Occupation: medical consultant for a New York movie studio
One of the perks of working on a soap opera filmed for the Internet is watching the drama on and off camera. Things can suddenly go off kilter. Call it a side perk for the medical consultant. My name is Trudy Genova, RN, and that’s my job for anything filmed in New York City. I’ve just watched two very beautiful actors rehearse a kissing scene.
“Nice job, people.” Ron Dowling, true Napoleon of soap directors, appeared from behind the cameras, consulting his script and ignoring me. He thinks the nurse is beneath his tiny, Birkenstock-clad feet.
“Reece, don’t forget to touch your mouth in wonder as she walks away,” Dowling instructed the muscled actor. “And Misty, not so much tongue, dear. You’re making up after a fight, not meeting after the Titanic has sunk.” He consulted his huge diving watch. “Downstairs to rehearse the hospital scene.”
The Stage Manager’s voice rang out. “Hospital scene to rehearsal, five minutes please.” The lights went out with a loud thunk, the vivid colors of the brightly lit set immediately fading. Muted lighting provided a pathway over thick electrical cables, pointing the way to the sound stage door past other sets, all fully dressed and waiting for action, as they say in show business.
Gathering my sweater and backpack, I followed the actors, Reece Hunter and Misty Raines, downstairs. Misty’s name has a definite porn star ring to it, but then I’m not her agent.
Each morning two huge food trays are delivered to the set from a local deli. One is a fruit tray, melons peeled and sliced in long fingers, bunches of glossy grapes, mounds of huge strawberries and even the occasional mango. The other holds the crap most of us wolf down—tiny iced pastries, sliced pound cake and freshly baked cookies. A coffee urn sits next to a metal tub filled with ice and bottles of designer water. I stopped at the catering table to scoop up a few juicy strawberries and an oatmeal cookie, reflecting on my good fortune in having this job. Not bad for a country girl whose family owned an apple orchard.
How many nurses get to work in The Big Apple where no one is really hurt or dying, and the rocks in a landslide are made of cocoa-covered Styrofoam and oatmeal? Working for a movie studio means no more night shifts or dirty bedpans, no stinky vomit on my white nursing shoes, no real tears, no suffering, no death. Some days I work from home in my pajamas, correcting faxed script pages from movie and television medical scenes.
I never know if my script suggestions will be used. I’ll be watching a television episode or a feature film when suddenly my idea appears on the screen. Like that scene in the movie Lars and the Real Girl. When Patricia Clarkson’s doctor character tells Ryan Gosling that his mail-order doll girlfriend suffers from low blood pressure and he must bring her in weekly so the doc can really chat with Lars–that was all mine.
Other days I work on the sets of medical scenes filming in Manhattan for television and the occasional movie, most often a soap opera. I routinely take the calls to Thornfield Place and have come to know the cast and crew, part-time regular that I am, as well as the idiosyncrasies found only in the artificial world of soaps.
That’s where I am today, preparing to teach actor Griff Kennedy how to fake a heart attack. We have a dicey relationship, as he’d come on to me a few times too many. The ladies man seemed to think any female should be happy to be groped by him. Several weeks ago I’d found myself alone in the rehearsal room with him after turning down yet another invitation for a drink. He’d had the temerity to fondle my breast as he tried to change my mind.
I’d shouted loud enough for anyone outside the door to hear: “Hands off, slimeball!” That, plus a knee in the right place, had stopped him in his tracks and he’d left the rehearsal room to a series of titters from those lounging outside.
The incident left a residual tension. If it happened again, I’d go straight to PBJ management, whether Griff is a senior cast member or not. The burly, hard-drinking actor had been a stage star in his younger days, a fact everyone he met is made aware of in the first three minutes. I know I should feel sorry for him, with his star over the horizon and all that. But after his third attempt to put a check mark by my name on his conquest list, there had been that knee incident. His hair-transplant plugs are obvious, his gut straining at his belt, and the thought of coupling with him, of anyone coupling with him, gives me the willies.
Who knew that by the end of the day, Griff Kennedy would be on his way to the morgue?
You can read more about Trudy in Death Unscripted, the first book in the NEW “Manhattan” mystery series, published by Bridle Path Press. Book is available in August 2015.
GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on July 27 for the chance to win a signed copy of Death Unscripted. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected.
About the author
Marni Graff is the author of Death Unscripted, the first Trudy Genova Manhattan Mystery. She also writes The Nora Tierney Mysteries, set in England and featuring an American protagonist. The Blue Virgin was named Best British Cozy for Chanticleer Media’s Mystery and Mayhem Awards; The Green Remains is shortlisted for the same award. The Scarlet Wench follows Nora’s English adventures and is set in Cumbria.