True Story

{September 30, 2011}   Friend or Foe

True Story:  I have been on television several times.

I lived in Los Angeles for a year after I graduated from Film School. STRUGGLING, is an understatement. One time my Mom stepped off the plane at LAX and I was so very happy to see her as I had $1 in my pocket. That was it.

I tell you this so you understand my attempts to make $$$, including a treck into game shows.

True Side Story:  I worked on the 2nd season of the Bachelor as a PA (Production Assistant) in the casting department for a few days. We were all sitting around eating lunch and one of the guys says, “I read that 1 in 4 Americans have been on TV.”

No one believed that claim. Then someone asked how many of us had been on TV. Almost everyone in the room raised their hands. I believe now it is probably more like 1 in 3, if you count YouTube Channels.

I had a social connection to the Producers of the 1st season of the Bachelor. I went to their house for a party when they were editing the first season. You have to understand at this time reality TV consisted of MTV shows only, and they did not know how the show was going to fare. This was a low-key party. We played poker, ate, drank, etc. I sat in these people’s home and ate their food with a total of about 15 people.

Skip to the next season (the one I worked on) about 6 months later, they did not remember ever meeting me. They had new giddy-ups in their steps and asked me if I could pick up dry cleaning. Oh, well. That can happen in Hollywood.

So, here I am broke, going on about 3 job interviews a week, interning at an agency for free, house-sitting in the Hollywood hills for my agent boss, doing an “extra” gig whenever I can get one, and I decided to audition for a few game shows. There was potential money there. More than just the $75-$100 for an extra gig.

True Side Story: I was an extra many times at David E Kelley Studios in Manhattan Beach because they were near where I lived. So I worked on “The Practice” several times.

Being an extra is quite boring and a bit humiliating. You feel a little useless most of the time. definitely bring a book.

That being said, without a doubt, extras are necessary for film and television production. As an audience we would not believe that television stars walk down a pretend courthouse hallway without other people milling around the fake courthouse hallways.

This one time I was on the set of “The Practice” and us extras had to walk back and forth every few seconds behind a courtroom door where on the other side they were filming a court scene.

Dylan McDermott made a speech in the courtroom and stormed out (all scripted). He then stood outside the door quietly with the rest of us so as not to disturb the sound recording in the scene.

After watching us extras walk by a few times each he began walking by with us in the most obnoxious way possible. He would straighten his clothes and grab his briefcase and stomp by all proudly. After a few of these little spectacles I just quit doing my little extra walks and let him make an ass of himself.

He obviously thought making fun of us and showing us how much we really didn’t matter was the appropriate way to behave at his job. I mean if the star of the show could walk by 5 times as “background” with it not being noticed by the camera, we were clearly useless.

The worst part was watching crew members uncomfortably laugh at what he was doing, embarrassed for us, but needing to “support” their star.

I haven’t followed his career much, so not sure where he is today. I hear his famous aunt got him into the business. So I guess he was just born better than I was.

True Story:  I auditioned for Hollywood Squares.

I screwed that one up big time. I forgot to say “For the block” 1 time. Boom. You’re out like that.

So next, I auditioned for this show on the Game Show Network called “Friend or Foe”. Did you ever see it?

Kennedy hosted it. Yes, MTV Kennedy, except for an April Fool’s day episode in which Mark Wahlberg hosted. Why did I not get that episode?

The premise of the game is you are set up with a partner and the 2 of you build up a pot of money by correctly and agreeably answering multiple choice questions together.

THEN, you and your partner go to the “trust box” together. You state to each other why you should be trusted and then, without each other’s knowledge of what the other will do, you push a button with either the word “Friend” or “Foe” on it.

If you both push Friend, you split the pot. If you both push Foe, nobody gets anything. If one person pushes Friend and the other pushes Foe, Foe gets the whole shebang.

Now I have to mention a couple of things here. When you interview for Friend or Foe they ask you if you have done anything “bad”. It is a trick question. They want all the bad “goods” on you they can get. When they introduce you to your partner, and I later found out, the public, they say whether you ever shop lifted, cheated or told a lie. They try to create drama and un-trust between the partners playing, which of course makes for a better game. 

Basically, if you are a good person, or are not a good actor, they do not want you on their show. In my interview they asked me several different “leading” questions that I answered honestly. I caught on quickly, and embellished a little “teenage incident”.

WELL, I mentioned how poor I was right? My partner and I, a nice enough guy, had privately talked that we were splitting the money no matter what. We also gave endearing speeches to win each other over.

We got our pot up to $5,000. $5k would have saved my life then. Hell, it would save my life right now.

Can I borrow five grand?

Anyway, $5k was winning the lottery, but  $2,500 would do just fine. I felt sure that my partner and I would be walking away with $2,500 big ones a piece.

The time came for us to pick a button. The only thing the announcer and Kennedy said about me was that some friends and I use to steal a bunch of stuff. Not exactly the story I told them.

True Side Story:  When the show aired my 9-year-old cousin was in Alabama watching the Game Show Network in her bedroom. She came yelling out to her parents that Ashley was on TV and she had stolen a bunch of stuff.


Drum Roll Please:  I don’t know what happened when it was time to push the button. I don’t know if it was greed, or the fear of the sheer poverty I was experiencing  at the time, that took over me.

I hit the Foe button.

Well, lo and behold, so did my sweet, honest partner.

Lesson here kids?

You get greedy and you’ll end up with a big fat goose egg.

We saw each other out in the parking lot. Conversation went something like this:

“Hey man, no big deal”. “What do you do”? “Oh, well”.

True Story: I sent a tape in to “Deal or no Deal” after only a few episodes had aired. This was before they got gimmicky. At this point they had regular contestants on, as opposed to someone who needed a kidney.

Well, they must have liked the tape. They requested a live video interview with my entire family. We did it. It was some holiday and we all happened to be together.

I never heard from them again.

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