“AO, are producers truly as crazed and tacky as the stories make them seem?”
He was a big, broad-shouldered, deeply tanned man in his mid-forties, chest hair curling aggressively through a brightly patterned shirt unbuttoned nearly to his waist. I wondered how much of that manly tangle he lost every night as he removed the half dozen or so gold necklaces he always wore. Snake skin boots? Of course!
Rumor had it that Mr. Snake Skin Boots (not his real name) ran an exclusive hotel/bordello in Miami Beach, and here he was, in sunny Southern Cal., his pockets lined with cash (needing laundering?) and wanting to make a movie. I had written a terrific comedy that everyone loved, but that no one wanted to film. On the strength of that script I had been hired by R (not his real name), a fantastically successful producer of science fiction films, to do several re-writes. R’s brother, G (not his real name), who ran a film school on Melrose Avenue, owned the rights to a little piece of Neo-Renaissance art called (are you ready for it?) “Supermarket – The Movie.” A dozen writers had hacked at it without much effect. Mr. Snake Skin Boots dumped a bunch of money onto G, who then hired me for a re-write (Draft #9 – I think).
And that was how I found myself sitting in Dick Martin’s house (who was always conspicuously, and intelligently, absent) perched on a spectacularly expensive bluff overlooking the Beverly Hills Country Club, meeting with G, Mr. Snake Skin Boots and an ever-changing cast of characters. Roaming in and out were other comedy writers, other associate producers, and an ethereal young couple, always dressed in white and floating about six inches off the floor, who would waft through each evening, nod vaguely and then drift back into the depths of the house. Most entertaining for me was the succession of lovely young ladies, each of whom Mr. SSB had met in some club the night before and promised (in return for what, quien sabe?) to allow to “help fix up” the script. A different lovely lady every night, and all of them eager to work with me. Cool.
G would spit on his thick glasses and polish them with his thumb. Mr. SSB would argue vague money matters on the phone. And I would huddle in the corner with Denice, Jennifer, or (my favorite) Clarisa, who was from London and stole a little piece of my heart. And Mr. SSB, bless his heart, would be true to his word – anything the Lovely Lady of that particular evening suggested made it into the script. (In retrospect, there was a curious emphasis on jokes about gay men in the produce department – an oddity worthy of some study.)
And I don’t mean to slight Mr. SSB’s own rather considerable creative juices. One night we were stuck for a good transitional scene when Mr. SSB suddenly waved his hands in the air and, gold necklaces rattling in excitement, cried: “I’ve got it!”
“O.k.,” he continued, “the boss is sitting at his desk in his office. Great big desk. Huge office. Thick shag carpet. The door opens and his secretary walks in.” (At this point, Gentle Reader, Mr. SSB treated us all to a very detailed description of the secretary’s many charms. I will spare you the details. And now back to our story…) “Anyhow, she’s gorgeous. She’s looks across the office to the boss, licks her lips, drops to her knees, and then crawls slowly across the office floor, smiling all the way. She crawls under the desk and gives him (brief description deleted).”
Mr. SSB then pointed his finger at me and intoned, quite seriously: “But it has to be done tastefully.”
Hey, they paid me and the check cleared.
So, in answer to the question, I suppose some producers are tacky and crazed, but I certainly wouldn’t know from personal experience.