By Jerry Zezima
Hearst Connecticut Media Group
If you happen to be watching the next Oscars telecast, don’t be surprised if you see me up on the stage, holding a golden statuette, thanking the Academy, joking with Steven Spielberg and, in my best Sally Field voice, crying, “You like me! You really like me!”
Even though I can’t leave the house during this pandemic to do much more than take out the garbage, I’ve gone Hollywood.
My entertainment career began when, as a retiree who was bored out of my skull, which is empty anyway, I signed up to be an extra in movies and TV shows.
The casting agencies that get jobs for “background actors” (or, as we are known in the business, “talent,” which in my case is in short supply) started sending me notices about upcoming opportunities.
One was a gig in which I would have played a corpse in one of the 352 cop shows currently airing, streaming, crawling or whatever these programs do nowadays.
My wife, Sue, said I would be a natural. I wanted to take it as a compliment.
“I’d have to hold my breath for a long time,” I said. “I could end up being an actual corpse. But at least I’d be a star.”
“Don’t hold your breath,” Sue responded.
I was scheduled to go for an interview in New York City with one of the agencies when the industry shut down, partly because of the quarantine and partly, I am sure, to prevent me from totally ruining show business.
But that didn’t stop me from pursuing my dream of rubbing shoulders with Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, who would probably have me arrested for rubbing shoulders with them.
So I started making videos.
At first, I didn’t know what I was doing. At second, I didn’t know what I was doing. But as Ed Harris’ character said in “Apollo 13,” which was directed by Ron Howard, “Failure is not an option.”
(Ron, who was wonderfully sweet to my younger daughter, Lauren, when she worked at a coffee shop in Stamford, Connecticut, many years ago, is my fourth-favorite Hollywood Howard, the first three being Shemp, Moe and Curly.)
I used my cellphone to record the first of my “Quarantine Update” videos, this one about how poor Sue is stuck in the house with me and how we have passed the time by playing Scrabble. I was the screenwriter, the cinematographer, the director and, of course, the star.
I did the same on my next three videos (about relaxing in a hammock, cutting my own hair and taking a walk), but I enlisted Sue to direct my fifth video (about washing my hands).
All five videos are on YouTube, where they can be viewed by movie lovers who also are bored silly with the quarantine.
That includes Sue, a teacher’s assistant who has, with my directorial help, made several of her own videos for her school’s remote classroom lessons. She’s a natural. I’m an unnatural. Together, we could be Hollywood’s new power couple.
I can see us now, at the Academy Awards, strutting our stuff on the red carpet, Sue in a snazzy black tuxedo, me in a shimmering gown, smiling for the paparazzi and signing autographs for adoring fans.
My production company, DumbWorks, will get credit for the armload of Oscars Sue and I will take back to our PVC-gated mansion, where the statuettes will stand proudly on top of the refrigerator, which contains the beer we will drink to celebrate our success.
Even after the quarantine is over, we will continue to make videos because we are, after all, artists.
All right, Mr. Spielberg, I’m ready for my close-up.
Copyright 2020 by Jerry Zezima