3.20.2006

My Date with Tad Hamilton

When you put the word “Professor” in front of your name, you immediately sound like you’ve made some better life choices than those of your typical self-absorbed Hollywood loser. Back in film school, I dreamed of some day returning as the kind of hard-assed yet beloved professor whose legendary class is frequently unavailable because I’m busy mounting a living history play at the Parthenon. Or off on a Romanian movie set. Or researching some vanity project set in the world of Italian wineries. I would reappear from time to time to find the adoring students clamoring for a coveted spot in my classroom, laboring under the delusion that merely basking in my glow will assure them a future in the field. I would be known around campus as "Indiana Julie."

The quarter after I graduated, I did return to teach. Then, in one of the great ironies that is my big Hollywood life, the course was eliminated for lack of funding just before two of my former students won the College Emmy for work produced in my class. Last night I joined them for the black tie ceremony at Culver City Studios, which I suppose felt like some measure of vindication. The glamorous, star-studded to-do was held on the soundstage where they shot parts of Citizen Kane, Gone With The Wind and Bewitched, one presenter noted, without mentioning which parts or which Bewitched, the show or the movie. I pictured Mrs. Kravitz dropping in just as I quietly asked the waiter to leave the whole bottle of red wine right there by my salad plate and scram.

Melissa Rivers hosted the ceremony and refrained from making fun of anyone’s dress, at least not openly. She was actually much more appealing out of the shadow of her mother, bright, authentic and easy with a quip—although she was sporting some big hair and a deep, dark, spray-on tan embedded with flakes of glitter. In the wrong light, she resembled a radioactive cigar store Indian.

I asked actor Josh Duhamel to pose for some pictures with my students. He won his Emmy playing hunky, Euro-trash playboy Leo du Pres on All My Children, so he has a very special place in my heart. I told him I cried for two weeks when they killed him off, which was only a slight exaggeration. “I have a very small life,” I explained. “Very. Small.” He kept telling me I was cute, though he probably didn’t mean this in the sense that his girlfriend Fergie from the Black-Eyed Peas is cute, only that I’m cuter than your typical giddy housewife who accosts him in the shopping mall.

I wouldn’t have been invited to this event at all if not for my friend who’d been a competition judge. We went through film school together, something he managed to parlay into a steady job on AMC’s Sunday morning entertainment show. He was recently promoted to producer, receiving a fat raise allowing him to cover the whole rent with one week’s pay. I plan to pay next month’s rent by selling my car for cash and either leasing a new one or riding the bus. Hey, it was good enough for Quentin Tarantino back in the day.

The thing about Hollywood is things can go either way, any time. One minute you’re a daytime soap star, the next your estranged stepmother pushes your dead, lifeless body into a ravine so you can become a nighttime soap star after a brief, disappointing turn at the box office as Tad Hamilton. If you’re very lucky, at some point in between, you end up with a nice statuette for your trouble. Even if I never work again, two kids have one this morning in part because I was once their teacher.

11 comments:

  1. Fantastic, Julie! Kudos! And I think your luck is about to turn. I, and many others, are rooting for you.

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  2. You are still a teacher. Your new students, (that's me sitting up front, kissing your butt as you walk by) are learning to overcome all obstacles.

    While writing my "Hollywood Epics", and dreaming my own California dream, I am now the producer/writer/director of The Great Canuckian Sitcom with my own little production company (we're even LICENSED, dammit!), and if you thought selling a screenplay was hard, well you oughtta try convincing people in this town that biding their time with this mess when they know there's no money in it is somehow a good investment. Probably never will be a money-maker, but it's gonna get made anyway.

    Every time, I'm ready to throw in the towel, I think of you. As long as you hang in there, I'll hang in here. I'm ready to cast you your own little Oscar, dipped in gold, just for the guts you give me. It would be in transit to you tomorrow, except, well... I haven't paid my rent yet, either. Or the phone bill... Or the dentist... Damn I need a beer.

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  3. chuck Loch10:12 PM

    The dream of your grandmother and your reponse to it brought tears to my eyes too. Best of luck & love. Chuck Loch

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  4. Thank you, Chuck. It's always nice to hear from an old bud.

    And Les I will look for your sitcom very late at night on C-Span.

    Thanks to all for your nice thoughts. JGTH

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  5. Hi I love your blog! I also cried when leo died on AMC! LOL I did get to meet Josh when he was on AMC and hew as just very nice. I didn't realize he is still dating Fergie!

    Good luck to you, you sound very interesting and nice!

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  6. Yeah, I'm an AMC fan, too. :)

    My friend Barbara Stepansky was there winning the Director award...don't know if you got to meet her, but she's a fantastic person.

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  7. Anonymous12:28 AM

    The glazed Indian comment was hilarious.

    As for the award dealio, let's hold our horses for the one they actually give you.

    Any thoughts of writing commentary for publication after attending these things? Word has it they pay folks to write bad jokes for the minions they prop up on stage to act like they are funny.

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  8. AMC morning show - hey, is that a real coffee shop Peter and Peter film in?

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  9. Little validations. Good things.

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  10. Jeanne11:25 AM

    I've been trying to leave a post every day this week. How did the lunch go? Where did the lunch post go???

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  11. Hey, Julie! Great blog. Just a quick correction, Leo's "stepmother" was acctally his mother, Vanessa. If you recall, David Hayward is his half brother. They share different fathers. I, too, cried when he died and always hoped they would bring him back, but obviously that's not going to happen now since Josh is becoming a star and Rebecca Budig left the show. Anyway, you rock!

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