The Wilford Brimley Incident

We were in the car and my son asks, “How do you pronounce diabetes? Is if dye-a-beet-eez or dye-a-beet-iss”

I thought for a second. “Well, I think both are acceptable — but in my experience, dye-a-beet-eez is the preferred pronunciation.”

“So why does Wilford Brimley say, dye-a-beet-iss.”

My face went red. “Because Wilford Brimley is an idiot, that’s why!”

Brimley and I have history.

Wilford Brimley was cast to appear in a production of A Christmas Carol at the Palace Theatre. I was sent down there to shoot a commercial for the show with the star. He sat down and gave it a slow, halting read — and the :20 seconds of copy ran about :40 seconds. “OK… that was good — but it was a little long so let’s try again.”


Nope? Did Wilford Brimley just tell me “Nope”?

“Well, we can’t really use that…”

“Not my problem. I’ve already done it and that’s all you’re gettin’.”

I tried again, “But Mr. Brimley, we need to…”

He cut me off. “I said that’s it!”

He started taking his mic off and I went to look for the producer who had brought Brimley to town.

“Hey, Dennis… you know we can’t really use that take, it’s way too long.”

The producer — who would presumably be signing the paychecks — huddled with Wilford Brimley for several minutes. Brimley came back and sat down in his seat, scowling all the way. He did it again — but it was awful and we ended up patching something together between the two takes.

I got to work with a few celebrities over the years. Some were gracious and professional to even the lowliest crew members — and some were jerks. That’s OK, to me it’s nothing more than a funny story — but something inside me says that you won’t be judged on how you treat the big shots, but how you are with the little people.

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