Monday, April 29, 2013
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
...in Florida for a TV shoot, got to my hotel room, opened up the mini-fridge...
So, now I feel really weird and awkward. I think I felt some kind of misguided empathy for the woman, like, it must be humiliating… to be someone’s personal slave. So, I set about not using her at all, for anything. And she was really nice, it was’nt anything personal, I just thought I was doing her a favor by leaving her alone. If I wanted water, I’d walk over and get it… she’d be right there. If I needed a towel, I go get one… she’d be right there. She was always right there, right behind me, asking if she could do anything for me. There was this one time when I wanted to ask Ben something (our producer/director). We were shooting on a high school football field, he was in the middle of the field, I was over by the bleachers. So I trotted to the fence, hopped the fence, and began jogging toward Ben. I don’t remember why I looked behind me, but I did, and I saw my assistant struggling to hop over the fence too, clumsily getting all caught up, then recovering and trotting toward me. So, I stared walking back toward her, and I yelled; “Stop!”, so she stopped, panting, a little out of breath. I asked her what the hell was wrong with her, why was she doing this. And she said to me; “This is my job. I work as a personal assisstant. And if you don’t let me do anything, then they’re going to think they don’t need me, and I’ll be fired from this gig…so please, let me do my job.” I felt like a piece of shit. I thought I was sparing her humiliation and hard work, and all I was really doing was making her feel bad and look useless. From that point on, she was doing all my fetching for me. (it still felt kinda weird, though)
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
...now, this dude was a real character.
Monday, April 2, 2012
I’m not gonna front (like a lot of people did after he passed) like me and patrice were BFF’s. But, we were friends…pretty good friends. It would be ridiculous for me to sit here and try to chronicle the entirety of my friendship with patrice. That’d be the equivalent of making your friends sit through a slideshow of your vacation photos; there’re a couple of really cool ones, but for the most part, it’s stuff that’s really only interesting to you.
But, I feel like saying something about him.
So, I’ll just tell the story of how we met.
Because I think it’s this, more than anything else, that kinda sums it all up perfectly.
It was early 2006…I remember it was’nt quite warm yet, it was still kinda brisk, so I’m guessing it was march or april. I was in new york, at an audition for a burger king commercial. (we auditioned in groups of 4…you know who auditioned with me? this guy…)
When I was done and emerged from the studio back out into the waiting area, who was standing there but mr. patrice o’neal himself…in his trademark fedora and long black leahter coat, talking on the phone to his manager…loudly. (which no one ever does…actors waiting to audition are almost always quiet, keeping to themselves, memorizing their lines and whatnot, so it was SO out-of-place for this big nigga to be standing in the middle of the waiting area loudly talking on the phone) We looked at each other, and we each had instant recognition of the other. (I was a big fan of his from ‘tough crowd’ and ‘web junk’) He got a wry lil’ smile on his face and said; “what’s up, nigga”, in that quiet way people do when they’re on the phone. I chuckled and we shook hands. I was actually super flattered that he knew who I was. He hung up with his manager and asked me; “you here for the burger king commercial too? Where’s the sign in sheet? Which studio is it?”, because frankly, he just could’nt be bothered with all those formalities, he just wanted to get in & out. After I showed him where everything was, he said to me; “what’re you doin’ after this?” I told him I had nothing else going on, I was just gonna go back home. He said; “wait for me.” So I did. When he came out of the audition, he was back on the phone with his manager again…which means, her had already called the dude before he even left the studio! I distinctly remember him saying; “did they call for me specifically? Or was this just an open audition? [pause] …don’t call me for no shit like this anymore, I don’t wanna be goin’ out on regular ol’ auditions, only send me out if they call you and tell you they specifically want me!” I remember shaking my head and chuckling, and thinking to myself; “wow…the balls on this guy!”, but, at the same time, I genuinely admired the balls on this guy. He hangs up and says to me; “you hungry?” “Always” I replied. He said; “let’s go get something to eat.”
And that was that. We were friends.
No foreplay. No hanging-out-and-getting-to-know-each-other-over-time.
We left the building and hopped into his suv which was parked right out front on the street…which amazed me…I just don’t ever think of NYC as the type of city where you can park on the street…I don’t know why. We went to this authentic brazillian steakhouse…I don’t remember the name of it, all I remember is, it was right across a plaza from the office building where roc-a-fella records headquarters is. (we ran into doug e. fresh as he was leaving the building) When we walked in, the owner greeted patrice like they were old friends…literally…not the pomp & circumstance with which they usually greet a celebrity, just the casual, genuine, friendly greeting you’d give your buddy if you ran into him on the street. As he walked us back to our table, he was telling patrice that “all the arrangements had been taken care of.” Anyone who knows patrice knows there was a time when he used to go to brazil at least twice a year. Apparently, this guy had friends back home in brazil who would hook patrice up with a villa on the beach whenever he went went down. A good chunk of our conversation over lunch was patrice trying to convince me to go to brazil with him…regaling me with tales of how “you can live like a king…A KING…for 2 weeks on $250 dollars, american!” at some point patrice asked me if I knew who robert kelly was, and told me that he was going to join us.
Soon after that, robert showed up. I had never met him, but I was familiar with him too from his TV appearances. (sidenote: for some reason, it turned out to be “pick on scott day” for robert…from almost the moment he sat down, he fucked with me about every little thing; my shoes, the way I walked, things I said…the best way I can describe it is; I was the new guy and he was hazing me…I don’t think it was malicious, but it was just so non-stop, I was like “WTF???” …fat, bald little fucker…) This was my first real brazillian restaurant, so patrice had to school me on the rules & procedures. We ate and talked for close to 2 hours. When we were done, I went for my wallet, but patrice motioned for me to put it away….the bill was taken care of…it was on the house. Pretty cool. So we left the restaurant, walked back to the car, stopping at a couple stores on the way, and it was fun watching patrice and robert being “funny guys” fucking with the clerks behind the counter. Patrice dropped off robert, then asked me if I minded riding with him to go pick up his girl, who was getting off work or something. So I rode with him to pick his girl up, and, once she got in the car, it was all about her…not in a bad way, he did’nt ignore me, he still included me in the conversation, he was just being an attentive boyfriend, talking to his girl about her day. It was kinda sweet - in a patrice o’neal kind of way. (I doubt if she’d remember me even if she read this, I was just some dude in the back seat many years ago) He dropped me off at the train station, we gave each other daps, and I was on my way.
Here’s the thing.
That whole time…we never once talked about “the business.”
We just shot the shit. Like you do when you hang out with your boys. And it did’nt even hit me until later. And I think that’s what really made the biggest impression on me. Here we were, 2 guys who’s only real connection was show business, and when we met, we were just so instantly comfortable with each other, show business never even entered the conversation.
Patrice and I hung out countless times after that. And had countless conversations. Some stuff he said to me I will never forget. If you’ve ever seen his stand-up, then you know one thing about him…the brother is deep. Sure, on the surface, he just seems raunchy and outrageous, but, if you really listen, there’s a pretty impressive brain at work.
The funny thing is; when he and I first met, I had never seen his stand-up. I had only seen his work on TV shows. Later that year, around fall of 2006, HBO aired his “half hour comedy hour.” To say I was blown away would be an understatement. I immediately called him and raved; “nigga, I had no idea you were funny like THAT!!!” he immediately shot into my top 3 stand-up comedians (alongside bill burr and patton oswalt) Then there was the time when he was on “green room with paul provenza” and he absolutely owned the room!!! which was no small feat considering the other comedians on the panel were sandra bernhard, rosanne barr, and bob saget.
I left him a message after the show raving about his performance. He called me back and thanked me, but he was uncharacteristically somber. He said he actually felt kinda bad, like he was being a bully, or overbearing, or somehow disrespectful to the other comedians. I assured him that was in no way the case, and totally did not come across like that on TV. He said it made him feel better to hear that. But that’s just how powerful a comedic mind he has…it does’nt matter who else is in the room, he’s going to speak his mind and when he does, he’s going to dominate.
There was a period of time when I did’nt hear from patrice. He did’nt answer my calls or texts. So I left it alone, figuring that maybe our friendship had simply run it’s course. It happens. But then one night I got a message from my buddy mike saying; “saw patrice tonight, he wants you to call him, here’s his new number.” After that, on a whim, I checked my old yahoo email, and sho’nuff, there were emails from patrice via my old myspace page (both of which I had’nt used in years).
He invited me to come to the taping of “elephant in the room”, but for some reason, I could’nt make it. Now I really, really wish I had.
Patrice O’neal is one of the most intellectual, philosophical, raunchy, raw, and gut-bustingly hilarious people I have ever known. And it makes me happy to be able to say; “yeah, that’s my boy.”
And it still makes me really sad whenever I think about the fact that he’s not here anymore…
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Not to brag, but, it became apparent pretty quickly that I had kinda become the "break out star” of the commercials. (paul used to say; “we like it when we go places without you, we can kinda be incognito, but as soon as people see your big lightblub head…”) And so, my manager, mark, was fielding calls from TV & movie people who were making offers. For example...
A) one of the producers on "black hawk down" wanted me for the role of "kurth" (but he got overruled, because they wanted "a more seasoned actor" -- like gabriel casseus)
B) mike epps had a sitcom deal with UPN, and they wrote me into the show as mike's best friend (they even called the character "scott" in the script)
C) after the first season, ABC only wanted one host for the "best commercials" show, so they dropped paul & fred and offered the gig to me.
D) and, in one of the cooler moments of my career; I was offered the role of DL’s brother on “the hughleys” …it’s a pretty cool story …earlier that day, we had done a table-read at UPN for a sitcom we were shopping …later that night around 9, I got a call in my hotel room, it was judith weiner, VP of casting at UPN …she told me that even though they were going to pass on the sitcom, everybody at the meeting loved me, and she wanted to offer me a role on DL’s show, she said I’d be perfect to play DL’s wild & crazy younger brother who comes to live with them …she asked me if it was something I’d be interested in doing, and before she could get the words out her mouth I was yelling “hell yes!!!” …she told me to report to the studio the next morning for a screen test, but assured me it was merely a formality, the role was mine …I hung up the phone, elated …I got up early the next morning, and my phone rang around 8am, it was judith again, she said there was a problem …you see, a couple of months earlier, me and the guys had signed a development deal with paramount TV, which basically meant they owned us for 1 year and we could’nt go off and work on any other TV shows …so, unless I could get them to let me out of my contract, UPN couldn’t hire me …I was confused “…is’nt UPN a part of paramount? can’t you talk to them?”, i asked her… “I tried, but they won’t budge…see if you can work something out, but if not, I can’t offer you the role, I’m really sorry”, she told me …I had mark talk to paramount, and their response was; if I paid them back all the money they put out for my holding deal then I could leave …my deal was for $100,000, and they’d already paid me $50,000 upfront …which I might have been able to scrape together, but it would’ve broken me, so I let it go (plus, I also had a small twinge of guilt about “breaking up the band” and going solo without paul & fred) …in retrospect, I wish i would’ve done it …I still had money coming in from the commercials and appearances, so I would’ve made it back, plus, I would’ve been working on a network TV show, and the experience might’ve opened some awesome doors for me …but alas, hindsight is 20/20 …UPN ended up giving the role to adele givens -- instead of DL’s brother, they turned it into the wife’s wisecracking sister ...but, like they say; “it’s an honor just to be nominated.”
but all of that is just backstory… let’s move on…
(by the way: for the rest of the story, I am not going to use the real names of the people/places involved... just because, well, you never know... )
For anyone who does’nt know, when people say the “velvet mafia”, this is what they’re talking about… it’s common knowledge that for most of hollywood’s history, almost all of the power positions (studio heads, network presidents, executives, producers, etc) were held by jews. But, over the last couple of decades, when you talk to anyone in the business, they all talk about how gay men have quietly been taking over many of those power positions. Hence; “the gay mafia”, or “the velvet mafia”. (Disclaimer: I'm not implying that it's a good or bad thing or that anyone really gives a shit, I'm simply saying, that's what’s been going on behind the scenes, that's all)
Now, to his credit, mark had A LOT of connections in the entertainment biz. and through those connections he got me a meeting with Mr. X, the head of casting for one of the big TV networks. When we arrive for the meeting, we're told that Mr. X won’t be in today, so instead, we would be meeting with Mr. Y, the VP of casting. Hey, no biggie, meeting the VP is still pretty big deal, right? Almost immediately, it’s pretty clear that Mr. Y is gay...or, at the very least; extremely effeminate. (“not that there’s anything wrong with it!”) He kinda reminded me of a young, much more subdued, charles nelson riley (minus the glasses). He was cordial, but not overly excited to meet me. (not saying he should have been, just describing his demeanor) His attitude seemed to be "ok, why are you here and what do you want from me?" I begin engaging him in conversation (I was always very good "in the room", it’s one of the very rare times in life when my encyclopaedic knowledge of TV & movies not only comes in handy, but it’s actually seen as impressive), and pretty soon, he's loosening up…we're joking, laughing and having a very pleasant chat. At some point in the conversation I mentioned that I'm a HUGE fan of “Cop Drama” -- one of the hit shows on his network. I said something to effect of; I'm such a big fan that I'd be honored just to play a corpse with no lines. I also made the remark; “I'd do anything to be on the show.” He paused for a moment, looked at me and said; "anything?" "anything", i repeated...totally oblivious. It was'nt until he said; "really...?" -- in that way -- that I started to panic a little. I remember shooting a look over at mark, but he just gave me the ol' hey-don't-look-at-me shrug. (bastard) Without another word, Mr. Y picks up his office phone, hits a button and says; “could you come in here for a minute, there’s someone I think you should meet”, then hangs up, and says; “it’ll be just a minute.” I have no clue what we’re waiting for, and we’re just sitting there for a few moments not saying anything. Pretty soon, this guy comes walking into the office -- we’ll call him Mr. Z -- a short-ish, chubby-ish, bald, brown-skinned, young fellow with glasses. If someone would’ve told me he was al roker’s younger brother I totally would’ve believed it. He’s looking down at a clipboard and flipping through some papers. I stand up to greet him, and his trajectory is bringing him right toward me. As he’s walking and looking down at the clipboard he says; “what’s so important that you needed me to…”, he stops when he realizes there’s something in front of him. I’m standing there smiling, he looks at my face, looks me up & down, looks back up at my face, holds out his hand and says; “well…hello.” From behind me I hear Mr. Y chuckle and say; “I thought you’d like him.” He then says to Mr. Z; “you might recognize scott from the busweiser commercials…he was just telling me how he’s a huge fan of ‘cop drama’ and would do anything to be on the show.” Mr. Z looks at me and says; “anything?” -- in that way -- I blush and say; “yeah…I guess I did kinda say that.” Mr. Y then tells me that Mr. Z is in charge of casting for “Cop Drama”, so if anyone could get me on the show, it would be him. Mr. Z chit-chats with me briefly, asks me a couple of questions, like when I’d be back on the east coast and such, then leaves. Mark and I continue talking with Mr. Y, who by this point has taken such a shine to me, that he says; “hey, do you want to meet janet jackson?” “um…hell yes!”, I reply without hesitation. He tells me that she’s just across the lot in one of the studios, taping “Late Night Talk Show”, and if we hurry we can catch her. So we leave the offices and speed-walk across the backlot. Now, don’t get too excited…it’s pretty anti-climactic. We get to the studio, Mr. Y tells the stage hands he wants to introduce me to janet, but they tell us that we JUST missed her, her limo had just pulled off a couple of minutes ago. So, mark and I exchange a few pleasantries with Mr. Y then we leave. (this was right around the time when janet was going through her “I’m really enjoying being single and dating” phase, and when I heard she had accepted a date from that radio DJ who asked her out on-air, and then she got engaged to jermaine dupree, I was like; “damnnit!!! That coulda been ME dating janet jackson!!!”)
Fast forward a couple days. I’m still in LA, at my hotel with my girlfriend who I flew in from philly. My phone rings. It’s somebody from “Cop Drama”…they told me that Mr. Z called them and told them to get me an audition!!! They wanted to know if I was going to be in NYC that Tuesday… I told them I’d make it my business to be there!!! So I cancelled my plans in LA and booked us a flight back to philly. A script was waiting for me when I got back to my apartment… I was reading for the role of a nightclub bouncer who gets questioned by the detectives, so I would’ve been in a scene with the stars of the show. I was ecstatic!!! And how fucking cool was that!!! Mr. Z totally hooked me up… and he did’nt even ask for a handjob or anything!!! Alas, I wish I had a better end for the story. I went to the audition, and even though it was one the coldest rooms I’d ever been in (everybody was just kinda stoic, sitting there looking at me with stone faces), I left feeling ok about my performance. But I did’nt get it. I’ve since seen the episode, and the guy they hired looked to be around 6’3”, dark-skinned with dreads…so, physically, I definitely was not what they were looking for. (because, honestly, his performance was nothing special -- which is something I rarely say, I don’t hate on actors who beat me for roles, there have been plenty of times when I’ve admitted an actor did way better than I would’ve done -- just not this time). And maybe Mr. Z might have tried to collect on his favor if I’d actually gotten the part. Who knows. But, that was my first, and to date only, experience with the so-called “velvet mafia.” And all things considered… it was’nt that bad…
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
originally posted @ http://scottmartinbrooks.blogspot.com
little known fact… back when anheuser-bush first bought the idea for the “whassup!” commercials, their sole intention was to use it as part of their new “ethnic” campaign, and that’s all. you see, the biggest problem that budweiser has (and this comes straight from the mouths of A-B executives) is that budweiser is known as the “bubba beer”…ie; it’s the beer of rednecks & ”good ol’ boys” (if we ever wanted to make the A-B execs heads explode, all we had to do was say “bubba-beer”). and that’s the one major image problem they’d been wanting to change for years, so when they were approached with the “whassup” concept, they jumped on it, seeing it as the spearhead (no pun intended) for an all new ethnic campaign aimed at the “urban” market, hoping that it would make bud cool to black folks (that same year, they also launched a budweiser campaign aimed at the latino market, featuring carlos mencia). so, when we were invited to attend the anheuser-bush national convention in early 2000, and they did their big presentation, showcasing the new ad campaigns for the coming year, and we saw that our commercials were being touted as the new ethnic campaign, we all looked at each other like; “huh? what the?” we all just assumed we’d be a regular ol’ budweiser commercial…not relegated to some ethnic slot that would probably only air on BET during the soul train awards. but hey, we had national commercials on the air, so we weren’t complaining. and the showcase made it clear that bud fully intended to continue using “the liazrds” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aS3op_7QViY) -- who were still very popular -- as their dominant mainstream ad campaign.
jump ahead one year. our commercials are now a full-blown, mainstream phenomenon…to A-B’s utter chagrin. the commercials are wildly popular and beloved by everyone…especially white folks. The A-B execs never expected this, and they weren’t really sure how to handle it (because, as i‘ve talked about before, it was a MAJOR problem that their flagship brand; Budweiser - the all american beer - was being represented by 4 young black guys). so, this time when we attend the national convention, and they did the showcase where they presented the new ad campaigns for the coming year, the “whassup!” commercials are now the center-piece. we are the dominant, mainstream ad campaign for the company…to thunderous applause from all the anheuser-bush executives and wholesalers.
problem was… nobody told the lizards.
after the presentation ended, and everybody was filing into the convention center for the expo, we ran into danny & paul…the actors who did the voices of the lizards. danny (“frankie“) was really cool, he happily shook our hands and congratulated us on all our success. But paul (“louie“) …he stood back and wanted nothing to do with us. he was visibly pissed, and even when i walked up to him to say hello & shake hands, he just turned his back and shunned me. i was equal parts angry (because he disrespected me) and bemused (because this grown-ass man was acting like such a little bitch). i, uh, think i might have *cough* made some kind of…um, comment…about wanting to slap the shit outta him. danny was embarrassed, and apologized to us for the way paul was acting. he told us that they were both just a little stunned, because A-B never told either of them that they were going to be phased out and that “whassup” was replacing the lizards…they only found out a few minutes ago when they saw the presentation. looking back, i can totally understand why paul would be pissed…if i had been doing a job for several years, and just found out that i was, in effect, being demoted, and found out in such an un-cool way…i’d probably be really, really pissed off too. i just don’t think i’d be such a dick to to the new guy, who really didn’t do anything to me personally.
jump ahead a few months. i was in NYC for an audition, and afterward i stopped by my agency. i’m sitting at my agent’s desk, shootin’ the shit, when i happen to see someone familiar sitting at one of the other desks. it was paul. i ask my agent what he’s doing there, and she tells me; “paul‘s been one of our client‘s for years!” what??? that son-of-a-bitch…he’s with MY agency??? she asks why i’m so perturbed, and i tell her the story. she says she’s shocked because paul is usually so nice. well, apparently, he sees me talking about him (probably because i was pointing and looking directly at him while making the meanest of mean-mugs). eventually he comes walking toward us. i stand up, ready to curse him the fuck out if he shows me the slightest hint of attitude. but instead, he holds his hand out to shake. i just look at his hand, then at him. my agent sits at her desk, just looking at us, not sure what to do. paul lowers his hand, then lowers his head and sighs. he says to me; “hey man, i apologize. i acted really shitty that day. i was just angry, that whole thing took me by surprise and i took it out on you guys. but it was‘nt your fault. i should‘nt have done that.” and with that, i was totally cool. We shook hands and all was well. My agent let out a sigh of relief, and a little nervous laugh.
epilogue. some time later, i was at a sound studio in NYC for an audition for a radio commercial. i’m at the front desk signing in, when a lil’ guy who looked like an older george costanza comes up to me, shakes my hand and says; “i have some people you need to meet”, doesn’t let go of my hand, and pulls me away. i look back at the receptionist like “wtf?”, and she just laughs and waves bye-bye. he takes me into the back, through the hallway, over to one of the studios, opens the door, and points to the recording booth. it was danny & paul. they were there recording some new radio spots for bud (up until then, i didn’t know which guy did which lizard, and it was both cool and weird seeing the lizard voices coming out of their heads). he then gets on the microphone, interrupting their take, and says; “gentlemen, look who i‘ve got here!” they look up, see it’s me, and erupt into laughter…danny says; “hey, it‘s the guy who took our job!” we all laugh. the little guy slaps me on the back, excuses himself and leaves the room. danny & paul take a break, come out into the lounge, and the 3 of us laugh & talk for a while…busting each other’s balls, bitching about anheuser-bush, swapping stories, etc. it was fun. they’re both really cool dudes. eventually they had to get back to work, and i went back out to the lobby to re-sign-in for my audition. i asked the receptionist who that little guy was. She said; ”he‘s the owner of the studio! when he saw you, he thought it’d be funny to have the whassup guy meet the lizards!” …and that man turned out to be vladamir putin. ok, not really, but how awesome would that have been?
Monday, March 12, 2012
originally posted @ http://scottmartinbrooks.blogspot.com
...i know a lot of folks feel some kind of way about jay leno… after that whole thing with letterman back in the 90’s, and then again with conan a couple years ago. And, yeah, maybe that stuff does kinda make him look like a dick. But, I gotta tell ya’, in my experience, Jay leno was one of the coolest people I met.
...here’s a couple of quick jay stories.
so, me and the guys were in atlanta making an appearance at some expo, when our publicist, bill (“boom boom”), comes to us very excited and tells us that we need to leave immediately, we’re booked on a flight leaving that night…because we’re going to be on the tonight show, and we needed to be in LA the next day!!! (they require that any out-of-town guests are in town by 5pm the day before the show, as insurance that they won’t no-show) So we go back to our hotel, pack up, and head to the airport. heather kozar - playboy playmate of the millennium - was tagging along with us, apparently she was headed back to the playboy mansion or something (she - along with cindy margolis and brooke burke - was under contract with anheuser-bush at the time so she was at the expo with us). She and I had become buddies at the expo, we sat next to each other and talked the whole way...except for when she fell asleep, nestled snugly on my shoulder. (it’s the little things) But I digress…
We get to LA, check-in to our hotel, and boom-boom tells us that since we did’nt get to go home first, and since we were notorious for only packing casual wear when we traveled, he’s gonna take us shopping in the morning, on budweiser’s credit card. (awwwe-sooome!!!) So, the next day, after breakfast, we head over to macy’s and pick out some outifts (can anyone say “80’s movie music montage”?), and we heard over to the NBC studios in burbank.
We’re met at the studio by laurane - the publicist who got us the appearance, and steve & tracy - the producers handling our segment. They show us to our dressing rooms… there were placards on the doors with our names and the tonight show logo, and pretty sweet gift baskets with ‘tonight show’ coffee mugs, baseball caps, t-shirts, etc… which, to me, was just the coolest thing ever. (i had always heard the guests on talk shows make jokes about the gift baskets, and now, here i am, getting one!) And then, like a bunch of kids on a field trip, we start milling around, checking things out, going in rooms we probably should’nt have gone in, touching things we probably should’nt have been touching. During all this, we noticed something; the dressing rooms at the tonight show were kinda like your grandparent’s house; nice, but, everything’s just a little… old… dingy. Eventually we settle back into our dressing rooms, we’re standing around shootin’ the shit, when jay comes walking in. We all burst into a big “HEY!”, and crowd around him, shaking hands, totally geeking out like fans. “Hey fellas! Good to meet you guys! We’re all really excited to have you on the show! Thanks for coming!”, he says, in that jay leno voice. We introduce ourselves, and engage in some friendly banter. Then, from out of nowhere, paul speaks up and says; “hey jay…you know, we have been on A LOT of tv shows, and, we’ve seen A LOT of dressing rooms, and, I gotta tell ya’, this, by far…is the CRAPPIEST dressing room i’ve seen yet.” Me, fred, and chuck stopped breathing… in our minds we were all totally freaking out, like; “OH SHIT!!! NO HE DID’NT!!!” but, without missing a beat, jay immediately snaps back; “yeah, I know, I’m really sorry about that guys… but, you see... we keep the REALLY nice dressing rooms downstairs for our WHITE guests… we’ve got a chef carving roast beef, butlers serving champagne…” at that moment we all erupted with laughter… and we knew jay leno was cool as shit. (i mean, we all know paul, and totally get his sense of humor, but, we had no idea if jay was gonna take it as a joke… lucky for paul, jay totally got it too… side-note: when i went into make-up, the make-up chick said to me; “I hear jay stopped by your dressing room to say hi… wow… he must really like you guys, he almost never does that!”)
About a year later, i was back at NBC for a meeting. After the meeting, i went over to the tonight show studio and asked if i could say hi to jay. The stage manager said; “absolutely! Just wait here in the wings, he’s doing the post-show wrap-up right now, he’ll just be a few minutes.” The band sees me waiting and waves me over, so I’m shootin’ the shit with kevin eubanks and the band while jay signs autographs and takes pictures, which he apparently does after every show. At some point he looks over and sees me, smiles & waves, and gives me the “wait a minute” finger-signal. I turn back and continue talking with the band. A couple minutes later, I feel someone slap me on my back…hard. I bark; “motherfucker, I’m about whoop somebody’s ass…” as I turn around. Of course it was jay. We shoot the shit for a little bit… i don’t remember about what, i just remember thinking how cool it all was… cool that i was able to just stroll up to the tonight show and get backstage, and cool that jay leno remembered me and came over to talk to me.
But, you know what the one thing is that I remember most vividly whenever i think about jay leno? His head. Jay leno has a REALLY big head. (in the business, they call it “TV head”)