Classic SPT: That Guy Who Dresses Like Me

Screen capture from an interview conducted for the "Back to School: Extra-Curricular Edition"

Here's an article that was lost in the transition over to the new Squarespace-hosted site, from note all that long ago: February 24, 2014 just after Harold Ramis' passing...

"Do you like the movie Groundhog Day?" Asked a flyer hanging up on a corkboard in the Loyola Marymount cinema building. Nothing more, just those words with an email address at the bottom of the flyer. The correct response of course is, who doesn’t?

But to a kid like me, who had grown up a fan… okay… let’s be honest, borderline obsessed with Ghostbusters and then eventually the more adult films in which Harold Ramis was instrumental, I had to respond to the flyer.

Unbeknownst to me, the flyer was outreach by Harold Ramis’ producing partner Trevor Albert who was on the hunt for a few good interns to make lunch runs, page check scripts, and write some coverage. While most Hollywood stories include being an intern for a violently angry executive of some sort, working for Trevor was one of the best experiences of my life. What I quickly learned from Trevor was to treat everyone warmly, do your best to not let the pressure crack your cool and calm demeanor, and that the nice guys actually can do well for themselves in this crazy city. Trevor had developed such a friendly way of work through his years working with Harold Ramis, who had moved back to Chicago and Trevor had set up his own production company in place of Ocean Pictures.

Several months into my internship, I had started manning Trevor’s assistant desk while the amazingly talented Peter Livolsi began his career at AFI. Calls were frequent, usually writers, executives, agents and managers, all walks of Hollywood life calling on a regular basis. Visitors would come in looking to talk to Trevor or for a meeting with he or his development exec Kym. 

One of those days, out of the blue - the visitor was Harold Ramis, stopping by his old offices while he was in town to say hi to Trevor and Kym. I was a starstruck mess, while he was patient with me. Keeping his trademark smile present at all times. Kym, knowing my fando— obsessions, broke the ice by introducing me to Harold:

"Oh, this is Troy. He dresses up like you for Halloween."

Harold laughed and without skipping a beat said, “Oh that’s funny, I dress up like me for Halloween too.”

The meeting was brief, I did my best to keep my shit together the whole time but it was one of those moments that sticks out in the several years that I had interned and assisted for Trevor. Sometimes when you meet your heroes, they aren’t the people that you expect them to be. But in this case, much as Trevor had taught me - Harold treated me warmly and was just a super nice guy.

Shortly after that, I had helped Harold and his team working on the Ice Harvest with a few things during their production, having spoken with Harold and his producers several times. Every single time everyone could not have been nicer.

Fast-forward a year or two later, where the pleasure of working with Trevor had led me to get into DVD behind the scenes documentaries, and I happened to be a part of the Back to School: Extra-Curricular release for Fox/MGM. On the slate of interviewees of course was co-writer Harold Ramis, who would talk about the film and talk about his relationship with Rodney Dangerfield.

Harold was on the CBS lot filming a pilot and agreed to take time out of his busy day to spend 45 minutes reminiscing about the film in front of the camera. We arrived a little early, got everything set up for Harold to arrive. When he did so, the interview was charming, warm, funny, he spoke of the experience and everyone that worked with him in a way that you hope people will some day speak of you. 

When the interview was over, we were small chatting and I mentioned to him that I had worked for Trevor a few years back. Harold’s eyebrows raised and he said that I had looked familiar, and with sudden recognition he said, “oh that’s right, the guy that dresses up like me.”

I heard the news of Harold’s passing this morning where I frequently hear a lot of news lately: sitting on the freeway stuck in traffic.

My phone, which sits on my dashboard was doing its best impression of a pager in the early-90s, buzzing in quick intervals every two seconds with texts and social network messages. In this new world of instant news through social media, I was skeptical that the news could be true. 

Sadly, it is. 

Animal House, SCTV, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Ghostbusters, Caddyshack, Meatballs, Stripes, Multiplicity, Bedazzled, Back to School, Groundhog Day, Analyze This, The Office… at some point, through his writing, directing, or acting, Harold Ramis has made you laugh. At some point he’s written such a sharp line of dialogue or delivered a joke with impeccable timing that nobody else could have ever done.

He’s one of those people that could easily have been a total jerk, could have easily been one of the most egomaniacal people that you would ever meet. But he wasn’t. He was warm, he was friendly, and the fact that he even pretended to remember me from a brief meeting in passing really made me feel special.

I can only hope to be half of the person that amazing people like Harold, and Trevor, and so many of the other incredibly nice guys are that you come across in this business.

The eight-year old in me mourns the loss of a larger than life Ghostbusting hero that was responsible for so much of my childhood. The 20-something in me mourns the loss of someone who made me laugh and gave me the ammunition of so much wit and wisdom to quote on a daily basis. The 30-something me sits typing this today mourning the loss of a true artist, appreciative of all that he did and the grace with which he did so.

I’m so saddened, yet so grateful simultaneously.

For more on Harold’s life, the Chicago Tribune has a touching story that everyone should read:,0,2259309.story

Posted on August 18, 2014 and filed under Movies.