The Big Switcheroo 4 final

The Big Switcheroo

by Jeffrey Peter Bates

An unethical producer is about to make the biggest movie deal of his career. Or is he? 3,469 words. Illustration by John Donald Carlucci.

S. Murray Gould had no idea who John le Carré was. But if he had, he would have thought he was trapped in one of the British author’s complex spy novels. After all, it was two in the morning, and here he was in the back of an SUV with a black hood over his head.

The three large grim-faced men who were accompanying him had arrived at his Beverly Hills home ten minutes earlier and were now whisking him off to an undisclosed location. There he would finally lay his eyes on the “property” most of Hollywood was buzzing about.

“The package is secure,” said one of the men into a radio mic. “We are en route.”

All Murray knew was that a hot new film script had suddenly surfaced and only a select few Hollywood producers had been contacted about buying it. None knew what the script was about. All they knew was its title: Liquid Gold. Even the writer’s name was unknown. Rumor had it that Liquid Gold was a great story with the potential to be a box office smash and a surefire Oscar contender.

“If you are interested in producing your next hit movie,” read a mysterious text on Murray’s personal iPhone, “you must agree to, and abide by, certain conditions.”

“How the fuck did they get this number?” Murray muttered to himself. “Even I don’t know it.”

Continue reading

About The Author:
Jeffrey Peter Bates
Jeffrey Peter Bates is a longtime member of the WGA and the Academy for Television Arts and Sciences. He is currently the Creative Director at Onyx Productions Direct Inc where he writes and directs commercials and infomercials. He sold a screenplay, had several scripts optioned and has written for Rod Serling, Kirk Douglas, Vincent Price, Jack Palance, Jonathan Winters.
Actress Bathing Girl Family ART 1

Bathing & The Single Girl
Part Two

by Christine Elise McCarthy

She has barely worked in years, and a self-respecting actress needs to pay her bar tab. 2,383 words. Part One. Illustration by John Donald Carlucci.

A few hours later, I stood inside the door of a dark bar and grill and waited for my eyes to adjust to the light. I assessed the impact the Xanax was having. I was disappointed to note that I didn’t feel any different but also relieved that I didn’t have the sudden urge to turn five-dollar tricks in alleyways or rob a pharmacy. Then I realized that the weight on my chest had lifted and I could actually get a deep breath of air into my lungs. Hmmm, maybe my fear of immediate drug dependency and subsequent prison time for forging benzodiazepine prescriptions was premature — melodramatic, even.

“Ruby!” my agent Kim called, but the room was still too dark for me to make out anything clearly. “Over here at the bar,” I heard her say, so I headed toward the backlit wall of alcohol. By the time I got there, I could clearly see Kim at the other end and an oversized martini glass in front of her. I walked over and sat next to her.

“So? How was the audition? Did you nail it?”

“Did you read the material, Kim?”

“No. But this series is very hot and getting a lot of buzz. They are going for an edgy no-boundaries True Blood meets an updated Police Woman but with a Sixth Sense vibe set in a post-apocalyptic Jersey Shore. They are shooting it in L.A. but it takes place in Detroit. Don’t tell anyone I told you, but they’re in negotiations to get Sean Young and Gary Busey to do a three webisode arc,” Kim said and sipped her drink as though she hadn’t said a single unbelievably insane thing. “So,” she repeated, setting her drink down, “how’d it go?”

“Pushing boundaries just means more nudity. And, again, you didn’t actually read the material, did you?”

Continue reading

About The Author:
Christine Elise McCarthy
Christine Elise McCarthy has acted professionally for 28 years on Beverly Hills 90210, ER, Body Snatchers, Vanishing Point, Boiling Point, China Beach, In The Heat Of The Night, Tell Me That You Love Me and Child’s Play 2. She wrote for Beverly Hills, 90210 and Aaron Spelling. Her directorial debut for Bathing & The Single Girl was accepted into 100+ film festivals and won 20 awards. This debut novel was inspired by her short film.
Actress Bathing Girl 3

Bathing & The Single Girl
Part One

by Christine Elise McCarthy

The life of an actress isn’t all glamour, money, sex. Often it’s about humiliation. 2,029 words. Part Two. Illustration by John Donald Carlucci.

So one morning later in the month, I was again facing the relentless onslaught of overdue bills. And once again, I faced an unpayable mortgage. I managed to stretch a few paltry residuals and my unemployment benefits to cover my cell bill, utilities and the minimum payments on my credit card balances. It struck me that “balance” was an interesting word to call mounting debt. What would they call it once it came tumbling down all around me? Bankruptcy, I guessed. Foreclosure.

My chest began its now-too-familiar objection to thoughts of financial matters and squeezed in on itself while my heart sped to a dangerous pace. I tried some exercises to prevent the stroke that I was certain was coming, but I couldn’t even get air to fill my lungs let alone the deep breaths I’d been taught in yoga classes. I was becoming light-headed.

Then the phone rang. It was my agent, Kim.

“Hi, Ruby, good news! I have an audition for you. It’s a new show. Something about cops with ESP versus vampire teens. It’s actually called Sexy Dicks With ESP Vs. Gangster Vampire Teens.”

“You have to be kidding me.”

“It’s a Mentalist/Sopranos/Twilight hybrid with amazing buzz. You’re lucky I was able to get you in.”

Continue reading

About The Author:
Christine Elise McCarthy
Christine Elise McCarthy has acted professionally for 28 years on Beverly Hills 90210, ER, Body Snatchers, Vanishing Point, Boiling Point, China Beach, In The Heat Of The Night, Tell Me That You Love Me and Child’s Play 2. She wrote for Beverly Hills, 90210 and Aaron Spelling. Her directorial debut for Bathing & The Single Girl was accepted into 100+ film festivals and won 20 awards. This debut novel was inspired by her short film.
Landslide final

The Landslide

by Richard Natale

A former film production exec runs into her detestable Hollywood doppelganger. 3,544 words. Illustration by John Donald Carlucci.

Angela was dropping off a passenger in lower Laurel Canyon near Hollywood Boulevard when her cell flashed; a request for an airport run. The address on North Curson was familiar. She hadn’t driven past her old condo complex since being forced into foreclosure. And since becoming an Uber driver, she’d generally avoided accepting fares in town just on the off chance of picking up a familiar industry face.

Nothing to be gained from looking in the rearview mirror. She had a back-up camera for that.

Out of curiosity, she decided to accept the fare. Who knows, it might be the very person who’d bought her apartment – at well below market, no doubt. So effing unfair, she thought, and took a deep breath.

Let it go, Angela, let it go.

The woman’s face was not visible when Angela pulled up, only the passenger’s Longchamp hard shell wheelie and three inch heels, one foot tapping nervously. Angela recognized the designer shoes and could still feel them pinching her toes. Pragmatism dictated that heels be kept in a carry-on and sneakers or flip-flops worn to navigate the airline terminal and gateway. For professional women, however, such down-time was an unaffordable luxury.

Even in transit, Angela had been painstaking about her appearance, lest she run into a business colleague – an agent, a manager, a producer. So she endured the discomfort and the very real possibility of slipping or twisting an ankle on her way to the gate. Not to mention trying to get the shoes back on after the flight when her feet had swollen to twice their normal size. Even if she kept them on the whole time, they expanded anyway, like poppin’ fresh dough.

Continue reading

About The Author:
Richard Natale
Richard Natale is a film journalist and writer whose short stories have appeared in Wilde Oats, Chelsea Station, Gertrude and Off the Rocks. His recent novel Café Eisenhower was an honorable mention at the 2015 Rainbow Awards. His latest novel is Love On The Jersey Shore. Natale wrote/directed Green Plaid Shirt, an indie feature which played at film festivals globally.
My Films Been Hacked 2

My Film’s Been Hacked!

by Mark Fearing

Everyone’s in a panic except the producer when unsubs digitally mess up a film. 2,382 words. Story and illustration by Mark Fearing.

The producer Bernie Polon sat behind his desk preparing for the emergency concerning the film he’d worked on for the last three years. The director had demanded a meeting in Bernie’s office at eight o’clock in the morning. Bernie wondered if people really have meetings at 8 a.m.? But he had to accommodate Desmond Bright, who was a temperamental British helmer that everybody hated to love. But the filmmaker shot fog-smothered landscapes with gauzy figures delivering modestly indecent lines while fighting Vikings or aliens or demons better than anyone. Also called into the meeting was Jon Wright, the film’s editor with all those credentials Hollywood needs an editor to have.

Though Bernie was pretty sure that soon eighth graders would be doing all the editing in town. Hell, in a dozen years, eighth graders might be doing Bernie’s job the way things were going in the movie business.

“OK, what is so fucking important that we need to meet in person?” Bernie demanded of Desmond, making it clear they weren’t going to be friends today. “Haven’t you learned how to use American technology yet? It’s called an iPhone and it has Facetime.”

Desmond’s cheeks sucked in. “My film’s been hacked!”

The producer had been in the movie business for 35 years and knew that the technical jargon of film changes every 30 seconds. But this was a new situation, even for Bernie.

Continue reading

About The Author:
Mark Fearing
Mark Fearing is an author and illustrator who has worked in TV and New Media for Sony, Disney, Nickelodeon, Freemantle, Adobe, Apple, Dreamworks Online and Microsoft. His children’s books have been published by Chronicle Books, Disney-Hyperion, Dial Books, HMH Books, and soon by Knopf Books and Candlewick Press.
The Lovers - Thomas Warming

The Lovers

by Geoff Nicholson

Two actors meet in a bar and discuss a Hollywood Boulevard performance noone has seen. Not yet. 2,321 words. Illustration by Thomas Warming.

I was working the afternoon shift in a dark empty bar called 8½ Monkeys. The owner thought the name would appeal to cult movie fans, but he’d been wrong about that. It was the start of happy hour, though looking around at the thin skim of customers hiding from the sunlight, it didn’t seem that anybody was planning to get happy anytime soon. Least of all me.

The bar was at the eastern end of Hollywood Boulevard right before it meets up with Sunset, and there’d been a phase in my life when I’d thought that sounded very glamorous. But that was a long time ago. I’d come to L.A. a good few years back, as a bartender who wanted to be an actor, but now after all the usual auditions, rejections, bit parts, disappointments and rip-offs, I reckoned I was probably just a bartender.

Some people sit alone in bars because they don’t want to talk to anybody. Some people sit alone in bars because they do. As a bartender you have to be able to cope with either. The guy sitting on the stool across the bar from me me was obviously a talker. I could sense that long before he opened his mouth.

He looked like he might once have been a somebody. He was just about middle aged, greying elegantly, and good looking in an out-of-fashion TV cop show kind of way. Maybe one of those guys who’d been the best-looking boy in his small town in Wisconsin, and he thought he’d come to Hollywood and capitalize on it in some way. And he’d got here and seen that his small town back in Wisconsin actually had pretty low standards of male beauty and realized he was never going to make it big. But he’d gritted his teeth and hung in there, made a living one way or another, because anything was better than the humiliation of going back home. It was a story I knew very well, but I wouldn’t have paid money to see it on the screen.

Continue reading

About The Author:
Geoff Nicholson
Geoff Nicholson is the author of many books of fiction and non-fiction, most recently The City Under The Skin, Walking In Ruins, Bleeding London, Bedlam Burning, Gravity's Volkswagen, The Hollywood Dodo. A movie was made of one of his novels, Permanent Vacation. Hollywood has optioned several of his books for films, scripts and treatments.
Dogs life

It’s A Dog’s Life

by Katherine Tomlinson

A film actor is as worried about his career as he is about his new co-star: a dog. 2,421 words. Illustration by Thomas Warming.

Garibaldi Fox’s name was not at the gate. The guard recognized him even before the veteran actor handed over his driver’s license and said, “Nice to see you again, Mr. Fox.” But when the guard checked his computer screen, Garry’s name wasn’t listed. And even though he knew who Garry was and why he was at the studio, the guard couldn’t let him onto the lot until the production company vouched for him and called in a drive-on pass.

Garry could have been an asshole about it but he knew screw-ups like not leaving a drive-on could get an assistant fired. And producer Andrew Steele of Steele Standing Productions was not known as a patient man when it came to his assistant or others.

Garry didn’t stress. There were times he played the “star” card but, in truth, he wasn’t in any real hurry to get on set today. The movie was more of a Lassie knock-off than a remake of the much-rebooted Warner franchise Rin Tin Tin. Even though his canine co-star was a German shepherd, everyone in fact took pains to distance the new project Garry was starring in from those long ago iconic dog movies. Garry had heard a story somewhere that whenever Jack Warner was pissed off at a studio writer, he made him write a Rin Tin Tin movie. And hadn’t there also been a TV series in the 1950s?

Garry wondered who else had been offered the part he’d accepted. His new agent wouldn’t tell him and had tried to spin the gig in a positive light. (“This movie could launch a franchise. Hey, even Tom Hanks made a dog movie.”) So the way Garry would probably find out was by reading the movie’s “Trivia” section on IMDB one day: The part was offered to Greg Kinnear, Dylan McDermott and Rob Lowe who all wanted way more money than Garry Fox was willing to be paid.

Continue reading

About The Author:
Katherine Tomlinson
Katherine Tomlinson has been a story analyst for agencies, major studios, production companies and actors. Her clients included ICM, Dreamworks, ABC Family, Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert Downey Jr. A former journalist, she was director of development at Silver Pictures before going freelance.
Red Carpet 03a

On The Red Carpet In Cannes
Part Two

by Duane Byrge

The lead actress of the opening night picture at the Cannes Film Festival is murdered – and a Hollywood film critic is the prime suspect. Part One. 3,744 words. Illustrations by John Donald Carlucci.

The French National Police gendarmes hurried Ryan Cromwell through reception, which resembled a cheap hotel lobby, and down a narrow brown hallway. They propelled him into an interrogation room only slightly larger than a bread box and painted gas chamber green. A man in his mid-fifties, wearing a dull black suit befitting a homicide detective, studied a copy of the day’s Hollywood Times. The page was opened to Ryan Cromwell’s review of The Ice Princess. The cop looked directly at Ryan. Then looked down at the paper. Then back up at Ryan.

”We have some questions for you, Monsieur Cromwell,” the detective said in a monotone and perfect English.

”Please, tell me what’s going on?” Ryan’s voice cracked, and his mouth was dry. “Why was I dragged down here?”

“My name is Inspector Thiereaux. I wish to talk about your film critique. In your criticism of The Ice Princess film, you wrote, ‘The script is so bad that one hopes that the film’s signature blue scarf would be stuffed down Kristen Bjorge’s throat so we wouldn’t have to hear her utter another word of dialogue.’”

”What do you mean, ‘stuffed down her throat’? I never wrote that.”

“It is right here.” The policeman shoved the review across the table. Ryan grabbed it and scanned the opening paragraph. He had begun with a discussion about lead actress Kristen’s screen presence. None of that was there.

“These are not my words,” Ryan said.

“I do not understand.”

“Sometimes the editors cut or rewrite my reviews. This is appalling. Because it blatantly misrepresents my thoughts. I would never take such a vulgar and aggressive tone. It’s so Internet.”

Continue reading

About The Author:
Duane Byrge
Duane Byrge worked for The Hollywood Reporter as news editor, senior film critic, reviews editor, box office analyst and reporter. He is currently Coordinator of Film Studies at Virginia State University. Three of his books are published: Screwball Comedy Films, Private Screenings and his newest Behind the Scenes With Top Hollywood Producers. He has two novels: The Red Carpet and Sundown In Sundance in progress.
Red Carpet 02

On The Red Carpet In Cannes
Part One

by Duane Byrge

A Hollywood film critic pans the opening night picture at the Cannes Film Festival – and suddenly he’s in police custody. Part Two. 2,430 words. Illustrations by John Donald Carlucci.

The half moon was smudgy white but ripening nicely for its full appearance at the Cannes Film Festival. Like a diva, it would not make its entrance until the final Saturday which the organizers already were proclaiming an evening of perfect alignment when “La Lunar Festival” would ascend to its spot of high honor in the dark blue Mediterranean sky. At the moment, the moon was glowing so exquisitely above the sea that it could have been a special effects rendition.

For a brief second, Ryan Cromwell savored the spectacle. Because the moon, the sea, the breeze, and The Ice Princess party were all his. It was the hottest Cannes invite in years. A sexy publicist from DeSimio & Associates had offered Ryan $250 for his ticket and, when he declined, she had upped the ante with an X-rated proposition. Ryan said no because he had a bad case of “Cannes Disease,” a contagious desperation that you had to be doing something every minute, and if not, you were missing something somewhere. Because the one event you decided not to attend would be the highlight of the festival.

Ryan was the senior film critic for the Hollywood Times, the top trade paper for the movie industry. He stood just over 6 feet with wavy dark hair and a physique toned by daily afternoon runs at the UCLA track and regular Tae Kwon Do workouts at a dojo on Sunset. He dressed well, but erratically, and when he won special praise for his “costume design,” as he called it, he took it as an indication that he lacked style at other times. He had just turned 38, and this was his eleventh trip to Cannes. It still always overwhelmed him that he was at the celebrated film festival, where the likes of his movie idols had graced the Red Carpet. Despite his modesty, Ryan knew that he belonged; his reviews set the tone and held the future for many of the films that would debut here in competition. The world would be reading him.

Standing in line to get into the party, Ryan was tapped on the back. He turned to see Stan Peck, his least favorite journalist. Peck wore a Hawaiian shirt, large sun visor and blue metallic sunglasses.

“Where’s your cigarette holder, Hunter?” Ryan asked.

“Slightly funny,” Peck responded. “I hoped to talk with you about your scathing review of The Ice Princess. It’s already the talk of the festival. I loved your lead: ‘Big guns, big gadgets, big hair, big dud.’”

Continue reading

About The Author:
Duane Byrge
Duane Byrge worked for The Hollywood Reporter as news editor, senior film critic, reviews editor, box office analyst and reporter. He is currently Coordinator of Film Studies at Virginia State University. Three of his books are published: Screwball Comedy Films, Private Screenings and his newest Behind the Scenes With Top Hollywood Producers. He has two novels: The Red Carpet and Sundown In Sundance in progress.
jLe Jet Lag Part Four

Le Jet Lag
Part Four

by Peter Lefcourt

The Cannes Film Festival ends and with it the escapades of a film publicist, journalist and producer. See Part One and Part Two and Part Three. 3,614 words. Illustrations by Mark Fearing.

The next morning, American film publicist Erika Marks sat down with Crimea star Hanna Lee Hedson in the luxurious Carlton Hotel on La Croisette and said, choosing her words carefully, “Do you want the film to win the Palme d’Or?”

“Why else would I have shown up in this fucking country?”

“We may have a little obstacle. The French like low-budget art films and this is a budget-busting Hollywood movie. We’d like you to do a news conference today. This will be the last one, I promise. But you’re a fifteen-minute appearance at the Palais away from winning the Cannes Film Festival. With that, you can do any picture you want.”

This thought penetrated deeply into the soft tissue of actress Hanna Lee Hedson’s ego, the place where she lived most of the time. What Erika didn’t tell Hanna was that her film career probably would never recover from all these Crimea press conferences demonstrating her lack of compassion for minority groups. Or that the actress definitely would lose a large chunk of her gross-profit participation revenue when the movie tanked at the box office.

But neither Erika nor her PR boss Larry Moulds cared. They were still focused on ensuring Crimea didn’t win the most prestigious festival award. Or any Cannes award, for that matter. “The Armenians could picket the event. It’d be great pub,” Larry said to Erika an hour later.

“We don’t want overkill. These people get very excited. They could do something really stupid,” Erika reminded him.

“Like what?”

“I don’t know. Some crazy could take a shot at her.”

“So? Could you buy that type of ink?”

In spite of all her years in the business, Erika never ceased to be amazed at what people would do to promote a movie. Kill off the star? Why not? The movie was in the can, and they had all the loops they needed. So who needed Hanna?

Continue reading

Peter Lefcourt on twitter
About The Author:
Peter Lefcourt
Peter Lefcourt is an Emmy-winning writer and producer for TV and film including Cagney And Lacey, Showtime's Beggars & Choosers (creator and executive producer) and Desperate Housewives (co-executive producer). He is a playwright and has written eight novels: The Deal, The Dreyfus Affair, Di & I, Abbreviating Ernie, The Woody, The Manhattan Beach Project, An American Family, and his latest Purgatory Gardens.
Le Jet Lag Part Three

Le Jet Lag
Part Three

by Peter Lefcourt

The further Cannes Film Festival adventures of a film publicist, journalist and producer. See Part One and Part Two and Part Four. 3,024 words. Illustration by Mark Fearing.

The Cannes Film Festival jury president, Matthieu Brioche, wasn’t used to getting turned down by women. And he certainly was not used to being left standing in a hotel hallway at two in the morning after an American publicist pushing a film in contention had given him her room number. That was not simply rejection — that was a disgrace. So when his phone rang and he heard the femme in question, Hollywood film publicist Erika Marks – slightly past her prime but enticing none the less, like a bottle of 1975 Chateau Margaux with a leaky cork — inviting him to breakfast, he told her that he had a screening to attend. Erika Marks was proving to be, if not devious, then clueless. He liked that piece of American slang. Though he thought the film with Alicia Silverstone was a turkey. He liked that word, too. He just wouldn’t eat one.

Erika Marks didn’t blame Matthieu Brioche for being pissed. She had given him every indication she was interested. And she hadn’t even been particularly subtle about it. But now that her express orders from her studio boss were to not sleep with the Frenchman, thank God she hadn’t made things worse by jury tampering. Instead, she was just guilty of cock teasing. A misdemeanor.

Outside her door, next to the complimentary copy of USA Today, someone had left that day’s Screen International. Grabbing it, she got back into bed with the trade paper, eager to read the expected hatchet job that film critic Harry Harrington had done on her studio’s picture Crimea. The piece turned out to be great press. It fostered a want-to-see in the reader, which was the name of the game. Her boss Larry Moulds back in Beverly Hills would go ballistic. God forbid, the review could even result in Crimea winning the Palme d’Or. Then they’d really be fucked since their marching orders within the last 24 hours were to kill the film’s Cannes chances.

Continue reading

Peter Lefcourt on twitter
About The Author:
Peter Lefcourt
Peter Lefcourt is an Emmy-winning writer and producer for TV and film including Cagney And Lacey, Showtime's Beggars & Choosers (creator and executive producer) and Desperate Housewives (co-executive producer). He is a playwright and has written eight novels: The Deal, The Dreyfus Affair, Di & I, Abbreviating Ernie, The Woody, The Manhattan Beach Project, An American Family, and his latest Purgatory Gardens.
Bender in Cannes ART

Bender In Cannes

by Michael Elias

A screenwriter is frustrated at the Cannes Film Festival – until he stops caring. 3,160 words. Illustrations by John Donald Carlucci.

Bender arrived at the Cannes Film Festival well armed. He had his screenplay and an appointment with a Moroccan film financier who would also give him a place to stay. He was in good health and had plenty of money for food and drink. It was now in Bender’s hands to find a way to fuck it up.

His screenplay, which he liked to think of as homage to the French New Wave of Truffaut and Godard, was about Henry, a successful American commercial director in Paris. Henry’s wife, a beautiful model, leaves him. Disconsolate, Henry takes flute lessons in an attempt to get over her. He falls in love with his flute teacher while his wife falls back in love with him. Bender knew if he could get a bankable actor to play the lead, he could find other financiers. But it was a small film, he would be a first time director and actors were wary. Hence, the desirability of independent financing which Bender fucked up.

Where did this come from, Bender’s policy of walking out of waiting rooms? What was the purpose, what was the result? Pride? Was it because from his seat on the Ikea couch of the office suite Bender could see the Moroccan talking on the phone, and Bender knew he could see him and yet didn’t acknowledge his presence? Not a wave, not even a raised hand, no sorry, give me a minute. Bender was growing angrier with each current and past issue of Variety International, Paris-Match and World Cinema.

Was this any way to treat an artist? No. A screenwriter? Maybe. One who needed three million dollars to make a romantic comedy in Paris? Absolutely. Hence, Bender, a long-standing member in the church of passive aggression, said to himself, I will give this prick ten more minutes and then I will leave. Bender didn’t stop to consider that he wasn’t in a store where one could get five million Euros and, if he didn’t like the way he was being treated, he could go to another one. Was this repressed anger at his mother for her dizzy nature that left him stranded after school with forgotten promises and unwashed spoons? All this revealed in fist-clenching sessions on Dr. Gladstein’s leather couch in the converted garage in Westwood.

But the past that illuminates the present doesn’t change the past. Bender should have waited him out like a Russian peasant, cap twisted past recognition. Thank you, Patron, for seeing me. Of course I understand that you were on the phone with the emperors of Warner’s, the caliphs of CAA, the mullahs of the Morris office and the entertainment division of City National Bank. As you know, I am humbly asking permission to make a little film behind the hovel you so kindly let me inhabit. If your majesty would grant me five million rubles, I can do it. Of course you may have my firstborn, rights to my wife and my cow in gratitude. Oh, thank you, may I kiss your hands? It’s what his grandfather would have done. Why couldn’t he?

Continue reading

About The Author:
Michael Elias
Michael Elias belongs to the WGA, DGA, the Academy's Writers Branch and its Foreign Language Committee. His produced screenplays include The Jerk, The Frisco Kid, Serial, Envoyez les Violons, Trick Baby and Young Doctors In Love. He wrote and directed the jazz drama Lush Life. He co-created the TV series Head Of The Class. His TV adaptation of Anthony Burgess’ novel A Dead Man In Deptford is set with John Maybury to direct. His first novel The Last Conquistador was published. Glimmer Train's Short Story Award named him a finalist.
Hedgehog ART

What The Hedgehog Knew

by Howard Jay Klein

A film financier asks something but expects nothing from the producers and screenwriter. 2,543 words. Illustration by John Donald Carlucci.

“Everyone there?” Mannie Jacobs bellowed, his super-lawyer’s telephone voice bouncing off the walls of the Periodic Pictures conference room.

“All here, Mannie. Me, Cal, Jim and Dex.”

“So Eric Greenhill came to see me. He’s a big hedge fund guy who wants to put $100 million into a single film with you.”

“A nut job with an agenda?” Cal asked.

“No. I checked him out. He runs a $15 billion fund. He’s 38, personally worth $2.5 billion, no scars or warts we could find. He lost a gorgeous young wife to breast cancer three years ago. Got two kids. A bit eccentric, but in another era you would call him a straight arrow.”

“Why us?” Cal Lerner, Periodic’s CEO, asked.

“He’s screened all your productions, both movies and TV series. He believes Periodic has integrity of intent. Why I’ll never know.”

“Sure he’s not a nutter, Mannie?” Dexter Foley cracked.

Continue reading

About The Author:
Howard Jay Klein
Howard Jay Klein is a 25-year executive and consultant in the Atlantic City casino industry. He oversaw marketing, operations and entertainment for Caesar's and Trumps' Taj Mahal and created Grandstand Under The Stars for outdoor concerts with Sinatra, Bennett, Dylan, Chicago, Springsteen and others. He publishes Casino Management Review and writes novels.

Baby Love

by Christopher Horton

A self-satisfied agent who stubbornly doesn’t want to change his life gets a surprise. 3,113 words. Illustration by Thomas Warming.

Jack was looking through his picture window at the neon radiating up from the Sunset Strip below. It was getting tiring to be alone. Not that he noticed that often, and not that he was alone that often. In fact, hardly ever. He was supposed to be at some club tonight for an after-screening industry party. Nothing better to make you feel alone in public. Jack knew some European philosopher had gone on about this. But he couldn’t remember which one. His mother had been far less interested in philosophy than in Shakespeare. She had just turned sixty and was a professor of literature at a small New England college. Anyway, he really believed it would be nice to have someone he could trust. Maybe he should get out of the industry. Life didn’t seem to be getting any easier as Jack got older. And no matter how much he skipped thinking about starting a family, it leeched in anyway.

“Don’t you think it’s time to think about settling down with one woman?”

“Why? I already have a cat that interrupts me when I’m doing something I want to do.”

Jack’s mother laughed. She had a healthy sense of humor. She and Jack had always gotten along. At least after he’d grown up.  She was smarter than he was, but he had an advantage. She was his mother. No contest

“I’d like to have a grandchild to spoil in my dotage.”

Continue reading

About The Author:
Christopher Horton
Christopher Horton as a screenwriter sold several scripts and treatments with a writing partner to Gaylord and other companies. Then he turned to fiction writing. His stories are published online and in print (Page & Spine, Shout Out UK, Literary Pasadena). He wrote the novel The Great Big Book Of Bitches: A Love Story.
Abramowitz Brando

The Dog That Talked Like Brando

by Jay Abramowitz

A struggling actor has a career epiphany made possible by a pooch with an unexpected plan. 2,377 words. Illustration by Mark Fearing.

I was in the bathtub about to slide the straightedge into my wrist when I heard Marlon Brando call out, “Don’t do it, Paul.”

“Ronnie?” I called back in a voice that alarmed me when I heard it. Ronnie, the closest thing I have to a friend, is an impressionist. I thought maybe Providence had made him afraid for me and sent him, like the angel Clarence in It’s A Wonderful Life.

“It’s not Ronnie. Come here, I want to talk to you.”

I laid down the blade on the side of the bathtub, pulled my body out and sloshed into the main room of my studio apartment. I didn’t bother drying or covering myself. If it’s Ronnie, who cares. If it’s the ghost of Marlon Brando, let me present myself as God made me.

I didn’t see Marlon Brando or his ghost in my apartment. Only Bella, gazing up at me from the kitchen area faithfully and – I knew her so well – hungrily. I stared at my dog. A mutt, delicate, pure white, forty pounds give or take, her fur hanging down her sides long and fine but, on her head and face, short. I’d almost left her alone in the world, my personal Old Yeller to whimper endlessly over my grave. I scratched her behind an ear and sobbed as I pulled her head against mine. I’d bathed her recently and she smelled like vanilla cookies.

“I love you too, Paul,” she said in Brando’s voice. Her mouth moved, like the talking dog in Babe. She glanced behind herself and added, again in Brando’s voice, “Jeez, I wish I had balls to lick.”

Continue reading

About The Author:
Jay Abramowitz
Jay Abramowitz has written and produced many sitcoms (Mr. Belvedere, Full House, etc) and comedy pilots (for Warner Bros TV, CBS and ABC) and was a head writer on the PBS series Liberty’s Kids. His first novel, Formerly Cool (written with Tom Musca) will be published in 2016.
The Wrap Party 4 final

The Wrap Party

by Adam Scott Weissman

TV FICTION PACKAGE: The flirting and gossiping ends badly for someone on this series. 3,759 words. Illustration by John Donald Carlucci.

The wrap party was being held at the cheesy cowboy theme bar at Universal CityWalk. Caleb hated that development next door to the lot where he worked. Even the name grated on him: “CityWalk.” It was everything that pissed him off about L.A.. The antiseptic tourist trap was so utterly un-urban. He could rattle off at least a half-dozen bars on nearby Ventura that were far superior. But he was just a lowly writer’s assistant so it wasn’t his place to question the chosen location for the wrap party. Actually, he wasn’t surprised. He worked for a cookie cutter network procedural, and the powers-that-be had chosen to end the season in the most uninspired way possible. Little wonder that he always could predict each show’s ending.

As he parked his car, he thought about Nora, the staff writer considered a “diversity hire.” She had once confessed to him that she loved the City Walk. Of course, Nora loved the City Walk. Caleb hated Nora. He didn’t see her talent, or what she offered to the show, or why Bryan gave her two scripts. Caleb was really hoping he’d get to co-write the finale, like Matt Weiner’s writer assistants, but instead Nora got it. Like she needed another credit.  Caleb had read her pilot back when he was Bryan’s assistant. It was fine, the dialogue was cute, but the story was nothing special. Rom-com chick stuff. He’d been working for Bryan for four years, and Nora had never worked on a show, but she was a staff writer and Caleb was the writer’s assistant. Bryan told him it was because of money. The show had spent too much of its budget on upper level writers, and the studio would pay for a “diversity writer.” That was Nora. A Korean girl from Encino… How fucking downtrodden.

While she would never tell any of her fellow writers, Nora loved Universal CityWalk. As a kid growing up in the Valley, it was the closest she ever got to actually walking onto a studio lot. L.A. kids aren’t supposed to get starstruck. But Nora just couldn’t be jaded. She wanted to belong to the business, not merely be adjacent, and write for a real primetime TV show with millions of viewers. Now that she was, Nora still liked to visit CityWalk to remind herself how far she’d come. About once a week, she’d arrive an hour before work, go to Starbucks, drink her latte and think about how she was about to go work in a bungalow on the real lot. Though she questioned whether she deserved to be there. But if she really was nothing more than a token, Bryan wouldn’t have given her two scripts. She knew Caleb resented her and coveted her job. But she was working her ass off, agonizing over every word of procedural exposition instead of scripting for people to ignore while they did their laundry. Nora had long ago learned that hard work was the best remedy for insecurity.

Continue reading

About The Author:
Adam Scott Weissman
Adam Scott Weissman graduated from USC's School Of Cinematic Arts in 2010. He co-wrote a CSI: NY episode, wrote a made-for-TV movie and sold a pilot to the CW. He adapted, directed, and produced the play Might As Well Live: Stories by Dorothy Parker for the 2015 Hollywood Fringe Festival and won the Encore Producer’s Award. Working From Home is his novel-in-progress.