by Jill Effron
Here’s a little story about old school Hollywood that took place last century. It was a time when texting and googling weren’t part of our everyday lives, and if you needed to make a call from the top of Mulholland Drive while driving, only an analog car phone would do. And it was a time when GPS and iPhone navi systems were futuristic and you relied on your Thomas Guide. Yes, I’m talking about 1999.
It was spring of ’99 and pilot season was in high gear. One night around 11pm the other PA and I were tired of trying to fall asleep on the lumpy production office couches and decided to take the golf cart for a spin around the lot for a little game of “Mercedes v. BMW.” This was a nightly event that occurred while we patiently waited for the script to be done. It’s quite fun to drive around an empty lot counting how many BMWs and Mercedes were parked in front of bungalows at a very unfunny hour of the night. In case you were wondering, BMWs always won.
Around midnight our beepers went off and the scripts were ready for delivery. In pilot season, midnight is pretty early to get a script from the writing department. I was in charge of delivering to the Westside of town, while the other PA took the Eastside and the Valley.
I was given specific instructions not to ring the executive producer’s doorbell, and just to leave his script in the mailbox. The first stop I made was to pick up my boyfriend who didn’t like the idea of me delivering scripts alone at midnight. He brought the coffee and I brought the ’80s tunes and scripts.
The windows were down and you could smell all the blossoming flowers in the hills of Beverly as my Jeep chugged up the dark and curvy roads. All was quiet. It was actually kind of fun and relaxing. What could possibly go wrong?
I pulled up to the EP’s house and parked my Jeep at the foot of his driveway. I gingerly exited my car, and quietly shut my door with script in hand. I walked up to the gate. No mailbox. I jogged to the other end of the gate. Not there either.
I ran back to the car, “I can’t find the mailbox.” “Ring the bell,” he suggested, as if stating the obvious. “I can’t. I was given specific directions not to do that.” He rolled his eyes and got out of the car and for the next five minutes we frantically searched for the mailbox. This is what two degrees in communications from a private college will get you, kids!
“What do we do?!” “Toss it over the gate?” he suggested again, as if again stating the obvious. “What if he runs over it in the morning with his car?” “Good point.” We paced the driveway. I had no choice. We had now searched for a mailbox for 20 minutes and I still had nine more scripts to deliver and had to be back at work by 8am.
“You’re going to have to ring the bell,” he said. I sighed and shuffled to the gate and hesitantly pressed the call button. “Hello?” A man answered. I took a deep breath, “Hi, I’m really sorry to bother you so late at night, but I have the pilot script for you.” I wanted to vomit. “Leave it in the mailbox.“
“Yes, you see, I can’t find it . . . ” My voice went up 10 octaves on “it.” “It’s to the right and under some vines.” “Okay, thank . . . “ And he had hung up. I looked to my right and under some vines and found the mailbox. I then looked up and saw a video camera, which meant the last 20 minutes of us frantically searching for the mailbox and having a panic attack was all caught on security surveillance.
To all of the assistants of today, be grateful for the ability to email scripts at midnight, because if you had to do midnight runs, you would be doubling your dosage of Xanax.Tags: 1999, Golf cart, Hollywood, Hollywood assistant, Jill Effron, Mercedes vs BMW, Old school Hollywood, Production assistant (PA), Script delivery, Television pilot season