I’ll admit it (before anyone else can make the joke); I thought my career was going to suffer the fate of the Titanic for about five days back in April. (See this blog post for the hysterical details).
Yes, I had left a silly message on an inane organization’s voicemail system. It wasn’t the first time. But this one blew back in a way that truly highlighted how inane said organization was! (Posting my phone number on Breitbart’s hate blogs, mob harassment, badly Photoshopped lizards – see press release for more wackiness.) So I hunkered down in my home studio, wondering if Fred Phelps, James Dobson and Pat Robertson were digging through their wretched archives, looking for my other voicemails… (Yes, it’s a bad habit of mine, but it feels like a gentle cultural enema when I call them.)
Thankfully, it was only FreedomWorks, Matt “BP leak is a natural disaster” Kibbe, and Tabitha “I don’t see Jesus being a liberal” Hale bearing down on me. Granted, I brought this on myself. No, no, not by leaving that voicemail – they deserved the sarcasm – but by my releasing a press release pointing out the unethical tactics of these corporate bimbos.
Then, out of the blue (or rather after seeing an MSNBC piece about me), Asylum Films producer David Latt calls me up and asks me to be in his next film, Titanic II. I said I would do it as long as Leonardo DiCaprio was NOT involved. I find all that talent to be a real drag on my self-esteem. David assured me Leo wouldn’t be coming anywhere near this set!
“Cool. What’s the role?” I asked.
“Captain of the Titanic.” David said with relish, knowing, I’m sure, that the metaphor alone would cheer me up.
I first met David Latt in 2002. I auditioned for one of Asylum Films’ first fully self-produced films, Killers 2: The Beast. Yes, a sequel to David’s first feature, Killers.
It was a frenetic and fun shoot. Down and dirty in a vacant downtown Los Angeles hospital. It was a simple story of murder and mayhem starring Kim Little. I enjoyed working with David and his Asylum partner, David Rimawi, so much that I came back in 2003 to play an even scarier doctor in Scarecrow Slayer.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking: didn’t I realize I was doing B movies? Oh yeah, believe me. When there are more buckets of blood than apple boxes, you know… But an actor likes to act and I have no misconceptions of ever having a “Tom Cruise career” or ruining any of my “prestige.” In other words, if being decapitated by a scarecrow can undermine any cachet earned acting on 90210, then I really could give an expletive about what Hollywood thinks!
In 2006, during another slow acting period, I jumped on board to play the scariest doctor yet in 666: The Child.
So, flash back to the present, or rather, the present time in my recent past when David hired me for their latest film, Titanic II. (Did I hurt you with that last sentence? I’m sorry.) I was able to carve out a few hours to read the script and learn my lines the night before my quick 4 days of shooting. I was running on fumes at that point since sleep was a bit difficult (my dreams were haunted by Megyn Kelly moralizing ad nauseum).
All of my locations were at the impressive Queen Mary docked in San Pedro. The film stars Bruce Davison (“X-Men) and Brooke Burns (“Shallow Hal”). The actors I primarily worked with were Shane Van Dyke and Carey Van Dyke – two grandkids of Dick Van Dyke! And they were just as nice, talented and light-hearted as their grandfather.
So, in between takes, I was married to my iPhone, juggling interview requests, fan mail and death threats. Then I’d down some caffeine and run back to set to try and save that damn ship! We shot on a Friday and Saturday. Sunday I had off and agreed to appear on FOX’s Geraldo At Large. That Titanic metaphor was starting to warm up…
Of course, no one goes on a show like that without preparing talking points. So, once I had learned my lines as the Captain, I had to rehearse my thoughts about FreedomWorks and the charisma-challenged Matt Kibbe.
They sent a car to take me to the studio in Westwood. I have to admit, I sorta felt like I was walking into my high school gym while the entire football team was shooting up political steroids. Who’s going to throw me up against a locker first and call me a Socialist?
To my surprise, it was just a satellite location with only two people on staff – both VERY kind and obviously left-leaning. This was the little studio that Fox “experts” and guests appeared in for link-ups to the East Coast. The make-up person was very nice and let me bounce my responses off them. (I also learned that Ann Coulter is apparently very sweet in person. She’s just putting on a lucrative act… yeah, I’ll hold my typing finger.)
The strangest part was staring at the top edge of a TV monitor that displayed me looking back, but delayed two seconds by the satellite. This was where all my ISDN sessions as a voiceover actor really paid off. (Though the little sign taped to the top of the TV that said “smile” irked me a bit. Atwater/Rovian tactics didn’t feel like a happy subject to me. “I’ll just look pissed, if you don’t mind.”) The nerves, on the other hand, were kinda nice. They reminded me my old theatre days. I hadn’t felt that way in years. Too bad the audience wanted to throw tomatoes at me, or tea bags, I guess… Or Glenn Beck’s testicles? Sorry, my stream of consciousness gets occasional news media run-off.
Afterwards, the three of us went over to the tape room and watched it back. It was funny to be standing in a FOX studio and having these guys laugh with me about how Matt Kibbe sorely lacked a personality. All in all, I felt like I said what I needed to say… Or so I thought.
I was back to work on the film the next day. I thought surely someone would comment on the segment. My whole week seemed to be building up to my appearance on Fox. And then, I realized how my little controversy had created a pretty damn big bubble around my “tempest in a tea party” world. Folks on set were talking about a little leak of oil off the coast somewhere…
The rest of my scenes went by quickly, so I spent more time watching, and in awe of, the first AD, Glenn Miller. This guy was amazing. So calm, cool and collected and right on top of everything (like he was conducting an orchestra… Now you can throw Glenn Beck’s testicles at me). Watching him and his crew reminded me how easy it is to go guerrilla and film something… Something like a PSA… Yes, apparently I had a few more things to say.
So, in the end, “the actor” D.C. Douglas couldn’t save the Titanic, but “the impetuous crank caller Tea Party gadfly” D.C. Douglas floated back to the surface of his career… Supported by
Glenn Beck’s testes so many reasonable Americans.
Titanic II comes out on DVD August 24th, 2010. The Tea Party PSA rocks on over at YouTube.