It started early that morning – whispered conversations, furtive looks amongst the members of the Prodigy Pictures production staff. “Is this about me?”I wondered. And then, when I saw them sneak the balloons, pizza, and cake into the conference room I concluded: “This IS about me!”. THIS, of course, being the totally unexpected “Welcome Back to Toronto, Joe!” surprise party they’d no doubt been planning for quite some time. They’d done their darkest to keep it under wraps but I was onto them. All the same, I wasn’t about to spoil it for them. I’d play dumb, I decided. Act wholly shocked when the time came.
“We’re gathering in the conference room,”I was told, an hour later. I pretended to finish up something on my laptop so that everyone had a chance to get in there before I showed, then got up and strolled in.
The first thing I noticed were the balloons. And then, everyone started singing: Happy Birthday to yooooou!
I couldn’t believe. Two weeks late, but they were going to do a belated birthday/welcome to Toronto party!
Happy Birthday to yooooooou!
I supposed I’d be asked to make a speech – but I hadn’t prepared!
Happy Birthday, dear –
I guess I’d just have to wing it.
Jaaaaaay! Happy Birthday to yoooooou!
Well, as it turned out, we were actually celebrating the birthday of our partner in crime and television production, Prodigy Pictures President and Dark Matter Executive Producer Jay Firestone!
Amazing, Jay – who spends more time traveling than the average airline pilot – happened to actually be in town for the celebration. His birthday is actually October 31st (today), but we celebrated yesterday because we assumed he’d already have plans with his family on his special day. Also, it would have meant coming into the office on a Saturday.
Anyway, Jay celebrated with the three things he loves most: pizza, wings, and, apparently, celery sticks (which, for some reason, were left behind after the festivities so I dropped them off in his office). He also celebrated by reading and preparing script notes for Episodes 201-204!
Throughout the day, he’d swing by to let me know if he had an issue with the script – but then helpfully provide a potential fix or alternate take. And that’s one of the nice things about working with Jay which is, frankly, a rarity in this business. Most executives will tell you what doesn’t work for them and then leave you to figure out a solution. Jay will tell you what doesn’t work for him, but always brings ideas to the table as well. It’s been a great working relationship that yielded terrific results throughout the show’s first season. Whether big or small (and whether I agree with them or not), they’re always smart and come from a desire to seize dramatic opportunities – or find moments for the characters. For instance, one example from last year that comes to mind was his suggestion of adding the hug between FIVE and the Android in Episode 108. It wasn’t in the script and seemed like such a little addition and yet, in retrospect, it turned into such a beautiful beat between the two.
So that was Jay’s pre-birthday: pizza, wings, celery, a surprisingly delicious white birthday cake, and script notes!
No surprise party for me on this day, but that’s okay. It’ll make it even MORE surprising when they spring one on me NEXT week!