Monday, April 29, 2013

29. Episode Six Part 2


“Why don't you go to Celebrity Spin first, drag it out, and I can shout you when we get the connection up and running?” Suggested Nigel.

“That's not a bad idea. But that part of the set isn't ready.”

“I'll shout the set manager quickly and get them to move it, very quickly, 60 seconds Tony.”

“Shit, ok.” With that Tony prepared himself as a panicked set manager suddenly screamed at the three stage hands to shift the Celebrity Spin wheel and podium onto the stage.

As the adverts ended and the show came back on air, they still hadn't managed to get it in place. The base of wheel was catching on the black carpet.

Tony started. “Welcome back to the Tony James Show. We're going to go right into Celebrity Spin in a minute, the trusty stage hands are just dealing with some technical dif...”

THUD

The wheel had fallen over from the force of two stage hands pushing, and trapping the other stage hand underneath it. She let out a cry of pain. The audience took a sharp intake of breath.

Tony, after a brief moment of surprise, carried on. “Yes. Definitely a few minor hitches to the current programme. We...” He stopped as the yelps of the stage hand caught under the wheel became too distracting to ignore.

From the side of the stage with the wheel, the voice of the stage hands were just about audible. Jon, the eldest stage hand snapped. “Bloody Hell Gary, why did you shove it like that?”

“I think I've broken my leg guys.” The trapped stage hand, Rosie, remarked.

“I didn't push it hard, it must have given way.” Gary replied.

“It didn't fall of it's own accord Gary.” Jon remarked.

“I didn't push it any harder than normal!” Gary insisted.

“GUYS! I think my leg is broken.” Rosie said loudly.

“I'm reporting you for this Gary.” Jon continued.

“Why?! I didn't do anything!” Gary pleaded.

Rosie, in considerable pain and very angry, drew a sharp intake of breath and screamed as loudly as she could. The sound reverberated through every microphone in the studio, and caused everyone in the studio to stop in silence and stare at her. “GUYS. I HAVE BROKEN MY FUCKING LEG. SHUT THE FUCK UP AND MOVE THIS THING.”

Tony had given up trying to ignore the calamity to his left and walked over to the wheel. “Do you mind please, you're ruining...” Tony thought quickly to himself. “...Why on earth did you push it so hard Gary?”

“I didn't push it hard!” Gary stomped.

“You did. I saw you.” Jon replied

“Yeah Gary, Jon saw you.” Tony remarked.

“I did not!”

“You did!” Jon insisted.

“See.” Tony added.

“Fuck you Jon.” Gary threw his hands in the air, paused a moment, and then quickly shaped his hand to a fist and swung at Jon, catching him squarely on the jaw and knocking him out completely.

“Jesus Christ!” Tony jumped back in surprise.

While this was happening, Rosie, still in pain, had put her hand over her forehead in frustration.

“Can someone call an ambulance please?” Tony remarked to the side of the stage.

Rosie snapped. “So he gets knocked out for being a dick and you call an ambulance, meanwhile I've been sat here with a broken leg and no one gives a shit?”

Gary, shocked by how much force he had put into his punch, shakily realised they should probably help Rosie now. “Tony, help me move this.”

Tony grabbed one side of the wheel, and Gary grabbed the other. They lifted as hard as they could and slowly lifted it high enough that Rosie could move away. She went to move very slowly and carefully, as she tried to support her leg with her hands, the pain caused her to scream.

Just as the wheel was roughly in it's upright position, Tony let out a cry and dropped to his knees clutching his back. “My...my back has gone.”

“What do you mean?” Gary asked, still shaken.

“It's upped and gone to Thailand to start a new life for itself, what do you bloody think? Arrrrgh..”

Roughly thirty seconds of Tony trying desperately to turn to camera was ended as the local first aid team ran onto set to deal with the injuries.

Nigel meanwhile, had taken off his headphones and gone to the computer storage room to try and fix the internet issue, and had missed the show since the break. He was looking around the small dark cupboard with the whirring stacks of hardware, as Holly the assistant burst in. “Nigel, control room NOW.”

“Not now Holly.”

“NOW.”

“Fine fine, one minute.”

“NOW.”

“Okay!” With that Nigel went with Holly to the control room. He walked in and looked at the monitor screen to see the Celebrity Spin set facing the wrong way, and with a large crack in the wheel, two stage hands on the floor, one stage hand shaking and mumbling, and Tony facing away from the camera on his knees.

“What. The. Fuck?” Nigel enquired.

“Logistical issues.” Holly replied.

“Go to a break!” Nigel yelled at Holly.

“But we just came back from one.”

“I don't care. Now!”

“Okay Nigel.” Holly leant over the control machine and started the 'end of part two' graphics. The unexpected change meant that the LTV broadcast controllers weren't prepared and ended up showing a test card for 60 seconds while they set the break up.


“I didn't think they had those any more?” Holly enquired.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

29. Episode Six (Part one)


In the panic of trying to find a way to get the internet to connect tonight’s guests to the show, the bright lights and colourful video wall appeared to over power the dark carpet more than usual. Turning a set that often felt a little gothic into a wall of light that left Tony looking as exposed as he felt.

He wasn't to know that Mark, the lighting and set designer had been overly eager in his bet over Gerald's desk. Even though there were four weeks of the bet left to run, Mark felt it had settled into Gerald's office nicely. He had decided to spend the money on the latest ultra powerful lighting rig, the Blinder 800. The merest hint of plugging it in caused the energy consumption meters at the National Grid to spike dangerously. It bathed the set in such a gigantic amount of light that it left Tony looking pale, or at least it would have done had he not looked a little pale already. Across the nation, millions of viewers were about to reach for their remote controls to increase the contrast setting.

Tony was sat in his black chair, behind his desk on the right of the stage, as the cue came from Nigel to start the show. This was unfortunate as his cue point was the small x at the front of the set.

The first thirty seconds of the show consisted of Tony realising he was in the wrong place, stumbling out of his chair, walking as quickly as he could without looking as if he was exerting himself, tripping slightly as he stepped off the main stage onto the grey laminate floor at the front of the set, picking himself up, and eventually reaching his cue point.

“It's.” He said. Before realising that the audience for his show were unlikely to get a 44 year old reference.

“Welcome to the Tony James Show.” he started with a bluster as he tried to catch his breath and calm his nerves. “We have a special show for you today. With three fantastic surprise guests coming up soon.”

The audience applauded, whilst looking slightly confused. “I thought the line-up was announced earlier?” one woman questioned to her friend in the next seat. “Maybe they were all killed?” the woman sat next to her replied. The first woman turned and looked uneasily at her friend.

“But first.” Tony was getting ready to stall for all he was worth. “I'd like to tell you a little story.”

Back in the control room, Nigel was back under the mixing desk desperately trying to figure out what was wrong with the feed from Manchester. He heard Tony's words, and quietly whispered to himself, “Come on Tony, channel your inner Ronnie Corbett.”

“I was talking this week to the head of LTV, Gerald Morley.” Tony paused briefly. “He's a rather stout old gentleman who loves his cigars and whiskey. Now, talking to Gerald isn't always easy. I'm not saying he is bad tempered, but the leaders of Israel and Palestine signed a new peace deal just to avoid having to meet him.”

The audience chuckled.

“So yes. I walked into his office to have a chat. Or as we refer to it at LTV, a blitz. As I walked in, being careful to avoid the landmines, I prepared myself for bad news.

“You see, Gerald doesn't do good news. He doesn't like it at all. In fact, good news is bad news for him, although that doesn't mean he likes to deliver it to himself.

“I sat down on the sofa ready. Gerald likes us to sit on a soil brown sofa, that's soil as in the earth I should clarify. He had it lowered so that we always have to look up to him, which is ironic because even when standing he looks down on us.

“Apparently the reason for the meeting was my contract, or Terms of Surrender as they are better known. The Court Marshal had decided that I was guilty of a minor infraction, namely failing to salute a senior officer. Technically I did salute, just not in the manner they were expecting.

“The punishment was apparently three days of solitary confinement in a dark holding cell. 'Have you not seen my dressing room?' I said. It's so small it makes the broom cupboard look Claridges.'

“I pleaded my case, which didn't do much good, as the weight of evidence was firmly against me. For a start, my creative salute wasn't only caught on the LTV security cameras, I was also doing it in the meeting as well. I thought about telling them I was counting, and had yet to get to three, but decided against it.

“In the end I accepted my punishment, and spent the three days in the brig. But I learned a valuable lesson. Apparently if you include a cigar in your salute, it doesn't count. Or at least it appears that way.”

A slightly puzzled audience slowly started to clap a bit.

“Now, it's time for a quick break.” Tony said, sighing in partial relief as the show cut to a break.

Nigel emerged from the desk to comment. “Where the hell did that come from Tony?”

“I have no idea Nigel.” Tony replied. “Now all I need are 7 more of those and maybe we'll get through the show.”

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

27. Undercover


Nigel had turned up early to the studio for the next episode of the Tony James Show. After the chaos of the previous week, he had decided to take the time to enjoy the whole show. If Tony managed to pull off the success, of a sort, of last week it would be well worth watching.

Nigel walked through the studio, without the usual show lights and video screens switched on the combination of black carpet and dark d├ęcor gave it a shadowy, creepy atmosphere. He walked over to the blue carpet of the music area of the set, and sat quietly down, looking around the set in contemplation.

Though he was relatively new to working at LTV, Nigel had more than enough experience to look forward to watching Tony get one over on them, eventually, he hoped.

He thought to himself. This whole studio, this channel, the whole thing, just churns out the lowest quality rubbish seven days a week. It has been years since this station produced anything intelligent. When he started working with Steve on the Tony James Show, the belief that Tony would finally change that long hole in the schedules was his key motivation. Sadly, he thought, that belief didn't survive very long with Gerald.

"Let's make some shit television gentlemen."

Bah.

"How can we make this more asinine? I know, dancing dogs, gentlemen."

What an arsehole.

Nigel frowned, Gerald was everything he hated about TV, everything he hated about the media, and everything he hated about business. He was eternally grateful to Tony for giving him an opportunity to take him down a peg or two.

Just at that moment, Tony walked into the studio, and noticed Nigel sat on the blue square over on the far left of the set. However Tony was not feeling particularly in the mood to talk, he walked past Nigel who followed him silently with his eyes, and wondered if he had been missed in the darkness.

"Tony?" Nigel queried.

"Not now Nigel."

"Oh, er, ok." Nigel shrugged and started looking around again, but his train of thought had departed from the station. Then he figured that he should find out what was up with Tony.

Nigel got up from the blue carpet, walked off the set and through the black corridor to Tony's dressing room. He walked up to the bright white door with the cheap plastic star, and knocked.

"Go away." Tony shouted.

"Are you in character or really annoyed?" Nigel asked.

"Really annoyed."

"Oh." Nigel went to walk away, before realising that was probably more of a reason to stay. "What's the matter Tony?"

"Well aside from the fact that my career is being slowly destroyed, I'm being forced to work out a stupid contract on a terrible show, oh, and my girlfriend has left, everything is fucking rosie posie Nigel."

"We're working on the show, your reputation will be okay, and what about Abbie?" Nigel responded quickly.

"It's hardly fair is it?" Tony replied despondently. "I do love Alison but something isn't right, and then this whole situation with Abbie just adds to it."

"Tony. Do what is going to make you happy." Nigel replied with a maturity that surprised him.

"I wish I knew what that was." Tony sighed. "I wish I knew that I could."

"What do you mean?"

"Why on earth would Abbie want to be with someone like me?"

"Why would she not?"

"For a start, she's gorgeous, and I'm quite a few years older than she is."

"Tony. What happened to you?"

"Me?"

"You are always so confident, so assured of who you are and what you do. Where the hell is this coming from?"

"You clearly haven't known me long Nigel." Tony remarked.

"No. But..." Nigel pondered. "I guess I just figured you were always that way."

"First rule of television and theatre Nigel." Tony explained. "Most actors, most presenters, most comedians, they have ups and downs, and they need the reassurance of being applauded and being liked.

"I know Tony." Nigel replied. "You just seemed different, better."

"Sadly I'm not Nigel. I am just the same, I might be a great actor, but I am not the Tony James you see on screen all the time."

"Given your current character, that's probably a good thing."

"What does it matter anyway? After this show ends I'm never going to work again. I might as well just get into character and trash this piece of shit so I can get on with finding something better to do that no one will ever watch."

Nigel gently turned the door handle and pushed open the door to find Tony sat on his black leather chair with his head resting in his hands. He carefully approached Tony, rested a reassuring hand on his back, and said. "You're Tony James man. You'll be fine."

"Thanks, but not bloody likely." Tony sighed.

“Tony. Did you not see how the people in that club reacted to you?” Nigel explained.

“They were happy I slagged Chillgame off.”

“Well yes, weren't we all. But you know it was more than that. You put something out there in public that no one else was daring to do.” Nigel continued. “Maybe that is something to take forwards when this crazy series ends.”

“Hmm.”

“We'll chat about it tomorrow, we will find a way Tony.”

Tony thought to himself. “I actually feel a bit better now, thanks Nigel.”

Nigel bowed. “You're welcome. Let's get Gerald and work you out of this contract first though yes?”

“Yes. I have an idea too.” Tony plotted.

“Excellent.” Nigel nodded and left the dressing room.