Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Lou Ferrigno And The Harley Hulkout


Episode 24

MannyPerry - Hulk Stunt Double
The enormous Green Man is cornered on a forest road. A gang of badass bikers charges him on thundering steeds of steel. But The Incredible Hulk swats them away like so many puny fighter pilots trying to strafe King Kong.

Insane with rage the Biker Chieftain hurtles toward the Hulk, flanked by his Number Two man. The engines of their big Harleys roaring, drowning out even the bellows of defiance from The Incredible Hulk.

But the infuriated Hulk doesn’t back down. He grabs up a huge log. Turns it sideways, ready to sweep the bikers off their charging machines.

And then... and then...

It all goes horribly wrong, and the bikers smash into the log, the Hulk goes reeling back and the director shouts: "Cut! Cut! Fucking cut, goddamnit!"

Then everybody is running, shouting, "Manny, Manny, you okay Manny?"

You’re probably asking yourself a couple of questions right now. Like who the hell is Manny? Why weren’t they shouting, "Lou, Lou, are you alright Lou?" After all, it was Lou Ferrigno who played the Incredible Hulk, right?


But Lou didn’t do his own stunts. The guy who actually crashed through buildings, jumped off cliffs, and generally beat the hell out of the bad guys, was Manny Perry, one of the premier bodybuilders and stunt men of his era. He was also black.

It seems they cast seventy or eighty guys to stand in for Lou, but only Manny was big enough to double Ferrigno and athletic enough to do the stunts. As Manny once told an interviewer, "They figured green is green and who could tell the difference?" (If you want to know more about Manny Perry - a helluva guy - check out his site.)

Lou Could Really Roar
Okay, we’ve all got that straight now, right? A big black dude played the big green dude when something dangerous was going on. When everything was cool and safe as pie again, Lou would take off his robe for his closeup, flex his mighty muscles, take the cue and roar into the camera.

Second question you are surely asking yourself: What the hell was happening in that scene?

It was like this. When it came time to do the charging motorcycle gag, Manny took Lou's position on the forest road. They put a big damned Mitchell (a big damned movie camera) right behind him to catch the action over his shoulder when the bikers charged. Other cameras were strategically placed to get the wide shots.

Step one: Manny picks up the log as the bikers charge. Now, the script says they are going to hit the log, which will break as they go flying into the bushes. Then the director will shout "Cut" and Lou will shed his robe and take Manny’s place to do the above-mentioned flexing and roaring.

Only thing is: (a) The log is supposed to be scored nearly through so it will break at the slightest pressure. And, (b) the bikers are supposed to hit their mark, stopping just in time so no heavy contact occurs.

None of that happened. The log wasn’t scored anywhere near enough, plus the stunt bikers missed their marks and slammed into the log full force, knocking poor Manny back so his head hit the fucking Mitchell.

Ouch, and double ouch. In fact, it’s the Incredible Hulk of all ouches.

Fortunately, Manny wasn’t hurt and they were able to re-shoot the scene. But if you ever watch the episode, look closely and you’ll see that they left some of the accident footage in because it was so - well, realistic, I guess is the best way to put it.

Now, a lot more things went wrong with that episode, titled "Long Run Home" and written by me and Chris. It was a good script and a great episode - everybody said so. But, as they say, there’s many a skid between the bike and the road.


"You’re gonna lose this car gag, guys," Al Godfrey said.

Godfrey was one of our producer/ mentors and the car gag in question was a scene in the above-mentioned script. We were a little anxious and Godfrey was kindly taking a break from his Show Runner chores on Quincy, M.E. to peruse our first draft.

"What’s wrong with the scene?" I asked, puzzled as hell.

I mean, this was supposed to be a simple little bit of fun in the second act when a pissed off Hulk bangs heads with some bad ass bikers in an auto wrecking yard. Going after a biker, he hammers the hood of an old heap, which is smashed to suitably smither, smithereens.

"Too expensive," Godfrey said. He flipped pages of our script. "You’ve got a borderline budget breaker as it is. The car hood gag will fatten it even more."

"How can it be too expensive? Chris wanted to know. "It’s supposed to be an old junker to begin with. Says so in the script. And the breakaway hood should be no sweat. I mean, there’s more rust than paint."

"Yeah," I said, having been saddled with many junkers in my youth and confident in the cost estimates. "Couldn’t cost more than fifty dollars for the car."

Godfrey sighed that weary sigh he gave when dealing just as patiently as he could with green horns like me and Chris. "Guys," he said, "in the film business there is no such thing as a fifty dollar anything. Especially a fucking car. Be it an elderly junker, or otherwise. You have to buy the heap from some old retired Teamster - there’s three or four in town who do that kind of thing. And they are gods in their union who will want several thousand dollars for the junker."

We were incredulous. "Come on," I said. "Several thousand dollars?"

Godfrey shrugged. "If you go to an actual wrecking yard for the car you might save money in the short run, but in the long run you are going to piss off the Teamsters. Before they are through, they’ll ass drag your show to the tune of many hours of double golden overtime."

Now it was our turn to sigh. Chris said, "Shit." Ran a hand through his hair. "Okay, we’ll lose the car gag."

"No, no," Godfrey said. "Leave it in."

We gaped at him. "But you said to scrap the scene," Chris said.

Godfrey shook his head. "No, I said you were gonna lose the gag. I didn’t say take it out." He thumped the script. "It’s a good first draft. They are going to love it. But, take it from me, it is in a producer’s nature to fuck with things. So you need to leave them something to fuck with. In other words, leave the scene in so they can get all happy and say take it out, and it’ll be a lot less work for you in the long run."

After making Godfrey’s suggested fixes, we took the script to Jeff Freilich. He’d wanted an early look because he was new in the producing game, and besides, he’d brought us onto the show.

Jeff was an editor of the picayune variety. Fussing over typos and misplaced punctuation marks. This is when we first thought of him as "The EatAnter." He reminded us of the character in the old comic strip who was very smart but wasted his smarts whining about teeny things. Jeff also had a habit of making suggestions that not only took you nowhere but fattened a script he already said needed to be cut.

The meeting, however, was fairly brief. And Jeff was well satisfied.

Especially after he’d told us to take out the car gag. "Too expensive," he said.

Okay, the EatAnter was happy, just like Godfrey had predicted. Onward and upward to the rest of the production staff. Nick Corea was the main man - after Ken Johnson. And it was he who had made the pretty good tale we had pitched him into something way more than pretty good.

Nick was one of the best story men I have ever met. He’d sat there with us for nearly two hours, tearing the story apart, then helping us put it back together again, suggesting interesting twists and turns.

The Socratic Bixby
He’d also coached us on David Banner’s dialogue. Bill Bixby saw his character as Socratic - he asked questions, rather than making statements. Drawing out others to make the points. If we did it right, Nick advised us, "You'll add more dimension - depth - to the scenes."

Bixby's methods also shone the spotlight on the guest stars, which is one reason so many fine actors ended up appearing on a show about a comic book hero. It was also damned generous of Bixby. Most stars want the light flooding over them, not the guest stars.

Like I said before, the way most actors read a script is "My line, my line, bullshit, bullshit, my line, bullshit, my line."

The late Bill Bixby was not known for being an easy guy to get along with, but in that area, he was the king of hearts.

The crux of our story - Long Run Home - was sort of a 60 minute modern version of the Odyssey, except where Homer had a God-tormented hero on a ship, we had an angst-ridden biker on a Harley chopper. After a chance encounter, David Banner joins him in his quest for self-knowledge. Meanwhile, the biker’s former outlaw brothers pursue him like so many demons perched over red-flamed peanut gas tanks.

Okay, so Nick liked our script. Karen Harris and Jill Sherman Donner liked it. And I suppose Ken Johnson did as well, otherwise, I would not be telling this tale.

Before we left the final meeting, Chris had a warning for Nick. "I assume you’re gonna use real Harleys right?" he said.

Nick nodded. "No self-respecting outlaw biker would ride a rice burner," he replied.

"That's great," Chris said. "But watch out for one thing: there’s a scene in the script that has the gang roar away from a bar in pursuit of our heroes."

Nick nodded again, he recalled the scene. "What’s to worry about?"

The Tree That Wouldn't Break
"Harleys really are hogs, just like their nickname. They sound great, but they leak oil on the garage floor, and worst of all - they are a bitch to start. Sometimes you can boot them over with one kick, but other times you can kick yourself blue in the face and they still won’t start."

"No electric starters," Nick said. I knew that. So what?"

"So don’t let the director get all artsy fartsy and try to get the whole thing in one continuous shot," Chris said. "It will be a temptation. Bikers come running out. Jump on their bikes and roar away in unison."

There were few people - especially in Hollywood - who knew as much about bikes as Chris. At one time he wrote for - or edited - all the top bike magazines - from Big Bike, to Chopper Magazine, to Easy Rider. And he also knew all the outlaw gangs as well as their leaders in both North America and Europe. In short, when he spoke of two-wheeled motor monstrosities and bike gangs, it was best to listen.

Nick listened. He said. "I see where we could get royally fucked. Everybody takes off except one or two guys who are hopping up and down, kicking at the starters like clowns until the fucking sun goes down and the fucking stars come out to shine."

"You fucking got it," Chris said.

And we left, well satisfied.


Come the week of the shoot - things started going to shit on Day One.

The director of the episode was Frank Orsatti, Bill Bixby’s stunt double. Mainly known as a stuntman and stunt coordinator, Orsatti went apeshit with the opening sequence of Act One. In it, cops raid a bikers' camp, with shots fired and much squealing of tires, and bikes going this way and that, and pebbles and dirt splashing the (hooded) camera lens. Mr. Orsatti was a passionate man when it came to action and he shot the hell out of the scene. Take after take. Close up after close up.

In short, he ate up all the time in the day, which meant there would be less time for the other scenes in our story. It was a six-day shoot and with the seventh day costing double golden time for all unions concerned, there would be a day of rest decreed from the Black Tower. Shoot the sucker in six or look for a career in some other town. And if you wanted to stay in show business maybe - just maybe - they'd let you work at the circus cleaning up behind the elephants.

Okay, then we get to the bit where the Hulk confronts the bikers with a log and with time running short it was surprising that other stunts were not fucked up and that Manny only got a bruised noggin from being conked on the head by a camera.

Another screw up for lack of time to think things through was the dramatic end shot (things are generally filmed out of order in TV and movies), when the exiled biker chieftain - and Banner’s new best friend - shows his disdain for his former life by burning his Originals - his jacket with the nifty biker brotherhood patch on the back.

Although the costume directions called for the jacket to be an oil-soaked never washed rag, the jacket was, in fact, typically Hollywood clean. When the renegade biker chieftain tried to set it on fire with his cigarette lighter nothing happened. Not even a wisp of smoke.

Orsatti had somebody squirt lighter fluid on the sucker.

Nope. No go. Maybe a weeny bit of darkish smoke. But no flames.

Then he had somebody douse the jacket with gasoline and when the lighter was applied a huge ball of flame burst out, eliminating the actor’s eyebrows and eyelashes. (Make-up reapplied them every day after that until the end of the shoot.)

Finally, the jacket burning was put off for another day when they could do a controlled shoot on the Universal lot. Then insert it into the film. This is what they usually do in similar circumstances, but the director had his "vision," you know?

The last day of the shoot they made the ultimate fuck up. Remember Chris’ warning about the difficulty of kicking over a Harley? Yeah, you got it. They didn’t listen.

Actually, it was the director who didn’t listen because Nick Corea had passed along the warning, underlining it to make sure. But Orsatti was an old stuntman in real life and knew better than Chris-Effing-Bunch about motorcycles and such.

Intent on making his Grand Artistic Statement, he ordered a wide shot as the greasy biker gang slammed out of the bar. There must have been twenty of them. And, lined up in front of the bar, twenty chopped Harleys awaited their masters.

As one, the gang members leap aboard their mechanical steeds.

As one, they lift heavy boots, then slam them down on the starters.

Only two go Va-room. The rest just go Ka-chuff.


They do it again - starting with the gang coming out of the bar so the director could do it in one smooth artistic take.

Hop aboard. Boots down in unison.

Maybe six va-room. The rest more or less go Ka-chuff.

"Cut! Cut! Cut!"



To shorten the wait time - you have to set up, or at least check, the lights and sound levels with each go - they shoot the gang coming out of the bar. Cut. Then Another Angle and another shot as the gang members hit the bikes and boot the starter.

Finally - after many, many takes - all but one bike starts and the gang thunders away, leaving one poor slob back at the bar, kicking and kicking and kicking and kicking. Ka-chuff. Ka-chuff. Ka-chuff.

In the end, the sequence was re-staged with Chris' warning in mind, and with a little editing, it all came together so you wouldn’t know that anything ever went wrong.

But that wasn’t the end of it.

Some months later, at season’s end, we were invited to the Wrap Party. There was me and Chris, his new girlfriend, Karen Eisenberg (who would remain with him until his final days) and my wife, Kathryn, Chris’ sister.

The Hulk company took over one side of a huge sound stage and we had music and loud talk and laughter, and good food and good booze and good company. All the stars were there: Bixby, Lou and so on. Also the various guest stars from throughout the season, and the crew and other cast members. Hot rods from the network and the studio. Nick, Karen, Jill, Jeff, Ken Johnson, and everybody down to the secretaries and the story editors.

We had a great time and at bash's end, the lights darkened and they showed a reel of bloopers from the season. All the things that went wrong that in retrospect were humorous.

Ka-Chuff! Ka-Chuff!
Of the twenty-two episodes that appeared that season, they started with ours: the bikers coming out of the bar scene. Jump on the bikes. Boots stomping on starters in unison. Some bikes starting. Some bikes futzing.

The audience goes ha, ha.

More bloopers shown from other episodes.

Then return to the biker scene. All the bikes but one, roar off. The remaining guy kicks and kicks and kicks.

Tight on the kicking. More ha, ha's.

More bloopers shown..

Back to Tight on the kicking. The ha's are getting louder and louder.

More bloopers, until we come to the end.

Last shot: Boot kicking Harley starter. Ka-chuff. Ka-chuff.

And then, finally, we hear the biker groan: "Fuck me!"

The laughter was - well... Incredible.




Can't wait to read the blog each week to find out what happens next? No problem. Click the following link and buy the book. 

Tales Sometimes Tall, but always true, of Allan Cole's years in Hollywood with his late partner, Chris Bunch. How a naked lady almost became our first agent. How we survived La-La Land with only the loss of half our brain cells. How Bunch & Cole became the ultimate Fix-It Boys. How an alleged Mafia Don was very, very good to us. The guy who cornered the market on movie rocks. Andy Warhol's Fire Extinguisher. The Real Stars Of Hollywood. Why they don't make million dollar movies. See The Seven Pi$$ing Dwarfs. Learn: how to kill a "difficult" actor… And much, much more.

Here's where you can buy it worldwide in both paperback and Kindle editions:

U.S. .............................................France
United Kingdom ...........................Spain
Canada ........................................ Italy
Germany ..................................... Japan
Brazil .......................................... India

Hear voice artist Colin Hussey's 
Bring all the stories and people 
To life in the audiobook version
Of My Hollywood MisAdventures.



Ever since my British publisher put all eight novels in the Sten series in three omnibus editions, American readers have been clamoring for equal treatment. 

Well, my American publisher – Wildside Books – was listening has issued all three omnibus volumes on this side of the Atlantic. Here are the links to buy the books:

THE TIMURA TRILOGY: When The Gods Slept, Wolves Of The Gods and The Gods Awaken. This best selling fantasy series now available as trade paperbacks, e-books (in all varieties) and as audiobooks. Visit The Timura Trilogy page for links to all the editions. 

NEWLY REVISED KINDLE EDITIONS OF THE TIMURA TRILOGY NOW AVAILABLE. (1) When The Gods Slept;(2) Wolves Of The Gods; (3) The Gods Awaken.


A NATION AT WAR WITH ITSELF: In Book Three Of The Shannon Trilogy, young Patrick Shannon is the heir-apparent to the Shannon fortune, but murder and betrayal at a family gathering send him fleeing into the American frontier, with only the last words of a wise old woman to arm him against what would come. And when the outbreak of the Civil War comes he finds himself fighting on the opposite side of those he loves the most. In The Wars Of The Shannons we see the conflict, both on the battlefield and the homefront, through the eyes of Patrick and the members of his extended Irish-American family as they struggle to survive the conflict that ripped the new nation apart, and yet, offered a dim beacon of hope.



A True Story About A Boy,
A Teacher, And Earthquake,
Some Terrorists And The CIA

LUCKY IN CYPRUS is a coming-of-age story set in the Middle East during the height of the Cold War. An American teenager – son of a CIA operative – is inspired by grand events and a Greek Cypriot teacher. 

He witnesses earthquakes and riots and terrorist attacks, but in the end it is his teacher’s gentle lessons that keep him whole.

Here's where to get the paperback & Kindle editions worldwide: 

Here's what readers say about Lucky In Cyprus:
  • "Bravo, Allan! When I finished Lucky In Cyprus I wept." - Julie Mitchell, Hot Springs, Texas
  • "Lucky In Cyprus brought back many memories... A wonderful book. So many shadows blown away!" - Freddy & Maureen Smart, Episkopi,Cyprus. 
  • "... (Reading) Lucky In Cyprus has been a humbling, haunting, sobering and enlightening experience..." - J.A. Locke,



What if the Cold War never ended -- but continued for a thousand years? Best-selling authors Allan Cole (an American) and Nick Perumov (a Russian) spin a mesmerizing "what if?" tale set a thousand years in the future, as an American and a Russian super-soldier -- together with a beautiful American detective working for the United Worlds Police -- must combine forces to defeat a secret cabal ... and prevent a galactic disaster! This is the first - and only - collaboration between American and Russian novelists. Narrated by John Hough. Click the title links below for the trade paperback and kindle editions. (Also available at iTunes.)


A novel by Allan and his daughter, Susan

After laboring as a Doctors Without Borders physician in the teaming refugee camps and minefields of South Asia, Dr. Ann Donovan thought she'd seen Hell as close up as you can get. And as a fifth generation CIA brat, she thought she knew all there was to know about corruption and betrayal. But then her father - a legendary spymaster - shows up, with a ten-year-old boy in tow. A brother she never knew existed. Then in a few violent hours, her whole world is shattered, her father killed and she and her kid brother are one the run with hell hounds on their heels. They finally corner her in a clinic in Hawaii and then all the lies and treachery are revealed on one terrible, bloody storm- ravaged night.

BASED ON THE CLASSIC STEN SERIES by Allan Cole & Chris Bunch: Fresh from their mission to pacify the Wolf Worlds, Sten and his Mantis Team encounter a mysterious ship that has been lost among the stars for thousands of years. At first, everyone aboard appears to be long dead. Then a strange Being beckons, pleading for help. More disturbing: the presence of AM2, a strategically vital fuel tightly controlled by their boss - The Eternal Emperor. They are ordered to retrieve the remaining AM2 "at all costs." But once Sten and his heavy worlder sidekick, Alex Kilgour, board the ship they must dare an out of control defense system that attacks without warning as they move through dark warrens filled with unimaginable horrors. When they reach their goal they find that in the midst of all that death are the "seeds" of a lost civilization. 



Venice Boardwalk Circa 1969
In the depths of the Sixties and The Days Of Rage, a young newsman, accompanied by his pregnant wife and orphaned teenage brother, creates a Paradise of sorts in a sprawling Venice Beach community of apartments, populated by students, artists, budding scientists and engineers lifeguards, poets, bikers with  a few junkies thrown in for good measure. The inhabitants come to call the place “Pepperland,” after the Beatles movie, “Yellow Submarine.” Threatening this paradise is  "The Blue Meanie,"  a crazy giant of a man so frightening that he eventually even scares himself.

No comments:

Post a Comment