Hollywood is exciting to say the least. I finally heard from that Executive Producer. He called asking for script changes and for me to do some rewrites right quick. I didn’t mind that he called, of course. They told me he’d call. Besides, everyone seemed to really like the story so I was looking forward to what he had to say. They told me he started out just like me, can you believe it? Submitting an unsolicited screenplay and being picked up on the first shot? To me the whole thing was always a big crapshoot anyway. I knew I was one of the lucky ones and was looking forward to working with the guy.
I was standing in the kitchen when the call came in, still in my pajamas, waiting on my first cup of coffee.
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: “Your story is too boring and too long, nothing happens. Like your main character John. He’s not very interesting. It’s all about what he’s thinking all the time, we need some action! Why don’t you give him some interesting job or have something interesting happen to him on his job, yeh that. Say he’s a bank teller and the bank has been busy all morning, that works, and the line’s out the door, that kind of shit. It’s real crowded and then right before his lunch break at five minutes to twelve he gets into a hold up situation and just when the robber-man points his double-barreled shotgun in his face and says “this is a hold up” John hears and picks up his ringing cell phone to see it’s that bitch Julia calling AGAIN. And then I don’t know, he tells the robber to just shoot him already!”
Was this guy kidding me? If it wasn’t for the fat advance I’d tell him to go fuck himself. I sat with my coffee at the kitchen table, took a drag on my first cigarette, and spoke as evenly as I could into the phone. “Well I’m not sure if John would really tell the robber to shoot him, that’s just not John. There’s a lot going on in the story, it’s subtle you know, nuanced. A lot of it is up to the imagination.”
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: “Imagination? Well listen this isn’t some indie, low budget avant-garde shtick we’re putting on here, this is the big time ya know. People don’t need their imagination we need some action here I’m telling ya. We gotta have a twist, something needs to happen. What about John gets home, say from his job as CEO of some fancy-ass, highfalutin Wall Street type firm, yeh that whole vulture capitalist thing, and there’s a huge bonfire in his front yard and it turns out that bitch Julia took all his clothes out of the closet and even went up in the attic, yeh that could be a scene, her crawling around up in the attic all disheveled and manic, what with that heavy mood music playing like something’s gonna jump out at ya, you know, and she’s pulling his clothes out of suitcases and throwing them down the stairs and out on the front lawn, his designer Italian suits, shit even his favorite bermuda shorts, the ones he wore on that trip to Puerto Vallarta that you wrote in there, and she goes and pours lighter fluid on the whole damn thing and sets it all on fire, how about that? Menacing. All the neighbors out on their big fancy-ass lawns watching and the fire department already there when he pulls up, that kind of thing. Something powerful. Vivid. Could you write something like that in there?”
“And what would be the reason she did all that? I mean her motivation?”
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: “Reason? I don’t know kid, you gotta have a twist ya know? You gotta have a hook.”
Did this guy even read this? “Well what did you think when he finally got home from the grocery store and found Julia sitting sullenly again in the dark living room watching her Nancy Grace? Wasn’t it dramatic how John questioned his very existence at that moment, like the whole buildup to that?”
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: “Questioned his existence? I don’t get it, what buildup? I musta missed that.”
“Yeh, questioned his existence. Right before Julia decides she’s finally had enough and breaks down. One could interpret it that way yes.”
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: “Interpret it that way? Listen, put something in there, I’ll help, I have lots more ideas. Some bang ’em up car chases or wait, how about a murder? Or John could secretly be a homosexual, no that’s too trendy, or maybe he’s boffing his secretary and then it turns out she’s Julia’s long lost daughter from another marriage he never knew about, something like that, and that’s why she sets the clothes on fire cause of the boffing, I don’t know. Throw some jell-o up against the wall and get back to me, would ya? Make something stick. You’re on the team now and we’re glad to have you. Maybe that bitch Julia could show some skin, I don’t know. It’s your call. Hey listen, write something in, okay? Take your time. But get back to me right away. We need something to happen right away.”
“Yeh okay, well how about you go fuck yourself?”