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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.”

“Sounds a bit over the top.”

“Don’t be a prima donna. Subtle won’t sell. Publishing now is like the movie business. A book has to have foreign market appeal.”

“Really?”

“Bestselling author today in China? Bill O’Reilly. Hand to God.”

“We’re talking about a psychology book. I don’t know if that translates. Different cultures, different neuroses…”

“Leave out the nuance. Give me an outline, maybe a chapter. I can probably get you an advance. We’re not talking big numbers though. Low five figures.”

“Shit, I’ll need more than that — and fast — if I want to keep the house.”

“I’d help you, but my assets are tied up. Marci found out about Yvette and the baby…”

“What?”

“Thought I mentioned that. Not for public consumption. Fill you in at racquetball.”

Jesus, what’s he doing? Marci’s great.

“What about that TV idea? You thought you might sell me as the new Dr. Phil ridiculous as that sounds…”

“Hey, Dr. Phil is ridiculous. But there’s a similar show being pitched.”

“With the celebrity angle?”

“Like I say, similar.”

“Who?”

“A Beverly Hills shrink: Duschinsky. Know him? He treated Christian Bale and Shia LaBeouf.”

“Son of a bitch.”

“Good news? He’s old, sounds like Bela Lugosi. To date, no buyers. They want to pair him up with that Fox medical reporter. The blonde.”

“Dr. Vilmos. Catchy.”

“No, he calls himself Dr. D.”

“What? I’m Dr. D. I’m the original Dr. D.”

“Yeah, like the Original Ray’s Pizza. You can be Dr. Dennis, he’ll be Dr. D. I’m working on it.”

If you want to write, you need discipline. You can’t sit around and wait for inspiration. Type and it will come. So I carry a mug of steaming dark roast out into the crisp pre-dawn. Got the world to myself. Quiet. I can think.

I flip a switch and the frigid office brightens. The electric baseboard perks up with a crackle. The iMac comes to at the speed of a teenager on Sunday. Something catches my eye. I turn to see a bandit-masked voyeur peering in the bottom window of the French door.

“Make an appointment!” I shout, and the critter slinks off.

My first client isn’t till nine. Valerie Diefenbach, President and CEO of Continuity Entertainment. That chick heist flick — Money Honeys? Theirs. And the animated film Dust Mites. After Valerie, there’s Monica Reardon at eleven, Sadie in the afternoon. Empowered Woman Friday. I have an affinity for strong women, but you guessed that.

For now, I’m going to sit, face the screen and write. No distractions, none. Dog’s dead, wife’s off getting laid. Beautiful.

I open a blank page in Word. Hit Save and create a new document: BOOK OUTLINE.

Liftoff.

-When are you coming back?

-When I get tired of fucking.

Why’d she have to say that? Just to make me feel bad? So small of you, Caroline.

On the blank page, I type: A book outline by Dennis Corbin, PsyD. Click on Save.

That goes below the title.

Yes, but what is the title? What is the title?

Think.

Type: Checking Your Emotional Baggage –  A book outline by Dennis Corbin, PsyD

Does that sound like a self-help book? I think so. Kind of clever…

Maybe not. Not sure it makes sense. You check your baggage, they give you a ticket, you come back for it later. Who’d want to reclaim their emotional baggage?

Nobody.

Delete Checking.

Type: Losing Your Emotional Baggage – A book outline by Dennis Corbin, PsyD

Better.

I wonder where they spent the night. His place? No. Overnight bag, heels, outfit, makeup — it spelled “romantic getaway.” And today’s Friday, so we’re talking three-day weekend. But where? Ojai? Caroline loves Ojai. Ojai would be so like her. Fuck him in Ojai where I used to fuck Dennis. A fuck-you by fucking him.

Message received, Car.

But just because you hate me now, does it retroactively negate all the good times?

C’mon.

I’m going to say not Ojai. I’ll say Santa Barbara.

Unless it’s Catalina.

Gotta get back to this…

Losing Your Emotional Baggage sucks. No one intentionally loses his baggage. Hit delete.

Need a better title. Think.

How about: Happy To Be Sad: Why We Won’t Let Go Of The Past. Meh. Even for a book about depression, that’s depressing. Who wants to write a book about depression anyway? I’m depressed enough.

Think. Think. I log onto Google. Type: sensual massage. 15,600,000 results. Really? Astounding. Best narrow the search. Type: sensual massage 90034. 13,100 results. Just in this zip code?? Christ, I should’ve bought stock in that. Asian MassageHot Oil MassageNuru MassageEbony Tantra Massage

OK, Caroline. You want to shack up with some guy for three days? Fine. I’ll get a two hundred dollar hand job from an Ebony Tantra masseuse. How does that make you feel?

Wonder if they take Visa, I’m a bit short on cash.

Forget that.

Think.

Type: Love, Love Me Do: A Self-Esteem Handbook – An outline by Dennis Corbin, PsyD

Does the world really need another self-esteem handbook? Aren’t we post self-esteem? I know I am.

Bunky. That’s what Little Caroline called her fuzzy Steiff rabbit. Baby talk for “bunny.” A consolation prize when her parents split. Had it forever. There’s a Polaroid of Bunky on Caroline’s bed at Syracuse. Then on a ski weekend to Greek Peak she leaves it in a rented Jeep. January 28. Panicked phone calls ensued. Weeping, begging, pleading. The Avis Budget Group responds with empathy and sensitivity: Please accept a 10% discount on your next rental of an intermediate sedan. Today, Bunky lives on as the sign-in password Caroline uses for everything.

I log onto iCloud.com. Type in her email address and Bunky128. Click on Find My iPhone. A spinning compass, a map. Crisscrossing streets. An emerald green dot lands on North Palm Canyon Drive at W. Amado Road.

Okay, Palm Springs. Not Ojai. Feel better? Now you can concentrate.

Focus.

What my book needs is a title that grabs you by the eyeballs. Something punchy. Irreverent. A title that jumps out at you from the Times non-fiction list. Think. Think.

Type: Change The Things You Can And F**k the Rest! – A self-help book outline by Dennis Corbin, PsyD

I like it. Cheeky. Now in paperback. Over 20 Million Sold.

See, you have to give it time and not go with your first thought. That’s what writing is all about. Focus and patience.

But.

Can today’s Millennial reader get through a title that long in one sitting? Or will they have to bookmark it and finish later?

Still, it’s a pretty good title. Hate to lose it. Let it simmer.

“Good morning. Thank you for calling Hyatt Palm Springs. This is Ashley. How may I help you?”

“Hi, Ashley. It’s Dennis.”

“Hi, Dennis.”

“Ashley, my good friends Peter Haas and Caroline Shillinburg-Corbin are celebrating a very special occasion at your hotel and I want to send them up a festive breakfast.”

“Happy to help. What did you have in mind?”

“Oh, you know: eggs, croissants, coffee, mimosas, the works. Maybe a tasteful bud vase.”

“Wow, you’re a good friend.”

“It’s the gesture. Only thing is, they’re hikers. They like to get out on the trail by 7 AM before the heat. So I need you to send it up right away.”

“I’ll have room service rush it, no problem.”

“You’re the best. And they might be in the shower, so knock real loud.”

“I’ll make a note. Did you want to include a card?”

“Yes, absolutely.”

“I’m ready. What would you like to say?”

“Um, ‘Peter & Caroline, Hope you two are having a fab weekend and lots of great sex. Dennis.’”

“Hokay, got it. How will you be paying, Dennis?”

Ashley takes down my Visa. She’s great. Why can’t I find a girl like Ashley?

Back to the outline. And my longgg title.

I need a short one.

Man, writing is hard. Not for the faint of heart.

Need something snappy and with Millennial appeal. By the way, when did they stop calling it Generation Y?

Think. Think. Think.

Type: You 2.0 – a book outline by Dennis Corbin, PsyD.

I like the way that looks. Lots of white space. And it says it. It says it.

But what was it Barry said? A title they can sell to the morning shows. Something showbizzy…

Think.

Wait. What if this is the book? I choose one outstanding personality trait from each of a dozen movie and TV stars. The individual things you love about them. This celebrity’s smile, that one’s self-deprecation, the other’s sensuality, etc., etc. And Dennis Corbin, “noted Hollywood psychologist,” shows you, the reader, how to incorporate these same virtues into your own personality. Become a superstar in your own life! Whoa, great tag line.

Type: Secrets Of The A-List – What Hollywood’s Top Celebrities Can Teach You by Dennis Corbin, PsyD.

I start to list Hollywood celebs with unique personality traits…

An email pings into my inbox.

Caroline.

“Screw you, Dennis. I’m changing my Apple ID.”

The problem with me is I don’t know when to quit. Well, there are other problems with me, but that is certainly one of them. I got lucky. A cryptic plug on an awards show and, poof, I have a client list to die for. So be grateful, Dennis. Don’t be greedy. Sell the house, rent an apartment you can afford. Take a small office on Overland. Scale it down. Same neighborhood, available street parking – what difference could it make? I’ll tell you the difference. Hollywood types inhabit a world of artifice and can spot phony a mile off. They know Barneys from a false storefront on the Sony lot, a silicone tit at fifty paces. They will smell failure on me and flee. Flee like I’m a friend with stage 4 cancer.

No, to hold onto what I have, I must hold onto what I have. And that will take money. A radical idea, but there may be another way to monetize Dennis Corbin. Desperate times call for…

An email thread with Stop The Presses!, bottom to top:

On September 29, 2016, at 9:53 AM, Alan <alanshepherdblack@gmail.com > wrote:
Hit me with your best shot.

On September 29, 2016, at 9:51 AM, Seth <tips@stopthepresses.com > wrote:
An arrangement can be made. It’s been done.

On September 29, 2016, at 9:47 AM, Alan <alanshepherdblack@gmail.com > wrote:
I’m hoping you’ll be all pockets. The first was free. I offer high quality product.

On September 29, 2016, at 9:44 AM, Seth <tips@stopthepresses.com > wrote:
We’re all ears.

On September 29, 2016 at 9:41 AM, Alan <alanshepherdblack@gmail.com > wrote:
Would STP be interested in other entertainment “news”? I’m privy to a lot.

On September 29, 2016, at 9:37 AM, Seth <tips@stopthepresses.com > wrote:
Hahaha. He did.

On September 29, 2016, at 9:35 AM, Alan <alanshepherdblack@gmail.com > wrote: Yes, I see the doctor had his fifteen terabytes of fame.

On September 29, 2016, at 9:31 AM, Seth <tips@stopthepresses.com > wrote: Mr. Black. We were wondering if we’d hear from you again. Your Corbin tip worked out great. Seth

On September 29, 2016, at 9:35 AM, Alan <alanshepherdblack@gmail.com > wrote:
Hello?

Part Seven

About The Author:
Michael Barrie
Michael Barrie began in showbiz by selling jokes for $7 apiece. His work on The Late Show With David Letterman and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson earned 20 Emmy nominations. His credits include six Academy Awards telecasts. He is the co-writer, with Jim Mulholland, of Bad Boys, Oscar, and Amazon Women On The Moon. Their Showtime movie, The Ratings Game, received a Writers Guild Award.

About Michael Barrie

Michael Barrie began in showbiz by selling jokes for $7 apiece. His work on The Late Show With David Letterman and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson earned 20 Emmy nominations. His credits include six Academy Awards telecasts. He is the co-writer, with Jim Mulholland, of Bad Boys, Oscar, and Amazon Women On The Moon. Their Showtime movie, The Ratings Game, received a Writers Guild Award.

  One comment on “How Does That Make You Feel?
Part Six

  1. You made me laugh so hard — I don’t know if it’s because I lived in that world, so I "get it" or what, but to me it’s terrific writing, another "LA Story" film in the making. Why are you not turning this into a series, a film… It’s a "natural"

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