The Curious Tale Home

Empire on Ice #24: Dress Code, Part 1

[The camera opens with a view from above and in front of a beautiful, enormous building, very much like the Greek Parthenon in its aesthetic magnificence, except fully enclosed. The camera zooms downward and in, and we see, chiseled in large stone letters above the entrance, "DRESSING ROOM," and below that, in smaller letters, "Galavar."]

[The camera then pans off the side of the illustrious building, and farther downward, right down to ground level, onto a dumpy little trailer that looks like it's been through a hurricane. The walls are falling off, and everything is dilapidated and bent. On the front, above a door that's half off its hinges, is a star with most of the light bulbs burned out, and inside the star is a generic, government-style font that says "SILANCE." The door opens and Silence emerges, looking optimistic and exuberant.]

[Cut to Production Stage 37, one of the stages where production of After The Hero: The Motion Picture is underway. Silence arrives on set. The Director, Josh, is there, as are the actors Procyon Kyufa and Lilit DeLatia, a full set of staffers and production crew, and the usual gaggle of producers. Silence walks onto the middle of the stage, and raises her voice to address everyone.]

Silence: I'm ready for my big scene!

[Josh comes over, holding a cell phone up to his ear.]

Josh: Just a few more minutes. I'm on the phone with Hong Kong. We're trying to prank the Chinese government.

Silence: How?

Josh: By delivering 30 pizzas to Xi Jinping that he didn't order.

Silence: Who exactly are you talking to?

Josh: I don't know. She says she owns a restaurant, though, so I figure she's probably the prime minister or whatever.

Silence: That's…not…

Josh: Sorry! Sometimes Empire business supersedes show business. Back in a few.

[Josh goes away again.]

Silence: Oh, fine. I'll get some breakfast.

[She walks over to the catering table, where a gaggle of producers are standing around being useless. The spread of food is very underwhelming.]

Silence: This looks dismal. Bread…a half-empty jar of grape jelly…packages of airplane peanuts with the airline logo crossed out. [To the Vice Producer.] What happened? Yesterday there was a king's feast for breakfast.

Vice Producer: Oh, Silence. I didn't recognize you at first. Hello.

Silence: Charming.

Vice Producer: The spread, right. Galavar isn't on set today, so we have to be responsible with the budget.

Associate Producer: There was a tray of apples earlier, but they're gone now.

Silence: I'm the star of the movie. Or the co-star, anyway. Don't I get a nice breakfast?

Vice Producer: Let's be honest. You're the "also starring."

Silence: No I'm not.

Co-Vice Producer: Sorry, Silence. Nothing personal. If it were Galavar—

Silence: Oh, not this again. Look, call someone. Get bagels and lox. Get cream cheese. Get plain old cream while you're at it. Get more fruit. Get bacon. Go.

Co-Vice Assistant Producer: We're not going to do that.

Associate Producer: You really need to stop being such a diva and think of the film crew.

Vice Producer: It's just not in the budget, Silence.

Silence: I'll pay for it myself. Now go. Shoo.

[The Vice Producer and Co-Vice Producer look at each other.]

Vice Producer: Sorry, Silence. It's a mountain of paperwork. We have to bill catering through—

Silence: This happens every day. You all treat me like I'm some kind of leper, and I go nuclear on you, and you all end up having a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day. Do you ever learn?

Adjunct Producer: [Trying to be helpful.] There's jelly!

Co-Vice Assistant Producer: [Aside to the Co-Vice Producer.] I'd say she's already got more than enough jelly.

Silence: …!

[Kyufa joins them at the table.]

Kyufa: Good morning, Silence!

Silence: Kyufa, how do you like it that when Galavar is on set we get beluga caviar and suckling pig, but otherwise it's grape jelly sandwiches and peanuts?

Kyufa: Oh, come now. Cheer up. That's no way to start the day.

Silence: Exactly!

Kyufa: Grape jelly sandwiches aren't so bad.

Adjunct Producer: [Still trying to be helpful.] And there's coffee over on the other table. We're all out of sugar, though. And whitener.

Silence: Whitener?! You're…out…of…whitener?!

Vice Producer: Easy there, Spitfire. If you want to live to be gray you have to learn that sometimes—

Silence: It is too early for this. I have a big scene today!

Assistant Producer: [Checking the script.] You only have three lines.

Silence: I just spent fifty minutes taking a shower, another ninety minutes getting my hair done, two hours in makeup, and forty minutes getting dressed—all so that I can look the same way I already do. I don't care if my scene is one word long. I've already sunk over five hours into this day and we haven't even begun filming yet. Go get me some breakfast.

Vice Producer: Silence—

Silence: No. You had your chance. Obviously we have to go through this ridiculous ballet again. Go get some food!

[It is a momentary stalemate. No one answers her demand. All the producers' eyes are on her. What will her next move be?]

[Silence stalks up to the Vice Producer.]

Silence: You're dressed very nicely today.

Kyufa: [Warily.] Silence. What are you doing?

Silence: [To Kyufa.] Giving a compliment. [To the Vice Producer.] A suit. A tie. Shined shoes. Very professional. Worthy of my presence. But…some of your junior producers aren't quite as tastefully attired.

Vice Producer: They're not all in suits, no.

Silence: And how do you suppose that reflects on you?

[Before he can answer, she turns to the Assistant Producer.]

Silence: What's your name?

Assistant Producer: Anton, sir.

Silence: Do you know the meaning of the term business formal, Anton?

Assistant Producer: Yes I do. But the dress code here is business casual.

Silence: Oh?

Assistant Producer: Yes. It says in the—

Silence: Maybe on set, perhaps, they'll let you dress like a homeless drug addict.

Assistant Producer: It's a polo shirt.

Silence: Maybe the studio doesn't mind that you look like a hired thug working for some third-world shit shoveler.

Assistant Producer: It's a polo shirt.

Silence: If you're going to wear a polo shirt on set during one of my scenes, you might as well show up naked!

Vice Producer: Silence, that's—

Silence: Whatever happened to the respect that mates used to have for this institution? Maybe the studio doesn't care anymore, but I have a dress code, and that code is business formal. You, Anton, are going to go home, right now, and change.

Assistant Producer: Why should I do that?

Silence: Because if you don't I'm going to fire you.

Assistant Producer: You can't do that.

Silence: Oh, but I can. Oh, but I will.

[Silence claps once. It echoes across the soundstage.]

Vice Producer: W-what did you do?

[A Pyrotechnician walks up.]

Pyrotechnician: You rang?

Silence: Get me my flamethrower.

Pyrotechnician: Right away!

[The Pyrotechnician leaves.]

Silence: You see, you producers all think you're at the center of the universe, that this movie couldn't possibly exist without you. You suck up to the director and the top-billed star, and everyone else here is just squeaky ornaments who don't know better than to shut up and make you your money.

Co-Vice Producer: Exactly!

Vice Producer: [Aside to the Co-Vice Producer.] Bob!

Silence: We don't particularly like being so poorly regarded. Therefore I have forged alliances with every department here.

[She turns back to Anton, the Assistant Producer.]

Silence: So—

Assistant Producer: No! No. You win. I'll go home and change.

Silence: Yes you will.

Assistant Producer: I'll put on a vest and everything. I promise!

[The Pyrotechnician returns with a flamethrower.]

Pyrotechnician: Extra hot today, Silence.

[Silence takes it.]

Silence: [To the producers.] I still think an example needs to be made.

[The Assistant Producer Flees. Silence looks at the Co-Vice Producer.]

Co-Vice Producer: No! Not me! Look at Dave. He's wearing a tee shirt.

[Silence swivels toward the Vice Associate Producer, Dave.]

Silence: You're wearing a what?

Vice Associate Producer: A-a! A tee shirt, Silence!

Silence: A tee shirt.

Vice Associate Producer: But look! It's from our studio. It has the film's production logo on it.

Kyufa: Come on, Silence. He's innocent.

[Silence draws closer to the Associate Producer, glowering.]

Silence: A tee shirt is what you wear when you're going to fornicate with a pack of ducks!

Vice Associate Producer: Eep! I'm going! I'll go home! I'll change! I'll change!

[He flees.]

[Next Silence turns to the Co-Vice Assistant Producer.]

Silence: You're wearing a suit.

Co-Vice Assistant Producer: Yes I am.

Silence: But you made a crucial mistake. I don't care what you wear, because I already don't like you. You're fired.

Co-Vice Assistant Producer: What?!

[Silence incinerates him.]

Vice Producer: Y-you…you can't do that! Look, I'll go out and get you breakfast myself. What do you want?

Silence: [Glaring.] Water.

Vice Producer: Water? That's it? I mean, come on, you were just—

[Silence intensifies her glare.]

Vice Producer: Water it is.

[The Vice Producer leaves.]

Silence: [To the remainder.] Still too many producers.

O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!