Clare County Review. LINK
Gladwin’s Rice publishes “Hollywood Underground”
By Pat Maurer
Jim Rice of Gladwin, 45, recently published his memoir, “HOLLYWOOD UNDERGROUND,” the true story of his experiences as a young man living incognito for three years inside two major movie studio lots in Hollywood in pursuit of a dream to work in show business.
He said, “Armed with a few screenplays I’d written, a short film some friends and I had made and some extra clothes, at the age of twenty-seven, I jumped a blue line train from Long Beach to Hollywood.”
He continued, “After being on the streets of Hollywood, I jumped the fence of Paramount Studios and would live inside the historic movie lot for the next three years eating from the craft service tables of various TV shows: Becker, Roswell, Judging Amy, The Amanda Show, Frasier, various failed TV pilots and the movie, Fifteen Minutes, to name just a few.”
Over the three years of his studio life, he said he met various TV and film actors, as well as show business people and slept in an outdoor ivy-covered catwalk attached to Star Trek: The Next Generation.
When he was “found out” there by landscapers, he said he made the catwalks of STAGE 30 (where they filmed Soul Train) his home. “In all honesty, I survived by acting like I worked at various other places throughout the movie lot and [finally] realized that I was acting to merely survive rather than receiving a paycheck.”
Rice explained how he managed for so long. “This happened from the summer of 1997 to the spring of 2001. [During that time] I took on some jobs as a volunteer, but to the security staff and many other Paramount Employees I came into contact every day, it became a charade and juggling act to keep my many
perceived ‘persona’s’ or ‘roles’ in the air. To some, like a security guard named Tom, I was a promotions guy named Bob Stanton, to others I was an assistant editor for Judge Judy and yet to others I was a professional extra, a reporter for Newsweek, a young up and coming actor and screenwriter to name just a few.”
He said, “I also pulled cable for a soap opera, was a production assistant for The Amanda Show, a perceived reporter for Newsweek on the set of Fifteen Minutes, a court room juror on Judging Amy, a vampire of the underworld on Buffy The Vampire Slayer, etc. HOLLYWOOD UNDERGROUND is the true story of chasing a dream to the very end, no matter the cost.”
He said he has been working on his book for the past six years and completed it just a year ago “after several re-writes, edits and even a title change.” It was originally titled STAGE 30.
Jim was born and raised in Mt. Clemens, Michigan. His parents moved to Gladwin after he left for California. His Father is a retired Detroit Police Officer and his Mother works in eye care and as a tutor. “They sought to escape the city life and did!” he said.
He moved to Gladwin ten years ago.
A journalism and film guy from California State University in Long Beach, he writes full time and has a novel published and another coming out soon.
“The first book is a novel entitled AMERICAN FREAK, which is about three young men who decide to make a difference and go after the FBI’s Most Wanted Fugitives for reward money. They become very good at what they do. Both the Kindle eBook and Paperback can be found here at the link http://amzn.com/B01377OPIU My latest novel, which is set to come out in a few weeks is entitled THE LIFE AND TIMES OF CHARLIE CHANCE, which is about a most famous person, sort of like a modern day Michelangelo or Da Vinci and his fictional life story,” he said. “But I also do articles, he added. He said he worked for the Press Telegram in Long Beach and writes for the Gladwin Record in Gladwin.
You can find HOLLYWOOD UNDERGROUND online currently on Amazon at the following link: http://amzn.com/B012KAILXU. It is available as a Kindle eBook and in Paperback at the site.
“It isn’t in too many stores outside Gladwin, as of yet,” he said.
MIDLAND DAILY NEWS
Gladwin man tells tale of living on Hollywood studio lots
Many people have had the Hollywood dream: pack up all of their belongings, head out West in a car they hope will make the trek, and sell that screenplay, land that acting role or direct that latest blockbuster.
Jim Alexander Rice of Gladwin had the same dream, but he did things in Tinsel Town his own way: on the down low.
“I was young, full of vigor,” he said, laughing.
Rice recently published his book through a small press called Creative Minds — “Hollywood Underground” is about his adventures living on production sets under assumed roles and identities in the land of movies. “I know it was crazy,” he said. “Who does this?”
Rice said he has been writing all kinds of stories since he was younger.
“You could say I am a dreamer. Short stories, screenplays, that sort of thing,” he said. He said he had sent hundreds of copies of his screenplays to all kinds of people in the business.
“It kind of consumed me,” he said of his life-long work.
Rice grew up in Mount Clemens, where he lived with his parents. His folks were ready for retirement and sick of city life, so they planned on relocating to Gladwin.
“I had always wanted to go to California,” Rice said. “When my dad asked me if I wanted to go Gladwin or California, it was a no-brainer.”
Rice moved to Long Beach, Calif., and was accepted to college. He lived with his grandmother while he attended school, and took work with a local newspaper on various projects for a time, before taking the leap to work on screenplays full time.
“I thought I could get some done and maybe get a job acting on the side,” he said. “Working for the paper left me no time to pursue my dream of working in Hollywood, so I quit.”
At the time, he had a few screenplays written, as well as a short film under his belt.
“My idea was that maybe I could go to Hollywood and get work there and stay with a friend,” Rice said.
The job offers and fame did not come as he had hoped, however.
“I kinda got stranded out there. I was basically penniless,” he said. That’s when things started for him that would lead him on a more than three-year adventure in the back lots and quiet nights of Hollywood studios. While walking around a studio lot, he saw something that he could not resist.
“I saw this studio door that was open,” he said. “I was young. And it probably wasn’t the wisest choice.” Rice wandered around and took in the scene, before finding an ivy-covered terrace that was on the set of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”
“It was perfect. It was covered and no one could see me up there,” he said. He slept there for a while, walking around various productions during the day. Soon after, he was discovered by landscapers, and he moved down the road to Stage 30 on the Paramount studio lot.
“That is where they filmed ‘Soul Train,’” he said.
He found a “cubby hole” above the studio.
“It was about 8 by 8 foot,” he said. “And it was full of cables. He would spend much of the next three years here, hiding his clothing, laptop and scripts. He said he would wash in the bathrooms at night, launder his clothes by hand and take showers when no one was around.
“The place was usually empty at night. I would sneak out around three in the morning,” he said.
During the days, Rice would blend into the controlled chaos of the TV shows being produced on the lots. He found himself working on and observing the production of many television shows. Rice was on the sets of shows, including “Frasier,” “Roswell,” “Becker,” “Judging Amy,” “The Amanda Show” and many failed TV pilots. He also spent time on the set of the movie “15 Minutes,” starring Robert DeNiro.
“I couldn’t believe I was actually in a studio,” he said.
Rice stressed that while he may not be exactly proud of some of his methods, he used his time there to learn every aspect of film and television production, from working as a grip on several productions to filling in as background extras. While on various sets, Rice learned to adopt roles that would allow him to go undetected and allow him to learn everything he could about the trade.
Some of his roles or covers included posing as a journalist, a grip, assistant to an assistant, a promoter, an editor and an actor.
“I always wanted to act, so I was acting. Just for real,” he said, laughing. “For the most part, no one really questioned me that much.”
Rice said he had to eat, so he discovered one of the bonuses for crews and actors working at studios: the craft service tables.
“They always had food and if anyone asked why I was eating, I would tell them I was with the production,” he said.
Despite the fear of being caught, Rice said he was thrilled to be in a working production studio, learning everything he could, and brushing shoulders with important people in the industry.
“It is surreal. When you are eating a bowl of chicken and rice next to Ted Danson, it is amazing,” he said. “I felt like I was close to my dreams.”
When asked if he was scared of being found out, Rice said that was a fear, but he did his best to stay in character.
“Yes,” he said. “I was acting.”
Aside from sleeping at the studio and trying no to blow his cover, Rice said he was little different from many other people living and working around Hollywood.
“I was always working on a script or screenplay on the side,” he said. “Everyone out there who worked a regular job had a screenplay they wanted to sell.” He said it was common for people working in fast food jobs or at coffee shops to have a script at the ready in case they could slip it into the hands of someone important.
After all of his adopted covers and hiding out for three years, Rice finally met up with the law in a totally unrelated event.
“I get ticketed for boarding a train without paying,” he said. Rice failed to appear for a hearing, which would later come to haunt him. He was finally snagged by a security guard, who caught Rice while he was printing one of his scripts in an empty office.
“I got arrested. They take failure to appear very seriously in California,” he said. He would spend two weeks in jail, enough time to do some soul searching. When released, he decided to let his parents in on what he had been doing.
“My parents had been worried about me the whole time. They didn’t know I wasn’t going to school,” he said. His folks convinced him to come home, and since 2001, he has been living in Gladwin and “writing like crazy.”
“I have three novels and I am working on a fourth,” he said.
When asked if he plans to return to Hollywood some day, Rice thought for a moment.
“I do miss it out there but I have family here now,” he said. “But I hope to go back out there some day.”