Noah turned seven today.
And it’s been a long, arduous, lifetime of work for him to achieve his (not-so-much) dream of being a television star, which also happened this week.
All because being a blogger has weird side effects. Such as your images being super searchable, and sometimes your most random image can be the very one that a Supervising Post Producer of an NBC television show is looking for.
Such is the case with this image, which I posted here in 2012.
I got an email months ago, asking me if NBC could purchase the rights to this Noah to use on the show Better Late Than Never. She explained the idea of the show and the context in which the image would be used, and it seemed fairly harmless to me – even if Noah would probably not be allowed to watch the entire episode (because it’s a family tradition to be a Child Star in things too indecent for children to watch – I was.)
I said sure, and what transpired were many emails, contract signatures, legalese, and sending back and forth of files.
The contract I signed stated clearly that NBC had the right to use this photo in any way they wanted – in this universe (not just this earth) – in perpetuity (or in the after-life) – and in so doing, they could speak of it any way they wanted, including but not limited to defamation, exploitation, and slander.
Seemed reasonable. Especially since they also asked for a picture of me – I’m sure to give visualization to the mother they planned to shame.
I didn’t mention this process to anyone but Chris for quite some time because I know how these types of things work. They take months to finalize, and then the whole thing gets scrapped by the Supervising Post Producer’s Producer who says something along the lines of “I think we need something a bit more airy, teal-minded, and incandescent.”, and then the Supervising Post Producer comes back to you and says “Hey I’m sorry we don’t need your image after all.”
But eventually, I received a check postmarked from Hollywood. And as I was going through the mail that day, I murmured offhandedly while never taking my eyes off the stack of envelopes, “Oh hey Noah, a picture of you is going to be on a television show.”
And because The Year of Six has held record-setting highs of contrariness, HE WAS NOT AMUSED.
“WHAT?!?!? I DON’T WANT TO BE ON TV!!! GET THE PICTURE BACK NOW!!!”
“Sorry. Can’t. Got the check for it right here.”
“NOOOOOO!!! I WILL NOT BE ON TV I WON’T I WON’T!”
“Actually, you will. When you’re 18 you can decide on whether you’ll be on TV or not. But for now, sorry kid.”
“I AM SO SO SO MAD AT YOU!!!!”
He stomped off in an overworked, fake rage.
That night, he told Chris about my sins. And got even more lack of sympathy.
For the next week, Noah continued to randomly remember my trespasses and would offer me a bit of sulky rage just to remind me how supremely awful I am at this whole motherhood thing.
I finally got around to heading to the bank to deposit the check. Just because I’m extra cruel, I reminded him about it as I drove into the bank parking lot. I received in return a Hulk-Like howl from the back seat. In fact, he was acting eerily like the photo that was sold…irony is lost on him.
Then I had an epiphany.
“You know what? Any time I sell a photo of you kids, it seems like I should pay you a commission. Don’t you think?”
There was a chorus of “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!” from all members of the backseat.
“How much do you think I should pay you?”
Ali: “Five dollars?”
Noah: “I was thinking ten dollars.”
Me: “Well, I was thinking a 10% commission is a industry-standard rate. And since I charged them $150 for the photo, that would be fifteen dollars. How’s that?”
“I love you Mommy I love you Mommy I love you Mommy!!!”
“Hold on though. There’s fine print in this agreement. If I pay you commission on photo sales, you have to agree to a.) never grouch about it again, b.) not complain if I tell anyone about it, and c.) not get embarrassed when it airs.”
“Okay!! You can tell TEN THOUSAND PEOPLE!!! I agree!!!”
In case you wanted to know how much a severe bout of contrariness costs to reverse, it’s fifteen big ones.
Even better, I didn’t have to fork over a single cent of cash. He wanted $5 worth of diamonds on an iPad game (usually deemed an absolute waste of money but hey – he’s a celebrity now so if he wants intangible diamonds, he can afford intangible diamonds) and he used the other $10 to buy back his Kidizoom watch from me (which he had previously pawned because he JUST HAD to have a GX Pokemon card which cost $5 and he asked me “Look around – isn’t there anything in my room I could sell you for $5??” And I was all like “Uh, no.” and he said “How about my watch? Would you take that??”, and I was so sick of him having a tiny screen on his wrist that he was always staring at that I was all like “DEAL, baby. But to buy it back you have to pay me $10.” – because I’m a Loan Shark Mother and I think it’s important to learn the pain of predatory lenders at an early age.)
For the rest of the day, he begged, “Mommy can you put me on TV more? Can I be on TV all the time? What else can you put me on TV with??”, and that night as I put him to bed, he gushed my praises again. “You’re the best, Mommy. AND IT’S ALL BECAUSE OF DARN MONEY!!!”
The world kept turning, we got busy with trips and Christmas and surgery, and we all kinda forgot about his worldwide debut.
The Producer had said it would probably air in mid-December, but mid-December has been a Dark Time for me, so it came as a total surprise when I got a text from my neighbor last night…
Turns out the episode aired last week.
…And Noah was such an integral mega-star of the show that no one even noticed him (or told us about it, anyway) for an entire week.
I pulled the show up online and, after Noah and Ali gasped at seeing Terry Bradshaw jump around naked and pixellated in the preview (Ali: “surely he’s wearing underwear!!”), I quickly found Noah’s tenth-of-a-second of fame around the 8 minute mark of the show and quickly cut it off after it was over.
Noah laughed. Then smiled sheepishly. For just a second.
Then erased his smile, got a world-weary look on his face and said dejectedly, totally forgetting our contract (because after all, those diamonds were long spent by now),
“I’m not happy that I’m famous.”
Which made me pretty happy. Because after all, it takes most actors decades to realize that very thing.
Happy Birthday, kid. Keep that solid, contrary, irritable head on your shoulders and you’ll do all right.
Editor’s note: If you’re astute enough to notice the difference in the photo and the one on the television screenshot, you also might find it hilarious that the photo they used in the show is not the one they asked for, nor the one I sent them, nor the one I signed away in perpetuity for all galaxies. Apparently the Supervising Post Producer’s Producer wanted one that was a little less screamy. And I guess that means my contract is invalid.