A Note to the Cast and Crew of For the People
Season Two Wrap
December 13, 2018
Hollywood is a ruthlessly unsentimental place. We all know this. Sets get struck. Scripts tossed. Scenes cut. Shows cancelled. Entire studios — even showrunners, I’ve heard, though this seems too far-fetched to believe — sometimes just disappear, sometimes overnight. So many of us live transient, impermanent lives, because the nature of this business is transient and transactional and impermanent — and unrepentantly so. It’s over. Move on. So we live out of bags, and boxes, and trucks. Always ready to go. Robert De Niro has that great line in Heat, “Don’t let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in thirty seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner.” Exactly right. Except here, in Hollywood, you were probably fired ten seconds before that.
I was reminded of this, yet again, when I got to the lot early yesterday morning, after staying for wrap late Wednesday night, which was actually also yesterday morning, and saw that the actors' trailers were already…gone. Gone! Just like that. And I stood there in the alleyway, misty-eyed, thinking, shit, really? Can’t we just like, ease into this?
No. We cannot. It’s over. Move on.
And…yet…the irony of Hollywood is that for all of the instability and insecurity in the way things are done here, the work we do lives on. Recorded and printed and digitized and consumed forever…or at least until Amazon buys it all and does something else with it. As I’ve mentioned to a few of you, I’ve been watching a lot of The Incredible Hulk lately. The TV series, from the late 70s, with Lou Ferrigno. (7 am on the El Rey channel, if you don’t already know.) It’s bad. The episode I saw this morning was particularly bad. He was working in a zoo for some reason, and he got in a fight with a large man in a gorilla suit. That was about all I could make out. Still, I enjoyed it. Always do. Linus, my son, does. He’s eight and I’m delirious with exhaustion, so that probably accounts for some of this. But, whatever, it’s entertaining. Sometimes when I’m watching the show, I look at the credits and wonder about where these people are now. The people who made this. The writers, the directors, the production designer, the grips, the camera operators, the accountants. How long were they on the show? What else did they work on? Before. After. (This is now where I learn that Brad was a first AD on The Incredible Hulk.) Do they remember it? Did they have any idea that this one episode of television from March of 1978, which I undoubtedly watched at the time, would be rewatched and enjoyed forty years later by me and my son?
Do we recognize this here? I’m not foolish enough to think that For the People is going to stand with Rear Window, or even The Incredible Hulk, but people will watch it this March, and some in the March after that. There will be people who find it ten years from now, and maybe forty. We all will have moved on, but the show lives. The work lives. Your work. Every one of you who contributed to this. And that is the amazing thing about what we do here. The reward for the often chaotic and stressful and always peripatetic lives we all live. The box moves. The work lives. There are so many things you can do in life where this is not true — and I’ve done many of them. Things that require an extraordinary amount of work, but that are meaningless, or mean the wrong things, that you can’t remember, and wouldn’t want to. This is different. A bad episode of The Incredible Hulk has an enduring power to entertain, in ways, and in places, across the expanse of time and space, that is, well…incredible.
As you pack up and say goodbye, I think it’s worth remembering this. Even if for only a moment. That the work you did here, over these past six months, it meant something, and it endures. You were all a part of that. You were essential to that. (You were. By definition. If you weren’t, Merri wouldn’t have paid for you.) You have something to show for your craft, for your dedication, for the sacrifices you made, for the time away from your families. For the rest of your lives, which I hope are long and bountiful, and spent, for the most part, working on For the People, you can point to the work you have done here and say: I made that. And you did. Every one of you, in every department, at every level. Don’t forget it. Hollywood is a ruthlessly unsentimental place, but I am achingly sentimental, and I’m sad to see this end, hopeful it will continue on, but grateful, regardless, for the time I was blessed to spend with all of you, each of you, building something meaningful and durable and beautiful.
Thank you all for another amazing season. Yours, PWD