Posts Tagged ‘things go better with coke’

The Hat that Launched a Short-lived Career

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

On my son Oliver’s 21st birthday, he reluctantly gave in and let me invite a few of his friends over to celebrate – just a handful, the ones who adore him.  We were living on the beach in Malibu and I was so excited to share the house with him and his crew.  One close friend, Lily, had the foresight to buy him a porkpie hat.  They were not in style yet, as they have been now for years.  And Oliver rocked that hat.  He wore it every single day.

He was attending Santa Monica College, and one day on campus he was approached by talent scouts.  They said they were casting a national Coca-Cola commercial.  They told Oliver they liked his style.  (That hat!)  Oliver is shy or at least sort of camera shy.  Though at times he can be outrageous, like a performance artist — but only in the company of very close friends and family.

He showed up for the casting call.  Why not?  And he phoned me every step of the way.  The first call was “Should I go?”  He went.  Then again to say that if he gets a callback, they will fly him to San Francisco for that audition. “That’s great,” I said, never thinking it would go much further.   Next I know, he’s at the airport waiting for his flight.  I’m thinking it will be fun for my son to get a free trip.  First class treatment all the way, he reports from the groovy hotel they put all the potential actors in.

Flashback.  A few weeks before Oliver was discovered on his college campus, he began dating a new girl.  He told me how taken he was with her.  He brought flowers to her at work to woo her.  It succeeded.  He told me she was a very talented filmmaker, a student in the film department at SMC.

Now, he was calling her from the hotel in San Francisco to tell her the news.  He said he felt like he was in some dream; this could not be real.  He told the girl that if he lands this job he must stay for another week to shoot.  But, if he doesn’t, he’ll be home the next day.  For some unknown reason, she said, “You will never call me again, I feel it.”  He told her that’s just crazy.  He promised to call the minute he comes home.

He landed the job.  He never called the girl again.

For the week of shooting, Oliver was treated like a king.  I once did commercials, so I know how intoxicating that can be.  He was telling me that assistants would ask if he wanted something to drink.  He had no problem requesting hot tea.  What else do you want?  Let’s get you some expensive vintage clothes from a high-end store.  Oh, you can keep those shirts.  People were anticipating his every need.  On location in San Francisco Oliver had the time of his life.

Then he was home, and not only didn’t he call the girl again, he also never returned to school.  He sat back, rolling in dough.  If a homeless person needed something, however expensive, Oliver bought it for him.  He picked up the check at restaurants with friends.  And girls he dated received the most expensive boots and were taken to the best hotels.

Meanwhile, that Coke commercial aired nationally on TV every night, and could be seen in movie theaters around the country. (more…)