By John Latta
OK, let’s dish some really juicy dirt in my all-new gossip column.
I now have evidence of a massive Hollywood conspiracy against truckers. I have in my possession some original scripts that prove truckers were denied roles that would have shown the entire country the true face of the trucker and in the process turned unknown trucker/actors into deserving superstars.
The original cast of Friends was supposed to have been Rachel, Phoebe, Chandler, Ross, Monica and Russell. Russell was to be a teddy bear of a guy (and Rachel’s true love), hauling an unreliable reefer and working for an unreliable dispatcher. In a pilot episode, since destroyed, this big-hearted trucker carries buckets of melting ice cream up to his apartment-mates and begs them to eat it all so he won’t get fired. Talk about hilarious. But just hours before the next pilot was taped, conspirators replaced him with Joey, an actor (you see how this conspiracy thing works).
I can also report that Hollywood conspirators got to Johnny Depp and made him claim Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards was the model for Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean (I and II). In fact, my very secret sources tell me the real model was a flatbed driver who had driven way too many miles, most of them in the hot sun, but who, like Sparrow, had a heart of gold.
Seinfeld was not first written as a stand-up comedian doing New York clubs. Oh, no, no, no. Far from it. He was originally written as a dry van driver, Big Tex Seinfeld, who played the movie rooms at truckstops while they changed from one show to the next (in those days you had to change the reels) and occasionally interstate rest stops. Clearly concerned that the country would love this guy, the conspirators dumped him for someone who had the same last name.
In Everybody Loves Raymond, big brother Robert Barone’s character was originally a gasoline tanker driver who couldn’t stop his mother from interfering via the CB and demanding to ride along. The character was hastily made a cop because writers feared that, as a trucker, he would be more popular than the show’s sportswriter star Raymond.
This conspiracy, folks, goes way, way back. For example, in an episode of Leave it To Beaver, June Cleaver was scripted to take her young son aside and say, “You know, Beaver, you could always grow up and be a trucker. There’s not a finer job in all the land, and you would make us proud if that’s the road (pause for laugh track) you chose.” But did this line ever appear in that show or any other Beaver episode? Noooooo.
In a Donna Reed Show episode, Donna was scripted to tell her teenage daughter that a trucker would make “a pretty darn tootin’ good husband,” but the line was crudely cut out of the script, and there was only a long on-screen pause. I’m also told by confidential insiders that Ralph Kramden did not drive a bus in the Honeymooners first-draft scripts, but a cabover hauling mobile homes.
I’m sure I wasn’t the only one that noticed that of all the things Forrest Gump was, he was never a trucker. I’m reliably told that the original story had Forrest’s Vietnam buddy Bubba telling him every single thing there is to know about the trucking life, and after the war he’s back in Bayou La Batre, Ala., hauling shrimp, not fishing for them.
Oh, and yes, American Idol. Oh, can you believe it? Paula Abdul was a last-minute replacement after another Hollywood anti-trucker conspirator got wind that the first choice for lady judge was a woman who hauled swinging beef but could really sing. They just up and dumped her! (Even Simon liked her.)
Then there’s the big one, the one that could have turned it all around, the conspiracy that changed the course of Star Wars. On a dead-end planet with his uncle, young Luke Skywalker was farming in the movie. But the writers at first had him hauling stuff all over the planet in a hover-semi, and the bawdy tavern on Mos Eisley was written as a truckstop (talk about believable) before the conspirators got to the script.
The doors could have been open for so many of you to go to a Hollywood desperate for trucker/actors. But no. The conspirators have won. For now.
Affected tractors are equipped with an automated Eaton UltraShift Plus or Eaton Advantage Transmission with right hand stalk shifter. In the affected trucks, the display on the instrument panel can indicate “N” when the shifter is set into “D” or “R,” causing the truck not to move.