Wednesday, July 29, 2009

From Hollywood to Hemiís


Thirteen years ago Colby Christofferson, 37, the only 6'5" waiter at Papa Hemi's Hideaway in Ketchum, left the University of Minnesota where he had been an on-again, off-again journalism student, and moved to Hollywood to become a movie director.

"My roommate and I, Jeff Klehn, had talked about it for years. It was a dream of ours, so finally we just did it. To say we didn't know what we were doing, would be an understatement," he laughs. "We didn't have a clue; we didn't know anybody there. We had no idea how the system worked, but we were willing to learn so that's what we did."

It turned out to be a long, hard, grinding apprenticeship for both of them, and they ended up working in television, not movies. Jeff is still the post production coordinator for "Divorce Court" while Colby, an engaging, enthusiastic, former high school basketball star from Madison, Wisconsin, finally realized that you had to write your own movie if you wanted to direct it. So he temporarily retired to Ketchum three months ago to do just that.

"It's going to be the world's greatest romantic comedy, in fact I might even call it that. You don't have to be in Hollywood to write. I love my job at Hemi's. We've got great food, good music on the weekends, and a wonderful view. And when I go home, I can write with no interruptions. I've already got a rough draft of a script done. It's based on a television dating show theme which is something I know a lot about."

Indeed he does. After landing his first Hollywood job at the Virgin Megastore on Sunset Boulevard selling CD's and faxing out thousands of resumes, Christofferson finally got a job at the bottom of the television food chain as a PA (Production Assistant) on a program called "Great Day America."

"It was sort of a cheaper version of "Good Morning America" with a lot of rerun celebrities," he recalls. His job was to get the coffee, keep video tape on hand and generally do all the heavy lifting. "I think my record was getting 64 special orders of coffee and a lot of complaints from the staff that I screwed up most of them.

"But the good thing was that it was shot at Universal. I made a lot of valuable contacts there who came in handy later because the first lesson I learned in television was that you had to keep moving or you'd be out of a job."

Christofferson's next stop as a PA was on a talk show hosted by the Pointer Sisters that never got off the ground. Then he moved on to "Divorce Court" and finally landed a job on "To Tell the Truth" as an associate producer.

"The format was four celebrities trying to guess which one of three people was the real Jason from Friday the Thirteenth, or the World's Great Kayaker, or the Naked Cowboy. I had a really good boss there and learned how to be an on the ground producer."

Then it was on to dating shows, which provided Christofferson the basis for his Ketchum movie script. The first was "Elimidate" which was shot on location across the country. "The premise was a guy goes on dates with four women, or a woman goes on dates with four guys, and the last woman or guy standing is the winner. I interviewed the contestants, selected locations, assembled the field teams and generally made it happen."

After some more fits and starts with shows that never got produced or were made and never shown, Christofferson got a producer's job on "Extreme Dating" in which two people go on a date, one is wired for sound with two former girlfriends---or boyfriends—feeding derogatory and hopefully funny information to them about their unsuspecting date.

"Extreme Dating" was followed by a job as one of the producers of "Meet My Folks" on NBC, a big-budget production where a girl's parents interviewed four prospective boyfriends who were given a lie detector test after their dates. Then Colby became a field producer for "Celebrity Boxing" that featured a bout between the former infamous ice skater Tanya Harding and Bill Clinton's Arkansas nemesis Paula Jones.

And his final Hollywood stop, "Scarred" on MTV which solicited videotapes of the worst accidents on skateboards, mountain bikes and other sports and featured stunts like a contestant on a motorcycle back-flipping over a pool of sharks.

After all that, Colby admits he's really enjoying his quiet time in Ketchum while he polishes his movie script. "I love it here. I've got a set of new friends and I'm glad to be out of all that noise and pushing and dirt in LA."

Will he ever go back? "Sure, to sell my movie script, but I won't stay."

Will he ever get married? "I don't have any plans, at least not yet. Maybe I worked on too many dating shows."

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