Posts Tagged ‘stage manager’

 

 

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Don’t say, the end is near
Don’t fade to black, don’t draw that curtain
My colleagues, I’ll say it clear
Directors know, they can be certain
I’ve had a career that’s full
I cued from each and every doorway
And more, much more than this, I did it your way

Mistakes, I’ve made a few
But then again, too few to mention
And now what I really want is health insurance and to grow my pension
I planned each perfect shot, each rundown step with no room for play
And more, much more than this, I did it your way

Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew
Producers bit off more than they could chew
But we did it all, when there was no time
My crew and I, to make you shine
Directors all know we stood tall and did it your way

I’ve lead so many stars
I’ve had my fill, my share of wrangling
I’ve always been polite to divas whom I’ve felt like strangling
To think I did all that
For 30 years, in such a sure way
Oh, yes, oh, yes, t’was me, I did it your way

For what is a stage manager, what has she got?
If not her crew, then she has naught
To find the shots the director “feels”
Remind a cameraman, that thing has wheels
Everyone knows, I worked your shows and did it your way!

Yes, it was your way

www.linkedin.com/pub/kim-miller/11/23a/b36/

 

I am available for any and all TV stage managing opportunities.  Please contact me at DJGRRR17@aol.com with any leads or inquiries.

 

With love and thanks to Frank, Paul and Claude.

I love women. 

I also love men.  As a person who is trying her best to “Do unto others…” and lead an authentic, wholesome life, I tend to love everyone first and ask questions later.  There are, most definitely, people on the planet who turn my stomach and fill me with nothing but wholesome disgust, but I love them anyway and wish for them happiness, enlightenment and peace.  It amazes me, though, how many people there are who simply assume that, because I am a lesbian, I automatically hate men.

In the late 1980s and early 90s, I worked at a local TV station in Secaucus, New Jersey.  I would make the daily drive in from Brooklyn, against the usual flow of rush-hour traffic to my job as a stage manager, working on shows such as 9 Broadcast Plaza (with a young Matt Lauer), Steampipe Alley (with an even younger Mario Cantone) or, if I happened to be on the late shift, The Morton Downey, Jr. Show and the 10 o’clock news.  I loved my job and I worked with a lot of great people.  The place was so busy that parking spaces were difficult to find and the lunchroom was always full.

As a television stage manager I have to tell a whole crew of people what to do and when to do it.  I have to cue talent and guests out and give time cues and get the audience involved and keep the director informed about what is happening on the studio floor and backstage and do whatever he or she needs to make the show successful.  It’s an important but fun job, suited perfectly for a multitasking, think-on-your-feet, physically fit, motivational yet polite person.  You can never panic.  You can never bark at people.  You need to be able to get the audience members to applaud even when they’re not sure they want to.  And you have to stay one or two steps ahead of everyone and everything.  I have been a stage manager for more than 30 years and I can’t think of a regular job I’d rather do.  My job has taken me all around the country and the world, to presidential conventions, dog shows, basketball and football games, museums, debates and five different Olympics.  It’s been a blast.

At Channel 9 in Secaucus all those years ago, I made some lifelong friends.  A lot of them were men.  A lot of them went on to bigger and better things as the station started to shed productions and jobs.  We were there in the good old days and didn’t have a clue at the time.  It’s only now, all these years later, that we can reflect, through social media opportunities, on how good we had it back then, when we all worked together and thought of each other as family.  I had friends who were cameramen and audio engineers and technical directors and associate directors and show directors and janitors.  There were women in all those jobs, too.  Everyone said hello to everyone.  The hallways were abuzz with activity.  There were days, back then, when it even seemed like everyone was “sleeping” with everyone.  That sounds like an idea for a future blog post.

Recently I was hired to work on an independent TV production that airs daily on cable.  The broadcast company needed studio space so they shopped around and found some nice, clean, available studios in Secaucus, New Jersey.  Channel 9 is nearly empty now.  Almost everyone who ever worked there is gone.  The hallways are quiet, the whole upstairs floor is dark and old equipment litters the studios and control rooms.  Two of the three studios have not been converted to digital, so no one wants to rent them for anything.  Studio C, though, where up until recently WWOR created its own nightly news program, is fairly up-to-date.  The audio board is an ornery relic and the arm on the jib camera isn’t very long, but the whole place works so it was available to rent.  A friend called me and told me to get my butt over there and ask for a job.  I got one.  Not exactly the job I was hoping for, but after three years of almost complete unemployment, I’ll take it.

When I walked in for my interview, the first person I saw in the studio was Richie.  He was up on a scissor lift, working on some lighting in the grid.  “Yo, Bro,” I yelled up to him, to the surprise of the production manager who was leading my interview.

“Slim!” Richie yelled back, using his old nickname for me.  He brought that scissor lift down and gave me an awesome hug.  Soon, Billy was there and hugging me, too.  Then Tommy and Jim.  My old stagehands.  My men.  My brothers in production.  I had known them all for at least 25 years but hadn’t seen any of them in eons.  They were old.  I was old.  We’re in our 40s and 50s and 60’s now, but working together again has given us all a renewed youth and a chance to scoff at the kids working alongside us who seem to have very little respect for the accomplishments and experience of their elders.  Twenty and 30 years ago, we weren’t like that.  Richie and I discussed what it was like coming up in the industry in the early 1980s, when the old guys then were all part of the greatest generation.  They were WWII photographers who became cameramen, Navy radiomen who became audio engineers, men who, as mere kids, parachuted into France to free the world of Nazis.  By the mid-80s they were middle-aged, the way Richie and I are now.  And we treated them with the utmost respect and reverence.  We listened to their stories and learned from them.  We loved those men.

And I love my men.  I love Richie and Billy and Tommy and Jim.  We don’t see eye to eye on every little thing.  We come from different backgrounds.  We’ve taken different roads.  I have always been out to them, though, and could not even imagine any of them acting judgemental of me because of my sexual orientation.  I have told them all, many times, if a crazy war suddenly broke out in our backyards, I would want them on my side.  They have said the same about me.  We work well together and treat each other with respect.  No, I don’t want to sleep with them.  But I really do love working with them.  And back in the day, I really loved partying with them, too.  When we were kids who had the energy and the time.

UPDATE:  Unfortunately, as of yesterday, my position at the new show has been eliminated.  I still love my men, but they will have to carry on without me.  Anyone who knows of a production looking for a good, reliable, professional stage manager or A2, please let me know.

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ImageDespite how down in the dumps it is right now, I have to admit I’ve had a pretty amazing career.  I have been flown all over North America, to Asia, to Europe, been handed business class Acela tickets to D.C. and back, been to the West Wing and the South Lawn of the White House and been backstage at Radio City, The Apollo, Carnegie Hall, The Felt Forum, Madison Square Garden, Orchestra Hall in Detroit, the band shell where they celebrate July 4th by playing the 1812 Overture in Boston and other amazing places that I’m sure I’ve forgotten.  I’ve met and/or worked with almost every celebrity there is.  Some, like Sarah Jessica Parker and George Clooney, remember me and ask me how I am or tell me my haircut looks nice or my Achilles tendon will eventually heal or they just have that sweet movie star smile for me, every time we meet.  Some, like Ehud Barak, tell me jokes and ask me questions about modern American pop culture.  Some, like Andrea Bocelli and Roberto Benigni love it when I speak to them in Italian and tell me my accent is “very very good.”  And some, like Maya Angelou, inspire me and hug me when my awe and appreciation become difficult to disguise.

People who know what I do, or did, since I am currently a stage manager without a show to call my own, ask me all the time what I can reveal about the stars; who are my favorites, who are the real jerks.  That’s easy.  I absolutely adore Susan Sarandon, Liza Minnelli and Al Green.  They are all famous, yes, but also humble and real.  P!nk is a total peach.  Alicia Keys is a sweetie pie.  Celine Dion, even though I’m not a big fan of her music, is one of the funniest women I have ever met.  She came in to a show I was working for a Christmas post-tape and had the entire crew in stitches for hours.  Beyonce Knowles and Sarah McLachlan are pleasures to stage manage.

Barry Bonds is an egotistical jerk.  Curt Schilling is an asshole.  He pushed through a group of kids who were all hoping for an autograph or a high-five and he gave them nothing, not even a smile.  Bill Cosby can go either way, depending on what day you happen to catch him.  Rod Stewart is a high-maintenance pain in the butt.

The biggest freakazoid famous person I have ever met, though, is Mariah Carey.  She has the largest posse in creation.  Her “handlers” are obnoxious idiots.  They actually had me seat her in the interview chair and then asked me to back off, which I did.  They then proceeded to perfectly fine tune her hair, adjust her wardrobe, argue about which way she should cross her ankles and put finishing touches on her makeup.  And then they placed her hands, one on her lap and one on the arm of the chair, exactly how they wanted them and told her not to move any muscle that wasn’t needed to work her mouth while she answered the interviewers questions.  And she actually LET them do all of this to her.  I was thinking, are you kidding me?  Holy smokes, the whole crew breathed a sigh of relief when she and her people were gone.

Maybe once I retire I’ll write a tell-all about my decades in the biz:  Blow jobs in the men’s room, drugs in the green room, celebrities who had to be kept apart because if they saw each other they might try to rip each other’s heads off, musicians with no patience who have walked off stage during rehearsals because the audio department couldn’t quite get their act together, super-models who love M&M’s but would only eat them out of a bowl after all the blue ones had been plucked out, superstars who can’t perform without access to their favorite strawberry soda and young, famous actors who treat their little yip yip dogs better than they treat their managers.  Oh, yes, I could write a book, as the saying goes.  Stage managers know all.

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“I’m not a magician, Spock, I’m just a…” simple stage manager.  Ask me for no miracles.  I will illicit no oohs or ahhs.  There are no rabbits in my hat or rubber chickens up my sleeve.  I’m just a television stage manager.  If you need an actor to walk through a certain door at a certain time, or a talk show host to stop talking precisely when the countdown reaches zero, or a weatherman to wait a second and a half to speak even though the big red light is on, I’m your person.  As a member of the Directors Guild of America, I have cued and prompted and held back all kinds of anchors and celebrities and surprise guests and clueless first-timers for more than two decades.  The last three years, though?  Not so much.

And it’s not as if I haven’t been out there, trying to find work.  I’m on LinkedIn, Media Match, Monster, tvgigs.net, Beyond.com and a whole host of other online job-search sites.  I know hundreds of people in the industry, all of whom have been amply made aware of my need for a new job.  My experience is vast and my resume is pretty impressive, I must say.  Still, I sit in the bullpen, waiting for that email or phone call that will change my life.

At first, I thought it was my disability that was holding me back.  After years as a club DJ and headset-wearing stage manager, I find myself hearing-impaired.  It was indeed a problem, not just on a professional level but on a day-to-day level as well.  So I fixed it.  I have hearing aids now and can hear just fine.  I saw to it that the word spread; Kim’s no longer half-deaf.

Then I got paranoid and pictured some not-so-nice people in the industry working against me, as if anybody actually would have time for that.  I thought maybe I was being blackballed for some unknown reason.  Don’t hire Kim for anything, I heard in my sleep, in my dreams, in my more paranoid and depressing moments.  I felt certain that I had enemies and  they were making sure I suffered.  I asked the people I trusted most to listen carefully for words spoken against me.  There was nothing.

So then I settled on fate.  On my belief that the universe gives us what we need, not what we request.  That a job in television was being denied me because there was something else I was supposed to be doing.  Something more important.  And for a while I thought, okay, bring it.  Let’s do this important work, whatever it is.  Show me the way.  My friends chimed in, said yes, stay positive, it will come.  Some relatives said our door is always open.  Stay with us whenever you need to, meaning when it gets so bad that you find yourself homeless and penniless.  As in now.  Former coworkers called and sent texts with job leads, some in my field, some not.  I tried for everything.  Still, the universe kept saying no.  And you know what I now say back to the universe?

I don’t give a flying you know what about your plans for me, what it is I’m destined to do, where I should be spending my energy.  I’m tired of this.  I am living with friends, my house snatched up just in time to avoid foreclosure, my possessions sold or given away or put into temporary storage thanks to buddies with spare room.

Let me tell you, universe, what I need.  I need a job that I know how to do.  A job that I enjoy.  A job that will enable me to pay for an apartment, buy food and clothes for my girls and myself.  A job so I can pay the bills and be a responsible adult.  A job with benefits so I can go to the eye doctor and the dentist.  A job, a simple job, like the ones I used to have and like millions of other people have.  I am not a loser.  I’m not stupid or dishonest.  I am a loyal employee, once I am hired.  The kind who shows up ready to work every day.  The kind who is a great team leader, making sure everything that’s supposed to get done is done, on time and well.  I am a good stage manager and a nice person.  So take your fate and shove it.  There’s something else I’m supposed to be doing?  I don’t care if it’s in my stars to write an Oscar-winning screenplay or a Pulitzer-winning book.  Or run for mayor.  Or walk naked into the woods to “find” myself.  I can’t do anything amazing while under this suffocating cloud of unemployed stress.  So you bring me the job that is rightfully mine and then, THEN, we’ll talk about whatever ELSE I am supposed to be doing.

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