Category Archives: Fiction

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. Part Three. 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.”

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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.’”

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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?

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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.

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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

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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Bender In Cannes

by Michael Elias

A screenwriter is frustrated at the Cannes Film Festival – until he stops caring about it. 3,283 words. Illustrations by John Donald Carlucci.


Ira, pleased with Bender’s free rewrite of his script, arranged a meeting with Tarik Azziz, a Moroccan film producer and financier, who would also house Bender for a couple of nights in his villa in Cap d’Antibes. Bender arrived at the Cannes Film Festival well armed. He had a script, an interested producer, and a room. It was now up to Bender to find a way to fuck it up.

As he wandered the Croisette, Bender wondered where he got his policy of walking out of waiting rooms after thirty minutes? What was the purpose, what was the result? From his seat on the Ikea couch of the office suite he could see the Moroccan producer talking on the phone in his office, ignoring Bender. Not a wave, not even a raised hand: Sorry, give me a minute.

Bender allowed himself one more pleading glance at the receptionist, who returned a minimal shrug. The ten minutes flew, he added another five, then five more and got up and left. No one pursued him down the hallway. No one flew after him begging forgiveness, clutching his sleeves, and begging him to return. As he stepped in the elevator it occurred to him that they might have thought he had gone to the bathroom.

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The Insect Wrangler
Part Two

by Robert W. Welkos

The two most important females in his film life betrayed him — the human and the spider. 3,657 words. Part One. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


The weeks pass and we find ourselves on an indie shoot in Hawaii. Some of the crew needle me about the young chick at my elbow. I put on a serious face and tell them to f-off.

The production is called Early Warning System and it’s being financed out of Hong Kong by two Chinese brothers who may or may not be Communist spies. At least, that’s the rumor circulating on the set.

The brothers are constantly in our faces. The director, who is also Chinese, would like to quit and return home but rumors persist that he could be shot if he did so.

Anyway, the brothers wrote the script, which centers around these Cadillac-sized insects — Lucy, Penelope and a bunch of hoppers — taking over the Big Island of Hawaii. The bugs have been super-sized by all of the lava flowing into the sea from Kilauea. Hey, they’re paying for this picture, so who am I to complain about the plot?

The film features Chinese actors and anyone we can get on the Big Island as atmosphere.

For our big scene, Lucy is to attack the hoppers.

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The Insect Wrangler
Part One

by Robert W. Welkos

He spent his showbiz career loving only creepy crawling stars. Then she came into his life. 4,036 words. Part Two tomorrow. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


“That’s it, Lucy. Show me some leg. Kick higher. Now, a sexy little pose for the camera. Give it your all, sweetie. Awesome!”

I can’t help but hum that familiar tune. I love Lucy and she loves me…

Yes, I love Lucy. Especially this Lucy.

Those legs — all eight of them.

She’s the best little tarantula in the biz and does she know it. How do I know she knows it? Because I’m paid to get her to perform on cue.

“Hey, insect wrangler? You ready?”

“Ready!”

“Quiet on the set! Everyone ready? Okay, and action!”

When I found her down in Red Rock, Lucy was just plodding along through scrub and sands looking for a place to bed down for the morning. She could sense the simmering heat rising with the dawn. She also knew I was hovering overhead. I had to be careful or she might have grabbed my finger with her legs and tried to paralyze me with her venom the way tarantulas strike their main prey. You know, toads and mice and such. But humans, they don’t die from a tarantula bite. Still, I wouldn’t want get her angry and try.

Let me introduce myself. Name’s Brody. Les Brody. Never Lester. I’m no sissy. I own Kingdom Of Insects out of Calabasas, California. For the past two decades, I’ve been the go-to insect wrangler in Hollywood.

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A Matter Of Principle

by Michael Brandman

Little has changed in the movie business from three decades ago when nepotism, sexual harassment and racism ran rampant. 3,837 words. Illustrations by Mark Fearing.


Hollywood — Fall/Winter 1988

The sign on the door read: CAPITOL PICTURES, OFFICE OF THE CHAIRMAN.

The Chairman, Leo Moody, often joked that when the Board of Directors finally got around to shit-canning him, they’d save money by not having to change a name.

I was sitting in Moody’s outer office, across from his long time assistant Marie Liotta, who was at her desk sorting the morning mail.

From inside Leo’s office we could hear him hollering into the phone.

"He shouldn’t be doing that," Marie said to me.

"Doing what?"

"Yelling like that. You know he had surgery."

"What surgery?"

"Vanity surgery. He had his neck done."

I didn’t say anything.

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Teen Court

by Alan Swyer

Fed up with usual TV fare, a showrunner goes in search of the more unusual – and meaningful. 2,228 words. Illustration by Mark Fearing.


If Ackerman was capable of sitting still, he might have considered spending a week at a Zen or Ashram retreat in the hope of cleansing himself from his time as showrunner. His TV series was hardly art for art sake. It wasn’t just the relentlessness of seven days a week, week after week, that wore him down. Nor the cartoonish nature of the show. Nor the often drunk leading man who was wooden, defensive, and lacking in both humor and social graces. What gnawed at Ackerman was the tawdriness that increased exponentially as filming went on. He sensed that his days were numbered when one of the creators of the show popped into his office on a Tuesday afternoon.

"You haven’t been on set yesterday or today," noted Jon Schechter.

"Nor will I be there tomorrow."

"Can I ask why?"

"I don’t care if you cast your wife. Or your mother. Or your aunt. Or the bimbo you’re banging. Or the one you’re hoping to nail."

"What’s your point?"

"But when they’re all in the same episode, I’m not coming.”

So Ackerman announced that his debut season on the show would be his last.

His first inclination was to dive head first into a tub of Lysol. But Ackerman decided instead to take some well-earned time off. After a week and a half, his new regimen of detective novels in the morning, Indian buffets at lunch, playground basketball in the afternoon and classic movies in the evening gave way to ever-increasing restlessness.

Then, on a Wednesday morning over a breakfast burrito, Ackerman came upon an article about an experimental youth court in Texas. He’d had "a troubled youth," meaning constant friction with teachers, cops, and other figures of authority, Ackerman was sufficiently interested to do some research on his iPad. He made calls first to the small town in Texas, then to other places with fledgling youth courts. That fact-finding was followed by trips where versions of youth courts were operated.

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Acting Class

by Alan Swyer

A wannabe actor finds out he’s learning from a beast of a man. 3,130 words. Illustration by Mark Fearing.

 

"I cannot make you an actor," the man often spoken of as King Kahn (but never to his face) told the dozen hopefuls gathered on a Monday morning for his new theater workshop. "I’m a teacher, not God. I can, however, help you learn to think, prepare, and behave like the professional I assume you aspire to be. But that’s if and only if you’re willing to listen, accept criticism, and most importantly do the goddamn work. Understood?"

Feeling like he had somehow crashed the wrong party, Ed Saks watched as his classmates, who ranged in age from their early twenties to a woman in multiple scarves approaching fifty, nodded a bit too vigorously.

"But let me make clear," Kenneth Kahn continued, "that I am not, nor shall I ever be, your psychiatrist, your daddy, or your friend. If we were in New York, I would say if that’s what you’re searching for, go back to Poughkeepsie, Pawtucket, or Passaic. But we’re on the other coast. Where shall I say, Freddie?"

"Oxnard?" offered Kahn’s eager young assistant. "Or maybe Cucamonga?"

"Freddie’s a veritable font of knowledge. Oxnard and Cucamonga indeed."

Upon his arrival before class, Saks felt that he was entering an alternate universe. The other students spoke of Kahn as the successor to Stella, Bobby, Sandy, plus someone called Gadge, all the while referencing their own experiences at Tisch, RADA, and summer stock. It was as though another language was being spoken. That was also true when they cited stars reportedly mentored by King Kahn, plus celebrities male and female with whom he had been linked sexually.

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Why, Why, Why
Part Four

by Stephanie Carlisi

A legendary songwriter’s assistant is determined not to make the same mistakes twice. 2,668 words. Part One. Part Two. Part Three. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


Throughout dinner I listened to the veteran songwriters discuss their craft. They had both written hit songs for the Troubadours. They described composing straight from the heart and then handing the songs to one of the most famous bands of all time who imbued them with their signature style. The songwriters would struggle when performing their songs in public. They wanted to perform their music as they had written them but the audience, naturally, would want to hear the songs as they had come to know them through the Troubadours.

I was fascinated by the conversation, feeling like a fly on the wall of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, when a distracting image crossed into my peripheral vision. Reflected in an oversized mirror on the wall across from our restaurant table was my ex-boyfriend Leo Sing, hand-in-hand with his new working actress girlfriend. They were walking toward a table.

Gaping, I watched them join Leo’s agent, his manager and his assistant — his usual entourage.

Leo was a half-baked film and TV screenwriter who had used his exotic looks, charmed breeding and Cambridge elitism to finagle his way into the entertainment biz. He surrounded himself with power players and fit right in very successfully — even though, in my humble opinion, his talent was somewhat lacking .

Our first date had started and ended at Leo’s gorgeous home way up in the Hollywood Hills after an evening of fine wining, dining and martinis. Leo had laid eyes on me at a party six months prior and decided without reservation that I was the next Monopoly property he would acquire. When he invited me to go out with him, it hadn’t occurred to me that a lady deserved to be fetched from her apartment as opposed to be beckoned to a gentleman’s home. When I saw Leo’s house and his view of the twinkling city lights, it became clear that he was making sure I knew how lavishly he lived. After dinner, Leo chivalrously held my hair away from my face while I puked in his porcelain toilet. He carried me to his bed, coaxed my knees apart and proceeded to have sex with me although I had protested. I slurred “no” repeatedly while slipping in and out of blackout. I was even wearing my “there-is-no-way-I’m-having-sex-tonight underwear” but that hadn’t seemed to bother him. The next morning I was mortified, but I could only blame myself. Of course it had been my fault. I was sloppy. He was fancy.

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Why, Why, Why
Part Three

by Stephanie Carlisi

The young assistant reluctantly grows closer to the veteran songwriter mentoring her. 1,697 words. Part One. Part Two. Part Four. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


Unspoken words screamed between us when I picked up Jake curbside at Burbank airport after his trip up north. I had never responded to his evocative email and It hung heavily in the air. We had a quick sushi meal, then he commanded me to drop him at his Hollywood bungalow without saying much at all. There was no communication over the weekend or on Monday. I worried that my lack of openness had pushed Jake away. Did I blow my shot with him? What about my job? It made me want both more.

Tuesday morning I held my breath until around eleven when Jake finally called. I jumped for the ringing phone.

“Hello?” I tried not to sound eager.

“How about you pick me up for lunch and then we get on with what we do?”

“Yes, I’ll be there by noon.” I sighed relief.

We resumed our usual songwriter/assistant deeds as our work week got rolling. There was an acute sexual tension inherent to our escapades. We had a blast running errands and laughing. Halfway through the day, Jake took the wheel and drove my car toward the Los Angeles County Museum Of Art. A new Modigliani exhibit had opened and Jake had added it to our work agenda.

“Now I know one of a songwriter assistant’s duties is to take field trips to museums,” I teased as Jake parked. “I’m learning as we go.”

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Trigger Warning

by Nat Segaloff

A TV executive and a showrunner argue about the right and wrong words to write. 1,323 words. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


FROM: Colin Platzner, Standards & Practices, Forum Network
TO: Byron Messenger, Producer, Medic Alert!
SUBJECT: Unacceptable words

We have examined the script for your upcoming episode titled “Fever Pitch” and look forward to viewing the final run-through prior to taping so we can make the customary adjustments. There is, however, one element to which I must call your attention now. When the character of Beverly is introduced on Page 5, she is referred to by one of the male Emergency Room interns as being “hot.” This reference to Beverly’s sexual allure is unacceptable. One of the women on our staff took offense and feels it objectifies the character. Please find another word or, better yet, eliminate it entirely.

TO: Colin Platzner
FROM: Byron Messenger

I don’t understand the problem with calling Beverly “hot.” It is an important plot point that serves as motivation for the hospital staff. We need to leave it in.

TO: Byron Messenger
FROM: Colin Platzner

This isn’t something I should need to discuss further. In light of the increased sensitivity of viewers — indeed, the whole country — to the ill-treatment of women by men, especially employers, the word has to come out.

TO: Colin Platzner
FROM: Byron Messenger

As regards the word “hot,” I would like to point out that there was no network objection with this same script’s use of the words “shit,” “fuck,” “God damn,” and “prick” as well as to the incident that motivates the story, which is a gunman running into a 7-Eleven and shooting four patrons, splattering their blood across the Slurpee alcove. How can violence be acceptable while the word “hot” might offend someone?

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The Interview

by Mark Jonathan Harris

He may never win an Oscar as a director. But he might snag one for acting. 1.932 words. Illustration by Mark Fearing.


The interview takes place in a suite at the Mark Hotel in New York. Although the director detests speaking to journalists, he understands the imperative of publicizing his new film. His last two movies disappeared with barely a trace; they can’t even be found on YouTube. At 59, he knows that if this film tanks, he may no longer be able to continue doing what he loves.

The interviewer is 26, a recent graduate of an obscure film school where the director fears he may be exiled if this film also fails at the box office. The aspiring critic has made several short YouTube videos analyzing movies of directors she admires and has begun to develop a following. She thinks that an interview with this controversial director can build her audience even more. Although she loves his first movie, his new film puzzles and disturbs her. She’s not sure what to make of it, or the director. At film school she took a class in documentaries and agrees with Jean Rouch, the French anthropologist/filmmaker, that the camera can unlock closed doors and provoke subjects to reveal more about themselves than they realize. She hopes the camera will do the same today and help her make up her mind about the director. She’s never filmed an interview before, though, and she’s apprehensive about it.

She knocks softly on the door of the hotel room. The director opens it, glass in hand. She wonders if it holds water or vodka. Entering the suite with her camera equipment, she looks around uneasily.

INTERVIEWER: I thought your publicist would be here.

DIRECTOR: I don’t have a publicist.

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