Issue: 8.07
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Hi Gang, and greetings from Hollywood!

Shalom, Gang. 

Sorry, but this month’s column is straight from the kvetch’s corner! Oy, how the business has changed!  

Month before last I mentioned that I was coming out of retirement. Well, not only are we preparing a new tour as I said, but we also last week put the finishing touches on a screenplay we hope to pitch next month. Now, when I was a callow pisher, (back when the earth’s crust was beginning to cool,) making a pitch was gornisht. You’d call the union, and find out who the agent representing the person to whom you want to make your presentation to is, and that was pretty much it. Maybe you’d have to wait for a minute or two while they put you on hold to look up the information on the microfilm. 

But, thanks to modern technology, (and that alta mamzer, Bill Gates,) computerized systems have simplified this to the point of almost driving me back into retirement. 

First, when I called S.A.G. (the Screen Actor’s Guild, for you neophytes,) a computer answers with an annoyingly cheerful voice and proceeds to tell me all the virtues of SAG, (a total load of propaganda to be sure,) then tells me to listen carefully to the menu and press the appropriate button when I hear what I want. Okay, sounds simple enough until one discovers that the entire union has reorganized and that the ‘agency’, (the division that tells you who so-and-so’s agent is,) is now the ‘artist’s referral division’. Mind you, it took me five erroneous buttons before I was able to find the right one. Then, the computer tells me that all the representatives are busy, and my call will be answered in turn. The wait time is approximately…. (a loud crackle…) “Have you discovered S.A.G?” And, the propaganda spiel begins again. 

All told, the phone call that used to take me three minutes took me twenty. I got the artist’s agent’s phone number, but their system was on the fritz, and they couldn’t give me the name. Oh, and in case you’re wondering how much it costs to join SAG, it’s about fifteen hundred dollars initially, then a sliding percentage of what you make off of signatory acting roles. To join, you have to have a job offer, and to get a job offer you have to me a member of SAG. Nu? That’s right, the old chicken or the egg paradox in Technicolor. Who’d have thought that Melissa Gilbert would ever leave the Little House just to come to Hollywood, become president of the Guild, and yentz up the most powerful theatrical union in history? Oy, if Mike Landen were still alive, he’d take her out behind the woodpile and tan her hide! Meanwhile, Paul and I have decided to join the American Guild of Variety Artists instead. At least with them you get to talk to real people! 

Then, there was the great rat debate. You see, years ago, when I was getting ready to go onstage, I got trapped in my dressing room and when they announced me, the spotlight illuminated an empty stage. The stage manager went out finally and said, “Mr. Corleone is out back walking his pet rat.”, an appropriate comment, since I do insult comedy. Anyway, while planning my ‘comeback’, since my son John raises and trains rats for TV and films, we decided to take the gag a step further and actually have me walk out on stage with a rat on a gold leash and in a rhinestone harness. Now mind you, in the pictures we used for the press kit, posters, etc., you can clearly see Ben, the rat, perched on my shoulder. But when the venue we’re supposed to open the new act at in August realized that Ben was a live rodent, the hotel developed apoplexy en masse. They tell me I have to have a vet sign off on the poor creature.

Okay, so I take Ben to our Vet of twenty some odd years. Dr. Miller takes one look at Ben and says, “ How the *^#^ do I know if the rat’s healthy? Blood tests for dogs and cats we’ve got. Can you use one of your cats?” No, I tell him, it has to be the rat. So, he runs an obscure set of tests used for ferrets. Needless to say, Ben is completely healthy, (except for the fact that he’s a chazzer,) at least by ferret standards. So, I take the certificate back to the hotel. Now, they say, they need several certified copies for the various entities that might take issue with a rat being in the wings. So, back to Vegas, (a ninety-minute drive each way,) to get five more copies. At three bucks a gallon for gas, I’m beginning to get fardrey. But, I figure this should sort everything out, so I do it. Oy, was I wrong! Seems the A.S.P.C.A isn’t satisfied with Dr. Miller’s report. Not only do they insist on having their own doctors check Ben out, they also want to inspect his travel cage and the cage we use on stage for him. They also want to make sure the rhinestone harness is secure and won’t hurt him. I had to leave him with them for two days, and it took three large pieces of shrimp scampi to make Ben forgive me for putting him through the ordeal. 

But I’m looking on the bright side…Being a minor, (Ben is just a year old,) I have legal jurisdiction. God help me when he turns eighteen and wants to sign with William Morris!

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