March 21, 2004
Crazy couple of days. Went down to Festival of the West at about noon on Friday. This was after an all morning pow-wow with visiting contributing editors. This year Mary Brown (the founder and umoved mover of the festival since its inception some 15 years ago) got one huge tent, and I mean huge (must have been sixty feet to the top of the big top). The only problem was it’s 15 degrees hotter than normal, (high 90s) so it got a tad toasty in the tent. Fortunately we had our True West tent down on the polo field with all the other rif-raff, like the chuck wagons, etc.
Walked thru the big tent, trying not to get sucked into the many booths, which had great, hats, spurs, framed movie posters, artwork, etc. Talked to Buck Taylor (who told me Sam Elliott was going to do a new Wild Bill Hickok film and Buck was going to be Buffalo Bill, but at the last second it got shelved). Finally found Jeff Hildebrandt outside with the video crew, taping an interview with Jack Palance. The camera was right up in the one-handed-push-up actor’s face and the sound guy was having trouble because there were Indian drums, gun shots, private jets (Westworld is right on the Scottsdale Airport landing path), and loud, obnoxious bystanders, like me.
I tried to reach in and tap Dori, the make-up artist, on the shouldeer to tell her I was “in the house,” but a security guard put his arm on me.
"Last night ZZ Top was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. How would you like to be stuck behind them in airport security?"
Dori finally met me at the True West tent and put on the three layers of industrial “foundation” that makes me look half-human (from a distance of 15 feet).
While getting “made-up” Mike Melrose came into the tent and quipped, “When I get made up for my movies I don’t get that much put on,” to which I replied, “That’s true Mike, but the budgets are much smaller in porn.”
At about two, Jeff and crew joined us and we got permission from the “Manflow” chuckwagon owner to shoot two segments of True West Moments around his mess wagon.
Now that the TW Moment segment has been running for a month, I had more than one person come up to me and say, “Good saddle-bad saddle,” and laugh. For some reason that bumper is getting the most reaction.
Mike Pelligati and his sound guy proceeded to walk me thru three scripts without a teleprompter. This was more than a little intimidating because the camera and sound boom attracted a crowd (although nothing compared to our next day’s shoot). Some of these people folded their arms and looked on with a “let’s see what Mr. Movie Star does here.” I couldn’t remember my lines, kept flubbing them, starting over, but we got not one, but two chuckwagon bits in the can in about an hour. It wasn’t great, but it felt respectable.
When I showed up on Saturday morning, Dennis Weaver (Gunsmoke) was on set to do his bits, only now they had a huge crew out of Tuscon that must have numbered a dozen (I never could figure out who actually was on payroll). This time they had a GIB (not sure of the spelling, but it’s one of those big crane jobs with a state of the art camera stuck on the end and they can control it with a computer and it hovers in the air and then comes right down in your face like some big surveillance robot out of Monority Report.
As usual they were running about two hours behind schedule, and when they got ready for me we had a significant peanut gallery wrapped around the perimeter. Fortunaletly I could crib on the teleprompter, which runs the script right in front of the lens so that you are essentially reading, but to most people it looks like you are one smart little goober. This time as I walked to my “mark” and looked up at the camera, I could see four or five tourists in the background also taping me with their camcorders. Intimidating? I think so.
In spite of the distractions, we quickly completed three segments (“Buscadero holsters vs. Mexican loop holsters” “Hats off to ya” and “Geronimo died with $10 Grand In The Bank”), knocked off for lunch.
I had lunch with Andrew Prine’s stunning wife, Heather Lowe, and Paul Andrew Hutton and his stunning wife Tracie. Talked up all things movies and Hollywood. Heather is somewhat of a legend and she had stories of Elvis all the way to Ted Turner (she produced Avenging Angels, the Tom Berrigner, Charltron Heston film about the Mormon enforcer—gunfighter)
Gave a talk back at the TW tent at three. Got back to the set at 3:40 and we knocked out two more Moments. Felt good to get it done, but I never know if it is going to work until I actually see the produced bits.
Afterwards, a bunch of writers and I tried to have dinner at Greasewood Flats but it was slammed. Drove up on the ridge to Riata Pass and had an hour wait there to get in. Most of our crowd gave up and went home, but the Huttons and I hung in. Had three Dos Equis and did a mean frug with Tracie Hutton to “Mustang Sally” (they had a band), Had a filet and pintos, got home at 11. One tired ol’man.
"There ain't nothin' an ol' man can do but bring me a message from a young one."
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