Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Production Coordinator: Part 2

So when I last left you a young, non-crazy Britney Spears was taping a concert at Disney MGM Studios, infront of the Rock n Rollercoaster for about 2500 girls and their moms. Since this was a rehearsal, not all the production elements were in place, most namely, Britney's top.

When Britney turned around to face the audience after a contorted dance number, in the true fashion of Tara Reid and Janet Jackson, Ms. Spears was, ahem, exposed. Well, of course, the mothers were dumbstruck, the director was embarassed, but not Ms. Spears, she remained calm and collected; almost as if she had noticed her breasts had popped out.

While Britney was stuffing herself back in, Disney personnel braced for impact; everyone imagined the throngs of angry mothers going straight to Guest Relations to exclaim how Disney was responisble for sullying the adolescence of their daughters. Managers were tripping over eachother in attempts to provide some damage control, others unable to move much like a deer in headlights; but we coordinators were steadfast. One of my favorite peers, went over to the camera guy and calmly asked, "Did you get that?"

These are the times I cherished being a PC. Other times, well, not so much. Let me tell you about a little thing called Super Soap Weekend. (Please do not read on if you are easily offended).

Super Soap Weekend, in my words and my words only, seems to be the only time that 40,000 three hundred pound women leave the house to shmooze with female ABC soap stars, and eye hump the men. Now, I wouldn't have a problem with these lovely ladies if they a) didn't all drive motorized carts, and b)have some common deceny. It's like this:

For an entire weekend MGM is turned into a Soap fans wet dream. There are meet and greets, concerts, trivia, soap stars taking their shirts off (unfortunately, guys). While it's soap fan nirvana, it's my personal Hell.

Planning for this thing is crazy, everyone whose anyone is tapped to handle this event. Queues have to be devised, stanchions (movable poles) have to be stolen from all around property, talent has to be coordinated, and we PC's give up all kind of rest. It's literally a month of planning, then when the weekend arrives we just sleep when we can, where we can (thank you Banditland @ GMR). So let me take you to Saturday morning. We get in about 3am, and as you are walking in, you can see the beat up motor homes with a whole bunch of Bertha's/Betty's/Marge's/ and Thelma's inside. These ladies will line up outside the gate for an 8:30am opening, you would think they were waiting for Stones tickets.

Anyways, the moment the gates open is a term a I affectionately call "The Stampede". Trust me, if you've seen the bulls in Spain, you've seen Saturday morning during Super Soap Weekend. It's bedlam. Since the event is parkwide the ladies spread out and wreak havoc on the park the Mouse built. Oddly enough, the park is packed while most of the rides will have walk on times during this weekend.

I was always in charge of New York St. and the Arch. Susan Lucci came every year and always remembered me. She is a very tiny, but extremely nice person. The stars will do 2 signings a day, plus Q&A's, and Wally Kurth's band will always play some crap music. My whole day is getting more headshots, water, and trying to be personal WDW diplomat to the guests (who are always angry), because it's too hot, there's not enough shade, Kelly Ripa's too thin, or why Brad Taylor won't take his shirt off.

The best part of SSW are the weeks that follow it. That's when we have to clean up the pigsty and return all the crap we stole from other parts of WDW. My favorite memory was being in a rented Ryder truck with expired tags, with a driver who had an expired license, stolen stanchions in the back, and ramming the awning to the monorail track infront of about 500 guests. Classic.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Production Coordinator: Part 1

I have had the pleasure/pain of working for the mouse for nearly 10 years. Some jobs were fantastic, some made it hard to get up in the morning. As I continue down the blog path I will recap some from time to time; today being one of those times. For a stint, I was what is called a "Production Coordinator" at MGM, ahem, I mean the Disney Studios. What a PC does is basically this, everything. When I mean everything, I mean everything. From logistical planning, to activation, to strking, and a whole lot of diplomacy with others who plainly just don't want to be diplomatic.

So to get down what we do is whenever something big comes to MGM (sorry, that's what I know it as), like Super Soap Weekend, Concerts, Marathons, Cheerleading, Star Wars Weekends, we are in charge of it. (You didn't think it just "magically" happens did you?)
Anyways, if you have never been to those events, they are really circuses. Not only do we have to take care of production (film crews, staging, grip work), we then have to take care of talent (in this case we'll say Regis & Kelly), but then we also have to make sure the day guests are happy and not interfere with the production. Easy. Now, I have to say some events are easier than others, some are excrutiating, some are just plain odd.

Take for instance a concert we produced for Disney Channel's "Summer Jams" Concert Series. This particular one starred Britney Spears, but way before her shaved head and sans panties days. It was to be held in the brand new, at the time, Rock n Rollercoaster courtyard for about 2500 girls who entered a contest and their moms. This wasn't too bad as RnR courtyard has a gate that we can close, so while the day guests won't get to ride RnR for the day, they can still hear the music and if they crane their necks right, can catch the taping. Normally on day like this, shooting will take place mid to late morning as it will be ridiculously hot later, meaning our crew had to get in about 3:30 am. This, however, was a much better time than the stage techs who were there all night putting the stage together. (Disney is wildly known for having an empty space one day, the next day some monstrosity standing in place, and then overnight it seems to disappear, so kudos to WDW on that). Anyways, to get back to my story. We get in, go through all the logistics and set off to the stage. Everything is set up, and the camera crew is unloading, everything perfect. Fast forward about 6 hours to sound check/dress rehearsal. Britney is just finishing up wardrobe and the courtyard is bulging to the brim with pre-pubscent teens and parents who keep looking like they would like to be somewhere else. We are ready, the director's ready, and the back up band is ready (of course it's all tracked).

Out comes Britney in tight black pants and nothing but a long piece of green fabric across her chest, quite the wardrobe for a Disney sponsored event. So everyone gets quiet, lights go on, and the director yells "Action". Britney and her dancers bust into a sequence of twists turns and God knows what, the music is pumpin', the kids are screamin', and Britney turns her back to the crowd to perform a dance move. When she turns around the look of parents immediately turns to horror.

(Part 2 tommorow)

Friday, February 23, 2007

Welcome to my blog

This blog will be dedicated to, as the title states, all things WDW. I have spent nearly a decade working there, and nearly a lifetime building fond memories of a magical place in Central Florida. Sometimes this blog may say things that don't agree with you, sometimes it will be complete utter nonsense, and other times it may help you remember a cherished time while at Disney with family. So, welcome to my blog and of course "por favor mantangse aleado de las puertas."