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2:06 pm - Weds 9/24/03
It's Not TV. It's HBO

It's Not TV. It's HBO.
Mon 9/24/03 (6:49 a.m.)

I'm probably in a big club here, but I don't "get" Carson Daly. I guess he's good-looking, but if so, it's in a bland, kind of "doughy" way. He has no discernable talent I've picked up on, he doesn't seem particularly intelligent or witty or charismatic, and I just can't figure out why this piece of nothing has had a career at all, let alone his own talk show.

What am I missing here...?

Maybe his very "ordinary-ness" is the appeal. Maybe he's the "Dick Clark" of his age, a blandly good-looking character who poses no threat to anyone on any level (Though Dick Clark did have that "eternal youth" thing going on for about 50 or 60 years, which I started to find annoying; I mean, not that I was ever jealous or anything, but not everyone has access to a steady supply of sacrificial virgins).

Anyway, I don't get it. To my way of thinking, if you aren't any more interesting or funny or compelling than the guy down the street, why am I watching you?

_________________________

While at Mark and Jane's over my vacation, I had the opportunity to watch a couple episodes of Queer Eye For The Straight Guy.

I essentially gave up on "reality tv" years ago, after watching the first seasons of Survivor and Big Brother (Prior to those shows, I was a pretty big fan of The Real World on MTV).

And the first season of Survivor and Big Brother played up the dilemma of "reality tv" for me. With Survivor, I ended up actively pissed that Richard Hatch, the "bad guy" of the piece, walked off with the big prize. And on Big Brother, everyone was basically so "nice" they didn't really want to play what was essentially a mean-spirited game...and while it renewed my faith in humanity somewhat, it was also the most boring thing I'd ever seen on tv.

Then it seemed like the shows became very formulaic, with the only "point" to any of them being for the viewing audience to point and laugh and feel superior to the shallow, stupid, greedy people they were seeing on screen ("Real" people who were, essentially, made into one-dimensional "characters" by the editing and contrivances of the show). I was responding to the "mean-spiritedness" of it all, sure, but also to the feeling that it was pretty much all the same show (I'm not immune to the lure of "trash television", but by the same token, I'm very resistant to being shown the same thing over and over again. I'll watch something once, maybe twice, but if I get the idea I've seen all there is to see and you don't have anything new to show me, I won't be around for a third viewing).

I had heard about "Queer Eye", of course, but didn't think it sounded very interesting. "What's so fascinating about five gay guys doing a makeover on a sloppy straight guy?", I thought to myself. I assumed that what they'd be doing, basically, would be imposing some sort of "gay look" on the guy, a look he wouldn't really be comfortable with, and that wouldn't "stick" five minutes after the cameras got shut off. So really, what would be the point?

But I was happily surprised. The "Fab Five" seem like good guys, and while they do rip a little bit on the fashion cluelessness of the straight guy, it seems obvious that it's totally in good fun, and that they have an actual stake in making him look good. And I was impressed that they don't just make the guy "look gay", or impose something on him that he's not really comfortable or happy with, but rather, tailor his decor and "look" to his particular appearance and sensibilities. It's like they basically say, "How would you live, and what would you look like, if you actually made some choices, and didn't just let things go?", and then help the guy make it happen.

There's a totally positive vibe to it. I saw three episodes, and felt good at the end of each one (As opposed to the average reality show, which leaves me just that much more depressed about humanity than when I started).

_________________________

(12:40 p.m.)

Shortly after 8:00 this morning, I got a surprise call from HBO (I say "surprise" because this was the third time I'd called them to find out when the commercial would air, so I didn't really expect a response at this point).

The HBO guy (He told me his name, but I forgot it. Pretty crappy "networking" on my part), said the commercial would be airing in January, but that I "wasn't going to like it". It's being edited radically–by HBO--and apparently, it's mostly my stuff that's getting the axe.

The entire opening is cut–HBO Guy called it a "prologue"–in favor of a two-line voiceover intro, and even my stuff at the end is being editied with lines from other actors in the spot. So I don't know how much of me is actually left, but HBO Guy suggested that if I was looking for something to send out to people, this wasn't going to be the thing.

Ouch!

He basically told me that HBO had had a strained relationship with Biscuit (The film company that shot the spot), but in the end, decided to let them do the commercial "their way". But when HBO then received the completed spot, it was too long, it wasn' t that funny, and there was too much "watercooler" and not enough "HBO".

He told me they were still working on their cut of the commercial, but I could call him back in a few weeks, I guess if I want to get a copy of the commercial as it's actually going to air.

(I thought the guy was very nice, by the way. He said he would have called me sooner, but things were still in flux at that point, and to be honest, he was uncomfortable with having to tell me the disappointing news. He told me it had nothing to do with my work in the spot–Of course, if you know me, you know I don't believe that–and I appreciated his taking the time to tell me what was going on, since he didn't actually have to tell me anything. Or even return my call, for that matter.)

I'm tremendously disappointed, and embarrassed, and having a hard time not taking it personally, in spite of whatever was or wasn't going on between HBO and Biscuit.

I told everyone, and I do mean "everyone", that I was the "star" of the spot. That was the biggest thrill of having gotten the spot, that I was being trusted to do the "heavy lifting". But live and learn; In the future, I'm not going to run around bragging, "performing" the spot for anyone who'll listen, cause I just did that, and now I feel like a fucking idiot. I'll just tell people "I shot it, I don't know how they'll cut it, but I'll let you know when it airs". Obviously, there's no point in the proceedings where you can breathe easy with this shit (Even after a commercial airs, they can edit it down further. You see it happen all the time).

Now I don't know what, if anything, to do with the tape Biscuit sent me. I don't really want to spend money to see it, not at this point–It would just be painful-- and I don't even know if it would be worth sending out (HBO wasn't sold on it, so why would anyone else be?). But I guess I should have a copy, in the event anyone asks me if I have any "tape".

The thing I think is interesting is that I kind of had a sense the spot was "off" somehow. I said, over and over again, "The thing is, I've never seen a spot like this on HBO. Their promos always seem to be selling the specific programming, not just generically saying how great HBO is".

I was also aware that the commercial seemed really long, but rationalized it by saying "It's not tv. It's HBO. I guess they can run as long a promo as they want."

Anyway...This feels like a blow, no two ways about it, but at least at this point I'm still in the commercial somewhere, and it's still actually going to air (I hope!). And all that aside, I made money acting, and I had a nice day on an actual Hollywood commercial set.

Still sucks though...

 

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