It's March 8, still winter here, but closer to spring on a daily basis. The snows come, the snows go, the frost comes and goes, the sun comes out and hopefully stays... But soon enough, give or take another 8 weeks, more hints of spring will be in the air.
For this blogger, spring in Toronto does not just mean: no snow boots, lightweight jackets, basketball in the driveway; laundry hanging on the outside wash line; playing in the park with my kids. Spring in Toronto means that little plastic cones can be found in neighborhoods throughout the city and its outskirts. These little plastic cones are markers; they shout "Step right up this way. Movie production in progress." Little plastic cones are associated with "Hollywood North"; "Hollywood North" refers to Toronto, a center for movie-making; and movie-making is associated with Pearl having stars in her eyes.
Can't help it -- I've always been fascinated by celebritydom and life beneath that great big Hollywood sign. And no, it's not because I especially care to move and mingle with those same people who get to walk the red carpet on Emmy Award Night or Oscar Night. It's because I want to see these people on a human level -- I want to say hi and see if they return the greeting, perhaps stop to chat. I want to know what makes them tick, what attributes (hidden or displayed) make them as common as you or I.
Now I must momentarily interrupt my ramblings with a personal message to a fairly new friend of mine, a friend who takes the time from a very busy personal and business schedule to read Pearlies of Wisdom. A friend who lives in L.A. and works in "the industry." Yes, I have stars in my eyes, but that is certainly not why I'm your friend. Knowing you does not get me closer to Hollywood, nor do I want to be closer to Hollywood. I like knowing that not everything in Hollywood is artificial, based on facades and masquerades. Life in Hollywood can be gritty, can keep you grounded, can bring to the forefront very human qualities. I could say of myself, "Enquiring minds want to know..." but it's certainly not gossip mill fodder that I want to know; I do not want to know what it's like to work with this celebrity or that celebrity; I do not want to know what these celebrities' home exteriors are like, or which designer boutiques they shop at. I would, however, like to know if these celebrities are decent people, moral people...even everyday kind of people when not working on a television or movie deal.
Okay, now back to your regularly scheduled program...
Okay, so we're up to Toronto, to spring in Toronto, to movie making in spring in Toronto, to stars in Pearl's eyes -- sound about right? Anyhow, I was probably in my late teens when I first realized what a movie trailer looked like, and once I first realized their presence around town, I always kept my eyes open, especially when I was downtown. If I was with a friend, she'd have to grab me by the arm, so I wouldn't make any side trips down a back street when I'd spot several rental trucks and long trailers with little windows in them that signified change rooms for the actors. My friends knew that if they didn't grab me, I was a goner...!
While on a hiatus -- see, I even know the lingo! -- from jury duty some years ago, I was walking in an area, saw some of these trailers...and sort of hovered. And to my luck, along came Robert Urich, jogging past and smiling at me.
Another time, I was with friends at a health juice bar downtown, sitting at an old-fashioned counter on swivel seats, when I looked around the room...and spotted Matthew Broderick sitting two stools away from me. I called over the owner of the place, and whispered, "Is that Matthew Broderick?" He said yes, and told me that Matthew was in the place almost every night after filming -- the movie "The Freshman" with Marlon Brando. I asked him if he wouldn't mind asking Matthew if I could approach him for an autograph -- see I was polite. My insides were yelling, "Just go, just go and don't ask anybody else," but my decent side was pacifying me and saying, "Be menschlich. Maybe he doesn't want to be intruded upon." Well, I got the green light to approach Matthew, and two minutes later, actor Bruno Kirby, also in "The Freshman" came along and sat on the other side of Matthew, so I got to converse with both, leaving my girlfriends to ogle and think how "brave" I was. This is how brave I was -- I asked Matthew, "So what's it like working with the big guy?" Only after the words escaped, I realized how they must've sounded -- I was implying how was it to work with such a well-known actor, with a lot of movie history behind him. But it was probably coming across as "What's it like to work with that big, flabby, out of shape, no longer good-looking actor?"
I've met a couple other, lesser known celebrities while they were filming around the city. Yes, they were polite enough...so they passed my simple test and got a gold star beside their names, when they signed autographs for me. Looking back, I wonder where those autographs have gone. What was seemingly so important at that moment in time is a lost scrap of paper today.
Yes, I still look for those orange cones around the city, but learned from experience last year that even orange cones don't always mean what they say. My work window looks out onto a parking lot, and last summer we watched a buzz of activity one afternoon. Lots of cars coming and going, trucks parking, equipment being taken out from the trucks and transferred into the on-site garage. My mind started churning and wondering, "What movie are they filming? I wonder who's in it." I couldn't wait until the end of the workday.
I hurried across the parking lot, and went up to one of the guys standing at the back of the truck, a truck that obviously held wardrobe changes. I asked him, "So what movie is being filmed? Which great actor is there in the garage?"
I received a lopsided grin in return. "We're not shooting a movie. It's a commercial. A soup commercial."
Uh, I think I won't be so quick to jump to conclusions anymore when I see "movie trucks". But I will still be keeping my eyes open for those orange cones...