Watching Gary Busey and his crazy antics on Celebrity Apprentice got me thinking about my own run-in with Gary several years ago when I was the assistant to a low budget movie producer. The job was one I was very excited to get, but it quickly became clear that it wasn’t going to be easy.
“How long do you think this one will last?” I overheard one of my co-workers whisper on my first day.
“Two weeks tops,” was the response.
Turns out my new boss was very difficult (to put it nicely), and I was already his sixth assistant that year. Despite this I was determined to make the job work, and after three months I had dealt with more than my share of workplace craziness. Things were about to get even crazier though thanks to Mr. Gary Busey.
“Guess who we just cast?” my boss asked me one day about his latest straight-to-video opus. “Gary Busey! And he’s coming in today for a meeting!”
There was no missing Gary’s arrival that day because things suddenly got very loud. I hurried downstairs to bring Gary up to meet my boss, and was lucky enough to sit in on the meeting.
It was bizarre to say the least.
Gary not only reminded my Jewish boss many times over that nothing was possible without our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ, but he also shared with us a bevy of his highly unique self-penned sayings like:
“You know what ‘DOUBT’ stands for? It stands for ‘Debate On Understanding Bewildersome Thoughts.”
“You know what ‘FAILING’ stands for? It stands for ‘Finding An Important Lesson, Inviting Needed Growth.”
The meeting, as you can imagine, went way long, and only ended after Gary serenaded us with an a capella version of Buddy Holly’s “Maybe Baby.”
A week or so later Gary was due to arrive on-set at four p.m. to shoot his first scene. Four or five hours before then the phone rang in my office.
“MICHAEL?” Gary bellowed on the other end of the line. “IT’S GARY BUSEY!”
“Hi Gary,” I replied. “How are you?”
“I NEED MY PAGES, MICHAEL! I AM AN ACTOR AND I MUST PREPARE! I CAN’T WORK WITHOUT THE PAGES!”
The pages Gary referred to were pages of the script that had his lines for that day’s scene. It was my understanding that the production office had already faxed them over, but Gary was adamant that they hadn’t arrived, so I told him I would fax them again.
A few minutes later I was preparing to fax over the pages when Gary’s agent called.
“I just got off the phone with Gary and he tells me he hasn’t received the pages,” she said.
“Yes, I know. I’m faxing them over right now.”
“Are they big print? Gary needs them to be big print.”
“Yes. Eighteen point at least.”
I tossed the pages I had printed in the trash and reprinted the pages in big print. The three page scene now ran thirteen pages. I stood over the fax machine a long time as I waited to make sure all thirteen pages went through. Once they did I dropped the pages into the trash and returned to my desk. The phone rang twenty minutes later.
“MICHAEL. GARY BUSEY! WHAT IS GOING ON? I NEED THE PAGES AND -”
“I just faxed them, Mr. Busey.”
“WELL, I DON’T HAVE THEM.”
“I’ll send them again right away.”
I fished the thirteen pages out of the trash and once again stood over the fax machine for a good ten minutes to make sure they went through okay.
The phone rang yet again.
“THIS IS RIDICULOUS, MICHAEL! I AM NOT GOING TO BE ABLE TO WORK TODAY! TELL YOUR BOSS -”
“Are you sure your fax machine is working properly?”
“MY MACHINE IS FINE!”
I was baffled. And very stressed. After a long beat of thought:
“Does it have paper in it?”
“OF COURSE IT HAS PAPER IN IT! WHAT DO YOU THINK I AM, SOME KIND OF…”
Suddenly there was silence on the line.
“OH CRAP. NEVER MIND.”
The line went dead.
Gary made it to set that day, and despite all of the drama it wasn’t long before my boss was skipping back from the editing bay boasting about what an amazing job Gary had done.
So good on ya, Gary! I’m rooting for Donald Trump to tell you, “You’re hired!”