12-15-2011, 06:44 PM
After a long morning of planning and production meetings, Criss and his manager, Dave Baram, broke off for lunch. In keeping with his fitness training, Criss dined on a low-fat chicken stir-fry, deftly manipulating the chopsticks from the styrofoam take-out container to his mouth. Dave stuck to simpler American fare, a Caesar salad eaten with a plastic fork.
"So, what did you think of the script?" Dave asked Criss.
"Yeah, the screenplay for the TV movie."
Suddenly, Criss remembered. "Oh! Oh, yeah! The Christmas one!"
"Yeah, so, did you read it?" Dave pressed.
"Yeah, I kinda skimmed through it," Criss replied drily. "Sounds like fun. It's not a big part, granted, but..."
"Well, you don't want it to consume all of your time, you know."
"Well, no" Criss conceded. "But I think I can make it work."
"So you agree to do it?"
Criss picked up a piece of chicken with his chopsticks. "Don't see why not? I mean, it's different." He pointed the sticks in Dave's face "But I want to do the special effects with no camera tricks," he insisted firmly. "If I'm gonna be in it, I can't short-change my audience by cheating."
"I'll take it up with the producer," Dave promised. "If you can pull that off, you'll have one helluva movie!"
"It's gonna be one helluva movie," Criss echoed confidently, "because I'll be in it!"
Dave winced at this bit of self-aggrandizement. "I'll call the producer and tell them you're interested. As for comp, well..."
"That I'm gonna have to negotiate," Dave told him. "You want your usual fee, or..."
"My usual fee, no less," Criss insisted. "Take it or leave it."
Dave nodded. "Got it."
Satisfied, Criss took another mouthful of stir-fry. "So, when does shooting start?" he asked.
"Two weeks at the earliest," Dave answered. "Depends on your availability."
"I'll have Eliza check my schedule and go from there."
"Okay, but you have to show up earlier for costume fitting."
Criss was amused at that. "Costume fitting?" he laughed. "Why do I have to be 'fitted' for a costume? I play a homeless bum, for chrissakes! Put on a few raggedy clothes and that's it!"
"Correction," Dave said, "you play an angel that looks like a homeless bum. You reveal your true self at the end, remember?"
Criss thought about it. "Hm," he grunted. "Guess I forgot that part."
"You'd better read that script a little more carefully," Dave advised. "You'll be doing a reading for the producer and director before we seal the deal. If they don't like you, they'll find someone else to do the part."
"They'll like me," Criss assured him. "They practically wrote this with me in mind, so why would they choose someone else? If they don't like me, then (bleep) them--find someone else or scrap the whole thing!"
Dave looked at Criss irritably. "Just don't let your ego get in the way, okay, Criss?"
Criss smiled. "Relax, Dave," he said cheerfully, "it's gonna be all right! We'll have a great movie for the holidays, don't worry about it! I'll give them the performance of a lifetime, I promise!"
"All the same," Dave persisted, "don't go on any ego trips over this. It's a TV movie, not a major Hollywood production. Do your own stunts if you want, but don't go prima donna on anyone, okay? It's not good for your image--or mine!"
"I'm not gonna go prima donna, Dave."
"Good. You'd better not, or else."
Criss eyed Dave warily. "Or else, what?"
Dave leaned closer, staring his star client squarely in the eye. "Or else I'm gonna kick your ass all the way back to Long Island, New York, that's what!"
Criss laughed out loud, thinking his manager was being facetious. Dave, however, remained grim. "I mean it, Criss," he said seriously. "I ain't gonna stand around while you lord it over the whole film crew. You won't be in charge of this movie, you know; you'll be under someone else's direction, not your own like in your live show or your series. So, you'd better whittle down that ego of yours and be willing to take direction during filming, or else!"
"Okay, fine," Criss aquiesced. "Hey, I've done TV before, rememeber? CSI: New York? I can take direction just fine."
"That was years ago, Criss," Dave pointed out.
Criss shrugged. "So?"
"So, you weren't in charge as much as you are now" Dave said. "Ever since you launched Believe you've been running the entire show in more ways than one. You can't bring yourself to relinquish power now."
"I'm not that power-mad, Dave," Criss protested.
Dave shook his head. "No, but all the same, check your ego at the door when you're working with the director, okay? He's in charge, not you, got it?"
"Okay, I got it, I got it!"
"Good." Dave set aside his salad container. "Now, I'll call the producers and tell them you're interested in the movie. We'll set up an appointment for you to meet them, give them a reading of the part, and go on from there." For the first time that afternoon, he smiled. "You'll do great, Criss," he said. "Just remember what we talked about, okay? No one likes a stuck-up angel."
"I'm not stuck-up, Dave!" Criss argued. "I'm just confident in my abilities to do this thing."
"Right," Dave said, eager to end the discussion. "It's time to get back to work, me in the office, you on the set. I'll talk to you later."
The two men rose, shook hands cordially, and parted. Don't know what Dave's got a bug up his ass about, Criss thought. I'm not gonna go 'prima donna' like he said. It's just a few days' shoot: I do my part for a few hours and I'm outta there. I'm not gonna go demanding a luxury trailer or anything! Besides, I owe it to the Loyal to do this. I'm doing it for them more'n for me. It's gonna be a great movie; I'm gonna make damn sure it will be!
Criss made a mental note to read the script more carefully that afternoon, see what illusions he could come up with to make it more effective. I'll be saving the producers a wad of cash by doing my own magic, he told himself. They ought to thank me for that. I'll never stoop so low as to use camera tricks, nosirree! I'll bring my own brand of magic to the screen! That'll impress everybody! Yeah, this is gonna be the best holiday movie ever!