Remember the movie Adventures in Babysitting? It was a big hit in the 1980s, launching the career of Elisabeth Shue. A high-minded affair, it involved two adolescents loose in Chicago with their babysitter, a spitting image of a Playboy centerfold. The boys know this because the 13-year-old sidekick has a copy of that month’s Playboy magazine, a major plot device. It was such a big hit that Disney decided to make a TV spin-off. As is customary, a pilot episode would be made first, and if it was well-received, the series would launch. Disney trawled the Midwest for “talent”, meaning actors, and I was called to audition for the part of Daryl, the sex-crazed sidekick.
Amazingly, I made the cut for the first audition in Detroit, and was called for a second round of auditions in Chicago. My father booked us a commuter flight out of City Airport, took a day off work, and off we flew. During the second audition, among the quality material I was asked to read were lines about approaching a girl in class because “she wears a bra, Brad, a big bra!” I was mortified to tell my father afterwards.
Brothers and sisters, I got the job. There’s the proof in black & white: entrance to the House of Mouse. If you check the fine print though – no, not even the fine print but the big print – you’ll see it was no gold-plated offer. In fact it was pretty meager. A few grand for the pilot, and if successful, a 20K/year deal that would require the family to move to L.A. Dad would have to move his practice. Mom would have to chaperone me on set with my baby sister. I would have to leave school and get tutoring on set. The money wasn’t there, but the chance, the dream of a Hollywood career was.
It was a tough call. We had only a few days to decide. My agent begged us to take it, but my parents felt wiser counsel was in order. We consulted an Indian guru, a Jesuit harlequin, a Jewish pianist. None were willing to say it was a good idea. In the end, we turned it down. Having snubbed Disney and humiliated my agent, the phone never rang again.
Three and a half years later I converted to Islam. Ten years after that I moved to Malaysia.
All’s well that ends well. But what about Disney? What about the show, which, they say, must go on? Deprived of the guy they wanted, they settled for the guy they could get. The pilot crashed, the series was never made, the end. Sorry, Disney.
The guy they got, though, managed to do all right for himself. In fact he won a Young Artist Award for his portrayal of Daryl. After Adventures in Babysitting, he landed a role on Beverly Hills 90210 that he held for 10 years. Brian Austin Green has since gone on to build a respectable career as a working actor, and in 2010, he married Megan Fox. By now, it should be clear for all to see exactly what I’m driving at, so I’ll get straight to the point. If I had taken that job, if I had moved to LA, if I was the one who was now a 6’-tall blue-eyed Hollywood hunk …
… Megan Fox would be a practising muslim in Jakarta.