Saturday, July 08, 2006


Since I'm in a New York frame of mind...heading there Sunday, here's one of my Gotham travelogues from trips gone by.

There's an organization called the "Fifth Night Theatre" that stages screenplay readings at the Nuyorican Cafe in the East Village. If selected they provide a casting director, press release, cassette recording, and that theatre that no one can pronounce. I submitted a spec movie I had written called SATISFACTION and it was selected. On Tuesday, May 4h it was performed. Thus my recent trip to Gotham.

Stayed at the Regal Royal which is a fabulous hotel. Every room is a suite. Which was particularly nice because it rained the entire trip. Since the Mariners were in town over the following weekend I decided to stay. I'd much rather spend a ridiculous amount of money for a hotel room for four days than have to drive once to Anaheim.

My partner David flew in for the reading. My agents did not. One of the reasons for doing this was to attract potential buyers. And agents can be helpful to that end. (although in general I consider them "Entertainment Terrorists"). They wanted to come but one of their more important clients needed his laundry picked up they had to stay in LA and do that instead. But they did send me a nice note saying that the agency wished me good luck. That's earning their 10%.

I went to the Cafe for rehearsal. The cab deposited me at 236 E. 3rd Street. Okay, I wasn't expecting Broadway but this was a SLUM. A lot of important movie executives are going to come down here on a Tuesday night in the rain. I was early and no one was around. I went from hoping my reading would be successful to hoping I'd get out of there alive. Finally people started arriving and I got my first look at the Nuyorican Cafe (pronounced: Calf-ay). It was this dive beatnik club. Tiny stage, small wooden tables and chairs. And of course, in a neighborhood that NY Guardian Angels are afraid to enter.

My cast started arriving promptly around 2 or 2:30. Some I knew. Chip Zien, who was on ALMOST PERFECT, Lisa LoCicero who should be having the career Paula Marshall is having, and Dan Ingram. This movie is about radio and I was told I needed someone to read the stage directions. When asked whom I wanted I immediately blurted out Dan Ingram. For 40 years he's been a NY institution, 20 of those years on WABC. His timing and humor is truly brilliant. Dan agreed to participate and I am honored.

The rest of the cast was....alright. It's odd to meet them the day of the performance. Some were better than others. A few were just awful. None were whom I would have picked. One I had to gently give this note after an acting choice he made: "No. Anything but THAT". We rehearsed that afternoon, I took them all out to dinner, and then the guests began filing in. Several friends. My sister-in-law and her husband, assorted lower level movie execs from lower level independent studios, and assorted members of the general public (like there's no other entertainment in New York City that they'd want to see THIS??). As they took their seats a sudden wave of fear engulfed me. What if my movie is horrible? I've been to bad table readings. It's the worst 20 minutes of your life. Like having your teeth drilled while inside an MRI tube. And that's just 20 minutes! My movie is two hours. Thoughts flooded my head. What do I need this humiliation for? I'm not getting paid for this? What if Lisa LoCicero gets a better offer in the middle of the show?

The evening began with a short film. It was supposed to be funny but was ghastly. Imagine Pat Summeral doing a warm up. Now I was really panicked.

The actors took the stage, Dan began reading, and suddenly I heard laughter. I was in the clear. Thanks primarily to Dan and Chip the reading went extremely well. I had a drink with my cast and celebrated by going back to the room and rewriting until 9 a.m.

As for the movie execs, they all said get a great bankable cast and they would make the movie. I said "But how do I get a cast if I can't tell them I have a studio committed to making the movie?" They smiled and left.

I'm happy to report that only two people walked out in the middle. My relatives.

The rest of the week was a blur. Highlights included a Peter Lugar steak with the Mariners broadcast crew, lunch with Neil Sedaka, and Thursday morning from 10:15 to 10:26 when it didn't rain.

If you know of a bankable cast please email me back.


Anonymous said...

Pretty cool that you were able to get Big Dan for your announcer (though given the situation in New York radio as it is today, a lot of the famous Top 40 DJs have a lot of free time on their hands, while CBS/Infinity hopes everyone forgets about the Jack-FM debacle of 13 months ago). You can't get more authentic than Ingram for a radio voice.

I walked the area where the theater is about a month ago while back in New York, on the way to Katz's Deli. Still not the greatest place in the world, but better than when I was a mere youth in the late 60s and early 70s (and apparently, the Hell's Angels headquarters in New York is still on Third Street between First and Second avenues, so whatever criminal activity is in the area is probably skewered in such a way as not to affect the guys, much in the same way Ozone Park didn't have a really big crime problem while Mr. Gotti was living there).

Anonymous said...

This is a chance to inquire about the creative process...why you used the title SATISFACTION, when there has been a movie with that name (from the late '80s, about a female rock bank--Julia Roberts was one of the members). Does the Stones song play a pivotal part in it?

By Ken Levine said...


The story centers around oldies radio in Bakersfield and the theme is characters searching for satisfaction, so the title fit. Worse comes to worst my movie gets made and I have to change the title.

Anonymous said...

Always loved that script...

Anonymous said...

It costs $3500 a month to rent a two-bedroom in that "slum" you're talking about.

Thanks for the blog, it's a constant source of amusement and inspiration.

Cap'n Bob said...

I listened to Big Dan in the early sixties. He was the best of the bunch at WABC as far as I was concerned, although Cousin Bruce Morrow was a close second.

The entire Mariners announcing team? Not bad. For my money Dave Niehaus is the best in the business.

Anonymous said...