Friday, August 16, 2013
Hot in This Town
Bob Knightly's tale of the time he and Tom Adcock were flown first-class to Hollywood and given a big rush ("You're hot in this town," said the agent), only to be kicked to the curb at the end of the week, reminded me of the time I got a little flutter from Larry Gordon, the Hollywood producer.
It was sometime in the late eighties. I still had an office in the Great Princeton Software House, and a real desk, where I wrote brilliant user documentation and listened to grand opera on a Walkman. I was the Morse of Great Princeton Software, without the Glenfiddich. Later the CEO tore down all the office walls and herded us into cubicles, where we were forbidden our Walkmen and stripped of all dignity. But at the time of this story, things were still good.
Very good, in fact. The Jersey Monkey was scheduled to be released in a matter of weeks. Maybe this time I would hit it big and make enough money to leave the software house and stay home with my adorable little boy.
The phone rang; it was Barrie, my agent. "Katie!" she said. "Hollywood called." I can't express to you the intensity of lust and greed that Barrie was able to pack into the word Hollywood. It was stunning.
"Indeed!" I said.
"Larry Gordon wants to see The Jersey Monkey. He's looking for a book to turn into Die Hard III. I sent him a copy."
"I just wanted you to know. Hollywood."
Now in those days Hollywood was awash in Japanese money. Writers were making fortunes. Why not me? Bruce Willis seemed a bit far-fetched as Nick Magaracz, but what the hey. Anything was possible. I went out on my lunch hour and bought a huge pair of prescription sunglasses. Hollywood.
In a few days Barrie called back and said she had heard from Larry Gordon that The Jersey Monkey wasn't quite right for what he had in mind. Unlike Bob and Tom, I never even got first-class plane tickets to Los Angeles. It was okay, though. I wasn't terribly crushed. I suspected that The Jersey Monkey wasn't really a very good book, and I understood that Hollywood people were—how shall I put this?—not always sincere in the effulgence of their praise or reliable in the fulfillment of their promises. As for Barrie, I believe she made more than one million-dollar deal with the Hollywood folks, most notably for the script to "Indecent Proposal." So she wasn't terribly crushed either.
And I have my sunglasses. Those babies have gone in and out of style three times since Hollywood cast my book aside. I can still see through them (in spite of a few scratches), and I gotta say, they are still hot.