Category Archives: Film

Le Jet Lag Part Two v2

Le Jet Lag
Part Two

by Peter Lefcourt

Craziness continues for a publicist, journalist and producer attending the Cannes Film Festival. Part One. Part Three.  4,208 words. Illustration by Mark Fearing.


Larry Moulds, studio Vice President for Publicity and Marketing, had been there and done that. As a unit publicist, he had accompanied movies and worked his tail off, coming home exhausted, sick, and, worst of all, empty-handed. The Cannes Film Festival was an all-or-nothing deal. No matter how you spun it, if you weren’t a winner, you were a loser.

His boss, studio head Vivian Rakmunis, had threatened to send him but she hadn’t actually sent him. Yet. But if his publicist Erika Marks didn’t produce some buzz soon, his ass was on the plane. He picked up his office phone and dialed the Hotel Carlton. Larry realized that he’d be waking up Erika in the middle of the night in France. Fuck her. It was her job to be on call 24/7.

It took seven rings before Erika picked up the phone.

Oui?”

“I love it when you talk dirty.”

“Larry? It’s…three-thirty in the morning.”

“Vivian isn’t seeing any ink on the picture. You don’t start producing, Vivian is going to send me over there. And you don’t want me there, do you? So what about jury tampering? You invite the Cannes jury president back for a shtupp?

“Larry, I’m not having sex with anyone on the jury. Can I go back to sleep?”

When he hung up, Erika was sitting up in bed, wide awake and furious. The digital bedside clock read 3:40 a.m. She had to be up at seven to flack the studio’s entry Crimea. If Larry arrived, she’d give him the keys to the car, kiss him on both cheeks, take a plane home, and sell real estate. Between the stress and the jet lag, she was not looking forward to the all-important interview with Paris Match for the film’s spoiled star, Hanna Lee Hedson.

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Le Jet Lag Part One

Le Jet Lag
Part One

by Peter Lefcourt

A journalist, publicist and producer try their best to withstand the Cannes Film Festival’s worst. Part Two. 4,883 words. Illustrations by Mark Fearing.


Who do you have to fuck to make sure you don’t win a Palme d’Or at Cannes? Can a studio publicist with a tit job and a smattering of French, along with her boss, a VP involuntarily channeling Golda Meir, manage to sabotage the chances of their own film? Is it possible for a former Academy Award winning producer, fallen on hard times, to find financing for the middle third of a movie after he’s already shot the beginning and end with money provided by a consortium of Canadian periodontists? Will a sympathy slowdown of taxi drivers, chambermaids and Perrier suppliers, in support of local sex workers striking for improved dental benefits, bring Cannes to its knees? All these questions Jack Kemper, bottom-feeding entertainment journalist, would answer in time.

But at the moment, wedged in an economy seat in an Air France jet, coming into the Nice/Cote d’Azur airport after a bumpy flight from Paris, his thoughts were concentrated on who would get the lead obit in the trades if the plane went down.

For Jack’s first trip to Cannes, he’d been a stringer for the International Herald Tribune which put him up in the Carlton. And all he had to do was file 500 words a day — which he phoned in, literally. This time his press credentials were from Moviefan.com, a startup operated by a couple of film geeks in Van Nuys. And he would be staying on the wrong side of the Voie Rapide on his own nickel in a 95-Euro a night room a 20-minute walk to the Croisette and full, no doubt, of middle-market hookers and distribution people from central Asia. What the fuck was he doing here anyway? The glamour of Cannes was long gone. It had degenerated into a bazaar, as tight-fisted and venal as a camel market in Beirut. The place was full of accountants and lawyers doing deals. The screenings, the stars, the red carpet had become the sideshow. The real action was the film market. It was all about back-end financing and capitalizing your production investment with a distribution deal. For every hundred people in town, 99 of them were looking for the one guy with the checkbook.

Kemper deplaned and headed for baggage claim where an American film publicist was speaking bad French on her phone. Kemper took a closer look at her. She had that demented, already exhausted, jet-lagged look just 20 minutes after arriving. But Kemper liked a bit of mileage on women. Ten years ago, all you had to do to get laid during Cannes was stand in one place long enough. These days, if you had a few hours free, you slept or read your email. Or, if worse came to worst, you saw a movie.

Kemper waited for her to click off and, with his best smile, said, “First time in Cannes?”

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That’s Showbiz

by Alan Swyer

Two first-time film producers get schooled by the reality of teaming up together. 2,909 words. Illustration by Mark Fearing.


In other parts of the country, networking is largely structured, taking place predominantly through civic organizations, professional groups, and charitable institutions. In Los Angeles, where showbiz is king, the phenomenon is far more random yet ubiquitous. Business ties are often formed at parties, screenings, and social gatherings. Others begin at gyms, yoga and Pilates classes. Even pre-schools and Little League games provide opportunities, as do weddings and funerals, plus Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. Also never to be overlooked are meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous.

It was thanks to AA that Russo and Adler became acquainted. Initially, it was little more than the kind of brief acknowledgments exchanged by regulars. But one Monday evening, instead of heading directly home in the aftermath, Russo agreed to join a group headed for late night coffee. As six "Friends Of Bill W" grabbed a booth away from other denizens of the night at a 24-hour diner, Adler nodded at Russo. "Nick, right?"

Russo nodded. "And you’re Jerry?"

"Guilty as charged."

Once orders were taken, group talk superseded individual conversations; it was only when the two men were strolling toward their cars afterwards that Adler rekindled their brief chat. "So what do you do?" he asked Russo.

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Quixote Jones

by Eric Layer

A film update of Don Quixote from the Star Wars director and Indiana Jones hero? 2,049 words. Excerpted from the 2018 book Critically AcclaimedIllustration by Mark Fearing.


Quixote Jones

Directed by George Lucas. Written by Charlie Kaufman. Starring: Harrison Ford, Benicio Del Toro, Helen Mirren, and Arnold Schwarzenegger as Jürgen Von Himmelmacher.

Quixote Jones, an adaptation of the formerly un-filmable Don Quixote, arrives in theatres today as one of the most highly anticipated films of all time — for all the wrong reasons. It’s the movie equivalent of a freeway pileup: we can’t help but gawk, especially after the controversy that preceded its release.

From the inception, it had all the makings of a financial and artistic bomb.
We were all so sure it would fail.

And we were all so wrong.

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Hollywood Vice
Part One

by Dylan Mulick

A film studio scion makes life and death decisions about movies way too easily. 3,861 words. Part Two of this serialization coming soon. Illustrations by Thomas Warming.


It’s universally accepted both east and west of La Brea that Danny Reinhold is a Grade-A piece of shit. Not a Harvey-sized psychopath or a young Dustin Hoffman terrorizing a raging-against-the-dying-of-the-light Laurence Olivier, but a real prick nonetheless. One of the reasons Danny’s a shithead is because he can be.

Morton Reinhold was second only to the king at MGM in the mid-1960s. He lassoed his legacy when he told Warren Beatty to flatter the boss by saying Bonnie And Clyde was homage to the old MGM gangster pictures. That Warren shouldn’t worry, he’d tell Mr. Mayer what an “homage” was.

Richard Reinhold came up in his father’s shadow, first greenlighting muscle-bound action films for Jerry and Don in the late 1980s before going on to run Universal for a successful decade and a half. That ended with his not-so-subtle ouster a decade back for a string of flops, the last being an affair with his assistant. The lawsuit settled out of court became the writing on the wall. A ceremonial producing deal on the lot came with his parachute. Since then, he has produced three low budget indie features, the last of which (were anyone following the money) was self-financed. But no one was following Richard and none made a dime.

Danny came from this line of Hollywood royalty, memorialized in a framed photo of Morton, Richard, Danny and his gorgeous red-haired date, a couple years back at Morton’s AFI Lifetime Achievement Award shindig. All the Reinholds in Armani tuxedos and Rolexes, not a smile among them, except for the redhead.

This was the moonlit photo Danny was staring at early that morning, 5 am, as he sat bedside quietly putting on that same Rolex, hoping against hope that his last two films were hits thanks to his strategy and taste, but knowing better.

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The Essential Failure Of The Universe

by Kevin Wilson

A space movie with a $2.5 billion budget? That blew up a planet? Excerpted from the 2018 book Critically Acclaimed. 1,505 words. Illustration by Mark Fearing.


Essential Target

Directed by Naylon Beauregard. Starring: Angelina Jolie, Toni Collette, Jude Law, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Tom Cruise, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Zhang Ziyi, Robert Duvall, and Jason Robards.

There are few things that end up being worth the wait, the gradual buildup of expectation until it outpaces whatever the final product could ever become. And, yet, Essential Target was poised to top even our own outsized hopes. The pedigree suggested as much. Writer and director Naylon Beauregard’s previous movie, Acceleration Homeward, netted just shy of $900 million in foreign and domestic box office totals. That film, an epic story of an entire civilization’s lifespan aboard a spaceship the size of a planet, revitalized the sci-fi genre and made stars of Jude Law and Toni Collette. It changed the way special effects can enter the storytelling process, reminded us how a singular vision can speak to so many people, and, most importantly, altered our perceptions of our place in this universe. It was, to say the least, as life-changing as film can be.

Essential Target, I must confess, does not succeed as a film in any traditional (or even nontraditional) sense of the form.

It is so ponderous and overwhelmingly large in its focus that our current screens simply cannot accommodate it. I sense that, even if a screen were made that encapsulated the entire dome of the sky, it would not do justice to the aims of this film. What the film does accomplish, through means that may or may not revolve around the act of filmmaking, is to once again cause us to question our necessity in the universe, our need to exist, our possible movement toward a deserved extinction.

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Nick By Nick, Forever

by John Bensink

The world loves entertainment. But everybody also wants to get paid for it. 2,078 words. Illustration by John Donald Carlucci.


“We should just let him in,” Greer said, watching the cop on their CCTV feed.

“Oh, sure,” Hugo replied. “Just bring him right down and show him the whole setup.”

But his tone wasn’t as confident as his words — not nearly. He was her boss but she scared him with her dismissive coldness and chess-move thinking. She didn’t argue it now; she just hit a couple keys. “Officer?” she said into a microphone. “Or is it Detective?”

“Detective Evan Ridge,” the guy said, clearly knowing that it sounded good. “I’m here because a TV writer exited The Farmer’s Market at closing and crossed to a far corner of the parking lot to his silver-metallic Kia Soul. He carried takeout cartons and grocery bags and was jumped by three black-clad men. They beat him, emptied his pockets, took his stuff, stole his car, and left him gashed and bleeding.”

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Homicide At Hollywood Park
Part Two

by Jeffrey Peter Bates

2,672 words. Part One. Illustration by John Donald Carlucci.


“So it was murder,” Cary Grant said with a regretful sigh. As a member of Hollywood Park’s board of directors, he’d personally hired the young private detective to look into the bizarre death of Eddie Lomitas, who despite dying of suffocation in mid-race had remained in the saddle of a 20-to-1 long shot that had won in a photo finish. “Any idea how it was done?”

“Not yet,” McNulty admitted. “But the former L.A. medical examiner, Dr. Thomas Noguchi is working on it. The tox screens have all been clean. No trace of any known poisons.”

McNulty continued the report to his client.

“Lomitas wasn’t very well liked,” the P.I. said bluntly. “Most everyone I talked to thought he was an asshole. Except for you. How come?”

“Twenty years ago, his mother worked for me,” Grant confided. “She was my live-in housekeeper and cook. I agreed to provide financial assistance to the single mother and her son Eddie for as long they needed it. And I believe his mother deserves to know the truth about how her son died.”

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Homicide At Hollywood Park
Part One

by Jeffrey Peter Bates

McNulty recalls the Cary Grant case that made the Tinseltown P.I.’s career. 2,623 words. Part Two tomorrow. Illustration by John Donald Carlucci.


On May 31, 2015, McNulty watched the bulldozers and wrecking balls smash and grind Hollywood Park into dust. It was being torn down to make way for a new multi-billion dollar football stadium. Ironically, it had neither been a park nor in Hollywood. It was a race track. And for decades horse racing was the only legal form of gambling in California. By the mid-1980s, Hollywood Park had become one of the most popular horse racing venues in the world. But now, as McNulty watched its destruction, he recalled how it had helped put the then 25-year-old’s newly-established detective agency on tinseltown’s radar. In later years, newspaper columnists would refer to McNulty as “The Hollywood Eye.” But back then he was just another Hollywood gumshoe looking for a few well-heeled clients.

“A friend of mine is in need of a good private eye,” McNulty’s Pal, comedian Lenny Hazeltine, said over the phone. “I couldn’t think of one so I gave him your name.”

“I appreciate that,” McNulty said. “Who is it?”

“You’ll know him when you see him,” Lenny laughed and hung up.

Ten minutes later, the door to McNulty’s office opened and in walked Cary Grant.

Yeah, that Cary Grant, the legendary actor and leading man from all those old movies on TCM. He was 81 when he walked into McNulty’s office, a bit thicker but still handsome with a full head of perfectly-barbered white hair and chicly-attired in a crisp white shirt, blue blazer and grey slacks.

“Lenny tells me you’re a detective,” Grant said after the introductions. “Are you a good one?”

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How Does That Make You Feel?
Part Seven

by Michael Barrie

The L.A. psychologist is finding fame and fortune from his celebrity patients and their pals. 1,887 words. Part Six. Part Eight. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


After some back and forth, we agree on a price. More than I’d imagined. I will get a flat fee per gossip tip, contingent on its veracity. There’s a time lag while it’s investigated. The money is payable to Alan Shepherd Black, LLC. Cost me $49 to incorporate in Nevada without my name in the filings. How it works: I give Stop The Presses! a lead. They assign the story to a team who tail and photograph the target, interview friends, neighbors, and colleagues. If they go with it, funds are electronically transferred to the LLC. To encourage speedy payment, I decide to withhold new tips till I’m paid for the previous ones.

I do have ethical ground rules. First, I will not divulge anything a client has told me in confidence that relates to his or her psychic pain or treatment. Gay? Alcoholic? Cheating on a spouse? I’ll take your secret to the grave.

Second, the tip can’t be something that only my client knows, thus traceable to him — and by extension, me. No, it must be a thing two or more people know so as to obscure its source.

But this leaves so much else. What do I consider fair use? Idle gossip. Trash talk. Celebrities love to dish about other celebrities. It’s a stall tactic, a digression, to avoid dealing with their own shit. Every day I get an earful. The married actress sleeping with her nanny; the producer nailing his son’s wife; the Beverly Hills dermatologist meth addict; the talk show host sex offender; the transgender Victoria Secret model; the HIV-positive action star; the sex tape starring “America’s Sweetheart.” And more. Lots more. So much loose talk. Hell, I even hear things outside of therapy. Did you know that Hollywood’s biggest entertainment attorney has a whole second family? Kidding. I would never. But you get what I’m saying.

I’m about to test the system.

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How Does That Make You Feel?
Part Six

by Michael Barrie

The Hollywood therapist needs money quickly. A book? TV talk show? Gossip? 2,050 words. Part Five. Part Seven. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


“So I made some calls.” It’s my college buddy, entertainment attorney Barry, over the car speaker. We haven’t talked in a few days about my book idea

“And?” I say into the hands-free. Looking around for a place to eat.

“There’s qualified interest — Audrey, will you send this to Frank Matteson for signatures? Then you can go home. Sorry, Dennis.”

“What are the qualifications?”

“Of what?

“You said qualified interest.”

“Right.”

I turn off Venice into a random mini-mall.

“The market is saturated,” he says. I park, facing a crimson neon martini glass: the Hi-Lite Lounge, next to an army surplus. “They’ve got self-help books up the wazoo. And since they’re all the same book, you need a hook…”

“Do I have a hook?” I rummage in the console for an Altoid. Starved.

“A great hook, the Hollywood hook. But you need a title they can promote: Tales Of A Hollywood Shrink… Psychoses Of The Stars… How To Get Laid Like DiCaprio… So they can book you on Ellen and the morning shows.”

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How Does That Make You Feel?
Part Five

by Michael Barrie

The L.A. psychologist now enjoys the high-profile life as Hollywood’s favorite shrink. 2,893 words. Parts One, Two, Three, Four. Part Six. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


The restaurant on Culver Boulevard is not far from home — at least geographically. I roll up to the “Valet Parking $9” sign behind Myrtle’s black Escalade. On the sidewalk, a clutch of paparazzi stirs like pigeons. Even in a city not obsessed with faces and bodies like Hollywood, this crew would be a grungy lot. Pungent from catnaps in sunbaked Hondas. Fueled by junk food, stale coffee and masturbation.

Myrtle’s driver walks around to the curbside of the SUV. The windows are blacked. He opens the door as if unwrapping a gift. There! A lightning barrage of strobes hits the two women. They step down in an artful maneuver acquired through practice. All body parts move as one, lest a stray nipple or errant snatch adorn the cover of Globe Magazine. Sadie and Myrtle stride through the flash storm in a herky-jerky silent movie. The shutterbugs glide with them. Their sheer number, all grabbing virtually the same image, ensures a small payoff for the effort. They shout provocations.

“Drinking tonight, Sadie?”

“Who are you screwing?”

“Myrtle, let’s see the new tits!”

“Who said? These are the same old tired ones.”

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Bill Scheft New Oscar 4

Who Are You Wearing On?

by Bill Scheft

OSCAR FICTION PACKAGE: Politically incorrect Tommy Dash reacts post-Oscars after trying out for Chris Rock’s Academy Awards writing team. 3,175 words. Illustrations by Mark Fearing.


Am I too late to call the 2016 Oscars "Straight Outta Caucasia"? Was I the only one who thought Chris 7B44E679-DD00-4B87-9873-6B80A7AA57E8Rock wore the white tux so at some point some guy in a bomber jacket would walk up to him on stage, hand a key and say, "It’s the red Lexus…" By the way, none of my business, but couldn’t they come up with a more empowering word for black people not showing up than "boycott?" I don’t think they’ll solve Oscars’ diversity problem by next year. But they will come up with the technology so the Teleprompter cannot contain the phrase "Rihanna’s panties." How about that Red Carpet? I haven’t seen this much side boob since Christie stood next to Trump. I’m confused. Before he started Apple, Steve Jobs was the "Sprockets" guy? Abe Vigoda was left out of the "In Memoriam" montage. But, to be fair, he’d been in it for the last 15 years. Forget his message, let me say this about Joe Biden. Clearly, he learned from listening to Jay Leno rattle off upcoming dates at the end of The Tonight Show… You can never have too many plugs. Right about now, Pope Francis’ publicist, Howard Rubenstein, is calling him saying, "Hey, you got mentioned in the acceptance speech for Spotlight!"

This is somebody’s fault, but not necessarily mine.

I thought I was supposed to be here, working on the Oscars.

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Oh Oscar! My Oscar!

by Mark Fearing

OSCAR FICTION PACKAGE: What really happens after winning an Academy Award? 1,739 words. Story and illustrations by Mark Fearing.


The Oscar sits on my desk coldly staring at me. I don’t remember bringing it to my production office on the 7B44E679-DD00-4B87-9873-6B80A7AA57E8studio lot. But here I am and here it is. Oscar looks great no matter where it’s placed. What do interior designers advise – create a focus in a room? Well, this is the fucking focus.

I don’t remember much about the last three days. Just shreds from the Governors Ball, my speech on stage, walking past George, Brad, Leo, Meryl, Angie and that smug J.J. who’ll maybe return my calls now.

As a producer, nobody in the real world has any idea what you look like, who you are or what you do. But when you win Best Picture and it’s your film – it’s your prize. Granted, I had to share with two more-or-less managers and an actor who magically became a producer when he decided to do the film. He was up for Best Actor, too. Didn’t win. What does that tell you?

Lily buzzes past my open door, she stops, she opens her eyes wide and she rushes in. “Oh my God, Mr. D, I didn’t know you’d arrived yet. It’s here!” Lily has a folder of papers in one hand and her iPhone in the other. She multitasks like a cyborg. That’s what you want in an assistant or office manager or office supervisor… whatever the hell the PC term for what she does is called this week.

“Your speech was awesome. We were all freaking out!” she gushes.

I don’t remember my speech and I can’t find the paper it was written on but I knew enough to thank those that must be thanked. And you’d better write it down beforehand because, at that moment, you lose it. My heart was beating so hard I thought I was going to die. My tongue was stuck to the floor of my mouth.

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Memo from Corner Office2

Memo From The Corner Office

by Nat Segaloff

OSCAR FICTION PACKAGE: After a movie studio’s big awards night, the new boss plans changes. 1,442 words. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


TO:       All Employees of Persistent Pictures
FROM: Bradford “Buddy” Newborn, President
RE:       Studio Philosophy and Production Slate

7B44E679-DD00-4B87-9873-6B80A7AA57E8We’re all proud of the eight Oscars that Persistent Pictures won last night under Bob Cutner’s management. We hope he gets to use his taste and leadership at another company now that he’s suddenly moved on to make way for me.

Since arriving to head the studio, I’ve seen many of you in the hallways, in the valet parking lot, and as I walk through the commissary on the way to my private dining room. But this is the first chance I’ve had to introduce myself since my father, Bradford Newborn Sr., bought the studio.

To quell some of the rumors and wisecracks I’ve been hearing through our advanced monitoring system, I am well aware that moviemaking isn’t anything like the strappy sandal business. It just so happens that shoes are only one of the many manufacturing interests of Newborn International. We also make small home appliances (“Nothing larger than a toaster oven” is our motto), breath mints and lacrosse equipment. We also had a major investment in the Miami Majors, an ice hockey franchise that I was in charge of running until it folded last year. Let me speak frankly: the Majors died because of poor public support, not because of that lawsuit from 12-year-old Jimmy Brewin after a puck got sucked up into the Zamboni and shot out into the stands, taking with it half his face.

I can report that Little Jimmy is doing well, all things considered, and loves his new nose, mouth and mansion.

Now, for studio business.

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One Night Only

One Night Only

by Katherine Tomlinson

OSCAR FICTION PACKAGE: A Best Actress nominee has the best and worst time of her life. 2,746 words. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


The first thing Lyla thought when she found the script for Circle Of Squares in her mailbox was, This has 7B44E679-DD00-4B87-9873-6B80A7AA57E8come to me by mistake.

She lived in a guest house on a property belonging to a beloved actress known for a series of “grumpy old lady” comedies that had touched a chord. Though claiming to be retired, the landlady was still very much interested in being courted by filmmakers. Way back in the day, Lyla occupied the same casting niche of supporting comic character even though she was two generations younger than her landlady. But the older actress snagged every part, cashing a nice little paycheck for a couple hours of work.

Lyla was used to delivery people dropping packages on her porch because it was accessible to the road and the landlady’s house was situated down a long driveway behind a tall security gate. But this screenplay had Lyla’s name on the envelope.

She began reading it and her first thought was, It doesn’t make any damn sense at all. It’s even more inexplicable than Cloud Atlas. Lyla had never understood the point of pointless movies.

But as Lyla finished the script, she knew it had Oscar bait written all over it.

The story and characters had everything the old farts in the Academy liked in an indie movie, she realized, beginning with the pretentious and never-explained title right through to the heavy-handed political message and depressing plot.

It was a bonus that the role she was being offered was the star.

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