This is Chapter 7 of the "Queer Identities" series.
The narrators are Dorian Folco and Justin Taylor, and features Brian Kinney, Clint Eastwood, Nick Parr, Diane Rhys, Hilly Nussbaum, Avi Massarsky, Jimmy Hardy, Others.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Sorting a few things out. Arizona, May 2003.
Disclaimer: You know the drill. This is for fun, not profit. Enjoy.
"I need to laugh
And when the sun is out
I've got something I can laugh about.
I feel good
In a special way --
I'm in love and it's a sunny day!
Good day, Sunshine!
Good day, Sunshine!
Good day, Sunshine!"
(Lennon and McCartney)
It's been a good day.
Clint's scenes are clicking along like clockwork. Of course he makes certain that they do. I had been warned that he's a first-take actor. That he feels at his best with the very first go. He believes his spontaneous performance is fresher and more authentic. He is apparently the same way as a director. Ready. Action. Cut. Print. And on to the next set-up. It works for him. And who am I to disagree with an Academy Award winner -- and a legend?
I try to imagine how Eastwood would have meshed with Ron Rosenblum, who was infamous for take after take after take. Ron was one of those directors who has an idealized version of the scene in his head and won't let it go until what he has on film matches his mental image. I remember Brian telling me about when they filmed the scene in 'The Olympian' where Bobby is shot. Ron made him run at full tilt and then fall down hard on the gravel surface over and over again until his body was bruised and his legs scraped bloody -- and Brian was his lover! But that's what it took to get the take Ron wanted. I have to smile at the thought of what Clint would have said to Ron if he'd tried to make him play a scene ten times over when, in Clint's mind, he'd already done his best work in the first take. I would not have wanted to be in the middle of such a confrontation!
The day has been brutally hot, so everyone is relieved when I finally call a halt to the proceedings until tomorrow. These scenes with the wagon train are complex. We need to coordinate a multitude of recalcitrant wagons, dozens of extras in period costume, Indians on horseback, guns going off, stuntmen falling, cattle bellowing -- making a Western is quite an experience for a European, not to mention a strictly urban denizen like myself. Luckily, I have a strong and experienced team, all handpicked by Ron, who was an authority on such things. And there is Clint, of course, for whom this genre is second nature. When he has a suggestion, I listen attentively. I would be a fool not to.
Clint and I are discussing tomorrow's set-ups when Nick Parr approaches. He's been my assistant for three years and I'll miss him when he moves on after this shoot. But he's been offered his own film, which goes before the camera in the fall. Nick stands aside, not wanting to interrupt my conversation with Clint, but I motion him over. He whispers some news and then retreats.
Clint sees the consternation in my face. "Bad news?"
"Not bad. Not precisely." How do I put this? "We apparently have some unexpected visitors to the location. They're waiting for me back in camp."
Clint frowns. He doesn't care for sightseers while he's acting. "What visitors? Reporters?"
"No." Reporters would be better, actually. They'd be easier to eject. "Jimmy Hardy has arrived with a small party of friends."
"Jimmy Hardy?" Clint seems taken aback. But then he smiles slowly. It's that Man With No Name smile. Cool and ironic. "Here to see Kinney, huh? I was wondering if all those rumors were true. Guess that answers THAT question."
I try not to blanch. "I have no idea what you're talking about."
"Of course not, Dorian. No idea at all." Now the smile is wider. "I always wondered about Jimmy Hardy and Ron Rosenblum, too. They were as thick as thieves, so to speak. No wonder 'The Olympian' shoot was so troubled. Hardy and Rosenblum and Kinney, all in one place. That must have been quite a rumble!"
"You shouldn't believe that sort of idle chatter." I can't believe I'm lecturing Clint Eastwood, but then most days I can't believe I'm out here in the desert directing him, either! "Brian and Jimmy are simply good friends."
"Sure," Clint says slyly. "I've had a few 'good friends' like that on set in my day. Getting involved with your co-star is an occupational hazard of being an actor, although in my case it was only my female co-stars." He raises an eyebrow to make certain there's no misunderstanding.
"Of course," I say. "That's a given."
"As long as it's not a distraction for Brian, I don't really give a damn," he continues. "But I thought he had that blond kid with him? The one calling himself his 'personal assistant'? That's so Old School, Dorian. You can tell Brian that I've been around the block a few times in my 50 odd years in the picture business. If he wants to bring his boyfriend on location, that's fine with me. But I'm not sure I want Jimmy Hardy hanging around for the entire shoot. That guy gets on my nerves."
"Mine as well," I admit. "But I believe he's only here for the day. And he's brought someone else with him." I hesitate. But there is no use in trying to deceive the perceptive Mr. Eastwood. "Diane Rhys."
Clint scratches his chin thoughtfully. "Diane Rhys? Cute little blonde? Doesn't she have a TV series?"
"Yes, 'Here's Diane!'" I offer, trying to picture Clint watching a silly sitcom like Diane's.
"Is Jimmy Hardy doing her, too?" Clint shakes his head. "Poor Tess. She's a nice woman. No wonder she's divorcing him!"
"Actually..." How shall I put this to Clint, especially when I scarcely believe it myself? "Diane is probably here to see me."
"You?" He looks dubious.
"Er... yes," I blunder along. "You see... Diane is... well... she's my girlfriend."
"Your... your girlfriend?" Now Clint is well and truly shocked He looks me up and down, as if examining me closely for the first time. Clint is no longer as tall as he once was -- age has whittled him down a few inches -- but he still towers over me like the giant he is. And his penetrating gaze is an intimidating force. But then he laughs. It's a powerful, but sincere laugh. He slings his arm around my shoulders and begins to walk me to the waiting car for the trip back to camp. "Dorian Folco, you're full of surprises, aren't you?"
"I try my best," I say weakly.
"This should be interesting," Clint adds as the driver opens the door for us to get in. "You need to fill in all the blanks. I like to know exactly what's happening on my set. And we have a nice, long ride ahead of us."
Yes, a very long ride, indeed. And who knows what is at the end of it?
"Um... Brian?" Hilly Nussbaum calls out as he watches Brian and Jimmy head down to the corral. "Jimmy? Mr. Hardy!" When they are out of sight he turns to me and Diane in dismay. "Where the hell are they going? I need Brian to go over these papers RIGHT NOW!" He checks his watch and makes a mournful sound. "Doesn't anyone understand? I need to be back in L.A. tonight! ASAP!"
Hilly is a short, well-dressed man -- Ralph Lauren suit, I think. Italian shoes. Huge Rolex watch. $200 haircut. See, Brian, I'm learning! -- whose face is getting redder by the minute as he paces back and forth. So this is Brian's new business manager. So far, so good -- not!
Diane shakes her head in sympathy. "Hilly, honey, I'd keep my pants on if I were you. Because we're not going anywhere tonight. You'll be lucky if you get home tomorrow -- or the next day!"
"But... but..." he sputters. The sweat is pouring off him like rain. That Ralph Lauren suit is going to be ruined if he doesn't calm down soon. "Jimmy said this would be a quick trip down here and back! That we'd be finished in no time! I can't stay here all night! I have clients in the morning! And my wife -- she's expecting me home for dinner!"
"Your wife thinks you can go to Arizona in the morning and be back in time for dinner?" I glance at Diane and she shrugs. This guy is crazy!
Hilly snorts as if I'm incredibly dense. "You can if you take a private jet!"
"Hilly, whose private jet did we come down here in?" Diane asks gently.
The man's face suddenly looks defeated. "Jimmy's."
"Which means that it'll go back to L.A. when Jimmy is ready to go back to L.A. and not before" Diane explains. "I thought you understood that, honey?"
"But he said that...that... Christ! I need a drink!" Hilly reaches into the cooler for a beer. "Jimmy promised me! Swore we'd be back tonight!" He looks at the can of Coors he pulled out and makes a disgusted face. "Can I get a martini around here? I really need a martini! A double!"
"Would you like some lemonade? Or a Diet Coke?" I offer.
But Hilly only moans and sinks down on one of the lawn chairs next to us. He takes out a large handkerchief and mops his brow with it.
"I can get you a martini, Mr. Nussbaum," says Avi. "The guys over in costumes and make-up have a full bar set up in their tent."
"Please, kid!" says Hilly. "I'll owe you one for that! Oh, and make it a vodka -- very dry!"
Avi nods and takes off in search of a double vodka martini, very dry. After all, it's his job to get things for people and make them happy. Yes, even demanding visitors like Hilly Nussbaum.
The small crowd of tech and production people who gathered when word spread that Jimmy Hardy and Diane Rhys were in camp have dispersed, leaving me and Diane and Hilly sitting under the awning, enjoying the pleasant afternoon and waiting for Brian and Jimmy to return. At least Diane and I are enjoying it.
"Who the hell are they kidding with this heat?" Hilly fans himself with a manila folder. "This is the most meshugge fucking place I've ever been outside of Great Neck, Long Island! Why can't Brian make a movie in Hollywood like a normal person? It must be 100 degrees in the shade!"
"It's the desert, Mr. Nussbaum," I remind him. "And they say it's a dry heat. That's better than too much humidity."
Hilly stares at me. "It's a fucking sauna! Dry heat, shmy heat! I'm dying here!"
"Relax, Hilly," says Diane. "You'll give yourself a coronary."
"Why don't you go inside our trailer?" I suggest. "It's air conditioned. And there's a sofa, in case you'd like to lie down. When Avi comes with your martini he can bring it in to you."
Hilly stands up. "Thanks, kid. You're a lifesaver. I better call my wife, too. She's going to chew me a new asshole when she hears about this fucking fiasco! That goddamn Jimmy Hardy! Christ, what a schmuck!" He keeps mumbling and cursing as he stomps into the trailer and slams the door behind him.
"So," I say to Diane. "That's Brian's new business manager. Doesn't exactly inspire confidence, does he?"
Diane takes a sip of lemonade before she answers. She's wearing a pink tee shirt and matching capri pants. She also has on pink jeweled flip-flops that show off her pink toenails. Yes, Diane looks a little like Malibu Barbie, but on her it works. Even in this killing heat, she's cool and collected.
"Don't be fooled, Cutie. Hilly is the real deal. He knows his business and he'll do a good job for Brian. Hilly can be a bit hysterical, but you can't really blame him for being upset. I warned him before we came down here that he couldn't trust Jimmy when he said we'd be back by tonight, but he didn't listen to me."
I pour us both refills on the lemonade. I'm going to have to make more before Brian gets back. "How the hell did Jimmy find out Hilly was coming down here? I didn't even know about it until last night."
Diane licks her pink lips. "The same way I did, hon. We were all at Lew Blackmore's tennis party yesterday. Hilly mentioned he was coming down to see Brian and Jimmy perked right up. Then Jimmy pointed out that it was Memorial Day, which is a very busy travel day. So he offered to fly Hilly to Tucson in his jet and arrange for a limo to drive them out here. That would save Hilly a lot of hassle at LAX, not to mention at the airport in Tucson, so he eagerly agreed. Of course, Hilly had no idea there were strings attached. But with Jimmy there are always strings attached!" Diane grins. "So as long as they were coming down here, I decided I'd jump on board, too!"
"I totally forgot that it's Memorial Day," I say. "You kind of lose track of the outside world out here."
Diane pats my face. "This film has only just started, Cutie! You still have a month or more to lose track of time! Have they started principal shooting yet?"
"Dorian is filming with Eastwood, Sam Elliott, and the boy who plays Brian's character as a kid somewhere north of here, but Brian hasn't started yet. He's in Cowboy Camp all this week."
"I see." Diane shades her eyes with her hand and scans down the row of trailers to see if Brian and Jimmy are returning. But there are only the usual crew people coming and going from their own trailers. This is the quiet end of camp. "Jimmy's right -- Brian looks hot in the cowboy gear. This is an important job for him, Justin. It'll prove he's not just a flash in the pan. It'll show all the assholes that he can be convincing in a non-gay role. And working with Eastwood is huge. Is Bridie really on the wagon?"
I nod. "Really. He's serious about it, Diane. He knows how important this picture is. Did you hear about him getting the lead in 'The Eastern Front'? They were supposed to announce it this morning."
Diane laughs. "That's all they were talking about at the tennis party! Lew was crowing about it! Taking total credit for Brian landing the role, of course. I admit that I was surprised when I heard about it. The word was that Brad Pitt had the part sewn up, but Brian will be perfect. Simone Merle isn't too shabby, either. I was in a picture she did a couple of years ago, 'Ruined.'"
I frown. I've seen that flick a couple of times but I don't remember her. "You were in 'Ruined'? I didn't know that!"
"If you blinked you would have missed me! I played Hooker #2. But that's been the story of my life -- at least until recently."
I look at Diane and think about how far she's come in the past year. How far we've all come since that day last June when Brian took me to meet his 'girlfriend' in that cafe in West Hollywood. It's almost hard to believe. "Your series is great. You deserve all the success you're having."
Diane flips her hand dismissively. "I have no illusions that 'Here's Diane!' is great art, but then I've never aspired to be an 'artiste'. I wanted to be an actress because of the glam and glitz! And the fame. And the money, of course!" She giggles. "And I'm having a wonderful time! You'd be surprised at what having a show in the Top 20 will do for your ego! Maybe not as much as having a movie that wins a couple of Academy Awards, but you'll have to ask Brian about that!"
"I don't think Brian cares all that much about awards. He was nominated for a bunch and won a couple, like the BAFTA for 'Hammersmith' and the National Board of Review award for Breakthrough Performance of the Year in 'The Olympian.' But Brian also won a ton of Cleo Awards for his ad campaigns. He's never made a big deal about them."
"Don't fool yourself, hon," Diane chides me. "He cares. And if he doesn't, then he should. Awards are the way the Industry tells you that you're for real in this town. That's why it was so important when Ron won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. Even if he lost Best Director and Best Picture, it was still a recognition of what he'd accomplished by getting 'The Olympian' made. But it was a deliberate snub that Brian didn't get a nomination -- and Brian knows it, believe me. And that's got to hurt."
"Then what about Jimmy getting Best Actor? What does that mean?" I don't like the suggestion that Brian was somehow being punished for what happened to Ron. I don't like to think that Hollywood works that way, even if it's true.
Diane makes a face. "That was all about Jimmy Hardy being Jimmy Hardy. Everything is always about Jimmy being Jimmy. But that guy better start watching his step, Cutie. Without Tess around to keep him in line, Mr. James Lawrence Hardy might find himself heading for a very public spin out!"
"Well, Brian won't be 'spinning out' with him, if that's what you're afraid of!" I insist.
"No, Brian seems like he's got his act together. Rehab did him a lot of good. But this is a tough business, kiddo. You've got to be careful every minute, especially when you're playing with the Big Boys. Co-starring with Eastwood, and then making 'The Eastern Front' with Brock Santo and Simone Merle -- that's as big as it gets in Hollywood. It'll make Brian into an genuine A List player."
I stare at the glass of lemonade in my hand. The ice is melting quickly and the day is getting hotter, if that's possible. "Should I be worried, Diane?"
She looks at me seriously. "About Brian? Or about you and Brian?"
"Both," I admit. "So -- should I be worried?"
"I don't know. Maybe," she answers honestly.
"We've been through so much," I say slowly. "You know what they say about how the shit that doesn't kill you only makes you stronger? If that's true, then we should be okay. But even strong things fail, Diane. Huge buildings can be brought down. Big trees can fall. I never thought Tess would ever give up on Jimmy. And I never thought someone as focused and determined as Ron would kill himself. So you never really know, do you?"
"Do you love him?" she asks. It's almost a whisper.
"Yes," I reply. "More than anything else in my fucking life."
"Then that's all you need to know. That and the fact that he loves you more than anything in HIS fucking life. And you can take that to the bank!"
"I hope you're right," I say.
Hope. That little word. But it means everything right now. And I mean everything.
With such esteemed visitors as Jimmy Hardy, Diane, and Brian's new business manager in camp, I decide to give a small dinner party. When I give Nick the word he simply gapes at me.
"A dinner party? In the fucking desert? Are you completely mad, Dorian?" he hisses.
"I don't expect you to import Wolfgang Puck for the evening, Nicky. Just have Tom Packard tell catering to set up a special tent for the guests and selected members of the cast and provide some kind of decent meal. Some grilled steaks, perhaps. Maybe a few candles on the tables. That shouldn't be too difficult, should it?"
Nick rolls his eyes and makes a great show to indicate how impossible this request is. "You realize, Dorian, that it's already the dinner hour? The crew and production people are eating as we speak!"
"Then my party will dine at 8:00," I tell him firmly. "That should give the catering staff sufficient time to prepare. In the meanwhile, we'll have cocktails. Mr. Eastwood will also be joining us. And please extend an invitation to Mr. Swayze, Mr. Elliott, and Mr. Jandl." Yes, that covers the featured players and our eminent cinematographer. "And the other AD's and heads of the various departments should probably be invited as well. You've been my assistant for more than three years, Nicky, so I know you can handle all the necessary details."
Nick nods and goes out, gripping his clipboard tightly. He is not happy, but he's not paid to be happy. He's paid to carry out tasks. When he's in my position one day, then he'll see that my demands are not at all unreasonable. That's the thing about being a director. You must take charge. You are the boss, and when you make a request it's the job of your assistants to make it happen. That's one thing Clint has taught me. If he made such a request no one would hesitate -- they would simply do it.
I walk back to my trailer and find that Diane has already made herself at home. Her bag is open on the bed and her toiletries are spread out on top of the dresser. And she's in the tiny bathroom, freshening her make-up.
"Hey, Dori!" she calls cheerily. "When do we eat?"
"8-ish," I tell her. "It should be cooler then. Drinks here, then dinner in the tent. How does that sound?"
"Sounds fab!" She wiggles out in a peach-colored silk dressing gown, smelling like lily of the valley. And I adore the scent of lily of the valley. It reminds me of an old fragrance my mother used to wear. Diorissimo. Yes, that was it. I inhale her deeply.
I have to admit that when I heard Diane had come down with Jimmy and Brian's new manager, I was more than a bit dismayed. It's one thing to have an affair when you are in L.A. and quite another to carry it to a remote location. But she does look fetching in that dressing gown. And I've been rather tense lately. Diane certainly knows the cure for a man with such tension.
After Diane has managed to relieve a bit of my tension, we dress for dinner and then walk over to the catering area. I notice that a smaller tent has been pitched behind the main tent and a bar set up to the side. Clint and Phil Hoyt, one of the AD's, are already knocking back a few cocktails.
"Dorian," Clint nods at me. "And Ms. Rhys." Clint stands and takes Diane's hand. I see her blush. "You're looking lovely."
"Thanks," she says. "Call me Diane -- please!"
He smiles lazily. "And you can call me Clint."
If the man were even ten years younger I'd be feeling jealous. Quite jealous, indeed.
"Can I get you a drink -- Diane?" Clint motions over the fellow tending bar. This is supposed to be my party, but my star has taken over as the host. And I have no choice but allow him to do it. He's Eastwood and I'm simply Dorian Folco. But I have to wonder how things will change when Jimmy Hardy walks into the tent?
Clint introduces Diane to Phil and leaves them sitting at a table with their drinks as he takes me aside. "I want you to seat Brian next to me at dinner. We haven't had a lot of chances to talk and since we're going to start filming together next week I want to feel the guy out."
"Er... certainly." I can't very well say no to Clint.
"Good man." He pats me on the shoulder. Then he turns his attention back to Diane.
The rest of the party wanders in. They immediately steer themselves to the bar. Patrick Swayze and Sam Elliott. Nick Parr and his boyfriend, who is playing the youngest cowboy, sidle in, unsure about their welcome. Karel Jandl strides in, carrying his own bottle. Charley Bouley and Gar Greenough. Tom Packard. Conrad Armstrong, the art director. Wendell Williams, the line producer. Ross Emerson, the production coordinator. Mary Silver, the script supervisor. All are in a party mood as they greet each other at the bar. It's Memorial Day and the beginning of the shoot. Everyone is fresh and enthusiasm is high. But we shall see how they are all feeling by the end of June.
Heads turn and conversations pause. I know that Jimmy Hardy and Brian have arrived, with Justin and Brian's business manager trailing behind them.
I look over at Clint. His gaze is steely as he peruses Jimmy. Two gigantic stars in the same tent. But, frankly, Jimmy Hardy is no match for Clint Eastwood except in his own mind.
Brian takes Justin by the elbow and they move to a corner table, well away from the bar. But Jimmy heads directly for me.
"Party time!" Jimmy says, slapping me on the back. "Nice joint you got here, Dorian. I see the enchanting Princess Di is already making the acquaintance of Mr. Eastwood. Leave it to the lady to swim straight to the biggest fish in the room."
"Yes, quite," I say, coolly. He knows that Diane and I have an... understanding. But Jimmy loves to stir up trouble.
"I want you to make sure that Brian sits with me while we eat," Jimmy purrs in my ear. "Baby Blue can sit with you and Princess Di. I'm only going to be here a few days and Bri and I have lots of things to discuss."
A couple of days? This is the first I've heard that Jimmy wasn't leaving in the morning with Brian's business manager. This is looking to become a huge bloody headache!
"I'm sorry, Mr. Hardy," I say, trying to keep a formal distance. "But Mr. Eastwood has already requested that Brian sit with him at dinner."
Jimmy frowns. "Listen, Folco, I didn't fucking fly all the fucking way down here to sit in a fucking corner and jerk off while Brian plays pattycake with Clint fucking Eastwood! I NEED to sit with Brian and I'm GOING to sit with him! So YOU make it happen." Now Jimmy's eyes are as steely as Eastwood's. Almost. "I fucking mean it."
I can see that he fucking means it.
So I take a deep breath and smile ingratiatingly. "I shall certainly see what I can do." What else does one say to the Most Powerful Actor in Hollywood? Except that we are not in Hollywood. We are in a tent in the Sonoran Desert. And Mr. Clint Eastwood is also in that same tent.
But I am still the director of this picture, for better or for worse.
"You fucking do that!" Jimmy snaps. And he stomps away, looking around for Brian.
I think I need a drink. Perhaps two.
It is going to be a long, long evening.
Continue on to "I'm Your Man".
©Gaedhal, April 2007.
Posted April 15, 2007.