Everyone in Hollywood has great Hollywood stories. Thought today as I sit in Cincinnati I’d share one of mine.
My partner David Isaacs and I were hired by Michael Douglas to do a rewrite on JEWEL OF THE NILE, the sequel to the hugely successful ROMANCING THE STONE. One of the great movie star perks, especially when you’re hot, is being able to wield a little power. Michael did that on our behalf and I’m still grateful.
Two months before we were producing the notorious AfterMASH for 20th Century Fox. We had a great office on the lot in a building that looked like a Swiss Chalet. You’ve seen it in a million great shows and STARKSY & HUTCH.
The president of the TV division called us one morning with the tragic news the show had been canceled. We feigned the obligatory “No? CBS is crazy! Can’t they recognize quality?” all the while silently pumping our fists in the air. The prez then offered us an overall deal. We were part of the 20th family. We thanked him profusely but said this was kind of sudden, we needed a little time to see what we wanted to do next. He understood and reiterated that 20th would love to keep us in the fold.
An hour later we got a call from business affairs. They weren’t going to pay us for the backup script that CBS had ordered. We reminded them they had to and they said “tough”. So we called the Writers Guild and ten minutes later business affairs called back to say. okay, they’d pay us. But they wanted us out of the office in one hour. What happened to “we were part of the 20th family???”
We got an office and secretary as part of the rewrite deal. I noticed that our old one was still vacant. So I told the story to Michael and asked if we could have THAT office. He gleefully got on the phone. The facilities people freaked. That was a television division office, not features. It couldn’t be done! The answer to that of course is:
“Do you know how much money I’ve made for this Goddamn studio?”
Ten minutes later that same business affairs weasel had to sheepishly call us and welcome us back. It was a beautiful thing. We were thrown off the lot again when we finished the rewrite but still!