“Hey… are you still interested in meeting my producer/friend?” Nicole asked me as we walked through yet another potential house. “Howard* was supposed to meet with some casting agents tonight but they canceled last minute, so he offered to take me and a friend out instead.”
I readily accepted the invitation. Nicole had been telling me some of the amusing and oft-glamorous interactions that she had had with Howard. And then she mentioned that he was doing some deal with Martin Scorsese and he might show up at dinner.
“Wait, WHAT?!” I practically yelled, completely freaking out at this point.
Nicole laughed and told me not to worry, there was a good chance he wouldn’t make it. She then proceeded to give me details about dinner.
“The reservations are for this place called BOA. It’s somewhere in downtown LA. Would you mind driving?”
I got to her apartment early so we could get ready together. While I was waiting for Nicole, I decided to check out the restaurant online. I just about had a heart attack: this restaurant was nicer than anything I’d ever been to. It was a very trendy place on Sunset Boulevard, with menu items higher than my rent bill.
I put on a new pair of blue heels that I’d bought for the occasion and we left for BOA. We met Howard by the bar and he alerted the waiter that we were ready to be seated. The outdoor patio area reminded me of some of the fancier clubs in Greece, with lounge-style seating, fire-pits, and glass tables.
“No, no, no,” Howard told the hostess. “We want to be seated over there.”
While I couldn’t see any difference between the middle of the space and the side to where he was pointing, I happily followed Howard to the table. We sat and I was properly introduced to Howard. He was a man of many talents: a professional scuba diver, a musician and an artist. He also owned a winery in France.
I kept asking questions, interested to learn more about the film industry.
“So what projects have you been working on lately?”
“Well,” Howard answered, “I’ve got about four productions in the works right now. Working a little on the new Iron Man and just got started with a new Katy Perry project.”
No big deal or anything! I kept sipping at my water to avoid saying something ridiculous and fan-girlish. In the meantime, Howard began ordering appetizers.
“Yes, we’ll have a full order of oysters,” he told the waiter.
“Our Pacific or Atlantic variety?” he asked in return.
“Do six of each. And then we’ll also have an order of the steak tartare.”
I almost laughed aloud. My grandpa used to tell me about the time he was on his deployment in Italy during WWII and they served up “some of that raw meat stuff… that tar-tar”. It was a memorable moment for him. And now, it was about to be a memorable event for me, as well.
We perused the menu, trying to decide between the filet mignon and the Nova Scotia lobster tail. The prices attached to the dishes seemed somehow disconnected. I ordered the petite filet with a side of asparagus. Howard and Nicole both ordered steaks, and Howard added a few more sides. I prayed the portion sizes were infinitesimally small.
They weren’t. Out came the oysters on a large tray of ice. Howard fixed one up with sauce and lemon, and I carefully tried to emulate his style. Then another waiter pulled up with a cart covered in little plates. In the middle sat a pile of meat. As we watched, he threw on different spices and sauces, tossing them together with a practiced ease. The end result was a nice-smelling, but very much raw-meaty-looking substance. Never one to back down, I spooned some onto my plate and took a small bite.
In the past, I’ve described a pleasing steak as “melt in your mouth”. But this tartare literally sunk into my tongue with the most amazing sensation. The taste quickly overrided my brain’s aversion to a raw substance and I finished off my portion quickly.
Howard seemed pleased. The General Manager came over to our table and asked if we were enjoying everything. Howard said that we were, thanked him for opening up a table for us that evening, and then introduced us as “aspiring actresses”. Nicole and I looked at him askance, but played along. The manager greeted us, then handed us his business card.
“Whenever you plan on coming back, just give me a call and I’ll make sure you’re taken care of,” he told Nicole and I.
The next time I have a few hundred dollars to drop on dinner, I’ll definitely give him a call!
But now that the subject had been broached, we quickly headed into a discussion about our Hollywood goals. Nicole aspires to be a film editor and is already working as an intern for a company. Howard said he had other plans, though, implying that he had a small role in a production for her.
“And I can tell you want to act, too,” he said to me.
“What? Act? No! No. I mean, I love acting, but I know how hard it is. I don’t want to get into that line of work. I’d much rather do production,” I stumbled out.
Howard gave me a look. “Do you want to act or not?”
“Well, sure, if there was an opportunity. But I don’t want to make that my goal… I mean, I don’t want to be ‘an actress.’” I didn’t know where this conversation was headed.
“What experience do you have?” he asked sternly.
“Not much… just school plays and some film projects in college.”
“And what about production work?”
I had to be honest. “Even less. I mean, I really want to learn. But, I haven’t had many opportunities to work with production.”
Howard looked at Nicole. “I thought you said she had experience! Why did you tell me she had experience? You told me she wants to be a producer!”
Nicole looked like a deer in headlights. “Howard, I told you that none of us have much experience. We’re here to learn the industry. We want to get experience.”
Howard was huffy for a few more minutes before our dinner came. Suddenly the tension lifted. Food spread out across the table, reminding me of the dishes in Beauty and the Beast. Our steaks were superb, of course, and so were the potatoes and mushrooms, the asparagus, and the side of spaghetti with Kobe beef meatballs. I ate slowly, savoring it as much as possible.
When we were all exceedingly filled, the conversation began again.
“I can’t put you on one of my projects, yet, since you have no experience,” Howard said.
“Howard! I just wanted to meet you tonight,” I insisted. “I wasn’t looking for a job right now.”
I could tell he didn’t believe me. He continued: “If you want to work as an intern for a few months, I can see how well you pick things up and we can move forward from there.”
Did he just offer me a job?? I told him I’d be very interested, but probably needed to think about it some. I didn’t know quite what he was offering.
Before we continued down that vein, the waiter came to ask if we cared for some dessert. Howard insisted that we order something. There was no way I could think about more food… until I saw the dessert menu. Something about the way they described the “Gourmet S’more”—the dark chocolate ganache, poured over a layer of toasted marshmallow and a rich chocolate brownie—tempted me just enough.
As if the night wasn’t extravagant enough, when we left the restaurant and went to pick up my car from the valet we noticed a handful of paparazzi lingering near the curb. No… wait, they were actually directed towards a white SUV that had just been brought up. A camera lit up the face of the driver who was just getting in.
“Nicole!” I whispered. “I think that’s…”
Before I could say the words, the men by the car began shouting “Chloe! Give us a smile!”
Yup, I was right. It was Chloe Kardashian. And I am now certain that I live in Hollywood!
(Side note: I decided to decline Howard’s offer of production work, for various reasons. That night was quite a treat, nonetheless!)
*Name changed for discretion.