Did you know that Johnny Cash was once attacked and almost disemboweled by an ostrich named Mort? It’s true –Goggle it if you don’t believe me. I was reading the Guardian UK website regarding the bitter divorce between Paul McCartney and Heather Mills. In the comments someone referenced Johnny vs. the ostrich. Normally I like my celebrity gossip to stay focused. The comments should reflect that we love Paul because he was a Beatle and we hate Heather because she has one leg. I don’t like when the 200 plus comments veer from this track.
The reference brought me back many years to the day when I was to star in a movie with Johnny Cash called “The Pride of Jesse Hallam”. The movie was about a single father forced to move from the mining hills of Kentucky to the big city. It is only after he moves that we become aware that he is illiterate. Actually, none of this matters as my character has yet to appear in the story. Brenda Vaccaro plays the high school teacher that finally convinces Jessie to forget his pride and learn to read. She gasped out her lines like an asthmatic running up a hill with a cigarette dangling from her cracked lips.
The drama teacher begged me to play the role of “Student #6”. It should be noted that I was no stranger to the stage having had a small yet pivotal role in Music Man (Picnicker #2) and at one point was forced to paint over some graffiti me and my gang had sprayed on the wall in the auditorium. So it’s safe to say that the theater is in my blood. I was hesitant to take a role on TV but after careful consideration I felt that I could bring something to this production- a little something I like to call “VISION”.
The day of my scene I was hanging out at my trailer, which turned out to be a large, mobile transformer (the crew and I were always playing jokes on each other like that.) I was applying my own makeup because the makeup artist didn’t have me on her roster for some reason. I gained some weight for the role and stayed up all night getting into the role in the same way Dustin did in "Marathon Man", make a long story even longer I dozed off and was late for my scene. I ran to the classroom but they had replaced me with some retard from the 9th grade.
Looking back on it I realize I had risen too far too fast- I had become cocky and arrogant with my talent. But it was also fair to say that politics played a part in my dismissal. I had given the director several pages of notes that would save this made for TV movie. The first was to replace Brenda Vaccaro with a 1980’s Kelly McGillis. Then, instead of having Kelly’s character fall for Jesse Hallam (what hot chick’s gonna hit that- I mean- he can’t read or nothing) she should have a sexual relationship with my character, Student #6. I also suggested that Student #6 be given a real name such as Shank. I think that a sexy teacher plucking the ripened fruit of one of her under-aged students would give the movie the “ummmph” it so desperately needed. After I made these changes I saw no reason for the whole illiteracy plot, which was a downer to begin with and thought it would be better played on a beach. We get rid of the Johnny Cash character and change the name to “The Pride of Shank” with a sweet NC 17 rating.
I can only assume that Mr. Cash, seeing that he would be out of a job, was the main person responsible for the dismissing of my ideas, which is why I spent several years training an ostrich named Mort.