Tuesday, November 08, 2011
Hollywood Agent Musical Chairs
I’m not the only guy who had issues with JERRY MAGUIRE. A lot of men I know went in thinking they were going to a sports movie only to discover it was a thinly disguised chick flick. In the words of one disenchanted friend: “You lost me at hello.”
I had no problems with that. In fact, I thought the central love story was the best part of the movie. Okay, the line “You complete me” makes me want to gag but by and large, the film is filled with great lines, astute observations, and wonderful moments. I haven’t seen it in a while so I hope the love story part still holds up. The film was made before Tom Cruise became such a clown over Katie Holmes. I imagine you can still watch JERRY MA (my cool nickname) and separate his real life romance from the far superior one on the screen.
No, my quarrel was this: the entire movie spun around a completely bogus premise. Since most people don’t know the world Jerry Maguire lives in, they weren’t bothered by the big conceit. But I couldn’t get past it.
My agent recently switched agencies. (Toldja it will tie in.) He went from one biggie to another. My partner and I followed him. This has happened several times during the course of our career. And each time we were left with a choice – stay at the current agency or go with the agent to his new home. Usually, if you’ve established some relationship with the agent you choose to stay with him. It’s not so much the agency as the person you’ve entrusted to handle your career.
Sometimes the old agency will make a big play to keep you. They’ll take you to lunch and do a full court press – all the resources they have, the connections, their enthusiasm, the plans for you, etc.
Note: If they take you to breakfast instead of lunch just go to the new place. Breakfast means the agency doesn’t give a shit if you stay or go. Lunch means interest, which can be gauged by where they take you. Spago = they need to keep you. El Torito = they’d like to keep you.
But often times if you stay at your existing tencentery (an even cooler nickname, although one I didn't make up) you’re just reassigned to another agent and ultimately you feel inherited. The new agent doesn’t really know you and sometimes you get the vibe that what you call a career he calls an additional workload dumped in his lap.
So the whole rest of the movie seemed fake to me. But again, that's because I'm closer to the subject matter. On the other hand, one of my favorite movies is THE VERDICT, starring Paul Newman, written by David Mamet and Barry Reed. I love that flick! Bought every second of it. But lawyer friends of mine loathe it. To them it's completely laughable from start to finish. I don't care. And if you love JERRY MA, you're probably saying, "I don't care either, and stop calling it JERRY MA!" And that's fine, but as a writer you always run a big risk when you take major creative license. Both of these movies were executed so well. Cameron Crowe is one of my favorite filmmakers (my quibbles with this film notwithstanding), and THE VERDICT also had the advantage of being directed by Sidney Lumet. But you plot at your own peril.
I always feel cheated by JERRY MAGUIRE. Everyone else loves it (or at least every woman). I wanted to love it. But what can I say? “You lost me at goodbye”.