Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Holy Car Accident Batman!

When you are too close to anything you lose the ability to view it objectively. Yesterday I was reminded of exactly how fun and surreal my job is.

I am not easily star struck. Due to the sheer volume of projects and the dozen+ years I have been in the business I have met tons of celebrities. Not to drop names, but I will: Tom Cruise, Madonna, U2, Michael Jackson, Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Reese Witherspoon - the list is endless. Because I have met so many, and because 80% of them are assholes, it is not the favorite part of my job. A matter of fact, if I can get away with NOT meeting the talent I am working with, I will.

Ironically, the few times I have gotten really excited is when I meet the less famous people. Pop culture icons from my childhood. Look to the right - I got more excited the day I met Mr. T than the day I met Russell Crowe. Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels (C-3P0), Stan Lee, David Hassellhoff, Gene Simmons. I always imagine me sitting in front of the T.V. at 7 or 8 and someone trying to explain to me, "When you grow up you are going to direct BA Barracus in a TV show," or "One day you will watch a FOURTH Star Wars film sitting next to George Lucas." Pretty fucking cool.

And every once in a while I have some very interesting experiences with these celebs. Most are stories for another time - like the TWO times I saw Jewel naked, or when I pulled a drowning Thom Yorke out of a pool, or going snowboarding with Ryan Phillipe). Yesterday was one of those days...

I am doing a comedy show for E! called "The Chelsea Handler Show." She is a really funny, smart, obnoxious comic who you may recognize from years on Oxygen's "Girls Behaving Badly." In this particular segment Chelsea decides to enlist her girlhood crush, Burt Ward - TV's Robin - to help her give one of the pathetic, homeless "Robins" that hang out in front of Mann's Chinese a make-over. For those that don't know, dozens of bizarre freaks in costumes loiter on Hollywood Blvd and take pictures with tourists in hopes they will get tipped a buck or so. On any given day you will see Spiderman, Homer Simpson, "Johnny Depp" from Edward Scissorhands, Pirates of the Caribbean AND Willy Wonka all at the same time, Darth Vader etc. But all that is irrelevant...

At one point me, Burt Ward, Chelsea, our homeless Robin and a P.A. were driving in a rented minivan from one location to the next. Burt was regaling us with tales of his many accomplishments (training dogs, member of MENSA, inventor of extra hydrogenated water, owner of a SFX house, Bruce Lee's sparring partner etc.) It was pouring rain and we were on the 101 doing about 50mph in the right lane.

A Jaguar passed us in the middle lane doing about 70. He swerved from his lane into ours acting all NASCAR and shit when suddenly - he hydroplaned and went into full 360 spins just a few feet in front of us. He spun around once, twice...six times! He swerved closer to us while he was spinning then spun three times in the opposite direction, just missing us, and slamming into a pick-up truck in the middle lane next to us. The pick-up sent him flying into the left lane where another car hit him from behind.

The whole thing took about 5 seconds and the cliche was totally true - everything happened in slow motion. It was completely surreal. I instantly thought of that Jerry Seinfeld routine where he talks about sitting in the back of a cab and looks out the windshield completely detached - as if he was watching it all on T.V. "Man, that looked dangerous!"

The best part was how Burt sprung into action - sitting in the passenger seat (where Robin always sat) he immediately put his hand on our driver's shoulder and (while the car was spinning towards us) kept repeating "Cool heads prevail, that's it, that's it. Cool heads prevail!" All he had to do was yell, "Atomic batteries to power, turbines to speed" and I would have wet myself.

Of course, while this was happening I was seeing the newspapers:

"World mourns television's Burt Ward - killed in auto accident...(with 4 unidentified individuals).

I thought, "Fuck, if I am going to die in a car with Robin let it at least be at the hands of the Joker or the Riddler or something - not some guido in a Jaguar. Man, I can't ever get a brake."

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