Monday, March 13, 2017

"A Double-Edged Sword (Although One Edge Seems Conspicuously Sharper)"

Taking a break from chronicling my personal “down-side” as I, for reasons hidden even to myself, frequently do to chronicling the “down-side” of somebody else.  (Upbeat stories to come.  But I am not promising when.)

What is it like, I wonder, to look in the mirror and see the face of a famous celebrity reflected back to you? 

And that person is not you.

Where did this curious inquiry come from?

I am walking outside somewhere and I see this young woman who is the spitting image of Emma Stone.  Now I know it’s L.A., so it is possible it actually is Emma Stone.  Unlike the cartoon I recently featured, concerning the number of Tilda Swinton spottings in Kansas.

An “Emma Stone” spotting in Santa Monica is less unlikely than a Tilda Swinton spotting in Kansas – I was going to say considerably less unlikely but I figured why rub it in?  (Tilda Swinton texting her agent: “Get me a movie in Kansas; this personal calumny must cease!”)  But let’s say that it wasn’t Emma Stone.

It was an Emma Stone look-alike.  Not a professional look-alike.  Just a genetic one, who has, as yet, not spun this physiological coincidence into a “profit center.”

Although you know something interesting?  At least I’ve noticed this phenomenon.  A not particularly noteworthy personage like, say, Gene Hackman becomes a celebrity and for the first time you notice people around you bearing a remarkable resemblance to Gene Hackman.

“‘Although’ Number Two.”

I confess to being notorious in my family for recognizing celebrities that are not actually them.  I have, in my time, excitedly spotted not Frank Sinatra, not Diana Ross and not “Pee Wee” Herman.  I eventually became so gunshy in my pronouncements that, once in the Chicago airport, I said, “Look!  There’s not Jim Belushi”, and was subsequently informed, “That is Jim Belushi.”      

Still, this, almost certainly, was not Emma Stone.  For one thing, she was not dancing.
Anyway, no matter who it was – or was not – it inspired this blog post, which, in the narrow scheme of things – as opposed to the grand scheme of things – is all that matters.

This “not Emma Stone” sighting reminded me of an actor I once cast for a pilot that was produced but never made it to series called Island Guy.

(Series Premise:  Inspired by the film Being There in which a natural “innocent” character sees the world around him with fresh eyes, I created a show in which an affluent businessman takes an arriving remote Pacific Islander “innocent” into his family after demolishing the Pacific Islander’s outrigger with his yacht.  The network pulled the plug on the project while we were still editing it.  The Official Determination:  “Hated but not seen.”)

While putting the show together, an actor comes in, auditioning for the part of the wealthy businessman’s full-of-beans “right hand” assistant.

And he looks exactly like Michael Keaton.

Not close.  Exactly.  (Even my family would have credited me with “An understandable error.”)

He was funny – in an eerily Keantonestical manner – and we hired him.

And yet…


What were we imagining?  The audience would believe they were seeing the actual Michael Keaton?  (Who had recently “broken out” in Batman and was unavailable for sitcoms?)  The guy’s name wasn’t Michael Keaton, so the show’s credits would have betrayed the subterfuge, if blatant deceit were our intention, which it unequivocally was not.  We had hired him because he was talented.  Although strangely familiar in his approach.

By the way, I might consider revealing this not Michael Keaton actor’s name to you (though I would probably decide not to) but I have no way of retrieving it.  Not from my brain… I mean, I remember things but not everything.  And since the Wikipedia drones draw the line at “pilots that don’t make it”, I am incapable of looking it up.

Wait, what about IMDB?  (“The International Movie – and television – Data Base”?)

That’s like trying to find a word in the dictionary when you have no idea how to spell it.  If you don’t know the name, you can’t find the credits.  (Why did I even bother with that?   Call it a “brief holiday” in my reasoning process.)

I am uncertain if I deliberately asked him, though, to my shame and embarrassment, the curiosity may have accidentally slipped out.  To wit,

“What is it like, resembling a famous guy that everyone knows?”

His response was immediate, as if he had already thought about it.  And, if he had a mirror in his house and multiple experiences where strangers came up to him shouting, “Hey, Batman, can we have your autograph?”, he unquestionably did.

The man’s seriously considered answer was this:

“I love looking like Michael Keaton.  It shows I’m the right track.  I mean, if they liked him, they’ll like me.  Right?”

My response was strategically evasive in its specificity.

“Hey,” I replied, sensitive to his predicament, “we hired you.”

Imagine that torturous conundrum:  You were born looking like somebody famous; those are the cards you were dealt.  And, barring massive cosmetic surgery, there is not a thing you can do about it.  And who knows how that surgery would turn out?  In an imagined Twilight Zone episode you would submit to plastic surgery so you will no longer look like a certain recognizable celebrity.  They unwrap the bandages and your physiognomy is remarkably altered.  You now look like a different recognizable celebrity.

I don’t know.  To me, it’s a curse.  Speaking from pessimism, rather than personal experience.  I myself don’t look like anyone famous.

Wait a minute!

That means the door is wide open.

“Do you have any acting ability?”

Yeah, never mind.  It’s not.


Wendy M. Grossman said...

IMDB is the INTERNET Movies Database. The creation of a couple of students in Cardiff, Wales, who in 1994 thought they'd kick themselves if they didn't commercialize it; then a few years later they sold it to Amazon for a tidy sum.

As for ISLAND GUY and the actor in question: anyone reading this have a copy of that book that lists failed pilots?


JED said...

I think the book Wendy is referring to is Unsold Television Pilots, 1955-1988 by Lee Goldberg but I don't have a copy. There is one left in stock at Amazon, though.

I once went out with a woman whose brother-in-law looked a lot like Burt Reynolds. My "date" didn't really want to go out with me and asked her sister and brother-in-law to come along. It turned out to be a fun time seeing the looks on peoples' faces as they tried to decide if they had just seen Burt Reynolds or not Burt Reynolds. He was used to it and was very good natured about it. He didn't try to fool people. He just seemed to like putting a smile on their face.