Category Archives: Publishing

The Paparazzo

The Paparazzo

by Strawberry Saroyan

A meditation on what it means to be the lens watching U.S. culture – even if you’re foreign. 1,757 words. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


A movie star had died. It used to be these things were good money, plus a relatively easy “get.” You had 8547D799-C475-4659-B563-17A9A283F8B3to have connections, sure, have been around for a while to make your way into the location, but Mick was an old hand and had been around since, what, 2007? The business was getting tougher.

Mick was from Slovenia. He had the body of a broken pen – slim, slightly twisted and with something coursing through it but it wasn’t always blood. He was a good paparazzo. The language barrier had hurt and helped him. It made him determined to listen, hear even the syllables, keep them straight: aah, eeh, eek, ooh. Also, to keep his receptors out at all times. He hadn’t always liked celebrities but he’d grown to do so, and even when he didn’t like someone — did anyone really enjoy working with Jonah Hill, Robert Downey? — at least he knew all their names. The shooting was a way to be independent at the same time that it paid the rent. If Mick had heard of legend Ron Galella, which he hadn’t, he might have felt a sense of tradition, even artistry. But he didn’t. Still, it wasn’t a bad gig. America was working for him.

The funeral was to take place at Westwood Memorial. He’d heard on E! that it was Hollywood Forever but no, Memorial was the place; his friend Rupert had confirmed it.

Rupert was another pap, and an ally most of the time. Mick himself got the name of the valet there — hey, you had to do leg work — and Mick told Jecky, I will help you if you help me. The words had been wrong, cracked in places of course, but Jecky didn’t care. Jecky would give him the go-ahead for a cool $250. Mick knew it might be a slice of profit but he would just have to up his game.

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No Money In Poetry

by Laurie Horowitz

What happens when you fall for a showbiz wannabe who then becomes a somebody? 2,468 words. Illustration by Mark Fearing.


When the film rights to Truman Blu’s novel, Better Off Dead, sold for two million dollars to Magnet Pictures, it was a triumph. Three days ago, the publishing rights had sold to HarperCollins for seven hundred fifty thousand, thereby creating the buzz that would make Truman Blu a rich man. Of course, the author was thrilled, but the huge sale also made Lolo’s boss, Peter Biro look like a star and Lolo basked in the reflected light.

Truman had been a struggling writer in the unincorporated town of Victor, Montana, and went from penury to riches overnight. A month later, he came down to L.A. for his victory lap. He arrived unexpectedly, and Peter was in a staff meeting. Lolo texted her boss, who texted back that she should take Truman to Starbucks and Peter would get there as soon as he could.

Lolo went down to the atrium to retrieve Truman. He rose from a Herman Miller sofa. It took a long minute for Truman to reach his full height. He dipped his head in the way of tall men and smiled. Those teeth. The man must have eaten nothing but candy as a child. Truman Blu, previous to this windfall, was a man who could not afford teeth. But Lolo saw past that. What she saw was a man bathed in the glow of genius. He had done the one thing she wanted to do, the thing she dreamed of doing as she wrote late into the night. Lolo had always been a sucker for men of literature. One drunken night back in New Hampshire, she had sucked on the tips of a man’s fingers just because he’d had a short story published in Ploughshares.

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A Hollywood Kid
Part Four

by Maureen Harrington

Is Jason going to spy on his celeb friends for a gossip mag? 2,304 words. Part One. Part Two. Part Three. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


Beverly saw Jason sitting at a corner table under the heavy drape of bougainvillea. He looked like his dad with some of his mother’s refinement thrown in. He definitely wasn’t movie star material but he was cute. Beverly didn’t like her staff to be too great looking. It made them memorable. Memorable was definitely not good. A few years ago, she’d had a reporter with a purple streak in her hair. Jenifer Lopez referred to her on the red carpet as Juicy’s Miss Purple. Subsequently, the reporter had been thrown out of a posh hotel in Cabo because Jennifer’s security people recognized the hair and knew she was a gossipmonger.

Looks are fine, but not too out there. Jason could blend in wherever he went.

He stood up when she approached the table. She never saw that anymore, thought Beverly, who would have raised an eyebrow but that expression had been wiped out by Botox long ago. Melody must have been awake enough during his childhood to get some manners pounded into him, Beverly surmised. Actually, he’d learned that from Big Jack. Stand up, look them in the eye and shake hands, but only if they offered theirs first. “It’ll get you laid, I promise you." Big Jack had been right.

Beverly went into her no-nonsense mode, shotgunning questions at him. Asking Jason what he did for fun. What he read. Where he went with his friends. And what he was studying. Then she got down to it. Did he know Selena or Kendall? What about Demi’s kids? Does anybody still care about Britney Spears anymore? Is Jennifer Lawrence going to keep so private she’ll fade? Which clubs were hot right now?

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A Hollywood Kid
Part Three

by Maureen Harrington

Jason is down but not out yet after growing up too fast. 1,902 words. Part One. Part Two. Part Four tomorrow. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


Melody Alden had no idea that studio execs, actors and other big deals in Hollywood don’t give out their cell numbers. They preferred to torture supplicants by having them talk to their self-important assistants, who then made them wait for a return call. It was all about timing, and how miserable and nervous can you make the next guy. The underdog waiting game.

Her son knew better. But right now, Jason was on his way out the door – he’d get to it whenever. Whenever came a lot sooner than he’d anticipated. The next morning the Korean landlady was knocking on his door at the break of noon, asking to inspect the place and get it ready for the next rich kid tenant. That was when Jason made his first mistake. He called Beverly less than twelve hours after she’d given his mother her cell number. Jason knew it was a sign of desperation to call this quickly. Hopefully she wouldn’t realize how uncool it was.

Unfortunately for Jason, Beverly had read those social tea leaves just fine. This could be interesting, she thought to herself when her assistant handed her his message. She’d given Melody her work cell. Not her private number, the one she answered herself. But even giving a business cell number was what passed for intimacy in this town.

“Tell him I’m on a call and I’ll get to him when I can.” When I’m good and ready, she thought to herself. Melody’s kid can wait. More to the point, Teddy’s kid can wait.

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A Hollywood Kid
Part Two

by Maureen Harrington

A top gossip editor is asked to help Jason get a job. 2,176 words. Part One. Part Three. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


While Jason was asleep across town, the West Coast Editor of Juicy Magazine was in the midst of her Wednesday morning meeting with editors and reporters. The top dog on the manure pile known as celeb reporting. Beverly Jones (once Jankovitzki) was having a tough day. But then all her days were tough. Her idiot husband and whiny kids had no idea what she had to go through to pay their personal vegan chef to put the bok choy on the Philippe Starck knock-off table. She let them know every day and night on the rare evenings she was home. She texted them about her suffering for her foul working life. She loved it, of course. They knew it. She knew it. But it was their family myth: Mommy is killing herself for us.

Beverly sighed loudly and farted silently. She was on a raw vegetable diet.

Beating the other tabs was the name of Beverly’s game. Her take — a cool million dollars a year, an unlimited expense account and the various perks of the job like travel, access to the famous, stock options. But, most importantly for Beverly, all the ass-kissing that went along with her title. The agents, the studios, the celebs paid her homage despite the fact that they knew her to be ruthless as far as scandal went. No one was off-limits, so best send a case of trophy Pinot Noir at Christmas and ask her to the exclusive Oscar parties. And more importantly, attend hers.

While her twentysomething staffers vied for her attention, recounting tales from last night’s clubbing and speculating on the drug consumption of the famous, Beverly was thinking about her future. She was damned if she was going to allow herself that long slide toward the humiliating bottom-feeding of celeb reporting. She shuddered, imagining a future of covering movie junkets for the wires or filling in at Entertainment Tonight. Beverly thought about the pile-up of aging media people – Katie Couric, Mary Hart, even Billy Bush was sounding like an altercocker until he got busted encouraging Trump. On camera, no less.

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Gone With The Gelt
Part Two

by Howard Jay Klein

David O. Selznick’s new assistant learns more than the movie biz. 2,711 words. Part One. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


Three days later the Super Chief hissed into Pasadena, its crimson war bonnet and yellow locomotive gleaming in the sparkling Southern California morning sun. The chauffeur was waiting and hefted our bags into the trunk of the Cadillac Fleetwood limousine. The trip had been three days of valuable reconnaissance about my new boss. I’d learned that David O. Selznick was a frenetic and obsessive memo dictator, a chain smoker, a heavy drinker, a cheap-feels copper on lady friends he’d trapped in the train passageways, and, mostly, a terrible gambler.

The driver eased the car out of the train station lot and drove onto Colorado Street headed south to Beverly Hills. Selznick slapped my knee.

“Buzz, you haven’t set a foot down at the studio yet but you are, dear boy, a true gem of a hire. Now I’ve leased an apartment in the Beverly Hills flats for you. We’ll drop you there now. Relax today and come into the office tomorrow to organize yourself with Lydia Schiller, my secretary. Then clear Friday night. You and I have a date in Tijuana.”

“What’s in Tijuana?”

“You’ll see. Just wear your suspenders.”

My next few days were a frenzied blur of running errands for Selznick to his tailor, to his bookie, to his lady friends, to his doctor to pick up and wait for prescriptions to be filled between snatches of time reading Gone With The Wind.

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Gone With The Gelt
Part One

by Howard Jay Klein

It’s 1936 and a smart college student is this movie mogul’s newest assistant. 2,079 words. Part Two. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


I stood up as story editor Kate Brown arrived in the conference room. She smiled. She had a polished debutante look about her with alert eyes that seemed to hide a lively intellect. “So, Buzz, I’m assuming that Professor Hawley briefed you,” she said earnestly, glancing down at a letter. “He writes here that you did your senior thesis on Middlemarch and played first base on the Columbia baseball team. Impressive juxtaposition of talents.”

She lifted her eyes off the paper and sized me up, watching me twitch in my tweed suit, a clearly idiotic choice for a 93-degree New York City summer day.

“Mind if I remove my coat?” I asked, feeling the drip of sweat beads zig-zagging down my neck. Were I a contortionist, I’d surely be kicking myself in the ass at this point. It’s the only suit I now own. I did have a new $15 blue serge number I wore for my college graduation which, to my everlasting misfortune, shrunk in a sudden thunderstorm to a size more adaptable to a Bar Mitzvah boy than my 6’2” frame. So it was either the tweed or dungarees and a Columbia t-shirt.

“Sure,” Kate said. Then she stood up, clicked on the big fan and aimed it to sweep my tweed pants.

“Blessings on you, “ I said, feeling the waves of cool relief. “So this is an assistant job to a movie executive?”

“Mr. David O. Selznick, yes. Didn’t the professor mention that?”

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The Searchers
Part Two

by Robert W. Welkos

A movie’s magic is finding something new in every screening. 1,819 words. Part One. Illustration by John Donald Carlucci.


Professor Daggett sits inside a local coffee haunt in Silverlake chatting with his colleague, Avery Dortch, who teaches cinematography at USC. Dortch, a short balding man with glasses and a love of Shakespeare, cups his hands around a caramel latte.

“Story doesn’t mean shit anymore, Avery. It’s all bells and whistles and car crashes and explosions.”

“I’ll grant you that we’re raising a generation of pre-diabetic androids who’ve never heard of Titus Andronicus.” Dortch lifts his head and closes his eyelids and recites, “Vengeance is in my heart, death in my hand, Blood and revenge are hammering in my head…”

“Yes, yes, I know. But what do we do about it, Avery? Nuance means nothing anymore. Everything must be spelled out. The trailers give away the whole plot. Moviegoers now expect it.”

Dortch returns to earth. “I had a student once who said the cornfield scene in North By Northwest is way overrated.”

“You see? Proves my point.”

“When I asked him why, you know what he said? That Hitchcock should have had another plane appear. Then they could have had a big air duel in the sky over the cornstalks.”

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Turn To Kill

by Daniel M. Kimmel

A movie producer and a studio head begin a tough negotiation that ends with a surprise twist. 1,524 words. Illustrations by John Donald Carlucci.


“Mr. Allen will see you now.”

The middle-aged secretary barely looked up from her computer screen as she flicked her head in the direction of a short hallway just beyond. When no further direction was forthcoming, Movie producer Tim Munson realized it was time for him to move. He rose from the barely comfortable seat in the powder blue outer office, fumbled with his briefcase, and headed past several closed doors to the one that was ajar at the end of the hall. He tentatively poked his head in, not quite sure if this was where he was supposed to be.

At the far end of the room, behind a broad mahogany desk, sat I.F. Allen, head of Tigerslair Pictures. His white hair and neatly trimmed beard were countered by his lively eyes. At this moment, they were focused on his electronic tablet, while he also tapped his ear. He was wearing a Bluetooth and seemed to be engaged in a conversation. He looked up and saw the young producer and waved him in.

As Munson tried to figure out which of the many seats available was intended for him, Allen was wrapping up his conversation. “Look, Barry, it’s my way or the highway. If you think you can make a better deal elsewhere, good luck to you. I’ve got to go.” Without so much as a goodbye, the conversation apparently concluded.

Allen put the tablet aside and then swiveled to face the new arrival, who had taken a seat to the left of the desk. A long table piled with scripts and other documents extended from the center of the desk, forcing visitors to choose whether to go left or right, never being quite sure if they had made the right decision, and Allen never indicating where they should sit. It was one of the many ways that those bringing their projects to Tigerslair were kept off-balance.

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The Invisible

by Richard Natale

As protector and pal to a Hollywood VIP, he did everything the boss asked. Everything. 3,470 words. Illustration by John Donald Carlucci.


If you look at any photo of the famous media mogul Magnus Byers taken over the past thirty years, chances are I’m in it. Not my face. No, never my face. But my arm, my shoulder or my flank. Right there next to the boss (I always call him boss, never Mr. Byers, and for sure not Magnus).

I’m there but at the same time invisible. And indispensable.

I’m not tooting my horn here. Just stating the facts. I contributed to his success from the very start and in ways that only he can appreciate. I know the boss better than anybody, better than my parents – and they gave birth to me. I know the good stuff and the bad stuff and he knows I know. But he trusts me. And I never gave him reason not to.

Hardly anybody outside Magnus Byers’ close circle knows my name or exactly what my responsibilities are. Most of them think I’m his bodyguard, just some big tough who doesn’t say much probably because I’m a little soft in the head. And that suits me fine. Keeps them from asking questions. Annoying questions. Awkward questions.

I don’t like being asked questions.

Except for some hoax kidnapping threat about twenty years ago, keeping people out of the boss’s face is the least of my duties. I just step out front, fold my arms and give them the old stare down. They back off pretty quick. Just the same, I always keep a sidearm handy. Perfectly legit. Got a permit and everything. Practice firing it every week at the Beverly Hills Gun Club. My aim is still dead-on, even after all these years. Yeah, I’d take a bullet for him. What of it?

The boss created, bought and sold newspapers, TV and radio stations, movie theaters, casinos, resorts, satellite and internet. His finger in every pie and made more dough out of it than any of his competitors. Men looked up to him, wanted to be him. Women were impressed by him, even the ones who eventually tried to suck him dry. He was feared and respected but rarely loved. Even by his own kids. Especially by his own kids. Five of them. By three different wives. They barely tolerated each other. Their only common goal was waiting for him to kick the bucket and destroying everything he built. Talk about a lack of respect.

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Jeremy Botz Ruined Everything

by Aimee DeLong

A woman’s boyfriend gets seduced by Hollywood. Will he take her along for the ride? 2,277 words. Illustrations by Thomas Warming.


Until that day I had never been to Hollywood, and I still have never met Jeremy Botz with the red hair, 8547D799-C475-4659-B563-17A9A283F8B3not really. He was an A minus celebrity, the street cred version of a producer. Two thirds of the people I’d mention his name to would say, “Jeremy Botz? Who’s that?” And when I told them, they’d nod their heads and say, “Oh yeah, that guy.” So he commanded respect. OK, props. But he still ruined my relationship.

It started casually enough. My boyfriend Brody had this friend – an actor, “super talented,” whose work “showed his diversity.” Anyway, this actor showed Brody’s novel to Jeremy Botz who got a major hard on for it and informed the actor that Brody’s novel “had Sundance written all over it.” Published over a decade earlier, it was a roman a clef about a writer who develops severe agoraphobia after his divorce.

It sold well enough. There was buzz — not bee buzz, more like fly buzz — but still buzz. There were even write-ups, the kind that are sufficiently impressive like Vanity Fair or The Guardian. Brody managed to never sound like he was humble-bragging when he brought these up, thank god, just regular bragging. With a big personality like Brody had, he could get away with shameless bragging because people assumed he was being self-deprecating somewhere deep inside even though he wasn’t. It’s the best way to network.

Mr. Botz sent emails on the regular about turning the book into an independent film because he really liked Brody’s “juvenile yet scathingly sardonic sense of humor.” Then Brody told me that Jeremy Botz — “get this” — really liked his “juvenile yet scathingly sardonic sense of humor.”

But, before I continue, let me explain about Brody and me.

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Ageless Anxiety

by Nat Segaloff

In this sequel to Age Of Anxiety, a middle-aged screenwriter and his pals game the studios. 2,313 words. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


“Looks like you’re gonna have to find another beard,” kidded Mel Landsman as he and Bernie Saffran sat down at their Farmers Market table across from Bob’s Donuts. They were joined by the usual crowd: Leo Crowther, Paul Schumacher, Perry Blade.

“I’m not going through that charade again,” Bernie grumbled. “Not with anybody who uses the term smash cut.”

“Then you might as well start novelizing all your old specs,” Mel said. “After all, they only make a hundred movies a year but publish a hundred thousand books.”

“Publishing’s gotten as bad as movies,” Leo grumbled as he wiped cream cheese off his mouth. “Same mentality. All they want to know is, ‘Will it appeal to the post-literate generation?’ For six months, my agent’s been trying to sell my novel The Cremation Squad. The publishers want a film sale first and the studios want a book sale first. I’ve been thinking about rewriting it about cats. Cat books, they buy.”

“Nah,” chimed in Perry. “When The Jungle Book was a hit, I pitched Shakespeare for animals. King Lear would be a gorilla, the daughters would be monkeys, and I had a marmoset lined up for the Fool.”

“What happened to it?” asked Bernie.

“They decided to do Hamlet with penguins.”

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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.

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Eric Idle Disney final

The Writer’s Cut
Part Three

by Eric Idle

From the Monty Python legend: the film/TV comedian delays writing his Hollywood reality novel to accept a TV assignment. Part One and Part Two. 2,642 words. Illustration by John Donald Carlucci.


Los Angeles – 2003

My writing partner Sam and I are in an early morning meeting at the Disney Executive block. Execution block more like. Over the main doorway, wide enough for a football band to march through, Seven Dwarves bend, holding the weight of the world on their shoulders. Sam and I are in imminent danger of joining them. It feels like being back in high school.

In order to make up for what we promised to deliver by last week, Sam and I have just agreed to write all weekend, and all night if need be, which is something of a problem for me, since I now have a novel to write.

That’s right. Pangloss Publisher Richard Hume bought my fucking reality novel The Writer’s Cut from my pitch. My agent Morty Mortenson called to tell me the good news. It’s music to my ears. “He loves it. They’re going with a first printing of 30,000 copies. And I got you a quarter of a mill on delivery,” said Morty. “It is finished right?”

“Virtually” I said. Compounding the problem. Lying to agents may be common in the executive class but lying to your own agent can lead to trouble. Rest assured. It will.

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Eric idle Joan Collins

The Writer’s Cut
Part Two

by Eric Idle

Part Two of a book excerpt from the Monty Python legend: the film/TV comedian tries for a Hollywood kiss-and-sell publishing deal. Part One. 2,352 words. Illustration by John Donald Carlucci.


Los Angeles – 2003

I’m very good at bullshit.

It’s what I do best.

And that’s not just me speaking. My writing partner Sam says I have dropped more bull than a Spanish matador. That’s not insulting by the way. Bullshit is the art of Hollywood. I’m really good at it. If you can’t pitch you’re dead. That’s what they do all day, all night, on the phone, in their cars, at the office, in the bedroom. After you’ve been to a hundred Hollywood pitches you can do it in your sleep. It’s akin to advertising. Or stripping. I call it laptop dancing. You have to tease the customer into paying something without showing anything. You lure. You tempt. You paint a dream they can’t possibly imagine living without, which they need to own right now. It’s a hooker’s art,

I’m driving along Sunset when a perfect parking slot opens up in front of Book Soup. I’m still intending to go home and start work immediately on my Hollywood reality novel, but I’m high from the conversation with my William Morris agent Morty who’s set up a lunch tomorrow at Le Dome for me with a New York publisher. But you should never look a gift parking slot in the mouth. So I decide to give myself a reward. I make a U-turn and take it.

I’m an inkoholic, you see.

I love books. And I really love bookshops. I find them sexy places. Warm. Comfortable. Filled with intimate thoughts. I love the way everyone tilts their heads as they scan the shelves. That’s how I think of us book readers: we’re head tilters. Magazine readers don’t do that. They tilt the magazine, or flick through them backwards. You don’t do that with a book. Book Soup is my closest, but Dutton’s in Brentwood is very good, and there’s another Dutton’s in the Valley which has second hand books as well.

One book, and then I’m home all night writing. I’ve got to be prepared for tomorrow.

I’m feeding the meter when I see her.

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