from the horse’s mouth, and will find a lot more to like in this film.  Although not a great documentary, it’s probably the best film about Evel Knievel you’ll ever see.

The odd thing about these patterns of readership is that only one of the posts above has anything to do with the film industry -- and that one doesn't recount my own experiences working with legendary Hollywood assholes, but is a link to another blogger's vivid account of her day working for one of the true monsters of modern Hollywood.

It's a good one, too.

And then there's this one, recounting the painful burning miseries of a warm weather film-set affliction known throughout the industry as "Monkey Butt."  Just last week a search-term entry appeared looking for an answer to the question "Does monkey butt help acne on butt?" 

Butt acne?  I have no fucking idea.  Dude -- and I think we all know that question came from a guy -- all I can tell you is that Monkey Butt doesn't help anything.  It's all bad, all the time, until it finally goes away.  

And once that happens, the world is a brighter, better place...

* According to a recent LA Times piece, Liman -- an undeniably talented but famously mercurial director -- once had his lighting crew remain after filming concluded one day on "The Bourne Identity" so they could direct their lamps towards a nearby forest, thus allowing the esteemed director to play paintball on into the night.  In my book, that qualifies him as a complete asshole.

** Here's another account culled from a local newspaper at the time.


Matt said...

I'm so sad to learn that Doug Liman is a jerk! I love his movies. I wanted him to be a nice guy.

Michael Taylor said...

Matt --

It's only human to think/hope/want those whose work we admire -- be they actors, directors, rock stars or sports heroes -- to be exemplary people as well. And some are … but not all of them. Every group of people seems to include some who (for whatever reason) don't possess the ease and grace that makes for being nice guys. If that's disappointing -- and it is -- such is life.

But hey, at least those people do something right -- their work. Sometimes that just has to be enough...