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20 Years from California


I’ve only been to California once. Granted, it was for three months, but that was in 2003 and I haven’t been back since. I loved LA. San Diego, too. I know I would still love it there. I have a few good excuses for not being back (those were the before times, before kids, that is) but that’s not what this is about.

I rarely mention the summer as a 21 year old that I spent taking one college class and interning at a major studio office and working on two movies. Shows, I remember the crew calling them, even though they were definitely films (Starsky & Hutch and Bad Santa). I think about this time in my life a lot. Possibly because it was suppose to confirm my plan to Make It Big in Hollywood, when ultimately it turned me off completely. But again, I still think about it, because I had a good time that was unlike any other time since then.

I remember 5am set calls being a good thing because the 101 was pretty quiet at that time. I blasted the new Radiohead album in my beige station wagon, which barely made it across the Rockies. I remember being asked to bring Lauren Graham’s car to the set at the end of the day and being very happy that she had Abbey Road in her CD player (oh I miss cars from 2000). I remember how nice everyone was, and how how authentic it felt (even if it wasn’t always the case). I remember June gloom, and the overcast sky that still managed to give me a raging sunburn after a day in Malibu.

I remember how weird Catalina seemed, how weird everything seemed actually, but not in a bad way. I remember feeling physically ruined by 16 hour days on my feet, wondering how people work these jobs for 20+ years. I was 21 and in great shape. I ate free donuts from Krispy Kreme (which I had never been to, having been raised on the east coast, land of Dunkin). I watched four different fireworks shows on July 4th from the pool deck at my apartment complex. I drove up and down Mulholland Drive. I read scripts, so many scripts, only one of which turned in to an actual movie.

I can’t even find digital pics from this era. I had a crappy point and shoot and one 32mb memory card, so I had to keep deleting photos if I wanted to take any new ones. I am, however, immortalized in the final shot of the film Bad Santa where I was asked to drive my ridiculously uncool car through the shot. Because I was “on camera” they had to pay me, and I believe that $130 was the only money I made all summer.

I have dozens of fun celebrity interaction stories, from Snoop Dogg to Juliette Lewis. I got laughed at for holding a door for Todd Phillips (who wore some dope dad shoes). I drove Vince Vaughn to set in a golf cart and only then realized how giant he is. I had to tell Owen Wilson to eat pizza somewhere else. I stood a few feet away from Jerry Stiller one day in complete awe, as he was visiting the set to watch his kid Ben (who was always super kind). It was so surreal.

And now I’m far enough away from that (20 years!) to barely believe that it happened. There was no Facebook. No smartphones. I got across the country twice with a Rand McNally guide and printed pages from Mapquest. I texted for the first time, in LA. I didn’t even know my phone could text. It felt like another planet.

I realize this makes me sound extremely old, and maybe I am. But it’s true, every word. And honestly, if I don’t write it down now, it’s almost like it didn’t happen at all.