10

AMAZING CELEBRITY STORIES: #1 – SING ALONG WITH DAWN

Okay – what I am about to tell you will amaze and astound you.  Okay – well, maybe not astound you. Okay – maybe not amaze.   But, lemme tell you: it amazed and astounded ME!

I’ve found through the years that singing to my babies covers a multitude of sins:  from the babies being tired and NOT WANTING TO DO any more ‘acting’, to being nervous, hungry, uncomfortable with a new actor, etc, etc, etc.  And my gorgeous Shelby and Kara – “SUNNY” IN LEMONY SNICKET: A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS (sorry, Debb and Mark – I know they’re really YOUR Shelby and Kara, but you KNOW how much I love your kids!) were no different.

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I had come up with my own version of I’M JUST WILD ABOUT HARRY that went, I’M JUST WILD ABOUT SHELBY . . . of course. (apologies to the astounding Mr. Eubie Blake).  Almost no matter what else was going on, it would make Shelby smile.  Even when she was only 15 months old.  Even when we had been filming in a small cramped boat for days and days.  Which is where this anecdote takes place.

SO . . .we’re between shots, and are again waiting for something before we do yet another take . . . at this point I can’t even remember what we were waiting for.  Probably for Jim to come back from watching the previous take in the monitor. sigh.  Don’t get me started . . . .

AND Shelby is getting understandably fractious.  It’s way past her nap time AGAIN, she’s been in the same place for quite some time AGAIN, she’s prevented from running around and being a normal kid AGAIN, and she’s ready for a cuddle from ‘Daw’  (The girls can’t say my whole name yet).

I come out from my hiding place under the dirty canvas sail, and take her on my lap for a few minutes, as she’s been on Meryl’s lap for the shot.

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I start singing quietly and gently to her,  paying no attention to anything or anybody else – just concentrating on trying to make my baby happy.  And slowly, it works, that amazing smile begins to play across her little face.

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Suddenly it occurs to me that I am hearing another voice in addition to my own, and I realize Meryl is singing my silly made-up song, too!!  I, Dawn Jeffory-Nelson, daughter of Alan and Charlene, sister of Dana,  and wife of Shawn, am SINGING WITH MERYL STREEP.  O H   MY   G  O  D!!!!!!!!!

One part of my brain is concentrating on Shelby and functioning so that I am continuing to sing and calm her, and the other half is screaming (albeit silently) like a wildly crazy nutso fan at the Academy Awards who has just seen Orlando Bloom or Johnny Depp “ooooooooooohhhhh, aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.”

Meryl Streep is singing with me!!!    INSERT BANSHEE-LIKE SHRIEKS!!! The kind teenage girls do when they’re excited and/or crazy . . . .or like sorority sisters meeting each other by chance at the mall after a separation of five years . . . . .and you’ll get a vague picture of the chaos in my head . . . .

I’m actually sitting in a little boat on a sound stage in Downey, California in a man-made 4,000 square foot body of water, singing with Meryl Streep.

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Now, c’mon . . .  is that not amazing and astounding??!!

© Dawn Jeffory-Nelson 2013

All rights reserved

13

So – Why “Will Work For O’s”? And What The Heck is A Baby Wrangler, Anyway???

574583_10151129293579817_299316635_n132_ShelbyInTheCageLEMONY SNICKET

Welcome to my new blog!  It’s just LOVELY to see you here. This first one is pretty wordy – – – but I’ll get the hang of it!

Perhaps you are asking yourselves, ‘Why “Will Work For O’s”?’  Well, even if you are not – I shall endeavor to answer!!!! 

Because, you see, I would not be where I am today without A).Casting Director and treasured friend, SHEILA MANNING (I’ll go into detail about that later)and B). CHEERIOS!

I really want to do a commercial (starring me, of course!) about a baby wrangler and CHEERIOS.  Never mind the cholesterol and heart-healthy stuff, let’s talk about the REALLY  importance aspect of that cereal from Heaven: I CAN GET A BABY TO DO  PRACTICALLY ANYTHING FOR ME FOR CHEERIOS!!! (More to come on that, to be sure).

And re What The Heck is A Baby Wrangler, Anyway: (Are you envisioning chaps & a lasso?)

I am, in my blogs, going to tell you lots of baby wrangling stories, and coaching with slightly older kids stories . . . and stories of me, too.  My husband – amazing acting coach, Shawn Nelson,  says that if I leave me out of the stories, I am leaving out some of the heart..  Of course, he’s biased – (is that GREAT or what??!!!!), but I will trust him for now.  When this (hopefully) becomes my book – we’ll see what the editor leaves in!.

SO- onto the definition portion of today’s blog:

1.   BABY WRANGLER – the ACTUAL definition:  a paid fool who can have no pride, no ego, must break into song and dance, or make embarrassing faces and sounds at any given time or place,  must have roughly the mentality of a 6 – 10 month old person, must generally face humiliation and possible ridicule, and ideally fits into small, cramped and sometimes yucky places.

For Example:   there was the time I spent approximately 3 weeks squished into either  the bow of a little sailboat, hidden under a dusty, dirty heavy canvas sail, or squished under the bench- like seats of the little sailboat under a dusty, dirty heavy canvas sail with Meryl Streep’s feet on my tush.  Or with Liam Aiken or Emily Browning accidentally stepping on my head.  Or my hand,  Or my foot. Or all of the above.  (never could quite figure out how they accomplished THAT!)

Below you see a good example of the above mentioned yucky place . . .  but spending time with Meryl, Emily and Liam was a delight!

Above mentioned yucky place!

In addition, the baby wrangler is the person that you can yell at if the baby doesn’t do what the director needs (I mean, come on – what kind of monster would yell at the actual BABY??)  However, truth be told, though I have been yelled at – it hasn’t happened very often.

Oh wait a minute – here’s an exception: we were filming at Burbank Airport. It was Season One of my miraculous gift from God and Aaron Spelling – seven seasons as on-set acting coach for the WB mega-hit, SEVENTH HEAVEN. It was a very long and very wide establishing shot, which means that everything was being seen in a radius of about a gazillion miles.  My little Mack (Mackenzie Rosman aka “RUTHIE CAMDEN”), barely six at the time, had dialogue and needed me close by to prompt her, but there was NO place to hide.  Our Director, the late great Harry Harris,  said, “Dawn – get way close to the kid (meaning Mack) over by that bench.”  I said, “Harry, if I do that I’m gonna be in the shot.  He said, “No you won’t.”  I said, “Yes I will.”  He said, “No you won’t.  I said, “Yes I will.  He said, “Dawn, just go to the damn bench!”  I said, “Okay, Harry – but I’m tellin’ ya, I’m gonna be in the shot!”

So I went where he told me to go, our 1st AD, Paul Snider,  said “ROLLing,” Harry said “AKshun” and then, one second later, “GODDAMMIT DAWN, YOU’RE  IN  THE  SHOT!!!!!!!”.

sigh.  And here is Mack and Me – a partnership that gave me joy for 7 years.  And sometimes drove me crazy.  But that’s another story.  And believe you me, you’ll hear it!

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And here he is – the amazing Harry Harris – and me, on one of hundreds of happy days on 7th HEAVEN.  A truly incredible, lovely man – and an incredibly talented director.  I love him . . . and I miss him!  You can ask anyone from our family-crew of that wonderful show – they’ll say the same thing.  We all loved Harry.

7TH HEAVEN - HARRY HARRIS and Me

Back to my original point  (and I warn you, I digress a lot) – I was defining “baby wrangler”.   Above, I supplied the actual, factual definition.

Now here’s . . .

2. BABY WRANGLER – the TECHNICAL definition: the baby wrangler is actually the person responsible for the performance of the baby: needed to coax, cajole, encourage and deliver the reactions and actions called for by the director, the script, the client, the ad agency, the producer, the producer’s wife . . . . well, you get the picture.  Depending on the director, and his or her comfort level – a baby wrangler can actually direct the baby.

And this is part of what I do for a living.   I’ll be telling you lots more in the blogs to come.

Am I a lucky girl or what????????

© Dawn Jeffory-Nelson

2013All rights reserved