December 03, 2004 03:14am
George Kaplan: Rebuilt. Rested. Ready To Write.
by: Tod Hunter
Tod Hunter Interviews Fozzi:
George Kaplan, who has written scores of adult video scripts and acted in quite a few as well ("I play a lot of cops."), is well on his way to full recovery from a heart attack and quintuple-bypass surgery in mid-August. We talked about the surgery, the aftermath, and his readiness to write for adult - but not act, not yet - and his mainstream projects in a recent conversation.
George Kaplan: "I was in Vegas the beginning of the month for a friend's 50th birthday and was having pains in my arms and in my hands. Now I have had discs in my neck and these were similar pains and I attributed it to the discs in the neck. Without having a clue what it really was. The morning of the day I had the heart attack -- and I did have a heart attack -- I was at my doctor's, for a long-overdue blood check, I said, you know, I want to get checked out for diabetes, because I 'm huge, you know, the whole panel. And he said, "Fine." and I told him about these pains, and again, you know, it's gotta be the disc in the neck, so I think he suggested, well, you know, you need to get an MRI and whatever and we'll wait and get the test results back. So then later in the day, went to dinner with my friend, Wayne Hentai...
Tod Hunter: Of HentaiPR.com?
George Kaplan: Yes, and of all places to go we went to Claim Jumpers, I think I had the monster size prime rib, and I wolfed that down and of course, I thought I was being very good, I passed on the baked potato and got the rice...
Tod Hunter: All right.
George Kaplan: Yeah, I said "Can you bring me some au jus on the side that I can put on the rice?" So the sodium content was huge...
Tod Hunter: Right
George Kaplan: And then, of course, they go "Would you like some dessert?" and I went, no, I don't want the seven-story layer chocolate cake
Tod Hunter: With the whole pecans on the outside?
George Kaplan: Of course, I think the first time we went there I got the cake and I only ate about a quarter of it and brought the rest home and I brought the rest of the dinner home, because I didn't finish the prime rib that evening.
And as we're getting in the car the pains in the arms start again and I'm going, "Oh this is ridiculous." the neck was bothering me as well, so I had the neck brace and I'm trying to sleep with the neck brace and it's, like, absolutely absurd. Well, as the evening progressed the pains were pretty much the same for the whole evening, no chest pains at all. And I said "Oh, maybe if I get in the hot shower it will relax the muscles and the neck and the whole thing and maybe it will go away..." and, I did that twice that evening.
Tod Hunter: So you were very clean.
George Kaplan: Yes, I was extremely clean, and somewhere in between I finished up the half pound of prime rib from earlier in the evening. About midnight, that's when I started to get chest pains, so I called my friend, Wayne Hentai -- of HentaiPR.com -- and call him up and he goes what's wrong and I go [breathy voice] "I think I have to go to a hospital" and he says "Which one?" and I go [breathy voice]"Kaiser takes too long, let's go to West Hills."
So we get in his tin can on wheels and he takes me over to the hospital, it's about midnight, and I actually walked into the ER. I was looking down, I could not lift my head, my arms are down at my sides. I have a vague memory of the doctor, who turns out to be the cardiologist, sitting there and he goes "What's wrong?" and I went [breathy voice] "I'm having trouble breathing" and I remember nothing until I woke up in ICU the next day, where I am hooked up to a morphine and nitro drip, they're trying to stabilize me.
I'm quickly trying to organize everything, I got Wayne to help out and another friend to help out, being the communications department, making sure people knew what was going on. It took them three days to get me stabilized and they did the tests, and they did an echocardiogram, I think they did the catheter to get a better idea of the heart. They determined that I had three occluded arteries which means that the arteries were so clogged that they couldn't clean them out, they had to do a bypass.
Tod Hunter: This is three out of five, right?
George Kaplan: I've heard of people having as many as seven. So they didn't know until they opened me up on the table that there were two more arteries that were clogged. They harvested a vein out of my left leg and re-wired me. I wake up the next day, my pulse ox is 98%, which means oxygen is getting to important parts of my body.
The worst part of the whole thing is coughing. Because if you don't get the fluid out of your lungs you can get pneumonia, which I can understand because the air conditioning in the room, well, you could hang meat in my room. That was the worst part. They take a sheet and they fold it up real compact and they tape it and when you cough you have to hold that thing to your chest because you've just had your...you've had a rib spreader in there and, you've seen enough medical shows, you have a vague idea of what they've done.
Tod Hunter: So while you're coughing, you've got to hold yourself together?
George Kaplan: Exactly. Plus, the way the beds are made, the mattresses have plastic covers on them, so even if you're in the bed you're sliding, and you don't have the strength to pull yourself up so you have to buzz for the nurse, and they have to send in a couple of people.
Tod Hunter: You have to say "Gimme a boost"?
George Kaplan: Exactly.
They try to get you, at least, sitting up the first day. And dangle. Get your ass up and sit up, get in a sitting position. The hardest part of the time in the hospital - it was two weeks and two days, extended out over the Labor Day weekend. Sitting in a chair takes on a whole new meaning when you're in that situation. You need to sit up in a chair...
Tod Hunter: It's easier to breathe, isn't it?
George Kaplan: You would think so.
Tod Hunter: I did think so.
George Kaplan: That's part of it, but also your body has to re-acclimate itself and get back to normal. That took some doing, because I was so anemic they were giving me an iron drip. They did that so they wouldn't have to give me a transfusion. You would sit up for meals, and you're so doped up...
Tod Hunter: More prime rib?
George Kaplan: I was surprised: At one point they gave me a piece of fried chicken. Cash [Markman] and Julie came by that day and he asked "What did they give you for lunch?" and he takes off the cover and says "That's fried chicken. Are they nuts?" I had no appetite. So far I've lost 40 pounds. I lost most of it that first two weeks. I was on IVs. The prospect of eating was alien to me.
The nice thing about [the heart attack] was that a lot of people came to the hospital, which is really great. My friends were great. I got calls from all my cousins. My aunt in Florida, before the big hurricane hit. That Sunday I'm watching footage on the TV of Lake Worth, Florida, where my aunt lives, and I asked her, "You're asking me how I'm doing?"
Tod Hunter: This is why I got your machine when I called.
George Kaplan: Yeah. All the people at the hospital, the nursing staff, the physical therapists, were really great. I only had trouble with one nurse, a night nurse. The last night I was there, I got the perfect nurse. This guy knew how to put in an Iv without killing you. At one point, I started to get phlebitis in my wrist from the way they put the Iv in, and I was in a lot of pain. This guy comes in, and I'm prepared for the worst, and we're talking, and then he goes "Okay" and he gets up and I say "Aren't you going to do it?" and I look down and the IV is in. I asked him "Where have you been for the last two weeks?"
So they send me home. They give me the walker, they give me this thing so I don't have to stand up in the shower and it's too big. I'm not showering yet, I'm doing spongebaths. The next day, Jim Enright and his lovely wife Shanna McCullough come by to help me get my prescriptions filled, and I'm telling them what's wrong with this shower thing. We get to Walgreens and I'm hanging on to the cart in lieu of the walker, and it's exhausting, We were there maybe 40 minutes, and I was sitting for 25 of them. They found me a thing that did fit in the tub, and the stuff that I needed. I should take him whenever I go shopping. He can really find a bargain. He put the thing together, he puts it in my tub, then they both went through my cabinets and my fridge and they took everything out of here I couldn't eat. I was on the macaroni and cheese diet before the heart attack. He sees all the boxes, says "The boys will like that," he throws them in the trunk. "Coke. Great." He took it all.
So I start the long road to recovery. People ask "What exercises did they give you?" I say "Walking." Walking from my apartment down to the lobby to get the mail is about the circuit of the nurses' station at the hospital. After the first week, I could get downstairs without the walker. Scared the hell out of everyone. "Where's the walker?" I've been improving rapidily.
They had me on Prozac. Apparently this is standard operating procedure for heart patients like me with a sudden onset of myocardial infarction. People ask me how I lost so much weight. I tell them "Myocardial infarction diet. Not recommended."
Tod Hunter: Very effective, though.
George Kaplan: Very effective. But not recommended. I don't think I've weighed this little in about 20 years. Not a very proud thing to admit to.
The first time I came back, I asked the surgeon, "Do I have to keep taking the Prozac?"
"If you don't need it, no."
I said "Good." I have such a great support system in place, friends and family, that I wasn't depressed. Also, I couldn't function, all I could do is lie in bed and watch television, which I had been doing for two weeks and two days already.
Tod Hunter: God bless Turner Classic Movies.
George Kaplan: Exactly. Sci-Fi, and Turner Classic. Thank God for the Farscape marathon.
Tod Hunter: And Tuesdays and Wednesdays with the musicals.
George Kaplan: Exactly. It got me through. So here it is almost three months later, considerably healthier, watching what I'm eating. I was lazy, I admit it. I cook now. My sister, God bless her, sent me the Healthy Heart Cookbook. I sat down, went through it, tagged a bunch of things. I found a recipe for beef stroganoff that is really good. I've been invited to a friend's for Thanksgiving, I sent her two recipes for gravy and I just found one for pumpkin pie, and told her "Get the fat-free Cool Whip, we'll be okay."
All my clothes now fit, better than they ever have. The blue jeans I'm wearing right now I was about to send to Goodwill, because they were a little tight in the thigh. Not any more. I put my sport coat on, and it not only fits, but there's room in there now.
I've done a little work. I've done a couple of voiceover scripts for Laurent [Sky], and I just finished up a script for Enright, for Wicked, we hope will go. Finally getting my brains back, and getting back to work on the sci-fi series. I've got seven episodes completed, with the pilot. We're getting it out there. Dwight Schultz' business manager, because Dwight is involved, and hopefully will be in the show.
Tod Hunter: He was the guy on the A-Team, right?
George Kaplan: Yeah, and Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Voyager, too.
Years ago, I worked as a temp for Mary Jo Slater, and they were doing re-casting on Babylon 5. They had all these guys come in. Ben Murphy, and a Martinez, and Michael Beck, and Bob Foxworth, it was really great. I'm in the lobby and I'm dealing with these guys and we're just chatting away. And Dwight was one of the guys who came in. And he's really into the UFO conspiracy theories, and the whole nine yards. I was working on a novel about Area 51 at the time, and we got into really great conversations, and I always remembered that.
So I'm writing this show, and I have this character who's this Dutch scientist who runs ForTech, which stands for "Foreign Technology," which is a military term, and the actual ForTech was at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and it was put together during World War II so if they got any captured German equipment, they could see how it worked...
Tod Hunter: Reverse-engineer it?
George Kaplan: Exactly. So this character runs ForTech at Area 51, underground. Level 10. I was putting together a wish list for casting, and I tracked down his representative, and I said "Here's what I'm doing, I think Dwight would be great for this, here's my e-mail address, I need a headshot, yada yada yada..." I get an e-mail from Dwight, saying "I'm represented by so-and-so, and here's my number."
I went, "Okay," and I called him. Relate to him how I know him, and I've got this project, and would you like to read it? He says, "Absolutely." I e-mail it to him that night, and I get up the next morning, about 7:30, and there's an e-mail from him saying "Great script, great project, Use me, please use me." I went "Okay."
51 is written for the fans. I am a fan. The old thing, don't write anything you wouldn't pay to see yourself. It's more than science fiction. The pitch line was "The flip side of the X-Files, with a little Close Encounters, CSI:, the Prisoner, and a little Indiana Jones thrown in for good measure. So it's actually sci-fi-high-adventure. Stargate SV-1 is sci-fi-high-adventure. It's that same genre. There are instances where we go off the base, and we go to far-flung places on Earth. It's an Earth-bound show, but some time in the future, if it goes, we'll get out into space, do fun stuff.
Tod Hunter: Purple rocks, orange cyc?
George Kaplan: I like the old Outer Limits episode with the talking rocks. Robert Culp and Salome Jens, but that's a whole other story, we're getting too far afield.
Remember the movie she did when she was the evangelist?
Tod Hunter: No.
George Kaplan: Let me check IMDB. There it is. Angel Baby.
Tod Hunter: Are you in there?
George Kaplan: Let me check. Holy crap! Look at that. That's just the acting. Jeez, how many do they have listed? Ernest Saves Christmas? I wasn't in that.
Here's one, "also known as George Kaplan's South by Southeast and a Little To the Left." They actually put it up there. Oh my God, that's funny. We were doing South by Southeast for Wicked, with Nikita, the blonde, who was also doing the Wrong Snatch for Jane Hamilton at VCA the same week, and they were essentially same plotline and I said "If you could just cut them together, that would be great." but the original title was George Kaplan's South by Southeast and a Little To the Left. And the Wrong Snatch was the same year. Oh, let's see, what else do they have...VR69...that was the first thing I did for Jenna, Girl Shot, oh God, production manager. Yeah, I was production manager. What poor schmuck sits in a room and compiles this stuff?
I play a lot of cops, it's like "police chief," "Lt. McCann," "Captain Williams."
Tod Hunter: Yeah, Partners Forever...that's the one where you played the cop on the take. I mean, as soon as you said "Don't worry about it, I'll take care of it" I thought, "He's fucked."
George Kaplan: Anyway, getting back to the subject at hand.
Tod Hunter: That is to say, you.
George Kaplan: And the purpose of the article, I'm back in the swing of things, looking for work, I am able to write, not ready to go out and do any acting yet, that's still three months or more away.
Tod Hunter: But you did just do a couple voice-overs...
George Kaplan: No, I wrote them.
Tod Hunter: Oh, that's what you meant by did.
George Kaplan: Yeah, I wrote up a couple voice overs, for Laurent Sky, and wrote a script for Jim Enright. Tina Tyler performed the voice overs.
My family's been helping out, which is very nice, but it would be nice if I could make some money and write some stuff...
Tod Hunter: Earn your daily bread again?
George Kaplan: Yeah, and because things have been so slow in the adult industry, I've been concentrating on the mainstream, I've been working on a spec Las Vegas script and a spec Smallville, because I have a friend who might have an agent that she can show this stuff to, so I've been trying to get some stuff that's current done. I wrote a spec James Bond script a year or so ago, I wrote the original pilot for 51, I wrote a horror thriller called Stricken, which someone's out shopping, re-wrote 51 and seven episodes.
Tod Hunter: Stricken is like a B movie, for Skinemax?
George Kaplan: No, Stricken is a story about a young lady who gets struck by lightning and survives and develops, I can't say psychic abilities, there's some telekinesis involved, and she finds that she is psychically linked to a serial killer who, we find out, has been killing since he was struck by lightning and he only strikes during lightning storms...
Tod Hunter: Whoa...that sounds like fun...
George Kaplan: It is, it's very visual, and it's her journey of trying to deal with this stuff.
In fact, I feel kind of lucky, 51 has gotten nothing but good positive response -- other than the pilot's a little long -- from everyone who's read it. People have been offering to take it to whomever they know to try to get it into the right pipeline. I have a friend who is getting it to a friend who actually works in development at Fox. The project seems to have taken on a life of its own. It's kind of weird, but in a good way.
But you know how it is, the mainstream studios have six layers of bureaucracy before you can even get on the lot, and then three guys have to initial your title page, then the reader has to swear on two Bibles and a pack of Doublemint that she - why is it always she? - really is gonna give her true opinion on the script and not shove it to the bottom of the stack because her boyfriend has a better script that could be a hit series for the studio and even if Mr. Producer gives his okay, six business majors have to give their approval and you sign away the remake rights before they even cast the damn thing and God help you if you want to get paid before the studio gets its cut.
The nice thing about adult is that most of the time, you sell the script, you get the money. I can give my doctors points in 51 but I think they'd rather get paid in cold hard green before they die of old age. And so would I.
So please let everyone know that I'm back, rarin' to go. I have this computer and I'm not afraid to use it. As long as I don't have to walk too far. You know: Bed, computer, mailbox, food, that's about it right now. I'll be ready for Beijing in 2008, though.
Tod Hunter: Hundred yard dash?
George Kaplan: Yeah, right! More like curling...if the broom's real, real light.
George Kaplan can be reached at FoziWriter11@Hotmail.com.
Some editing has taken place.