TALES FROM TINSELTOWN: Actors stripped of excuses for not reviewingtheir film photos

This is the story of the stripper and the light box. Each shall shed light on, and reveal naked truths about, the mysteries of film budgets.

This is the story of the stripper and the light box. Each shall shed light on, and reveal naked truths about, the mysteries of film budgets.

I have a friend who's the publicist on a major TV show in production.

Let's call her Tracy. No, wait, that's my sister's name. We'll call her...Karen.

For weeks, Karen has been requesting a light box from the production office. A light box is only around $70, and is needed by actors to review photography of the movie. Most performers have the contractual right to kill 50%-75% of those photos. Very Big Stars can even kill the photographer himself.

Most actors demand photo approval rights, but hate to exercise them.

Aside from enduring hours of special effects make-up, approvals are an actor's least favorite chore. Many push the duty off to a publicist or assistant. The more creative thespians exercise their imaginations by devising new and interesting excuses why they haven't been done. It becomes a game.

One actress told me, with all earnestness, that the power in her trailer wasn't working, so she couldn't turn on the light box. Meanwhile, the stereo and television were blaring. I asked her what she watching. She just smiled sweetly and said, "Maybe the power will be back on tomorrow.

Round one to the actress.

The all-time favorite though, is losing the loupe - an essential magnifying device. "I lost the loupe

is usually guaranteed to buy at least another day. I'm on to that one, so I stash an entire box of 'em in the office.

Imagine the actor's disappointment when a replacement materializes in minutes. "Oh, you have another one,

he says, crestfallen, an early wrap and a round of golf suddenly replaced by an afternoon looking at photos.

By now you're wondering, "Yeah, fine, but what about the stripper?

Keep your shirt on. Here it is: The same person who told my publicist pal there was no money for a light-box hired a woman to perform an all-nude table dance for a crewmember on his birthday. In the lunchroom. In front of the entire crew. What's more, the trailer of an absent executive producer was used as the stripper's green room.

Being completely ignorant of such things, I have no idea what a stripper costs (c'mon, my mom reads this column), but I'll wager it's more than a light box.

Besides being sexist and politically incorrect beyond belief, the stripper incident broke open the floodgates on the budget. Several department heads witnessing the spectacle lodged complaints - and used the leverage to get coveted items previously denied.

My friend, too, finally got her light box. And her disappointed actor had to replace the putter in his hand with a grease pencil.

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