Mr. Big and the Writer

The big Hollywood producer looks up from the papers on his desk and recognizes the writer across from him. From behind the producer’s desk, a large painting of Mr. Big smiles down on the two of them. Being new to the Hollywood scene, this is the writer’s first meeting with a Mr. Big. He sits stiff in the chair and hopes this will be his big break.

“Sam?” Mr. Big says. “I can call you Sam?” Without waiting for a response, the producer continues. “Just bought a Broadway hit. Think you can handle the adapt?”

Sam starts to say yes. Before he can, Mr. Big goes on, “A fellow named Shakespeare wrote it. Ever hear of him? Me neither. Well, we paid big bucks for the play. It’s called Macbeth and it’s got everything. We think it can be one of our blockbusters next summer.”

“No problem,” Sam says. “I can handle it.” He takes out his small notebook to take down his orders.

“Of course you can. That Pulitzer you won last year says it all. Anyway, Sammy Baby, we need some changes.”

“Changes?”

“The play starts off with three witches. Well, witches aren’t in this year. Wizards are. So three wizards it is.”

The writer writes down “three wizards” in his notebook.

“Macbeth, or Mac as he will be named in the movie,” Mr. Big’s voice rises as he becomes excited about the production. “He will be a second string quarterback. Played by Johnny Up-and-coming.”

A question appears on Sam’s face.

“You know the guy who was in that movie about tin cans.”

“Tin cans?”

“Yeah. The cans turn into big ass trucks. He’ll be perfect. And what’s more. We can get him for a song. Anyway he’s a second string quarterback.”

“So he kills the first string quarterback?”

“No, no, no.” Mr. Big shakes his head and frowns that the writer doesn’t get the direction he’s going. “Can’t have Pretty Boy killing nobody. He’s our hero.”

There’s confusion on the writer’s face.

“It’s his cheerleader girlfriend who does the murder. Mac would never do that. First String is his best friend. And, oh yeah,” Mr. Big’s voice goes into flight with excitement, “I forgot to tell you the really good part.”

Writer can’t believe his ears. All he can say, “The good part?”

“She’s a vampire. Call her Selene after the vamp in Underworld.”

“Vampire?” Sam asks, totally confused by now.

“Yeah, vampires are big these days. So she’s got to be a vampire. And remember those wizards. They’re zombies. Got to be zombies.”

“Zombies?”

“Yeah, Sammy Baby, add zombies and we have an extra hundred mil in profits. Zombies are really in, you know.”

Before the producer can continue, the writer stands up.

“I don’t think I am your man to do this project.”

“What?” Mr. Big rises out of his chair. “Listen, you don’t take this, you’ll not work in this town.”

“If this is Hollywood, I don’t think I want to work in this town. I’m goin back to Omaha.”

Shaking his head, Writer turns and walks out of the office. With his dignity.

It Go Boom

“I didn’t go to jail. I went to Hollywood.:–Orson Welles about what happened after his “War of the Worlds” 1938 radio broadcast.

It all starts with “Let’s blow up a town.” But it always starts that way. In some Hollywood office, a producer makes the suggestion to her in-house director.

Of course, the director takes up the dare. “How are we going to do that?” comes the question, and it’s a fair question too.

“We’ll get the special effects people to do it for us,” the producer says. She loves the special effects people. Unlike actors, they always give her exactly what she wants.

“I don’t mean how. I mean why.”

“Do we need a reason?” The producer isn’t looking for an answer. She already has an answer.

“Not really.”

“Remember what P. T. Barnum said. There’s a sucker born every minute. And what the suckers…I mean, the public wants is boom-boom-boom. So all we have to do is hire some poor schmuck of a screenwriter to come up with some kid and his hot chick girlfriend taking on some—“

“I know, zombies.” The director is bored. He’s heard all this before.

“Not zombies. That is so passé. And no more vampires. At least, not for a while.“

“What then?” He starts to yawn but he knows that is a bad strategy.

“And we’ve done the tin cans,” the producer says. She’s starts pacing around the office.

The director knows this is a good sign. When she starts pacing, she’s about to come up something spectacular. Another Class A blockbuster. “Tin cans?” he asks anyway.

“You know, those transformers.” She flips her heels off. Now every inch of her body from her toes to her pageboy hair style is getting hot with an idea. All the director has to do is wait.

“Yeah, but what?” the director says, taking his cue to draw out an idea from his boss.

Then the idea begins to come out. “What if the town is on Mars?”

“Mars?” he says, watching the producer do her thing.

“Yes, Mars,” the producer is laughing. “Of course, Mars.” She is back on her game. “It’s one hundred years after earth has colonized Mars. Only we don’t send humans. We send robots.”

“Why do we colonize Mars?” The director is getting interested. It means he will be working with machines, not actors. The machines will definite do what they are told.

As the producer is pouring out her ideas, she’s thinking this is better than sex. The roll she’s on can be downright orgasmic. “Doesn’t matter. The screenwriter can make it up. Maybe we sent the robots up there to take on the little green guys.”

“So how do we get the hunky guy and the hot chick in the movie?” He is watching her as she goes for the gold, and she is doing it with the gusto of a whirling dervish.

“They are sent up there for a regular maintenance. You know, the robots need some WD40. They hate each other. Not the robots. But the hot chick and Mr. Hunk. They are also hot for each other too. After all, it’s been six weeks since they’ve had any.” The producer throws herself back into her chair. She is in absolute ecstasy.

Then her face turns into a frown. She is having a moment of doubt. She needs reassurance.

This is where the director comes in like he always does. That is why she keeps him around. Not for his directing abilities. He doesn’t have any. Rather to goad her out of her doubt.

“Absolute genius,” he says. “This could be huge.”

“You think so?” she asks. Then she’s off again, “Of course, it will. And you know what happens next? The Martians appear, and they are werewolves. Yes, werewolves. That’s it. Werewolves will be the new zombies. And Martian werewolves at that.”

“Martian werewolves,” he says, getting into the spirit of things. “I like that.”

“Of course you do,” she says, putting her feet up on the desk. “What’s not to like. And the only way they can overcome the Martians is blow up Robottown. ‘Cause the Martians are overrunning the town.”

“Now all you need is a title,” he says, knowing what he’ll be doing the next six months.

She picks up the phone and calls the first on her A-list of screenwriters. “Hey, Marvin, this is Michaelson. I have a job for you. I need you to write a script for my new movie, ‘It Go Boom’.”

She sits the phone back down and turns to the director. “I have a brilliant idea.”

“What would that be, Chief?”

“We’ll do a video game spinoff,” her voice filled with excitement. She is thinking of all the money that will roll in from this one. “Call it ‘Blow Stuff Up’.”