Tag Archives: Once Upon a Time

Heigh Ho! Heigh Ho! It’s Off to Work on “Once Upon a Time” I Go!

Just as the 7 Dwarfs have returned to their menial labor mining precious fairy dust, my factory job as the dialogue editor for the ABC drama Once Upon a Time resumed this week. It’s been a long 4-month hiatus, and although I’ve enjoyed being a full-time unemployed mom to my two little beauties and the beast (their roles interchange depending on the day and the deed), I’m anxious to put on my big girl underpants again and start earning a regular paycheck.

I’m also excited to find out what has become of Storybrooke now that the Evil Queen’s spell is broken. After 22 episodes of the present day townspeople forgetting that they are actually fairy tale characters, last spring’s finale led us to believe that they have suddenly remembered. Will it be like the Dallas cliffhanger in the late 1980’s when poster girl Victoria Principal woke up and found that the previous season was just a dream? Will the show steal the standard soap opera formula in which a character suddenly has amnesia – but in reverse?

Last May when the first season ended, I wrote a blog post entitled “20 Predictions for Season 2 of Once Upon a Time.” I edit the show’s dialogue (sound), not dialogue (script), and my work is the second to last creative step before the show airs, so I was not made privy to any second season storylines.  As a humor blogger, I tried to make these prophecies ridiculously unbelievable and included tidbits like:

“Present Day Snow White, Belle, and Cinderella nearly kill each other in a catfight when they are all featured as contestants in Storybrooke’s version of The Bachelor.”

Even though this post was written nearly four months ago, every week I’ve been getting progressively more and more hits. Very VERY Busy Mom is just a simple humor blog with only 269 followers (most of whom are probably friends and family I had to strong-arm), yet I have had nearly 2,000 views of this post. Everyone seems to be Googling to find out what will happen to Snow White, Prince Charming, the Evil Queen, Rumplestiltskin, and their counterparts in present day Storybrooke. I wonder if fans are disappointed when their search engine ends up with my little fluff piece. I also wonder if any of those fans are dim enough to believe that my predictions came from the horse’s mouth. Could they truly be that dense? Would they really believe:

“Leroy (Grumpy) and perpetually-pleasant Sister Astrid (Nova the Fairy) get married and have a slew of bi-polar children.”

Naw. Those would be the viewers who prefer reality shows and turn Snookies into celebrities.

I am a huge fan of Once Upon a Time, so I too have been waiting on pins and needles to see what will happen in the Season 2 opener. And since I actually work on the show, I get to find out about a month before you do.

Unfortunately I can’t tell you because then I’d have to kill you. Maybe. On the other hand, Once Upon a Time is owned by Disney-ABC, so the Mouse Mafia might actually hunt me down and revoke my Disney Lot walk on pass.

If you believe the previous sentence, you are exactly the dim person I was just talking about.

If I did spill the beans in my blog, or frankly anywhere, I’d probably lose my job. I didn’t have to sign a disclaimer or anything, but I would think it’s both a common courtesy as well as proper business protocol to not be blabbing a television secret, even if it is only to my 269 followers and 2,000 other mystery readers, which would be a far cry from the millions of viewers Once Upon a Time attracts.

I’ve spent the last 18 years working on some truly amazing shows that were both popular and critically acclaimed, primarily ER, The West Wing, and Brothers & Sisters. They were all episodic dramas with continuous storylines, but none of them fueled the intense curiosity of what was going to happen next the way Once Upon a Time does. No one ever came up to me at my child’s Monday morning school assembly begging for a sneak peek into what would happen next week:

“Who’s getting admitted to County General next week? I hope it’s a cool disease! And when’s George Clooney coming back to ER?”

“What will President Bartlet’s next speech be about? What big words will he use? Watching The West Wing is the only way I expand my vocabulary.”

“Is Tommy coming back to Brothers & Sisters or is he away getting acting lessons?”

None of these conversations ever took place. But I must have over 200 people (or possibly every one of my 269 followers) ask me for clues about Once Upon a Time every single week.

“What’s going to happen?”

“WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN?”

WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN?”

You’ll just have to wait until the Once Upon a Time premiere on Sunday, September 30th to find out (8:00 pm PST on ABC).

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Filed under Career, Humor

20 Predictions for Season 2 of “Once Upon a Time”

The networks’ fall lineup has just been announced, and it was no surprise to anyone that Once Upon a Time, this year’s #1 new drama, has been picked up for Season 2.

In this week’s season finale, all the townspeople of Storybrooke have just been struck by a virtual bolt of lightning and now remember who they truly are – Fairy Tale Land characters. Mr. Gold (Rumplestiltskin) has poured true love – the most powerful potion in all the realms – into the magical well that can “return that which is lost.” Suddenly a huge wave of pink smoke reminiscent of something you’d find in a Victoria’s Secret ad starts rolling through Storybrooke, terrifying all the townspeople with the exception of Mayor Regina Mills (The Evil Queen) who slowly starts to smile.

Why is she smiling?

We won’t know that answer until sometime in September when Once Upon a Time returns.

As the dialogue editor of Once Upon a Time, my job is the second to the last step before the show airs, so I am definitely not privy to the story lines that are created by the above-the-line mucky mucks many months before. However, being a huge big fan of the show, I enjoy speculating what might happen during Season 2.

Here are my predictions:

Regina Mills – Mayor of Storybrooke

1. In the Season 2 opener, we find that Regina (The Evil Queen) now inhabits the body of Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase CEO and Chairman of the Board, who received a $23 million pay package, lost $2 billion and still remains untouchable. (Isn’t it amazing when truth is stranger than fiction?).

Jamie Dimon – King of JPMorgan Chase

2. Mr. Gold’s (Rumplestiltskin) gets his wish to have his son Baelfire returned to him, prompting his 20-something-year old to live in true present-day style by moving in with his dad and spending his days playing video games, watching raunchy reality shows, and filling Mr. Gold’s home with empty beer cans and Dominoes Pizza boxes.

3. Belle marries Mr. Gold (Rumplestiltskin), but after a week living with his prodigal slacker son, she hightails it back to the loony bin where she had been imprisoned for the previous 28 years.

4. Mary Margaret (Snow White) and David (Prince Charming) seek relationship advice from therapist Archie (Jiminy Cricket) when she’s laid off from her teaching job due to school budget cuts and he starts bringing home stray mutts and feral cats from his job at the animal shelter.

5. For season 2, Emma finally trades in her boots for some practical running shoes. She also has a fling with Ruby (Red Riding Hood) and Once Upon a Time’s ratings explode with a loyal lesbian fan base.

6. Real life actor Jared Gilmore (Henry) has a growth spurt over the summer and his voice changes. In an effort to keep him short and cute, he is recast and replaced by one of the background dwarfs.

7. August Wayne Booth (grown Pinocchio) is reanimated as a real man with the exception of one body part that makes him very popular with the small town girls. I’ll give you a hint on that particular body part: his new nickname is “Woody.”

8. Storybrooke therapist Archie Hopper (Jiminy Cricket) vanishes into thin air when Regina (The Evil Queen) returns to Fairy Tale Land with a can of Raid.

9. Present Day Snow White, Belle, and Cinderella nearly kill each other in a catfight when they are all featured as contestants in Storybrooke’s version of The Bachelor.

10.  After the Blue Fairy has trouble flying due to the excess weight caused by her ginormous boobs, she inhabits her Storybrooke Mother Superior body to have a breast reduction. However, once in Storybrooke, she changes her mind and leaves the convent after realizing that her breast endowment makes her extremely popular among the men in town, most notably the more plentiful than average population of short men in Storybrooke whose faces are directly at eye level with her chest.

11. An evil clown arrives in Storybrooke, forces Granny out of her diner and installs a pair of Golden Arches over the entrance.

12. We find out how Mr. Gold (Rumplestiltskin) got his limp. As OUAT fans know, Rumplestiltskin’s favorite line is “All magic comes with a price.” Apparently he tried to sneak into a David Copperfield show at a Mafia-run night club without paying, and the boss’s thugs broke Mr. Gold’s kneecap. Hence as retribution, Mr. Gold has made himself the Godfather of Storybrooke.

13. Jefferson (The Mad Hatter) gets his tween daughter Grace/Paige back, but returns her to her Storybrooke parents after he’s disgusted to realize that she’s addicted to The Disney Channel and spends all day texting.

14. We find that Dr. Whale is actually Monstro, the giant whale that swallowed Geppetto (Marco) and Pinocchio (August) in Fairy Tale Land.

He starts having regular therapy sessions with Archie (Jiminy Cricket) when it is revealed that after upchucking the old Italian guy and his wooden puppet, Dr. Whale now suffers from bulimia.

15. Kathryn Nolan (Abigail – Prince Charming’s intended wife and his Present Day actual wife) remembers that her true love is Frederick, who is now the Storybrooke High School head coach. She takes a job beside him coaching the Storybrooke cheerleaders who were Fairy Tale Land Fairies, and they all end up in a zany 2013-2014 season spinoff called Once Up On a Grind.

16. In the season finale, when the pink cloud rolls in, former Daily Mirror editor Sidney Glass is reverted to his Fairy Tale form (the Evil Queen’s Mirror). Regina sells him at an auction to the highest bidder – Oprah Winfrey – and Sidney spends his days telling her how thin she is.

17. It is revealed that the Once Upon a Time book was actually penned by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob of Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous fame. When Regina (The Evil Queen) sets out to destroy the true authors, instead of whipping up a sleeping potion, she gives them each a bottle of Colt 45 malt liquor.

18. We find out that Henry’s father is the rabbit from The Tortoise and the Hare.

Like any true rabbit, he reproduced at will, then scurried away as soon as he found out Emma was pregnant. When we meet Baby Daddy sometime in season 4 we’ll know he’s changed because he’ll be bald (hare-less).

19. Leroy (Grumpy) and perpetually-pleasant Sister Astrid (Nova the Fairy)

get married and have a slew of bi-polar children.

20. Love-stuck female fans start an email campaign to return deceased Sheriff Graham (Huntsman) whose heart was ripped out from his chest by Regina (The Evil Queen).

Once Upon a Time’s parent company ABC Television holds a contest offering to bring back the hunky Irishman if 100 fans decide to donate their own body parts to charity.

If you have no clue what I’m talking about, catch “Once Upon a Time” in reruns this summer and you’ll be up to date when the show returns this fall.

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Filed under Humor, Parody, Top 10 List

Why My Husband Scares the Crap Out of Our Kids: Football

"I have been rather naughty"

My husband Tom is a pretty mellow fellow. Nothing fazes him much. He has the kind of job where everyone calls him when something goes wrong and he’s the guy who has to find the right person to fix it. If that right person flakes out (which happens often) Tom is the murdered messenger. Yet he still rarely loses his cool.

Tom didn’t get mad at me when I broke a hole in the bathroom sink, or yell at Jake when he drew all over our coffee table in Sharpie, or chew out Mary when she cut her own hair, or lose his patience when Emily comes up with yet another ridiculous teen angst comment. But there’s one thing that really gets his blood boiling enough to scream bloody murder:

Football.

Tom spent all day yesterday watching football. Apparently there were two playoff games – the Ravens vs. the Patriots and the Giants vs. the 49ers. As a sports novice, I imagine that it would be a no-brainer. With everyone abuzz about the Republican primaries, Patriots would certainly squash any bird (definitely Ravens, but probably not Bald Eagles) and I picture someone akin to Jack in the Beanstalk’s 100 foot Giant stomping out a bunch of old men with bad backs panning for gold.

Tom was rooting for the Ravens, and although he usually goes for the Niners (apparently this is the lingo for Forty-niners), he likes the coach for the Giants. (If you’re reading this blog, Tom… see? I do listen to you sometimes. Or did I get it backwards?).

He has been warning the family for weeks that during the playoffs we’d better stay out of the living room and not bother him. This was going to be his day to park himself in front of the tv and enjoy the games.

I need a new definition of the word “enjoy.”

Throughout the afternoon, Tom was screaming. “Go! Go! Go, dammit!” He was also dropping the F-Bomb a lot. Correction. Not dropping the F-Bomb. He was literally hurling it through the air like a cannonball exploding from Big Bertha. Not just once. Several times throughout the day. This from a guy who seldom curses.

When we were first dating, the girls and I were invited to a Superbowl party at his house. Emily was 8 and Mary was 4 and they didn’t know Tom well yet. He had offered to help Emily with a class project during halftime.

Everyone in her 3rd grade class had to build a musical instrument and Emily decided on a harp. God help me. I didn’t know the first thing about how to construct a harp. Tom was handy with tools and had his own power saw. He told us what kind of wood and screws to purchase at Home Depot, so while other guests walked in with chips and seven layer dips, we entered with extra long 2x4s and a baggie filled with bolts.

Superbowl began, and I immediately realized that the sweet man I had been dating was magically transformed into a madman just by adding football to the mix. Tom spent the game pacing and squirming uncontrollably like a dog about to give birth to a boatload of puppies. Then with no warning whatsoever, he jumped up screaming and cursing at the television set.

“Go! Go! Go, dammit! Move, you f@%$ing tool!”

I had heard about such men, but I’d never seen one in action.

My girls were terrified, and frankly so was I. How could a bunch of steroid-laden goons in helmets and padding bumping into each other at great speeds have such an effect on my beau? Would his maniacal anger continue through halftime? Could I trust him in the garage with power tools and my little angel when he was threatening to murder an entire team?

I shouldn’t have been concerned. As soon as the whistle blew for halftime, Tom was back to his normal sweet, mild-mannered self. Which was comforting because Emily and I were literally shaking in our boots.

Flash forward to 7 years later. We’ve been married for 6 years and have added our 5-year old son Jake into the family. Tom still shrieks at those football players for not doing what they’re told – as if he has a direct line from our little house in LA straight to a megaphone on the San Francisco football field.

The kids are used to the screaming by now, and know that it only happens on Sunday afternoons (and Monday nights, and occasionally Thursday nights. Apparently football is on way more often than I would like). The decibel level of Tom’s caterwaul seems to be directly proportional to the number of athletes on the field who are on his fantasy football team. If the kids’ friends come over, we have to warn them in advance that Tom will not be killing anyone, and he’s probably not yelling at them. That is, unless they wander in front of the tv set.

I know there are other men and women out there who spend Sundays screaming at their big screens, just as there are non-sports-loving spouses and partners who invest in either earplugs or an afternoon excursion far, far away from the game. For us, what is our football equivalent?

I am the dialogue editor for the television show Once Upon a Time on ABC, Sunday nights at 8:00. I’m also a big fan. What would be the reaction of our sports-obsessed mates if we all started screaming, “Just kiss her, David! Mary Margaret is your true love!” or “Don’t make that deal with Rumplestiltskin, Emma! The price is too steep!” or “C’mon, Storybrooke! Can’t you all see that the mayor is really the Evil Queen?”

From my experience, the spouses won’t have any reaction. They’ll be too busy screaming at the game that just went into overtime.

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Filed under Anxiety, Humor, Husband, Parenting, Public Schools, Teenagers

10 Luxuries I Can Now Afford Since “Once Upon a Time” Got Picked Up for a Full Season

A couple of weeks ago, on the night of its premiere, I wrote the blog Please, Fairy Godmother… Please Make “Once Upon a Time” a Mega Hit!

I got my wish.

On Thursday, ABC announced that it was ordering a full season pick up of the new fairy tale drama, which means 9 additional episodes to their original order of 13.

Why do I care so much? As the dialogue editor for the show, that means 9 more paychecks. And if it truly is a mega hit, I may have 22 weeks of pay for years to come.

Since my last show Brothers & Sisters was cancelled last May, my mind has been going to some very dark places. Unemployment is only available for 26 weeks, and if I didn’t get another show, those dark places could quickly become a reality.

Foreclosure.

No medical insurance.

Food stamps.

Selling my kids into slavery.

But now I can count on some regular paychecks. Well, as long as I keep turning my show in on time and well edited. And also as long as the higher-ups on Once Upon a Time (basically everyone higher than I am) don’t get annoyed that a lacky like myself is incessantly chatting about their hit show on her mommy blog.

So now that I can count on a regular income (about as regular as you can get in the entertainment industry), here are the 10 Luxuries I Can Now Afford Since Once Upon a Time Got Picked Up for a Full Season:

  1. I can stop calling peanut butter the other white meat. We can finally add some lovely Spam to our dinner. Not every night. But some nights.
  2. Feed my dogs instead of eat my dogs. Their growling stomachs were really bugging me, and frankly, these mutts don’t have a lot of meat on their bones to nibble on.
  3. My 2012 wardrobe will not completely consist of my 10-year old’s rejected hand-me-downs from her classmate. I’m so glad Mary Belle’s friend is out of the High School Musical phase. I was feeling like one of those pathetic moms that dresses like her teenage daughter and truly believes it when people tell her they look like sisters.
  4. I can stop filling my Arrowhead water bottles from my neighbor’s hose. I dodged a bullet by never getting caught. Maybe I should make them a quiche to ease my guilty thieving conscience. A Spam quiche.
  5. I’ll donate blood for free. Platelets, however are too lucrative to give away.
  6. I can stop making my kids reuse their dental floss (no wonder they hate to floss).
  7. We won’t be living in a cardboard box on an off ramp. Actually my plan was to create a home out of cardboard boxes from IKEA. I figured that it would be easier to put together than their furniture.
  8. I can start buying my kids’ friends real birthday presents instead of just recycling the gifts they gave to my kids. It’s really embarrassing when I find out the hard way that there’s a personalized message in the book that was given.
  9. I can stop googling “earn money” “black market” and “kidney” together in advanced search mode. But shoot… I could have made a bundle of money. But my kidneys are getting a little old and tired. Too bad my daughter Emily’s got type 1 diabetes. They probably don’t want hers either.
  10. I can keep posting blogs on Sundays (those are the days that public libraries – and hence computers and the internet – are closed). Otherwise, it would take me about two days to text these ramblings via cell phone. Also, Verizon would have cut my service by then anyway for lack of payment.

Ok… so I’m exaggerating a little. But in my head, I really was living in a box on an off ramp, filtering leftover German Shepherd with my single kidney.

A girl can dream, can’t she?

Next – The 10 Luxuries I Can Afford When I Win Lotto.

#1 – Spam every day!

Episode #3 of Once Upon a Time airs tonight at 8:00 pm on ABC. Please watch.

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Filed under Anxiety, Career, Debt, Financial Insecurity, Humor, Parenting

Please, Fairy Godmother… Please Make “Once Upon a Time” a Mega Hit!

Once Upon a Time premieres on ABC tonight at 8:00 and depending on the number of Nielsen families tuning in for that hour, it will mean continuous employment for thousands of entertainment industry professionals, or just another show destined for instantaneous obscurity.

As the show’s dialogue editor, I am so far down the entertainment food chain that I don’t even warrant a screen credit (that goes to my sound supervisor Tom deGorter who absolutely deserves to be there on the big screen – depending on how large your tv set is). Yet I’m still antsy. It’s kind of like the big release of a new car model. I’m the guy who installs the floor mats, and I am anxiously waiting to see whether or not it will be the next Prius or just another Gremlin.

My desire for Once Upon a Time’s success is not motivated completely by selfishness (although the trickledown effect of its failure for me would be long-term unemployment followed by home foreclosure… and my kids really like their neighborhood and schools). The fact is – I actually love this show. I’m starting work on episode #5 this week, and I am genuinely hooked.

I’ve always loved fairy tales, whether they’re Disney, Golden Books or The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales (if you have kids, beware; they’ll make you read this one to them over and over and over…). As a kid I performed a skit called Little Red Hot Pants, and in my early 20’s I wrote a Snow White direct-to-video (that never even made it to video) featuring normal-sized men on their knees acting as dwarfs (today that would be oh so politically incorrect). For years I did the sound for my daughters’ plays, which included fairy tale musicals like Into the Woods, Once Upon a Mattress, and Honk. And I know I’m not the only adult who still appreciates a good fairy tale. Although I’m not a fan of them, I’m certain there’s some X-rated film out there with Goldilocks gasping, “This one’s too soft!” “This one’s too hard!” “This one’s just right!”

You must be a shut-in if you haven’t seen a Once Upon a Time billboard. It features either a creepy Rumplestiltskin or an evil queen who looks a lot like Michelle Pfeiffer if Michelle was actually 20 years younger. The fancier billboards actually change the two characters back and forth as you move, which makes me believe it truly is magical, since there haven’t been any reported accidents while drivers were gawking at the metamorphosis.

Once Upon a Time contains all your classic fairy tale characters: Snow White, Cinderella, various princes and evil queens, even Jiminy Cricket and Little Red Riding Hood. The most memorable character is Rumplestiltskin (played by the amazing Scottish actor Robert Carlyle from Trainspotting and The Full Monty). The settings are grand castles and dark dungeons, and it features elaborate costumes, hair and makeup, and a cast of horses that would rival a Miramax film.

But that only half of this fairy tale. The evil queen has put a curse on the fairy tale characters, and they are all transported to a present day New England Town with no memory of their true existence. Henry, an adopted 10-year old boy, is the only one in Storybrooke who is aware of the curse. He enlists the help of his skeptical birth mother Emma, a bounty hunter whom Henry believes to be the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming.

Once Upon a Time is created by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, the executive producers of Lost, so I’m hopeful that their fans will be seeking an exciting (and hopefully not so confusing) refuge since that show wrapped last season.

The show is scheduled against The Amazing Race and The Simpsons. Now in its 11th season, that race is no longer so amazing, and as much as I still love The Simpsons, after two dozen years of downing Duff beer, Homer can’t possibly have a functioning liver.

Watch Once Upon a Time tonight. If you don’t want to do it for me and my family, do it for yourself, because I think you’re going to love it. If you miss it or don’t have a recorder, you can watch it online here.

And because Once Upon a Time is owned by ABC (which is owned by Disney), there’s sure to be a new theme park ride or attraction based on the show: Snow White’s Scary Adventure.

Looks like they already did that.

Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.

Ditto.

Stay tuned for the Grand Opening of Disneyland’s newest wild ride: Rumplestiltskin’s Spinning Room. However Disney will be the one taking home the gold.

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Filed under Anxiety, Career, Debt, Financial Insecurity, Humor, Parenting

The Show Biz Hiatus Dance

Sorry folks.

I’m a little busy with my day job this week, meaning the one that pays the bills (or at least some of them). I’ve got a dozen ideas rolling around in my head, but I just don’t have time yet to jot them down via keyboard and upload them into cyberspace. So in the meantime…

For those of you new to Very VERY busy mom, I started this blog on North Hollywood/Toluca Lake’s Patch.com, the hyper-local newsite owned by AOL.  This was my very first post and appeared on May 4, 2011. I thought I might reprint it here, since I’m now currently on the opposite end of The Show Biz Hiatus Dance.

The Hiatus Dance as a tv sound editor

Man is the only earthly being that senses the concept of time, and as long as he’s been aware of it, he’s been slicing that time into “before” and “after” sections. Nine months of an anticipated due date is followed by decades of annual birthdays (which progressively become fodder for mock and ridicule). Our Gregorian calendar divides our years into B.C. and A.D., which more recently can be dissected into “Before Children” and “After Divorce.” And for many of us who are seasonally employed in the entertainment industry, our world is split into two distinct segments: “working” and “on hiatus.”Last week I was working.

This week I am on hiatus.

Work = money and no time. Hiatus = time and no money. And as Kipling said, “Never the twain shall meet.”

For over a quarter of a century, I have been a television sound editor, working primarily from September through May. I get a few breaks around Christmas and in the spring, but most weeks it’s 50 – 60 hours working on a strict deadline. And then faster than you can say “Nielsen ratings,” I’m unemployed.

Brisco County, Jr.

My busiest week on record is a total of 112 clocked hours, so when I say I was working every waking minute, it’s not much on an exaggeration. You know you’re working too much when you want to dial “9” before making a phone call, or instinctively grab a toilet seat cover when using the little girls’ room. My hardest month was May of 1994, when I was in the midst of May sweeps for my show The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., while simultaneously cutting the pilots for ER and Third Watch.

ER

After working 16-hour days for a couple of weeks, I went to work on Friday at 6:00 am and worked straight through until 1:15 Saturday afternoon. Then I went to a wedding.

Third Watch

I was younger then. Today that would kill me. And believe me, I would be praying for death.

Today’s 50-60 hour week should feel like part-time work. But now that I have three kids and a very busy life outside of work, it’s become a hard task to gracefully master. I’m lucky to have a husband who doesn’t work in the industry. He has a normal 40-hour week (albeit an early one – 6:00 am – 2:00 pm) and picks up a lot of slack. If we have home-cooked meals, he’s the one who prepares them. He’s often the parent who picks up the kids from school, takes them to appointments and helps them with their homework. It’s really hard to feel like a martyr when your husband is the one cleaning up the midnight flu vomit. But even he can’t do it all when my workload is heavy.

When I’m on a show, we eat a lot of Costco ready-made meals. I have to just accept the sticky floors and the thick layer of dog hair that accumulates in every corner of the house. Lack of exercise has made my hips even more Jell-O-like, and I blame sleep deprivation for making me forget the names of my children. My responses to Evites are posted in this order: “YES!”…. then “Maybe”… and finally a day or two before the event, a very apologetic “No.” I have a half-dozen saved phone messages from my 10-year old daughter pleading “Please come home Mommy! PLEASE!” and I have to create auto replies for my emails saying that it’s not that I’m out of the office, it’s just that I’m too busy to look at them.

Joan Cusack running in "Broadcast News"

When describing my work schedule to the 9-to-5ers, I compare it to two different movies, which is appropriate since I work in entertainment. The first is from the 1987 film Broadcast News where Joan Cusack has less than 60 seconds to leap over and under file cabinets, drinking fountains and small children to deliver videotape before the station is forced to cut to black. This hilarious scene shows the urgency and panic of working under an impossible deadline, and it’s similar to the nightmares that wake me up when I really need to be getting my beauty sleep.

The Slave Galley in "Ben Hur"

The other film is the rowing of the galley slaves scene in the classic film Ben Hur. I think of this scene whenever one of my at-home mom friends suggests that I make it a point of taking time to relax. This would be akin to a shackled Charlton Heston, rowing at top ramming speed, turning to the guy with the whip and asking “Can’t I just pause a moment and take a little ‘me’ time?”

I have it easier than most. Working in post-production (and for this season working completely from home) I have a certain amount of autonomy and flexibility as long as I get my show done.

Chained to work

Those who work in production are not so lucky. They get up at 6:00 am and travel to whatever location they’re shooting that day, and they are literally slaves until after the last scene of the day when the director yells “Cut.” They might finish up at midnight and do it all over again the next day. Granted, the crew has meals brought to them, but so do prisoners in San Quentin, but at least the convicts get a full night’s sleep.

And then there’s hiatus.

I actually get an adrenaline rush just thinking about hiatus.

Ahhh... hiatus!!!

My to-do list is miles long, and ranges from big projects like cleaning out my garage and painting the house to simple little things like picking my kids up from school on foot, or taking a moment to brush my matted dogs. I’m looking forward to reading a book. Yesterday I went to the YMCA and took my first Pilates class in four months. Unfortunately, today I’m walking like I just road a horse from Bakersfield. I also spent two hours at Target strolling down every single aisle – and I did it with my four-year old. As anyone with a preschooler will immediately attest, this should have been the equivalent of an afternoon in hell. Instead, I had a great time, although a variety of squirt guns and squishy balls magically appeared in my basket.

You used to know who was on hiatus, because you’d all see each other in the unemployment line the following Monday, but now (mercifully) you can file online. Marie et Cie and Aroma Café bustle with new summer regulars who finally have time to socialize or start that screenplay they’ve been talking about forever. The 12-step rooms are packed with those who finally have time to work on their addictions, or who are under the misconceived notion that they’ll get their big break by pitching to a celebrity during an AA meeting.

The workaholics have a big problem. If they don’t have a family or a hobby, the transition from 180 mph to a dead stop is just too extreme. They’ll end up like the stereotypical housewives – eating bon bons and watching Oprah, or in the case of the men, eating ships & salsa and watching ESPN.

Many friends of mine in the industry have a tough time making the work/hiatus transition, especially when they have kids. The ones with a full-time nanny have the easiest time, because they get a long vacation and don’t have to clean up a mess that’s been piling up for nine months. But those with a spouse who stays home with the kids tend to perform a confusing dance of Who’s Job is it Anyway? for the first month or so of hiatus. The hardworking parent finally gets some quality time with his little angels, but completely disrupts the routines established by the long-suffering spouse. The breadwinner thinks he deserves a little downtime but the homemaker resents having him parked on the sofa all day watching Law and Order reruns.

The at-home parent feels like a chump who has to play bad cop with the kids because the good cop/parent is suddenly home, taking back some authority and lets the kids stay up late, have extra dessert, or skip chores. This leaves the other parent dealing with cranky kids the next morning, hyper sugar highs or cleaning tornado-ravaged bedrooms. With this feast or famine style of cohabitation, I’m often amazed that entertainment industry marriages survive at all.

The West Wing

And then there’s the money… or rather lack of it. For those working on a successful show, hiatus is a vacation like one any other deserving American might take, only longer. In the late ‘90’s/early 2000’s I was the dialogue editor on the full seven-season run of “The West Wing,” and I always had an intense summer itinerary with my kids which included touring amusement parks, exploring every park within a ten-mile radius and taking weekly beach excursions.

brothers & sisters

However my current show, Brothers & Sisters, seems to be in a limbo state. It has not been picked up for the fall season, but its set has not been struck either, so I am anxiously waiting for the fall lineup to see if I get to go to the beach or start scrambling for another job. Maybe I’ll be on the next long-running hit show… or I might land a stinker that gets cancelled before Halloween. If the latter is the case, hiatus = beau coup time and a home foreclosure.

So much for the glamorous life of show biz.

Once Upon a Time

Here’s my happy ending –

This season I’m cutting dialogue on the show “Once Upon A Time” which premieres Sunday, October 23 at 8:00 pm on ABC. We did not lose the house, but our credit card debt now rivals those of many small nations. I am still trying to clean out the garage.

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Filed under Anxiety, Career, Debt, Financial Insecurity, Humor, Husband, Multitasking, Parenting