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Searching for Gambit – By Jack

Actually Ice Man was harder to find. But everyone wanted Gambit more.

 

When I was 10 years old, I was on a manhunt for Gambit. Part Toy Biz’s second series of X-Men action figures (pictured below.)

A roster of the dream.

A roster of the dream.

You could walk into any Toys ‘R’ Us, KB Toys, or Lone Star Comics and see on the shelf any of one those beloved action figures. Except Gambit (and Iceman, but his toy was stupid.) You see, much like the De Beers diamond cartel, toy companies intentionally withhold certain figures to create a demand. So when a box of X-Men figures shipped, its contents included plenty of Banshees, Forges, Saurons, and the three different versions of Wolverine. But the a Gambit figure might be only one per box, or even none at all.

So in order to conduct my manhunt, I called previously listed toy stores everyday for about 6 months. To this day I still have the Toys ‘R’ Us number memorized. Even though it’s been closed for about 10 years. My phone call went something like this.

Toys’R’Us Automated Phone: Thank you for calling Toys R Us. We are conveniently located on 5505 Arapaho Road. Across from the Preston Wood mall. Our hours today are from 9 am to 10 pm.  If you need help with–

Little Jack presses 0.

Toys’R’Us Representative: Thank you for calling Toys’R’Us how can I help you?

Little Jack: Um..I was wondering if you’ve gotten your shipment in for the day.

Toys’R’Us Representative: Is this Jack?

Little Jack: Yes.

Toys’R’Us Representative: What is it you’re looking for again? Power Rangers?

Little Jack: No, I’m looking for any shipments of the X-Men Series 2 action figures.

Toys’R’Us Representative: Hold on, let me check.

2-5 minutes later. 

Toys’R’Us Representative: We did, but didn’t get any Gambits.

And that’s what I did with my childhood when I wasn’t playing video games.

So why am I telling you about this? Well I’ve been out of a job for a few months now.  I’ll spare you the details of my rise and fall from the reality TV world, my adventures of the writers’ room of an unnamed but super mega awesome scripted TV show, and finally my depressing return to the restaurant frontier. I decided once and for all to do what it takes to get the office Production Assistant job that is so coveted by any and all aspiring TV writers.

Between Deadline, Below the Line, Che Equis’s Temp Diaries, and a few secret tracking boards, I’ve managed to compile a list of television pilots currently in either development or production. (See below).

Spreadsheet

This is just a sample of the document in my Google Drive. In actuality it spans over 100 pilots. And each day I update the list’s phone numbers, status, and then scan for who I have slated to contact for the day. Then I call.

Here’s how it goes down.

Production Intern/Assistant: Something Something Productions.

Adult Jack: Hi, I was calling to see if the production company of [insert show name] pilot has been set up yet.

Production Intern/Assistant: Oh I uh…I don’t think so. Try calling back in a month. (They always say a month).

Not the best answer in the world, but at least you can try them again.

or

Production Intern/Assistant: Yeah, here’s the production office number.

This is actually bad, because most likely if the production office is set up, then it is staffed up too. But still worth a shot.

or

Production Intern/Assistant: No not quite yet. Probably next week though.

That’s the answer you want!

Adult Jack: Great! Has a line producer or production coordinator been hired for the project.

Production Intern/Assistant: Yeah, actually.

Adult Jack: Wonderful. Might I be able to forward my resume to them for staffing?

And it goes from there. Then you have to check back.

So as you can see, I can’t help but feel the parallel between my adulthood and childhood. It’s a slug, but you gotta do it.  Sad fact: You know how I finally got the Gambit toy? My friend found one for me. Which sadly, despite my best efforts, is probably what I am going to need to actually land the job.

—Jack out.

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Posted by on February 25, 2014 in By Jack, Writing

 

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Onward and Upward Higher! — By Jack

…Continued from the post below. “What do you mean ‘you don’t talk to me that way’? I’m your fuckin’ CEO!” Max’s yell could be heard from his office, echoing through the bullpen. Donald stepped out of his office out into the open. He was going to make a show of it.

“You don’t call my assistants ‘your bitches’, you don’t call my sound mixers ‘incompetent fuck wads’ and you don’t call me–” Donald announced as if he were nailing a reformation on to the post schedule’s cork board.

Max stomped out of his office like a bully who just received a weggie from a chess club champion. He teetered on the edge of cool composure in the face of anger and going atomic. Then he stared Donald down which shut him up mid sentence. He was literally face to face. Noses no more than an inch away from one another.

Donald was a husky man, not quite thick enough to be called fat. Long gray curly hair that went down his back, topped off with a baseball cap. Mutton chops and a bushy mustache. He wore jeans, sneakers and a Spurs jersey. He was a man who had been bullied before, but couldn’t resist fighting back. Max on the other hand was never used to the push back. It dumbfounded and infuriated him. He had an Ari Gold style to match the temperament. Finely pressed silk-like khakis, French cuffed dark red shirt, a class ring on one hand, a Rolex on the other. And always perfectly trimmed hair. Everyday it looked like he walked in with a fresh haircut.

Max pulled away. “You know what? I was wrong. You’re not a shit stain. You’re a monkey. You don’t think I haven’t talked to people. Your crew? The network? The clients on location? You showin’ up late. 12 hour shoots that last 16 hours. Receipts for $300 dinners your crew says they never had. Footage that barely resembles the episode pitch. Hell I got editors working round the clock to fix the shit you told the DP to shoot. Makes me wonder what the fuck you’re doing. Then my brother sends me this.”

He pulls his phone to show him a video.


“And all I can think of is, that reminds me of Donald. It must be all you fuckin’ do in that office of yours. Because sure as shit nothing else is getting done.”

Donald is fuming. But he has no comeback. He knows he’s fucked up. The only person people bitch about more than Max is Donald.

“You need me to finish out the series, Max.”

“You know, I don’t think I do. I’m so confident in how worthless you are, I think I’m going to have…”

Max peers around the bullpen. He starts wagging his finger as if he was playing eeny, meeny, miny, moe. Finally he stops dead on me.

“Jack.”

“Seaver? He was a PA like three months ago. ”

“And he cast your whole show. He knows more about the companies than you do.”

“You can’t be serious! Max, bud!”

“I’m not your bud. I’m also not your boss anymore. Clean out your office and get the fuck out.”

Then Max walked off pulling out his cellphone to watch the Youtube video again. “I love that fuckin’ monkey drinking his pee! I’m going to call this the Donald video from now on.”

Donald couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it. And neither could anyone else in the bullpen. Everyone was looking at me. Donald stood there for a second then finally turned to me and said, “Kid, you’ve no clue what you’re getting into. Good luck.”

–Jack Out

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2013 in By Jack, Writing

 

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Upward and Onward — By Jack

Meant for bigger things.

Lazarus Motors just pulled out. The crew is scheduled to land in Michigan two hours from now. And I didn’t get the location release ahead of time.

For anyone unfamiliar with television production, this is bad…very very bad. Without that release, a legal document agreeing to let us film the yacht builder’s facility, $600 plane tickets per crew member (of which there are 7) and 3 nights of $150 per night hotel rooms (also per crew member and also non-refundable) totaling $7350 dollars, will go to waste. That doesn’t account for day rates or travel expenses of those crew members or equipment rented or baggage fees. And when the airline doesn’t have media rates, a truckload of film equipment equals a shit load of baggage fees.

Long story short. I am fucked.

Back up nine months ago. Suffering 2 months of unemployment destroyed all my New York savings. I took a deli counter job. I was serving a chocolate cream pie when I made a joke to a guy on his third martini. I honestly don’t know what the joke was, but before I knew it the guy offered me a job at his documentary production company.

“I like you kid. You remind me of a really good shit I once took.”  He handed me his business card which, I swear, was made out of aluminum. Embossed in big letters was the name Max Luxburg. If I could have crumpled it up, I would have. But instead I gave him call the next day.

Before I knew it I was sitting in a cubical of a loud and hectic bullpen. Walls and floors made of marble echoed the chaos like a basketball court. But for the first time in my adult life I had an email address with my name followed by a company and weekends off. It felt good.

I started out as a production assistant, but instead of copying papers and making lunch runs, I was instantly given a short web series to produce.

“Knock it out of the park, penis head.” Ever since I shaved my head, I found I liked the bald look. But Max made no reservations about phallic comparisons. “You’re from New York. You know how to get things done.” Then he got on his motorcycle and drove out the emergency exit from his office.

To be honest, producing the show, a collection of short segments about pet stores around Los Angeles wasn’t that hard. It mostly involved calling stores and shelters, trying to convince them were weren’t trying to make them look crazy or stupid (which we were)  and figuring out how to make a schedule work between them and our “avant- garde” host Doggie Dave.

Max continued to throw projects my way and I kept doing what needed to be done. So then he bumped me up to assistant producer on Fill My Grill, a show about customizing BBQ equipment with Richard Karn.

Then one day I was at my desk when I heard Max knock over a bowl of jelly beans. The clash echoed through out the whole office, as the usual chaos came to a silent halt. What followed was a yell of, “What do you mean ‘you don’t talk to me that way?'” Something was up and someone was getting fired.

To be continued…

–Jack Out (Also I won’t drag this out like Jill. I’ll update it in a few days.)

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2013 in By Jack, Writing

 

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