As the UPM on Two and a Half Men, one of Carol Anne Miller's unofficial duties is planning the hit sitcom's holiday party for cast and crew. Last year's soirée was modeled after the classic film White Christmas."The invitations were in snow globes with an enhanced movie poster inside," Miller proudly recounts. “We recreated the Pine Tree Lodge backstage with a traditional 1950s Christmas dinner, and at the end of the night we opened the elephant doors [where scenery is trucked through] and made it snow in Southern California.”
As Miller says, being a UPM is all about making magic—within the network budget, of course. She points to a sign in her office (from a stint on The All New Mickey Mouse Club) that reads: Anything Can Happen Day.
Across from that is another sign: Keep Calm and Carry On!
Both are mantras Miller says she learned working as a 2nd AD on Dharma & Greg, where the unexpected included a flood for a garden soapsuds scene that threatened permanent damage to the studio's stage floor.
On another occasion on Dharma & Greg, "we were slated to do a scene with star quarterback Steve Young at 3COM Park in San Francisco," she recalls. "The director and 1st AD came up on one plane, and I was on the second plane with makeup, hair, wardrobe and cast. They announce on the intercom that there's been a massive power outage in San Francisco and our plane will land in San Jose. I had to get everyone up to the city, but since I wasn't a UPM at the time, I didn't have to figure out how to get the power turned back on."
'But that was then. After starting as a 2nd AD on Two and a Half Men in 2003, she was bumped up to UPM for the second season and has been there ever since. "It's a big picture job," she continues. "I'm keeping track of costs, working with the line producer to budget each episode, overseeing the stage and the production office, and scheduling all the ancillary elements, none of which I did as a 2nd AD."
'She says watching over the crew is always her number one job. Like the time the show was filming while a brush fire raged near Forest Lawn Drive, right outside the studio. "The city of Burbank was preparing to close off access to the garage where the crew parked," Miller recounts. "While we didn't want to run out of time with our guest star [Robert Wagner], we had to somehow get our crew's cars out of the structure so they could go home at the end of the day. I rallied the office staff, and we gathered up keys from the crew and valeted everybody's cars." As usual, mission accomplished.