Since We Have Time On Our Hands, Let's Talk About The Best Main Stream Movie Sex Scenes — Here's MY Top Three…

If you don’t know what The Decameron is, look it up. It’s 14th century Italian writer Giovanni Boccaccio‘s story of 10 Florentines quarantined during the Black Death at a luxurious villa (seven women, three men) who tell each other stories (100 in total) to fill the time. We’ll have a few Decamerons of our own when this is all done and said, no doubt.

Instead of a story, i’d like to compare notes with whoever reads this (if you have any notes you’d like to compare of course). Having written & produced a few film or TV sex scenes, I can tell you flat out — there’s nothing sexual about their production. It’s all choreographed.

For me, sex scenes will always be epitomized by the one I wrote/produced while doing Tale From The Crypt for HBO. Tobe Hooper directed the actors James Remar and Vanity in an episode called “Dead Wait”. Tobe imagined a cool sex scene to open the show (it runs while the opening credits run). The only problem — the shot was a “oner” — a single shot with no coverage (the other shots we use to put together a scene visually).

The shot depended on actor timing, camera timing and all sorts of hard to predict elements that made shooting it arduous. With 15 takes behind us and time running out, Tobe finally seemed to have the perfect take — and just as James Remar went to exit the frame — ending the shot — James Remar’s very erect pecker let up into the bottom of the shot, “ruining it”.

Nothing sexual had happened between the actors but it would have been super hard to be doing what those two actors had been doing — in the days before anyone thought about safe movie sex — and not get sexually aroused.

My list is short. As you can already see. Maybe it’s knowing what I know. I doubt that because these couple of sex scenes touch something that transcends the physicality of the love-making. They actually get to a place where, unfortunately, sex itself too rarely gets — the deeply human. The connection to both self and another that sex creates.

Number 1 (And There’s No Discussion To Be Had On The Subject): “Don’t Look Now”

For starters, Don’t Look Now is a great movie. It’s a great psychological thriller with an ending that — no spoilers here. It’s a gut punch and a great pay off.

Donald Sutherland & Julie Christie are a couple living in England with two young kids. He’s an art restorer about to begin a huge project in Venice, Italy, to repair a stained glass window in one of the city’s many basillicas when their 10 year old daughter dies, drowning in the pond on their property.

Picking up their story in Venice as the restoration to the stained glass window finally begins, we see them getting ready to go out to dinner one night, early in their stay. They’re still a couple in crisis, dealing with their own guilt. Director Nic Roeg (a director of photography by trade but an excellent “cutter” as well) intercuts the couple getting ready to go out for dinner that night (including brushing their teeth) with them making love, we get the feeling, for the very first time since “the accident”.

The intercutting of the mundane with the sex takes away all the glamour but leaves the emotional directness of it. The story has always been that Sutherland and Christie actually had sex on the set that day. Regardless of whether they actually did or didn’t, they achieved something harder actually — the feeling that they had. Call it acting. Call it filmmaking.

Call it “The Best Mainstream Movie Sex Scene Of Them All”.

What makes it even more astounding? It’s the only sex scene I can think of that features any level of intimacy between two married people.

Number 2 (And There’s Not Much Discussion Here Either): Desert Hearts (1985)

It’s 1959 and Vivien (the wonderful Helen Shaver — I’m biased; I’ve worked with her) has moved to a dude ranch outside of Reno, Nevada to establish residency. She wants a quickie divorce from her cheating husband. Cay (the equally wonderful Rebecca Charbonneau — I’m biased; I’ve worked with her, too) lives on the ranch. She’s a sexual free-spirit, bi-sexual but more inclined to women. She sets her sights on Vivien.

When they finally do consummate their affair, the more sexually comfortable Cay leads the way. The sex scene reflects both Cay’s wolfishness but also Vivien’s curiosity and uncertainty.

Director Donna Deitch, herself a gay woman, ” …raised the $1.5 million needed for the production budget with a $20,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and sales of $15,000 shares to stock brokers and individual investors. The largest group of investors were lesbian and feminist women in several cities of the U.S., and the largest single investor was a gay man. She gave fundraising parties and published a regular newsletter to keep investors informed about the project’s development. Raising funds took almost four years. She eventually sold her house to cover completion costs.”

Deitch wanted to tell a mainstream story about characters that, up until then, rarely if ever got treated as “main stream”. She succeeds as do both actresses. The rest of the movie is just as good, by the way.

Number 3: There is No Number 3

You can Google “best movie sex scenes” and they’ll give you lists of 25… 50… 70. It’s filmed simulated sex — yes. But is it “good”? Let’s just say “it’s edible”. Consuming it won’t kill you. But it won’t make you happy either.

The reason these two films are on my list is because they both contain something elemental that is NOT on display in any other film that I’ve ever seen. But, hey — I’m here to be educated. And, turns out, I’ve got plenty of time.

Dear Rich People: Your Money Will Not Comfort You As You Die

My wife and I finally caught up with HBO’s amazing “Succession”. We’re about to finish season one. The Roy family — mirrored after the Murdoch’s — are an object lesson in what happens when a family substitutes money for love in all its relationships. Spoiler Alert: the relationships always lose.

I’ve never been flat broke. Never been homeless. I’ve always had someone I could throw myself at if I got beyond desperate. I’ve always been lucky that way. But I have lost everything I’ve worked for. I’ve declared bankruptcy and lost my family’s home. That was after being relatively rich. Being in show business — and having succeeded at it — I’ve had many years making very good money. Shame depression robbed me of some very prime years but — that’s Life, ya know?

What coming back from deep, deep depression taught me was very fundamental. Things — possessions — really don’t matter. Only love does. When you get to that final moment — when your sentientness recognizes it’s about to stop being sentient — a taking of stock will occur. You will recognize what you can “take with you” — what will you be remembered for most in a headline-only culture?

If it’s being rich over being loved, that final moment will be even more irksome for you as you realize, holy shit, they were right — you can’t take it with you. The money stays here. It couldn’t give a damn about you. You’re just a warm place where it parked for a while. And now that you’re dead, dead, dead, it will find someplace else to hang out. Meanwhile your “loved ones” become increasingly ironic in name: “loved ones”.

What makes the Roy family in “Succession” soooooo much fun to watch is that they ring so painfully true — the rich love their money far more than they could ever love each other. They honestly do believe that the goal is the biggest pile of money rather than being the most (genuinely) loved.

Ah, but what do we mean by “loved”?

Let me throw down an example — poor guy — never had a dime (or a shekel) to his name. He preached a simple (frankly Judaic) message: above all, love — do unto others as you would have them do unto you; if you have two brain cells, that “unto” is “love”.

I don’t know where the fictionalized Murdochs will end up, but I know where the real ones are heading. It’s all the same place: The rich Father who everyone despises will end up so despised (because he valued money over everything) that the money he so loved will end up in someone else’s hands (someone he hates perhaps) precisely because those who should have loved him didn’t. Couldn’t. Wouldn’t.

The die was cast, turns out, at the beginning. Tragedy is inevitability with scene breaks. The values tied to money over humanity were delivered via mother’s milk. Such is doom.

Again, remember — there’s a big, big difference between how we, here in the outside world, see the Rich (imagining that their money has solved every problem they could possibly have) and how the Rich see the Rich. There, on the inside, they know how loveless it is. They know how no serious relationship can ever happen without legal scrutiny first because, well, THE MONEY.

Sounds like slavery to me.

We’re in a war here. The rich — having gotten richer — want to be richer still. The Republican Party has launched an outright coup d’etat — they’ve busted a cap in the Rule Of Law and tossed the body out into the street as a warning to us. They’re not screwing around. They intend to install permanent minority rule whether we like it or not.

That was the point of election 2016 (the coup d’etat) and now election 2020 (the coup de grace just without the grace).

Ah, but Republicans have one big problem. They’re a minority. When push comes to shove and people REALLY take sides? I bet those willing to “die for Trump” is a far, far smaller circle of crazy than we suspect.

They’re schoolyard bullies relying to their reputation as schoolyard bullies to cow us into submission. Those bullies have a bigger problem than the first one actually. The people standing up to them? Women. Lots and lots of women. And people of color too. Lots and lots and LOTS of them. When we restore the Rule Of Law to its rightful place and begin to live up to the ideals on which this country was founded, we will owe a massive debt of gratitude to African American women.

Despite everything this nation has heaped on them as a group and as individuals, they have remained constant. They saw through this country’s racist awfulness to the ideal we were betraying and held firmly to it. If we do survive this, we will owe a hell of a lot of that to them.

Their faithfulness should be our ideal. Their capacity to love despite the harshness of their circumstances should be a daily lesson about survival, hope and courage.

My group can relate a little. We’ve been kicked around a bit by the Christian world. We still ache to contribute to it regardless. Go figure.

There’s a saying in the Talmud (I mention this as an atheist but a cultural Jew) that resonates with me: “Save one life and you save the world”. I think Jesus had that idea in mind when (if) he preached. He wasn’t about churches and their rules — in fact, Jesus taught that one didn’t need the temple or any of its priests; one could speak directly to God. And God, Jesus taught, would listen.

Jesus also taught how unimportant money was in the greater scheme of things. Those following that teaching — those already doing unto others — get it. When you love other people as much and as best you can, you get a remarkable amount of love flowing back at you. That’s REAL wealth. And when it comes to building actual wealth — it’s a good place to start from.

Will one ever get Roy-Murdoch-Republican wealthy by loving other people instead of money? Of course not. But then, who wants to end one’s days in the poor house like they always do?

Kirk Douglas Died Yesterday — I Had The Pleasure of Working With Him; It Went Something Like This…

Back in the early 1990’s (1990 – 1996), I had this amazing gig: I ran a show for HBO called “Tales From The Crypt“. My creative partner at the time and I took over the show in its third season after the second season had run a million dollars over budget. Gil Adler (my partner then) is a superb producer. An accountant by training, Gil understood that if you had a dollar to spend on the project, it was no good thinking you could spend $1.01. You didn’t have that extra penny — and should rewrite accordingly.

That’s where I came in.

At the time Gil and I took over running Tales, season three was supposed to be “it” for the series. HBO wasn’t going to order any more. But Gil and I had another idea. Gil believed we could use the cachet of our executive producers (some of the biggest names in Hollywood at the time — Joel Silver, Dick Donner, Bob Zemeckis & Walter Hill) to get the biggest names in Hollywood to do our little half hour horror-black comedy show. I believed we needed to take the writing back to the EC Comics in its embrace of irony, juicy (but hilarious) gore and righteous indignation at scumbags getting away with shit.

I also advocated for reinventing the Crypt Keeper. Through the first two seasons, the Crypt Keeper pretty much wore the same outfit (his sackcloth-looking hoodie) and spoke the same puns while sitting in the same set. The Crypt Keeper was the franchise as much as the comics (was my thinking). We needed to know more about him. What did the Crypt Keeper do — I wanted us to explore — when he’s off the clock and not being the Crypt Keeper? What were his interests and hobbies? What were his likes & dislikes? Who were his friends? What did he do for entertainment or recreation?

The Crypt partners liked what Gil and I did to their show. HBO liked it, too (they ultimately ran us for four more seasons). The Crypt Keeper became a recognizable enough character that products like Budweiser co-branded with him. We’re still talking about the Crypt Keeper today because of that reinvention. Gil and I also got that great Hollywood talent to join us for an episode — Michael J. Fox, Tom Hanks, Kirk Douglass…

HBO — having made its decision to extend Crypt’s life beyond that third season — allowed us to splash out on the final episode of that third season — an episode that our executive producer Bob Zemeckis was going to direct. Bob — for those who don’t know who he is — is one of most innovative guys to work in the film/TV business. He’s also one of the most exquisitely collaborative. It is an unadulterated creative pleasure to work with Mr. Z.

As all the episodes had to (by contract with EC Comics’ founder Bill Gaines) be connected — at least via title — with an actual Tales From The Crypt (or Vault of Horror or any of the other EC horror title) comic. Bob had chosen “Yellow” — a story that took place during World War I. Bob wanted to recreate scenes from one of his own favorite movies — Stanley Kubrick’s “Paths Of Glory” — which, it just so happened — starred KIRK DOUGLAS.

Ya see where this is going?

Kirk Douglas in Stanley Kubrick’s “Paths of Glory”, 1957

For Bob’s vision of the episode, we HAD to get Kirk Douglas. The script we had was good but not yet good enough. The story (thumbnailed) — WWI general (Kirk) learns that his men all believe the general’s son (an officer) is a coward — that he’s “yellow”; the son’s cowardice in battled directly caused the death of another (much more highly valued) officer. The General puts his son on trial — and allows him to be convicted — and sentenced to be shot the next morning by firing squad. The son pleads with his father to save him. The General tells the son he has a plan. The son will go along bravely — facing the punishment he deserves like a man. But the firing squad will be rigged so that no one will fire any fatal shots at the son. His death will be faked.

The son is grateful — and goes along with it. He owns up to his cowardice and admits the punishment he’s about to receive is just and deserved. Of course, his father hasn’t rigged anything. He’s gotten his son to do the right thing — before being executed.

See? Morality tale. Not exactly a happy ending but it’s Tales From The Crypt. Find happy endings elsewhere.

The father-son relationship in the script we had was under-developed and one-dimensional. Bob believed that if we invested more in those two characters — and made them more realistic — we could score Kirk for the General. And that’s exactly what happened. The work I did on the script gave Bob the confidence he needed to submit the script to Kirk’s agents for them to consider.

When Kirk said “yes” and agreed to take the part, Bob was thrilled. He wrote me a very kind note. Sent a very cool gift basket even. It was very gratifying as you can imagine. Kirk had one caveat though — if he was going to take the role. The part of the son had to be played by his son Eric Douglas.

Cast of “Tales From The Crypt” episode “Yellow” — Kirk Douglas, Eric Douglas & Dan Ackroyd

Kirk had been trying for a few years at that point to help Eric get an acting career launched. In 1971, Eric had appeared in “A Gunfight” starring his dad and Johnny Cash. In 1982, he appeared in the NBC television film Remembrance of Love, also starring his father. In fact, Eric played a younger version of his father’s character in flashback scenes.

He also had played small parts in other projects not involving his father. To be fair — but honest — he couldn’t get past his own baggage so as to be the best actor he could be. It’s no secret that Eric’s baggage ultimately killed him. On July 6, 2004 — after almost two dozen attempts at rehab, arrests on both coasts for drug possession and disorderly conduct — Eric was found dead in his Manhattan apartment. The toxicology report pointed to “acute intoxication” caused by the combined effects of alcohol, tranquilizers and painkillers.

Eric’s death was ruled accidental but there was nothing really “accidental” about it. Of all the lost souls I’ve ever met, Eric was the most lost.

Being a father myself, I understand completely how you can only do so much for your kids. Past a certain point, whatever parenting mistakes you made — they’re hard-wired now. What you see is what you got. Though he had countless rehab centers and broken promises and who knows what other psychodrama still ahead of him, Kirk knew when he and Eric did Crypt together that Eric was a ticking time bomb.

Interestingly, Eric had a groupie. There was a young woman (I’ve long since forgotten her name) who was a total Eric Douglas fan. There was nothing sexual between them (that I know of) but she was devoted to Eric. She believed in him. Believed Eric was an incredible actor who the world just hadn’t discovered yet.

Kirk did a wonderful job with his role. He worked as well with Eric as an actor could. He tried damned hard not to outshine his son in their scenes together.

We also cast Dan Ackroyd and Lance Henriksen in the episode. We turned a couple of acres of Simi Valley into the Sommes.

Check out the episode. Kirk got an Emmy nomination for his work.

Showbiz Stories From The Vault — Buck Henry Died Today; I’m Proud To Say I “Put Words Into His Mouth”

Back in the day, I ran a show for HBO called “Tales From The Crypt”. My creative partner and I were hired to take over the show’s third season after its second season went a million dollars over budget. We ran “Tales” through four more seasons (60 plus episodes) and two “Tales From The Crypt” feature films (“Demon Knight” and “Bordello Of Blood“).

Making Tales was a hoot from start to finish (I absolutely do NOT include the making of Bordello in the ‘hoot’ part; making Bordello was literally the stupidest experience of my life). Gil (my partner) and I pushed hard to take Tales back to its ironic roots and to make the Crypt Keeper more of a franchise character than he was. We also pushed hard to get the biggest, best names we could get for our silly little horror TV show. And we succeeded.

We got to work with Tom Hanks (first thing he ever directed — an episode of Tales), Brad Pitt (a very young Brad Pitt), Michael J. Fox, Kirk Douglass, Dan Ackroyd, Whoopi Goldberg, Billy Friedkin, John Frankenheimer, Isabella Rosselini, Ewan MacGregor & Daniel Craig (among many others). I’m not a star-effer by nature. I might be a fan — but if you screw up a day’s work and make life hard for everyone, you’re useless to me. The quality of the work is my bottomest line. Celebrity is twaddle.

But — funny thing about even mega-celebrities? Even THEY have someone they get goofy over. My executive producers on Tales were huge names: Bob Zemeckis, Joel Silver, Dick Donner, Walter Hill. I learned a ton from each of them. I wrote two of the three Tales episodes Bob Z directed (about which I am very, very proud).

And yet — for all the “big names” I got to work with and for, the one person I got to work about whom I felt… awe — there’s no other word — was Buck Henry who died today at 88 years of age. You can find Buck’s credits here. He was a giant in American comedy writing. A Giant.

“Get Smart” was seminal. “The Graduate” was transcendent. Buck Henry didn’t write the book (Charles Webb did that) but Buck Henry (along with director Mike Nichols) made “The Graduate” iconic by capturing something ineffable about Benjamin Braddock’s dilemma. “The Graduate” didn’t cast stones from outside Benjamin’s experience, it cast stones from inside. It identified white middle class alienation and spoke to a generation of kids (white, suburban) about the terrible contradiction they faced going forward between what they felt in their guts about life and the utter bullshit their parents (and the rest of the adults) were selling them about life.

“The Graduate” didn’t “solve” Benjamin’s problem, it simply pointed out that he had one.

I write screenplays — occasionally for a living even. I bow down before superb writing. Buck Henry’s work in “The Graduate” is superb.

We cast Buck in an episode called “Beauty Rest” wherein Mimi Rogers kills roommate Kathy Ireland to take her place in a beauty contest where she’s guaranteed to win — unaware that the contest is for a Miss Mortuary & the winner is going to get killed as part of her “prize”. It’s goofy, I know. That was Tales — it was more black comedy than horror. Our casting director Victoria Burrows suggested Buck Henry to play the strange beauty contest’s strange emcee.

He said yes.

My job on Tales was to rewrite every script (in addition to writing my own) until it was ready for production — and fit our franchise. The original script (credited to “Donald Longtooth” but actually Terry Black — Terry resented being rewritten) needed massaging as all scripts did. We added a musical number for the emcee character to perform and I wrote that part of the episode.

Writing dialogue for a great screenwriter is both tricky and (when they seem happy with it) gratifying. This isn’t just another writer reading your stuff and nodding at it — they’re having to take your words into their mouth — and speak them. They’re going to have faith in them as an actor — the words make sense to them and they feel they’ll look okay speaking them.

A screenwriter I deeply respected had faith in the words I was writing specifically for him to say. He had enough faith to sing some of the words I wrote for him. That’s a huge indication of “faith”.

He was a lovely man. I wish I had been less star-struck. I wish I had had more confidence in myself as a writer; I’d have talked way better shop than I talked. I don’t think we talked shop at all actually; I was waaaaaaaaaay to intimidated.

Rest In Peace, Buck.

You made the world a better place than it deserved to be. Thank you.

These Are Desperate Times, Mrs. Lovett, And Desperate Measures Are Called For

Sweeny Todd got it right. These ARE desperate times we’re living in. What if it’s already be too late for desperate measures?

What measures come after the desperate ones?

A lot of us sensed it election night 2016 the way animals can sense a temblor coming. Trump “winning the election” (he didn’t, Russia did) wasn’t going to be the worst of it. It was going to be the start of it.

When I ran Tales From The Crypt for HBO, I took pride in the fact that I murdered people for a living and got away with it. I’ve spent my career imagining terrible, terrible things that could happen to people. I’ve written scenes that would make your average person squirm to watch, never mind actually endure.

But nothing I’ve written — or could write — can compare with or compete with Donald Trump. There’s nothing special about Trump except for the fact that he’s the embodiment of evil. Evil — real evil — isn’t special; most of the time, it’s pretty banal. We prefer our evil to be beat-you-over-the-head obvious. Unfortunately, that’s not how evil works.

There is nothing exceptional about Donald Trump. And yet, this unexceptional man has done something, well, exceptional — he’s very nearly destroyed the greatest experiment in human self-government ever. He’s had help, of course — Moscow Mitch McConnell (starting with his mission to hijack the judiciary as a means to impose permanent minority rule), Bill Barr (the most corrupt AG ever – and that includes John Mitchell, Nixon’s AG!), Mike Pompeo (the most corrupt Secretary of State since whoever Trump’s last Sec State was) and GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (whose worry that Russia was paying Dana Rohrbacher & Trump was put to rest with a simple “Let’s keep that in the family” by then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan).

The only thing that’s even remotely exceptional about Trump — his capacity for banal evil. That, apparently, is bottomless.

Me & A Friend

I was going through photos for the book I’m agent shopping — “How To Live Bullshit Free: A Practical Guide To Not Killing Yourself” — and found this one of a much, much, MUCH younger version of me and a… “friend”, let’s call him, The Crypt Keeper.

From season three till the bitter end, I wrote every word the Crypt Keeper, um, “said”. It was a strange gig — pulling my hair out to come up with words for a puppet to speak (in addition to writing and producing the Tales From The Crypt episodes).

The Crypt Keeper was designed by special effects wizard Kevin Yagher (who directed all the Crypt Keeper segments) and was actually the product of 6 separate puppeteers. One was the CK’s right hand, one his left, one controlled his head movements and the others worked the animatronic controls that gave remarkable life to the Crypt Keeper’s face.

Everything was synched to the vocal track I’d recorded with Jon Kasirer, the actor who provided Crypt Keeper’s voice. Working with Jon was always great fun. With the vocal track playing, Kevin would call “Action”, the puppeteers would go to work and The Crypt Keeper would seem to fill with life.

I don’t believe in magic but… our minds play tricks. While he was moving and talking and acting like the Crypt Keeper, there was no puppet. There was only the Crypt Keeper.

Then Kevin would call “Cut!” The take would end. The puppeteers would sit back — and the Crypt Keeper, now lifeless, would sag to the surface of his table like, well, a lifeless puppet.

It was like watching him die each and every time. It’s still disconcerting how disconcerting it was.

Have You Heard The One About Meatloaf When He Met The Crypt Keeper?

Seeing Meatloaf on Morning Joe this morning brought to mind a story included in How To Live Bullshit Free: A Practical Guide To Not Killing Yourself, the book I’m now agent shopping. I once cast Meatloaf in a TV show.

How To Live Bullshit Free is also a memoir — the story of how I came within inches of offing myself (but got better). I’ve had a very unusual showbiz career. I wrote and produced HBO’s Tales From The Crypt and Showtime’s The Outer Limits. I’ve written and produced feature films. I have crossed paths with an amazing amount of people (as one does in show business) — many of them very, very famous. I’m not afraid to name names.

One of the stories I tell in How To Live Bullshit Free is about Meatloaf — and how we cast him in an episode of Tales From The Crypt called “What’s Cookin” about a down on their luck couple about to lose their incredibly unsuccessful diner. The homeless guy who works for them shows up one day with steak — that attracts so many customers they can stay open. In fact, they’re suddenly making money hand over fist. The problem? The steak is all human flesh.

Hey — it was Tales From The Crypt. Anyway — without further ado — this is from my book (which I’m agent shopping — or did I say that already?)

As the Crypt Keeper would say: “Bone appetite!”

We got Chris Reeve to play the lead with Bess Armstrong and
Judd Nelson in the supporting roles (Chris, remember, had done ‘Superman’ with
Dick Donner, one of our Executive Producers). 
Chris was experiencing a strange phenomenon – where an actor becomes
hyper-associated with a character in the audience’s mind.  Superman had done that to a degree to Chris
and he was having trouble getting cast as ‘other’ characters (something that
apparently plagued Chris’s Superman predecessor, the 1950’s TV Superman, Steve
Reeves).  
Chris’s hyper-awareness showed while we discussed his
wardrobe.  Our initial choices were a
little too ‘Clark Kent’; he didn’t want to go there.  To us it was just a blue Oxford shirt and a
pair of khakis but, to be fair, Chris had walked around a lot more in Clark
Kent’s (wardrobe-provided) shoes than we had. 
When ‘Superman’ tells you ‘It’s too Clark Kent’, you listen.
For the part of the Landlord, we cast the singer MEATLOAF.  I think I laughed for about a half hour when our casting director first mentioned his name.  I mean, c’mon – how funny is that – casting MEATLOAF in an episode about CANNIBALISM – where his character gets eaten?
There’s a scene – toward the middle – when Chris – freaking
out about their financial hardships while still dubious about the crowds
pouring in to gobble up the steaks his wife keeps tossing onto the grill –
follows Judd’s homeless guy to the walk-in refrigerator for more steak.  As the walk-in door opens, Chris sees their
LANDLORD (Meatloaf) literally hanging from a meat hook, naked and dead.
While Chris freaks out, Judd picks up a meat cleaver and hacks
a couple of ‘butt steaks’ from the carcass. 
Tossing them onto the metal tray he’s brought, he heads back to the
front of the restaurant to give them to Bess who’s busily barbecuing away.
“Don’t leave the fridge door open,” says Judd’s drifter as
he goes – to the still too-horrified-to-move-or-speak Chris – “He’ll
spoil.”   
This was going to be a tricky special effect to pull
off.  The body had to look super
real.  The way the steaks came off the
carcass had to look real.  The way they
looked when they hit the tray HAD TO LOOK REAL. 
Sounds like a Job for Todd Masters…
One of the reasons I loved doing ‘Tales’ was that I got to indulge in some really horrible behavior –
betraying people, killing people, ‘eating’ people – and all without actually
hurting anyone.  Some of my favorite
moments were when I got to sit down with our Special Effects Maven Todd Masters
– with a couple of pathology textbooks and a shitload of bad intentions between
us.  After the first time my assistant
found me in Todd’s work space, cackling away like lunatics, she never looked at
me the same way again.  
The problem with great special effects though is that (in
addition to money), they take time. 
Having cast Meatloaf so late into the schedule, there simply wasn’t time
for him to come in so we could do a body cast of him.  Necessity – and a rigid shooting schedule –
forced us to hire a body double who we thought would approximate what Meatloaf
would look like hanging naked in a meat locker. 
Now, I knew what Meatloaf (the singer and actor) looked
like.  When I was in college, Meatloaf’s
‘Bat Outta Hell’ was one of THE albums we all revered (there in the Drama
Department).  C’mon – “Paradise By The
Dashboard Light’ is classic.  And it’s
funny.  Meatloaf was a big guy.  A heavy guy. 
A guy who could probably afford to lose a few pounds.  But that wasn’t our problem.  We cast the Meatloaf we knew and got on with
our lives.
And then, the day before he was due to work, Meatloaf – the
actor – arrived at the studio for his wardrobe fitting.  And we realized we had a problem.  ‘Mr. Loaf’ (as Christopher Lee called him
when they appeared together on SNL) had just finished a crash diet and had lost
60+ pounds.
He looked nothing like the body double – which he wanted to
see.  
Having worked very, VERY hard to lose all that weight – and
wanting to show it off – he was NOT happy that the old, ‘heavier’ Meatloaf was
who we had cast.  He insisted that our
body double was a good twenty pounds heavier than he had ever been.  I got to know my hands very well – staring at
them for as long as I did while Meatloaf circled his ‘not-exactly’ body double.
In the end, Meatloaf sucked it up – being a pro first and
foremost.  His history of being heavy
helped too.  He even agreed – graciously
– to wear a fat suit under his wardrobe so that it wouldn’t look quite so
jarring when we saw him ‘naked’.

Like I said — I’m agent shopping. There’s lots, lots, LOTS more where that comes from.