Spontaneous Hollywood!

So last week, I got a phone call from David, a seasoned PBS producer, asking if I would be interested in the part of an Asian chef for a TV sizzle reel/pilot that he was producing in Los Angeles.  Little did he know that I had just promised my husband that the month of May would be traveled free. I told David no, I wasn’t really interested, as a trip to Los Angeles from Florida involved time away from the boys and dealing with the horrid necessities of travel: airports and strangers overstepping the boundaries of my personal space.

I put the word out on Twitter and Facebook, calling for any Asian chef who could play the part, and sent him a couple of leads. The next day, David called me back, telling me that the leads didn’t quite work out, the shoot is in three days and would I reconsider because I was perfect for the part? Please?

Three days?!! Geez David, you sure wait til the last minute to cast!

I finally agreed, but only if I could bring one of my close friends, Rachelle, a video journalist for the Travel Channel as a companion (read: protection) I guess I’d watched too many movies, seen too many episodes of CHiPs when I was a kid…because it made me feel better to have another girlfriend  by my side. What if David was a weirdo?!?

Of course, I didn’t tell Rachelle that. I sold her a spontaneous trip to LA based on the fact that she had never been before, and that I would take her to see the famous Hollywood sign. She took the bait.

Our schedule was so tight that we didn’t quite make it to the Hollywood sign….this is how close we got:

Thank goodness I had a zoom lens.

I can’t tell you what the show was about, other than the fact that involves cooking. But, I can say that I’m not the star of the series, I’m just playing a big role in the first episode.

The evening that Rachelle and I arrived, we had a magical dinner with friends Matt & Adam, Gaby, Jenny, Rachael, Edward and Lucy (who has THE CUTEST blog name by the way) at Nirvana Indian restaurant in Beverly Hills. The combined value of our professional photography equipment could purchase a car, yet NOT A SINGLE PHOTO taken that night. What horrible bloggers we are!

Well, the next morning, a very early early morning, Rachelle and I headed out to Melrose to Epicurean Cooking School to begin filming.  Since both of us are totally neurotic about being on time, we arrived early to walk across the street end to grab a breakfast.

We soon found out that this little coffee shop, Urth Cafe, was the choice hangout for actors and other good-looking-hoping-to-be-discovered people. Even the 2 on-duty cops who walked past had nice asses. That’s Hollywood for ya! {note to husband: only Rachelle looked at the asses, not me…no sireeeeee}

A fancy coffee shop, of course, must have fancy coffee drawings. Mine was a Pac-Man sticking his fat tongue out.

Rachelle’s was much prettier, 2 dolphins, one with a lap-band surgery.

I’ve heard of tea leaf readings, and in Hollywood, I’m sure they’re such a thing as coffee readings. If so this is what mine said:

Well, it was a great way to start the day, my next stop was the makeup artist’s chair.

While I was getting my makeup done, the rest of the crew arrived: two sound guys, three cameramen and what seemed like 28 producers. Eeek! Welcome to Hollywood!

This is the host of the show, Mark.  We had just met an hour before the camera started rolling, so we very quickly had to get to know each other and rehearse our lines. I had written all of my own script, and Mark’s lines were very much dependent on what I had written.

Since I only had three days to write the script, Mark got handed his lines literally hours before the shoot. Good thing he’s a professional standup comedian, he memorized parts and then we ad-libbed the rest.

This was Mark, one of the cameramen – he’s in Cannes right now for the Film Festival. Jealous.

Day 2 took place at Epicurean‘s the second location in Anaheim, a gorgeous, spacious cooking school with brand-new everything. It’s perfect and I want to move in, especially since it has fancy appliances and 5 stovetop stations. Cooking Thanksgiving supper in cramped kitchen no more!

I had written the majority of the script for a day 2, and I’m here with the producers David and Steve choreographing who goes where, what gets said, which gets cooked and what gets when. huh?

Thank goodness that I called blogger Gaby Dalkin of What’s Gaby Cooking to  come help me in the kitchen —  she was an angel and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without her. Gaby prepped all of the food and helping cook the final dishes as well. This woman’s a rockstar in the kitchen! I take her home with me if I could – but I don’t think Matt and Adam would let me.

The show is more like a “reality-ishy show” — the script was fluid, we changed things up at the very last second based on what had happened in the previous two minutes. The crew relied on me to the be part-time director, script writer, actor and chef — and I’ve got to say — I had an absolute blast!

Forget being just an actor. I want to do it all! 😉

Here we are strategizing the next 5 minutes of camera time. And get this…in this circle stands 2 exec producers from Mark Burnett Productions (Survivor! Celebrity Apprentice!) That’s a serious talent circle I’m standing in!

Jordan, the sound guy was always tryin’ to get fresh with me. Good times! LOL!

So I found out that Jordan is the sound master for many reality cooking shows like The Iron Next Chef and Hell’s Kitchen.

He certainly knows the sound of sizzle.

I took lots of pictures of Jordan and was really really super sweet to him because I know I had forgotten that I was wearing a mic and that he was wearing a headset, even when the cameras were off and I was in the other room.

I like Jordan.
He’s totally the bestest sound guy ever.
So handsome.

I don’t remember all that was said when cameras were off, but…ahem…I’d happily bribe him with $20 bills to keep him quiet JUST IN CASE.

Producers wishing I was a little taller.

And Rachelle, happy, smiley Rachelle…. one of my favorite travel buddies ever.

After two very long days of work, we wrapped up the shoot at a nearby park…me, Mark and the 42 4 producers. This is the team that’s gonna go out and sell this show. Sell the show! I want my mom to see me on TV!

Rachelle and I headed off to the airport to catch a redeye back to Florida, and we spied the coolest socks ever at LAX. Nighty-night-redeye-flight-knee-high-socks (though we’re both so short that they were pretty darn close to thigh-high socks). Of course they had the word “Hollywood” stitched on the side of them.

When I got back home, this little munchkin greeted me with a present.

Awww cute. a cookbook that he created with his class!

ooooh! (rubbing hands together!) excited! What recipe did you write for Mommy? Beef Bourguignon? Wok-Smoked Salmon? Escargot with Herb Butter?

“Mommy, let me show you my recipe…”

Pizza in a box! From the supermarket! Oh lordy. My kid ratted me out.

I’m betting that if David the producer saw that BEFORE, I wouldn’t have been casted 😉

UPDATE: Rachelle surprised me with a video!!!!