Written by Julie Martin
Directed by Clark Johnson
I have known Clark Johnson for many years, since the "Homicide: Life on the Street" days, when I was a lowly story editor (the best job for a writer in tv, ever, hands down) and he was a lowly actor. We tormented each other over the seasons. I didn't always appreciate his creative ad-libs. And he didn't always appreciate my not appreciating. In between writing, set coverage, and drinking heavily on Baltimore's Thames Street, I managed to get promoted to producer. Clark tried his hand at directing. New opportunites for driving each other crazy.
Fast forward several years to New York City, the set of "Kings." Clark had just arrived in town to direct my first episode, entitled "Judgment Day." The first thing he complained about was "that pig." In an episode depicting Solomon-like decisions by King Silas, from day one of breaking the story, I was convinced what the episode needed was a pig. Clark was convinced it was all about torturing him.
Which seemed too good an opportunity to pass up. What I had originally envisioned as a harmless, small-ish sized pig, quickly morphed into a four hundred pound hog. The Prop Guy (in charge of obtaining livestock, apparently, who knew) and everyone else with a conscience on our production team cursed my name. And rightly so. If you've every worked with a four hundred pound hog, never believe anyone who says they are trained. Four hundred pound hogs do what THEY want to do. Not what the trainer, the producer, the director, or the show runner want them to do. And if said hog decides to keep two hundred crew people and extras waiting while they think about their motivation, they do. If they decide they don't want to step hoof onto the set at all (after an elaborate lift/ramp rig has been constructed because pigs don't walk up stairs, apparently) they don't go. They keep everyone waiting. They let the clock roll out at many, many dollars per minute. They cause first ad's and line producers to get ulcers. Because a four hundred pound hog answers to no one.
Which is how we ended up with a hog (who after copiously relieving himself in the pristine lobby, slipped, fell and panicked) running wild through the hallways of the New York Public Library (our set for Unity Hall), pulling the trainer behind him, on a leash, like the poor guy was waterskiing on marble, sending crew members, actors, and lots of expensive equipment scattering in his wake.
And Clark just yelled: "Keep rolling. For God's sakes, keep the cameras rolling."
Which is what you do in TV. If the writer is enough of an idiot to insist on a pig in the show, the least you can do is keep rolling.