Friday, June 16, 2006

You have your spec, I have mine

I received a number of email requests from folks saying they missed Gina and other new people wondering who she was. Since it’s another fabulous low-traffic weekend I thought I’d reprise the post that introduced her. Subsequent chapters can be found in the February archives section if you’re interested.

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The Sunday LA Times CALENDAR section ran a big article on the lack of great parts for women in features. It maintains that studios are reluctant to cast women in romantic comedy parts that shoulder the burden of comedy or make them appear unlikable. I can speak first hand that this is unfortunately true. A few years ago I thought it would be fun to write a balls-out R-rated comedy where the woman was the star. It’s always a man. Will Ferrell, Jim Carrey, Mike Myers, Robin Williams, Rob Schneider( God help me). Why can’t a beautiful actress like Cameron Diaz, Reese Witherspoon, even Julia Roberts be the comic star? So I wrote the movie, I DREAM OF GINA, about an agoraphobic (Jimmy Fallon type) with a million neuroses who worships this goddess from afar, only to meet her and discover she is the wildest, raunchiest, most out-there girl on the planet. She winds up dragging him to Paris where adventures and hilarity ensues.

The screenplay was very well received. Several major producers wanted to be attached. I hooked up with one, developed it further with him, and when it was submitted to the studios they all passed saying, “we can’t cast it” and “she’s not likeable.”

With Lucy and Carole Lombard as my witnesses, I swear there’s no reason why women shouldn’t be given the chance to prove they’re just as funny or funnier than men.

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Below is a sample of I DREAM OF GINA if you’re curious. Gina has just coaxed Hank (who has a fear of heights) to the top of the Eiffel Tower.

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EXT. EIFFEL TOWER - DAY

The elevator rises to the top platform.

EXT. EIFFEL TOWER - OBSERVATION DECK - MOMENTS LATER

The elevator door opens and a throng of PEOPLE disembark, Gina first. Last off is a rather green Hank.

GINA
Atta boy. You were very brave. Mama's gonna give you a hummer. (then) So let's check out Paree. Would love to hock a loogie off this thing.

She crosses to the railing and spits through the fence.

GINA
(calling)
That's for the six cylinder Peugot!

Hank takes baby steps to join her. He peers over the side.
The entire city appears to be in miniature.

HANK
Oh God.

Hank gets a real blast of vertigo. He clutches the railing for support then begins sliding to the ground.

GINA
Y'know, I'm guessing you're one of those "therapy is for other people" kind of guys.

HANK
(covering)
It's okay. I'm fine. Just a little dehydrated. I could use some water.

GINA
You got it.

She quickly crosses to a French SECURITY GUARD.

GINA
Excuse me, is there a drinking fountain up here?

The guard gestures that he doesn't understand.

GINA
What? You don't speak English? (he looks at her blankly)
How could you not speak English? Who do you think comes to the top of the fucking Eiffel Tower?

HANK
(from the railing)
Uh...Gina. That's okay.

GINA
(to guard)
How many people from Hooterville do you think speak French? This man needs Perrier.

HANK
Not anymore. Really.

GINA
(to guard)
Here's two English words you better learn --(enunciating slowly) Ep-cot Cen-ter. (then) 'Cause that's where we'll all be, motherfucker.

Hank tries to get up but just can't.

HANK
Don't need the water. See? Look. I'm great.

The security guard calls for assistance.

GINA
What, you're going to call for help? Over this? God, that is so France. Well fine. I don't give a shit. Call your whole fucking army.

Two more SECURITY GUARDS join him.

GINA
You don't scare me. (taunting) ACHTUNG!

They begin shouting in French. She responds with a torrent of profanity.

HANK
Remember when I said my fantasy girl in Paris was Audrey Hepburn? Audrey Hepburn never said motherfucker!!

Gina is really into it now. A SMALL CROWD begins to gather. The shouting escalates. Finally:

SECURITY GUARD
That is it! We workers are now on strike! Stop the elevator!

HANK
WHAT?!

GINA
Hah! See I told you. You can speak English!

******

Sarah Silverman was born to play this role!!!

5 comments:

Hollywood blond said...

I'm with you on the Sarah Silverman part. Her voice is just right to soften up some of Gina's anger. This scene is a great study piece for how to create and launch energy very quickly.

On a few retorts, it seems Gina's counterpart is more Robert DeNiro than David Spade or Jim Carrey. It would be interesting to read lines (male and female) from Something About Mary and see if everything on paper looks goofy and lovable or if it's got a bite.

Gina's not for me (but the only credibility I can offer is that I'm a woman who spits with force... just not when anyone's around). Maybe this is the ultimate feisty, funny female character who just happens to be as tough as a guy!

Anonymous said...

it sounds like "along came polly." also, cameron diaz has starred in a romantic comedy where she bore the burden of supplying the humor and had to be unlikable at times. it was "the sweetest thing" and it sucked hard. i think that comedies that try to feature women in those roles often end up trying to hard and usually are terrible. also, the reason these movies usually don't get made is because studios know that men hate romantic comedies are even less likely to get dragged to movies where the guy isnt the protagonist.

--sam w.

Ken Levine said...

Those two movies you mentioned were executed very poorly. I think men don't like romantic comedies because they generally lack edge and are rarely funny. Find one that does and if it's a hit then watch -- there will be fifteen more of them within two years.

VP19 said...

Ken Levine said: "I think men don't like romantic comedies because they generally lack edge and are rarely funny. Find one that does and if it's a hit then watch -- there will be fifteen more of them within two years."

I think the key to making that kind of successful picture would rely on finding a balance between "edge" and vulgarity (no toilet humor, for example), something that would appeal to both genders. As such, it would probably have to be tailored for a slightly older and more sophisticated crowd, not the (mostly male) teens and young adults who jam the multiplexes on weekends and largely create the weekly box-office numbers. And in a numbers-driven industry like Hollywood today, where very few films can succeed without a big opening, therein lies the problem.

Anonymous said...

So instead of some loud-mouth obnoxious American man making fun of the French you've got a loud-mouthed obnoxious American woman making fun of the French. How original...