By Dan Haag
As you read this, the cast and crew of the ABC pilot “Staties” has descended on my beloved Manzanita.
Opinions vary on whether or not this is a good thing for our village as it involves closing off a number of streets, running loud generators, waving cameras around, and staging a car chase. Basically, things you don’t normally see and hear in Manzanita until at least around the Fourth of July.
Still, it’s hard not to get a little excited about the idea of seeing my little town as a backdrop for a Hollywood production. I mean, look how well the notoriety has turned out for “The Goonies” house up in Astoria!
OK, bad example.
Anyway, the impending shoot made me recall the many times I fantasized about becoming a matinee idol. As a boy, I dreamed of selling out theaters around the world and adding a wing onto my palatial Beverly Hills estate just to accommodate my growing Oscar collection.
That dream fizzled during my high school production of “Fiddler on the Roof” when I realized I had one tiny problem with acting: I was terrified of public speaking, something that tends to put a crimp in one’s plans to be the next Harrison Ford.
Other than the brief moment where I thought I’d magically been hired to be an extra on “Grimm” only to find I was just in a bad part of Portland on a Friday night, my dreams of stardom have gone unfulfilled.
That’s not to say I haven’t made an impact on the Hollywood elite in subtler ways.
During Spring Break in Barbados in 1989, I was in a packed bar reveling in the fact that I was celebrating my 18th birthday in a country with no drinking age. The music was loud and the place was packed. It was my turn to brave the crowds at the bar and get a round of drinks for my friends and as I jockeyed for position, I bumped hard into the man ahead of me, causing him to slosh the drinks he was holding down the front of his very nice shirt.
He turned and fixed me with an icy glare. I instantly recognized him as Mark Harmon, but not the Mark Harmon of “NCIS” fame: the Mark Harmon who at that point was famous for his portrayal of serial killer Ted Bundy.
“Sorry,” I mumbled and shuffled away. He used a word to describe me that I’m fairly certain he would never utter in front of Pam Dawber.
When I got back to the table, my helpful friends were horrified.
“Dude, you just spilled drinks on Ted Bundy!” one cried.
We left in a hurry and I could feel his eyes boring a hole in me as he dabbed at his shirt with a cocktail napkin.
A year later, I was on a Caribbean cruise, one that happened to feature a collection of large, retired NFL players.
One fateful evening I was sitting at dinner and fidgeting with my glass of ice water, daydreaming of the exotic redhead I’d met the day before at a limbo contest.
As I tried to recall her name, my extremely slippery and quite full glass shot from my hand and down the pants of the previously-unseen gentleman standing behind me.
I turned to apologize and was horrified to find Bubba Smith towering above me, angrily wiping at his drenched slacks. Up until that moment, I knew Bubba Smith only as the gentle giant from the “Police Academy” films. I had no idea that he had also been a prominent defensive end in the NFL.
He was astonishingly tall and had hands made for pounding weenies like me into the ground like tent stakes. To say I was frightened would be an understatement.
“Was that wine?” he growled.
“No, no! Just water, I swear!” I babbled.
“Be more careful,” he grumbled and moved on, leaving me to hope that the wet sensation in my pants was just residual water spillage.
Now that I think about it, most of my celebrity stories involve me clumsily dousing them with various food or drink items: I’ve dribbled ice cream on Clayton Moore, spilled iced tea on Jerome Kersey and sloshed beer on the guitarist from Skid Row (though that one may have been intentional).
So celebrities, if you’re reading this, you might want to steer clear of me. Especially in a restaurant setting where I can’t vouch for my motor skills.
And to the next film crew hoping to cash in on the Oregon Coast as a backdrop, here’s a story pitch:
a breathless adventure that follows an intrepid group of hardworking Oregon Coast citizens on their endless quest to find affordable housing.
I can promise you an eager audience.