Monday, October 30, 2006

The Devil's Guide To Hollywood

Joe Eszterhas has been a screenwriting legend for many years. He brooked no crap from anyone, including the bellicose Mike Ovitz, who terrorized show business and threatened Joe’s life when Joe fired him. Joe is a polarizing force and people either love him or hate him. He once took a dogon fighting stick and bashed in the conference room table of someone who was trying to mess with his script. Eszterhas’s screenplay Basic Instinct earned him three million dollars and he was once paid four million dollars for a four page outline.

He left Hollywood years ago and moved to Ohio after marrying Naomi, the ex-wife of one of his best friends, who had famously dumped Naomi for Sharon Stone who then dumped him. Joe got throat cancer, gave up cigarettes and drinking and swore off screenwriting. But he’s finally back in the game and hopefully his Showgirls and Sliver days are far behind him and he has another Flashdance and Jagged Edge left. His solipsistic world view notwithstanding, the book is a great read. Along with Shane Black, Joe remains one of the highest paid screenwriters in Hollywood history. He does not believe in plastic surgery, obviously.

Here are some quotes from his new book, The Devil’s Guide to Hollywood:

“One man wrote War and Peace. Thirty-five screenwriters wrote The Flintstones.”

“With the exception of Russell Crowe and Mel Gibson, there are few stars able to play super macho parts today. Many of Hollywood’s top male movie stars are either gay or bisexual.”

“Milton Berle said ‘Don’t tell jokes only the band laughs at.’”

“Knowing nothing about writing a play, Paddy Chayefsky taught himself playwriting by sitting down at the typewriter and copying Lillian Hellman’s The Children’s Hour word for word. He said, ‘I studied every line of it and kept asking myself, Why did she write this particular line?”

“Even though I had nothing to do with the sequel to Basic Instinct, The Arkansas Times wrote in its review of it: ‘It’s the kind of movie that makes me wish Joe Eszterhas’s mother had left a few more dry cleaning bags around when he was a kid.’”

“William Goldman said there hasn’t been a truly famous writer since Hemingway. He was at a Knicks game last year when Norman Mailer was introduced to the crowd. Half a dozen people around him said, ‘Who?’ and one guy went so far to as to ask, ‘Who did he play for?’”

“At the 66th Academy Awards, a screenwriter hired an airplane that towed a banner behind it proclaiming WORLD’S FUNNIEST SCRIPT, along with a phone number. It didn’t do him any good, the script remains unsold.”

“If a studio has flown you to LA for a meeting and is picking up your hotel bill don’t put any drinks you may have had in the bar on it. A studio accountant will let the executive in charge of your project know how many drinks you had. If you had more than a few, the studio will decide that you have a drinking problem and will not hire you for the project.”

“Michael Douglas had a full-rupture hissy fit over the ending of Basic Instinct. He wanted to blow Sharon Stone away at the end. He said the film lacked redemption and would fail at the box office. The studio didn’t like the script’s ambiguous ending either, and the only reason it stood is because the director, Paul Verhoeven, wouldn’t allow the film to be focus-grouped. The focus group would certainly have voted down the ambiguous ending.”

“There has always been the issue of ageism directed toward screenwriters, directors, producers and actors in Hollywood. An agent set up a meeting for a screenwriter with a studio executive.
The agent says, ‘How old are you?’
The screenwriter says, ‘I’m 28.’
The agent says, ‘Let’s make it 23.’”

End of chat.

Monday, October 23, 2006


Hollywood is a town where people are always out of work and yet no one is ever home. Among cell phones, voice mail, Treos, answering services, answering machines, three-way calling, call-forwarding and Spanish speaking maids, I can usually find someone, although the maids just say ‘Meesis no home’ over and over until I’m forced to hang up. But I’m starting Spanish lessons and soon I’ll be able to tell them to fuck off before I hang up. And believe me, those will be the first two words I learn.

I have a friend in the Midwest who doesn’t have a cell phone, an answering machine or voice mail. But she assures me she can make blackberry pie when I bring up the eponymous PDA. I yell at her all the time to get something that takes a message but she says technology is going too fast and she longs for a simpler time. Yes, for god’s sake, let’s get out the butter churn, throw it into the covered wagon and head over to the quilting bee.

What is she really missing? Texting? That’s as gay as it gets. You’re already on a phone, people. Dial.

PDAs? I got an email from a friend in NYC who had picked up my email to her and was returning it five minutes later from the # 6 Lexington Avenue subway. Was I awaiting her decision to give me a kidney? Lend me a million dollars? No, I was just asking her how she was.

Caller I.D.? I didn’t mind *69 which was great for trapping people who lied about calling, including me. But the *82, the *62, not to mention all the ones I can’t remember, what kind of control freaks have we become? I once starred when I should have pounded and my friend Metia looked at me horrified.
“Now he’s going to know you called because you didn’t STAR it, you POUNDED it.”
“Hey, pound this; I just wanted to know if he was home tonight, that’s all. And he wasn’t.”
“What if he’s home having sex and not answering his phone?”

The ubiquitous cell phone? I miss the days when I was bothered by someone’s chirping pager going off ten feet across a room. For seven seconds. The instruction book for my cell phone has eighty-four pages. It might actually dust and do dishes, but I wouldn’t know since I’m not about to read those eighty-four pages anytime soon.

And finally, the home phone as corporate grift. I have MCI, which is hooked up to my Delta Frequent flier program and I get five miles for every dollar spent. If I call Shanghai every day for six years, I’ll get a round trip ticket to Cleveland. And if I use MCI’s online service, I get one dollar off per month on my bill, but there goes sixty free miles a year on Delta because you have to choose one or the other. I could always fly American, which long ago merged with T.W.A., thereby boosting my frequent flier mileage to just one hundred and thirty-six miles under the twenty-five thousand miles required for a free trip. But for just one hundred and twenty-five dollars I can still turn them all in and get a round trip ticket from San Francisco to Berkeley or hook the phone line up to Blockbuster’s new program so I can get one out of every four DVD rentals free. Only I hate DVD’s because I don’t care what went on behind the scenes during filming, what scenes didn’t make the final cut and the alternate endings that the studio hated but the director loved. I never want to hear what M. Night Shyamalan has to say about anything at anytime unless he explains why his middle name is ‘Night’. Yes, I know I don’t have to watch those special bonus features but what was wrong with VHS again?

Maybe I’ll stop yelling at my friend in the Midwest and just write her a letter.

End of chat.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Who's Your Favorite Midget?

I was watching the end of the Megan Mullally show and by end I mean just for that day, sadly not for all time. She has many talents but hosting a talk show doesn’t appear to be one of them.

A. Megan held an audience dance contest. There were four contestants, three women in their late 20’s to early 30’s and one woman who was 61. The three younger women were great; the 61 year old looked like she was having an epileptic fit. Who won?

B. A year ago my family and I were on a cruise to Hawaii. There was a dance contest in one of the lounges so we went to watch. It was three men dancing first, then 3 women dancing last. There was one hot guy, one average looking guy and one chubby guy. The hot guy and the average guy were great dancers and the chubby guy couldn’t dance at all. Who won?

C. Then the women danced. There was one hot girl, one average looking girl and one chubby girl. The hot girl spent all of her time dancing in the audience, having not understood the complicated request to dance on the stage. The average girl was the best dancer and the chubby girl couldn’t dance at all. Who won?

A. Old woman
B. Chubby guy
C. Hot girl

A. We feel sorry for old people, but not sorry enough to hire them
B. Chubby men get more sympathy than chubby women
C. Hot girls win no matter how stupid they are
D. Duh
E. End of chat

Monday, October 09, 2006

Little Mary Sunshine

At the beginning of every October I keep all the lights on in my place starting at 4:00 p.m. because otherwise I get cranky. This lasts for about six weeks or until I get used to the darkness. I don’t think anyone should get used to the darkness but that’s another topic altogether. I have Seasonal Affective Disorder, SAD, which is a malady that didn’t exist before 1984, which is probably when doctors discovered they could charge it off to insurance.

Currently, these things get on my last October nerve:

1. Straight men who wear matching earrings in both ears. You look like a girl. Seriously, quit it.
2. People who never use Spell Check. If Microsoft, Macintosh and your IP assume you can’t spell, why don’t you?
3. Baby Daddy. Enough already.
4. Pimping your ride, your crib and your mama. Just stick to the hos, okay?
5. Overalls on grown women. Are you kidding me?
6. Emoticons. Just a way of lying and masking it with a little yellow frown. You can’t meet me for dinner? I promise you that will not make you sad. Unless you have SAD.
7. Women who have tubular boobs. Donna Karan at the VMA’s, it’s called a breast lift Donna, look into it.
8. Tattoos. Send me a picture of yourself when you’re 76, I’m going to need a good laugh.
9. Hair extensions. Unless you’re Cher, which you’re not. And that means you Nancy O’Dell.
10. Rachael Ray. Shut the fuck up and stir.
11. Sunglasses on musicians. If Andrea Bocelli doesn’t wear them, neither should you.
12. Rubber flip flops, unless you’re 8 years old.
13. UGGS. The name says it all.
14. End of chat.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Are You Hot?

The Girls Next Door to me aren’t, they all need an Extreme Makeover or a visit to Dr. 90210. And haven’t those girls had their 30 Seconds Of Fame? Must we watch the rest of the fifteen minutes?

My Big Brother is hot but he’s one of those irritating Newlyweds who got into a Blow Out with me over The Family Jewels. Since I’m a Bachelorette Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, I think I should get them but he disagrees. We also fight over a Blind Date he set me up on after he explained to me How To Get The Guy. But I didn’t get the guy and he was only an Average Joe, so what does that say about me? Or my brother’s advice?

My neighborhood is littered with interesting and eccentric people. So one day I got into the Cash Cab to go up into The Hills and check out a Million Dollar Listing. I was wondering What Not To Wear when female Cops pulled us over. Turns out they thought I was a Rock Star and wanted to know if I could introduce them to The Bachelor. “So, Deal Or No Deal?” they asked. I said the best I could do was take them down to Laguna Beach and introduce them to My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé. They got mad and wrote me a ticket and as we drove away, they pulled up next to us and started to play a mean game of chicken. It was an Amazing Race.

We passed countless celebrity homes. Whitney Houston’s ex-husband was outside on his lawn just Being Bobby Brown. A homeless guy was standing on a corner with a sign that said, I Want To Be A Hilton, like he had a chance. I Pity The Fool. I went down a small street close to the Hollywood sign and there was a guy sitting on the curb crying because he was Breaking Up With Shannon Doherty. There was so much noise coming from The House Of Carters that I had to roll up my windows. Then a Celebrity Mole ran in front of the cab and I told the driver to try and hit it because aren’t there enough celebrities in this town? Here’s a thought, don’t you think that Dog The Bounty Hunter and The Osbournes should do a Wife Swap? But that would just make them Cheaters and we’re already way over our quota here in L.A.

Well, I’m off to get Inked but I’d just like to say that in The Real World I consider myself a Survivor of Adventures in Hollywood. Or maybe I’m just The Biggest Loser.

End of chat.