Sylar and Bennet, Live in Griffith Park
"I'm sitting in a railway station, got a ticket for my destination..."
Zach and I warble, approximating harmony if never fully achieving it.
We're driving around a suburban street (there's no other kind) in Santa Clarita. More accurately, we're being towed in a "Company" car. We don't actually do any of the driving ourselves, we fake it. Acting, I believe it's called. Sylar and Bennet are on a mission to find Steven Canfield, who has the ability to create black holes -- not of the Landlady variety, of the astrophysical variety. Vortexes.
While the cameras role, we drip contempt for each other. When the cameras stop, and we are towed back to our starting place to repeat the scene using a different lens or a wider angle, or because Zach messed up; we bust out our Simon and Garfunkel repertoire, rusty and limited though it is. I feel sorry for our director, Anthony Hemingway (great name, great guy, great director) who has his headphones on and is subjected to harmonies that are remarkably Gregorian.
It's been all emotional this week with Misty's sudden injury, but I guess it's the nature of the show. You never know what can happen. Injuries in the ballroom world are very common. We've all been through a lot of injuries. I personally dealt with my own share of twisted ankles and sprained ligaments. Nothing like this, of course. This is big and unfortunate.
Misty had her surgery Tuesday. She's going to start her rehab as soon as she can and I guess nine months from now, which is what the doctor estimated, she'll be back to normal. It's a long rehab, but it's a big deal. When people were speculating on what [the problem] was and we weren't able to tell anybody what was happening yet, somebody saw her walking out of the hospital on crutches and they were like, "She broke her ankle." And I'm like, "Yeah, if only she was that lucky." It would be a much easier procedure.
I am not in episode 304, unless they've pulled a scene from episode 305. All I can remember from 304 is future Sylar (Gabriel Gray) has a son named Noah and is living in the Bennet house in Costa Verde. WTF? Of course, this is only a possible future, as are all futures on our show.
So, in this volume I'm not talking about Heroes. I'm winging it. I thought maybe I'd talk about some of my other magnificent projects, the ones that from time to time make their way onto youtube. I like to think of them as a collection of my lamest hits.
A lot of people have been saying I was too tough on Misty this week. Too tough? I'm not sure, because you guys get to see a minute and a half of produced footage of three days of practice. So that's my defense. If everything is nice and calm and quiet then we'd come out with something that sort of resembles Paso and you guys [the fans] would go, "That was really bad." We have to leave the personalities at the door and really do whatever it takes. Because we don't have a lot of time at all. What came out in the package, I'll admit, looked a little rough. I'm trying to change that this week, not because of that, but because of the dance that we're doing. I'm trying to show people that this was not me just being an asshole -- it was because the dance required a certain amount of confrontation and a little bit of anger too. The paso is a fight. It's a battle. Especially in this particular case.
If I came across too strong, it wasn't meant to be negative. It was more of a tough love kind of thing. Misty understands things under pressure. She reacts better under pressure. She's a professional athlete. Same with Maurice and Warren. Take Warren Sapp: he plays American football for a living. He's a grown man getting paid millions of dollars and has gotten yelled at by coaches for his entire career. At some point, athletes' psyches are constructed in such a way that they almost don't respond to a gentle, nice approach. If you saw that HBO Special Hard Knocks, which shows what really happened behind the scenes at the Dallas Cowboys camp, you see how these men are being trained. It is kind of the same thing. I did not do this with Mel, but I was the same way with Laila. It is whatever works. I think this week, if you guys watch the footage, it is going to be completely different. A 180. It isn't because I am trying to fix something, or that I think the audience didn't like "Mean Maks," it is because we're doing the jive. It is a lot of fun and light and outgoing and that's exactly how I'm going to portray it. In order for me to do that, I have to create an atmosphere that matches the steps with the right kind of feelings.
Housekeeping: Yes, I did spell Cris Rose's name wrong last week, and yes, I do appreciate the irony of having corrected her on the pronunciation of Milo's last name on the Today show, only to turn around and spell her name wrong.
My bad. You're good. This is why I am writing a blog for TWoP. Because you guys are bright and on it. Cris loves you for it and may never let me live it down. Thanks a lot.
Episode 3. Sylar and HRG are partners. For now.
I love working with Zach. He's a fantastic actor. Facile, quick, strong technique. He knows his way around a scene right away. Television does not provide the luxury of time, either to rehearse or to yack for hours about "your motivation." It's always a death race to make the day, especially on Heroes, which is so technically complicated. Zach has a take on a scene right away and his instincts are usually great. Except for those times he has tried to keep me off camera or take my lines. You gotta watch him on that.
The first week was exhausting. There was a lot of standing and waiting for results. This whole process on Tuesday of being on stage and finding out if you're safe, then going off the stage and coming back on the stage. Then going backstage again. Just that walking process. I'd rather be dancing. We've never had that format before. And if you are not necessarily with the lowest score, but you're being drawn out of a hat to perform last you're standing the entire two hours and then have to dance right away with no warm-up.
"Are you having trouble? Do you need cue cards?"
I look down at a 120-degree angle to see Hayden's shining face and innocent, disingenuous smile. I glare at her with all the venom I can muster.
"I'm just saying," she continues sweetly, "that if you're struggling to remember your lines, I'm sure props could provide you with cue cards."
As she walks away giggling, I wonder if the .45 in my holster is loaded.
I was struggling with my lines. I hadn't worked on HEROES in months and I was surprisingly nervous. It was episode 2 but I had no lines in episode 1 and now, because of the time away, I was a bit jittery.
I'm back on the show this season, after taking a season off. Last winter I opened another dance studio, then I traveled a lot for both business and pleasure. This summer my brother and I sat down and said, "You know what? There are a lot of things we want to do that we never got a chance to before like hiking, white water rafting, rock climbing." So this summer we'd go and camp out somewhere. We had a big list of things and we got to do a lot of them. So it was a very cool summer. Then I rehabilitated my body. You know, after 24 years of dancing at one point you have to take care of yourself. My knees started to tweak and shoulders started to hurt. So I went in and worked a lot with my therapist and fixed everything up. I'm not going to say I'm an old man, but now I feel like I did ten years ago.
Now I'm getting geared up for the new season of the show, with my partner, Olympic beach volleyball champion Misty May-Treanor. I'm really excited just because she turned out to be a really cool person and somebody really easy to deal with. She's very not Hollywood-like. This one is fun.
I watched her on the Olympics before I knew she was going to be my partner. But then when I found out, I was looking at it differently. I was nervous when they played the Chinese team. Like there's no way they can lose. I want to dance with an Olympic gold medalist not silver.
Everybody I speak to says, "Oh you lucked out because you have an athlete." And then at the same time they go, "Oh, you have an athlete like a beach volleyball player. She's the furthest from dancing as you can be." I'm going to sound as conceited as I possibly can, but this is where I come in and help the situation. The point of the show is that hopefully whoever signs up to do it doesn't have any background in dancing. And I think this season all the celebrities are pretty even as far as their abilities and talent is concerned.
Everyone is going to be surprised by Misty. She practices nonstop. When she gets what it's all about she starts to criticize herself. And this is something I have to tell her. I was like, "Listen there is only one critic in this couple. Because with the two of us criticizing everything we wouldn't last. I mean you have to give yourself a lot of credit, which you deserve, and let me criticize you." I know how to play up her strengths and not her weaknesses. If she doesn't know how to do this, or how to do that, or if she doesn't know how to do a split, that's fine. There's a bajillion and one other things we can do that make her look good.
The last couple of days we've been bumping into other couples, whether we come to the studio and they're leaving, or we're leaving and they're coming. Everybody is friendly and we're all like, "Hi. Nice to meet you. Show us your mambo and we'll show you ours." And from what I see, Misty is doing so much better than some of the people that are "supposed to be" good.
I'm not necessarily looking at it as a competition though. I think Lance is supposed to do amazing. I think Susan Lucci is going to do pretty well. And I think she is such a loveable popular persona on the show that she'll go far. I also think that Maurice Greene is going to do amazing. Cheryl Burke and I are very close friends and we all went out together and Maurice danced for about four hours. He's got moves. Cheryl will play up to his strengths too. She knows how. Cheryl says that Maurice is like Emmitt Smith but younger and a lot more fun. She won with Emmitt. So it's good.
For me it is more about the experience though. I remember the first season on the show and how uncomfortable everything was and it was a bit weird to have the camera in rehearsal and following me. I think that's why Mel and I had so much fun. Because I was finally cool with everything.
So I mean how can you top having that much fun? You can't. This season there's going to be Misty and Maks fun instead of Mel and Maks fun. I'm just having fun and I want people to be happy Maks is back and I don't want to disappoint them.
It's late April. I'm in a van coming down from a glacial lake 70 miles east of Vancouver in British Columbia. I've just finished shooting a movie for the Sci-Fi channel entitled "Pole Reversal." It's only been a three week shoot but it seems longer, being away from home and having to work in rain and cold for the first time since, well, since the last time I worked in Vancouver. I grew up between Philadelphia and New York, but after years in California, I have become a Weather Weenie.
The rain is beating down on the windshield and though it's only 6:30 PM it has already been dark for hours. I call my wife and crow into the phone that I'm done, I'm coming home, and I can't wait to take it easy for several days.
"The first Heroes script has arrived," she tells me.
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