We left off yesterday with your young Brit/Aussie/Canuck writer just arrived in town in a speeding Mini Minor careening down Sunset Boulevard with an overwrought super star actor and song writer Noel Harrison at the wheel.
I had been in Hollywood only these four hours and by now and I had already been met at the airport by great smelling teenage girls, a band and banners reading “We Love Chris Beard” This was jaw dropping in itself…but the whirlwind continued….
I was driven to the Continental Hotel by the producer of the show I was to write…the riddle of the arrival greeting was solved, he’d organized the welcome to impress me due to a dispute he was having with Noel. Apparently Noel had told NBC and the producers that I had the format for his special “in my head” that he wanted this format to be the theme of the show.
I did not have that format “in my head!”… I had nothing in my head…
But I’d better have it soon as we were approaching his ranch in Mandeville Canyon.
There were horses in corrals as we parked and walked towards a sprawling series of single storied buildings…as we passed one building I looked in and saw an oiled and naked woman on a massage table being worked on by a muscular guy also seemingly naked. The music was Stevie Winwood and Traffic.
“That’s my wife…she’ll be with us later” Noel said like I would understand that visual and except it..
After all ,he must’ve thought, the special we worked on together in Canada starred Jim Morrison and The Doors and The Jefferson Airplane..” I was Rock n’ Roll.”..
So as we approached the main house I looked into another room with the door wide open and there was a familiar face looking like she was preparing to actually shoot up …
” Say hi to Georgia Brown she’s shooting some additional scenes for her movie…”
Okay this was the 60’s and this was Hollywood in the 60’s and these Brits were living the era big time…
Noel and I were now in his beautiful bounteous living room. I was offered a smoke and drink ..I took the Brandy turned down the smoke as I needed what ever wits I had left about me to remain” Brilliant” .
“So mate we’re so glad to see you, the bastards been on my ass to tell them what the show is and I’ve held them at bay waiting for today…so wheres are we at?”
” Well as we talked earlier this should be ‘today and yesterday combining to see a tomorrow materialize.’ I repeated…
I didn’t quite understand what I had just said…luckily Noel did….
I was encouraged by my own fake blathering…And then I had a moment of complete clarity…I knew instinctively what to say…My street smarts from my Aussie stand up days …my survival days from early Aussie TV show days..the years of CBC Canadian creative servitude all of this “mind melded” in a few unforgettable words that spoke of the times…of the dope.. and of my desperation to justified Noel’s clouded faith in his import from the Frozen North..
“We’re going to take a camera and were going to move slowly into a closeup of your face as the music plays…closer ..closer and finally it goes into your eye and we do the whole show from inside your head!”
Noel’s jaw dropped open..
“Oh God Chris ….that’s it… we do the whole show from inside my head!”
We were now heading for the pool area to meet his friends so he could tell them how I had solved the riddle of his NBC special…What I didn’t tell him was I still had no idea what was inside his head.
The first thing one noticed at the pool was that the six or seven people there were all naked.
“Everyone this is Chris Beard right off the plane from Toronto.” They waved various body parts at me…
A vaguely familiar bald gentleman laying naked next to where I was standing said :
“Toronto is a lovely place in the summer but one freezes one’s balls off in the winter”…
It then hit me this was actually David Niven without his clothes or his rug. This day just kept topping itself and I’d only been there five hours now.
Noel gathered his friend’s attention:
“Chris has come up with the idea for the special.”….He moved center poolside..
” At the very top of the show there’s a closeup of me and the camera moves in closer and closer…and then we do the entire show from inside my head.”..
After a moment of stunned silence..all seven naked people said in a scattered kind of unison:” Brilliant!”
Within an hour I was in a limousine heading back to the producers office on Sunset and Vine.
..Noel had spoken to producers Al Burton and Burt Rosen and told them I had the answer to the theme for the show. He was at ease and ready to cooperate with everyone one involved.
I still was at a loss to know what was inside Noel’s head…but I would just hope for some divine guidance before Sunset and Vine.
What awaited me there was even more astounding than a naked David Niven…