HOLLYWOOD, CALIF. — My neighbor's house was completely covered in black cloth, and "No Parking" signs had sprung up on both sides of the street. At 5:30 a.m., I heard men talking outside my window. They were part of the army needed to film scenes for "These Old Broads," starring Elizabeth Taylor, Shirley MacLaine, Debbie Reynolds, and Joan Collins (Feb. 12, ABC, 8-10 p.m.).
I peeked out my window to see two men, one with a clipboard in one hand and a cell phone in the other.
It was a cool morning in Hollywood, down to about 65 degrees. Within minutes, the trucks started rolling in, some the size of a Greyhound bus.
The phone startled me. It was my neighbor across the street, who told me what each truck was for. "How are you so smart?" I asked.
"It's amazing what binoculars reveal," she answered.
The largest was a generator truck, followed by dressing-room trailers. The most fancy was "the honey wagon," a portable potty with faux marble walls and simulated gold fixtures. Those binoculars are penetrating!
As the morning warmed, the invasion increased. There was a mobile commissary and an eight-wheeler wardrobe. Wisely, my bachelor next-door neighbor was nowhere to be seen. He'd decided to leave his house to the Hollywood crew. (Daily rental of a house is usually $3,000 and up.)
The word was out. Neighbors who lived blocks away suddenly picked my street to walk their dogs.
Earlier, I had talked with Carrie Fisher, Reynolds' daughter, who wrote the TV film script with Elaine Pope (who wrote for "Seinfeld"). In "These Old Broads," Reynolds, MacLaine, and Collins play "divas" who made a movie together 40 years ago. An agent, played by Taylor, learns a TV network is interested in reteaming the trio.
Knowing I'd be gone all day, I told my binocular-wielding neighbor that if the crew needed anything around my place, she could handle it for me.
Flash forward to 9 p.m. At the corner, two motorcycle policemen insist I show my driver's license. Then, I can't get into my driveway because it's filled with lights, huge white screens, and a long table filled with food.
As I wait for someone to tell me where to park, my neighbor, who had established residence in a wicker chair on her porch, motions me into her drive.
"I was your agent," she says proudly. "They wanted to rent your driveway for $100, but I was firm. I said $300.
"I hope they work tomorrow too. Then they'll put picnic tables on my lawn for the crew. I'll get $400!"
Some agent indeed!
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society