Living in LA, people often ask us if we would let our kids be working actors. When we quickly say “yes”, they raise their eyebrows. Aren’t we worried our kids will lose all moral grounding? Become ego-maniacs? Get addicted to drugs? Aren’t we afraid they’ll become little Lohans and Biebers?
Not really. Our kids see the daily grind of life in the industry, and it’s not glamorous.
Look. While Jonathan’s had much success as a writer-producer, we still shop at TJ Maxx. We have actor friends whose cars are so old the emblems have fallen off. Many have to put their dreams on the back burner and take other jobs just to pay the bills. And while we are also surrounded by a handful of celebrities, our children will grow up knowing that pursuing a career in acting or writing or filmmaking is not a quick road to fame and fortune.
Currently, Jonathan is a writer-producer on Perception (TNT). For the past month he’s gotten up at 4:30 to get a head start on his projects. He sticks around to make waffles on the weekends, but he still spends a good chunk of the days working. The girls know how hard Daddy works. The message they receive is: Daddy’s working. Not, Daddy is frolicking with the cast of Glee.
That said, When Jonathan suggests we visit him on set I get giddy. Visiting set is like landing in OZ. For a few hours I can forget the grocery list and ditch the yoga pants. Life goes from black and white to color. Lights, camera, action!
If only the munchkins had had Vivi to advocate for their rights.
Perception stars Eric McCormack as a neuroscientist with schizophrenia who helps the FBI solve crimes.
People always have one question about famous actors: “Is he nice?” They never ask: can he come to my birthday party? Or, do his politics lean left or right? Or, does he want to kickstart my organic wine project? Apparently all people really need to know is that their favorite actors say please and thank you offscreen.
So the answer is “yes.” And then some. He is polite and charming and looks you in the eye when he says hello and goodbye.
And to answer your second question: Yes. He’s a total fox in person too.
But aside from the shiny machines and beautiful people, there’s also a lot to be learned on set. This is why I love bringing the kids.
Vivi learns that you don’t talk between “action!” and “cut!” She pays such close attention to these commands that I’m considering using a megaphone around the house. “Wash Your Hands!” ”Don’t Bite Your Sister!” ”Sleep!” It’s great for Pearl because she sees all these people performing different jobs but working together to create one product. Making a television show takes time, patience and teamwork. This lesson will eventually translate to clean up time at home. One day. I’m sure of it. Right?
The best part of the day was that the girls got to see the blue screen. It was set up for a scene that takes place in Paris, a few cafe tables and a faux stone balustrade arranged in front of it. I explained that Paris would be put in later, by editors, on computers. I love this lesson, why? 90% of the crap on TV is too violent or too mature or too moronic. I don’t want my kids watching it, but the day will come when I can’t monitor everything they absorb.
So the blue screen teaches us that nothing we see on television is real.
On the other hand, the blue screen teaches us that anything can happen in television.
“Just like in your imagination.”
“So it could be anywhere? Like under the sea?”
The blue screen is the wild card. The blue screen is what happens when people tell you you can’t. The blue screen represents a world where anything is possible.
Guess it just depends on your perception.
For now, the girls are content with dramatic play off-camera. A fancy dress, some face paint and their vivid imaginations. I try to remember my improv skills and “yes-and” them whenever they tell me I’m the wicked witch (even though I’m much better suited for Glinda.) And when the day comes when one of them wants to audition for Stephen Spielberg’s latest movie, I will toss my grocery list and gladly take my girls to work.
Perception airs at 10pm Tuesday nights on TNT. The episode from this post won’t air until sometime in December, but Jonathan’s episode airs this coming Tuesday! Check it out!