Some folks, at least those who can spare the time in these chaotic and perilous days for frivolous thought, have the idea that just because I wasted so many years in Hollywood, I have all the answers about what’s done there, how it’s done, and who does it. I don’t.

Yes, I worked with and had personal relationships with a few really big stars, but they’re all dead now, their Facebook pages are shut down and they’re unavailable for texts and calls.

Johnny Carson always said, “After you’re dead, your toenails and hair keep growing … but nobody answers your calls.” True.

However, I can still get some really inside items with a couple of phone calls. That gives me an edge on writing film reviews. So you see, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

It’s still all about money and who you know. “They” may not always give you a job, but if “they” like you, “they” will give you information.

Now, in my dotage back here in the wilderness, I can get the answers to all of those questions in five minutes, even here, three thousand miles away. How? It’s all about family. I’ll explain.

Let us take a few minutes this morning, as the rain forest burns, the icebergs melt and POTUS squabbles with Xi Jinping, to give you an inside picture of how your favorite television stars eat on their sets. Too trivial? Keep reading. It’s really fun, and I need the money.

This is where, for me, family — those close to me who are deeply embedded in the shadows and behind the scenes — enrich my day with tidbits and enhance my reporting. Plus, it gives me a chance to brag.

There’s my youngest daughter, Jillana, lawyer and writer who after college, law school and eight years as a Broadway publicist, became a Hollywood agent. Occasionally I get inside information from her that I can dazzle you with. Some of it is kept so secret that I can’t even whisper it out loud.

Today you’re going to learn about something called “craft services” from Rick Sieloff, who happens to be my son-in-law by daughter Dawn. Rick is one of those very important “invisible” creative people in charge of keeping your favorite shows like “Grey’s Anatomy” and John Singleton’s hit show “Snowfall” running. You’ll never see them on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. They hate that stuff, and they’re too busy.

Rick explained that craft services refers to the folks who provide the food always available to the crew and actors while they are working, and it varies greatly from set to set.

Back in the ’70s, in my time, shows such as “The FBI,” on the Warner Brothers’ lot in Burbank, California, fed their cast and crews box lunches, or let them “brownbag” their own meals. That has all changed.

“Each morning on ‘Grey’s’ set,” Rick said, “we had hot breakfast, eggs, bacon, sausage, bagels, cereal, yogurt, fruit and, of course, doughnuts.”

Lunch was called “a walk away.” But there was a “pre-lunch snack which consisted of just about anything imaginable.”

After an exhausting nine years on “Grey’s,” Rick joined the late John Singleton’s show “Snowfall,” shot on the rough streets of “1983” Los Angeles.

“Snowfall,” Rick said, “is mostly night and day location work on the streets, with catered breakfast and lunch. Breakfast, mostly the same as GA, but it has an omelet bar and breakfast type stuff made to order. Lunch: beef, chicken, fish, and vegan choices.”

On “good shows” craft services begin with catered breakfast, then mid-morning snacks provided by craft services, usually served three hours after “call time.” Lunch comes three hours later, then snack time three hours after lunch. If the day should be longer than 12 hours, there is another meal.

So what was Rick’s “bad” production?

“I would say it was when I worked with Barbra Streisand on her ‘2000 Millennial’ world tour as lead scenic artist/rigger. The food was awful, and when Barbra found out what we were being fed, she immediately fired the unit production manager, and things got better on the spot.”

Rick’s next assignment is a bigger and more complex operation. He’s soon to go to work with famed director Ron Howard on his new dark comedy series for Paramount Network, “68 Whiskey.” Set in Afghanistan and in the vein of Korea’s “M*A*S*H,” the show is about medics in the Afghan war and will be shot on location in the high desert northeast of Los Angeles. I can’t wait to hear what craft services will be offering for dinner up there. Sautéed lizard, anyone?

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.


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