Hi from Hollywood!

Mr. Hollywood

Work is waning with almost all of the television shows happily on hiatus. So . . . I have decided to  fast-track it and go on furlough as well. The fretful thing about that is figuring out where in the world to go to get away from all of the pesky paparazzi. A lot of the stars like Brad and Ang, “Coop” as in Bradley, Nicki and Keith escape to exotic places like mundane Morocco, shabby Shangri la, tacky Tahiti, or downright irritating Istanbul. No can do. After much retreat research, I’ve decided on the perfect place to plop, along with my delightful canine son, Desi. Can’t divulge our destination until we secretly ascend our summer spot. We’ll be winging our way there this week, dejectedly disguised and under assumed, normal-schnormal names. But once we make our reticent arrival, we’ll be right back at’cha with all of our va-cay capers!

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Hi from Hollywood!

Mr. Hollywood,

It’s been mostly a medical kind of week for me. On Monday I scheduled the day off in order to marathon through all my annual  medical must-haves.  I started the day nervously at nine bells when I arrived for my  forever-feared physical. The seemingly endless exam consisted of a shot in my left arm, a blood-draw from my right, a stick stuck down my throat . . . and, well, I promise to not  pass along any particulars of the final probing. Butt l  will tell you I did need a mandatory massage after twisting a twitching neck tendon during that awakening attack from behind. As if all that hadn’t been enough, I next headed to the Doctor of Big Buzz Kills, the dentist. It was there that I was to be honored by not one, but two incredible coronations. It all sounded simply spectacular to me. However, my feelings of appreciation were quickly quelled after the dental doc came at me with what appeared as another nine-inch needle, my third in the last thirty-three minutes. The next two ominous hours of drilling were jaw-dropping. But I finally fled for home following my two morning rounds of medical review. . . and feeling especially grateful that, for another year, an exam of the rear was behind me.

Yesterday, my medical state of mind fortunately continued, as it was now my turn to spend the day on-set depicting a doctor. Again I worked on the show Masters of Sex, which premieres this fall on Showtime. It’s the same show I was very apprehensive about appearing on a month or so ago, due to it’s smutty storyline centered around the sexual research spearheaded by well-known sex scientists Masters and Johnson. Any feared indecency turned out innocent enough last time, so I returned without a heck of a lot of hesitation. At precisely 7 am I arrived at our set which was on-location in an early Twentieth Century women’s club, a wonderful castle-like place prominently located just off Wilshire.

women's club

I first headed to wardrobe, and again got into pants almost up to my armpits and a suit coat long enough to cover my knee caps. Then on to hair and makeup, where I was greeted by one of my sensational stylists, Sharilandra . . . but she let’s me call her Cher for short.

mos MAKEUP

She again gave my scant silver locks a a good slicking down and a side part, and viola . . . I was, for all intensive purposes, from  the Fifties.

MOS hair

Next, to the prop department. Once again, they grabbed away my glasses and gave me a mock martini to sip practically sightless, without my spectacles.  The scene was held in a small auditorium where doctors and hospital staff were first hearing the provocative particulars of the studies done by the M and J research renegades. All of us background actors filed into the small auditorium which seated about fifty of us. For some reason beyond my realm, I was once again selected to be seated by one of the principal actors – not Beau Bridges this time (although he sat two rows in front of me),

beau bridges - 5-21-13

but rather, Teddy Sears who plays “Thomas Gilpatrick” on the show I soon found out to be surely shameful. You may have seen Sears charismatically portray characters on Mad Men, Harry’s Law, One Life To Live, and a few other television series and movies.

M of S star Teddy Sears, honored to be seated next to background actor Chuck Swenson.

Great guy and fun to share those marvelous mock martini’s with for the next fourteen hours and forty-four minutes – but who was counting. Well, when the scene began and Dr. Masters – played by Michael Sheen, star of Amadeus – began his Definitely-More-Than-You-Care-To-Hear description of how every body part works during whoopie, I realized quickly that my sacredness was on a steep, slippery slope in the Hollywood Hills. I think my Minnesota mentality may have made me mouth-out an unrelenting “Uffffda” once or twice during the first take. And, I was ever so relieved not to snap the stem of my martini glass while clutching it to0 tightly during the clinical account. “Do I dare walk out,” I asked myself. To avoid that ensuing embarrassment, I decided to listen to the more decent, words-to-live-by lyrics of “I Love Lucy” over and over in my mortified mind. Finally,  the directory yelled “wrap” after the final tawdry take was complete. I must say, my method acting had been magnificent.. Little did the somewhat dim-witted director know that the accepting smile on my face came not from the salacious script, but from my favorite red-head . . . a talented comedian who became a classic for being wholesome, big-hearted, and historically hysterical.

Lucille Ball - April, 1989

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Hi from Hollywood!

Yesterday I had the day off, so decided to transact my ticket to Dancing With The Stars. Headed down to CBS Television City about 2 pm, drove by the front of the building on Beverly Boulevard and saw about ten dozen Dancing devotees already in line. Quickly, I finagled my car into the Farmer’s Market lot located behind CBS, put on my dancing shoes, and glided my way around the building to plant myself in the middle of the pandemonium. I must admit, you feel a little ridiculous running around Hollywood in nightwear when it’s not even Happy Hour. You wonder if people think you are still out from the night before, or if you just finished hosting a gameshow gig. Luckily, it didn’t take me long to find the lineup of other Dancing-destined fans and I took great comfort in seeing them all, as well, in their dandiest duds . . . even though it was definitely daytime. Yup, everything from tuxes to tiaras . . . Vera Wang to Versace lined up under the sizzling sunshine, waiting for dance cards to be distributed.

After about two hours of high-fives and hanging out with fellow fans, we samba’d into the studio. It’s, as usual, quite a bit smaller than it looks through the camera lenses . . . but regardless, my seat in the second balcony kept me a bit worried about a non-stop nose bleed. To my delight, not even a drip. It was a dazzling night at Dancing, with the show beginning at 6 pm PT for a live 9 pm broadcast on the East Coast. Sorry to see Ingo and Kym get canned . . . but now he can head back to Hawaii or his gig on General Hospital. After the show, we were asked to stay for a taping of next week’s musical guest star for the Grand Finale. Listen up. It’s Psy, guru of Gangnam Style! It’s a great performance you won’t want to pass on.

All of us could have danced all night, but it was now time to sashay out of the studio. Did I say night? Hardly. There we all were again. Dressed to the nines . . . for the ever-enduring daylight.

Hi from Hollywood!

,Chuck at DWTS (5-14-13)

Yesterday I had the day off, so decided to transact my ticket to Dancing With The Stars. Headed down to CBS Television City about 2 pm, drove by the front of the building on Beverly Boulevard and saw about ten dozen Dancing devotees already in line. Quickly, I finagled my car into the Farmer’s Market lot located behind CBS, put on my dancing shoes, and glided my way around the building to plant myself in the middle of the pandemonium. I must admit, you feel a little ridiculous running around Hollywood in nightwear when it’s not even Happy Hour. You wonder if people think you are still out from the night before, or if you just finished hosting a gameshow gig. Luckily, it didn’t take me long to find the lineup of other Dancing-destined fans and I took great comfort in seeing them all, as well, in their dandiest duds . . . even though it was definitely daytime. Yup, everything from tuxes to tiaras . . . Vera Wang to Versace lined up under the sizzling sunshine, waiting for dance cards to be distributed.

After about two hours of high-fives and hanging out with fellow fans, we samba’d into the studio. It’s, as usual, quite a bit smaller than it looks through the camera lenses . . . but regardless, my seat in the second balcony kept me a bit worried about a non-stop nose bleed. To my delight, not even a drip. It was a dazzling night at Dancing, with the show beginning at 6 pm PT for a live 9 pm broadcast on the East Coast. Sorry to see Ingo and Kym get canned . . . but now he can head back to Hawaii or his gig on General Hospital. After the show, we were asked to stay for a taping of next week’s musical guest star for the Grand Finale. Listen up. It’s Psy, guru of Gangnam Style! It’s a great performance you won’t want to pass on.

All of us could have danced all night, but it was now time to sashay out of the studio. Did I say night? Hardly. There we all were again. Dressed to the nines . . . for the ever-enduring daylight.

Hi from Hollywood!

The Bridge  - 5-13-13- Cowboy Wardrobe

Ya-hoo! Yippy-ky-aay! And all the rest of that western rot. Yesterday I did a very short scene in a new television drama series coming out soon on the FX network titled “The Bridge.” The show takes place in El Paso, Texas, but is shot, of course, here in La La Land. My scene of about six seconds is made to look like we are outside of the El Paso Police Department. Actually, we are on the campus of Cal State-Northridge and one of the administration building’s façade was transformed into the “cops’ casa.”

I arrived on-set at 9 am in my own business casual attire, as was requested. Along with the rest of the Background Actors, I went to the wardrobe trailer to get approved. Everyone seemed to be getting a high-five in their own, present-day business garb. And then it came to me. Why, I’ll never know. But they chose lil’ ol Cowboy Carlos to be the one to portray more of a western wrangler from El Paso. Didn’t they know I never even wore “western” back in the Seventies? It was “Saturday Night Fever” all the way for me. Well, anyway, they broke out some black boots for me to wear that did nothing to make me take on a John Wayne walk. Nancy Sinatra came more to mind. Then they replaced my Kenneth Cole belt with one bearing a buckle big enough to make it impossible for me to bend at the waist. Finally, they topped me off with a big, black Stetson that I couldn’t keep from dropping over my perfectly suntanned face during my scene.

Luckily, it was the shortest gig I’ve ever been through – about 30 minutes of work in the 103-degree heat. Trust me, this cowboy couldn’t get out of that western fringe fast enough. As an ode to El Paso, I had a very humungous margarita the minute I got home. Everything is big in Texas, you know.

SCOOP: I have a ticket for “Dancing With The Stars” tonight. Don’t know if I’ll get in or not. It’s a ticket to behave myself in the audience – so hopefully my background acting instincts don’t kick in, and you see me drifting across the dazzling dance floor.

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Have a Terrific Tuesday!

Hi from Hollywood!

Mr. Hollywoode

Earlier this week I worked on a scene for a fantastically frightening feature film that will be released in April of next year. It has an incredible cast of stars and a very thrilling, thought-provoking plot. But, for now, that’s all I can say. Sadly, I had to swear on a stack of scripts that I wouldn’t divulge any particulars about the project. Not a morsel. Nada. But, I do need to tell you one thing. I was picked to be placed in a very prominent position in front of the “not-to-be-named” principal star in the scene. Well, I was Johnny on the spot and got into my new location on-set. Let’s just suffice it to say that this amazing actor reaches into the inner Deppths of every character he plays. But, like I said, I need to shut my yap. Yuppers, you can’t get another word out of “mums the word” me.

Some of you have asked what a typical day is like for a Background Actor. Well, it’s a lot about waiting. Waiting for wardrobe. Waiting for cameras to be repositioned between takes. Waiting for the director and crew to finish a pow-wow after each shooting sequence. Fortunately, the production crew always puts together something called Base Camp, where Background Actors can go to relax and always find a full feast of food and beverages. Sometimes BA is inside a sound stage. Or perhaps in a parking lot when on-location. On one more memorable day in downtown LA, BA was located in a particularly perplexing place. We were told to walk two blocks south. Take a left. Then enter the first building on the left-hand side of the street. The older, rather seen-better-days brick building needed a full facelift. It’s façade had not a single window, only a door brightly painted in Fire Engine Red and something about “girls” written over it. I thought it was odd that in this day and age, there were still remnants of separate entrances for men and women. I know she’s getting to be in ear-shot of eighty, but really, where is Gloria Steinem when you notably need her? Upon entering the room, two things hit me square in the face. First the smell of smoke. Between the Fire Engine Red door and the smell of smoke, I very smartly summized that the friendly folks at the local fire department must have offered their firehall to be our Base Camp. How nice was that! I continued to look around the place. Immediately, my eyes were attracted to the four shiny chrome poles in the center of the room. How great that our city’s firefighters were equipped with not one, but four quick exits to fight flames. It was assuring that our tax dollars are indeed at work. I then went through the lavish lunch buffet line and found a spot to sit down in one of the Fire Engine Red vinyl booths that circled themselves around the firepoles – a fabulous floor plan that allows our fearless flame-fighters to relax and share stories of battling blazes. I finished my lunch, and as I headed toward the door I can’t tell you how many tightly folded dollar bills I found here and there on the floor (especially next to the firepoles). One of those dedicated firefighters must have been in a horrendous hurry and in his haste hadn’t realized he had lost probably a full week’s wages. I got down on the floor, gathered them up and found a waitress to take them to safe-keeping. Poor girl. She had her hands so full of dishes, she blushed a bit and awkwardly asked me to put the bills into her bosom-filled bra. To not embarrass her, I did so as discreetly and decently as possible, hit the door, and fled back to set for the next scene. All the way, I couldn’t stop thinking of those generous firefighters who shared their building for our Base Camp. As a donation, I’ll have to send them a check . . . call me crazy, but something keeps telling me it should be dollar bills instead.

Hi From Hollywood!

Hi From Hollywood!

Well, actually, I’m not in Hollywood right now – I’m in Minne-snowta. Yes, it’s May 4 (I’m actually calling it February 92nd) and it’s down-right winterlike here. Who knew I’d be humming “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” this weekend.

Several of you messaged that you saw me on “Big Bang” the other night. Well, I finally had a chance to watch the episode online, and I think I was only a figment of your fabulous little imagination. Yes, that envious film editor snipped me from the show. I could smell that he was trouble all along. Obviously, he doesn’t know real talent when he see’s it and I’m sure he’ll be hearing from the show’s creator, Chuck (or “Chas” as I’m sure he would prefer moi to refer to him as) Lorre – and his little head will be rolling down some Hollywood Hill very soon. But . . . I’ll stop and take the high road. Of course, he was being professional and just worried about my brilliant performance upstaging the principal actors. I simply need to dumb-down my impeccable presence a wee bit. As most of you know, blending into the background will be my biggest acting challenge yet, but I’m up for it. Don’t cry for me, Argentina . . . or any of you anywhere else like Alabama, Antonio or Albequerqe. It takes more than one brief bump in the road to stop this little cookie.

Happy weekend to all!

Hi from Hollywood!

,Hi from Hollywood!

Work has been a little show this week, with more and more shows going on hiatus. So, I am heading to Minneapolis this evening for a long weekend. I am blessed to be able to visit my 89-year-old parents and my dear neice, Lindsey, and her family – which includes my grandnephew, Alex, who is nothing short of brilliant and the most handsome boy on the planet, of course.

But what’s with this whacky weather! I’ll be leaving 92 degrees here in Lala Land and heading into temps sixty degrees less. The perplexing part is that I’ll be ascending the sky sipping on a cool margarita and hitting the ground with a hot toddie – hopefully my stomach can make a fast, four-hour alcohol adjustment. Peppermints and Pepto-Bismol are already packed in my carrying case.

Yes, I’ll be winging my way through “The Big Bang Theory” airwaves tonight when perhaps you’ll see a glimpse of me during this evening’s episode on CBS. If I remember correctly, we shot the scene twice, with cameras moved from front to back angles of the principal characters. So, who knows what you might see of me – if anything at all. I could have easily ended up in digital heaven due to some very inept editor. We’ll see . . . but it promises to be a funny episode with Bob Newhart even if my magnificent mug is missed.

Have a great weekend, everyone!