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.

One of the first things I learned when Dad asked me to take over this studio was that no one person can do it all. When I walk through these hallways at night, going through your trash and desk drawers and computer drives, please know that I am interested in all your lives. It will help me make decisions for the coming layoffs.

Dad said the new online suggestion box lets me in on what you’re thinking. In fact, as soon as tech security discovers your IP addresses, I’ll get back to you. I’m not yet an expert on filmmaking terms, so could one of you please explain what it means when someone says I have a “cranial-rectal inversion”?

We’re going to have a full company town hall March 10th on Stage G (the Petey Pettigrew stage, for those of you who grew up loving the Petey And His LGBT Friends series. But, in the meantime, I want you to digest this memo.

Persistent Pictures, like every other studio today, is facing tough times. Not only does it cost an arm and a leg to make our movies, but we then have to spend another arm and leg to market and distribute them. And if they fail, we lose our ass. This is why we make so many sequels and prequels and reboots because nothing is riskier than a new idea. Well, we’re going to buck that trend. No, we’re not going to make original movies. I may have been made studio head last night, but I wasn’t born yesterday. Instead, we’re going to combine the best of sequels, prequels and reboots and create brand new original derivative works.

I had my friends at Harvard Business School (where I was wrongfully rejected for admission) do a study at great expense to my father. They determined that the opening weekend is what decides the fate of new movies. Therefore, from now on, we are releasing our films on their second weekend when it’s safe.

The B-School study also ran the numbers on sequels and prequels and reboots and found that the biggest audience complaint is that they are pretty much the same as the first film with the same characters and similar storylines. That way the film critics, at least those that still remain, and the Twitter trolls won’t be able to compare them because they won’t be able to tell them apart.

Piracy is an ongoing problem all over the entertainment industry. Research has shown that the more popular a film is, the more it gets pirated. The Dark Knight was one of the most pirated films of all time, while Jack And Jill was one of the least pirated. The lesson is obvious: if we don’t want our films to be pirated, they have to star Adam Sandler, And if we can feature him in a double or triple role, all the better. That is why we are pleased to announce he will soon start shooting Persistent Pictures’ Christmas release, Robin Hyde, as soon as his Netflix deal collapses. In this mash-up of Robin Hood and Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde, Adam will play the heroic Robin of Loxley as well as the dastardly Sheriff of Nottingham as well as Maid Marian. Cool, huh?

We at Persistent Pictures are not afraid to be socially relevant. So, inspired by Straight Outta Compton, my roommate from freshman year at the University of Miami (where, yes, I partied hearty) pitched me a timely story about a washed up rapper who agrees to teach a white actress how to talk and act black so she can play the lead in a movie that would otherwise star an African-American actress who’s bummed to lose the role. We’re making it a cross between Pygmalion and A Star Is Born. We’re calling it My Bitch Hoes. 50 Cent is paying us to star but we’re still making him test.

Among the challenges we face at Persistent Pictures is entering the tentpole market. At first I didn’t know why a movie studio would be making outdoor camping equipment, so I asked our sports manufacturing division to start buying them from China. When somebody explained to me what a “tentpole picture” was. I laughed so hard I almost didn’t fire him.

As Persistent’s first foray into the summer blockbuster sweepstakes, I have greenlighted Jurassic Dick which will have all the thrills of CGI dinosaur movies anchored in the bonafide classic Moby Dick which was such a popular movie that they novelized it. I’m told the white whale tale has been filmed at least six times, including most recently In The Heart Of The Sea and I’m confident we can get Chris or Liam Hemsworth to star in our version. Of course, we’ll be auditioning dick doubles.

When it comes to genre, we’re looking at The iPad Of Dorian Gray in which a vain but incredibly attractive young transgender sells his/her iSoul to the iDevil in exchange for eternal youth while his/her selfie is imprisoned by Suri. We’re not sure yet whether to do it as a horror film or reality series.

Ron Przewlocki in our VFX lab came up with the idea to combine the classic sci-fi movies The Invisible Man and The Time Machine into The Invisible Time Machine about a time traveler whom nobody can see. That way we won’t have to spend a dime on VFX. Someone mentioned to me that those movies were written by the same Wells or Welles who did Citizen Kane. Talented!

I have been setting aside an hour every day to entertain pitches from USC and UCLA film students. Even though I trust our story department as if it was made up of my own relatives (which it is, LOL). I regret to say the student pitches were useless except for the animated film Breadfruit! which is a new take on Mutiny On The Bounty told from the point of view of the vegetables gathered by the ship’s crew, and Asshole: The Kanye West Story which will be the greatest movie ever made and replaces The Taylor Swift Story originally scheduled for production.

We’re pretty high on all these movie ideas and starting to conduct market research on them. To that end, we’re going to produce previews of coming attractions, show them to focus groups, and see if they’re worth moving forward. Again, my Harvard B-School friends think it seems to be an excellent way of cutting our losses early on.

There’s a lot to think about here. I’ve shown this memo around Craig’s and everyone thinks we’re on to stuff that, for some reason, nobody has ever tried before. I hope you agree and that you will stop talking to the trades or looking for new jobs long enough to give Persistent Pictures a tryout until you’re fired.

Yours in the corner office,
Bradford “Buddy” Newborn

P.S. Strappy sandals will be given out at the town hall so guesstimate your shoe size.

This story first posted here on February 23, 2016. Oscar®, Academy Award®, and AMPAS® are registered trademarks of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, ©AMPAS.

About The Author:
Nat Segaloff
Nat Segaloff is a journalist, producer, author and critic whose memoir Screen Saver: Private Stories Of Public Hollywood and its forthcoming sequel Screen Saver Too are published by Bear Manor Media. He has been a professor (Boston University, Boston College), publicist (Fox, UA, Columbia) and broadcaster (Group W, CBS). He has written more than a dozen books, the latest A Lit Fuse: The Provocative Life of Harlan Ellison (NESFA Press).

About Nat Segaloff

Nat Segaloff is a journalist, producer, author and critic whose memoir Screen Saver: Private Stories Of Public Hollywood and its forthcoming sequel Screen Saver Too are published by Bear Manor Media. He has been a professor (Boston University, Boston College), publicist (Fox, UA, Columbia) and broadcaster (Group W, CBS). He has written more than a dozen books, the latest A Lit Fuse: The Provocative Life of Harlan Ellison (NESFA Press).

  3 comments on “Memo From The Corner Office

  1. Note from Father: I am pleased to see you taking this bull by the balls and twisting it beneath you so you can get on top and ride it. That’s manly. However I am very disappointed that you have not worked the product placement opportunities to the advantage of other products in our portfolio. I fully expect Adam Sandler to sport strappy sandals in ALL of our movies as well as at any promotional events. You will review your decision on the Taylor Swift picture. She should play a minor role in Asshole as a young naive trying to make it big in the rap music business. Kanye will take her under his wing (wink wink nudge). An idea floated around the men’s room at the front office is to have her use a strappy sandal on Kanye in a hot but tasteful sex scene. Scratch the iPad horror film. Our friends in the FBI tell us they will be making moves to open up their requests to include downloads of any movies using Apple products as part of a wider investigation into intellectual property theft. The good name of Persistent Pictures must not be drawn into the widening scandals involving Apple Corps. Lunch at the Escapades on Friday? Dad

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