Another quick piece as I haven’t posted anything in a while. I was reading another book about a woman in L.A. and it made me think of how stressful an environment like that would be to live in. This is just a story that came to mind and I hope you enjoy.
City of Angels
I had heard about the glitz and glamour my whole life. It was in most T.V. programmes and every movie had its taint. I had spent a large portion of my teenage life wishing for the day I could move to that magical city of celebrities, expensive cars and paparazzi. The City of Angels.
I came to the city, not as an aspiring writer peddling scripts to any agent that bothered to let their assistants read it, but as a bonafide success. I had written a script fresh out of college that got picked up by a local TV station and turned into a six part series. The programme exploded, it got bought by networks in over twenty countries and adapted for different audiences. Hollywood took notice. But they wanted something fresh, my pride and joy, a script I had told only one magazine I had actually wrote; The Frustrated Hunter.
And now here I was.
I was sitting in a restaurant in West Hollywood called ‘Buck and Tuck’. It’s ridiculous name was a satirical insult but I didn’t really get it. My own agent, Rodger Hillbrown, was in a pale green tailored suit, his pearly white teeth grinning at me over a glass of mineral water and a bowl of lettuce leaves – that he hadn’t touched.
I looked like an under dressed idiot next to these tanned, buff movie people.
“Don’t worry, it looks exotic,” he said, still grinning. “You look like a recluse writer, it’ll work.”
“I guess,” was all I could muster before Hillbrown stood up, his teeth matching the blinding pairs of teeth walking towards us.
They were the studio reps we were waiting for.
Both looked like Hillbrown clones. Tall, tanned, and grinning.
“You’re script is, like, totally awesome,” the younger of the two said as he sat down.
“And we loved, spell it L-O-V-E-D the T.V. series,” the blonde haired one said, “So funny, so current, so insightful.”
“Thank you,” I said as they ordered their own water and bowl of lettuce.
Their faces looked so plastic. Their eyes shone at me with a mechanical efficiency designed to charm and get their own way. I could see them for what they were – sharks.
I imagined how it would be if I was just an inspiring writer. I wouldn’t have even got into this restaurant, never mind have been on these shark’s radars.
I wondered how many great scripts they never even looked at, so absorbed they were in their own world of making money.
Commercial viability was greater than literary genius.
I wondered whether it was more of an insult that I was sitting in front of them than an honour.
“So, we’re thinking BIG budget, BIG stars, BIG success, yeah?” The blonde one, his name was ‘Dirk’ or ‘Chad’ or something similar.
I nodded, not really paying attention.
“YEAH!” he said overzealously, “obviously you get an input, like, we want to stay close to the original. As close as possible.”
“Of course,” the younger one chimed in, Hillbrown nodding like a bobble head, “we want to put across the essence of what you wrote.”
“Mhmm,” I mumbled.
“What did I write?” I asked.
“Excuse me?” the blonde one said.
“What did I write, tell me the essence you want to put across,” I thought it was a fair question.
“We, ah, we….” Both looked at each other.
“That’s what I thought,” I stood up, pushing myself away from the table.
“I think we’ve done enough here no?” looking at Hillbrown.
“We haven’t even talked about money yet,” Dirk/Chad said, his teeth gleaming and his eyes angry, yet shining.
“Oh yes, neither we have,” I returned his grin, “$5 million to option it, $100 grand a re write PLUS a percentage of the profits.”
The façade dropped, their eyes dimmed and their teeth were covered with snarling lips.
“That’s, like, unprecedented, you can’t ask for that,” the younger one breathed through gritted teeth.
“I can ask for what I like, isn’t that how this city works?
“As soon as I’m on the scrapheap you won’t even remember my name. But, for now, I’m the hottest thing around. Everyone wants what I’ve got and I bet someone is willing to pay for it.
“How much will you pay, when your studio finds out you rejected my terms and a rival snapped it up? I bet $5million is pocket change compared to a blockbuster’s gross profits.”
They looked stunned.
I turned and walked away. I could hear Hillbrown apologizing for me and I didn’t care.
This city moves too fast to care what anyone says behind your back. Their bright, shiny eyes are only looking for their own next big break, so why shouldn’t I?
Every Angel can fall back to Earth with a thump – and most usually do. Once an Angel is fallen they never spring back as high, if at all. I was going to use my time in the clouds to catch myself a star or two.
If I valued myself at $5 million, then they would have too. If they valued me at $100 thousand and I accepted it, then that was all I was worth. These fake execs and their associates were out to make the biggest buck. They wanted to continue their detox lifestyle and that was their choice. I just didn’t have the same agenda. I was taking a huge risk and I knew it. But I was playing a risky game anyway and I had gotten this far. I would try my luck a little harder.
I put my sunglasses on as I strode from the restaurant. My car was waiting out front and so were the paparazzi. The light bulbs flashed in my face as I swung into the backseat of the black town car. I shut the door, leaving Hillbrown behind.
It was a dog eat dog city and if you stayed behind apologizing then that’s where you stayed.
God I loved this city!