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Conga Clown

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A typical TV Scene for a Rock Band’s House Party featuring a Polynesian Fire Dancer doing his act indoors with Real Tiki Torches, an Alien Robot & me as a Clown sight gag!

I get2 date the Lead Guitar’s Tall Beautiful Blonde Ex-Girlfriend and …Spoiler Alert… the house burns down! Cue Hunky Fake Firemen Extras. Whoops they’re too late as we party goers dance a Conga Line through the flames. Yes really (& they paid me at a higher specialty rate to boot).

The day starts with a 4:30am Alarm for 8am Hollywood Set Arrival (it takes a while to pull Johnny the Clown together). At 6:45am I’m running late and look a hot mess because I smeared my smile and cheek Make-Up with a powder puff brush (hate when that happens). How do you fix smeared Make-Up? Just add more…lots more. Several layers later I finish & jump in the car. 10 miles away I realize I forgot my Balloon Animal Pump. Disaster. Oh wait last night I pre-packed an extra Pump in my Fire Engine Red Back-Pack. Never mind. Whew.

Of course when I arrive it is Hollywood Street Cleaning day. Half the usual parking spaces available. I drive around 10 minutes & finally park & walk 5 blocks to the Studio causing a panic with cars driving by yelling clever stuff at me. Yes I know I am a Clown. Thank you. Somehow I arrive early & the Gate Guard is in a joking mood and says my Drivers License Photo doesn’t look anything like me. Good to know. A crowd is gathering so I use my Harpo Horn. HONK! Big laugh and the Guard passes me in.

Wow. On the side of the Sound Stage is a poster of the 1960s hit show MR. ED about the talking horse (a horse is a horse of course of course).

My Dad co-wrote that show and today I’m shooting on the same Stage. I call Pop and he loves it. Meanwhile the Producer introduces himself and there is a major discussion on whether my Hat stays or goes. Only above-the-line Production chimes in & I keep my big drawn-on mouth shut. The Hat stays (whew…it is pinned on & removing it would be a hassle). Wardrobe flips over my hand-made Costume. My new Red Wig and Yellow Derby get compliments in the Make-Up & Hair Departments …they were going to fight to keep the Hat if needed. It is decided to make my look Bigger, Brighter and Better. “Are you wearing those?” they ask about my glasses. “Never” I lie and say (they always make me put my glasses away so I’m kinda blind all day & no I can’t wear contacts so don’t suggest it, thanks anyway).

90 minutes later my face is completely re-done and I really like the new Eye and Lip Shades they use. Wonderful Make-Up Gal sprays the top of my head with “Profaces: No Sweat” & I’m good to go (they use it under rubber horror prosthetic masks and it will help me stay cool). Who knew? I then foolishly make the mistake of putting my own Wig and Hat back on and almost cause a Union Riot. The Hair Lady puts the wigs on people, not the talent. Oops. I am really really sorry. She is gracious and accepts my 3 apologies on bended knee. I make a Snake pop out of a can & say I stole it off a plane. She laughs. HONK & exit Stage Right.

The 2nd AD rushes me to set where there are so many Tiki Torches on Fire there is a full crew of Real Firemen for safety (they are standing next to the much better looking Fake Firemen Extras who are all Bodybuilders with Spray Tans). We are warned repeatedly not to get burned. Several people notice my large bag filled with flammable Balloons and the scene is re-choreographed so the Clown does not catch on fire while we Conga-dance around the room. Move the Torches back people. Protect Clowny.

Today I’m introducing a Classic Bit into my Act. Ladies and Gents, meet my New Purple Twirling Mini-Umbrella (thank you to my Boyfriend’s Aunt who is a Craft Wiz with a Glue Gun…her Gold Fringe & Pearl Plastic Trim are show stoppers). I work this Brolly like nobody’s business every time they yell “ACTION!” Conga this.

ROCK & ROLL HOUSE PARTY SCENE:
Opens on Polynesian Fire Dancer tossing Flaming Batons. Party goers cheer him as guy dressed as Alien Robot does pathetic dance to Herbie Hancock’s ROCKIT.
Enter Tall Beautiful Blondie Chick with Circus Clown.

Lead Guitar’s Best Friend: “Mitch your Ex-Girlfriend just got here with some Clown.”

Mitch:  “Hello Madeline. Hello Clown. Don’t get any of your hideous face paint on the couch. That goes for you too Clown.”

People start dancing but DJ screws up music so Mitch leads Conga Line.

Lead Guitar’s Best Friend: “Everybody let’s go to the Clown’s house…he’s got Animal Balloons!”

Mitch: “Oooooh Animal Balloons. You’ve done alright Madeline.”

Conga Line exits. Cue fire. Wrap Clown.

Later I couldn’t find my car because I refused to spoil my look by putting my glasses back on. A kid in a house yelled “Look Mom a Real Clown!” An excited tourist from Indiana stopped his rental car and took pictures. After a 15 minute hopeless search I dug into my back pack, put on my glasses, found the car and drove home. Another day at the office…

Watch my Dad’s 1957 Pilot Script for the long running smash PERRY MASON & an episode from THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW on Ben Starr’s IMDb page:
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0823465/






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July 29th, 2010 at 8:04 pm

Full Bonanza

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Well that Sexy Male Young Movie Starr is pestering me yet again. Call-In Service text-confirms booking for 2 more days on His Latest Comedy Opus. Rumor around set is his other Major Co-Stars cannot live without me either. Cue Bars to sing “Popular”.  A guy can dream can’t he? What?

I am yet again playing a Trendy Gay Costumer (per Cousin Andy…”Quite a Stretch”….he also suggests I “complain to the guild”).  Here are 2 of my Background Performer Outfits for 2 different scenes (my Own Approved Clothes + their Oscar Winning Head of Wardrobe Team’s Colorful Tie Selections).

john starr extra

Latest Fashion Tip…unbutton the top button on your vests & button up the rest. You’ll see this all over the Fall. Trust me. And stop tucking your Tee Shirts just into the front of your jeans. So 8 months ago. Wake up.

john starr extra

Full Circle…I am working on the same Sound Stage that in 1966 my Dear Old Dad arranged for a Private Family Tour of TV’s Long Running Western Smash BONANZA (thank you Studio Ops for the ‘Films Shot on this Stage’ Plaques). These signs are right by each Giant Elephant Door …all over this Historic Lot (opened 1922). Pop was writing 2 movies for Sid Caesar back then and pulled strings (Dad still lunches with Sid, Carl Reiner, Monty Hall, LAUGH-IN’s Gary Owen and other Show Biz Buds).  After we walked down Fake Virginia City Western Street with Huge Paper Mache Mountain behind it we walked On-Stage. I remember at 11 years old asking why “Hop Sing” (the Cook on the show) had a bedroom door that opened onto a blank wall, not the Cartwright’s actual Ponderosa Ranch Kitchen Set, like on TV. After watching several takes, it all was explained & I learned how scenes are shot out-of-order and later glued together to make sense. My 1st Ahh-Haa-Haa Hollywood Moment. Who knew?

The movie I’m in features a Spoof High School Musical Motif. I am told to pretend I am in this Movie-within-a Movie’s Production Crew Wardrobe Department. And the real Production Team is directing all us Extras to play them as they really are…sort of. I meet the Real Wardrobe Guy that they hired me to look like. He was not wearing upscale jeans, a tie, shirt & vest.  He is dressed comfy cozy. Evidentally I am the Hipper Dressier Version of him and he knows it and loves it. Every time I’ve worked with this Crew people mistake me for him. We get paid to watch an actual full blown All Singing All Dancing All Playback Lip-Syncing Number with the Hottest of the Hot Young So-You-Think-You-Can-Dancer Types (many of these Talented Kids are recognizable). That’s me way over there dragging the Clothes-Rack filled with Short Short Cheerleader Uniforms after the Director yells “Background ACTION!” Really. What a total blast. And in the same Sound Stage I walked onto over 40 years ago as a child. Color me wowed.

I know many of the folks from previous jobs and we are in “Holding” on another Sound Stage. The same Stage my Dad worked on when he wrote for THE BRADY BUNCH (and no they didn’t serve us Pork Chops & Applesauce so don’t ask). Talk about coming Full Circle. As Babs’ Fanny Brice would say “Vat a day I had today.”

Check out my Dad Ben Starr’s amazing Producer/Writer Career on IMDb:

If you can see, here’s the stage 411!

1941 stage

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July 3rd, 2010 at 3:18 pm

Bloody Mama!

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Johnny Extra here on a 2 day Science Fiction ‘End of the World’ shoot.

I am an Electro-Mechanical Engineer (am too!). The 2nd AD said our motivation is “Problems on the Motherboard Eleven!” Yes Ma’m! I am supposed to silently mouth “Are you on Switch Nineteen?” to my Lovely Young Female Scientist Co-Worker. Then the World Ends and most everybody dies.  The Lead British Scientist Who May or May Not Be The Bad Guy shakes it off and orders survivors to “Tally the dead!”  We keep keeling over for 17 takes. Carpet Face Burn Central.

My Gal Pal for the day had a pad mattress for most but not all her falls and was a real trouper. Take after take our papers and files and pencils and people fly everywhere. Of the 45 Extras only one complains and she quickly (and correctly) is labeled “Pain in Neck”.  I pegged her earlier when she was whining that the Breakfast Omelet Bar only had 9 choices of cheeses! Boo f’ing Hoo! Sorry M’ Lady. Dost thou wantest for not? By lunch time the crew was buzzing and the mocking behind her back commenced, Luckily the majority of the Extras were all pros and made it a fun day while Ms. Pain became Prima Diva de Day.

Back to the Blood…did I mention the Puddles of Blood by the Young Hot Black Female Scientist Guest Star? Three different people played her. 1st the Actress hired for the meaty role. 2nd the Stand-In for lighting and blocking. 3rd the Stunt Double who takes the hit to the head on the Main Deck Control Room Console and BLEEDS EVERYWHERE before she dies. Next to me. Right at my feet.  All TV Monitors in the World have Ceased to Broadcast…again? The Electro De-Fragmatizer** has malfunctioned (I repeat…again!?!)  I’m out like a light with my head on my Console (good news…I lived!). And I get Special Make Up with a Bloody Rip on my forehead surrounded by a Major Purple Bruise!! Yippee! I was the Talk of the Town at meal break (at least at the Extra’s Table).  An 18 year old said “You hurt your head dude.” A Pro replied “That’s Make-Up Bro.” But after 12 hours they were handing out Ibuprofen and ice bags.

News Flash: Puddles of Blood are really Rubbery Plastic Things that are Pre-Made by the Special Effects Team and they peel right up without leaving marks on studio carpet (like a Black Cherry Fruit Roll). EFX folks Windex the puddles before takes so the Blood looks shiny & pretty! The dead Guest Star has amazing Make Up where the rest of her face used to be. Graphic open wounds. She, her Stand In & her Stunt Double are all identical in body and weight, same light grey suit jackets with matching well tailored tight pencil skirts and insanely high sexy heels. Same gorgeous long wavy chestnut colored wigs for all three Ladies. Two other Stunt Doubles fall down flights of stairs repeatedly without complaint. They get a well earned standing ovation by cast and crew. It is amazing to see and I love getting to work with them (the Stunt Coordinator is terrific, kind and she helped us all).

A Female Director too! Yay! The 2nd AD and I have worked together before and she makes the day fly. Her Coordinator (let’s call him “Todd”) was funny and cool but had to warn us all “under no circumstances bring any food or drink onto the Sound Stage”.  Four minutes later I run into Todd on set and he’s carrying a steaming hot cheese and mushroom omelet with a toasted bagel & schmear in his mouth. I say “Don’t let Todd catch you” and continue walking past Futuristic Main Deck Blinking Green and Red Lights embedded in the Huge Scientific Metal Equipment (“It’s Alive!”).
About this massive Sound Stage… I worked here before in one of their two standing Courtroom Sets. There’s also a Jail Cell Block and we are so Wi-Fi Sci-Fi on their 2-Story International Corporate Headquarters Anywhere in The Future set which goes on for corridors and offices and hallway after fake long hallway. Get this…they shot “Murphy Brown” here!

Back in my 8th Grade 1969 Junior High School days (yes kids pre-“Middle School”) I had a Speech Class with the wonderful and delightful Julie Nimoy. One day her Dad came in. You know him as Leonard. He was doing a little show at the time called “Star Trek.” Ring a bell? Anywhoo…Julie once brought Dr. Spock’s Pointed Ears into class (they were made out of wax and melted after a couple of days shooting under hot lights so needed constant replacement).  Mr. Famous Cool Father of My Friend is right this second in the front of my Speech Class asking if anyone would please join him in an Improv Comedy Sketch.  I raise my hand so fast my arm flies out of the socket! I wish I could regale you with what we did but all I remember was it being fabulous fun and Mr. Nimoy kindly said to my class afterwards that “Someday this boy is going to be a Star!” Hello Leonard? I’m on Line One and have been holding for 40 years!

**This bit I stole from my terrific Dad’s great OUR MAN FLINT script (check my Pop out …Ben Starr on IMDb).

John Starr

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iGet2Work introduces John Starr, his adorable rescue terrier Lucky, and his exciting Life-As-a-Hollywood-Extra blog ~ JOHN STARR EXTRA!

A teen Actor and Extra in the mid-1970’s (he tap danced on M*A*S*H and sat next to Travolta on “Welcome Back Kotter”) John is back doing on-camera work for the first time in 30 years! He’s also a professional Clown Magician and blows up a mean balloon animal.

john starr extra

He hopes his chronicle John Starr Extra and his cutest-dog-ever, Lucky, is a ticket to more SAG and AFTRA work.

Please check out my sister Carol Starr Schneider’s Show Biz Blog at: http://shortjewishgal.blogspot.com/

And then come back here are re-read JOHN STARR EXTRA!