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Happy Birthday Robert De Niro! My brief brush with stardom

Robert De Niro

You know you're old when all your crushes have turned into old men! I’ve been a Robert De Niro fan forever, so on the occasion of his 75th birthday, I wanted to share my brief brush up against the man on the set of Tales from the Crypt. It was 1989, and ...

I put down the phone, hoping no one could see my hand was literally shaking. Bob's assistant, Elena, was calling from New York, wanting to see if I could organize some lunch for her boss. Her boss Bob. Bob as in Bob De Niro. Oh, that Bob. The actor was going to be in LA and planned on squeezing in a quick meeting with Rowdy Herrington, the director shooting the next episode of Tales from the Crypt. As the APOC at Tales, it fell to me to take on the task. 

An APOC—Assistant Production Office Coordinator to the uninitiated—is nothing more than an overworked secretary to about 150 people. Twelve hour days minimum. No overtime. My job meant inputting every single one of those names, phone numbers, and addresses into the Crew List database and keeping it updated. I generated the cast list which included the names of the talent, and the phone numbers for their agents, but never their own phone numbers or addresses. God forbid some prop guy showed up at an actor's door, script in hand, pleading for them to read it. The producers and the A.D.s were the only ones with access to those personal details and they weren't telling. Otherwise, all contact had to be made through the actor's agent and manager. Email addresses? In 1989 we didn't have any stinking email addresses. Cell phone numbers? Please.

The Tales production facilities were located in an old pasta factory on a particularly ugly corner in Culver City. When I couldn't wrangle a p.a. to do it for me—some of the p.a.'s had a mysterious habit of disappearing between errands to hang out on set, my weak delegating skills to blame, I'm sure—I distributed all those crew lists, memo's from any of the plethora of producers, invoices, copies of production reports, phone messages and script changes into large manilla envelopes stapled to the wall alongside my desk. The front of the envelopes cut down to create pouches, the names of the departments—ART—CAMERA—HAIR & MAKE-UP—WARDROBE—printed in big bold block letters in black marker. 

I made hotel and plane reservations for cast and crew coming in from out of town. I purchased office supplies. I faxed camera department orders. I sent pa's off to deliver updated scripts to actors. I took the production reports handwritten in pencil by the AD's on set and typed them up neatly. I made xerox copies of the actor's sides and I fielded phone calls from all kinds of grips and production assistants looking for their next gig. I ordered second meal when we weren't going to wrap before the 12 hour day was over. I asked transpo—nobody ordered the Teamsters to do anything—to go on beer runs for the crew when each episode wrapped at the end of the week. I sent production assistants to the grocery store to keep our kitchen stocked with everybody's special requests. No Yahoo drinks in the fridge? What if producer Joel Silver stopped by? Curses!

And I ordered lunch for Bob De Niro.

Read the rest of the story at simcarter.com