Check out David Isaacs’ guest entry from Monday.
Okay. Now that you’re up to speed…
Note: I am not naming the actors involved. My prerogative. Nor will I deny or confirm the many conjectures I know are coming. Sorry, I'm taking the high road.
We were showrunners of this particular train wreck and were down on the stage for a runthrough. One of the cast members, a lovely person, innocently did something the star objected to. So the star stopped the runthrough and in front of everybody just tore this poor individual a new asshole. It was completely uncalled for and reprehensible. The actor was completely mortified. And again, he did nothing wrong. You can imagine how uncomfortable this was to witness first hand. An arctic breeze goes up my sphincter just thinking about it. Had this happened today I would have stepped in and stopped it, even if it meant facing the wrath of the star myself. But I was younger and more inexperienced. (This is why you hire seasoned pros to run network television series.)
So I just seethed. The star’s behavior had been horrible for quite some time, but ripping into a fellow cast member was, for me, the final straw.
When the runthrough was over we returned to the room. The star had given us these leather script binders for Christmas (as if that was on anyone's wish list to Santa –a stupid leather binder with the star’s name on it – I would have rather received a stocking of coal). And I don’t know what possessed me, but I grabbed that binder and just tore it in half. (It felt great, by the way.) At the time I was doing it I had no idea this was a feat of Herculean strength. I might as well have been ripping a sheet of construction paper. Even after I did it (and the writing staff was hiding behind chairs) it didn’t seem like any big deal.
My partner wisely decided that I should have the night off. Rewrites on that show routinely lasted until 3 or 4 in the morning. But clearly, I was not going to be of much help that night.
I should mention that a few weeks later a similar incident involving the star so outraged David that he flipped over our giant heavy wooden conference table. Scripts and pens and dishes of m & m’s all went flying. I sent him home that night.
I should also mention that in all the many years we’ve either been on staff or run shows, those are the only two incidents of meltdowns that we’ve ever had. But then again, we never worked for Roseanne.
Final thought: Ripping that binder is not something I’m particularly proud of (which is why I rarely bring it up). And even though it’s easy to get very emotionally attached to a project, creative issues should not be cause for losing your mind. But people treating other people terribly and getting away with it because they can – that’s what gets my adrenaline a’pumpin’.
And now for my next trick…