Pitching Hollywood 2002
By Elizabeth English
Day 1: 6:AM Leaving Boulder, driving west (with my little dog, Zoe) in my red Jeep Cherokee to L.A., with much anticipation. Stopping for the night in St. George, Utah. The Jeep is full of Kinko’s boxes loaded with 5 copies each of all 10 of the screenplays I plan to pitch to film producers. Another box is of “one-sheets” or “leave-behinds” (one-page synopses of each script) and one-sheet lists of all 35 of my titles & loglines, just in case. Plus my resume and credits, if someone asks for it. The fourth box is full of treatments, pilots and series or documentary concepts to pitch to television producers. And let’s not forget the “right” clothes to wear to the pitches, meetings and parties! Which probably just means that one good black linen summer dress I have, despite the suitcases full of other stuff. Driving through the still-smoking forest fires in the Colorado mountains; much devastation and I’m saddened to see it like that.
Day 2: Getting an early start this morning, hopeful and exhilarated at the prospects before me! California, here I come! Driving through mountains and plains, then down into the magnificent other-wordly slick-rock formations of Utah, and to the desert of Nevada, passing the bright lights of Las Vegas, and on into California. Happy to at last see the roadside mileage sign: Los Angeles 222 miles. Stopping at the Mad Greek’s in Baker to get one of their famous fresh strawberry milkshakes. Heat there is oppressive and stunning. Thank God for car air-conditioning! Driving south, passing L.A. and a new forest fire and heavy smoke, right next to the highway in El Cajon Pass, on the other side of the mountain range, and finally arrive at my mother’s house in San Diego for a brief overnight visit.
Day 3: Noon-ish and off toward L.A. again, driving north. Still haven’t seen the Pacific Ocean yet! I stop off in Oceanside to visit a cartoonist friend, Greg Williams (aka: Dark One), and pick up his art portfolio to pitch for him in L.A. to whomever may be looking for a talented animation artist and character designer, should I get that opportunity. Hey; ya never know who you’ll meet! Or what they’ll want to see. North of Oceanside, I finally get a glimpse of the ocean. Arrive in L.A., finally, and drive up the mountain on the 101/Ventura Freeway to my hotel in Thousand Oaks (they take pets and are affordable), but as I arrive at the reception desk, I get a cell-phone call from my wonderful agent, Terry Porter, of Agape Productions in Flat Rock, Indiana, and now in Beverly Hills. He invites me to come down and stay at the estate in Beverly Hills, where he’s staying. I cancel my hotel reservations and head back down the 101 toward Beverly Hills, passing the famed HOLLYWOOD sign up on the hazy mountainside, arriving early afternoon at “my” little villa just off Wilshire Boulevard and almost next door to ICM (International Creative Management) offices.
Terry, dressed in a Hawaiian shirt, shorts, sandals and sunglasses, Southern California style, is waiting on the shady porch under the huge date palm and banana palm trees, bamboo grove and pink flowering bougainvillea vines. We unload my car into the 1930’s Spanish hacienda-style villa, and put Zoe on a leash in the back garden under an orange tree by the pool. The mini-estate, owned by a famous Japanese woman actor/producer/writer, Chako VL, has 2 lovely villas and other apartments surrounding the pool. Chako is in Japan, at the moment, in development on her feature film. Two young Dallas, Texas film producers, Kenny and Kyle S., brothers, and also Terry’s clients, are in one of the smaller apartments already. The two brothers are in L.A. looking to distribute their indie feature film, “Almost Time”, and to finance an animation film, “Porky Pig”. Terry and I will share a villa, separate bedrooms, but using the same kitchen and other rooms together. These 3 men have been living on take-out food, microwaved left-overs, ramen soup, and frozen pizzas, so I head off to the grocery store to get a real dinner to cook for them. OK, OK, so I start being Ms. Professional Screenwriter tomorrow, “Mom” this evening.
Day 4: Terry is up and working the phone first thing in the morning, setting appointments with VPs of development and creative executives of the production companies and studios, while I fix coffee and hover around, nervously. Here’s how it works: 2 weeks ago, from his office in Flat Rock, Terry calls 20 or 30 production companies with which he has relationships and finds out what they’re looking for, at the moment, then tells them about my material. If they’re at all interested, he faxes or emails them one-page loglines and synopses of my work that fit their needs. Then he calls back a few days later to see if they want to get together in L.A. for a pitch meeting. Most say yes, and tell Terry to call them when we are in L.A. and they’ll set a date and time. Terry’s assistant has given Terry a long list of names and phone numbers of who wants what material pitched to them.
I had snail-mailed my BLUE SKIES, LITTLE JUMPING MOUSE and THE PLACE OF EMERALD LIGHT to Michael La C. at DreamWorks (“A Beautiful Mind”, “Schindler’s List”, “Jurassic Park”, “Shreck”) animation before I left Boulder. I also sent Michael H. at Buena Vista Motion Picture Group (recent films: M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Sixth Sense”, starring Bruce Willis; “Pearl Harbor”, starring Ben Affleck”; and “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”, starring George Clooney) my A WILDERNESS WITHIN screenplay, so we hope to get in to pitch to those two studios. We get 2 appointments today to pitch 6 of my scripts! I dash off to walk the dog, and to shower and get dressed for the meetings. I worry that, because I’m: 1. A woman, 2. Over forty, 3. Do not live in L.A. area, and 4. Do not know anyone in The Business, the meetings will only be a cooly “polite” 10 minutes, and I’ll be told, “We’ll call you.” And my screenplays will be tossed on a stack of other scripts, un-read forever.
Terry and I hop in the Jeep (very un-cool car to be sitting in a Beverly Hills driveway!) and head off to the Cindy Cowan production company for my first face-to-face meeting with a VP of development for a major Hollywood producer. I’m not nervous anymore and feel very confident, thanks to Terry’s good vibes. He says this first one will be easy and that Cam C. is a very nice guy, not to worry at all. All of my screenplays are in the back of the Jeep, ready to be carried upstairs in my briefcase, as needed. We park and go to the back of the car to pull out the scripts I’m going to pitch, starting a ritual we’ll continue for the next week, several times a day. I think I’m not nervous, but I simply cannot now remember what scripts to select, so Terry calmly reads off the titles to me: THE REALM OF EMERALD LIGHT, THE MEN OF STONE. He reminds me that they are looking for high-concept drama material. I have great hopes for my treatment and script, EMERALD, which was adapted from a novel by Italo Calvino, as I know Richard Gere is very interested in the original book, and Cindy Cowan is a friend of Gere’s. I’m hoping she’ll pass it along to him if she likes what I’ve written.
We dash across Sunset Blvd. and go through a palm-tree-filled lobby and upstairs to a tiny reception area, and then are ushered into Cam’s office. We are offered something to drink, we say no thanks, sit and do some small talk for a few minutes, then Cam asks me what I have for him. I respond by asking him what specifically he’d like to see, and then verbally give him the 3 titles and logline pitches for the scripts I have in my briefcase. He asks for THE REALM OF EMERALD LIGHT first, and I pitch it to him, telling him the basic story and concept and why I feel it would be a great film for his company, either as a live-action feature or as an animation feature. He agrees to read the treatment and script and I hand it to him, along with another copy of the one-page synopsis. Then he asks what else I have, so I pitch him THE MEN OF STONE, because that one is a women’s film somewhat like “Thelma & Louise” meet “The Witches of Eastwick”. He is interested and we discuss potential casting choices. Then he asks if we have anything else and Terry suggests BLUE SKIES, a favorite of his. Cam asks to see it. Terry goes down to the car and brings it up, while I pitch it. He seems to like this one the best! He says he’ll read all three and will get back to Terry on them.
Cam asks me about the Moondance film festival and we discuss that for a minute, and when I tell him that most winning scripts from Moondance have been sold or optioned, he asks me to describe one of them, so I just happen to mention one that won the first Moondance Columbine Award, BUENOS AIRES, by Olga R., and which was just recently offered a $5000 option. He asks what it’s about and I say, “ ’Casablanca’ in Argentina.“ He asks me to look in the stack of scripts in the bookcase next to me and there sits Olga’s screenplay, BUENOS AIRES! I pull it out and hand it to him, and he says he’ll do a special read of it. I can’t wait to call Olga and tell her the good news!
I ask Cam if I can give him a list of my other loglines and he says yes. He looks them over and says he thinks he’ll stick with the 3 he has, for now, and Olga’s Moondance script. We sense it’s time to go, so we do. Outside on the sidewalk, I feel like jumping up and clicking my heels because it went so well! Terry says I did really fine and we worked like a team in there, so I’m pleased.
We have some time between the first pitch and the second, so we go to lunch. We stop at a classy little café called Chin-Chin, on Sunset Boulevard and take a table outside, ordering several plates of dim sum and iced tea. I call Olga on my cell-phone and tell her about finding her script at Cindy Cowan’s. She’s elated and asks to speak to Terry. They agree that Terry will be her new agent. As we’re eating, I have to laugh, joyously, as the vision of me and my WGA signatory agent, both of us wearing sunglasses and dressed California casual, reading Variety magazine, making deals on a cell-phone, eating lunch between Hollywood pitches, on Sunset Boulevard, is a dream come true for me, after 10 years of slaving away at the computer keyboard in Boulder, Colorado. Not to mention the 7 days a week, 20-hour days/nights I’d just spent in the past month re-writing and updating all 10 of my scripts, loglines and synopses, in preparation for this!
Now it’s off to meet with Jon E. at Orly Adleson’s production company on Santa Monica Blvd. We park, gather up the screenplays we want to pitch, dash across the street and go upstairs to meet with Jon E. in his office. This time, I pitch THE DISCIPLE, THE MEN OF STONE and THE TEN. All goes well and I give Jon the list of my other loglines. Jon promises to follow up with Terry as soon as he’s read them all. We head on back to Beverly Hills and I’m very happy everything is going so well! Surprisingly, everyone I’ve met is NICE! I thought I’d be a dolphin cruising in dangerous, “shark-filled waters” out here in L.A., but that’s not the case at all. What a relief! I actually enjoy pitching and feel as if I could do this every day, no problem.
When we get back to the villa, Terry goes right back on the phone, setting appointments for tomorrow, while I run to the grocery store to get something for a celebratory dinner, as it’s the multi-talented Kyle S.’s 21st birthday today.
Day 5: We get only one appointment today, but it’s a biggie: Samuel D-S at the Robert Evans Company (“The Cotton Club”, “Chinatown”, “Urban Cowboy”, “Marathon Man”, “The Sun Also Rises”, “Barefoot in the Park”, “Rosemary’s Baby”, “Goodbye, Columbus”, “Love Story”, “The Godfather”) at Paramount Pictures! He wants to have lunch outside the studio because of post-9/11 visitor security hassles. Of course, I’d really wanted to have the opportunity drive through those fabled arched Paramount gates, preferably in a chauffeured, black 1930 Rolls Royce town car, for the appointment, but I guess this’ll do, for now. ;o)
We meet Samuel at Le Petit Greek restaurant in Larchmont Village. Samuel is a tall, good-looking, young John Malkovitch look-alike, and we sit down to order lunch. Terry picked the Greek place because I’ve lived in Greece and speak the language, so he thought I could impress Samuel a bit, I guess. Or at least it would help him remember us. Samuel doesn’t want any pitches until we’ve finished lunch, so we chat about Greece, Moondance, Colorado, director Robert Evans’ work, and Hollywood in general, until we’re done with lunch. I was too anxious to eat much. By now, I’m feeling both nervous and excited, because this is such an incredible opportunity for me.
Samuel indicates that he’s ready for my pitch now, so I launch into it, handing him the synopsis for THE DISCIPLE, which was the only one he’d previously agreed to consider. We discuss the plot twists, central theme and the characters, potential actors for the lead roles, and the fact that director Ridley Scott (“Black Hawk Down”, “Gladiator, “Thelma & Louise”, “Alien”, “Blade Runner”) had seriously considered directing it recently, but his money people eventually decided it was a bit too “sentimental and romantic” for a Ridley Scott action film. Samuel asked for the screenplay and then, when I asked him if he’d like to look at my other loglines, he noticed that THE DISCIPLE also comes in a female protagonist version. He really perked up at that and said he wanted me to send him that version as soon as I got back to Boulder. Terry gave me an “I-told-you-so!” smile. Samuel took the male protagonist version of the screenplay with him and promised to read it, but said he was really excited about reading the female version more. That really made me feel great!
As we leave the restaurant, I get a cell-phone call from an old friend, Matt M., whose wife, Melanie M., is a producer at Greystone Television and Films, for A & E’s Biography and The History Channel. Matt invited Terry and I to meet him at his wife’s office, so we drive over to North Hollywood. Matt had brought their 2 little girls to the office, along with a young falcon he’s training, so we just chat a bit and made a date to meet at Matt and Melanie’s ranch the next day. I had wanted to pitch my television series concepts and documentary TV ideas to Melanie, but it didn’t seem like the right time to do so. Terry and I stop off at the Writers Guild office building and toured the library, meeting with librarian Karen P., after I re-registered all of my updated screenplays, treatments and TV series concepts, programs and pilots.
Day 6: An early start this morning. Off to Thousand Oaks, where Terry and I have a quick breakfast with Moondance screenwriter Linda, who gives me her screenplay to read, then we head up to Westlake Village and the Cloud Creek ranch for Larry Brody’s TV Writer.com conference at Brodyfest II. I’m scheduled to be on a panel about film festival and writing competition strategies at 10AM. We park the Jeep in a pasture under some old oak trees so Zoe will have a cool, shady spot to stay. As we hike up to the ranch, a big bear of a man, Larry Brody (whom I’d never met before) comes down and gives me a huge hug, and saying, with a great deal of surprise “You’re Elizabeth? You are so HOT!” (I guess he had expected me to be an old grandmotherly type.) Both of us are staff writers for ScreenTalk magazine and we sort of knew each other from e-mails and our newsletters, and one of my scripts had been a finalist at his TV Writer.com competition.
I went straight to sit on the outdoor panel, with about 75 enthusiastic attendees, under big canvas tents overlooking the valley. Among the other 4 panelists were Jeb Brody, Larry’s son and NY film producer at Magnet Entertainment, and Richard Krevolin, author and USC professor in the cinema and television department. Terry was called to sit on the same panel, to discuss how to get an agent, what agents want to see, and etc. When Larry introduced me to the attendees, I kiddingly mentioned that I was the “token woman” on the panel. Larry got a big kick out of that and teasingly called me an activist and trouble-maker, which I certainly am!
After lots of great questions and answers, a fabulous lunch and schmooze-fest on the patio under the oak trees, Terry and I took off for a visit to Matt in nearby Malibu Lake. We found Matt outside, training the beautiful falcons. Melanie was at a birthday party with the 2 girls, so I didn’t get a chance to pitch anything to her, again, though we had a very nice visit with Matt. Terry and Matt really hit it off, as I knew they would, and Matt was invited to Brody’s for the party later that evening.
So it’s back to Brody’s ranch up in the hills, more panels, a break-out schmooze session and then an incredible catered dinner, fully-stocked bar and with a DJ for dancing under the stars. I am approached by a Chinese film producer and development exec. from Hong Kong and Beijing, Frank L., who offers me the opportunity to travel to China to present the Moondance films at a festival there. He also wants me to consider writing a script for a historical bio-pic he has in mind. I pitch one of my art film scripts, SPARE PARTS, to Jeb Brody, because it seems that his production company is looking for that kind of script. He agrees to read the script if I send it to his office in New York. Lots of people approach Terry to be their agent or to read their scripts and TV pilots. Larry Brody agrees to look at Greg Williams’ cartoon art portfolio I brought, but we never seem to find time to do it. Many people asked for my card so they could send their material to the Moondance 2003 competition.
Also at the Brodyfest, I meet Anton D. and his Russian-born wife Irina. Anton and Irina have written and produced, via their Polar Picture company, several important films for the big TV networks. We agree to get together later to discuss film projects we might do together, including a mutual interest in a bio-pic about the Native American woman heroine, Sacajawea, who led explorers Lewis & Clark to the Pacific Ocean.
Midnight and time to take our leave. Goodbyes and hugs all around and Terry and I head down to the parking area. Matt walks us down to the car and as I am walking Zoe, she decides to do her business, and at that very moment, Matt finally asks, “So what did you want to pitch to Melanie?” Without hesitation, I launch into my moonlit pitches. He really loves the second one and says he wants to pitch it to his wife tomorrow. He promises that if she goes for it, I’ll get credit for the idea. I ask to also be considered for writing and research on the project if it is a go, and Matt says that’s a good possibility! As we drive back down to L.A., Terry says that was the strangest pitch session he ever saw, pitching in the dark while leashed to a dog pooping in the background.
Day 7: A Sunday and we’re off to church. We go to the old, fabled Court Theatre on La Cienega, where Sanctuary is held. Many famous old-time movie stars have played here. The unusual church service was very enlightening and inspiring, and was accompanied by a really great rock band, led by a talented woman singer, Kathi P.. We then go to brunch at the popular Newsroom café in West Hollywood, right next to the NBC studios, and then back to the villa. I head off to the beach at Santa Monica with Kyle S. while Terry watches Zoe, as no dogs are allowed on the Santa Monica beach or pier.
Day 8: No meetings available today, so I do laundry and take a break. Terry calls many production companies, including DreamWorks, Imagine, Warner Bros, and Section 8 (George Clooney’s prodco), at Warner Bros. which has produced such films as: “Harry Potter”, “Superman”, “The Matrix” “Batman”, “Dances With Wolves”, and “The Wizard of Oz”. Michael La C. At DreamWorks tells us that, coincidentally, they are thinking of doing a live-action version by another writer of my feature animation story, so they can’t look at my material…yet. But they do want to see adult animation projects. Imagine TV suggests we wait a few weeks to pitch to them because their VP of development is leaving and it would be better to pitch to the new person. Section 8 tells us to fax or email them a letter about the script I wrote for Clooney, BLUE SKIES, and tell them how and why Clooney would fit into the lead role. I dash off to Kinko’s Beverly Hills to write up the letter and fax it to them. BTW, KInko’s has valet parking in Beverley Hills.
George LeP., director/producer for L.A. Pictures calls and says he’s got 2 VIP tickets to the IFP-sponsored L.A. Film Festival and would one of us like to go? I do, and Terry has plans to go up to Tarzana to meet Moondancer Ata S., an Iranian writer and film producer, so George and I head over to 8000 Sunset for the big IFP party. At the film festival venue, we see lots and lots of people standing in line to see Moondance workshop presenter Meg LeFauve’s latest Jodie Foster film, “The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys”. We hope it gets great opening weekend box office numbers! The balcony is filled with hundreds of international buyers and sellers, the music is good and loud, the vodka is flowing freely, donated by Skye Vodka, and the food is enough for two armies. I send my card to the L.A. Film Festival director as a courtesy and he sends me a message that he’ll call when he’s recovered from the festival.
I approach an interesting-looking man in an Armani suit and introduce myself. It turns out he’s Grant R., an Italian film distributor and he asks to meet with me early some morning for coffee to discuss projects. Coincidentally, he’s seen George’s indie film, “Go Fish”, and really likes it. George and I get invited into the inner sanctum, the Red Room, where the heavy-duty schmoozing and deal-making is going on, along with more free food and booze. George and I pitch our material to each other and people pitch stuff to us. I leave my card and Moondance promotional material laying around and strangely enough, people start calling me on my cell-phone within a few minutes, saying they’re at the same place and want to know about Moondance. We even get our pictures taken by a news photographer for the festival.
Day 9: Two meetings set for 3 and 4 PM, so we have a “relaxing” morning, except for sending a fax of my BLUE SKIES synopsis to Nickelodeon, at their request, then not hearing back from them…yet. Section 8 asks Terry to have me FedEx overnight my BLUE SKIES and THE DISCIPLE scripts, so I do that. Jennifer R. at Imagine TV asks to have my credits faxed to her, so I run to Kinko’s to do that. I call Ben Glass, an old friend who was stills photographer on most of Kevin Costner’s films, starting with “Dances With Wolves”, but he’s not in town this week. At 2PM, we set off for Franchise Pictures (“The Whole Nine Yards” starring Bruce Willis; “Angel Eyes” starring Jennifer Lopez; “Get Carter,” with Sylvester Stallone; David Mamet’s “Heist,” starring Gene Hackman and Danny DeVito; “Things You Can Tell Just By Looking at Her,” featuring Glenn Close, Holly Hunter and Cameron Diaz; and “3,000 Miles to Graceland,” starring Kurt Russell and Kevin Costner.) at a funky old building on Sunset Boulevard and a meeting with development VP, Leeza-Maria K. She takes us upstairs to the conference room, where I pitch my scripts THE DISCIPLE, BLOWING SMOKE and SPARE PARTS. Leeza says she’s very excited about all three of them and can’t wait to read them, That’s music to my ears!
Next we hurry to meet Gloria F. at Mosaic Media and Atlas Entertainment on Sunset Boulevard. Atlas Entertainment has produced film successes including “Cool Runnings,” “12 Monkeys,” “City of Angels,” “Three Kings,” and the live-action version of “Scooby-Doo”. I pitch several scripts to her, but after reading my logline list, she asks for THE UNICORN, because, she says, they only want “smart films”. After returning to the villa, Terry contacts New Line Cinema, but the person he knew there is no longer at New Line and we can’t get an appointment. Zoe starts barking like crazy, so I rush out to see what’s up, and it’s a woman, Trish, walking her dog past the villa. We stop to chat a bit and it turns out that she and her husband once worked with Oscar©-winning director Francis Coppola at Zoetrope. Only in Beverly Hills! After a quick take-out dinner from Debbie’s on Wilshire, Terry and I catch an Inuit movie, “The Fast Runner”. We like it, but it’s too long: 3 hours.
Day 10: I get an early-morning call from Red Wagon Entertainment at Sony. They want me to come in to pitch at 6:PM tomorrow. I had planned to leave for Colorado tomorrow morning, but I can’t pass up this opportunity. Terry tells me that a 6:PM meeting is the best, because that’s often when they bring in food and drinks and meet only with their most important clients.
I’ve asked several people to come to the villa for a buffet dinner at 8 PM tonight. Anton and Irina D., along with Terry and his friend Angela, Moondancers Devo C. (a Moondance 2000 winner for her short film, “Peacock Blues”) and her husband Scott R., both Moondance workshop presenters, and Marina G. and her husband Georg H.. Marina and Irina are two Russian documentary filmmakers (Marina’s film, “The Prince Is Back”, won the Moondance 2002 and she taught a workshop), and I want the two women to meet. An actor client of Terry’s, Alexandra, will be here, too. She has just finished “Streetcar Named Desire”, in which she played the role of Blanche. So it’s off to the stores to buy the food and wine, clean house and set up the buffet. We’d all agreed not to talk about the film business, but of course, that’s all we did discuss. I discover that Angela’s son is Danny DeVito’s L.A. agent, so I ask her to get my script, BLUE SKIES, to her son, because it was written for DeVito in the lead supporting role. Everyone came and enjoyed themselves and we all promised to do it again next time we’re all in L.A.
Day 11: I decide to stay in L.A. a bit longer, and Terry gets me 2 fantastic appointments: one at Disney Studios, and the other with Mel Gibson in Santa Monica, the next day.
Day 12: I pitch my feature animation project, LEGEND OF THE GREEN DOLPHIN, to two acquisitions execs at Disney. I think it went well, except that one of the execs said I’d have to take out the pipe the old lighthouse-keeper smoked, as Disney does not allow any smoking in their films! I asked if he could be just holding an un-lit pipe, and they frowned at me for that. Oops! Then I pitched them a live-action, teen demographic script, WILDERNESS BABY. They liked it a lot, but said I’d have to delete all the scenes that were against clear-cutting and logging of the Oregon forests. Hmmm….
Then it was off to Santa Monica to meet with Mel Gibson. His receptionist took my script adaptation, BEOWULF, from me, said not a word, and disappeared down a hallway with it. I looked at Terry & said, “Is that it?” He shrugged and suggested we wait a few minutes. 10 minutes later, Mr. Gibson, himself, came out, holding my script up to his chest, grinning, and said that he’d been wanting to film this story for years! (the horrible, in my opinion, CGI film that came out later is NOT from my script!)
Day 13: Last day in L.A. Grant R., the Italian distributor arrives for coffee at the villa in the morning, just as Terry is leaving for the airport. Grant and I discuss the possibility of his company attaching to 2 of my scripts to distribute. We make a wish-list for EMERALD: Richard Gere to star, Anthony Minghella to direct and Giovanni Agnelli to produce. For BLUE SKIES, the wish list of attachments are: George Clooney to star, Penny Marshall to direct and Harvey Weinstein of Miramax to produce. Grant takes both scripts with him.
I get a phone call just when he leaves. It’s Red Wagon at Sony. They want me to come in at 11:AM instead of 6PM, so I rush to get ready and drive off to Culver City!
What a thrill to drive through the gates of this major studio! I go through security, and they have a pass waiting for me. I park and go to another security guard, who gives me a map to the Hepburn Building. I walk through the studio lot, past many huge sound stages, and find the Hepburn building next to the Spencer Tracy building, (as is proper). I go upstairs to meet Pete C.. Red Wagon produced the Oscar©-winning “Gladiator”, as well as “Girl, Interrupted” and both “Stuart Little” films. Pete and I chat about Moondance for a while, then he asks, “what have you got to show me?” so I pitch him 3 scripts, THE SONG OF HIAWATHA (feature animation), THE TEN and THE WILDERNESS WITHIN. He agrees to take the first 2, but not the 3rd one. He explains that it’s a very big, very expensive period costume drama with an old man as the protagonist, and they can’t risk doing a costly film without a major star, like Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Brad Pitt, Russell Crowe or Julia Roberts. Pete tells me that the Sony lot was formerly the old MGM lot, and there’s lots of history here, going back to the 1920s. I tell Pete that my mother, Lenore English, worked here, too, when she was a silent film child star working for the original Goldwyn Studios, and with Charlie Chaplin, Tom Mix, and others!
I leave the first 2 scripts and synopses with Pete, who promises to give them a “weekend read”, and go downstairs, still amazed at the niceness of all of the people I’ve met in L.A. Everyone is friendly, polite, interested, and inspiring. Not a “shark” among them, that I can tell! As I reach the stair landing, I see a 7-foot tall pole leaning up in the corner. It has huge brass plaques attached near the top with Latin words on them and I suddenly realize this was a prop carried by Russell Crowe in the “Gladiator” film. How uncool of me, but I wish I could get my picture taken with it!
I get horribly lost on my way back to the villa, but when I finally arrive, Angela comes by, after dropping Terry off at LAX and I give her the SPARE PARTS script for her son to pass along to Danny DeVito at Jersey Films (“Erin Brockovitch”, starring Julia Roberts; “Pulp Fiction”; and “Get Shorty”).
Then I get a call from Ata S., the Iranian writer/producer, inviting me to a dinner party at his house. He says he has a surprise for me, too. I pack up the Jeep and reluctantly leave Beverly Hills, heading up the Ventura Freeway again. Ata has catered in a delicious Iranian feast, Persian rugs and all, and has invited several of his friends. The surprise is a video interview with me and Ata by an Iranian TV producer for international cable TV. Also interviewed is a woman friend of Ata’s, Alicia, who is a well-known line producer, and whose credits are totally amazing. We sit on cushions on the floor and talk shop all evening. I spend the night in Ata’s guest room and plan to take off early for Colorado, but Ata sends me to an Iranian mechanic friend of his to check my car and give it an oil change before the long trip. Finally, about noon, I’m heading east to Colorado, on my way home, after a very happy and successful (I hope!) wonderful week in La La Land, The Dream Factory!