Monday, April 19, 2004

A trilogy in three parts. Part 3 – Peters overload……

By God, it’s cold. It’s a late November New York morning and it’s our second day of shooting our little filmlet on ‘The hunt for Spiderman’…. Over the next few days, we are off to the ‘Coca-Cola’ shop, Rockerfeller Centre, Empire State Building, Ellis Island, Central Park, The Staten Island Ferry and ‘The Battery’. As in "The Bronx is up and the Battery’s down, the people go through a hole in a ground, New York, New York, it’s a wonderful etc, etc. Phew, it’s a double chocked, choca block with crispy bits, schedule alright.

To get the day off to a warming good start, we head for a bit of brain storming at a real Big Apple Deli’ and some hashy browny, easy on the squeezy, sunny side uppy stuff to oil the creative wheels…..

I order. God knows what, but as I’m reeling it off to the little Greek guy behind the counter, I become acutely aware that I’m sprouting a bit of a Kojak inclination to the syntax……. The order finishes with …. "Thanks cup cake and all like that – and everything. Keep da change ya bum. Yaderra, yaderra"…

It arrives. Christ, it’s no wonder the USA is the lardiest, lard-arsed capital of the world is it? Desperate Dan in his cow pie-eating heyday would struggle with this cornucopia of fat encrusted embolism on a bin lid. How the hell am I going to eat this?

What would Kojak do in this situation?
Probably get one of the guys from the Bronx division to call him up and tell him a heist was going down, somewhere uptown. "Sorry, Tony da Greek, can’t finish the pastrami ensemble jas now, gotta go, send me da bill cupcake, ciao".

I don’t have a lollipop, or a pair of ‘70’s dark glasses, or a jaunty trilby, or a white mac’ or someone from the 39th precinct to ring me up and get me out of this fat fest - fast…..

Instead, I struggle. Forcing stuff down, oozing schmoozing hot gloozin’ stuff, processed to death, courtesy of Clogged-Arteries Just Like Mamma Had Inc. All I want is a nice slice of toast and a cup of tea for God’s sake. Eventually I wobble out of the Deli. With every New Yorker eating like there’s no tomorrow how does their sewage system cope? Just what makes all that steaming smoky stuff coming up through New York’s sidewalk vents and immortalised in so many Hollywood films?

I dread to think. The penny - and the breakfast has just dropped. I look for the John.

Post-dump. We make for The Battery and the ferry…..

‘Spidey’ dons his cozzy. The skin-tight Spandex is under severe strain. The big brekky has obviously taken its toll. Spiderman’s got ‘Deli-belly’. He looks like ‘Little Plum’ in a lycra suit.

The camera crew suddenly decides to go all artistic and obscure like….. Spidey’s ‘GutsterGate’ will be covered up. We get on the ferry. Not before some guy had seen portly Spidey walking towards the gangway. "OK, Spiderman, let’s see you jump onto the side of da ferry ya schmuck" …..

It’s Spidey’s biggest problem. Every time he dons the suit, Joe Public expects him to actually be the guy that can walk on ceilings and bound from building to building using nothing more than a length of spun silk ……. The man in the suit told me he has broken bones because enthusiastic New Yorkers keep on pushing him off high places, expecting arachnid skills to kick in. They don’t. Gary Gravity has the last laugh.

Whilst stuff is being shot, Andi starts to tell me how much he earned during the last fiscal year. Well, that really does cheer me up. He also tells me the fantastic branded ‘Nanook of the North’ anorak he is wearing is all sponsored – to the tune of about 20 grand a year – plus free anoraks. I’m depressed. I look at my coat. Bought from the Army and Navy Surplus Bargain Basement Bin, it doesn’t compare well with the anointed one’s ruggedly immaculate attire.

I’m green. Is it envy – or am I turning into the ‘Incredible Hulk’? And if I am beginning to split my pants with anger, is Andi safe? We’ll never know, because Mr TV is called away for a bit of filming…..

I start to doubt my worth. What does my Son think? An old, cold bag of spanners dressed in inadequate Army Surplus against a loaded 2 dimensional billboard-sponsored, shallow celeb’-obsessed has been? ….No contest.

Our days seemed to revolve around filming, eating and drinking. I can handle that, I even bought a few rounds – well, you’ve got to haven’t you? For Mr Peters however, this was an alien concept. He clearly comes from the ‘I’ve got money, and I’m keeping it’ school of self-centredness. No one seemed to mind – except me. Where I come from, you go to a bar, you pay your way….. or you get beaten up. That wasn’t the worse part of having a beer with Andi though. No, ‘namedropping’ is much, much worse.

"Yeah, Jamie and Louise Redknapp, good friends of mine….. Philip Schofield, great bloke …. Spice Girls - really, really talented girls"…..

Andi’s getting close. Closer than he ever knows to finding out first hand just what lies on the bottom of the cold, cold East River. My spirits are briefly raised when Andi bemoans the fact that he has bought a pile of videos from some shop on 5th Avenue and he forgot to check if they were PAL format suitable for viewing in Britain – which of course, they aren’t, they’re all U.S. format. Oh yes! Thank you God.

Then he tells me it doesn’t really matter as he has both types of video players at home……. I’m crushed.

He seemed to get on with my son though – and to be fair, John is an absolute natch in front of the camera. He’s even outshining the great Andi Peters. At the end of one of the really good days filming, Andi asks my son whether he would like a job in television. Please, please, just say "Yes" I silently plead. …. If you say "Yes" and work on Andi’s already colossal ego, he’ll get you a job on a kids show – and untold riches will follow…..

I wait, hanging on John’s carefully worded and fully considered reply.

"No thanks, I’d rather work with dinosaurs"

Shit! He still wants to be a Palaeontologist….

We decide to all have a day off from the epic-filled, crazy, hazy filming days of make believe. I must admit, I need it. I’m suffering from celeb-fatigue. If I hear one more story about how really interesting, sincere and talented, Ginger Spice is, I’m going to kill someone.

I put ‘Plan B’ into action. (‘Plan A’ is to win the lottery and retire).

I’ve been pumping Jeremy during the last few days about who exactly employed him in his role as Spiderman. His reply is music to my ears. Marvel comics, New York HQ.

It only took a day of constant nagging to swing the deal. Jez sets up the visit for our day off. "Are you coming with us?" I ask.
Jeremy declines. Andi’s not coming either – so that’s a win-win situation then! I get to visit the home of my childhood heroes – and it’s an Andi-free zone to boot.

We arrive in a big yellow taxi outside marvellous Marvel’s offices…... Marvellous. I switch to hunter gathering mode. I’m on a cadging mission and those Yanks have got no chance. My pockets are full to the brim of empty Macy’s plastic bags – just in case.

We enter. I’m a bit shocked at first though. We are met by another Spiderman – an impostor no less! I discover they, rather like Father Christmas – job share. Stand-in-Spidey shows me around. "Is Stan Lee in the office today? He is! Soooperb – can I meet him?

Kid in candy store (and I’m not talking about my son) reaches the inner sanctum – the archive room….. Aren’t Yanks polite? They just never seem to be able to say "No". And even if they say "Well, I’ll have ask someone" – I take that as a ‘Yes’ anyway - and start stuffing posters and artwork into my Macy’s bags. Badges, nick-nacks, T-shirts follow. I feel like I’ve cleaned them out……. Oh dear, I have.

The week rolls along. Andi’s day is made when, while we were filming on 5th Avenue, some British people actually recognise him…. Eventually…. The autographs flow.

The last day. The film is ’in the can’ as us film folk say and we are having a last few beers before we all go our separate ways. Me? Back to humdrumsville. Andi? On to L.A. and an interview with Michael Jackson, no less. I took this relaxed window in our busy schedules to ask Andi for 3 autographs to give to my Blighty-bound sons.

Andi says "Oooohhh, sorry, I’m far too busy at the moment"….. Too right – too busy drinking my beer from my round. He tells me he’ll do it later. I tell him to ‘shove it’.

And it was shoved – sideways.

I didn’t speak to him again……. Peace at last.

The kids did get their autographs though – I forged them. Well, I couldn’t disillusion them could I?

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