I was a Hollywood Reject

Misadventures in La La Land

Scott A. Weiss

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I moved to Hollywood the day after I graduated college in the spring of 1997. Packed up my little white Honda Accord, the same one I’d been driving since high school, made the trek west from Tucson and arrived in LA guns blazing, ready to go.

First crash pad was the home of my college roommate Mike’s parents. Mike’s dad was an international film distributor of some renown, tough as nails, no bullshit kind of guy. Our first night there he caught us smoking pot on the driveway, Mike blamed it on me and his dad gave me a tongue lashing, told me to catch the next train out of Dodge.

I packed up and left for the Valley, where I’d been raised. My parents’ best friends, Joey and Debbie, lived in Woodland Hills and they took me in, gave me a place to stay until I got on my feet. Joey was a personal injury attorney and a huge movie buff, loved John Wayne, and had a lot of friends in the industry. He introduced me to his friend Frank, a prop-master on a TV show called “Melrose Place”, who said the show was looking for a PA (production assistant.) They interviewed me and gave me the job.

I’d been a fan of the show for a few years, in college we’d have watch parties, so I knew as much about the show as just about anyone. My first day on the job I reported to the studio where they filmed the show, a giant warehouse close to Ventura County, can’t remember the exact location. I was shocked when I learned the entire show was filmed in this warehouse, except of course for the outdoors scenes — the apartment building the cast lived in was actually reconstructed inch by inch in the controlled indoor space; even the courtyard pool was a façade (a real pool, just inside a giant warehouse.)

The job they gave me was door boy — I had to sit for ten hours at a giant stage door that separated the set from the production area. The only way for the cast and crew to pass through one area to the other was through that door, so each time someone had to get by, I had to stand up and hand crank the door to get it open. Why they didn’t have a motor is beyond me, but regardless, it gave me the opportunity to smile and say hello to people like Alyssa Milano and Heather Locklear, who I remained starstruck by even after the novelty of being that close to them wore off…

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Scott A. Weiss

Author, freelance writer and self-employed recruiter. Bylines in the Daily Beast, Seattle Times, Classic Rock Magazine, LouderSound.