NAVIGATING HOLLYWOOD: A Brush with Don Rickles

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Hey every one, sorry I’ve been kind of MIA lately, but I’m working on rewrites of a script so I apologize. Here’s a quick story (slash stories) to hold you over until I come back full force.

Working for Cobra Commander wasn’t all bad. I mean, it was pretty fucking bad, but there were shining moments.

Rickles

One of which was Don Rickles.

Rickles has always been a comedy icon of mine. I’ve already told you that I’m a bit of a stand-up comedy groupie, so it should come to no surprise that Rickles was on my bucket list of people to meet. His wit and sarcasm was something I often dreamed of trying to achieve and often emulated. Which, when you’re not a world-renowned comic, often gets mistaken for just being a “dick.”

Anyway, as it turns out, I would SORT of be able to cross off meeting Don via my employment in the COBRA organization.

As it happens, Cobra Commander and The Baroness were friends with Don and his wife, Barbara. One of the joys of the job was connecting calls between Don and Cobra Commander or The Baroness. On one occasion I had to stay on the call and it was, as a fan, fucking gold.

The Baroness was talking to Don at his Malibu home. Now, she hadn’t actually called Don, but called to talk to his wife, Barbara. They were besties. Don answered and yelled out for his wife (which, I promise you, is as funny as that sounds). While waiting for Barbara to come to the phone, Don chatted up The Baroness.

During this conversation, somehow the subject of Twitter came up. Rickles had just started Tweeting and The Baroness was asking him about it. To hear a comedy icon, a person who I admired and loved, talk about “The Tweeter” like an old person (which, to be fair, he was) is a memory that I will never forget.

There were several times I was able to speak to one of my idols working for COBRA. Unfortunately, it never went further than “One minute, Mr. Rickles. I’ll see if she’s available.”

THINGS GET WEIRD

While that’s a great story and, what I feel, is a fitting eulogy to man I loved, it wouldn’t be “Navigating Hollywood” if things didn’t get a little weird.

I’ve mentioned this before, but there is a such thing as an assistant’s network. Because the Rickles’ and COBRA were so close, I befriended their assistant.

Let’s call her Kate.

Kate was super nice and had a bit of a hot voice. I talked to her on a number of occasions. At one point, after befriending her, I mentioned how much I loved Don and always wanted to meet him. She offered to get me tickets to any of his performances.

I explained to her how much I appreciated that, but if I was ever going to see him perform, it was going to be in Vegas. Obviously, I never got the opportunity.

I did ask her if I could go backstage after the show, and she promised she would try to make that happen, but it depended on how the night went and his mood. I completely understood.

That’s not the weird part…

She had this idea for a script, and we chatted on the phone outside of office hours about her idea. Seriously, everyone out here has an idea for a script.

Eventually, I asked Kate out. Like I said, she had a sexy voice, and I eventually saw a picture of her, and the vision matched the voice. As it turned out, she lived in the same neighborhood as me in Hollywood.

We agreed to meet at Buffalo Wild Wings. I was the reigning Trivia Champ (true story) and she loved wings.

We had, what I thought, was a solid date until things… well got weird.

She confided that she was “talking to” a soldier in Afghanistan and really liked him, but his situation made it difficult to date. Although, they often video chatted.

I was half disappointed, but being the dick that I was (am) I didn’t want to ruin my chances of meeting Don.

That’s when shit got super weird. She openly stated that she hated ALL Arabs. Like out of nowhere. And not in the cute Don Rickles, making fun kinda way. Like… She hated all Arabs. Hands down.

I promise you that this was literally the most awkward moment of my life.

I grew up in Dearborn, Michigan. The largest population of Middle Eastern people outside of the Middle East. Most of my friends growing up were of Arabic descent.

Needless to say, I took a great deal of offense to her telling me about her hatred of Arabs.

When I told her what I just told you, she doubled down: “I talk to soldiers. I have good cause to hate them.”

Quietly, I finished my beer. Finished the round of trivia. Haven’t spoken to her since. Until this morning when I texted her my sympathy for the passing of a legendary comedian.

No response.

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Film Industry Obituaries, Navigating Hollywood by Manny Fonseca
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Manny Fonseca

About Manny Fonseca

After years as a development executive, Manny Fonseca is now on the other side of the table as a full time writer. His script Whittier, a horror script set in a small town in Alaska, is currently in development. His former podcast, Breakin' In! reached international infamy in the screenwriting community for its blunt honesty about how Hollywood works. It’s not all about scripts and Hollywood though, Manny also started a site chronicling life as a full-time caregiver. At the realmanny.com, he bluntly talks about what life is like caring for a loved one with a brain injury. His first book, BURST! What I learned When My Girlfriend's Aneurysm Popped* is currently being shopped around. Now living the life of a writer, Manny is navigating a whole different side of Hollywood. You can follow him on Twitter: @mannyfonseca

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