Actor and life-size action figure Bruce Willis and his pal, Kevin McNeely, chairman of the Sonoma International Film Society, were recently bold names on the New York Post’s infamous Page Six.
According to the gossip column, McNeely was “instrumental in getting (Willis) on a plane to the ‘cattle call’ casting that led to his co-starring role in ‘Moonlighting.’” As you know, the 12th annual Sonoma International Film Festival is presenting Willis a lifetime achievement award this April, wherein mutual assertions of gratitude will surely be the order of the day. I too, am grateful to those instrumental in getting me on a plane, but all I’ve ever gotten from vodka tonics is a hangover. Come to think of it, that’s what often results when I hang around the generous McNeely (Good on you, Kev – I’ll trade the plane for a wine flight any day).
For the record, I accept that I will never be an action hero of the ilk Mr. Willis has portrayed throughout his lifetime of achievements (a résumé that includes “The Fifth Element” penned by screenwriter and local Kamen Estate Wines owner, Robert Kamen). Given my nefarious nature and need of naps, I could, at best, pass as a super-villain if such people conducted their evil doings whilst splayed on a couch (see how I used both alliteration and the word “whilst?” in a single sentence? Diabolic, aren’t I? Archaic English is intrinsically evil because it’s hard to spell and alliteration is pure ear-candy to minds fatted on foulness).
I can vividly imagine the climatic scene in which Willis finally smites me just after he throatily mumbles the soon-to-be iconic catch-phrase: “Get off the couch.” My feeble retort, “Dude, you’re standing in front of the TV,” likely won’t catch on, but alas, it wasn’t written by Kamen. … Yet.
CUT TO: Car chase. Or, rather, lack thereof. Any chase that might occur in Sonoma in the coming weeks would be no-go due to all the local roadwork underway.
Town-bound from the Springs, I tried to avoid the construction traffic on Highway 12 by shooting down Boyes Boulevard, hooking a left on Arnold and another on Leveroni, only to have to come to a screeching halt. A neon-orange-clad crew was feeding a wood-chipper debris from some recently shaved brush.
Though they did their best to usher us along, the roadside attraction of the chipper proved rubber-necking Nirvana.
Willis, of course, is inured to such spectacle, because he is a spectacle.
His enduring screen persona is that of the reluctant-hardboiled-anti-hero-with-a heart-of-gold-around-whom-things-never-cease-exploding. This is why I want to upgrade from super-villain to comic-sidekick. It’s safer to stand near Willis. “Armageddon” notwithstanding, he generally doesn’t blow up.
We could be like Batman and Robin, but, um, not as close. Bruce would look stoically into nowhere while knotting a rag soaked in gasoline around his fist (seems like something he would do) and I would make wisecracks about his pending suicide mission, until he growls “Let’s go.” Dumbfounded that he’s included me in his plan to take on an entire road crew and their wood-chipper, I comically reply “Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?” Everyone laughs. Except Bruce.
He just cracks his neck, spits out a cigar butt and walks heedlessly into the pyrotechnic pandemonium. After a beat, I scamper behind him, secure in the knowledge that where there’s a Willis there’s a way. And then I blow up. Send my obit to Page Six.