Sunday, May 1, 2011

Roseanne


I had just finished up the last season on "Designing Women", standing in for Julia Duffy, who I had worked with for 10 years, including, "Newhart",and "Baby Talk", (with a then unknown George Clooney). I got a call from my former co-worker on "Newhart". He heard that they were looking for a stand-in on Roseanne, who could read lines. They were introducing new characters, next door neighbors, and one was a girl about 11 or 12, so when she had to be in school, they needed a stand-in to rehearse for her.

I went to the audition, and read, and they were concerned about me being able to work with big stars; I told them, no prob, and name dropped Bob Newhart, and all the Designing Women. I got the job.

First day on the set, I walk up to Roseanne and introduced myself. "Hi, Roseanne, I'm Terry, I'll be standing in for Danielle Harris".
"She's not here today", she snarled, and walked past me.
I was dumbstruck. I loved Roseanne, was a big fan of the show, thought she was an amazing, talented, intelligent, brilliant, funny woman. All those are true. She is also a crazy bitch.

A typical day. She would come schlepping onto the set, scuffing her feet, looking disheveled, like she just got up on the wrong side of the bed, had a fight at home, and hasn't had her coffee yet. There's a sneer on her face, and she doesn't say anything to anyone. If you happen to be in her path, and cheerfully greet her, "Good Morning, Roseanne", she looks very bored and weary, and mumbles a begrudging "morning", and shuffles past. After coffee, it doesn't get any better. Sometimes worse.

If she doesn't start out telling some funny story, where the humor is at someone else's expense,then she'd start regaling a tale of some cruel stunt she pulled on someone. Like the time she wrote "Julia Loser Dry Puss" on Julia Louis-Dreyfus' car, in lipstick, when she and Tom had a fight over a parking space. Or, she is just as likely to start screaming at someone. "Where's my fucking coffee!?" was not unusual to hear. Or she might call someone a 'stupid fucking idiot". She once screamed at the director, "I'll say when to fucking cut!" She'd scream at the writers, "I have 21 of you motherfuckers! I want 10 new lines in half an hour, and they better be fucking funny, or someone is getting fired!". If she sees someone on the set she doesn't know, she'd yell, "Who the fuck is that!", or "Who the fuck are you?". If she can't hit her mark, she'd yell, "You've got four fucking cameras, can't you just follow me around!?" If she didn't want to do another take, she'd yell, "I ain't fuckin' doin' it again!", and walk off. She is in charge of everything, yet has no idea what it takes to do any of the jobs, and just expects any change of set, costume, script, can just be produced in the twinkling of an eye. If not, she'd start screaming at everyone. And firing people. She loved to fire people.

This was around the time Tom and she were in the tabloids all the time. There was never a dull moment around there. They just fed on each others' insanity.

Tom also surrounded himself with beautiful young women. He got Roseanne to hire Miss Iowa, (his home state) to be her stand-in. She couldn't read a line to save her life. Nice girl, though. His assistant was young and beautiful too. After one season, they dropped the neighbors. I was concerned about my job, but I was asked to be Roseanne's stand-in. Miss Iowa flew the coop. I think Tom must have hit on her. It was odd. She was just suddenly gone, but I was told that they were impressed with my reading, so they wanted me to do it. Ok, cool.

Well, since they finally had someone capable, Roseanne decided she didn't want to rehearse anymore. There would be the table reading Monday morning, then Roseanne would announce that she was going shopping, and the A.D. would say, "Terry, you're up". I sometimes would have to run to the bathroom, I would be so nervous. (Sorry, but it's true.) I never got a chance to see the script before hand, so I just had to wing it. After rehearsing all day, I then had to be Roseanne for the network run-thru; with all the writers, producers, and network brass watching. It got to the point where I was always doing everything, even establishing her blocking. Then I would have to show it to her, and she wouldn't listen. So then when she wasn't where she was supposed to be, I got yelled at. I was rehearsing all of her scenes; and she was in almost all of them; with John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf, Estelle Parsons, and noteable guest cast members, all day, every day. I was working harder than anyone. Also, Laurie Metcalf, who is a brilliant, theater trained actress, didn't feel she was getting enough rehearsal, so they asked me to be her dialogue coach as well. She was a little hard to read; but we had a professional relationship. Plus, I ran lines with the kids, and the guest cast. I was a very busy gal. Sometimes, I would work in the shot, too. I was completely taken for granted. I was a nervous wreck most of the time. I finally had to go ask the producer for more money. I told him, I am working harder than anyone! Everyone put together! I was carrying the show all week! She'd come in on shoot day, and I would show her what to do. I did everything but go on camera as her. They finally gave me a few hundred a week more. Chump change, really. I was making more money than I ever had, but was miserable. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. The crew and the kids on the show were great to me. We always partied together too, after the show. Every once in awhile, after I read a scene, one of the crew guys would say, "Good job, Terry". A little 'atta boy' goes a long way.

After awhile, John Goodman resented me. I'd be on the set when he'd walked in, and he would be so pissed that Roseanne wasn't there, that he couldn't even look at me, let alone say, "Good Morning". Then I'd have to rehearse with him. Yeah, as if I said, "Beat it, Ro, I'm doing this one". He resented me so much, that he actually physically, shoved me out of his way, on three separate ocassions. I was so shocked. Yes, big John Goodman, physically pushes a 5ft. tall woman aside. He is no Dan Conner, I can tell you that. He was a big alcoholic, womanizing, glutton. Baby Huey. He showed up to work drunk a few times, and Roseanne almost had him fired. There was a prop rubber cast iron skillet on the stove, in the kitchen set. I got to hit him on the head with it in one scene. I wished it was real.

She called me "The Girl". "Have the girl do it!" She would yell from the wardrobe room, where she liked to hang out and look at porn magazines. The wardrobe sisters were her friends, and she and Laurie would be in there, and they'd all laugh when she told the A.D. to "fuck off", when he came to get her. Sometimes she would come out and watch me do her part. Uh, yeah.

So, after 3 stress-filled years, and health problems, and a little money in the bank, my number came up, and she fired me. She wanted her long lost daughter Brandi, to have both my jobs! Of course she wasn't any good. I ran into Estelle Parsons at the Sunset Marquis, where she stayed, and she said she missed me. She sort of gave me a backhanded compliment, saying Brandi got in the way. I took it to mean, I gave a good reading so they could get a good rehearsal.

The best of times....the worst of times....


Epilogue

A couple of years later, I was working a catering job. Marvin Davis, the Denver oil tycoon, who bought 20th Century Fox, was throwing his son a Bar Mitzvah. It was a Las Vegas theme. Yeah, a casino, for a 13 year old. So, I'm manning one of the buffet tables, and here comes Rosanne, one of the early arrivals, walking toward me, with her young son, Buck, in tow. She was pregnant with him when I left, by her third husband, chauffeur/bodyguard, Ben. "Hi, Roseanne", I said. "It's Terry, I was your stand-in". She looks at me puzzled. "You were my stand-in?" She asked, incredulously. "Yes, for 3 years." I reminded her. "Have a nice time." If she pretended not to know me, or if she really didn't know me, I don't know. But either way, it's fuckin' crazy!

4 comments:

  1. Holy shit, I could never do this work and everyone of those people should have been told to go F**k themselves several times over.

    I have never been able to stand her, or her show, and with stories like this, how it stayed on the air, is beyond me.

    What a bunch of losers!

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  2. Sorry to hear how horrible Dan and Roseanne were to you. Both of them lacked basic professionalism. Sad. Sara Gilbert seems like such a nice person. Any stories about her? What was the deal on "original recipe" Becky leaving? Did Tom Arnold have anything to do with it?

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  3. Sara was very nice. She came out and is in a relationship. Original Becky left with a producer!

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  4. Do you think Roseanne was actually a good person with untreated mental illness? I became really good friends with her for a while and she was the kindest lady. I wouldn't have believed anything in your blog above at that time. Then she sort of lost it. She was mad at me for literally nothing (except something she must have made up in her mind), threw out lots of "fuck yous" and "you suck" and then never talked to me again. I literally know I didn't do anything to anger her, but angered she was, regardless. Years later, I followed her on Twitter and we struck up a friendship. I never told her I was once a real life friend. We got along great on Twitter -- as we did in real life -- and then, out of no where, she was FURIOUS because I said "there are two sides to every conflict" regarding the whole Palestinian/Israeli thing and, yet again, I got the "fuck yous" and "you sucks" but, at least this time, I knew the reason why, even though Roseanne was completely irrational and in no way was I insulting her religion. Anyway, going through this twice makes me think she tries to go good, but something in her brain goes bad. Was the behavior you saw a constant, or did it go back and forth? I'm really trying to figure her out. As I can see from your experience, you never quite forget her -- for better or for worse.

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