July 2009 is gone, August now races towards conclusion and I’m thinking about my next adventure. But a haunting ghost of July continues to cause my mind and spirit to be restless. Perhaps more weakness than strength is my proclivity to be sentimental.
A comment on Facebook from my childhood friend Lisa was all that was needed to transport me back to age thirteen and our first game of ping-pong—I loved Lisa all those years ago. I could spend a whole day lying on the grass, staring at the sky, and thinking about her. What if? What if? Neil Young’s voice is singing, “Old man take a look at my life…”
And to further cosset my self-indulgent emotions, July 2009 marked the first anniversary of two significant events in my life, not as significant and pure good as thirteen-year-old love, but significant nonetheless. A year ago, July 2008, my book “Stan Lerner’s Criminal” won the Grand Prize at the 2008 Hollywood Book Festival. And to promote myself as a writer, at the urging of Todd Sims (founder of GrooveTickets and friend of the past), I committed publicly in cyberspace to become a regular blogger. Downtown Oliver Brown was not a thought at this time. In fact it was my blog Erin Brockovich’s Daughter that was the impetus for Oliver. And it was Oliver’s success on Blog Downtown (Eric Richardson’s blog) that made downtownster.com and blogsincity.com inevitable progressions.
I had intended to go on in this vein and revisit the tragedy of “Stan Lerner’s Criminal”, Barnes & Noble, Borders and why an award-winning book is so hard to find or hasn’t been made into a movie—I am often asked these questions. But it’s the first Friday of August and we should all be having a goodtime in the sun…Of course there is more, as brevity is nowhere to be found in my nature—except when it comes to the soul of my wit.
Although much overshadowed by “Stan Lerner’s Criminal”, 2008 was also the year my novella “In Development”, the story of Hollywood’s most powerful and scummiest producer, was released. Recently, literally the last few days, I’ve finished what’s called in the industry, “the polish” of the screen adaptation. So, suffice it to say, that “In Development” is on my mind and I’m thinking that a story of sex, manipulation, lying, betrayal, and murder—otherwise known in Hollywood as a story with a happy ending, might just set a superlative tone for the weekend.
So please read on and enjoy a few chapters of a book from the summer of 2008, “And the seasons they go round and round.”
Breakfast at the Peninsula
The Peninsula Hotel ranked among Beverly Hills’ finest establishments. A modest four stories, its cream-colored exterior walls exuded European elegance. The motor court was paved with Tuscan cobblestone and it curved in a half circle around a spectacular yet understated fountain. Stan Peters arrived for breakfast like clockwork Monday thru Friday at 8:00 in either his black Rolls Royce Phantom or his diamond silver Mercedes Benz SL 500.
This particular morning, he was looking more impeccable than usual. The Ermenegildo Zegna boutique on Rodeo Drive had just taken delivery of its handmade suit collection for the fall season the day before. As always, Stan, the store’s best customer and Hollywood’s most powerful movie producer, had been there to pick up each of his 31 new suits. He would repeat this routine at several of the city’s high-end boutiques; rarely did Stan need or bother to wear the same custom-made suit twice.
The hotel’s bell captain, Rick Johnson, was a handsome young man of twenty-five—an aspiring actor. As always, he stepped forward to open Stan’s car door himself, rather than delegate such an important task to a valet. Opening the great producer’s door was not as optimal as being in one of his movies but it was a step in the right direction. Hollywood’s most powerful producer had come to know him by his first name.
The door of the Mercedes opened, as it always did, not requiring any of Stan’s own personal exertion. He never took this for granted. He appreciated not being bothered with such trivialities. It was certainly worth a twenty-dollar tip to not have to think about opening and closing the door of his automobile.
The air was just right. Not too warm, not too cold. Not too humid, nor too dry. Just right. Stan had no control over the weather of course, but he had chosen to remain in Los Angeles for exactly this reason—perfect year-round weather.
He stretched his six-foot-one frame as he rose from the 65-way adjustable, heated, and programmable leather car seat. The sound of the fountain filled his ears. Stan smiled the bright white smile of a man whose company was about to go public. A smile that said he was a man on top of the world. That he was talented. That he cared and wanted to encourage others to aspire to his greatness. Yet, he was confident that no man could really be his equal.
“Good morning, Mr. Peters,” said Rick amiably.
“Good morning, Rick. It looks like we’re in for some nice weather today. You have to love living in California!” Stan responded, already thinking about the healthy, delectable food he would soon be putting into his perfectly muscled body. A body that at forty was in even better shape than it had been in high school.
“It certainly looks like it’s going to be a great day, Mr. Peters. Enjoy your breakfast…Oh, would you like me to have the car washed while you’re eating this morning?”
Stan looked at the fine German automobile for a moment. It had just been detailed the day before but he thought it could certainly have gathered some dust not visible to the naked eye but was there nonetheless. “Yeah, better give it a rinse.” And with that he turned and walked toward the large double door entrance to the five star hotel.
Again with no effort of his own, the door opened. “Good morning, Mr. Peters.”
“Good morning,” Stan replied. Other than Rick, he did not know the names of the ten or twenty people that managed his morning breakfast routine. If need be, he could always read their nametags.
“Good morning, Mr. Peters,” said the gentleman next to the doorman.
“Good morning, good morning.” And with just a few silent steps, he was at the entry to the Belvedere Room.
“Good morning, Mr. Peters,” said the lovely hostess. “That suit is beautiful.” Her dark hair was pulled back and her young eyes shone brilliantly with a nebula of possibilities. “It fits you perfectly. You always look so handsome, but that suit is even more perfect than usual.”
“Well thank you…Mary,” he said, quickly glancing at her nametag. “The Fall season just came in yesterday. I still have a lot of things to pick up.”
“Well, I’ll be looking forward to seeing all of it. The usual table or would you like to try the patio today?”
“The usual table would be superlative.”
“Good morning, Mr. Peters,” said Janet, the hostess’ supervisor. “It’s so nice to see you. I just noticed that the trades are not at your table. I’ll bring them right over.”
“Thank you, Janet,” Stan said, taking the final steps to his table.
He sat down on the soft green cushion and slid over just slightly. The silver was all set correctly and the white tablecloth was blinding, which was what he expected. The hotel knew that he expected this, so only new tablecloths were used at his table. Stan’s demeanor was always pleasant but there was no doubt that he would ask for his table to be redressed and set again if he detected even the slightest flaw in its appearance.
The room, which had the feel of a fine garden, blossomed with both Hollywood and business elite. Stan caught many of their gazes as he walked into the room and still more as he sat. When unavoidable, he would flash back a warm smile and give just the slightest nod of his head. He peered for a moment out the glass wall to the patio thinking that the star of his last movie was there having breakfast with her new husband. He had slept with her a few times and was strangely satisfied to see that she was now married.
“Your skinny latte Mr. Peters,” said the middle-aged-Pilipino server as he set the large white cup and saucer on the tablecloth directly in front of Stan. Then, with a great deal of concern and concentration, the Pilipino latte server moved the silver sweetener container just to the upper right of Stan’s cup and saucer so that he would not have to reach for it at the end of the table.
“And the trades,” said Janet, handing Stan both the Hollywood Reporter and Variety.
“Thank you, Janet.” Stan ripped the small yellow package of sweetener, which he preferred to the blue or the pink packages of sweeteners, and mixed it into his latte and raised the cup for his first caffeinated drink of the day.
“Good morning, Mr. Peters. Will you be having the usual today?” asked the intelligent looking waiter in his late twenties, an aspiring writer of some type.
He had mentioned something about writing one day while in the course of telling Stan that he was a great fan of his. Stan recalled his own empty offer to read some of the young man’s work. An empty offer not because Stan was being disingenuous but empty because Stan had observed that most people with aspirations were afraid to succeed. Meaning, no one really wanted their work to be judged by someone who could do something for them.
“Omelet, jack and cheddar…”
“Avocado, fire roasted salsa, Tabasco, and fruit on the side,” the waiter said, finishing Stan’s sentence. He pushed his round wire-rim glasses a little further up on his nose and smiled.
“No potatoes or bread,” Stan added, although he didn’t have to because everybody knew that he liked potatoes and bread but didn’t eat them to keep his simple carbohydrate intake to a minimum.
All this ass kissing is really something. They do it because you’re a powerful man in Hollywood. If they only knew what a lying, thieving, scumbag you really are. Maybe they do know and they don’t care. Could that be?
He took a sip of his latte. It tasted better than most because it was made from a coffee bean that was eaten by a small rodent, which then excreted it out in its feces.
Don’t be so hard on yourself. To be a successful motion picture producer you have to have talent. And you put in years of hard work developing that talent. Not that it mattered to anyone—fuckers. Be honest with yourself. You got to where you are because you have the most important ingredient—an inexplicable character flaw. Not the, I’m gay and my family won’t accept me or I’ll show everyone who should have been voted most likely to succeed. No, it’s way beyond that.
An old timer with an attractive young companion waved to him from across the room. Stan smiled and gave a nod.
To really be fucked up enough to succeed at this level you had to have been born a nice guy with a good heart. Twenty years of being screwed over, lied to, used, and unappreciated. And one day you were lucky enough to wake up and be you. It didn’t happen gradually. It just happened.
Janet returned with an apologetic look. Stan knew without her saying a word what the cause of her guilt happened to be. He handed her the green cloth napkin that had been stretched across his lap and then watched, quite pleased, as she laid the new black napkin in its place. “I’m so sorry about that,” she said, the corners of her mouth turned just slightly downwards.
“Not a problem. Thank you, Janet.” Stan watched her walk away. The well-fitted navy blue suit she was wearing left no doubt that her body, in spite of her being well into her thirties, was still in excellent shape. She had certainly been a dancer of some type in her youth, Stan imagined.
Sounds like a terrible existence the way you describe it. It’s not. Your life is a dream life and you wouldn’t have it any other way. I wish someone could just love me for me. Too late. You got the fancy cars, great food, the world-class pussy, the incredible houses in ten different countries, an amount of money in the bank that even you can’t spend. So many women, so little time…Wall Street loves you.
“Your omelet, sir.”
“Thank you. It looks wonderful.”
“Can I bring you anything else?”
Stan looked lustfully across the room at the attractive blonde with the old goat who had been pleasant enough to wave. “No, this will be fine for now.”
“Well then, enjoy your breakfast, sir.”
Stan’s fork cut through the well-whipped, triple grade A, cage free, grain fed, organic, brown egg with ease. The egg, cheese, avocado, fire roasted salsa, and Tabasco delighted his taste buds. And just as he swallowed it happened—a sickening moment of self-doubt.
The only thing that can fuck up the Peters Entertainment IPO is a bad project. In highly advanced industry terminology, ‘A piece of shit movie’. Not to be confused with a shitty movie the manipulative scumbags in marketing can save with some kind of bullshit MacDonald’s cross promotion. No—the kind of movie that gets fucked up by some tight ass, wanna-be- cool, college graduate, studio executive, a producer’s worst nightmare, maybe even a career killer. What a terrible thought. It’ll never happen to you. You’re Stan Peters for fuck sake. You don’t make piece of shit movies.
Stan decided it was a waste of time to let his mind continue to ponder the meaning of life. He reached for the Hollywood Reporter and began to read the horrifying news on the front page.
At age 86, Sumner Ballsworth III, ruled Ballcom’s 450 diversified companies with an iron fist. At his command, the directors sat in the boardroom located on the 69th story of Ballcom Tower. A massive building that had long been an anchor of the Manhattan skyline.
Sumner sat at the head of the table; his younger brother and lifelong nemesis Nelson sat to his left, his close friend and vice chairman, Randolph, sat to his right. Sumner took his time as he let his eyes roam around the table, and then rubbed the deep creases of the skin that hung loosely around his jaw line. He cleared his throat, as he always did before starting a meeting, and the room fell silent.
“I now call to order a meeting of the Ballcom board of directors.” Turning to Randolph, “Our first order of business is?”
Randolph, while the same age as Sumner, looked ten years younger. A stout man to begin with, his love of food had assured that his skin would always be stretched to a more youthful tautness. “Our fist order of business, is soaring profits in our Entertainment Sector,” announced Randolph.
Sumner stared down the table at Michael Eisenfeld. “Can you explain why entertainment profits are up three hundred percent again? Our friends at the Security and Exchange Commission tell me that people who are not our friends are starting to take an interest in our remarkably good fortune. I trust there are no accounting irregularities.”
Eisenfeld shrugged. “Entertainment is a different beast, Mr. Chairman. It takes individuals with unique skill sets…”
“I’m not going to tolerate this nonsense!” interrupted Sumner’s brother, Nelson. He turned to his older brother. “Grandfather, would not approve of the types of people that we’re dealing with in this business or the revolting product we’re putting into the market place.” Nelson pointed toward Eisenfeld. “He knows damn well that Mechanic is turning a blind eye to behavior that’s not only unethical but immoral at the studio to make the kind of money that pads his bonus. ”
“These people make us a lot of money,” said Eisendfeld, in shock that he had to defend making a profit. Eisenfeld looked to Sumner hoping that he would reel in Nelson.
Sumner shook his head. “I have to go with Nelson on this. How the hell are they making so much money, Michael? Entertainment, was supposed to be a tax write off for us.”
Eisenfeld had been successfully ambushed and knew it. “The Peters Entertainment deal has turned out to exceed all of our expectations.”
Sumner’s bushy gray eyebrows rose. “More explanation, Michael.”
“Well, Mechanic lets Peters do what he wants and he seems to have a unique understanding of what the public’s appetite for entertainment happens to be. ”
Sumner’s demeanor warmed slightly. “I knew his grandfather. Name used to be Petersburg. Made fortunes in paint and auto parts.”
“Well the grandson is making a fortune on crap. And we’re paying for it.” Nelson leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms.
“We don’t pay for all of it,” Eisenfeld said, knowing that the cat was out of the bag.
“Of course we do.” Nelson had no idea.
Eisenfeld sighed. “Co-financing. Peter’s has been bringing in a lot of outside money.”
Nelson’s eyes bulged. An alert assistant stepped forward with a glass of water and a nitro pill for his heart. “Other people’s money! Ballcom doesn’t have partners! We own everything!” The assistant pushed the pill and the water in front of him insistently. Nelson placed the white pill in his mouth and gulped some water. But before he could resume Sumner held up his hand.
“Michael, co-financing…” Sumner shook his head. “Is there anything else we should know?
“Next week, Peters plans on going public. Initially, he’ll pipeline money into the company but he’ll go to work shortly there after setting up credit lines against his stock. He’ll want a new contract guaranteeing straight distribution from us—for a reasonable fee.”
“Get rid of him!” Nelson demanded.
Sumner, who never smiled, smiled and began to laugh. He looked down at the table and composed himself. “Get rid of Peters, for what? Being ambitious.”
“I’m the second largest shareholder of Ballcom stock—heads must roll.” Nelson looked toward Eisenfeld.
Sumner followed his brother’s stare. “Well Michael, you made a profit but broke the rules.”
The blood drained from Eisenfeld’s face. He sat at the table, white as a sheet and speechless.
“Fire Mechanic and,” Sumner continued after what had been a disturbing pause, “put someone in charge over there that understands our expectations.” Sumner turned to Nelson. “Are you happy now?”
Nelson smiled. “I want all candidates for the job run by my office for approval. And I want to be the one to tell the new guy to clean things up.”
Sumner looked at Eisenfeld, who had been spared only to spite his brother and because entertainment had earned billions. “Did you get that, Michael?”
“Yes, Mr. Chairman. I’ll make the necessary changes. What about the Peters IPO?”
Sumner stared past the end of the table, out the window, seeing everything. “I’ll take care of that personally.”
Stan sat restlessly behind his oversized, half-circle, stainless steel Pace Collection desk. His drive to the Peters Entertainment Building in Century City had been an almost unbearable five minutes. He stared down at the Hollywood Reporter framed by the black granite inlay that served as the top of his desk.
“‘From Harvard to Hollywood—Jones promoted to head of studio.’ Can you believe it? Brad Jones, that no-talent East Coast cocksucker is running a studio!” Stan looked up from the Reporter and across his desk at his short, corpulent, gray-haired, associate producer of many years, Iren Shmeklestein.
“Believe it, you shmuck! I told you we should have gone to Disney with this project.”
“Disney? Are you insane? Do you think Disney is going to make a movie called “Two Jews and a Blonde Psycho”? Whatever toes you were sucking on last night must have been laced with something.”
“If you had just seen the feet on this chick.” Iren smiled an obscene smile and continued. “They were beautiful. I can’t understand why you’re not attracted to feet. You don’t even want to know what she could do with them.”
“You’re right, I don’t want to know.”
Iren ignored him. “After I sucked on them for an hour I had her massage my balls with her toes.”
“Did she stick them up your ass and massage your prostate?” Stan asked, suddenly finding himself interested in Iren’s foot fetish.
“No. My asshole is way too tight for that kind of thing. Oh, that would hurt. I’m puckering up just thinking about it. Would you let a chick do that to you?” Iren turned his head slightly to the left and his right eyebrow went up like a curious Vulcan. “C’mon, be honest with me.”
“Yeah, why not?” Stan shrugged, “I mean, as long as her feet weren’t like the size of Shaque’s.”
“You know I respect your honesty when it comes to these things. But seriously, what if it was Shaque’s foot, would you take it up the ass for ten million dollars?”
Stan laughed. “I’d let Brad Jones stick his foot up my ass for ten million dollars.”
A gruff voice emanated from the doorway. “You might have to,” the always-perturbed Ray Delecrotch said as he walked into the room.
Stan turned his head toward his other longtime associate producer. Ray, at sixty-three, was ten years older than Iren and more than twenty years older than Stan. But despite his age, Stan had decided to keep him around. Ray did at least have the decency to dye his hair black. “Have you gained weight? It looks like you swallowed a bowling ball,” Stan commented.
Ray ignored his boss’s observation. “Because that’s how much fucking money we’re going to lose if that no class, talentless prick, shit-cans our movie. I’m sure the boys on Wall Street will love a fuck-up like this a week before our IPO. ”
Stan’s face tensed slightly—a mixture of concern, disgust, and confusion. “We spent ten million dollars in development on a movie about two wacky Jew producers? You have to be kidding me. Who’s the idiot that okayed that?”
“You did, putz face,” Iren said, no longer able to think about the feet he had made love to the night before. “You paid yourself a million-dollar writer’s fee and rewrote the thing nine times.”
“That’s only nine million, where’d the other million go?” Stan gave a disgusted wave. “Never mind, it doesn’t matter.”
“You rented a private island for a year as a writer’s retreat,” Iren reminded him.
“Writer’s retreat? Then what were you doing there?” Stan asked sarcastically.
Iren pointed at himself. “You think you’re a better writer than I am?”
“Iren, my second grade homework was better than the shit you come up with.”
“Would you two focus. We need to make sure that the studio doesn’t kick this fucking movie to the curb. By the way, do I want to know where we got the ten million from?”
Stan looked at Iren and then back to Ray. “Some old lady in Pasadena.”
“You’re fucking kidding me, right?” Ray asked, not believing that they could really be that fortunate.
“Iren befriended her husband just before he croaked,” Stan assured. “It was actually pretty easy to get the money out of the old bag. All I had to do was tell her that we would dedicate the movie to her loving husband’s memory. And, off the record, Iren agreed to suck on her old, shriveled up, callused heels.”
Iren nodded his affirmation. “Let me tell you, she doesn’t have bad feet for an old lady.”
“You guys are being straight with me?” Ray asked, sounding just slightly less irritable. “You didn’t get the money from one of your unsavory buddies?”
Iren swiveled the gray mohair chair in Ray’s direction. “Define unsavory?”
Stan smiled at Iren. “Your sister.”
Iren swiveled his chair back toward Stan. “That bitch would steal candy from a deaf, dumb, blind kid. Tell the truth—would you have sex with a deaf, dumb, blind girl?”
“Of course he would, he’d marry her if he was smart,” Ray said, matter-of-factly. “If I wasn’t so fucking old I’d be hanging out over at the Brail Institute myself. Where else are you going to find a nice girl in this fucking town?”
“I’d date a deaf, dumb, blind, girl. Assuming she’s hot like that chick in “Children of a Lesser God”,” Stan said, feeling that Ray might be on to something. Stan held up his right hand, opening and closing his fingers without saying a word.
“What are you doing?” asked Iren.
“Practicing my sign language.”
“What’s that mean?”
“It’s Helen Keller having an orgasm.”
“You guys always pull this shit on me,” Ray said shaking his head.
Stan and Iren looked at him. “What shit?” Stan asked innocently.
“Changing the subject.”
Stan held up his hand acknowledging the point. “This is definitely a different subject, but isn’t your nose big even for an Italian guy?”
“Unsavory like—drug dealers, gangsters—criminal unsavory.” Ray stared at Stan making sure he wouldn’t be digressing any further.
“Absolutely not,” Stan’s tone was insistent. “I swear on Iren’s hemorrhoids that we emptied an old lady’s bank account.”
“Did I tell you my hemorrhoids are killing me?” Iren asked, shifting his weight in his chair.
“Not like my back.” Stan gave his lower fifth lumbar a gentle rub. “I think I have early-onset arthritis.”
“You guys swear, no fucking around?” asked Ray, thinking that his ulcer might be acting up.
Stan pulled the gold Mont Blanc from his pocket and began rotating it across his knuckles. “I don’t even know any criminals.”
Marle’s voice had a heavy New Jersey accent as it came through the intercom. “Stan?”
“Yes, Marle dearest. What is it?” Stan asked, his always-troublesome secretary.
“I have Carlos Escobar on the phone, he says he needs to talk to you about the Laundromat business. He says you know what he’s talking about.”
“I’ll call him back. Thank you.”
“The Laundromat business?” Ray was immediately suspicious.
“It’s the next big thing,” Stan said without missing a beat. Then, he looked innocently at Iren.
“In South America,” Iren agreed, with a nod and a wink that Ray could not see.
“Anyway, let’s forget about the whole criminal thing…” Stan suggested just as Marle’s voice intruded through the intercom again.
“What?” he yelled out the door rather than into the intercom.
“I’ve got Dominick Luciano on the phone. He wants to know if you can meet him in Vegas tonight to discuss your idea about forming a Teamster’s Union Entertainment Fund.”
“Tell him I’m just a little busy right now please.” Exasperated, he looked back from the door to Iren and Ray. “The phone doesn’t ring all fucking morning, Brad Jones is running a studio and now everything goes crazy. I mean who the fuck else is going to call during this time of crisis?”
“How about the Pope?” Iren smiled and nodded.
“Stan?” Marle’s voice was even louder and more nagging than before.
“Tell whoever it is to fuck off!” Stan shouted loudly out the door. “This is just unbelievable,” he turned and said to Iren and Ray.
Marle’s hot, young, size zero body stood in the doorway. “It’s the Pope—you can tell him to fuck off yourself.”
Stan reached for the phone with haste. “Pope, it’s always so good to hear from you…Yes, Iren is sitting right across the desk from me…Sure, I’ll put you on speakerphone.” Stan hit the button and shrugged as his co-producers looked at him uncomfortably.
The Pope’s voice was a deep and raspy growl with a heavy European accent. “Shmucks, eight percent on our money—we can get that in the bank and not tie up our cash for eighteen months at a time. Stan, if you and that little putz you call a co-producer can’t do better than eight percent this year, I’m going to pull the plug on you two. Do you hear what I’m saying?”
“Listen, Your Majesty…”
“Excellency, not Majesty you thieving Jew prick.” The Pope not so kindly corrected.
“Whatever,” Stan rolled his eyes. “We’re doing our best. Out of what little decency we have we’ve been putting the Vatican’s money into our safest films. Mostly animated shit for kids.”
“Fuck the kids shit!” screamed the Pope. “Have some balls and put us into something with some tits and ass! That’s where the fucking money’s at!”
“Well I was worried about the church’s reputation,” Stan said in his own defense.
“Who the fuck died and made you Pope? I’ve got priests banging little boys by the thousands. That means lawsuits up the ass, and that means settlements up the ass. Millions and millions of dollars paid to a bunch of fucking crybabies who can’t take a little consecrated affection. So put some sex and violence on the fucking screen and get me my twenty percent. Do you fucking understand me?”
“Yes, Pope,” answered Stan, feeling pummeled by the pontiff.
“Good!” was the last word they heard before the distinct sound of a phone receiver being slammed down.
Ray slouched down in his chair and shook his head. “You pissed off the Pope. That’s fucking great.”
Stan hit the off button, silencing the beeping phone receiver. “What a ball-buster he can be. That’s what happens when you go eighty years without getting any pussy.”
“We’ll be going the next eighty years without pussy if that prick Brad starts fucking around with this movie and blows our IPO,” Ray said with a sense of impending doom.
“I’m not letting that no-talent shmuck tell me how to do my job!” Iren said in a state of alarm.
“If you don’t, he’ll put the fucking thing in turn around,” Ray said, making matters worse.
“Listen to me, that jackass isn’t going to tell you how to do your job.” Stan’s voice was calm and reasonable. “And trust me, he’s not putting our movie in turn around. Now that he’s a bigshot, he won’t give a shit about us.”
Iren’s fat cheeks had turned red. “You know I’ll put the little prick in his place.”
“I’ll punch him right in the fucking face if I even think he’s going to put us in turn around,” Ray added.
“Just let me handle this Ivy League, creatively challenged cocksucker. And that’s if he ever gets to us on his bullshit things to do list. I mean, come on, what type of loser would start poking his shit stuffed from too much ass kissing nose into our movie?”
“Stan.” Marle’s voice was filling the airwaves again. “I’ve got Brad Jones on the phone. He says it’s very important.”
Stan shook his head. “What a pathetic nebish.”
“What a piece of shit,” Iren said, then pretended to spit on the floor.
“Fucking lowlife,” Ray said, making a fist with his right hand and slamming it into the palm of his left hand.
“Put him through,” Stan advised Marle, then waited a moment to compose himself before speaking. “Brad, how are you doing? It’s so good to hear from you. To what do I owe this unexpected pleasure?”
“Have you read the trades today?” Brad’s voice was a mixture of good-cheer and serious business.
“No, I’ve been in an editing session for the last thirty-six hours,” Stan said trying to sound as clueless as possible. “ Is everything okay, I’ve been completely out of touch with the world.”
For some reason Iren decided to hold up the Hollywood Reporter that had been on Stan’s desk. Stan acknowledged this with the hand job motion. Ray flipped off the phone then bit his own knuckles.
“Thirty-six hours?” Brad sounded incredibly impressed. “Goodness gracious man, I don’t know how you do it.”
“We never miss a deadline or a budget around here,” Stan said, turning the confidence up just slightly. “When the studio does business with us, it’s family. You know that we love you guys.”
Iren commenced sticking his tongue through his fingers like he was licking a pussy. This encouraged Ray to start sticking his index finger through his other hand—the universal fucking signal.
Brad’s voice became warm and generous. “Stan, that’s so nice of you to say. We’re very fond of you around here and you know I am personally a huge fan of your work.”
The gold Mont Blanc fell from Stan’s hand as Iren bent Ray over his chair and pretended to fuck him in the ass.
“Thanks Brad, that really means a lot to me. Someone with your education and talent, supporting what we do, you know I really don’t even know what to say.” Stan’s face registered the revulsion of seeing that Iren had Ray down on all fours. He couldn’t help but remember the day he passed on a script about two gay cowboys—a two hundred million dollar mistake.
Two cowboys fucking in a tent. Who could have predicted that one would be a hit?
“Honestly, one day if the board of directors is smart, they’ll put you in charge of everything.”
“Well Stan, actually that’s why I called. It was just announced today in the trades—I’m the new head of the studio.”
“Congratulations! It’s about time, I mean good, you deserve it. I’m sure you’re going to be super busy. But when things settle down in the next couple of years, I’d love to talk to you about what we’re up to over here.”
“Stan, things are going to be different. I plan to be very hands on.”
“Even better.” Stan’s brow wrinkled as his cheeks retracted upward. “I mean, it’s about time there’s someone on top who cares about what’s going on in the trenches.”
“I care Stan and I’m really glad you feel that way. I had my concerns.”
Stan couldn’t imagine things getting much worse when he heard Marle scream. She had come to hand deliver his mail only to see Iren apparently humping Ray on the floor. It was shocking even for a Jewish girl from Jersey.
Stan rubbed his forehead. “I’m a team player, Brad, you know that.”
“Stan, I have my concerns about this comedy you guys have in development. I know we’re committed to production funding, but creatively speaking “Two Jews and A Blonde Psycho” just seems to be missing something. And Stan, I’ve given your cast list a very close look. For lack of a better word, I hate it.”
Iren and Ray, prompted by Marle’s scream, had returned to their respective seats. Iren began writing something on a notepad.
“Brad, if things don’t work out for you as a studio boss you should become a psychic. I was just having this exact conversation with Ray and Iren. We’re completely on the same page.”
Iren held up the notepad, which read, “you miserable cocksucker” accompanied by a picture of Brad on his knees orally copulating a very well endowed man.
“Creatively speaking,” Brad’s voice was all business now, “I want you to make this movie more red-state friendly. Maybe the movie could end with the main characters seeing the light and converting to Christianity.”
“Yeah, maybe something more like “The Passion of the Christ”.” Stan sighed, thinking that he might wake up any moment from this nightmare.
“Now you’re talking! And Stan, pull out all of the bad language and sex scenes. This thing needs to fly with a G rating. The profanity makes the whole thing feel too urban. I’m not interested in doing a Spike Lee movie here.”
“Not a problem Brad. Anything else?”
“Well actually there is. I want you to cut the budget for the soundtrack in half and get Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe to play the leads.”
Ray held up the notepad which now read, “Why not Mel Gibson since we’re making the fucking “Passion”?”
“Mel Gibson?” Stan said, accidentally reading Ray’s sign out loud.
“I like Mel. And a Jew movie might help him get past his anti-Semitic public image.” Brad paused. “If you can’t get both Tom and Russell, I’ll let you substitute Mel for either one. But I really want Tom Cruise in this movie. For the blonde psycho, Renee Zellweger works for me. I liked her and Tom in “Jerry Maguire”.”
“Why not Anne Heche? Playing a psycho wouldn’t be much of a stretch.”
Brad laughed. “Stan you haven’t lost a step. That’s hilarious, a lesbian in a Christian-friendly movie, you kill me.”
Just then Iren held up a sign that read, “Let’s really kill him.”
Ray followed by holding up a sign that read, “I got someone who will do it for ten grand.”
Brad returned to his serious tone and continued, “No, just stick to Renee or Nicole Kidman if you can get her. Nicole works for me.”
“You know her and Tom got a divorce?” Stan immediately wondered why he had bothered to mention it.
“Oh, I didn’t know they were married.” Brad was clueless even for a studio executive. “Do you think it presents a problem?”
Stan rested his elbows on his desk and let his head sink into his hands for a moment. The stupidity of the conversation weighed on him like an aircraft carrier. “Problems are meant to be solved, Brad. Anyway, the guys and I are just raring to go on all of this! So we better get cracking.”
“That a boy, Stan!” Brad shouted, apparently infected with Stan’s insincere enthusiasm. “I’d like to see everything in place by the end of the day tomorrow. Can do?”
“Can do Brad. Not a problem,” Stan said, flipping off the phone. “Oh and say hi to that beautiful wife of yours. I’d love to have you both over for dinner soon to celebrate your promotion.”
“We’d love to come over,” Brad gushed, “Binkie is an even bigger fan of your work than I am. When I told her about the promotion, she said I should make working with you on this project my top priority.”
“Well that explains it,” Stan let slip.
“Explains what?” asked Brad.
Iren and Ray looked at Stan hoping for a quick recovery.
“Our good fortune to have you so involved.” Stan beamed with satisfaction toward Iren and Ray as they bowed that they weren’t worthy in front of his desk. Stan put his hand to his ear. “I’ll be right there,” he shouted to nobody off in the distance. “Brad I have to jump, give my love to Binkie…”
“Talk to you tomo…”
Stan hung up the phone before Brad could finish… “That stupid, evangelical bitch wife of yours.”
“You know we have to kill this guy,” Iren said with complete resolve.
“He’s right. I say we kill him,” agreed Ray.
Iren, content that he and Ray were in agreement, turned to Stan. “Casting Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe to play two Jews is almost as ridiculous as casting Michael Jackson to play a babysitter.”
Stan nodded. “That would probably work for Brad.”
“Stop fucking around.” Ray’s voice sounded more exasperated than usual. “If we’re going to kill this guy we need to get serious. We need a good plan.”
“When Brad and that meddling bitch wife of his come over your house for dinner, we could poison them,” Iren suggested earnestly.
Stan shook his head. “We’re not killing anybody you lunatics. I mean, what type of scumbags have we become that we would resort to killing someone to save a movie from turn around…when we could simply resort to blackmail?”
Iren nodded. “Blackmail… I like it.”
“Blackmail is good,” Ray agreed. “ But this guy is straight as a fucking arrow. He’s the perfect family man.”
Stan’s brow rose, as his head tilted forward making him look positively sinister. “Not for long—but let me take care of that. In the meantime, we better cover our asses and do what he wants. Iren, get on the Tom Cruise / Russell Crowe thing. Ray, you get Renee Zellweger or Nicole Kidman. I’ll swing into action on the whole blackmail situation…”
Marle’s voice was once again coming through the intercom. “Hey it’s me. We’re celebrating my one-year anniversary as your secretary out here. You want to stop by or something?”
“Yeah, of course. We’re on our way,” answered Stan feeling satisfied that things were under control.
If you would like to read “In Development” in its entirety it is available at http://www.indevelopmentthebook.com http://www.amazon.com and if you prefer a great store experience I recommend a trip to Metropolis Books, 440 S. Main Street, Downtown Los Angeles (between 4th and 5th) 90013. Tell Julie or Steve, Stan sent you! And for all of my beloved Kindle owners, all of my books are available on Kindle, under my name. Read on….