Screenwriting in Hollywood: Sexist?

A female screenwriter in Hollywood is treated just like a male screenwriter. Badly. Haha.

I personally don’t drink with female screenwriters and I wouldn’t screw one, but Saul G., who sometimes shares a project with me, will screw anybody, truth to tell.

How many movies in Hollywood have a female as the lead star, the hero of the movie? Not many, right? So why would you want a female writing the script? It don’t make sense.

However, I do know three women who are quite successful as writers in Hollywood and they all just use their initials: A. J., M. J., and J. P. They say that they tried to find the most masculine letters to use, which are A, J, M, and P, according to this broad who is a psychoanalyst to the stars and to a couple of big producers at MGM.

Movies are full of women. They act in them, they do the makeup, they do the costumes. You’ll see one trying to be a grip. But why do you think it’s called “best boy”?

There are even some female directors. The world standing on its head.

But, and this is a very big but, I just wrote a script with a woman in it who becomes President of the United States, and she is still able to raise three kids, get dinner on the table at night, and look gorgeous doing it.

My Friend Paco (2009 – 2011)

Paco was one of the biggest chihuahuas in Hollywood. I met him on the Universal lot last year. I was supposed to be coaching dialog but the production chief needed someone to walk Paco out in the canine exercise park between scenes and he asked me to do it. Paco took to me immediately, or at least to my ankles and feet.

After the shoot, Paco’s owner and agent Myra kept me on as dog-walker six days a week. Paco and I would head down to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and over a period of weeks, we made friends there with some of the other mutts and their masters out for a stroll. One time we went home with a woman named Naomi and her chihuahua Prissy and at the end of the day, Paco and I were doing the same thing with them, or to them, and in the same position!

I was on the scene when it all came to an end for poor Paco. I was sitting in a canvas chair off to the side with a pooper-scooper in one hand and a bag full of doggie treats in the other. Paco had worked with other dogs before, and with birds, monkies, and a skunk. But never with a tiger. And not just any tiger. This was Montecore.

It didn’t matter to Universal that Montecore had attached Roy Horn (of Siegfried and Roy fame) in Vegas. It didn’t matter that the tiger sank its teeth into Horn’s neck and dragged him off stage in front of a horrified audience at the Mirage. The tiger damaged an artery carrying oxygen to the magician’s brain and crushed his windpipe. The attack left Horn, 60, partially paralyzed, and ended one of the most successful shows in casino history. I loved the show, especially when I had been drinking, but I never trusted that damn Montecore, even back before the “accident.”

Was Montecore hungry at the time? No. Was he startled by a woman’s beehive hairdo? I don’t think so. Did it bother Montecore that Roy was so obviously gay? Well, maybe on that one. But mainly, I think Montecore was just being an asshole.

If everybody knows you, Universal wants you. Universal doesn’t care why.

You’ve probably read that the dog with DNA closest to that of a wolf is in fact the chihuahua. I can vouch for that finding. Paco was on edge that fateful day, perhaps because of a presentiment, perhaps because he’d spent the previous night with a whippet bitch and I never managed to find a cardboard box the right height for him to stand on. When he saw Montecore, he went right for him, yapping. Professional jealousy? Method acting? We’ll never know, because Montecore ate him on the spot.

Screenwriters Who Should’ve Known Better

I can’t dis Hollywood screenwriters. I’ve got to work here.

Of course, there are the famous flubs, like Joe Eszterhas and Jade, or Towne fighting to keep Dunaway alive at the end of Chinatown, but mostly it’s writers brought down by substance abuse or bad marriages or, mostly commonly, an inability to make their living with a pen.

However, I am put in mind of one friend who should’ve know better, I guess. I’ll just call him Richard. He wrote a string of hits that you’d know, all genres. He could write anything. I was surviving, and not badly, just off scraps from his projects.

He married an actress and began spending more time in New York. He attended her rehearsals, mostly off off broadway, and O’Neill and Williams revivals. If you follow Broadway, you might get the impression that it’s all musicals anymore, but Richard found a lot to watch and think about theatrically.

His wife secured the role of Hesione Hushabye in Shaw’s Heartbreak House and he sat through the play innumerable times, and began tracking down other Shaw plays to watch as well. Then Hollywood called with a project, Cinderella meets Ugly Betty, and when he turned in his script, which is storied in the industry and which I read and which is probably mounted over in the flop Hall of Fame, he had Cinderella marrying the old and corrupt head of the world’s largest cosmetic company, killing him with kindness, as it were, and then converting the company to produce fertilizer, spending the rest of her life increasing crop yields in sub-Saharan Africa.

After a number of scripts like this, Richard left L.A. permanently. He became the resident writer and creative-writing chair at St. Felix of the Fields in update New York, and lived simply there.