Freudian Slips: Near Call of Duty

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Location: Irony, New Jersey, United States

Life takes us many places. It's a box of chocolates and a Hansel and Gretal trail of candy wrappers. I have filmed as an actor in The Happening, Invincible, The Lovely Bones, The Bounty Hunter, The Greek American, Bazookas, Limitless, TV's Its Always Sunny in Philly, Outlaw, New York, The Warrior, The Nail, Game Change, Cold Case, & commercial work includes The Philadelphia Eagles, Septa, Coors, Turbo Tax & Carnival Cruises. Freudian Slips spotlights irony in short story format.

November 16, 2006

Near Call of Duty

"GAME HEAD and leading video game publisher Activision have joined forces to bring gamers a truly interactive gaming experience. SPIKE and Activision searched the country to find 16 hardcore fans of the popular "Call of Duty" game franchise, flew them to a top-secret military installation and initiated them into a real boot camp. Under the charge of real-life Senior Drill Instructor JB Spisso, these "candidates" behave like soldiers. They must run, eat, sleep, and game on Spisso's command. A series of Gaming Missions and Physical Challenges will determine who has what it takes, and who should have stayed at home on the couch. In the end, only one candidate will withstand to become the GAME HEAD: Call of Duty 3 Challenge Champion and win a bevy of prizes including a Home Entertainment Center, compliments of Best Buy; a VIP trip to the SPIKE 2006 Video Game Awards and a trip for 2 to Normandy, France."
I signed a binding contract that prevented me from publicly mentioning the following bit of bittersweet news until after November 13, 2006. Weeks after I auditioned for a reality television show, imagine my reaction when I opened the following email in my Inbox: DEAR MR. TORNATORE, CONGRATULATIONS. YOU HAVE BEEN SELECTED BY SPIKE TV AND ACTIVISION TO APPEAR ON THE SHOW GAMEHEAD: CALL OF DUTY 3 CHALLENGE.
Various links, contest rules, legalese, and releases for a criminal background check accompanied the body of the email. Once I determined that this was no Nigerian internet scam to showcase my acting ability at the expense of a drained bank account, I jumped for joy upon reading the first line of the lengthy email. Unable to contain my excitement in the library, I dashed around the entire house. Agog, I circled the dining room and scaled the staircase with middle-aged mock speed. My eyes twinkled. Sixteen finalists from around the country would jet off to Camp Smith, a military base in New York State to launch the official release of the virtual reality war game Call of Duty 3. Contestants agreed to confinement to the military base until a first place winner was determined. The competition called for a virtual reality X Box competition juxtaposed with a Survivor type boot camp for skills competition like repelling, paintball wars, and shooting matches. When my heart stopped racing about the possibilities of fame, fortune, and personal injury, I settled back to my computer chair to read the fine print governing my winning status. I started to slowly read what I had to do next on my way to becoming a reality TV star. From the page, I lifted two words that struck me as a kind of demeaning, FIRST ALTERNATE.
“First Alternate.” I repeated aloud in disbelief. “What kind of second class designation is FIRST ALTERNATE?”
I grabbed the telephone by the throat and called the listed representative in a California area code. In speaking with the Activision producer, I quickly learned the realities of being an alternate reality TV star.
“You can only get into the game if a contestant cancels at the last minute.”
I asked pointedly, “What am I looking at here from a probability standpoint?”
“Mr. Tornatore, we still haven’t heard from all of the contestants, sixteen criminal background checks need clearance, and somebody could get sick at the last minute. So you have an outside chance somebody might trip up.”
Even as first alternate, my instructions stipulated completing all the entangled necessary paperwork via fax and pack my suitcase for parts unknown, ready to go on a moment’s notice. Over the next week, I started to workout at the gym with the ferocity of a Sigfried and Roy tiger. I longed for a chance to put a 19-year-old computer geek in a headlock during one of the military maneuvers. Checking the calendar and world events, I realized that the production dates would occur not only during Rosh Hashanah but in the midst of a nationwide Ecoli spinach outbreak. I held unto hope like the caboose in a tug of war.
Alas, I received a last minute email that the show established a confirmed cast along with an iota of thanks tagline for my intended enlistment. All the background checks came back without any of the sweet sixteen marked by even a Henna temporary tattoo. Rosh Hashanah interfered with nobody’s dreams. Nary a mixed green salad lover got sick from tainted spinach. No lost soul missed their secret mission airplane. The only distinction I earned was that gamehead classmates of my oldest daughter found my name listed as a finalist on the internet. So how much did being runner-up affect my psyche? Plenty. While sipping from a vodka drip reclined atop a luxury liner vacationing in the Gulf of Mexico, I had the presence of mind to check the time one night.
I mentioned to my wife with regret, “That reality TV show I almost appeared on broadcasts in exactly one minute.”
I have impeccable timing…only to an extent.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Caught watching the big game are a Philadelphia Teams fan right. You must be used to it by now!

9:49 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

always the bridesmaid in life and spectator sports.

10:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They made a mistake Joe by not casting you first, you were mad for that role, Di

11:17 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

mad as in crazy or mad as in made mispelled?

6:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chasing an impossible dream, again, huh? Keep it up, some day it'll happen!!!!!!!

7:57 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

You can't Spike a guy for trying. lol

8:40 AM  

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