Friday, November 26, 2021

Blind Items Revealed #10 - Reader Blind - Anniversary Month

March 29, 2018

Part One

It was a typical Louisiana spring 20 years ago. Hot, humid, and rainy most afternoons. I was separated from my husband at the time, so to earn extra income, I took a low paying job as payroll manager for a security guard company. Yet I got the greatest perks of any job I would ever have before or after. You see, occasionally we would provide guard services for movies filming in the area. And the jovial owner (now R.I.P.) allowed me to act as an unpaid 'supervisor' on some sets. When we got a call one day for services on a major studio production which would star my favorite adolescent heartthrob I'll call TM I just knew this was one I HAD to "work" on. I had even kissed the famous denim jacketed poster on my wall and now I had the chance to see him in person? Hell, yeah, I was going! The movie was a fictionalized account based on a Permanent A++ celebrity's rise to international fame in spite of his weakness for a certain something. The first filming location in NOLA was a Friday night near the French Quarter on the Moonwalk. I and some guards got there about 5 for a 6 pm shift change. The pivotal scene they were shooting that date was going to be a night one, but setup can take hours. I walked around talking to our other guards who were out there already to ask what and who they'd seen. Of course I had to ask if they had seen my permanent A list former teen idol anywhere or if they knew when he'd show up. I don't exactly have a quiet voice so in spite of the hubbub a cameraman overheard me and said, "He's off tonight. He's not in this scene." My heart sank. When the guy saw my face he said, "But most of the main cast will be filming at Oak Alley (Plantation) tomorrow." Well now I knew what my Saturday's plans would involve! I decided to see the sights and enjoy the evening for a while. I did see the now deceased A++ award nominated/winning director talking to an assistant on the levee. Didn't recognize anyone else. Right as it was getting dark, it started to drizzle. I noticed a lot of the crew was heading toward the closed off parking lot of a Catholic church/school with a lot of food trucks inside. I was told that anyone with the crew was welcome, so I and a cop friend headed there. The rain was really starting to come down by then. My mind was blown when I saw what was being served from those trucks. There was LOBSTER, Chateaubriand, gumbo, hot dogs, etouffee, salads, baked Alaska, almost everything you could imagine or desire. You just walked around with your plates and it was served up, to be eaten inside the school cafeteria. While I was in the steak line, a limo pulled into the lot and stopped. I saw the driver jump out, pop open an umbrella and say something to the passenger. I then hear a very familiar drawl say, "Tony, I learned to hold an umbrella and get my own food 40 odd years ago, son. You do NOT need to do it for me. Go park this thing and come get some supper honey!" The rain was slacking off, so the umbrella was left in the car, and the incredibly talented A++ mega-award nominated/winning actress in most formats gets out and walks over near the food line I was in. Let's call her AW. On her way she's saying " Hows it going Jake? " or "Hey Sue!" - just friendly small talk with assistants, bit players, electricians, etc. I was just amazed at how "normal" she was. I went inside the cafeteria a few minutes later to sit at a table where I saw some of the guards. I told them who I'd seen outside. And as if on cue, she came through the door being held open by a guy in coveralls. Had her hands full, and came and sat down at the long table right next to ours. She was the only star I recognized in the room, just sitting surrounded by "regular folk". I avoided staring, but couldn't help overhear. She was telling someone how she didn’t want to eat in her damn trailer, just felt like getting out and about before she had to do her scenes. Obviously she seemed more at home amongst blue collar workers than Hollywood elites. Though I loved her movies before that evening (especially that particular tasty named one almost all Southern females adore) I suddenly became a huge admirer of this down to earth famous woman sitting a few feet away. Though I didn't want to bother her for an autograph like a few people did, I timed my own eating so I finished just as she was getting up. I threw away my stuff and as she headed for the doors, I held it open. Then I got my nerve and said, "Miss ----, I'm DP with XYZ Security. I have to say, you are one of my favorite actresses and its been an honor just to eat dinner in the same place. Hope you're enjoying it here" She looked at me, grinned and said, "Oh D, been in New Orleans so many times, just love it here! And thank YOU by the way." I replied puzzled, " For what?" "For not saying you're my number one fan..." We both laughed so loud people turned to look. She patted me on the shoulder and went back out in the night to Tony who was waiting near the doorway with the car. I was thrilled later on when this role merited her more major awards/nominations since I was "there" when she did it. It turned out to be a great time even if I hadn't seen TM. But I still might have my chance at Oak Alley...

Part Two

The next morning, though I didn't get home till 1 a.m., I was up bright and early. Actually Oak Alley Plantation was closer to my house than the Quarter. I put on my favorite dress and just enough makeup so it wouldn't run in the humidity. Just in case I might happen to see TM and he might see me too! Yeah and if wishes were fishes, right? Minutes before I left I got called by a guard on my pager. Louise had left their badge at home so she asked me to pick it up and I did. I was driving past the row of famous oaks before noon. Sun was out and muggy but weatherman had predicted late afternoon showers. This location seemed way busier than the previous night. Seemed like over a couple hundred people with the crew were there and I noticed several very nice RVs and camper trailers parked near the mansion. I got out and started looking for the guard whose badge I retrieved. Saw a different one and I asked him where Louise was. He told me she was posted right near the back doors but I should hurry because they'd announced filming was going to start in about 10 minutes. I started walking as fast as I could towards the back. As I came around the corner I almost collided into an older gentleman sitting in a chair. I was so embarrassed and profusely offered my apologies. Then I realized who I'd literally bumped into. A+ (now passed) mostly TV actor who had one of the most iconic villainous roles on TV ever. He chuckled and said "Don't worry about it darlin'! No harm done. For a short little thing you sure move fast!" A lady sitting next to him who I later found out was his wife of over 40 years was laughing too. I smiled, said "You are too kind Mr. N! Thank you." I hurried off and found Louise about 3 minutes before someone called "Quiet on the Set!" As I walked back near the front where they weren't filming at the time, I saw a group of people I knew and headed towards them, pulling a pack of smokes and a lighter out my purse. Right after I lit my cigarette, a pretty blonde lady wearing no makeup, shorts and a long man's style button down shirt came up to me. "Excuse me" she said in a British accent. "May I bum one from you please?" "Sure." I said as I handed her one and the Bic. " Thank you so much" she replied as she took a long drag. "Left mine over in the trailer and its so muddy there. How DO you handle this humidity? Like breathing underwater." I nodded and said "Air Conditioning." She grinned, said "Thanks again sweet", as someone was coming up to her with a script. I walked over to my friends. One of them said " Oh my God D" I went "what?" He goes, "do you realize who that is?" I replied she looked really familiar but not positive. " Damn girl, that was ST, she won an Oscar a couple years ago for _____, she's playing TM's wife in this! " (She would also go on to several more noms/wins and end up starring in my personal ATF Christmas romantic comedy) I was shocked. Me, no one special, talking to 3 world famous stars in less than 24 hours. They were all very nice to me too, but the teen girl in me still yearned to see TM in person. But if I didn't get to, oh well, c'est la vie. Realized I had a storied star filled weekend to remember for the rest of my life. No regrets...yet.

Part Three

That afternoon I walked around, checked roll to make sure everyone was there who was supposed to be, reported any non crew/staff affiliated lookee-lous as we called them, and brought drinks or snacks to those who couldn't leave posts. I would also watch a post if they had to step away for a bathroom break. It was during one of these sit-ins in late afternoon that I would overhear something that changed the whole outcome of my quest. Guards and other non-essential staff were not allowed inside the mansion when filming. They were to be on the outside porches or in the lawn area. But as Lance came back he was breathless. Even though he was twice my age he always called me Miss D. "Miss D, hey, you aint gonna believe this, but I just seen TM come out the side doors of the house and Loreen says she heard they was takin him to the makeup trailer. (He wore a lot to make him resemble the real person he was based upon) She's sayin if you go by the RVs maybe you can catch a glance of him coming out." Yes dear readers my cover was obviously blown and every employee of my company knew why I was "on the job". And they all now seemed to be determined to make my wish come true. (Too bad Mr N's previous TV character's wife wasn't around!) I asked if I could get near the RVs or did the studio have their private security covering it. "Hell no Ms D, Captain Bill over there. Them Hollywood folks got bit by one skeeter standin around and they booked ASS! And it aint even dusk yet! Buncha woosies!" Thats all I needed to hear - Bill, a retired military man, was gruff but had a fatherly soft spot for me. He would let me go anywhere I pleased. So off toward the trailers I went. I found Bill and asked which was the makeup one and he pointed it out. "Was TM still in there?" "Maybe, not positive, been a while. " Ok, so not too specific but best lead all day. He pointed out a nice rig a few feet away. "Go stand over there so won't look like you're stalking him if you see him coming out." Ok, good idea. So I stood by the luxury trailer and fired up another smoke. ( it was the 90s, ok?). Minutes later, door to that one opens and this red headed big muscle-bound guy steps out with a cigar in hand. "Mind if I join you?" He looked safe enough, and Bill was a cough away just in case. "Not at all." "Hi I'm Mark, who are you?" Told him my name and I that I was an onsite security rep. Showed him my badge to prove it. He laughed and said I was the most petite security woman he'd ever met. Told him I used the bigger guards for my light work. He laughed. Then I asked him what he did. "Oh, I'm TMs personal trainer, bodyguard, assistant, you know, whatever." My eyes widened, "So is this one HIS?" "Yup he'd prefer his plane but nowhere to land by the house." He chuckled. I said "Wow, very cool. Wouldn't happen to have any souvenir headshots around in there?" He paused and said "hmmm not sure". Then I just started talking and couldn't hit the verbal brakes. I said, "You know I've been a fan of his since his first episode of (hit education-based comedy). Over 20 years and it seems like almost every movie he does he gets better in. (So I exaggerated a bit..) For example just a couple of weeks ago I saw ----- at the movieshow. He and (then A+ actor from major acting dynasty family) were so incredible in it switching roles I sincerely believe they should give BOTH of them Oscars as co-Lead Actor. They both deserve it!" (Yes over the years I realize its somewhat of a hokey flick and plot but still love it). Suddenly I hear a low quiet voice from inside the trailer say, " Aw, that is so nice of you to say that. " I turn as the door opens wide. "I really appreciate the compliment. Thank you, thank you so much.". And then I'm looking into the most incredibly crystal blue eyes I've ever seen to this day. They were so light blue I'm convinced he wears darker lenses for movies. TM is inches away and smiling at ME! His hair looked damp but still had gray color in it and he had a towel around his neck. He was wearing a plain white tee and jeans. I, a woman who could out talk an auctioneer, was stunned speechless. I had to be visibly trembling. He was even more gorgeous in person than on film. He put out his hand. "Hi, I'm T..what's yours?" I shook it and WAS shaking now. But I think he was used to reactions like mine. I stammered , "Uh, I'm D--, D-- P---." " "Well, pleasure to meet you D.P. So by your accent I assume you're a true Cajun lady, huh?" I could only smile and nod. "Love hearing the way you all talk down here. Y'all almost sound like you're from where I was raised in New York." I kind of giggled at that, and replied how NOLA natives hear that all the time. I glanced around and noticed Bill, Lance, and a few other of our guards a few yards away, looking at the two of us, all grinning. Out the corner of my sight I also noticed Lance's wife Coral and two kids. They always picked him up from jobs. She had a camera. Right about then TM says, "Hey Mark, got a few of those promo pics on the table inside. Go get one for our friend here please?" Mark goes inside as my mouth starts functioning with my brain again. We made some small talk about local favorite dining spots. Told him about one well known as a Mafia hangout that looked like a dive outside but had the best pasta in the South. He said he'd actually heard about it and was definitely going to go before they wrapped down here. I felt a couple of rain drops as Mark came out with the photo of him in character and a pen with gold ink. TM leans it against the wall and signs it. "To D--, with thanks and love, T....M..." He handed it to me. "Here you go." At that point as it starts drizzling, Coral comes running up. "Hey Miss D. , Mr. M? Is it okay if I take a picture of y'all together?" I looked at him. He said, " Sure! Scoot closer D." and he put his arm around me. DAMN, I was trembling again! As I'm only 5' and he's like 6'2" my head didnt even come to the top of his shoulder so he hugged me and I prayed I was smiling pretty as she pressed the button. "Hang on D, one more just in case!" He had the nicest smile cause he had so much practice obviously. I told him thanks Soooo much, and he said "my pleasure! Enjoyed talking with you" as he leaned over and kissed my cheek. I seriously think I blushed for the first time since grade school. Then Coral says, "Hey Lance, come 'ere! Mr. M, can me and the kids get a picture with you?" My good natured movie star was grinning and said, "Yep! Come over!" as suddenly several people appeared out of nowhere, guards, extras, and even youngsters. Though it was now seriously raining he never seemed to mind as they ended up taking the whole roll of film of admirers with him. Finally Mark came up and said the limo was ready to go back to town and they needed to split. There was an audible "awww" of disappointment as he waved to everyone and started heading back to the trailer to get his things. He passed right in front of me, and tapped my cheek and winked. "Bye D." using my shorter nickname and then he disappeared inside as a policeman said we all had to leave the area since they'd be pulling off in a minute. I walked away in a daze, surrounded by friends saying, "You really met him!" "We got our picture with TM!" "He's so cool!" "He kissed you D!" I barely heard them as I walked on air back to my car. To this day it still seems like a wonderful dream if I didn't have the autograph and pictures to prove that once upon a time it came true. P.S. I am well familiar with all the rumors about this gentle man over the years. I will not confirm/deny or even state my own gut instincts on the subject. Because I. Don't. Care.-What consenting adults do if no one gets hurt is none of my business. We all have secrets. I just know he was amazingly nice to me and a bunch of other minimum wage earning fans one hot, wet Louisiana day and that's what's important, right?

John Travolta/Primary Colors/Mike Nichols/Kathy Bates/Larry Hagman/Emma Thompson 

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