Thursday, December 15, 2005

December 15, 2005
Back from the Tombstone shoot. Got in last night at about eight. A long two days of shooting new bits for the Westerns Channel, with a five AM wakeup call Wednesday morning. It was chilly in Tombstone and the make-up was quite cold going on (oh, the humanity!). But not as cold as the reception I got from some of the locals (more on that later). Jeff Hildebrandt of The Westerns Channel in Denver flew into Phoenix on Monday night. The five man crew, led by Mike Pelligatti in a rented twelve seat Ford Econoline ($100 a day), picked him up at his hotel down by the airport. I had driven over to Mike’s house at six and we picked up everyone on the way down.

In spite of my occasional daytime trips, I was stunned at the storm of traffic going into the Beast during morning rush hour. It took about five minutes to make a right-hand-turn onto Carefree Highway at the I-17 Interchange. There was a half mile of cars backed up to make the turn onto the freeway. As we headed down the 17, thousands of red lights lined up for miles, doing five miles an hour, while we shot into the HOV lane (high occupancy vehicle) and missed much of the traffic until we hit the Durango Curve. Wall to wall, snarling trucks and SUVs and rusted out Camero’s battling for road dominance in the pre-dawn desert twilight.

We had an ambitious shoot schedule with the goal of getting at least 12 True West Moments in the can in the next 36 hours and I felt some apprehension about the scripts (which Mark Boardman had tweaked and edited down), my drama coach lessons (Jaba, jaba, Hey Kathy!) and my outfit (Kathy had taken my favorite white neck scarf to the cleaners and I had forgotten she had taken it, thought I had lost it, then found out Monday night when it was too late). But beyond the usual performance anxiety I had an apprehension which I didn’t tell anyone about, not even Kathy—I’ve got a hair-like amoeba deal floating in the center of my right eye. I noticed it about three days ago and thought it was merely a virus, or something, but it didn’t go away. Even with my eyes closed I can see it and my big concern was that we would get out on location and it would affect my ability to read the teleprompter. "Sorry, guys, can't do it. Let's go home."

We got into Tucson at about 8:30 and went straight to the Tucson Train Depot to shoot the Wyatt Earp-Frank Stilwell gunfight. Jeff and Mike had ordered up a state-of-the-art steady-cam so we could get more movement into the shots, and I had an ambitious idea in my mind of walking right down the train tracks as the camera backed smoothly along, with me saying, “The train from Benson glided along these tracks on the evening of March 20, 1882.”

As we did a dry run to work out the kinks, I was relieved to find out I could easily read the teleprompter. Unfortunately, someone reported us being on the tracks, and before we could shoot the sequence, a policeman came driving up the service road to kick us off the tracks. We still got the shot, but it just wasn’t as groovy as it could have been.

Then things got worse. We ran into a trainiac (and I thought Old West buffs were cranky!), but more on that tomorrow.

On Monday, I finished my Ben Thompson illustrations for the March Classic Gunfight and Robert Ray scanned them in and put them in the layout. Here’s a scene of a can-can dancer in the Vaudeville Theater on the night of the killing. That’s Ben Thompson and King Fisher sitting in the dress circle (circular balcony at left).

I got this interesting Email from Colorado this morning:
Thanks for the blog on your web site regarding the True Grit Cafe.  I met a couple who came in today saying they would like to speak to the owner.  They had read your blog and detoured over here from their ski trip at Crested Butte to just check us out.  They were from Corpus Christi, Texas and thoroughly enjoyed all the John Wayne collectibles, and of course, the food.
—Dale Tuttle, Maniac #1060

I’ve got an appointment with an optometrist at two this afternoon.

"I see by your outfit you think you’re a cowboy."
—Old Vaquero Saying

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