Friday, November 11, 2011


By Barry Dutter

If you were put in a situation where you were told by an authority figure to commit an act of pure evil, how would you respond? Would you defy authority and disregard your orders -- or would you meekly do as you were told?
That was the position I found myself in when I appeared  on a TV show called HOW EVIL ARE YOU which aired on the Discovery Channel in October of 2011.
Only I didn’t know I was appearing on a TV show at the time. I had seen an ad on Craigs List, looking for people to come in and get paid to take a memory test. Sounded like an easy way to make some fast cash, so I figured “Why not?”
On the day of the test, I drove to an office building in L.A. I met with an old doctor in a white lab coat with a white beard. There was another guy in the room who had also shown up to take the test. This guy was about 45 years old, and heavyset. We’ll call him “Stanley.”
The doctor explained that he was conducting a test on the effects of punishment and learning. He said, “Our studies have shown that people learn better when punishment is administered, so we will be administering electric shocks to one of you when you get a wrong answer. But the shocks are not dangerous.”
Right off the bat, I sensed that something was wrong here. The doctor kept using the word “punishment” over and over, which seemed a very strange word for a  doctor to use. I know that when training dogs, it has been found that the “Reward” method is far more effective than the “Punishment” method.
When you smack a dog for doing something wrong, the dog does not understand why he is being smacked. But when you reward him for doing good, the dog learns that good behavior brings rewards.
It seemed to me that if even dogs do not learn anything from punishment, than surely humans have evolved to the point where punishment does not work on us, either.
So right off the bat, something seemed a little off about this whole thing.
Stanley and I were given consent form to fill out, saying that we would be working with electric shocks, and that either one of us could stop the experiment at any time. That made me feel good, because if I was getting zapped with electricity, I wanted to have the ability to walk away.
The doctor said, “One of you will be administering the electric shocks to the other. The person administering the shocks will be the Teacher. The person receiving the shocks will be the Learner.”
He had us pick pieces of paper out of his hand to determine who would be the zapper and who would be the zappee. I got to pick first. It was with much relief that I saw that my paper said “Teacher” on it.
Stanley picked second, and of course, his paper said “Learner”
Or so I thought. I didn’t know it at the time, but the doctor was an actor, and so was Stanley. Odds are, both pieces of paper probably said “Teacher” on them, but I never saw the other one. The whole thing was a set-up designed to see how many “shocks” I was willing to give another man.
Turns out there is a famous study called “The Milgram Experiment” that was conducted back in the 1960s. (You can find it on Youtube.) Dr. Milgram was a man who was trying to understand how the Nazis, many of whom were loyal husbands and good family men, could have committed the atrocities that they were ordered to do by their superiors.
Milgram wondered if ordinary people would commit acts of pure evil if they were ordered to by an authority figure. So he performed an experiment where ordinary people were told to inflict pain on innocent participants via electric shock.
His findings? A whopping 80% of the people followed through the experiment all the way to the end. Most of the Milgram’s test subjects walked out of the lab shaken, thinking they had just killed another human being with electric shock.
In 2011, film director Eli “Hostel” Roth was asked by the Discovery Channel to host a Halloween special about the nature of evil.
As part of the one-hour program, Roth decided to recreate the Milgram Experiment. He figured enough time had passed that most people would not have heard of it. Roth was correct. I think it’s safe to say that most of the people who walked into his trap had no idea they were replaying an experiment from 50 years before.
I have to admit, I was clueless, as well. I had no idea that there were hidden cameras in the doctor’s office, and that a famous film director and actor (he played the Jew Bear in INGLORIOUS BASTARDS)  was watching my every move.
Stanley and I were brought in to a small office where we were shown the electronic device that the “Learner’ would be hooked up to. Stanley was strapped in to a chair and hooked up to the machine.
It occurred to me that the right thing to do here would be for me to offer to switch places with Stanley.  He was older than I, and seemed in frailer health. But I really didn’t like the idea of me being the one to receive the electric shocks. I reasoned, “Well, he lost the drawing. I won, fair and square. Fate has decreed that he be the one to get shocked. So I will let Fate call the shots on this one!”
Just before we got started, Stanley threw out another curveball. He said, “Doctor, before we begin the experiment, I should tell you that I have a heart condition. Am I going to have any problems here?”
The doctor pondered that for a  second and then said, “No. You’re not in any danger.”
Stanley looked relieved and said okay.
I was brought in to the next room. The door was closed, so I could not see Stanley. But he was still close enough that I could hear him through the door.
The Doctor led me to a table housing the controls for the zapping machine, which looked like something out of a 1960s sci-fi movie. (I believe they used the same machine from the original experiment of the 1960s.)
The Doctor instructed me in how to use the machine. I was to read a series of questions to the patient in the next room. Every time he got an answer wrong, I was to flick a switch which would render a mild shock to him. The shocks would increase in voltage with every wrong answer.
There were about 25 switches in the row, with the last one being labeled “DANGER - EXTREMELY HIGH VOLTAGE.”
As we began the experiment, there were two thoughts prominent in my head: 1) The doctor had said that the shocks were mild enough that they posed no real danger to the patient, despite his heart condition; and 2) Either one of us could quit at any time.
The test began. Stanley got the first few answers right. Then he got his first wrong answer. Following the orders that I had been given, I flicked the first switch.
Stanley let out a mild “Ow!” indicating that he felt a slight shock. The test continued. Stanley got several more answers wrong. I kept flicking switches, like a good little Nazi.
With each flick I switched, Stanley’s reactions were getting louder and more pronounced. Clearly he was experiencing more and more discomfort. I have to say, it bothered me that I was able to hit those switches so callously, all in defense of “just doing my job.“
Still, I kept thinking of what the doctor had said about the patient not being in any real danger. If a doctor said the guy would be okay, I was willing to believe him.
The experiment continued. The patient started screaming in pain as I hit the switches. At this point, I started to think this whole thing was fake, because the patient’s reactions were so over the top. Usually grown  men don’t scream when they are in pain. They might curse, but they don’t scream  And this guy was  screaming like a banshee.
I still didn’t know I was on TV, but I started to think maybe I was taking part in a fake experiment to test the moral character of the people hitting the switches.
And then we reached the critical point of the experiment. After one particularly strong “shock,” the patient cried out, “Experimenter, that’s all. Get me out of here. I told you I had heart trouble. My heart’s starting to bother me. I refuse to go on!”
This all I needed to hear. I felt really bad for the guy at that moment. I knew I was getting paid the same either way if I stopped the experiment, so I turned to the doctor and said I would not continue.
The doctor looked very stern and said “It is essential that the experiment continue.”
There was something in the way he delivered that line that sounded very scripted to me. It sounded more like a line from a movie than something a real doctor would say.
I figured, “Ok, this is just a test to see if I will stop. Here’s my chance to pass the test.”
I said to the doctor, “The consent form did say that we could leave at any time.”
The doctor got a disapproving look on his face and said, “I will have to consult with my colleagues.” With that, he got up and left the room. I figured, “Ok, here’s where he goes and gets another fake doctor to try to tell me how important it is that I finish the experiment.”
But he didn’t get another fake doctor. Instead, he got a real psychologist, Dr. Jerry Burger, who is an expert in administering the Migram Experiment. Dr. Burger revealed to me that the whole thing was a set-up, and that I was being filmed for TV. The shock machine was a fake. The “doctor” who oversaw the experiment revealed that he was an actor, and “Stanley” stepped out of the little room and showed that he was an actor, as well.
 That man was followed by Eli Roth, who I was most familiar with from his appearances on the Howard Stern Show.
Eli was impressed that I had stopped the test, and noted that only one other person that day had done the same.
He filled me in all about the Milgram Experiment, and then  he interviewed me on camera about why I made the choices that I made. I explained that it mostly came down to the fact that I had signed a consent form saying I could quit whenever I wanted.
I think I may have found a flaw in this version of the Milgram Experiment, and it was that consent form. I think if you really want to get accurate results to this experiment, you should tell the participants that they do not get paid unless they complete the experiment. You might end up with some very different results.
I know in my case, the fact that I was being paid regardless of the outcome made my decision a lot easier. If you promised to take away my pay unless I flipped all the switches, I just might have just fried that poor bastard!
After we finished shooting, I got to shoot the breeze with Eli Roth for a few minutes. I found him to be a very likable guy. We bonded over our mutual love of Howard Stern.
Then it was time for me to leave, so they could bring in the next victim.
All in all, I was pleased with my results in the experiment. At first, I was appalled at myself at how easily I could administer electric shocks to another human being.
But then I felt redeemed when I responded to a fellow human being‘s cry for help and stopped the experiment before anyone “died.”
Even though I began to suspect about halfway through that this was some kind of prank or social experiment, I still didn’t know for sure. My reaction was genuine. I guess this shows that I would have made a poor Nazi. I would have followed orders up to a point, but I would have drawn the line at actually hurting innocent people.
That was a most unexpected discovery for me to make on the Discovery Channel.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

How I Became a Professional Game Show Contestant

By Barry Dutter

A few years ago, I was trying out for a game show, and I started thinking: if you win money on most game shows, you get about $50,000 on average.
But if you get a job working on a game show, you could potentially make much more than that in a year, and continue to make a good living in the years to come.
As a guy who usually loses on most of the shows he goes on, it made sense to me to get a job working on a game show instead of being a contestant. But in what capacity? “Host” would be my first choice, but those jobs tend to go to people who are very well established in broadcasting.
 I thought it would be fun to work in the Casting Department for a game show. After all, who knows more about getting on a game show than I do? But then I talked to someone who had done casting for DEAL OR NO DEAL, and they said that casting was a nightmare. Apparently you have to work long hours for low pay, make lots of phone calls, and deal with incredibly annoying people who will scream, laugh, yell, and generally act as crazy as possible in a desperate attempt to get on TV.
The way the job was described to me, it didn’t sound like much fun. But I still craved a  position on a game show. I would just have to work in some other capacity, in some department other than casting. 
I wasn’t exactly sure what job I wanted, and I wasn’t sure how to get it. I mean,  I have very little actual experience in TV production, and they don’t just go handing out jobs like that to anyone. Or do they?
Maybe I did have a way in…When you try out for as many game shows as I have, you find your name on a short list of people who get called to test out new shows. One time I got hired to test a game show that took place in an elevator. It was like that show CASH CAB, only set in an elevator. We filmed a pilot episode, but the show never made it onto the air. Too bad. It was a blast -- and it inspired me to create a new game show that took place on an escalator. (Just kidding!)
Another time I was part of a team of eight people hired to work on a presentation for a show based on a popular board game. When you get together with your fellow game-show testers, it’s kind of like a group of army veterans getting together comparing scars. Except we’re comparing which shows we were on and how much money we won.
On the first day of working on this new show, my fellow testers and I got to play the game for real. There was a young lady there named Megan who was very smart and quick with her answers. She seemed poised to give me a good trouncing.
But I had a remarkable come-from-behind win. We were only playing for demonstration purposes, not for money, so it didn’t mean anything, but still, it felt good to beat the front-runner. When it came time to actually do a presentation to the network chiefs, I was told by the producers to let Megan win.
As a game-tester, I was getting paid the same either way, so I did as I was told, and I totally understood the reasons why I had been asked to do so:
1) Women tend to get more excited when they win. A woman winning big money on a TV game show is generally more fun to watch than a man winning.
And 2) The primary watchers of TV are women, so it makes sense that women like to see other women on TV, especially when they are winning life-changing sums of money. Out in the corporate world, men often make more money than women. But on a TV game show, a woman has the same odds of winning big money as a man.
In late 2009, I got a call to help test out physical challenges for a prime-time game show. These were very physical games involving a  lot of jumping, running, spinning, etc.
For the next week, I was part of an elite group of ten guys and gals who were put through the ringer, playing different games all day long for eight hours a day. It was a nonstop barrage of often intense games, similar in a way to an army boot camp. To this day, it was the most arduous week of my life.
As grueling as that week was, I was thrilled when they called me back for more about three months later. I wound up working on that show, on and off, for the next year. The work was not consistent. We would do two weeks here, a few days there. But I probably put in about 50 days over the course of a year. All in all, it was one of the most fun jobs I’ve ever had!
Every morning I would drive to the studio where the new challenges awaited. I would enter a sound stage where there would be a huge variety of games, ready to be played. The job of myself and my fellow games-testers was to play those games and have our data recorded by administrators. The producers of the show needed to know which games were too hard or too easy, and how to prevent people from cheating.
At one end of the room was a craft services table filled with candy, soda, potato chips, cookies, and every type of junk food you could think of.
It was like a child’s idea of what a “job” would be. When you’re young, your parents warned you that someday, you would have to get a real job -- that life wouldn’t always be nothing but playing games and eating candy.
Yet, there I was, going to work every day at a job where my only purpose was to play games and eat candy! (You almost needed the candy to get that sugar rush and keep your energy level high!)
I used to love it when I would go out to a bar after work and someone would ask me, “What do you do for a living?” And I would hold my head up with pride and say, “I play games!”
It’s a shame the job didn’t last longer. I would have loved to have continued at it. I will never forget the year that I spent there on that sound stage. My career as a professional games-tester may be on hold for now, but there will be always be new shows that need testing.
I may never fulfill my dream of winning big money on a TV game show, but at least I have found a new goal, one with more realistic expectations: pursuing a full-time career as a Professional Game Show Tester!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The New American Dream -- or, Get Me on a Reality Show!

By Barry Dutter

For about 200 years, the American Dream remained the same: master a skill and become wealthy and successful through long hours of hard work and dedication.
Somewhere around the turn of the century, the American Dream evolved to become: get on a TV reality show, and become rich and famous for doing absolutely nothing!

By the year 2000 it seemed like everyone in America was going to have the opportunity to be on a reality show and become semi-famous, at least for a few minutes.
All my life, I wanted to become famous for being a great writer or a funny comedian. But when I saw so many nobodies become somebodies, I decided that I liked the idea of becoming a reality TV star. I wanteda  camera crew following me around 24 hours a day. I, too, wanted to be paid $50,000 just for showing up at night clubs!
Thus began my blatant attempt to find fame and fortune comparable to that of a real celebrity, without actually having to do anything. My ultimate dream: to get paid to live in a house for a few weeks, and have all my exploits broadcast on national television.
The first thing I did when I began my quest for insta-fame was to rule out the shows I did not want to be on. Number one on my list of shows I would never go on is SURVIVOR. Live on an island for two months, catching and growing my own food? Screw that. To me, the million dollar prize isn’t worth it if I have to work that hard for it.
My plan is all about doing things the easy way, not having to suffer to win big money. For that same reason, I ruled out shows like FEAR FACTOR and WIPEOUT. It looks to me like people actually get hurt on those shows. You can’t pay me enough money for me to get hurt.
I’ve always had this fantasy of going on MTV’S THE REAL WORLD and being the anti-social guy who stays in his room and reads comic books all the time. But I’m way too old for that show -- and let’s face, “Anti-Social Comic-Book Guy” wouldn’t exactly make for great TV.
Likewise, I’m way too old to ever be on JERSEY SHORE. (I am from New Jersey, but I moved out of the Garbage State to get away from obnoxious Guidos like the ones on that show!)

THE APPRENTICE was out, because on that show, they don't give you a prize -- they give you a  job. Honestly, I would rather just have the money! Doesn't having to work for the money kind of defeat the whole purpose of going on a reality show? 
But what about BIG BROTHER? A show where people of all ages get paid to live in a house for six weeks and potentially walk out with a million bucks! That show was right up my alley.

I tried out for BIG BROTHER, but I didn’t get very far in the audition process. The casting people kept asking me questions about how I would react if someone in the house got in my face. I’m a very non-confrontational guy, so I kept saying I would be totally cool and walk away from any fight.
That was not what they wanted to hear. I think they wanted me to say that I would go ballistic if anyone ever got up in my grill! But that’s not who I am. I’m a pretty mellow guy. I’m not going to change my personality just to get on TV.
Reality TV producers really want people with the most dynamic and explosive personalities. Someone who is going to just “chill out” isn’t going to make for gripping TV.
So BIG BROTHER was not for me. But what about one of those dating shows, where they put 20 guys in a house with a hot girl and one by one the guys get eliminated?
I could do one of those shows in my sleep! (Literally!) Best of all, on any show where you are sequestered for weeks at a time, they always pay you a day rate to be there, whether you win or lose!
I almost made it on to one of those shows in 2007, when I was in the casting pool for a show starring model Cindy Margolis, formerly know as “the most downloaded woman on the Internet.”
Her show was originally going to be called SEX AND THE CINDY, which was a clever title, until they realized no one on the show was actually going to be having sex with her. The title was changed to the equally misleading SEDUCING CINDY.
Out of hundreds (thousands?) of guys who tried out, I made it to the final 40. I was told to keep the last two weeks of August free, because if I was picked, I would be living in a reality TV house for a few weeks. It seemed like my scaled-down version of the American Dream was finally coming true!
I almost went so far as to tell my boss at my day job that I couldn’t work the last two weeks of August. Fortunately I didn’t do that, because I never got called. Alas, I would not be seducing Cindy.
But a year or two later, another opportunity came up. Omarosa, the woman who became famous in the first season of Donald Trump’s THE APPRENTICE, was launching a dating show of her own, called THE ULTIMATE MERGER.
   I was contacted by a casting director and asked if I wanted to try out for the show. I’m not a big fan of Omarosa, but I figured, what they hey, it kind of tied in with my whole “new American Dream“ thing.
What the casting director had not told me was that they were looking for super-successful businessmen. I don’t know why they contacted me. I’ve always been more the “creative/artistic” type than the “power-hungry executive” type.
At the audition, each man was asked to talk about his successful business ventures. Most of the guys were entrepreneurs who had started their own companies and gone on to become fairly wealthy.
As I listened to each guy make their pitch as to why he should be on the show, I realized that I did not belong in that room. This was not the show for me.
When asked by the casting director what my personal net worth was, I meekly answered, “Under one million dollars” and left it at that.
I hated to disappoint Omarosa, but I would not be merging with her any time soon.
And so my quest for reality a TV semi-fame continues. I realize that this type of fame is fleeting, but is a method to the madness. When you do one of these dating shows, there is always the chance you could be spun off into your own show if you are popular enough with the viewers. (Hey, it worked for Daisy, New York, Real and Chance, Frank the Entertainer, and Domenico!)
And if you have to ask who any of those people are, clearly you haven't been watching enough reality TV! Someday, my name could be right up there with those reality superstars!

And when people ask me how I got there, I'll say, "I did it the American way --- by sitting around on my ass and doing absolutely nothing! "
God bless America! Is this a great country or what?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Total Hollywood Experience, or, How I Spent Two Days Backstage at the TONIGHT SHOW and found out that Tom Hanks is a Jerk!

By Barry Dutter

Everyone should get to have the “Total Hollywood Experience” at least once in their lives.
By that, I mean, you get flown to L.A., chauffeured around in a limo, mix and mingle with some of the biggest celebrities in Hollywood -- and generally get treated like you are some kind of superstar!
I had my own Total Hollywood Experience a few years back when I was asked to fly to L.A. to be on a new TV pilot. I was living in South Florida at the time, celebrating the release of my book, THE SHY GUY’S GUIIDE TO DATING.
The TV pilot was called THE HOW TO GUIDE TO LIFE -- kind of an awkward title, but a fun idea for a show. The premise was that on each episode, the host of the show would try out the advice in a self-help book to see if it worked in real life.
When I got the call to go to L.A., I was told up front that the pilot might never air, but I didn’t care. All I knew was I getting an all-expenses-paid trip to Hollywood!
I had been living in Florida for several years at that point, and I was eager to get a taste of the truly shallow and superficial life, the kind that puts Miami to shame.
My plane landed at about 3:00 in the afternoon. A limo was waiting for me to take me straight to my hotel. The next two days would be spent taping the show, but for this first night, I was on my own.
One thing I had forgotten about California is that the temperature can drop thirty degrees from day to night. November is typically a hot month in Florida. Naturally, it never occurred to me to bring a jacket or a sweater out to Cali for my three-day trip.
I checked into my hotel, and decided to take a walk up Sunset Blvd. I saw famous Hollywood nightclubs like the Whiskey A-Go-Go (where the Doors had gotten their start) and the Viper Room (where River Phoenix had died).
While on my walk, I discovered two things: 1) Nobody walks in L.A. (I swear I was the only person there who wasn’t driving a car), and 2) L.A. gets COLD at night! Once darkness fell, I soon found myself shivering as I walked up the strip. What had started out as a fun stroll turned into a rather unpleasant walk as I froze my butt off!
Lesson learned. Next time, I would remember the secret to hanging out in L.A. is to always give yourself the ability to add more layers of clothing.
I got to bed early, in order to be fresh for my TV gig. The next morning, I got showered and ready and found the limo waiting outside to take me to the studio. (A quick side note here: when a company is paying for your limo, are you supposed to tip the driver? I always assume he’s being tipped by the company paying for the limo, but then, I’m a cheap bastard so what do I know?)
I arrived on the set and met the crew of the show. An Assistnmat Director came along and took me to my dressing room. I had never had my own dressing room before.
The first thing I noticed about having your own dressing room is that it’s kind of boring if you’re in there by yourself. There was a TV, but I felt like it was a waste of time to fly 3,000 miles to L.A. to spend my day sitting around watching TV.
It occurred to me that it might be more interesting to leave the confines of my dressing room and go wandering around the studio. So I ventured out, and discovered that another TV show was filming across the hall from the one I was working on. It was THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO.
Among the guests scheduled for that week were P. Diddy, Tom Hanks, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Whenever I wasn’t needed on the set of my show that much, I would hang right outside the Green Room for the TONIGHT SHOW, wghere guests waited to go on. I got to catch the celebrities coming and going as they appeared one by one on the show.
I didn’t get to have a lot of interaction with any of them, because they were all surrounded by lots of people wherever they went, but still, it was pretty neat just to have that kind of access to huge celebrities.
After a few hours of goofing off, it was time for me to get to work on THE HOW TO GUIDE TO LIFE. The host of the show was an actress I had not heard of. I believe she was a regular on a 90s sitcom, I think it was CYBILL.
To start the show, I was to be brought out on stage to meet the host. I’ll call her Beverly. Beverly explained to the audience how I was the guy who was really shy and wrote a book to help other shy guys get out there and meet girls.
I bounded out onto the stage, saw Beverly, embraced her, and started dry-humping her just for laughs. Everyone thought it was pretty funny, There I was, the king of the shy guys, marching out there like I was cock of the walk.
Lucky thing for me Beverly had a good sense of humor. The first rule of show business is still true: always make a good entrance!
After that, Beverly introduced a timid guy who would be going out and trying out my techniques on random girls in a book store. The gimmick was that the guy would be wearing an earpiece, and Beverly would be secretly instructing him what to do and say, based on the advice on my book.
Turns out, they had pre-taped the bit with the guy at the bookstore. He had approached a couple of different girls with different results, and both girls were there in the studio that day, too. One of the girls was a pretty blonde named Kelly who really caught my eye.
I stated talking to the blonde. Turned out she was originally from Pennsylvania. I was born in New Jersey, so we both bonded over our East Coast roots.
I asked Kelly how she had gotten picked to be on the show. She said she had just gotten a call from the casting director, who was a friend of hers. I thought about all the people who live in L.A. who go on hundreds of auditions to try to get acting jobs. Seems all you have to do is have a friend who is a casting director! Nice!
Kelly told me she really wasn’t interested in being an actress, she just did the occasional job when her friend called her. I thought it was interesting to meet a beautiful blonde who lived in L.A. but had no real interest in being in show business. Kelly actually had a day job working as the Personal Assistant to Suzanne Somers, which I thought was a pretty cool gig.
Kelly told me that although her segment was not scripted, she had been told to reject the guy when he tried to pick her up at the book store. This was the first time I had ever been confronted with the notion that reality TV was not all “real.”
It made a certain kind of sense. In the taped segments, the timid guy gets rejected by Kelly, and then puts the moves on another girl, also an actress. This time, his pick-up lines work and the girl agrees to join him for a cup of coffee.
Although no actual dialogue had been written in advance, the outcomes had been predetermined. In this way, the producers were guaranteed to get a good segment for the show. The good news for me was that they were “proving” that the advice in my book really worked. If they had tried to just wing it, they might have gotten the opposite results, and that would not have been good for my sales!
I did a short interview with the host of the show. After that, I didn’t have a lot to do, so I went backstage and found Kelly. She and I spent a lot of time together on that first day.
I took Kelly over to the Green Room of THE TONIGHT SHOW, and although she was not as star struck as I was, she still thought it was pretty cool. Kelly and I seemed to be hitting it off pretty well. Maybe it was just my imagination, but it seemed to me that she actually liked me!
I asked her if she wanted to ride with me in the limo, and she said no thanks, she would take her own car and meet me at my hotel. I was kind of bummed that she didn’t want to ride with me -- what’s the fun of having a limo if you can’t have a hot babe riding with you?
That would have really made my Total Hollywood Experience complete, but I guess you can’t have everything! Kelly was a very practical girl. She knew she wasn’t planning on spending the night with me, so she chose to drive her own car, thus giving herself the freedom to leave whenever she wanted to.
Basically, she liked me, but she didn’t “like me like me!”
Kelly and I had a nice dinner, followed by a brief smooching session back at my room. I tried to get her to stay, but she politely declined. We both had to be on set early the next day, so by midnight, she was on her way home.
The next morning, the limo took me back to the studio for one more day of shooting. This was a very light day for me. They had shot all of my scenes the day before. All they needed from me was a quick pick-up shot recreating my entrance on stage.
Since I had so much free time, I figured I would spend the day making out with Kelly in my dressing room. We did stop by my dressing room briefly, but she wasn’t interested in staying long. (So much for my Hollywood fantasy!)
Instead, she and I spent most of the day hanging outside the TONIGHT SHOW green room. We saw big celebs coming and going all day long.
Jay Leno was there for a while before the show and a little while after. At any time, I could have walked over and gotten a picture taken with him. But to be honest, in a hallway where superstars like Schwarzenegger and Tom Hanks were walking by, Jay Leno really didn’t seem like that big of a deal.
Schwarzenegger seemed liked the nicest of all the superstars that we saw. His movie END OF DAYS was about to come out. As he finished taping his segment and was walking out, I wished him good luck on the movie and he said thanks. (Actually, there were about 20 other people in that hallway also wishing him luck, and like a true politician he would soon become, he graciously smiled and thanked everyone.)
The one celeb who struck me as the biggest jerk? Tom Hanks. Yes, believe it or not -- Tom Hanks Mr. Nicest Guy in Showbiz. Mr. “Modern Jimmy Stewart.”
I had always liked Hanks, but I do believe that winning back-to-back Oscars was the worst thing that ever happened to him. Once a happy-go lucky goofball, he became super-serious and self-important after his twin Oscar wins. (When is the last time he made a funny comedy?)At the time of my visit, he was in the middle of shooting CASTAWAY. He had a long scraggly beard that he had worn for the last few months of the shoot. I was going to ask him if he wanted to borrow my razor, but I thought better of it.
After Hanks finished his segment and was leaving for the day, he passed right by Kelly and I. I looked him right in the eye and said, “Goodnight, Tom.”
Now, keep in mind, Hanks didn’t know who I was. I was a guy dressed in a suit and tie, standing there with a pretty blonde, hanging right outside the TONIGHT SHOW stage. For all he knew, I could have been an NBC executive, or a special guest of the show.
So it wouldn’t have killed the guy to give me a friendly “hello.”
Instead, he looked at me like I was a piece of crap, walked right past me, and then, perhaps remembering his “nice guy” reputation, turned and spat out “Good night,” as he walked away.
My point is, it seemed like he didn’t even want to acknowledge me.
Maybe he was just in a bad mood because he had to wear that scraggly beard for three months, but still, it was not a good first encounter. Yet another Hollywood myth shattered!
Shortly after that, my workday was over and it was time for me to head back home to reality. I said goodbye to Kelly, and we exchanged email addresses. (Shortly after that, she moved back home to Pennsylvania and married a guy who was not in show business.)
My limo came and took me back to LAX. From there, I hopped on a plane and headed back to Florida. It’s an odd feeling, going from being treated like a movie star to just being a regular guy again. I totally understand why reality TV stars try so hard to cling to their fifteen minutes of fame.
When you’re in Hollywood, riding around in limos, meeting movie stars, and being treated like a king, it’s a huge comedown to have to go back to working your regular job, driving your own beat-up car, and being surrounded by regular (non-famous!) people.
It was a bit of an adjustment, that was for sure. I was working in a bar at the time. To go from having my own chauffeur to having customers order me around was not pleasant.
I think one of the reasons for the rise of reality TV is that we live in an age now where everyone feels like they deserve special treatment. The truth, of course, is that only superstars special treatment. The rest of us deserve to be treated like normal human beings.
At the end of the first day, I invited Kelly to join me for dinner. Much to my delight, she said yes!
As much as I loved my Total Hollywood Experience, I have to admit that the moment that I first stepped into my hotel room in L.A., the one emotion I felt the strongest was loneliness. I was in a strange city where I didn’t know a single person. Even having my own dressing room wasn’t as cool as it sounded. I texted my friends back in Florida to brag about it, but beyond that, I couldn't see any real point to it.
Still, I wouldn’t trade my Total Hollywood Experience for anything. I will always treasure the memory of those three days. But I do see a downside to the glamorous life. Even the most amazing experience can be an empty one if you don’t have someone to share it with.
THE HOW TO GUIDE TO LIFE never did become a series, and the pilot never aired. But that was okay. The show was just the vehicle that got me out to L.A.  For me, it was more about getting my first real taste of what the glamorous life of a Hollywood celebrity is all about.
I liked what I saw. A few years later, I moved to L.A, and I never looked back. I did get to ride in a few more limos and meet a few more movie stars (and a few more blondes). But I never forgot my first time.
And I never forgot the words of Jack Lemmon, who in the 1980 movie TRIBUTE, said, “When I first got to Hollywood, it was shallow, vulgar, tacky -- everything -- that I’d always wanted!”
Speaking as someone who had a small taste of the Hollywood high life, I know exactly what he was talking about!


Thursday, March 10, 2011

I Get Punked by Tila Tequila -- and Learn the Truth About Celebrity Sex Tapes

By Barry Dutter

What’s the best way for a D-list celebrity to get attention? How about by releasing a sex tape? But how to sell the new sex tape in a way that would attract the most attention?
How about by pretending that she didn’t want the thing released?
Seemed like a smart business move. If an actress released the tape with her blessing, it might get an initial burst of publicity and that would be it. But if she came out against the tape, she could do a slew of media appearances detailing her various legal struggles in blocking the tape’s release. She could go on talk shows and talk about how upset she was that this private tape was being released without her permission.
That would be a hell of a lot more interesting than her just going on various shows and saying, “Buy my sex tape!” (Can we even call them “tapes” any more? I mean, does anyone even own a VCR at this point?)
I had the opportunity to find out first-hand just how the whole process works when I was invited to watch a sneak preview of a new sex tape starring reality TV “star” Tila Tequila.
Tila Tequila, you may recall, came to fame by having more friends on myspace than anyone had ever had before. That led to her starring in perhaps the greatest reality show of all time, A SHOT AT LOVE. The first season of that ground-breaking show had the pint-sized cutie looking for love amidst a group of girls and guys.
The brilliance of the show was that it was the first dating show to have a bisexual protagonist. You didn’t know if Tila was going to end up with a man or a woman at the end. My fascination with A SHOT AT LOVE lasted all the way through the first season and about five minutes into the first episode of the second season, at which point I realized that the show had nothing new to say.
Most of America seemed to loose interest in Tila after that. She tried various showbiz ventures, including music, but nothing else she did seemed to catch the attention of the American public the way the first season of her TV show did.
Once you got past the novelty of the bisexual angle, there wasn’t a lot there to keep viewers engaged.
Tila has made something of a name for herself as a sex symbol, often showing up in racy pictorials in men’s magazines. So it probably seemed a natural idea for her to make a sex tape. Her first tape was a short video of her with a male partner in 2004. That one came out around the peak of her fame.
In order to drum up interest in another one, she and her people had to come up with a new angle. What they came up with was, “The first ever three-girl celebrity sex tape!”
But how to sell the new sex tape in a way that would attract the most attention?
How about by pretending that she didn’t want the thing released?
Seemed like a smart business move. If she released the tape with her blessing, it might get an initial burst of publicity and that would be it. But if she came out against the tape, she could do a slew of media appearances detailing her various legal struggles in blocking the tape’s release. She could go on talk shows and talk about how upset she was that this private tape was being released without her permission.
That would be a hell of a lot more interesting than her just going on various shows and saying, “Buy my sex tape!” (Can we even call them “tapes” any more? I mean, does anyone even own a VCR at this point?)

This is where I come in. I saw an ad on Craigs List looking for people to come in and watch a few minutes of an adult film and then have their reaction filmed for possible use of the promotional web site for the film.
The ad didn’t mention who the star of the tape was. But all applicants were warned they would be seeing some hot and heavy girl-on-girl action.
Seemed like an easy gig, so I figured what the hell. The screening was to take place at a building in North Hollywood, right next door to the offices of the porn company Vivid.
Me and my fellow screeners were to meet in a restaurant/bar on the first floor called The Casting Office. From there, we would be taken, one at a time, to the screening room upstairs to watch a few minutes of the video and give our reactions. When I arrived at the restaurant, there were three or four other people (a mix of girls and guys) waiting to screen the video.
A cute twenty-something gal named Britt was our contact. Britt gave us the lowdown. She said, “Tila is really upset about this video. She doesn’t want this thing released. We can’t even let her know we’re showing this to you. We’re so worried about her finding out about it, we couldn’t even do this in the Vivid building. We had to move next door for this screening.”
Right off the bat, this story sounded shady to me.
Would any company really have to move their screening to another building just because a celebrity was angry at them? I mean, how would the celebrity even know they were holding a screening? Why couldn’t they just do it and not tell the celebrity about it?
But Britt totally played it straight. That got me thinking, “Well, I’ve heard some pretty outrageous stories about Tila Tequila, so who knows… maybe she really is crazy enough to crash the offices of the company that is releasing her video.”
(The sex tape had officially been released a few weeks earlier. The promo we were shooting was billed as a “prank” for a web site, but let’s face -- Tila’s appearance in this video could only be construed as her way of promoting her sex tape.)
One by one, my fellow screeners were led up the stairs to watch the tape. The thing I found odd was that after each person went up the stairs, we never saw them again. I assumed they being taken out a back exit so that they couldn‘t discuss what they had seen with those of us who hadn‘t watched it yet. Those of us left at the table began to wonder if the other screeners were being taken upstairs and killed one by one!
After waiting about 45 minutes, my turn came to watch the tape. I was led up to the second floor by a very effeminate man named Jonathan. He assured me that he was not going to kill me.
We got off the elevator and I was taken into an office that had been set up for the screening.
There was a small crew in the room --a director and a cameraman. They asked me to sit in a chair and told me I would be watching Tila’s DVD on a computer monitor.
I was warned that I would be seeing some hot and heavy action. I said I could handle it.
The director said there would be two cameras filming me -- the big camera behind my back and a smaller camera on the computer itself, aimed at my face. I was told to give my honest reactions as I watched the film.
The director started the DVD in the middle of the movie -- a scene where a naked Tila and two other naked girls were, uh, doing stuff that guys like to watch.
The director said he had to run out to use the bathroom, but he would be back in a few minutes.
I started watching the movie. It looked like pretty much like any other lesbian porn you’ve seen before. (I mean, how many different ways are there to show women doing it?) Tila and these two other naked chicks were all over each other.
Then the cameraman told me he had to go check on some equipment in the next room.
Now I was alone in the offfice. Just me and the three-way celebrity lesbian sex tape that Tila Tequila did not want me to see.
It was definitely a strange experience. The cameras were still filming me, so I felt obligated to say something. I was being paid, after all. So I made a few comments to myself about the action on screen, basically cheering Tila on, and encouraging her to go for it! I wanted to give the producers something they could use in their promotional ads.
Just then, a pint-sized pixie walked into the room. It was Tila Tequlia.
The first thing you notice about her is how tiny she is. Even with high heels, she looks two feet tall!
She walked right up to me, dressed in a white blouse, a long black skirt and black boots. She looked like the way a porno actress would dress if she were playing an executive.
“What are you doing?” she asked me.
Obviously I was being punked. Obviously Tila was in on the gag. Obviously they wanted some kind of reaction out of me. But how to play it?
I assumed Tila was supposed to be mad at me, but her acting was so bland, it was hard to tell what she was feeling.
I started off sheepish: “You look a lot like the girl in the video,“ I said. “It’s my video and no one is supposed to see it,“ she replied. I realized I needed to play it up more, acknowledge that I knew who she was and how shocked I was to see her. I decided to act like I was embarrassed. “You’re not supposed to be here!” I exclaimed.
“Me? What about you? Why are you here?” We went back and forth for a minute, with her giving me a hard time about watching the video, and me acting like it was no big deal. I had to wonder where this prank was going. Was she going to take her clothes off and try to drag me into an impromptu adult film?
She reached over and took the DVD out of the computer, saying she was taking it away. I pretended to be really disappointed. “Can’t I just watch a little more?” I asked. “No,” came the reply. “You’ve seen enough.”
“Well, can I get a hug then? I’m a big fan!”
Tila very reluctantly gave me a hug then took the DVD and walked out the door.
At this point, the crew came back into the room (although Tila did not). She went back into hiding in order to spring her trap on her next unsuspecting viewer.
I didn’t know if they would be able to use my footage or not. I tend to just kind of roll with things, so when Tila walked in, I didn’t really have a big reaction at first. I think they might have been looking for more of a “Oh shit, it’s Tila Tequila, I’m in big trouble now!”
But like I said, she kind of underplayed it, too. If she had stormed into the room and seemed angry, I would definitely have played it differently. Or to put it another way, if she had been a better actress, I would have stepped up my game.
As soon as my screening was over, Jonathan handed me my cash and I was on my way. When I got home, I decided to do some research about this whole sex tape. Turns out there was a lot of press out there about Tila “fighting” the release of this tape.
She gave quotes to all the gossip sites, saying things like, “My reputation and public persona will be negatively affected in a manner that cannot be reduced to a dollar amount."
She added “The amateur videotape is of poor quality, and while I am not certain of all of its contents, I do know that it is extremely embarrassing.”
On her own web site, she reluctantly did a blog about the sex tape, saying it had been made two years ago, and that the “asshole” who was releasing it was demanding “$1 million” from Tila if she wanted to buy back the tape. She added that she had spent $75,000 in legal fees fighting then release of her first sex tape, and she was not about to go through that again.
Tila added that she had avoided talking about the tape, but she finally felt the need to address all the rumors that had been circulating about it. She stressed that that she wished the tape would never be released, “because it’s not who I am, not something I would condone, nor is it one of my proudest moments, AND the fact that it’s not the woman that I am TODAY!!!!!!!!!” (All those exclamation points are hers. She’s a bit of a drama queen when she writes!)
The main thrust of her blog was that she was a serious actress now (she just did a guest stint on $#!+ MY DAD SAYS, as well as a very funny skit with Jennifer Aniston and Zach Galifinakis on FUNNY OR DIE) and was trying to put her sexpot past behind her. She stressed that “this is not something...I wish to publicize.”
Tila apparently has some very loyal fans. Her blog got four pages of responses, all of them agreeing with her that the guy releasing the tape was an asshole, and saying that Tila deserved to be treated better. Basically, they bought every word of her denial. She calls them “the Tila army” and they are good little soldiers, I’ll grant them that. They pretty much believe anything Tila tells them.
(There was one hater on Tila’s web site who commented, “It’s not even a sex tape, it’s clearly a little porn made with professional porn stars.” Another Tila fan offered her support, but did chastise Tila for not telling the whole truth, adding “the video was obviously made recently, not two years ago.”)
Clearly the administrator for Tila’s site needs to work a little harder at keeping those truth-telling haters off her web site!
Tila’s PR people made a big deal stressing how much she was against the release of this tape. Her publicist released statement saying, "Tila Nguyen is in total shock and livid right now that someone had the audacity to leak out an intimate tape made with her and her two girlfriends without her consent. That tape was not meant for the public and she has been fighting fiercely in court to not have anything released. We are currently working with her lawyer's to decide what the next steps are."
I had to give them credit -- they certainly made a convincing argument about not wanting people to see that tape. But I knew the real truth. I was there in that screening room when Tila walked in. Clearly she was in on the whole thing from the start. Even the footage of her stopping people from watching the tape would be used to promote the tape.
It was a very clever marketing strategy, I thought.
About a week later, Tila’s “prank” video appeared online. Overall, the bit did not work out that well, because Tila just didn’t seem angry enough that people were watching her tape. I got some nice exposure in the prank tape. Mostly you see me laughing; I have a hard time keeping a straight face when I’m being punked by a petite pixie!
I don’t know if our “prank” video helped sell any copies of Tila’s sex tape. Actually, I don’t know anyone who even pays for porn any more. I still think if Tila really wanted to make some good money and get a lot of attention, rather than do a sex tape, she should have done CELEBRITY REHAB liked they asked her to. Maybe if the sex tape doesn’t sell well, she might want to start drinking heavily…

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Worst Jobs I Never Had in Hollywood

By Barry Dutter

Over the past few months, I have written about some of the crappy jobs I’ve had in Hollywood. But wait till you hear about the jobs I didn’t take!
Shortly after I arrived in L.A. and started sending my pictures out, I received a call from an agent. He said he might have a part for me in a commercial. But he had a couple of questions for me first.
“Have you ever taken any sort of martial arts classes?” he asked.
“No,” I replied.
“Oh. Because we’re looking for somebody who is able to maintain a crouching position for a long period of time, and usually people who study martial arts have really good discipline when it comes to that sort of thing.”
“What sort of job is this“ I asked.
“Well, in the commercial, you’d be wearing a frog costume. You’d be crouching on a lily pad all day.”
“Oh. Um…” I honestly didn’t know how to reply to that. This didn’t sound like much of an acting job.
“Well, we’ve got a few other people we’re looking at for this one, so we’ll be in touch.”
I hung up the phone, not sure of what to think. I never did hear back from the guy.
As bizarre as that job would have been, I almost had an even weirder one recently. I saw an ad on Craigs List asking for hairy-chested men for an internet video spoof.
Being naturally hairy is one of my best talents, so of course I replied to the ad. Then I got a call from the casting director. He said he thought I would be perfect for the job.
“What’s this video all about?” I asked.
“We need a guy who’s willing to let us shave his chest-hair into the shape of a bra.”
Okay, now, that sounded pretty funny to me, but it seemed like one of those things that would be funnier to watch on the Internet than it would be to star in.
The guy offered a decent sum of money, and I gave it some thought. My first thought was, “I don’t want to do this video and then be walking around for the next few weeks with a chest-hair bra until the rest of it grows back.”
Then it occurred to me that there was nothing stopping me from shaving off the rest of my “chest-hair bra” as soon as I got home. I’ve shaved off my body hair before, and it only takes a few weeks to grow back.
I figured I could just go in to whichever studio they were shooting in, do the video, be out of there in an hour, and go straight home and shave off the rest. The money was decent for an hour’s work, so I tried convincing myself it wouldn’t be so bad. (All the while, I was conveniently ignoring the fact that this video would be probably be shown on the Internet from now until infinity.)
The next day, the casting agent called again. By this time, he was referring to the bit as a “chest-hair bikini top” instead of calling it a bra. I guess he figured that made it sound more masculine or something.
Bikini top, bra, what’s the difference? No matter what you call it, you still look like an idiot if you do it!
Then he dropped a bombshell on me. “We’ll be filming on Sunset Blvd.” he said.
Wait a minute. Did he say “on Sunset Blvd?!” As in, out in public? Not in a studio?
I had pictured a small studio shoot, with a tiny crew and maybe an audience of 25 or so. But to do it outside, in public, on one of the busiest streets in L.A.? That was a whole different kind of shoot.
This was a seeming more and more like a JACKASS stunt and less and less like an acting job.
I was trying to find a way to back out gracefully when I got an email later that day from the casting director saying the producers had decided to go with a different actor. They felt I wasn’t hairy enough for the part.
Funny thing was, I actually agreed with them!
If you’re going to do a “chest-hair bikini top” bit, you want to have an actor who is covered in hair from head to toe. I’m about as hairy as the average Italian-American man, but I’m not quite in Robin Williams territory.
This was the first time I ever lost a part for not being hairy enough, and I must say, it was quite a relief.
I’ve had some pretty humiliating jobs over the course of my acting career, but I can’t imagine one that would have been more embarrassing than that one.
Of course, that’s the great thing about Hollywood -- your next “worst job ever” is just a phone call away!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Game Show Lessons: Never Partner with a Pot-Head!

By Barry Dutter

Of all the lessons I’ve learned on various game shows over the years, probably the most important one is this: never partner with a pot-head!
In 2010, I saw an ad on Craigs List looking for people who wanted to surprise a friend by secretly signing them up for a game show for GSN -- one where the friend was unaware that they were a contestant!
As soon as I saw the ad, I figured this was a good chance for me to help a friend win some big money -- and make a few bucks for myself at the same time.
I have a friend named Kelly who is a schoolteacher. She's smart and quick, and has been on game shows before. I pitched her to the network, but for whatever reason, they weren't too excited about her. So I decided to try again with a different girl.
I decided to go with someone who was the opposite of Kelly. I had another friend, Amber, who was an actress/model. She was 25, very tall, pretty, and with huge natural boobs. Because of her Amazonian body, Amber got a lot of work in movies and TV shows in L.A. (You can see her in PIRANAHA 3-D, wearing a bikini!) Amber loved the beach, and amusement parks, and, oh yes, she had one other hobby-- like many Los Angelenos, she liked to dabble in pot-smoking.
The premise of the new game show was that you were not supposed to tell your friend you were setting her up to be on TV. She was supposed to walk into an office, thinking she was going on a job interview, and then be stunned to see legendary game show host Wink Martindale walk out and reveal that she was about to play a game for the chance to win $5,000!
I sent a picture of Amber in to the casting agents for the show, which was called INSTANT RECALL. They liked Amber and they agreed to book her on the show as a contestant -- if I could guarantee that she would show up. Even if she didn’t win, Amber would get $500 just for playing the game. I would get $100 for setting her up, regardless of whether I was there for the taping not. I thought it would be fun to be there when they sprung the trap on her.
In L.A, it’s hard to get people to show up for anything, even if there is money involved. I told Amber that I had arranged a job interview for her with a catering company. I then tipped her off that it would be in her best interests to show up for this interview, because there might be a TV game show going on at the same time.
The producers I spoke to were very concerned that Amber not know she was being set up to be on TV. They wanted to make sure she wouldn’t be suspicious, that she wouldn’t have any reason to suspect there might be something going on. They asked me if I had ever gotten Amber job interviews before. I assured them that this was a very common thing, that I have often hooked her up with waitressing gigs in the past.
This was a total lie, of course, but hey, I‘ll say anything to get on TV!
The producers were very excited about the idea of surprising Amber when they revealed that the “job interview” was a phony. They really wanted to see genuine reactions of the people they were ambushing.
Having worked on various reality shows over the years, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that all the contestants on INSTANT RECALL had been tipped off in advance by their friends. I mean, all you have to do is say to your friend, “Dude -- you get $500 just for showing up! Just act surprised and then you’ll have the chance to win $5,000!”
It’s much easier to get people to show up for stuff when you lay it all out there like that.
The premise of Amber’s episode was that she and one other unsuspecting contestant would show up in the lobby of a big hotel in L.A. where several odd people are waiting for job interviews. All of the oddballs would interact with Amber and the other contestant a little bit. Then suddenly host Wink Martindale would pop out and reveals that it's all being taped for TV. Wink would then lead the contestants to another room which has been transformed into the set of a TV game show. The two contestants are then grilled on everything that they saw from the moment they walked into the hotel lobby. Whichever one of them got the highest score would win $5,000.
I was invited to come in and watch all the action from inside the control room. At the end of the show, I was to be brought out to either congratulate or console my friend.
I arrived about an hour before Amber was scheduled for her “job interview.” I met the producers of the show, and I met Kimberly, who was setting up her friend, Claudia for the same episode.
The show was being filmed in a fancy hotel in LA. The crew had transformed a banquet room into a makeshift control room. There were a bank of monitors showing multiple views of the lobby. There was a crew of about a dozen people, as well as half a dozen actors who had been hired to play the oddballs in the lobby.
I sat and waited for Amber to arrive. At one point, Wink Martindale came over and said hi -- a super nice guy.
I texted Amber to make sure she was coming. She texted back and assured me that she was on her way, fighting rush hour traffic as best as she could. At around 5:45 pm, the actors were told to head out into the lobby to await the arrival of our two unsuspecting contestants.
Amber’s opponent arrived first -- a Mexican girl named Claudia. Claudia entered the lobby of the hotel, where she was told to have a seat and wait for her job interview along with the other applicants. Claudia sat and filled out her bogus job application as she waited.
The clock ticked closer to 6:00 p.m.-- and still no Amber. The producers started to get really stressed. They didn’t want to leave Claudia alone in that lobby with those actors for too long. They were afraid she would catch on.
I was the one who had promised I could deliver Amber, so all eyes turned to me. I didn’t know what to do. Amber was not picking up her phone and had stopped returning my texts. I wished I could magically reach into my pocket and pull out Amber, but that obviously wasn’t going to happen.
All I could do was smile feebly and say, “She’s on her way. She must be stuck in traffic.”
The producers were not impressed. Their feeling was, if Amber thinks she is going on a job interview, she should be on time.
They producers were all looking at their watches. The director was saying that they could do the show without her if they had to -- just do the show with one contestant.
I had set up this whole thing so that I could help out my starving actress friend and make both of us some money. It was looking like she was going to blow the whole thing. I was wondering if I would even get my $100 if my contestant never showed up.
Finally Amber texted me to say that she had arrived and was parking her car in the garage.
Everyone was relieved. All we had to do was wait for Amber to come up the elevator. Five minutes passed. Then ten. Something was wrong.
Amber was not coming up the elevator. Again, she was not answering her phone. By this point, the producers had had enough of her tardiness and decided to go on without her.
Just at that moment, Amber entered the lobby. She was about 20 minutes late, but she was finally ready for her “job interview.” The show could now go on as planned!
Amber was given her fake application and she began filling it out as well.
The oddball actors were all seated around Amber and Claudia. The actors started making small talk -- little bits of conversation. One girl mentioned the city where she was from -- Anchorage, Alaska. A guy had a deck of playing cards and did a magic trick using the Jack of Hearts.
He wanted to make sure each girl got a good look at the card he was holding. He tapped Amber on the shoulder to show her the card. But Amber was so focused on filling out her “job application” that she wasn’t really paying attention to what was going on around her. Claudia had long since finished filling out her application, so she was able to give her full attention to the wackos in the lobby.
A bogus “hotel manager” came out and addressed the applicants, telling them some of the crazy duties they would be expected to perform, at a fancy banquet for a visiting Chinese dignitary. The joke here was that the job applicants would be shown some crazy ways to serve food and drinks, and told, "This is the custom of how things are done in China." Amber seemed genuinely freaked out by everything that was going on around her.
She certainly did a convincing job of playing someone who had no idea she was on a TV show!
After a few minutes of craziness, Wink Martindale popped out and sprang the big surprise on the girls. Amber and Claudia were both excited about the chance to compete for big money.
The girls were led to the “game show set” in the next room. Each girl stood at a podium while Wink asked the first question: what city was the girl in the lobby from? Amber struggled to remember, but she really hadn’t been paying attention. Claudia buzzed in: “Anchorage, Alaska.”
Correct! Next question. Which card did the guy in the lobby do the card trick with? Again, Amber got a pained expression on her face. She had no clue. Claudia buzzed in with the correct answer: “Jack of Hearts.”
The rest of the game played about the same way. Amber was completely lost. She had arrived so late, and had focused so much on filling out the job application, she hadn’t paid any attention to the antics of the actors around her.
The funny thing about that is that I had told Amber ahead of time that it was a bogus job, that she was going to be quizzed on everything that happened once she arrived. And she still got all the answers wrong!
It should come as no surprise to learn that Amber's opponent, Claudia was the winner. Claudia didn’t get the big prize of $5,000, but she still won a couple grand. Not bad for an hour’s work!
At the end of the show, I was brought out on stage, along with Kimberly, the friend who had set Claudia up. We all exchanged hugs, and smiles as Wink thanked the girls for playing and wished everyone a good night.
After the show was over, Amber was nice enough to take me out to dinner. She got paid $500 just for playing, she felt like she owed me a meal. She even threw me a few bucks as her way of saying thanks, and I definitely appreciated that.
As we ate our dinner, I asked Amber why she had taken so long to come up the elevator after she had arrived. She said, "I smoked a joint in the parking garage!” I asked her why she did that, when she knew she was already late and she knew everyone was waiting for her.
She replied, “I was nervous.”
So there you have it. I never partnered with Amber on any other shows after that. I mean, sure it was fun, and we both got paid ok for basically doing nothing, but still, the payoff could have been much bigger.
Back in my college days, I did a term paper on the harmful side effects on marijuana. One of the top symptoms of smoking pot is short-term memory loss. Probably not a good drug to partake in before you go on a show called INSTANT RECALL!