Wednesday, May 24, 2006

With reality TV, everyone can get their fifteen minutes of fame. Your next-door neighbor might be notorious for butchering a ballad on “American Idol”. Or that woman who works at the mall could have competed on “Fear Factor” by eating elephant entrails. Maybe the guy who picks up your garbage got kicked out of the house on “The Real World: Piscataway, NJ”.

So it’s not surprising that as I go by the casting office at my job, I run into people I know. Either from working on the show, or from real life. I can’t tell the difference anymore.

The young people auditioning for the latest reality round-up are often milling around outside the building that houses the editing facilities. When I head over to view various cut stages of the episodes, I may spot a group of pretty starlets, hip-hop homeboys, surfer dude types, etc. -- basically a mishmash of punks who define themselves by Abercrombie, Urban Outfitters or Von Dutch.

Once one of these guys shouted “hey, Mike!” as I walked past. He looked familiar but I couldn’t place his name or where I knew him from. He reminded me that he works at my gym. He knew my name because I have to sign in every time… plus he’s always selling me on continued membership: “Did you know we got a great deal for Flag Day? ‘Banner’ savings on your fitness!”

He started grilling me with questions about the show he was auditioning for, but I couldn’t offer any advice. That wasn’t my program, and, besides, you think I watch this crapola? I just work here. But it was great to run into him, and I told him to break a leg with the casting call. As I started to head inside, he said, “so, will I see you again soon?”

“Well, I’m gonna be a while,” I said. I told him I wouldn’t be back outside again for at least an hour and I certainly hoped they didn’t keep him waiting that long.

“No,” he said. “At the gym.”

Dammit -- yeah, it had been too long. Thanks for the guilt trip, dude. Didn’t I tell you to break a leg?

Another time I saw a guy sitting there I recognized. He wouldn’t have known me, but without even thinking about it, I said, “Hey, it’s the Hebrew Hammer!”

He had been on our show and I felt like I knew him because I had watched footage of the guy over and over again. His entire schtick was that he was Jewish and he played it to the hilt. Of course, his self-proclaimed title was hardly original, and when he first introduced himself by that name and made jokes about a girl being cute but not kosher, I shook my head -- this Schlomo Dorkstein is what we get representing the Tribe?

Sorry to say it, but the non-goy wasn’t just geeky because he was on the scrawny side or that he had braces. I think it was that he was so marble-mouthed.

I can’t stand mumblers. If you don’t have a language problem or a speech impediment or are on some prescribed mind-altering meds, you have no excuse for slurring your words. Enunciate, dammit, or you’ll come across as uneducated or lazy. Or as in his case, insecure.

But in person, the Hebrew Hammer spoke clearly. Maybe he felt more comfortable without the cameras and lights in his face. Or perhaps he had gained some confidence after getting his braces off. Also, he told me he was auditioning for what would be his third reality show this year.

I’m guessing he got addicted to this. Wanted to extend his fifteen minutes to forty-five, or even a full hour.

He asked me how his clip on our show came across. And honestly, it looked good. The scene in which he got rejected by the “non-kosher” girl was pretty damn funny. Gotta give him credit -- he was proud of his schmendrickness. So I didn’t feel so bad telling him the voice-over line I wrote. I had tried out various VOs with the execs and the network until I got one approved.

Let’s see… there was:

The Hebrew Hammer's chances got circumcised.
The Hebrew Hammer won’t get to ram her.
The Hebrew Hammer won’t get to nail her.
The Hebrew Hammer got sent back to the toolbox.

And finally:

For the Hebrew Hammer, it wasn’t ‘Hava Negila’ but ‘Hasta la vista’.


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