Project Greenlight: I got the Blues, Clu
Damn, The John Gulager Low Self Esteem Curse is contagious. I’m trying my best to fight it myself – but I’m finding it rather difficult. Can’t… Help… It… This recap is going to suck. I’m just not a good writer. I get embarrassed when I read stuff I’ve written. Sigh… It’s hopeless. If Greenlight were on a major network, the term “Gulager” would have entered the national lexicon by now, as in, “Bob, your annual report was good – don’t get all Gulager on me now,” or, “Timmy if you don’t stop your crying I’m going to go Gulager alone!” Although anything with “Gulager” in it would never have an exclamation point afterwards. The guy has never said a statement in his life that warrants such punctuation.
So with bottles absinthe and pills in hand, I fired up the TiVo to see what depressing things first time director John Gulager would pummel us with this week. The episode began with a 5:30 AM call time for Day 8 of Feast’s filming. The pre-dawn start time was so Gulager could rehearse a bit with his actors for once. In the first scene to be shot, Beer Guy (Judah Friedlander of, um, Project Greenlight fame) was to be doused with the movie monster’s projectile vomit. Thus fulfilling reality show rule # 11; Thy show must air at least one barf or pee scene. Poor Judah was the same guy who had the pleasure of shooting maggots from his nose last week. The director and crew took great pleasure in knocking the esteemed Mr. Friedlander off his feet with the voluminous pressure hose spray of green goo. Yet, even when he’s laughing, Gulager looks like he’s about to cry. What a sap. During the shooting, Friedlander came up with some lines that went something like, “Aaaaaahhhh… Uuuggghhhh… Eeeeaaaahhh!” At this, co-star Navi Rawat gushed, “Judah’s ad libs were brilliant!” Yes folks, that is the level of cinematic genius we are dealing with here.
During this nonsense, Chris F’n Moore showed up to review some footage. Chris f’n liked what he f’n saw, mother f’er. Unfortunately, script supervisor Harri James did not. She (yes, Harri is a she and she could pass for Project Runway’s superbitch, Wendy Pepper) lamented that the page counts were wrong as well as some other esoteric gobbledeegook that no one cares about. My use of the verb “lamented” was purposeful, for as you may have guessed, she was a close personal friend of Gulager. And if you are his friend, you certainly lament a lot. First assistant director Stephen Maloney was also grousing and complaining – about Harri. He was also beginning to take too much control over the scenes and confusing the actors – who to listen to? Experienced 1st AD Stephen who kinda sucks or 1st time director Gulager who totally sucks? (This is called foreshadowing, by the way.)
As the show went to commercial, I realized that all we ever see of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon anymore are on these bumpers. Can’t they at least show up and lend some A-list support to the struggling cast? Sheesh, what a couple of pricks. Then again, some of the B-list (as opposed to the C and D folks) like Henry Rollins, Jason Mewes, and Balthazar Getty are only seen silently stirring in the background once in a while. Whatsa matter Rollins, afraid you’re destroying any credibility you had for your show? (Seriously, click on the link and listen to his short little auto-loaded rant and then think about him being in Feast. “Irony. I-r-o-n-y, irony.”
By now, those involved were starting to feel like poking their eyes out rather than watching the dailies. Taking metaphor to new heights, Friedlander did just that. Actually, the monster did it for him, but in a televised workman’s comp claim, FX guy Gary Tunnicliffe really did gouge a giant fake claw into the poor actor’s eye. Christ… Maggots up the nose, knocked down by vomit, eye nearly gouged out; and all for this crappy movie. Does he even have an agent?
Speaking of scenes going wrong, lovely Jenny Wade was the next victim of the special effect department. Gulager sheepishly mumbled something to her about her scene being, “kinda squirting a little thing.” 2 minutes later and covered with fake blood, Jenny stormed off to go cry in her trailer. Forced into dealing with someone else’s problems for once, Gulager trundled off to try and soothe things over. This ought to go well… Looking like a T. Rex with his stubby little arms bouncing in front of his rotund torso, Gulager stammered and stuttered about how, “the thing is, the thing is, um, err, it won’t happen again, y’know?” His stubby little sausage fingers picked at his jacket and his eyes averted to the ground. Yup, there went the first swig of booze into my gut. This guy is killing me.
Back on the set, hi jinx were afoot. Ah, the ol’ peanut throwing ruse. Throw a peanut, and then look innocent. The guilty party was 1st AD Stephen Maloney and his victim was the hypertensive script supervisor, Harri. Already on edge, this was the last straw – and she freaked out. Adding fuel to the fire, the scene they were filming was incongruous as the character Hot Wheels was seen breaking a rocks glass instead of the pint glass he had in the previous scene. Whose fault was it? Who knows, but Harri and Stephen really went at each other’s throats. Gulager sulked into the shadows and ate an ice cream sundae. Yup, time for some pills.
That argument led to Harri’s demise, as she was fired that night by Dimension films. (It could be said that by arguing, she committed “Harri Kari”, but that would be lame.) As mentioned, she was one of John’s handpicked friends so he was devastated. Well, ok, he was devastated long before this happened but I can’t think of a word that goes beyond devastated. With his gravelly monotone, Gulager droned to her, “You were an ally on the set. I wanna have my little people to make my little movies. My little actors, my little script supervisor. Y’know?” Hey, if anything, the Little People of America’s Lollipop Actors Guild now know where to get jobs. I was about to go for a good swig of booze, but he wasn’t done yet. “Uhhhhhh, I wish I wouldn’t have gotten people I know involved. Your heart can break or get smashed or discarded. There’s gonna be pain.” Glug, glug, glug, down the hatch.
But really, what are the chances another of John’s handpicked cast or crew would have problems? Um, 100%? Clu, John’s dad who was playing the role of the crusty old bartender, misheard the next day’s call time and was found slumped over in a chair at 5:30 AM. He had been there since 4 and he was grumpy. Clu comes from the generation of professional studio actors and he takes his craft seriously. He enunciates in that old school Hepburnish vernacular and he represents a dying breed in Hollywood. After whining that he was “too old” to pull off a simple stunt, he and John discussed some viable alternatives. 1st AD Stephen interrupted to remind John that they had work to do but was met with a harsh reprimand from Clu; “Actor and director are working right now! Don’t be so discourteous!” He kind of sounds like that unfunny Jon Lovitz SNL “I’m an ACTorrr” character. Stephen, with a funny accent of his own, ignored the old fart and continued to bother John. Hoo boy. Clu spouted off in a rage, channeling a little Salt n’ Pepa and a little Satan, “We’re trying to work this motherf*cker out! Stop f*cking with the actors the director, GODDAMNIT! What the f*ck is the matter with you?!” He continued, “F*ck you I won’t do whatchya tell me… F*ck you I won’t do whatchya tell me!” Geeze, I don’t know what I’d do if my pops went off like that in front of me – but I know I’d at least say something. John Gulager? Dropped his head, slumped his shoulders, and shuffled off to a corner to check for lint in his pockets.
With such excitement on set, it was no wonder they were nowhere near “making their day.” The director of photography expressed his concern over a scene’s blocking and John, already fired up from his dad’s outburst, shot back the following brutal retort: “Gotcha Mr. Smartypants, heh heh heh.” He’s lucky Clu didn’t hear his totally pussy insult – I think he’d have meted out a serious beat down right there. And no one would have stopped him either – least of all John himself.
With all hopes of making the day now gone, tensions on set were higher than ever. As expected, John withdrew into his little pathetic passive aggressive world of depression and repeatedly mumbled to the crew, “Let’s just do it your way. It doesn’t matter what I think.” God, he’s like Rain Man when he gets all repetitively mopey and mumbly. The others were legitimately trying to get his input on the scene but he was beyond rational reason. “I don’t care. It’s your movie. Just handle it.” He is the biggest 3 year old I’ve ever seen. And in case we forgot from last week, he reminded us yet again, “I just get bummed out.” Yeah, so do I, John – every time you open your mouth. Speaking of open mouths, it was time to dump the whole bottle of pills into mine.
With half the bottle of absinthe left and my head spinning, I was eager to get to the end of the show. Surely they’d end on an upbeat note this week. Nope, not while John Gulager is still alive. When asked how his Day 14 went he replied, “It’s f’ed.” Ahhh, yes. You win an incredible prize and are partaking in a dream and you end each day with all the hope of Old Yeller. As many people do, John apparently feeds his depression fatty diner food so he gathered with his wife Diane and his dad, for some late night bacon and donuts. Maybe being around friends and family will cheer him (and me) up. “I’m pretty humiliated.”
Diane countered, “It’s a job, John.”
“I’m just a buffoon. I just get embarrassed,” he repeated as bacon grease dribbled down his neck fat. And what was I to do? With absinthe dribbling down MY chin, an empty bottle of pills, and a new-found vision of what it must be like to feel totally worthless, I went down to my basement and cried.
Why, John, why?