Amber Hall sat in the back booth of the small diner, her eyes lost in the black cup of coffee she had been staring at for the last half-hour. The twenty-three year old had a big problem and felt she had to get out of her apartment to think about it.
"Well how's my favorite television star doing today?" the tall black waitress asked as she walked back to the short-haired blond with a fresh pot of coffee in her hand.
The dark-skinned twenty-one-year-old looked down at the untouched cup of coffee sitting on the table and knew something was wrong. Amber had been coming into the dinner for the last six months, ever since she had gotten her role on the hit show, "Angie O'Neil". It had been the young woman's big break, landing the role of Cynthia Pennington, one of Angie's office girls. She had been almost a total unknown at the time; with only a few guest shots to her credit.
"What's wrong, girlfriend?" Heather Cox said as she sat down on the opposite side of the booth.
Amber and her had struck up a camaraderie of sorts over the last months. Especially since Heather had aspirations of becoming an actress herself, majoring in drama at the local University. Despite her success, Amber was still a small town girl at heart and welcomed the younger woman's friendship.
Heather knew her boss wouldn't complain if she took a little break, it wasn't busy this time of day. Besides even if old man Robinson had a problem with her talking some time to talk to Amber, he wouldn't get on Heather's case about it. Not when Heather knew all there was to know about how he was doing the nasty with Mildred Wilson, the cook he had hired a few months back. No, he'd never take the chance of his wife even getting a suspicion of something like that. Especially when there were all those sharp utensils in the kitchen.
"They didn't cancel the show, did they?" Heather asked, thinking that might be the cause of Amber's depression.
If the Network had canceled the show, Heather would've been greatly surprised. Angie O'Neil had been the surprise hit of the year. Written off at first as just another office drama, it had burst out of the mold to become a solid top ten show.
"No, but I think they're going to cancel me." the dejected girl said.
"Why?" Heather asked, visibly concerned for her friend.
"Because I screwed up at rehearsal today." Amber said. "And I heard the director say if I did it when we taped it tomorrow, he'd give my part to someone else."
"He told you that?" the younger girl asked.
"Not directly, but I overheard him telling the producer."
"Well what was the big screw up?" the drama student asked.
"Well, I guess I'd better start from the beginning." Amber said, thankful to have someone to talk to about it. "You know how important sweeps weeks are to a Television Show, right?"
Heather nodded her head in understanding. A sweeps week was a benchmark for shows ratings. The viewership numbers they got during sweeps set the amount they could charge for commercial time. And after all, making money for the Network was what television was all about.
"And you know how a lot of shows pull out all the stops to get people to watch. Especially when they are on against another popular show, which of course is doing to same thing to draw the numbers."
"Sure, I understand all that." Heather said.
"Well, Angie O'Neil is no different. They found out that two of the other Networks were going to run an all out effort to knock Angie right into last place during sweeps next week. They had a meeting a couple of days ago and decided that our original story for next week wasn't a big enough rating booster. So instead they announced they were going to have a storyline where Angie kisses one of the girl's in the office."
"You have to be kidding." Heather almost groaned.
The girl/girl kiss was becoming more and more frequent on Network TV. It had made an appearance on both Roseanne and LA Law, and most recently three appearances on Ally McBeal. Almost now a cliché, it was nevertheless almost always a ratings booster. Especially if it was two good-looking women doing the kissing.
The Networks were always saying they put things like that into programs to push the envelope and show how tolerant they were. How they weren't just appealing to what she considered juvenile male sexual fantasies. Heather would believe the Network boasts when they put two leading men making out on a prime time show.
"No, I'm not kidding," Amber said. "And guess whose character they picked to have Angie lip lock with."
Just her asking the question gave Heather the answer. If the producers were going to use a gimmick like that to draw viewers, then picking Amber was the first thing she agreed with them on. Amber Hall was, in her opinion, the most attractive girl on the show.
"And you didn't want to do the scene?"
"Quite the contrary," the actress said with an excitement in her voice. "I almost jumped for joy when they told me. Think about it for a moment. I'd be the center of attention for almost the entire episode."
Actual on screen time was something every actor and actress was always conscious of.
"So what happened?" a now confused Heather asked.
"Actual filming for the episode doesn't really start until tomorrow, but they scheduled a dress rehearsal for today. Just to see how the kiss scene would play out."
"And the dress rehearsal?" Heather asked.
"Turned into a disaster, at least for me." Amber said. "Everything was going great, I had my lines down pat and was right on my marks. I have to say, I had some really great scenes too."
Heather could see in Amber's eyes how important this all was to her.
"Then came the big moment, Angie and I looked into each other's eyes, her hand took mine and then ... I started laughing."
"Laughing?" Heather repeated.
"Giggling actually," the blond said. "Loud, uncontrollable giggling."
Heather responded by giggling herself.
"I'm sorry, Amber." she apologized. "I can't help it. I just never expected you to say that."
"At first, the director took it in stride, saying that sometimes it happened, especially when you were doing a love scene. But after the fourth and fifth try, I could tell he was getting pretty annoyed."
"What was the matter?"
"I don't know. I just couldn't look at Kate and seriously think, now I'm going to kiss her and not laugh."
Kate Douglas, an attractive 44 year old, played Angie O'Neil in the series.
"I apologized over and over, but the producer said it had been a long day and we might as well wrap it up. That we'd start fresh in the morning."
Heather could now see frustration in the older girl's eyes.
"After everyone else had left, I went back onto the set to think about it. The producer and the director were sitting there talking about my performance, or lack of it. I heard them say they should make some alternate changes in the script to make Monique the girl who winds up kissing Angie - just in case."
Monique St. George played Virginia Brooks on the series, Cynthia's main rival in the office.
"I also heard them say if I couldn't pull off a simple scene like this, then maybe they made a mistake hiring someone with my inexperience."
"That's not good." Heather said.
"No it's not." Amber admitted.
"So what are you going to do about it?"
"I don't know." the actress said with an air of finality.
The two women sat there in silence for a few moments as each tried to think of something more to say.
"You know, I feel pretty silly offering you advice about acting..." Heather started to say.
"Go ahead, cause I'm at a dead end." Amber interrupted.
"Well in acting class they said that you should always use what you know to improve your performance."
"I've been told the same thing." Amber said. "But I don't get your point."
"Lets look at it another way," Heather said. "You remember that movie you were in, what was it called, Sorority Girl's Pool Party?"
Amber cringed. That B Film had been her first screen credit. A low budget tit and ass film, the kind that played in drive ins and drew teen boys and couples looking for a make out movie.
"I'd rather forget that." Amber grinned.
"The point is, you had a love scene in that movie." the waitress said. "As I remember it, a rather hot love scene."
Amber thought back to when she was making that film. She had been hesitant about doing that scene, especially because the script called for her to appear topless. It wasn't that she had a bad body, actually the reverse was true. The twenty-year-old was just nervous about showing off her breasts to thousands of moviegoers.
The movie producers were quick to point out that if she didn't want the role, there were literally a thousand unemployed young actresses that did. The final bit of advice that made her do it came from an older actress on the film.
"Honey," she'd said. "When you take your bra off, trust me, no one is going to be looking at or going to remember your face."
"I still don't get your point?" Amber said.
"Well you didn't seem to be giggling when you lost your blouse and made out with that guy playing your boyfriend." Heather noted. "How did you manage that?"
"I made believe I was making out with my real boyfriend at the time." she answered.
"Bingo, you used what you knew." Heather smiled.
"But I could hardly make believe Kate is my boyfriend." Amber insisted.
Heather hadn't considered that. When she pictured Kate Douglas in her mind, she'd be hard pressed to think of her as a man either.
.... There is more of this story ...