Best Doughnuts for Adults

My agent signed me up to write a script for a doughnut commercial aimed at adults in New York City. The draft below can be tweaked for use with many other products. Feel free to use it as a template if you want to.

[We see two doughnuts talking. Subliminal physical clues around their respective holes allow us to infer that one is male and the other, female. In addition, the male is voiced by an individual who sounds like Stallone and the female by a Britney Spears clone.

He: Quit nagging me about my fat and sugar.

She: I know you. You’re gonna let some kid eat you.

He: So what? I’m sterile.

She: That’s not what Phobe says. [Phobe is a very chocolate eclair.]

He: Kids love doughnuts. What are you gonna do?

She: You get yourself  into a kid’s mouth and you aren’t going to roll hole-to-hole with me anymore, buster.

He: Hey, baby, I’ve got plenty of dough. [I know that seems weak, but you’re writing for an audience of semi-idiots here. I’m sorry, but I’ve spent a lot of time in New York.]

She: If grownups want to eat a doughnut, it’s their choice. They’re sitting there drinking coffee with cheap brandy in it, smoking cigarettes, they’ve probably just had unprotected sex, they’re sweating through their underwear out on their fire-escape “balconies,”  and now they want a doughnut to top off their evening. That’s what you were made for.

He: Jeez, I’m competing with alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, post-coital depression, and a muggy night in the big city…

She: Fat and sugar, sugar and fat, it don’t get any better than that. But please, adults only!

Reality Show: Dogs

This is an old idea. Several shows have started production based on it, only to be shut down for one reason or another. Put together the right package and you and your agent will find yourself greenlit before you can lift your leg on the nearest fire hydrant.

First, choose the dogs – You’ll need at least one who doesn’t get along with other dogs. Conflict is important. Also, a cute one – a flirty bitch. Plus a big, muscled lug, a crafty, foxy one, and a nerdy mutt who thinks too much. You’ve got to have a Chihuahua that’s a little crazy and one of those dogs big as a small pony. Make one of those male and the other female.

The series transpires on a lush tropical island, of course. There is a beautiful luxury home, an obstacle course, jungle, a waterfall – scenery, in other words.

No human is ever seen. This is a dog show. People aren’t welcome, especially those struggling actors that show up in reality shows every week, hoping that you don’t recognize them from their work in commercials.

Each week, the dogs vote one of the pack off the island. How is this done? Well, you know, they don’t literally vote. Figure something out with that nose-to-ass sniffing thing, maybe.

What you can’t avoid here, with no human people in the show, is a pack of dogs running around more or less aimlessly for an hour every week. Say one week the show opens on the beach. There’s the dogs, whichever are left by this time. They’ve been let out on the beach. They don’t know. They’ve been fed. They run this way. They run that way. Some of them like water. Some of them hate water. But even the ones that like water aren’t going to just run out into the fracking ocean. You’ve got to at least throw a god-damned stick out there, or something. A frisbee. But you can’t, because you aren’t there. Nobody is.

Or another week, the show opens in a clearing in the jungle. There they are, the dogs, in the clearing. Do they disappear into the jungle? Say you put a tiger out there. Do they cringe or do they run after it. A tiger could take a pack of housebred dogs easy. Tear them up. Do they know that? Or if it’s a python? It would have to be a hungry one. Otherwise, they hang up in the trees like a vine. You’ve got nothing.

Or, and this is the last suggestion and then you’re on your own. I can’t give you everything. They’re up at the top of the island’s volcano. It’s rumbling, it’s steaming, it’s going to blow. Will the dogs push one of their own into the lava to save the pack? You’ve got to keep saying over and over that no dogs were hurt during the filming of this show, even if it’s bullshit, or PETA will put you in a world of hurt. But then having said that, it’s a pack of fracking dogs. A dogpack. They return to the wild at the drop of a hat. Haven’t you ever had one of those things turn on you? I’m more into aquariums myself, but you know how dogs can be. If you’ve got a pit bull or two in there, even with expert handlers and with them getting thrown off the island, or into the lava, you’ll be lucky if they don’t manage to bite you at least once.

Collected Dailies 10

The Cable Guy (1996)Continuing my project of watching unpopular movies, following Howard the Duck (1986) and Death to Smoochy (2002), both of which I liked, and Ishtar (1987) and Heaven’s Gate (1980), neither of which I got very far into, and after hearing the guys on /Filmcast talking about it, I’m halfway through The Cable Guy. Carrey definitely goes to the dark side. I’d like to watch Carrey’s wife watching him in this one – just to check for any expressions of doubt or dread crossing her face in spite of the 20 million he got for doing what he does in this one.

***

Walking Tall (2004) – Back in ’73 in Los Alamos, my spouse and I walked down one night to the little local cinema to see the current movie, which was Walking Tall (1973). We asked the ticket taker before going in whether the movie was violent or not. He said nah. This was the true-life tale of Buford Pusser, Tennessee sheriff, who administered justice with a big stick of wood. The movie, step by step, grew increasingly violent as we watched. When it reached the point where Buford (Joe Don Baker) sat with a huge round total-head cast, eyes peering out of holes in the plaster like a mummy, after getting shot in the face, we left. As I recall, the movie had some of the earnestness of The Phenix City Story (1955) in it, mixed with 70s movie grit.

The modern version has been spiffed up, moving the action to a scenic British Colombia coastside village and featuring The Rock, not in a head cast. Violence or no violence, a comparison of the two movies suggests what was right with 70s cinema and what’s wrong with it now.

***

Mad Men, Season 4 – Getting hard to keep Draper’s scorecard up to date.

***

Spartacus: Blood and Sand (2010) – Cheesiest series I’ve seen in recent memory, based on Episode One. T&A cheese. CGI blood and landscape cheese. Dialog cheese:

She: You will fight no more?
He: Forever.

Best line steal I’ve seen.

Travelling back in time from the Old West to Thrace, long before the Bulgarians got there.

Somebody also gets put in harm’s way.

Having said that, I loved the show. Lucy Lawless and John Hannah made it. Spartacus himself, Andy Whitfield, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma after the season wrapped. Was treated and pronounced cured. Then the disease returned. I found this out partway through my viewing of Season 1, which brought it down a little. There are 16 types of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Let’s hope Andy’s is of the less aggressive types. But he’s out for season 2.

For the most part, the down-under actors keep their accents in check.

***

Dogtooth (2009) – Wow. What’s going on in Greek cinema these days?

***

Ocean’s Eleven (2001) – The spouse returned from Las Vegas and asked to see one of the Ocean movies. I liked them all. Jeez, it’s been ten years, but this one holds up fine.

***

Faster (2010) – Dwayne steps away from the tooth-fairy roles long enough to kill a bunch of people. Excellent SoCal scenery, but if you set out on a day trip, don’t count on covering as much ground as these dudes seem to.

***

The Last American Virgin (1982) – It would be fun sometime to trace the evolution of the teen sex comedy. Or maybe just read the wiki article. Watching an “Apatow” wannabe made twenty-some years pre-Apatow makes it clear what amazing talent Apatow has. Or has Apatow just been blessed with a stable of actors, like Ingmar Bergman? The last virgin was Lawrence Monoson, who in the 30 years since has put together a career, a lot of TV work. Today’s version of Monoson would be Jay Baruchel in She’s Out of My League (2010); I’m guessing that Baruchel’s career will sparkle a little more than Monoson’s has. The last virgin’s fat friend is played by Joe Rubbo, who did not make a career in the movies; today, we’d be talking Jonah Hill. The last virgin’s obsession, Diane Franklin, has enjoyed a career similar to Monoson’s over the past 30 years; today she’d be who, Emma Stone, or Katherine Heigl? The point I’m making is that as I watched TLAV, I found myself thinking that it was clunkier than today’s similar genre comedies, but swap in an A-list cast back then and maybe it would not have been so. I watched The Sure Thing (1985) at the same time. The female lead, Daphne Zuniga, is right in there with Monoson and Franklin, careerwise.  But also present, at the beginning, are Rob Reiner and John Cusack. Makes a big difference.

***

Triggerman (2009), a sequel to Doc West (2009), with Terence Hill and Paul Sorvino still getting it done in these PG family spaggetti westerns. The Italians come to Bonanza Creek Ranch in New Mexico to film. As Doc West rides out to consult with the Indians on medical matters, we hear tom toms quietly beating in the distance. They don’t stop till he’s done. Those tom tom players haven’t seen a lot of work in the last fifty years or so. At movie’s end, Hill tries to ride off like Shane, but no, we just can’t let the big lug go. I have a lot of like for these throwback oaters. I’m guessing Doc West will return.

In the 50s, dudes were cats, as in “He’s a real cool cat.” In the 2000-whatevers, dudes are dogs, as in “What’s up, dawg.” Significant?

After watching Gabriel Pascal’s four Shaw productions, Pygmalion (1938), Major Barbara (1941), Caesar and Cleopatra (1945), and Androcles and the Lion (1952), I put a hold on the BBC Shaw Collection, 11 hours of Shaw in 5 plays. It finally arrived. I’m starting with The Millionairess (1972) with Maggie Smith. The plays are part of the BBC Play of the Month series, which ran for 16 years. The Millionairess begins with a 40-minute scene in a solicitor’s office: the rich wife, her idle husband, her lover, his mistress, and the solicitor. If you crave acting, non-stop, English upper crust, humor and Fabianism, this can’t be beat.

Watchng Fringe, Season 2, Episode 4, and there’s Theresa Russell. She’s  in her 50s, which must mean she’s had work done, because she looks 15 years younger, but I couldn’t tell. Running an eye down her work in IMDb just reminds us how much stuff is out there that we’ve never heard of, and what it means to be an actor or any other artist trying to make a living.

Bowfinger (1999) – This one made a splash when it landed, but what’s happened to it since then? It’s still funny… Steve Martin wrote it. Eddie Murphy, who should have ended up a national treasure, solid; running an eye over his work, I’m thinking that it’s better over the past decade than it’s given credit for; he’s a wonder in this movie. He’s not dead yet. Maybe he’ll make a couple of great choices in his 50s and be reborn, cinematically speaking… Martin’s writing: “Last night was perfect.” “I know. I’ve never done it lying down before.”… Frank Oz directs; solid career, not counting the muppets, for which he’s immortal.

***

D13-U (2009) When did the tiny-font credits start, which can be read on the big screen but not on a TV screen? Two minutes into this one, I had to pause it and go check the plot line, just so I’d know what I watching at the start… I for one am glad that Luc Besson is around… The movie reminds me of the canceled Olympic event, the Low Jump. That’s the one where the competitor who jumps the farthest down sucessfully is the winner. In this flick, guys jumping off buildings are worthy of entering that competition, if it ever returns. And let’s remember that if your cat is going to fall out of a window, make sure that it’s at least eight stories up. Chance of survival decrease with each floor below that. It’s about the flying squirrel effect: the cat getting flat, air in the loose armpit skin, so forth. But even though it’s true, don’t toss your cat out way up there, just to win a damn bet.

***

Doomsday (2008) – Seems like I get a lot of good movies to watch by listening to the Double Feature podcast, this being one of them. “You have forty-six hours.” Chief trope: decapitation. That’s how you know they’re dead. Unexplained: heroine gets her ear bitten off, but thereafter, it’s still there. Heroine: strong Evangeline Lilly vibe.

***

Fulltime Killer (2001) – Johnnie To movies: get on for the ride. But I liked Wild Target better. English vs Chinese humor?

***

Wild Target (2010) – I hope that Emily Blunt’s career isn’t starting to slide. Meanwhile, Bill Nighy can appear in literally anything; once you’ve been king of the vampires, you’ve got carte blance wrt your projects… And for Rupert Grint, this is just a checkmark on his growing-up curriculum vitae…  The movie made me laugh repeatedly.

***

Jonah Hex (2010) – Where did all the hate come from for this movie? I’ve got to check the reviws. Because of the handheld crossbows with some kind of exploding missile bolts in them? I forget; where did those come from?… Brolin doing Eastwood? No, doing a cross between Eastwood and Tommy Lee Jones, with more Jones than Eastwood, and that’s a good thing… Malkovich being weird? He does that a lot. Give the man some respect; he’s out there on a horse, assuming that’s not a double. Westerns are expensive.  Is this like Howard the Duck and Death to Smoochy – undeserved scorn? Fassbender got a lot of cred for Inglourius Basterds, but the man did make Blood Creek and he did participate in Jonah Hex, as second banana to Malkovich… “Full steam ahead.” I guess I didn’t know that expression. I thought it was a writer’s blunder.

***

Watched The Secret of Kells (2009) a second time, with family. That movie is a labor of love. Great Celtic soundtrack, combined with a guy experienced in film scores. The team started working on this film in 1999. Searched for, and found, funding in a myriad of places. Worked with many animation studios. Ars longa est and this art took longa to create, so let’s hope it lasts. One of the main voices in the movie has already passed: vita brevis.

***

Criterion’s Eclipse Series has been around since March, ’07, but I’m just discovering it, first with the Shaw films and now with The Pearls of the Crown (1937), Sacha Guitry’s 200-character traipse through history, real and imagined, as he traces the fortunes of seven pearls, four now in the British Crown.

***

40 episodes of In Treatment (that is, season 1) in the books, and I feel mentally much better for it. The only thing Garbriel Byrne can’t do for me here is prescribe some pills… Oops. Thought that was the whole season and went on to Season 2, but no, there are 3 episodes left. The end did seem rather abrupt.

***

Red Hill (2010) – Innocent young constable who has trouble pulling the trigger; his innocent young wife, very pregnant after miscarrying the first time, now located out in an isolated home; town full of hard-ass cops, heavily armed; escaped homocidal maniac, expert tracker, bent on revenge; a hungry panther… Big storm coming and now it’s here; spagetti-western Mexican trumpet music as the hero mounts up and rides (his car won’t start); that hungry panther? It as a taste for flesh. Human flesh.

***

Hustler Squad (1971) – I was suprised to hear “f**kin A” in the dialog. Didn’t remember that “A” going back that far. Viet Nam, I guess… Drive-in DVD. The flip side is Wild Riders (1971).

***

The Secret of Kells (2009) – Assigned to me for the February Filmspotting Movie Dictator Club. First question: where did director/writer Tomm Moore come from?

***

The Ringer (2005) – Revisited five years later, it’s still cringeworthy in the first half. Walking the line between politically correct and the opposite, The Ringer is bound to leave some critics on both sides of that line disatisfied. I refer you to the reviews. For the rest of us, and I speak as someone without a special-needs family member, so I can’t gauge the offensiveness factor of the movie for such a household, the movie provides laughs and some touching moments, Johnny Knoxville doing what he does best: falling on his back, and Katherine Heigl looking great.

***

Justified (2010) – Is it my imagination, or is “Let me ask you something?” the  new go-to phrase for tough guys? Coggins uses it at least three times in the pilot; then some other heavy does so in the next episode. Also “Let me tell you something.” The trick is to swallow the the first word. It’s one reason why following dialog in a foreign language can be difficult. Words are missing, but the native-speaker automatically fills in the gaps… This show is soooo Elmore Leonard. He must be in heaven producing and otherwise working on it. Week after week, he gets to watch Olyphant and a succession of bad guys act out his favorite tropes onscreen: the ensemble, not-to-bright ne’r do wells, the showdown shootouts. Graham Yost has got Leonard dialled in here… Clarence Williams III, of the Mod Squad: good to see him still working, even if only in a cameo as a cranky old dude.

***

Easy A (2010) – Why can’t they all be this good? Bert V. Royal, keep writing.

***

Iron Man 2 (2010) – It was ok. Fast-forwarding over the end credits to get to the final teaser, I felt like I was watching pages of the Hollywood phone book zip past. So many names. So many who worked on the movie. Fight unemployment. Make more blockbusters…

***

Somewhere I got the idea, in advance of seeing it, that Pascal’s Caesar and Cleopatra (1945) wasn’t a good movie. Maybe because it flopped at the box office. But not so. Claude Rains is a wonderful Caesar, and Vivien Leigh a terrific Cleopatra, some sort of cross between Scarlett O’Hara and Blanche DuBois as the Queen of Egypt. Funny to compare her in this role with Elizabeth Taylor. Plenty of Shaw dialog to revel in. These Eclipse Criterion releases are swell: this one includes CaC, Major Barbara, and Androcles and the Lion, all in a sleeve. Get your Shaw on.

***

It’s been a long time coming, but I’m finally watching Howard the Duck (1986)… Check it out for a class in 80’s hair, especially the mop on Lea Thompson… The only thing wrong so far is Howard’s line readings. They could use a little more edge, a little Jersey, a little Richard Dreyfuss, or Devito or Vaughn or whomever, or is it “whoever”?; otherwise, the attitude is there. Reminds me of how I missed Death to Smoochy (2002) for years because of the bad press, to my loss… Th scene in the Cajun Sushi place? Made me laugh… This is one of those PG movies before PG-13 was born; duck condoms, duck/human bed time, duck tat-tats. Most of Lea Thompson’s skin. Violence. So forth… The mystery of screen chemistry between a couple. When is it present and when is it not, and why? In this case, the woman and the duck have chemistry. Interesting… Lucas’ FX is still fresh, 25 years later. But there is probably too much Ghostbusters (1984) in the movie.

***

I was just thinking about three movies in which a bunch of old stars go off to do battle. The Wild Bunch (1969) is downbeat and all the geezers get killed, excepting Robert Ryan. The Expendables (2010) and RED (2010) are upbeat. I only watched part of The Expendables, but I’m guessing that most of the geezers survive. In RED, Morgan Freeman is burdened with Stage 4 liver cancer, so he gets to be the martyr, and Dreyfuss gets to be the bad guy, but all the rest survive with a happy ending that would support a sequel. Is there an essay in this? Movie made when the baby boomers were just starting out and Viet Nam was at its height kills off the geezers; movie made when the baby boomers are starting to retire keeps them happy and kicking at the end? Plus, The Wild Bunch and RED were made forty years apart, but Ernest Borgnine is a geezer in both of them. Some kind of geezerage record??

***

RED (2010) – It may be about geezers but that don’t mean Willis has got to go for Helen Mirren. Mary-Louise Parker’s bones will be made available for him to potentially jump. This is Hollywood we’re talking about… But anyway, true or false: get enough real stars together and you’ve got a good movie. Probably false, or flip a coin, but in this case, true… And MLP is 46 or 47, so in Hollywood years, they did the right thing here with her and Willis, especially since Mirren gets to end up with Brian Cox. And hello to Ernest Borgnine, 94 and still getting it done. And Dreyfuss, the John McEnroe of Hollywood.

***

The Karate Kid (2010) – I liked the final match, wherein Jaden Smith, twelve years old but pre-growth spurt, plays a tiny JCVD playing Frank Dux in Bloodsport (1988), while his mom watches from the stands as his leg gets mangled to a pulp but he keeps on goin’, her only response being to do some serious wincing. That’s good parental restraint!

***

In Treatment (disk 1) – I love it. Or am I just needy? Transference, as Gabriel Byrne gets angry and his brogue slips out? Must discuss this with my therapist during my next visit.

Reality Show: “1,000 Lbs of Love”

This project has been funded by a broadcast network, but is awaiting the signing of the two protagonists in the show.

A special RV sits in Van Buren, Maine, in the farthest north-east corner of the continental U.S. Another waits in Imperial Beach, California, south of San Diego and Chula Vista, in the farthest south-west corner of the country. 3,459 miles separate the two vehicles and their human cargos.

On each RV, built to take the load, lies an individual weighing in at 500 lbs exactly. Myrtle and Fred.

Also on-board each RV, an MD specializing in extreme weight loss, and a lab capable of monitoring body chemistry during the weight-loss process.

The two RVs will set out and head for the opposite corner of the country. They’ll pass each other at the half-way point, on the outskirts of Rolla, Missouri, where they will stop briefly while Myrtle and Fred meet first the first time. Up until now, it’s all been email, IM, Facebook, tweets, and Skype.

From the outset, the RVs will progress slowly, because by the time they reach Rolla, Fred and Myrtle will weigh only 300 pounds each.

The skin is the body’s largest organ. Lose several hundred pounds and you will discover your skin organ hanging in folds. In Rolla, a plastic surgeon will tighten up Fred and Myrtle from head to toe. Bariatric surgery. The couple will be doing a lot of pain killers. These will provide their face-to-face interactions at a rustic picnic ground with a dreamlike quality.

The show: many ups and downs. Many highs and lows. Fred looses 80 pounds and realizes that, at 420 pounds, he is still far from his goal of 165. He rebels but his contract with the network is air-tight. The producers can starve him at will, as long as they don’t actually kill him. Four thuglike individuals follow the RV in a Crown Vic all the way across the U.S., for the purpose of strapping Fred down to his bed when necessary.

Myrtle tries to apply makeup for her first appearance on the show. At 500 pounds, she has a lot of face space to fill in with her liquid foundation. She runs out before she gets any lower than her nose.

In Pharisburg, Ohio, Fred sees a part of himself long hidden from direct view. He is impressed.

Time and again, Fred and Myrtle talk about food, but the network must cut away on the basis of good taste.

Reality Show: “Stretch”

I was paid an obscene amount, just for the idea. Let me know if you like the show when it airs.

Ten men, all 6′ 8″ or taller. Single, good looking, and looking. Ten women, all 5′ or shorter, ditto.

The twenty of them are brought together at a luxury resort located in northern Georgia but not too close to Atlanta.

For ten weeks we watch the group in the pool, frolicing. This includes on-the-shoulders team wrestling. We see the gleaming bodies on the lounges at poolside. There is horseback riding. Horseshoes and crocquet and volleyball. Cocktails before dinner. We see couples dancing on the patio under a full moon. Always, onscreen, the women craning their necks, the men peering down at the top of the ladies’ heads, seeing the ladies dramatically foreshortened from crown to toes, with the parts in between, like the women’s noses, for example,  sticking out. If you’ve ever tried to draw foreshortened nudes in a life class, you know what I’m talking about.

The women are a collection of professionals. Doctors, lawyers, and college professors, like that. The men work with their hands. We see that the women often wear wedgies, even in the most casual of settings, but somehow the shoes make them look even shorter, as they’re up on their toes a little. The men go barefoot. One time a guy steps on a rock and one of the women takes his foot in her hands and she can’t begin to get her fingers around the whole thing.

The first “couple” to happen is Louise, a government economist, and Jake, listed as a roustabout. We see them from a distance, out in the garden at dusk. Jake has lifted Louise to stand on the ping-pong table so that they can have a conversation.

The show is really just about how this is going to work. We know that we’re probably not going to get to see it, even if the action goes a little blue at the end, but it’s like a car wreck. Hard to look away.

Reality Show: “The Love Trip”

Five men and five women in a deluxe RV, traveling from New York to Hollywood. Purpose of the trip: Love.

The men and women have been carefully chosen from a pool of thousands of applicants. Although they don’t know it, they share a common characteristic. They are all profoundly disinterested in sex.

They aren’t phobic. There are no psychoses. These are simply the ten least libidinally motivated heterosexuals available in all the general Reality public.

The ten think that the man and woman on this trip who couple up and discover truest, deepest love will “win.” They don’t know that the actual winners will be the first couple to have surreptitious sex – sex that they believe, wrongly, will be off-camera.

How will the physical act creep up on these folks, who never even think about it? Take Nigel, for example. He was in a two-year relationship with a young woman who had no natural lubrication. Nigel didn’t know about lubrication – still doesn’t – and his mate didn’t either. Folks used to go and get a lube job for their cars from time to time, along with an oil change, but nobody knows about that these days. Anyway, after two years of desert-dry, chafing, prickly, raw intercourse, Nigel lost all interest in ever doing it again, with anybody.

Similarly, Enid. She was introduced to the act of love by a fellow so proportionally outsized that once they were done and she could walk normally again, Enid unconsciously removed all further questions, desires, and plans for a repeat from her mental equipment.

Obviously, nothing would happen on this RV trip without a little help from the producers. Without intervention, there would be no winners and, of course, no tape of the winning maneuvers.

Intervention One: Clothing Malfunction in Mt. Giliad, Ohio. The participants are told that body lice have been discovered on the vehicle and every scrap of clothing and bedding must be steam-cleaned immediately. They wheel into the Sunnyside Naturist Garden for their layover. The ten contestents now discover/experience each other on a dermatological level while playing volleyball and swimming in the heated pool. Due to broadcast restrictions, even on Starz, we see most of this from the rear.

Intervention Two: “Getting to know you better” games played from Swayzee, Indiana to Doolittle, Missouri. The games are introduced and played during a quick clothing recall/inspection to confirm that the lice have been truly licked.

Intervention Three: Drugs at the Seama Rest Stop on I40 in New Mexico. The producers throw up their hands at this point and slip powerful drugs into the contestants’ roadside picnic dinner. Within an hour after sunset, five couples are mating like rabbits and the producers must do a frame-by-frame analysis of the tapes to determine who started first and thus “won.”

The mood on the RV is light and anticlimactic from New Mexico to Hollywood.

My First Reality Show

Well, my first reality show, “Walk the Walk,” is in production. It will pay me enough to live well for a year.

It was easy. Just get that initial concept, pitch it to the right guys, and you’re in.

“Walk the Walk” is so simple. Each episode begins with five guys in Central Park. In the first episode, they’re furniture movers, real professional guys, all single or divorced. Each one gets a celebrity. He takes her up in his arms and starts walking north out of the park. Maybe one of the guys gets an Uma Thurman or a Kirstie Alley – you know, a real horse – to provide us with a laugh as we watch the guy lugging her like a couch, but for the rest, it’s just normal-sized women stars. No Calista Flockharts or other lightweights with an obvious eating disorder.

So off go these guys, and they can’t put their woman down. Nature takes its course and the guys get more and more tired. Their arms are falling off, for Pete’s sake. The women try to encourage them, keep them going, because there is a prize involved. One woman might insult her guy, call him weak, impugn his manhood, threaten him, so forth. Another might nuzzle him, make promises, anything to keep him from dropping her.

So this goes on as they leave the park and head north on 7th Avenue. Destination: the Bronx Zoo, which is one hell of a hike. One by one, the guys crap out, until there is only one left with a star in his arms. It’s summer and he’s sweating bullets. But now he doesn’t have to cradle her. Now he can carry her piggyback, or reverse-piggyback in front, or on his shoulders. She’s up there with her thighs around his ears, him trudging along through Harlem at two in the morning. The show isn’t on Starz, so we only go so far with the cheese.

They talk. The show is all about them getting to know each other, their hopes, their dreams. The sweat keeps coming. They get a bathroom break at Yankee Stadium. The guy is a mess, which makes him drop his social defenses and get more animal in his conversation. The celebrity is moved by this on a libidinal level. It’s like a damned movie to her.

If they make it to the zoo, they get a free weekend at a B&B in Mamaroneck, which is up on the way to Stamford. The camera doesn’t follow them but as the show’s credits are rolling, we check back with the guy Monday morning as he goes out with his van to help a retired couple move from their apartment in the East 60s over to Bushwick, to be closer to their grandchildren.

Collected Dailies 9

Email from my niece:  Danny DeVito is coming to SF Sketchfest next Tuesday night at the Castro, to have a conversation with James L. Brooks after a screening of Broadcast News (1987). Janet being the co-founder/co-director, our tickets await at the door, if only we can bestir ourselves and drive up to the city. 99 acts in its 10th year; the thing is getting huge.

***

Friday Night Lights and Undeclared, from Netflix. The Undeclared cast, after their 17 episodes and cancellation, go on to fame in various flavors. Who from Friday Night Lights has gone on to stardom?

***

Androcles and the Lion (1952) – When I saw Victor Mature looking down from a balcony on Jean Simmons in this one, I immediately asked myself, what chemistry is this? Victor, dressed in his Roman general’s togs, looks tired, world weary, aging. Just his role, or too many Hollywood nights? I remember when I first noticed Pacino looking old. He never tried to hide it and I respected that. Some, age hardly touched. Paul Newman. Some aged early. Tommy Lee Jones got the gig in Space Cowboys (2000), side by side with Garner, Eastwood, and Donald Sutherland, and didn’t look out of place with the three geezers at all. Supposedly, he was their contemporary. Either way with Victor, the true ravages of age or a role calling for a worn-out legionaire, I took his interest in Simmons, who was dressed, or wrapped, in a simple white fabric and was in her early twenties at the time, with a mixture of Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor vibes and plenty of closeups, to be that of an older man called upon to reflect on life’s beauty and missed opportunities. Then I discovered that he was only 38 when he made the movie and that whole train of thought went out the window.

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Mother and Child (2009) – A lot to like. Be fun to write about, some rainy day.

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Arn: The Knight Templar (2007) – In Sweden, it’s all in Swedish; in the Holy Land, English. Then Arn lays out a little Arabic and Saladin says, “You speak our language.” and I thought, Dude, you’re a Kurd; it’s not your language either. But Saladin probably never made a big deal about the Kurd thing whilst uniting the Arabs.

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The Social Network (2010) – Sorkin can write, no doubt about that. I was taken out of the movie somewhat by Eisenberg channeling Danny Pudi all the way through… My college had four fraternities, one each for the BMOC, jocks, rich party animals, and nerds (before the taxonomy of nerds had been clearly established). As a freshman, I attended all the rush parties. Uncomfortable! Except for that of the nerd group. On the day that invitations to join appeared in our student-union mailboxes, I found one, from the nerds. This being the early 60s,  it turned out that the nerds, to the surprise of everyone, harvested all the most sought-after frosh. This being the early 60s, although I attended the introductory parties, I never considered actually joining a fraternity. I was gratified by the invite, though. And I did have a girlfriend for a year who was in a sorority, so I did get to go to a couple of parties and a couple of dances, getting drunk at all of them, and experiencing the  sorority-house cat and gossip.

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Buried (2010) – Ryan Reynolds clearly didn’t see Kill Bill (2004), in which The Bride faces the same situation. I felt a lot more uncomfortable with Uma in the box that I did with Reynolds, but then she was only required to zen punch her way out, not emote for ninety minutes in a Stephen King-type situation… Funny to hear Stephen Tobolowsky’s dulcet tones over the line three-quarters of the way through, as he be’s mean. If you’ve never listened to The Tobolowsky Files podcast, I recommend it… Having watched North Face (2008), Frozen (2010), and this one, I am not taking endings for granted anymore.

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Big Love, season 4 – I’m sort of amazed at how dialed-up this season is – intense every moment. There have been crises that in previous seasons would have taken weeks to resolve. Here,they crop up and then get shouldered aside because so much else is going on. Makes me wonder what the final season, number 5, just beginning, can do to maintain parity, or more… I haven’t checked any reviews or discussions or whatever, but of the multitude of soaps I’ve watched, I can’t remember seeing anything like this. It’s great…And it goes out with a perfect bang. Soap at its best… Meanwhile, the next-t0-last episode of Caprica 1.5 introduces a plot twist that I so never saw coming. That’s what I always liked about BSG and Lost: the surprises.

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Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010) – How I knew this was a class film: Milla Jovovich goes to the showers, gets the water running, takes off her guns and knives, but before she can remove a single piece of leather, gets interrupted and has to go fight zombies… I have absolutely no memory of the first three entries in this franchise, all of which I’ve seen. This one is all about the visuals. Ali Larter adopts a babe look that doesn’t work for me as well as her Heroes persona… Some rainy day, I’d like to look into this more closely – Wes Anderson and Jovovich, now 35 and a mom but still kicking zombie ass. Instead of using the quick cuts that make it impossible for the viewer to follow a fight, Anderson goes the other way, using slo mo to linger over the action. Video game on screen.

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One little thing about Big Love: seems to me that often as not, they don’t get the hymns right. Seems like a strange thing to get wrong, but every few episodes I find myself thinking, where did that music come from?

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Listening to a Robert Parker 2010 novel. He left a few behind when he died, which is good. Takes a little of the fun out of it, though, knowing that he’s gone.

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Went to see Amaracord (1973) one night in San Diego, back in ’73, and then The Godfather (1972) the following night. My impression at the time: Coppola was no Fellini, in spite of The Godfather’s subsequent glory. I mention this because I watched the first hour of Piranha (2010) last night, after watching Machete the night before, and Aja is no Rodriquez. I can enjoy a ride at the county fair, but for a classic ride, you’ve got to go find a Disneyland… First sign of trouble in Piranha: old guy gets eaten but later his bloody corpse washes up. Corpse?!? These are Jurassic super piranhas? There shouldn’t be anything left of the geezer but a couple of clean white bones, a wedding ring, and a grinning skull; Aja just wanted that corpse to rear up in th water; weak! Second sign of trouble: the CGI blood is laughably bad – there is no excuse for bad CGI blood in this, our high-tech age – bad CGI in 2011 is sort of like Rush Limbaugh still big and bold eleven years into the new millenium. Makes you realize that (1) Kubrick was off by a thousand years and (2) it takes less than 50% of the population to screw everybody, including the planet itself… Anyway. T&A-wise, Aja is a wannabe Rob Zombie here, and I’m thinking of unrated, director’ cut of The Devil’s Rejects. Inadvertantly or vertantly, Aja has put himself in his own movie via Jerry O’Connell. My best financial advice to you the reader: invest in gun companies. They do well no matter what, and especially well in times of trauma, like, for example, when a mentally ill person goes on a shooting spree at a public gathering. If the individual uses a Glock, say, and manufactures casualties in the double digits, Glock sales dependably shoot up. You could look it up… Anyway. Too many underwater piranha POV shots after which, cutting back above water, the piranhas don’t show. Weak! Rule of thumb: the more artificial boobs, the worse the movie. So far in Piranaha, they’re all artificial. In Crank: High Voltage (2009), the Neveldine/Taylor flick, the artificial boob takes a round and springs a leak. Now that’s quality moviemaking! Let’ go see what Aja can do in the final 28 minutes to win me over… I hiked in to Havasu Canyon back in ’58, before the lake was created. Canyons, waterfalls, reservation. When the lake came on the scene, my parents bought a lot. Nothing ever came of it, even after the developers moved London Bridge to the lake, piece by piece. I wonder if it’s still there.

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Machete (2010) – Doctor tells nurse that human intestine is 60 feet long. Shortly thereafter, Danny Trejo, holding a scalpel and faced with a bad guy, needs to dive out a window with a 60-foot drop to survive… Babe agent sits in her car in front of a house. House blows up. Barbecued corpse bad guy lands on her hood with meat thermometer sticking out of his neck. Red mercury goes up and pops out top of thermometer with little squeekey sound… At some point in this thing, I realized that I might be watching a classic, according to my personal definition of the term. Trejo, the aging incredible ultimate chick magnet. Steven Seagal, wearing a truly strange rug, his fat draped, playing the mom- and daughter-decapitating chief bad guy. De Niro, capping his career with an accent of unknown provenance. Jeff Fahey, no longer Lost: “Where are my wife and daughter?” “In hell.” “Then give them my best regards…” and “Where are my wife and daughter?” “In heaven.” “Guess I won’t be seeing them, then.” Cheech in a dog collar, with a box of Cubans and a box of Mexican blunts. Don Johnson, gunning down innocents… Is there a baby-boomer vibe with this venerable cast? Many a moment when Tarantino would have stuck in a homage, but Rodriquez is his own homage… Attack of the undocumented: lots of pimped out low riders, one of which rears way up and squashes a bad guy, and, at the back of the pack, an ice-cream cart… It’s a classic if I want to rewatch it later, and then again later; so the jury is out. It’s got a chance, though.

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Big Love, season 4, and Caprica 1.5 – Both still getting it done for me. Medicine for Melancoly (2010) – Good start; looking forward to watching this one. Lots of San Francisco in a genuine indie with a cool color scheme: black and white with shades of color.

Major Barbara (1941) – I sat down to watch this mainly to see Wendy Hiller again. Plus Rex Harrison and an all-star cast… After being away from Shaw for a long time, I was looking for something to read on vacation a while back and took along Man and Superman. I had forgotten what an interesting blend of romantic comedy, conversation, politics, and religion some of his plays present. He wrote Major Barbara in 1905. Young penniless academic fellow (Harrison) falls hard for young Major in the Salvation Army (Hiller), who turns out to be the daughter of the world’s most successful (richest), eccentric maker of weapons  – as opposed to, in Pygmalion (1938), not-so-young well-off academic felow (Leslie Howard, and then Harrison in My Fair Lady (1964)) falls hard for poor young flower-seller (Hiller)… Here, our very first glimpse of Deborah Kerr in the movies… Major Barbara has a great deal of dialog that, it seems to me, would be of great interest to Kurosawa (who I’ve been studying). I’ve got to Google Shaw and Kurosawa and see if there is any connection between them… Well, there is someone named Shaw Kurosawa… Major Barbara was shot with German bombs falling on London. Cast and crew would run to the bomb shelters and then return when the all-clear sounded… The Salvation Army was formed in 1865; it was forty years old when Shaw wrote his play… I read a review in which the critic opined that there was much to relish in the movie but that just sort of sat there. Hmm. If you watch a Shaw play, you will be lectured; perhaps it was the critic who just sort of sat there while he took his medicine.

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Devil (2010) – Shyamalan finally got his name on something decent.

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One way to measure how good a romantic comedy is, is to see how quickly and how much you want the two protagonists to fall in love. In the case of ‘I Know Where I’m Going’ (1945), the Powell/Pressburger film, with Roger Livesey and Wendy Hiller as the lovebirds, for me, the answers are: quickly and a lot.

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The Other Guys (2010) – Enough smiles and chuckles to satisfy me. 44 Inch Chest (2009) – It screens like a play and I like plays. Just sat and enjoyed listening to a movie’s worth of dialog. Ian McShane plays the urbane, less-foul-mouthed member of the group, which is a change that’s fun.

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Why did Fonda make My Name is Nobody (1973)? I could look it up, or try to, and maybe I will…And while I’m at it, why did Leone want that movie  made, either?

But I’m glad they did it.

Fonda was 68, and looked pretty good for that, but his heart had to be bothering him by then, and it was an action film that had him on a horse and flat on the ground more than once. He had nine years left, and was involved in twenty-three more projects. Maybe he wanted to add to Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) or maybe he just wanted to work, because that’s what he did. It’s a same to see a legend showing up in his twilight for something like Tentacles (1977). But then, Shelley Winters, John Huston, and Bo Hopkins were all in that thing as well. “It’s turning the beach… into a buffet.” Must have been some money to spend on salaries…

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I was in Safeway yesterday and it seemed like every time I turned down an aisle, Alice Cooper and his mom were there, discussing some purchase. The guy stands out. Very friendly. He posed in the checkout line for a phone pic by my spouse, who told him that she was a fan, though beyond recognizing his name, she doesn’t know much about him. He’s just finished his 2010 Theater of Death world tour and said he was fagged, and looked it… Tonight nine of us were sitting in a pizza joint, eating our pizza, when Owen Wilson came in for the fifth time in two weeks and waited ten or fifteen minutes in front of us for a couple of take-out pizzas. This was a couple of hours after the virial “Owen Wilson was killed snow-boarding” news on the Internet. The usual thoughts-when-face-to-face-with-a-celebrity crossed my mind. Get an autograph. Mention my niece, who had a role in at least one of his movies. Ignore him. Figure out a way to interact with him in a way that would cause a hint, a tiny particle, of his – fame, money, talent, you name it – to rub off on me. Then he left and the normal world reestablished itself in my vicinity. And speaking of my niece: ten years ago she and David Owen and Cole Stratton created SF Sketchfest. A decade later, the three of them continue as the festival’s directors  and the thing is just booming. It runs in SF for  three weeks every January and the list of performers this year blows my mind. Almost 300 entries. Roll call for  improv and standup. It’s Comedy University and all you need for admission to it is money.

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Sitting in Maui with a laptop, appropriately, in my lap, watching Futurama, My Name is Nobody (1973), and South Park is something new for me. The Netflix in the lap, not the Maui. Seems sort of decadent.

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Kenny (2006) – It made me laugh. The film took a while to get here from Australia, but worth the wait.

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Something has to be done  about the wolf pack situation in the eastern U.S. You can’t go skiing or snow boarding without being pulled down and eaten. You can’t go down into the New York subway, or was that a train station (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2010)), without the  same thing happening. Great time to be a wolf movie star, though, or his or her agent.

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One of the guys on /Filmcast absolutely loved Frozen (2010). Somebody else didn’t, I forget who. It’s genre, it’s predictable but unpredictable, it gives some love to New England ski slopes, which counts for something, even if was really filmed in Utah. Despite myself, by the end of it, I had some dampness in the armpits, sorry for that image. It’s a way to pass 93 minutes. If you want quality and a much deeper level of emotional distress, I refer you to North Face (2008).

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The Duplass brothers continue to ascend and I still haven’t watched the second half of The Puffy Chair (2005). It’s an outrage… If you know what they were doing with the camera in Cyrus (2010), please write and tell me – that little zoom in/zoom out thing and clunky back-and-forth move during the one-on-one conversations… Working with John C. Reilly, Marisa Tomei, Jonah Hill, and Catherine Keener – that’s making a movie… Tomei and Hill did the same zoned-out-zombie thing; were they being mother and son with that? It worked for me.

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The A-Team (2010) – Right off the bat, quick cuts in the action scenes. I do not like that. Nothing actually has to happen. The director just needs to capture snippets of action and stitch them together. Boo… But having said that, if you want an expansive (they’re all expensive but not all expansive)  action movie with some ideas and some stars,  you’ve got to put up with cost-cutting somewhere. Good action movies don’t grow on trees. And while I’m think of it, I liked G. I. Joe (2009) just fine; don’t know why so many rag on it… Why the hyphen in “A-Team”?… At the end of the movie, as everything is blowing up, metal hurling, fireballs, gunfire, exploding cars, so forth, I noticed that there was a score, and I had to smile as I imagined Alan Silvestri sitting there watching the silent footage of the mayhem and shouting out to his wife and kids in the kitchen, I’m supposed to write music for that!!?!… But he wrote the score for Volcano (1997), so maybe not.

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Pranzo di ferragosto (Mid-August Tea) (2008) – Mid-August in Rome, when the holiday Ferragosto is celebrated. Four women in their 80s and 90s. Two men in their 60s. Nobody gets hurt. Wine is drunk and food is eaten. There are smiles. The Italian for “It’s fine” and “Don’t worry” and “Eat!” and other such simple phrases is repeated often enough for you to learn and remember them.