Some of you have noticed that I’ve been a bit jittery on this blog lately — putting posts on, taking them off, and changing titles every half hour. I’m not exactly sure what’s going on with me. Maybe I’m nervous about spending two weeks in Flushing with both Sophia and my mother. Did I mention that we’re also spending five days in a lakefront cabin in the Berkshires together?
But I think the real reason for my nervous energy is because I recently went to a meet-up with a few old friends from grad school, and I’m doing the inevitable comparisons of our lives. We were all in the MFA program at USC Film School. We lost touch for a while, but one found me through “Citizen of the Month.” During the weekend, we had a reunion. One is them is a major movie director. One is a editor for TV. One is a ICM talent agent. And then there’s me, the freelance writer known as Neilochka. So, I hope this explains my recent ranting on about syndication and bloggers making money.
I was very anxious about seeing these guys, but once I was there, it wasn’t bad at all. After you hit the age of 30, everyone’s life is such a confusing mess that it’s difficult to make comparisons based solely on career choices. And in Hollywood, everyone has had his ups and down, including the most successful of the bunch.
At some point during our meet-up, we went around the table, and each told a tale of his WORST Hollywood experience. This was not an easy task. Everyone had stories of crazed agents and meglomaniacal producers, sometimes even with the same characters.
When it was my time to tell a story, I filed through my storehouse of unpleasant Hollywood moments. Should I tell the one about the agent that was arrested while I was in his office? How about the pitch meeting at Fox? Sophia and I had written a romantic comedy script together. But when we pitched it to a young executive, he stood in the corner of his office and played this miniature hole-in-one golf game by himself.
I decided to tell the story of the sitcom taping that I attended with my former writing partner. It was the taping of some brand new show for the Fall Season. The show had a lot of “buzz.” They were filming their first episode at Warner Brothers.
After the show, my partner and I went to Dalt’s Grill in Burbank (which sadly closed last year). Even though Dalt’s was nothing more than a fancy coffee shop, it was close to Warner Brothers and Disney Studios, so everyone went there. You saw more celebrities at Dalt’s than in Beverly Hills.
As we ate our burgers, we saw the cast and crew of the sitcom taping we had just attended — sitting a few tables away. The producers, the writers, and the cast were there, all celebrating the success of the taping.
My partner dragged me over there to say hello and kiss some ass. We tried to look confident as we introduced ourselves. We told them how brilliant they were and that their show was the best thing on TV since “All in the Family.” They invited us to sit down with them. My writing partner and I looked at each other. We were in!
For the next hour, we poured on the B.S. I told my best stories. We did some shtick. I talked with the lead actor about some obscure movie he was in, and scored some major brownie points. The executive producer treated me like I was an old buddy. We both were from Queens. He said my partner and I would be perfect as writers for the show.
The executive producer’s phone rang, supposedly about some party we were all going to attend in West Hollywood. But it wasn’t about the party. It was the network. They were cancelling the show — after the taping of the first episode.
The executive producer started to cry. The lead actor threw a container of coffee against the wall. The others got drunk.
My writing partner and I never heard back from any of them again.