Hauling Like A Brooligan

Stephen Gallagher

Back in LA

Last night’s wrap party was great. I knew so many people there that I always had someone to talk to, unlike those vast BBC affairs where you just keep circulating because you don’t want to stand on your own looking like a tool. There were loads of people I didn’t know, as well, and some that I didn’t know I knew, like Esrin, our network exec to whom I’d only ever spoken in conference calls.

The party took over an entire trendy nightclub right on Hollywood Boulevard, and we filled the place. It’s so trendy that it has no sign, just an ill-lit doorway and a bouncer with a list of names on a clipboard. I circled past it about five times and only realised I’d found it when I spotted someone I knew going in. We’d used the interior as a strip club in episode 12. Jim Hilton had put together a gag reel that was projected in a loop on the wall. After 10.30 the club opened up to the public and I left as it filled up with strangers. I had no voice this morning.

I think this was the first wrap party I’ve ever actually made it to, and it was on Hollywood Boulevard on a Saturday night… one to remember! I drove home down Sunset feeling like the coolest guy on the planet.

In my rented Hyundai.

I have meetings early next week, but I’m getting in some research for a new book over the weekend. I drove out to the Paramount Ranch yesterday afternoon. It’s a much-used Western location, now a state park. The ‘western town’ consists of a few wooden buildings left over from Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman and to be honest are about as impressive as the old Frontierland attraction in Morecambe, and about as realistic. I walked along the Coyote Trail and didn’t see any coyotes, and it wasn’t much of a trail either – by taking every option to extend it I managed to make it spin out to just over a mile, but I was hardly ever out of sight of the point I’d set out from. I managed to work up a bit of a sweat, though, so there was some point and exercise involved.

I found a second trail going out the other side, and that promised to be a mile and a half, so I set out again. After a couple of hundred yards I was met by two big dripping wet golden retrievers coming the other way, and a family desperately calling them back on the assumption that no stranger would welcome their attentions… we got talking as I fussed the dogs a bit. Turned out the bloke is a co-executive producer on The Simpsons! We chatted for a while and eventually the dogs got bored and wandered off.

The drive out along the freeway had been a tad dull, so on the way back I drove along Ventura Boulevard through Calabasas and Tarzana. Calabasas has a shopping plaza that loooks like it was built for King Ludwig of Bavaria. Tarzana came about when Edgar Rice Burroughs subdivided his land for development, but apart from the name it’s hard to get much of a thrill from the association.

This afternoon I went to look at the barn where Cecil B DeMille shot The Squaw Man, now preserved as the Hollywood Heritage Museum. It’s been moved about three times and now stands in the car park of the Hollywood Bowl. It’s the kind of place I like, not too well organised, full of authentic bric a brac and fronted by a true enthusiast on the desk. The novel that I’m working on has themes touching on early Hollywood and the Old West; the idea sprang from my Wyoming trip a couple of years back, and it’s caused me to seek out William S Hart‘s home and the Autry Museum. When there’s another decent day I’ll go and find the Fox Movie Ranch in Malibu State Park.

It’s tough work, but someone has to take it on.

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8 responses to “Back in LA”

  1. That's fascinating, Bill, and thanks for the link – I barely scratched the surface but I look forward to digging around in the material on your site. It seems to me that the legacy of ERB deserves some kind of national recognition – the ranch looks to be in a sorry state and while it's great that the memorabilia's been kept together, I hate to think how easily those cardboard boxes in lockup storage could be lost to posterity!

  2. Hi, Stephen — it's Michael, the Simpsons guy you met at Paramount Ranch. Great blog — I didn't expect to see myself in there!

    I didn't have my card with me the other day, but I'd love to invite you to come see a table read of one of our episodes, if you've got a mind to come see us in action. We begin in about a week and run through the fall over here at Fox. Let me know if that sounds like fun and I'd be happy to have you as my guest.

    All the best

    Michael Price

    PS: excuse the dumb blog name… it's from a comedy-writing experiment I tried a while back and abandoned. Click on the link if you don't mind seeing something stupid.

  3. Unable to make the Con, I regret to say… but on the upside, I seem to have been making some headway with genre material here. So my excuse is that I'm supporting the cause but in a different way…