Monday, October 28, 2013

The Hollywood Sanction

"I'm a very important director."

The Male Trailing Spouse was getting his head around "step deals," "staggered pay" and "3% of the gross" when another script arrived from the Court of King Jimmy Greavse. 

Greavsie was on the hustle for funds for "Foxtrot India" when he met Mr. X,  an eccentric producer willing to invest $15M of his own money to the project. As ever, with all things in the film business, there was a snag.


Ian St. John: my asset in Hollywoodland

Saint gave me the lowdown.


wake up and smell the napalm 


"Mr. X was in the Green Berets in Vietnam in the 70s, was a Yuppie on Wall Street in the 80s and 90s and then came out to LA to have a go in the film biz at the beginning of the century..."


Mr. X was willing to give Greavsie money for Foxtrot India but wanted the latter to patch up his mismatched cop buddy comedy-thriller "Oscar Kilo" for the market.  The plot was simple:  Russian spooks were up to no-good in the USA, buying up all the gold and shipping it back to Mother Russia to bankrupt the USA (why bother?) and two rogue NYPD cops were the only ones who could stop them.   


Saint had a proposition. 


"Do you want to have a look at this script? If we were to fix this up, this guy would fund anything."


"You could direct it and we rewrite the script. What does Greavsie think about Oscar Kilo?"


"He said it's a page one rewrite..."


"Huh, what's that?"


I was new to the Hollywood shuffle and there was a lot of jargon and terminology that I did not know nor understand.  


"It means scrap the whole thing and start fresh on something else.  But this guy wants to sink his own money into this script, it's his life's work, he has always wanted to make this film and now he has got the money to do it."



It made me think of Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948).


"He will part finance "Foxtrot India" if Greavsie sorts out his script BUT Greavsie says it's a complete waste of time and is strictly focused on getting funds for his dream project..."   


"What sort of film does Mr. X want?" 


"He keeps going on and on about some old cop show called Barney Miller, me and Greavsie have never heard of it."



Barney Miller was a great sitcom! 


"Oscar Kilo" had all the cop-buddy movie cliches rolled into one rip-roaring script, mismatched partners in conflict, comic explosions, over-the-top Russian bad guys and probably the barmiest plot ever. "Oscar Kilo" went over the head of Greavsie who thought it contained "too many 1970s jokes" but $15M is incentive enough to fix a script. What gave me hope was this chap liking Barney Miller, one of the funniest cop shows ever made (it actually makes you like cops). 


I was writing up notes for "Oscar Kilo" when a call came through on Skype.  It was Jimmy Greaves.  He  was agitated and kept looking over his left shoulder --  I could hear Saint giving it the Spielberg on another line in the back room.


"Hemlock, I don't want Saint to hear this conversation...this must be totally confidential..."


"Sure Greavsie, fire away, what is it?"


Greavsie had loaned $20,000 to a multimedia entrepreneur and this figure, a man stiff with his own ambitions, was refusing to pay it back as agreed


"The sanction's in London?"


"Yes, Hemlock."



"I know a couple of guys who run collections agencies, you can sell them the debt...they would be more than happy to accept the Hollywood Sanction..."


"Oh, I want more than that, Hemlock."


My Lord of Hollywood had an ape that needed to be schooled, and demanded payment with interest. The debtor, a childhood friend, was deemed unworthy of heaven and earth and now prey to the fouls of imagination!


The passions of anger unhinged my Sovereign Liege and ruled his judgement.



"I want him beaten up...the sanction must be semi terminal, Hemlock." He stabbed his index finger in the air in a series of fencing thrusts, emphasizing each word, "I want him to know that you don't fuck with me...I want people to know that you (lunge) don't (lunge) fuck (lunge) with (lunge) me!"


I was not seeing his true face: only the mask.  But I could not help but pity the man with deceptive friends. 



Crowns are dear in Hollywood but heads are cheap. The old friend once had the trust and goodwill of the Lord Chancellor of my Realm, now he must suffer the full rigors of reality. 


The plot was beginning to ripen.


To be continued...