… but it’s work. Damn hard work.
Last week in Los Angeles, I had the pleasure of visiting the “Rizzoli & Isles” set on the Paramount lot. The cast and crew had no idea I was coming (only my good buddy Janet Tamaro knew) so when I walked onto the set, I wasn’t initially noticed. The cast was in a huddle, talking, and I didn’t want to interrupt. So I just hung around for a few minutes, and then Lorraine Bracco turned and stared at me, and so did Sasha Alexander, and suddenly there were squeals of “Tess is here! No one told us she was coming!”
Immediately, Angie Harmon grabbed my hand, pulled me over to the crew, and yelled: “Here’s the writer who created these incredible characters!” It was such a warm, wonderful welcome, by people who greeted me like part of their family, that I felt like crying.
Then the cast got back to work filming. If you’ve never been on a film set, you probably imagine that the actors just walk on, say their lines, and head back to their comfortable trailers. Not so. The actors, the film crew, everyone, is putting in long, exhausting hours as they scramble to put together fifteen TV episodes in only a few months. A lot of the hard work is behind the scenes, starting with the creative ferment going on in showrunner Janet Tamaro’s office, where the stories are crafted and polished. And once Janet finishes a script, her job is far from finished, because she’s also keeping an eye on the production from beginning to end. In truth, I have stamina for only a few hours on set, and then I get sympathetic fatigue from watching the cast and crew running around, and I have to stagger away for sustenance.
Also, those film sets are freezing. It was warm outside, and inside it was, oh, about fifty degrees. Lorraine Bracco saw I was shivering and she actually handed me her fleece jacket! How cool is that? I wore Lorraine Bracco’s fleece!
I got the chance to chat with Bruce McGill (Korsak) and Lee Thompson Young (Frost), whose hilarious back-and-forth on the show always makes me laugh. I want more Korsak vs. Frost, please!
I also got to spend time with actress Tina Huang, who plays Susie Chang, Maura’s assistant in the morgue. I asked her if her Chinese parents had a problem with her going into entertainment and — no surprise — they wanted her to be a doctor or a lawyer instead. Tell me about it, sister!
(Here I am with Tina, and I’m wearing Lorraine Bracco’s fleece jacket!)
After my visit to the set, it was off to do some touristy L.A. things. And, no surprise, one of the big things on my agenda was to visit the La Brea tar pits and the Page Museum, where millions of ancient animal bones are displayed. For those unfamiliar with the tar pits, here’s what they look like today:
Yep, right in the middle of Los Angeles, there are bubbling, stinky pools of tar which continually belch methane gas. Tens of thousands of years ago, mastodons and giant sloths and wolves and ancient horses would wander into the tar, get trapped, and starve to death. The tar pits are an amazing repository of skeletons, but I can’t imagine the hot, filthy, stinky work it takes to dig them up.
After the amazing tar pits, and visits to the Getty Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, it was on to Anaheim and … RizzlesCon! The giant Twitter universe of Rizzoli & Isles fans have been an online community since the show began, and this was their chance to get together, party, and celebrate the show.
Organized by Joy Thomas (who comes all the way from the UK) and Liv Moreno (above), the con turned out to be a nonstop party, along with workshops taught by some fascinating law enforcement folks, including a coroner, a homicide detective, a crime scene photographer, and a firearms expert.
Of course, a visit to Disneyland was called for on the last night, when the fireworks and music and crowds completely blasted out my eardrums. So I’m happy to be back in quiet Maine. Not so glamorous maybe — but a whole lot calmer!