Reasons Why You Don't Want to Be on Television:
Number Two in a Series
'We forgot to do the entrance scene,' said Chris, the producer, bundled up like some sub-Arctic smurf in Gore-Tex and stocking cap. 'We need to get you entering the restaurant. You know: "Where are we, why are we here, and what do we expect to find?" '
That all-important establishing shot had yet to be made, the part where Zamir and I, presumably sober, yet to eat that fine meal, are seen approaching the restaurant's door, opening it, and stepping inside. This sort of shot is necessary�as has been explained to me repeatedly by one frustrated producer over another�for purposes of continuity and edification for the viewing audience. 'We don't want 'em getting confused, thinking they're watching Emeril's Christmas Luau.'
This meant that while Igor and Chris shot, Zamir and I were to do our best to pretend that we had not just gorged ourselves on a large and luxurious meal, that we had not been forced into drinking about fifteen shots of vodka by a maniacal waitress.
Needless to say, it took a lot of takes. Most were scratched from the get-go by obvious slurring and stumbling, Zamir and I practically holding each other up as we lurched through the snow toward the increasingly blurry front door of the Russkya restaurant. By the second or third take, I was fully convinced there were, in fact, two doors.
'Shoo, Zamir, ol' buddy, where we goin' now?' I'd burble in a hideous, inebriated parody of witless TV preamble, before staggering into a wall.
Finally, after many false starts, our lips freezing to our teeth, we had a near-flawless take: a few carefully enunciated remarks, some softball questions to my Russian friend and guide, the two of us picking our way down the street, Igor walking backward, with his camera facing us, Chris shooting from the side. Shoulder-to-shoulder we went, coats flapping, scarves blowing, two hungry, happy men about town, on their way to dinner.
In the finished shot, we appear to be doing everything right. I'm saying the right things, Zamir is responding appropriately; there are no obvious indicators of our total inebriation�other than the fact that we both seem curiously oblivious to the cold and wind and snow.
And we were doing fine until the last second, when, mid-sentence, I disappeared out of the frame in a sudden exit stage left. Zamir shot out an arm, reached off-camera, and pulled me back into the frame, rescuing me from what was very nearly a headlong tumble off the curb.
'Let's do it again,' said Chris.
'Lesh fix it later...In the editing room,' I said. I was learning.
From A Cook's Tour by Anthony Bourdain