The Fortune…Chapter 51

This long-awaited exterior set is finally ready. The studio tore down Stalag 13 to build this set here… so it better be good. Hogan’s Heroes is one of my favorite TV shows!

Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson will be starring in this Mike Nichols production. I love Bonnie and Clyde, so I hope this show is also a shoot-em up type film…

MGM has sound stages committed to this film and now I hear the MGM train station will be needed for a few scenes. Work has begun on Lot 2 in preparation of the Fortune’s visit here.

Lot 2 is busy, we have a set being scouted at our New York street. It is a 20th Century Fox production. A van with the Fox logo is full of a production personnel. You can tell when the lot is being scouted. Just the way the creative types exit the vehicle, like in a happy daze…looking, pointing, laughing. Lighting gaffers, the director of photography, transportation, special effects usually take this ride.

Their imagination is needed to decide if this street or set can create the needed ambience that the production is looking for. All seems well by their expressions. We may have another customer wanting to film here on this not so washed-up movie lot. I watch approvingly from a rooftop above them as they seem interested in the entire NY street.

My first year of public school just ended and I passed with flying colors…and very long hair. If St. Augustine’s could see me now!

Summer is already off to a busy backlot schedule.

The Fortune set at Desilu is getting some filming in as we switch lots…often we do both studio backlots in the same day.

Production Never Sleeps is the saying in Hollywood!

The Fortune set at Desilu is a bit difficult to access, it requires bravely walking across open space in complete view of the film crew. This is dangerous since we look too young to be technical employees. This set is devoid of kids also, so that disguise is not applicable.

Jimmy and I do not feel urgency to even push the envelope today. Instead, we watch from the same hilltop I was rescued from inside of… most recently.

From this vantage point we are entertained by vintage cars driving around as background on this set. We can see the bright arc lights smoking away. The actors, Beatty and Nicholson pop in and out of view. The homes built for this show block us from seeing the street scenes being filmed inside this corridor.

Quickly…we become bored.

We have more fun tumbling in the high grass on this warm summer day. My friends, the Sullivan brothers, have installed two hammocks, centered between a clump of trees with a view of the village and filming that is taking place.

Great job Sullivan boys!

When it gets warm, we know where to turn on the sprinklers to cool off as we lay suspended in the air. If you tumble out, the tall grass will catch ya… anyhow.

On my transistor radio Vin Scully directs the Dodger game. They are looking awfully good this year. Hammocks, baseball, and filming, my way to spend the day!

We can hear the movie director’s voice, Mike Nichols. He spits commands into his megaphone. Extras respond accordingly. It is exactly what a director should look like, like a quarterback running an offense. We catch glimpses of Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson in a huddle with the director…Damn-they got a good team!

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But- I got a good team also. This feature is bigger than a TV show looks when on the backlot.  It looks like Ringling Brothers Circus is back here. This is the biggest set we have ever seen constructed from scratch, it took several months to build to get to this point. It sits on the footprint of Stalag 13, to me and my friends, it does not fit here. In actuality, this landscape fits this southwestern motif much better than it did a German prison camp. You know, the Stalag with the palm trees in the background. The fake snow patches beyond the set that helped create a frozen tundra illusion have all been removed. I flipped a couple over before. They are plaster molds and are very heavy, which is why I didn’t end up with any when this camp was liberated.

And now, this same show has interest in MGM lot 2. Both my lots are extremely busy…which makes my life very busy. While all my pals spend their summer days going to the movies, I actually watch these movies get made. The only thing missing is the popcorn. Now this show will end up on Lot 2, it’s going to film right across from Maureen’s place, it’s like this show is coming to MGM to meet my family. Guess who’s coming to dinner…The Fortune.  

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A security guard mentioned this to me in a fact finding mission earlier at a guard shack on Ince avenue… “this is a really good director!.. this Mike Nichols guy!”

This is just part of his resume…above.

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A security time sheet, above.

Yes… there is security guard film critic guarding my old playground!

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Written and lived by Donnie Norden…

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