(Couldn’t find May 1989 issue so,.....)
NOT A DOG AND PONY SHOW
Richard Dean Anderson passed the puck to Blair who gave him a return pass and before you knew it , there was 20 guys skating at breakneck speed, booming canonating drives off the plexiglass and between the ol’ 5 hole. It was hard to figure out who enjoyed playing with whom the most, the star with the kids or visa versa. Both seemed pumped!
The only problem was, the kids had been given specific instructions not to touch the pucks between takes. It was too dangerous for the cameraman and too distracting for the director. So the director would scowl at the 1st AD, who would scowl at me who would begin a little game that would continue on for the rest of the week. It was called the “hide-the-puck” game and would become more sophisticated and more irritating as the week wore on.
You see these kids were hockey players and to tell them not to touch the puck was tantamount to telling T.V. evangelists not to have extra marital affairs. And because Richard wanted to play and because it was his show and because I didn’t have the balls to take his puck, the whole thing would start all over again.
Slowly at first, RDA would pass to Blair who would just sort of let it hit his skates where the puck would just sort of sit, looking up at him seductively. Then RDA would skate in a semi-circle, slapping his stick on the ice looking for a return pass. But Blair would look at me guiltily and just sort of kick it back to him. So RDA would skate in on goal and drop it for Blair who wouldn’t be there. Then RDA would look at him like he was a wimp.
So on the next play, Blair would join in. What would you do? And soon the whole thing would start up again. And everybody would start blasting pucks off the time clock and the cameraman’s head! Then I’d have to play “hide the puck” again. Even though it was a futile effort because those Wacky Raider Guys had a seemingly endless supply of biscuits hid somewhere on their bench and would feed them to the boys whenever my back was turned.
WHAT A DOG AND PONY SHOW.
On day 3 the insulin kicked in. The initial excitement had worn off and reality was setting in. Everyone realized they had exams to write and wished it was all over. Besides, we were losing our crowd and there were very few people to show off to. It was the cold and flu season and there’s nothing better for flues than putting on wet hockey equipment, skating around real fast, getting all sweaty and then sitting in the ol’ deep freeze foe about 15 hours!
And there’s nothing more appealing than jamming blistered swollen feet into soaking wet skates. And it was so cold! You didn’t even feel like trying to get warm. So the last thing everyone wanted to do was to hurry up to get onto the ice to stand around and freeze. But, of course, as soon as you start to think like that, that’s when they need you. ASAP!
The director wasn’t pleased that we were late. He was cold too and was losing his extras. So a whole new set of rules were handed down. From now on, no one was allowed to leave the ice to go to the warm dressing room, unless they were given permission to and were accompanied by an AD. Also no one was allowed near the meal truck because the caterers were sick and tired of supplying 10 slices of meat for every sandwich.
Not even the Wacky Raider Guys escaped his wrath. Continuity dictated that they could no longer leave the players bench even for a chocolate eclair even though the cameras appeared to be pointed in the opposite direction. The actors needed them for eye line. So now, not only were they to do absolutely nothing, but they were to do it with the TV cameras pointing the other way!
Today was the most difficult day yet. The Director had to get his closeups, so each player had to remember exactly where he had been 2 days earlier when each goal was scored. Good luck! Most of the guys have a hard time remembering their own names. So remembering where they were 3 seconds before and 4 seconds after each goal that had been scored 48 hours earlier wasn’t going to be easy.
I tried to explain to them that it was for continuity. That is, if the hotshot scored a goal in the master shot and if on the closeup a split second later his team mates had suddenly switched positions or disappeared entirely then it would look stupid. The people at home watching it on TV don’t know or don’t care that the 2 shots were shot 2 days apart. As far as they were concerned it had happened a second ago. The boys had trouble grasping that.
Greener was ready to go berserk! If he had had an M-16, we’d have needed plenty of body bags. Earlier on, all of the hockey action had been continuous. So the players would do their thing than warmup in the dressing room. But now there was a lot of stop and go and a lot of shuffling back and forth between the stunt doubles and the actors.
And there was always confusion as to which one was needed. When the director asked for the goon, we’d bring him Greener, but he really wanted the actor. And when we brought him the actor, he really wanted Greener. So to avoid confusion, he’d ask for them by name. But they both had the exact same first name. So we’d just bring them both. The problem was we only had 1 sweater. So Greener had to stand there, cold and sick with no sweater for 20 minutes to be told he wasn’t needed.
WHAT A DOG AND PONY SHOW.
Al had been involved in every take since day 1 and he had performed flawlessly. But today he had been smashed, hammered and mangled into the boards repeatedly, trying to get the closeups of the episodes big bodycheck. He had a possible fractured thumb and separated shoulder and was concerned about his real team’s chances in the playoffs if he wasn’t 100 o/o. So he had just about had it until the producer came up with a brilliant idea. Stunt pay!
He announced that from that point on, everyone would get stunt pay for every hit they were involved in. That was on top of what they were getting already! Suddenly Al felt better. And everyone started buzzing around, begging each other to smash their faces into the plexiglass.
Even the Wacky Raider Guys were taking vicious spills on the bench reaching for the water bottles!
Lunch that day was special for me. Being the Hockey Consultant, I had the luxury of eating first with the crew, ahead of the extras. I had been a scarred survivor of the extras wars and recalled all to vividly the horror of being treated like one. So as I hesitantly made my way to the front of the meal line, ahead of the extras, I froze in my tracks when the AD yelled, “ Extras to the back of the line, behind cast and crew!” I guess old habits die hard.
It was a warm and beautiful day but my toes were starting to thaw, so I had to go back inside. The boys looked like refugees from a Hare Krishna convention because their pale white faces had red gouges in their foreheads. Hockey helmets were not designed to be worn for 15 hours a day, especially not new ones.
George entertained the troops by telling about the time he told his mom that his older brother Eric had sloppy seconds with a hooker at a stag. He described with such pleasure the different shades of red Eric turned when she brought it up at the breakfast table the next morning.
Fish bragged about the time he got paid double scale to say one line. It was during the CBC Hockey Pilot. He had already been wrapped for the day and had gone home to bed. But somebody had screwed up and he still had one line to do. So they had to rearrange the whole shooting schedule, chauffeur him to set and pay him double.
Big Ed was interested in getting into acting, especially after hearing stories like this. He described how much his mentally handicapped brother was looking forward to seeing him on TV.
Nick fell on the flat, dry parking lot and hurt his knee, so he wouldn’t be available for the last days shooting.
The Flake Goaltender taunted Pierre about what he would like to do to his cute little Asian girlfriend.
The last day was supposed to be easy. Just do a few closeups of sticks and pucks and go home. But then they realized they had to shoot the final goal with the time clock and scoreboard in the background. Time was running out! The regular ice rentals were mad because they had been booted out of their regular time slots for a week, so they weren’t going to give these movie people anymore time.
So basically, the pressure was on! But the boys love pressure! They live for it!
But the director not only wanted us to score the winner with no time left on the clock, but he wanted us to make up 40 seconds of stuff before we did it. Forty seconds of exciting, logical action with the puck coming into the Raiders end 3 times for MacGyver’s eyeline.
Considering the fact that we only had 5 minutes to practice and that the ice was like the surface of the moon because we had been playing on it for 8 hours straight without a scrape, this was no easy task.
We huddled and planned our strategy. We knew time was running out so we couldn’t screw up.
They moved the remaining extras down to the other end where the goal was to be scored. They literally had to pick them up and carry them because they were frozen stiff!We decided we weren’t going to hold back. We were going for it! We were going to bring these extras out of their seats like it was OT in the 7th game of the Stanley Cup!
The only thing was we were short a player. Nick had blown out his knee and we needed a replacement fast! we needed someone who knew the fishhook play. Enter George from the Wacky Raider Guys! He knew the plays and wanted to get in on the glory. Plus he had heard a rumour that if you got upgraded they’d have to pay you retro. And 4 days at 15 hours a day was a lot ot retro!
On action, we dumped the puck in right on goal. The plan was for the flake goaltender to shoot it out off he plexiglass a la Ron Hextall from the Philadelphia Flyers. But he fanned on it and wound up giving it right to Big Ed who now had a clear cut breakaway. He was horrified! He knew he wasn’t supposed to score but he didn’t know what to do. Luckily, Chris made a spectacular diving poke check which saved the day!
Next, Al passed to Pierre who purposefully blasted the puck wide of the net so that it would come out around the boards to center ice again. But because there were so many cameras and camera equipment scattered allover the ice, the puck got trapped beneath one of them we couldn’t get it out. Now we were really in trouble. The players froze and looked around at each other nervously. They didn’t know what to do!
Again Chris came through. He faked it. He started stickhandling WITHOUT the puck, pretending like he had one on his stick. After all American audiences have complained for years that the puck was so small that they couldn’t see it anyway, so it turned out to be a pretty good idea.
He passed the “pretend’ puck to George who had that familiar smirk on his face. You could see in his face what he was thinking. He made this outlandish, spectacular stickhandling move that no human being could possibly make WITH the puck and “pretend” passed it back to Al. Luckily the Wacky Raider Guys grabbed a real puck from their stash and threw it to Al without missing a beat.
WHAT A DOG AND PONY SHOW!
We were all set for the fishhook, but the director kept yelling that we had to kill more time. So Al pretended to lose control of it and carried it all the way down to the other end. Then the director gave the OK sign. Al was off!
He gained the blueline and feathered a cross ice pass to Big Ed who threw it around the boards to Pierre behind the net. Pierre dipsy-doodled, put the puck between his legs, banked it off the net to avoid a check and threw it back to Al at the point. He did his patented Savardian spin-a-rama move and was about to pass to Greener in the slot when he looked up at the clock and realized he still had a couple seconds to kill. So he faked a shot and did another spin-a-rama.
What would you do?
He then passed to Greener who one-timed a beautiful shot right up into the top corner with absolutely no time left on the clock!
There was absolute pandemonium!
The extras went wild!
The players mobbed Greener!
Then something magical happened...those Wacky Raider Guys cleared the bench and joined in the celebration! It was either a spontaneous act or a conscious attempt to get warm, but the sight of them flying over the boards and striding the length of the ice, a little shaky at first until they got their legs back, brought a tear to my eyes. Their blades hadn’t touched the ice in 4 days and it was certainly a moment for them to treasure. They leaped into the pile, high 5’s all way around each trying to outdo the other for maximum airtime!
They couldn’t even hear the director yell cut, they were having so much fun! And the neat part was they got to do it again take after take!
The producer ran out onto the ice to congratulate them. He turned and gave me a big thumbs up. A sincere thumbs up for a job well done. Not one of those phony ones from earlier on. He meant it and I meant it right back at him. I don’t care if he is young, good looking and drives a porsche and has a cool job. I like him and I’ll never forget what he did for the boys with stunt pay.
So that was it. Except for the team picture. Al and the rest of the players had to hustle out of there to catch a plane to play that night. So the Wacky Raider Guys got theirs taken instead with ol’ Richard Dean himself. So now they can tell their grand kids it was them playing and the other guys were on the bench. It seemed appropriate somehow.
I went to the MacGyver office to pick up my paycheque and MacGyver coat. The cheque was so big I considered putting a downpayment on a porsche myself. And the coat looked pretty cool.
I saw the producer over by the meal truck. This was maybe the last time in my life that I’ll be able to eat ahead of the extras. He asked me what I was doing there. I told him I heard they were considering doing a MacGyver spin-off, called the Madcap Adventures of those Wacky Raider Guys! He thought it was a great idea and wanted to purchase the option on it if I would write it for him. Actually, that’s what I was hoping he’d say. In reality he didn’t say anything. I don’t think he got it.
Only 2 weeks later, myself and Harv, one of the Wacky Raider Guys watched it on TV. No wonder they had been in such a hurry. We didn’t even pay any attention to the show. We were just trying to spot ourselves in the background.
My mind wandered back to things that had happened while we were shooting the show. Like the time on George’s initiative, the boys started humming Glory, Glory Hallelujah while MacGyver was giving his Olympic medal inspirational speech. Everybody broke up. The director liked it so much he actually shot one that way. And the time the director called Blair, “babe”. Pretty soon the whole room erupted into a chorus of, “Love you babe.” and “Let’s do lunch babe.”
Blair’s mother phoned all of her relatives, which I’m told are quite a few in Saskatchewan and told them about the show. They even made an announcement in church on Sunday and in the town’s local newspaper. And lo and behold! There he was, in living colour. A closeup of Blair the invisible man, captured on celluloid!
Big Ed watched it with his brother. His mother does a lot of work with the Special Olympics and wound up getting some of the used equipment
Fish got together with about 50 of his alumni buddies. They cheered loudly when they thought they saw him. But it was actually MacGyver. The big screen had been out of focus. There were only a handful of regulars left by the time he made his network debut. But most of them blinked and missed it.
Al, Greener and a few of the boys got together to watch it and I’m told they had afew beers and a good time doing so.
Pierre watched it with his cute Asian girlfriend.
But as they say, the best was yet to come. We were still all waiting for it. The line of dialogue that brought us all together as a team. The one that made us laugh during the bad times. And laugh even harder during the good. The room grew silent. We knew it was coming. We watched very closely. The hotshot actor returns to the team and asks his teamates to take him back. Our eyes leave the 2 actors in the foreground, and focus on George in the background.
His face is red.
He’s biting his lip, trying not to laugh.
He knows it’s coming to. And he’s on camera.
Suddenly the actor, wimp, goon, his helmet 2 sizes too big, offbalance, looks at the hotshot and says it!...
We kill ourselves laughing!...
WHAT A DOG AND PONY SHOW!
( NEXT WEEK. DOUBLE DIP- I DID AN ON CAMERA DOUBLE DIP ON 2 DIFFERENT SHOWS AT THE EXACT SAME TIME- STARGATE/ PAYCHECK STARRING BEN AFFLECK)