Saturday, January 25, 2014

L.A. On The Real, Vol. 1: Christmas In Babylon

Preface: This is a true story. Names have been changed, of course, but nothing else!


     It's December 23, 1996 - I've been in Los Angeles for 9 days by way of the East Coast and a nine-year theatrical career in Chicago. I have a roommate, in these early days, and we don't even have a refrigerator at this time (Note to future settlers: refrigerators don't come standard with L.A. apartments)I'm living in Los Feliz and it's Christmas season, doesn't  remotely feel that way; it's in the '70s weather-wise and most of the folks in the hills are in St. Barts, the East Coast, or the Midwest (quiet as it's kept).  

     A present to myself is that I've finally made the move to Los Angeles and the sky's the limit. I'm unaware that my five-year plan will not come to pass until the fourth year and eleventh month of those 5 years, but that's the hustle: keep at it 100% until you get in.

     The roommate comes in this Dec. 23rd afternoon and says we've scored an invite to a Hollywood producer's house in the hills for Christmas dinner. He seems to not believe our luck. We'd be stupid not to go. 

     My Afro-Scandinavian practicality and logic makes me question the largesse of such an invite. Producer X doesn't know us, but he is inviting us to Christmas dinner. Why? My roommate is older than I am, definitely handsome, and he's an actor, too. Producers like actors for the most part, and even if they don't, it's their business to keep an eye out for them. Maybe this is an in-road for my roomie? I've been invited out of politesse, I'm assuming, but it's still very considerate. I'm reading a Bruce Wagner novel at that moment, so this ought to be interesting.
Christmas with industry vets!

     My buddy/roommate tells me what Producer X told him: Producer X worked at Paramount in the early '70s during the Robert Evans-era, in legal, before segueing into producing with TV movies in the late '70s and mid-'80s. He's semi-retired now, a Black man who's made it in a tough industry that is far less color-blind than most of its consumers could ever wrap their heads around.

      He also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame - feel free to look at it anytime. It's one of those stars you look at and don't know who he is, but he has one. He likes meeting other newcomers and, if he can be of any helpful advice, would like to get to know us and break bread. He's gay, nothing earth-shattering in Los Angeles, where sexuality is either one of three F's: financial, fluid, or fixed (wherever one determines they fall on the Kinsey scale). This is the intel Producer X shares.