I used to love Gene Kelly. When I graduated from college, my mom asked me what I wanted to do. Go to Europe? No thanks. Get a job? uh-uh. Dance like Gene Kelly and then perhaps time travel and marry him? Yes please. Seemed like a good use for my Latin American history degree. I took tap lessons in some weird industrial building south of market in SF. Still can't dance. But that has nothing to do with anything at all.
When Nipper Knapp and I were engaged, we went on an audition together for SBC yellow pages. It was two days after the academy awards, a Tuesday. You'll see in a minute, why I remember that little detail over 5 years later. We were sitting in the casting waiting room, and who walks through the lobby, but Errol Morris. Uhm, 48 hours earlier he had won the academy award for the documentary The Fog of War. What was he doing there? Was he directing the commercial? I hit Nipper in the arm and started whispering like crazy.
I'm not usually star struck. I mean sometimes it's impossible to not be tongue tied around a famous person. But living in LA, you learn to not look directly at them, or better yet, pretend like they're not there at all. But this was too much. We have seen all of his movies. We love him! We even owned a dvd box set of his short lived tv series First Person. Yeah, I know, we really know how to live. This is how we wound up together, me and Nipper Knapp. On our first date, he took me to the oldest blues bar on the west coast and pretended to smoke cigarettes. He mentioned something about reading Thomas Friedman's last column, and I knew in that instant that he was going to be my husband. After dating through the intellectual wasteland and vanity of LA, I was smitten. Nipper Knapp at last!
Ok, so Nipper and I walk into the room, and I can't help myself. I say "Congratulations on your Oscar, oh and we're you're biggest fan...blather, blather, something about The Thin Blue Line, grovel, bootlick, brown nose..." Needless to say we got the job.
In the years to follow we've done several spots with him. Some together, and some just Nipper. I'm pretty sure that Errol thinks Nipper is the bees knees, and I'm just along for the ride. Happy to on this particular ride.
Two weekends ago, Nipper got a message from a casting director who casts commercials for Errol. He says that Errol is directing a Hallmark spot in NYC and they want Nipper and I and Jack for it. Uhm, this does not happen. I've been doing this for years and years, and no matter how many times I've worked with a director or an agency, they want you to get in line just like everyone else. It's not like you work your way up to getting offered commercials like a celebrity, no matter how many you've done.
They are casting the spot in NY, so we go to the casting office here, and they put us on tape. They send the audition to NY, and then we wait... and wait... and wait. It's the most suspenseful week ever. We're going, we're not going, they want all of us, they just want me and Nipper. To make matters worse, Nipper is supposed to leave Friday for Michigan to watch the Michigan/Ohio State game. Great. Whatever. I can deal with chaos. Sure. Fine...
Errol, his producer Julie, Nipper, Me, Jack, and Karen on set
SO you know by now, if you've been reading that we got the job. All three of us! Hello college fund. Hello Jack going to Berkeley. Not that I care, I mean, whatever, he can go wherever he wants... So long as it's Berkeley.
This is how tired the cootie queen mom was. That's the floor at JFK where I'm sure he contracted EVERYTHING
We get up at 4am Sunday and fly to NY. We meet Nipper and his sister Karen, who flew out to help us with Jack while we're working. We drive into the city and check into our hotel, which I can't say enough good things about. It's the Thompson LES, and I like it so much more than the Soho Grand where we stayed in September. Plus it's half the price, and right next to a subway stop. Choo Choo!
The hotel left these little kissing dolphin soaps for Jack
Jack's still ready to rumble. Nipper is near death.
Jack in the glass rain shower, where he took 2 showers a day.
Once we're checked in we go to our favorite pizza place Arturo's. Considering the fact that Jack's life has essentially been the same every day for 2.5 years, never out after dark, never without his warm milk, never without his normal routine, the kid kicks ass. He just rolls with it. We get back to the hotel around 10pm, and we have a 5:30am call time... in Long Island. Eep! Nipper and I are both assuming that the next day's shoot will be a disaster with Jack melting in a sobbing, exhausted puddle on set. But no, he rocks. The kid somehow manages to make it until 1pm, when he's wrapped. Auntie Karen takes him back to the city, and Nipper and I work until about 8pm. When we get back to the hotel Jack is still going strong so we went to Ruby's in Nolita for some dinner.
Errol and the camera
A still from the shoot
The next day Auntie Karen goes back to Michigan early, and we set out on the subway for the Natural History Museum to see the dinosaurs, and meet the big whale. Jack introduced himself "Hi whale, I'm Jack Knapp, and this is my mommy, and my daddy." Then he melted down. Ok, not really, but he was pretty much done with the museum, and after those two stops. We walked over to Shake Shack, which is pretty frickin yummy. After that we figured we walk through central park, and he'd crash. Wrong. As soon as Jack saw the lake, and the ducks, and the leaves, he was out of the stroller and running. He played in the park for two hours straight. When he finally crashed after we bribed him back into the stroller, we were exhausted. We took a leisurely stroll, and got some coffee.
The bubble man in the park blows BIG bubbles!
Jack woke up and we walked over to FAO Schwarz. I know, it's awful, and god knows he doesn't need more toys. But the guilt of putting the kid to work, and how well behaved he'd been, we couldn't resist. Plus it was right there. He picked out a little yellow garbage truck, played with Ziggy Marley's daughter and rode the elevator with Mike Wallace. Good times.
So that's it. We flew home Wednesday after a big breakfast at Bubby's in Tribeca, where we spotted Debra Messing, who we didn't look directly at. Appropriate. Jack was awesome on the plane, and I would like to thank the movie Monsters VS Aliens and my iphone for smoothing out some rough spots on the trip. Go ahead and judge, but that thing is a miracle worker.
The tv in the hotel elevator had La Dolce Vita running on continuous loop.