Sunday, December 07, 2008

Executives say the stupidest things

In case you missed my Saturday post, I've started a new Kontest. Click here for the details. Some excellent entries already.
Industry executives are famous for jaw dropping statements. Who will ever forget the CBS suit who gave this script note to the producer of MY FAVORITE MARTIAN: “A Martian wouldn’t say that”?

Several years ago a feature producer rejected a spec screenplay I had written. He told my agent, “The writing was so good that it almost fooled me into liking this movie.” Damn! I almost pulled it off!

So every year tales of these idiotic statements get passed around delis and “Promenades” and “Groves” and wherever else writers hang out. Of the doozies I’ve heard this year this is by my far my favorite.

Jim Troesh is one of the funniest people I know. We’re in an improv workshop together and I’m forever amazed at the inspired stuff he comes up with. Oh, by the way, Jim Troesh is also a quadriplegic.

Recently he wrote, financed, and stars in a pilot called THE HOLLYWOOD QUAD. It’s about his adventures trying to make it in show business with his somewhat significant handicap and is much funnier than most of the sitcoms currently on the air. Emmy winner, Bryan Cranston is also featured.

Jim’s agent recently submitted it to one of the cable networks. It was rejected. The agent said to the executive, “I guess you couldn’t get past the quadriplegic aspect, huh?” to which the executive said, “No, no. We were fine with that. It’s just that shows about Hollywood don’t really do well.”

How do
you top that? I'm sure someone will. And soon.


Anonymous said...

I’m uncertain as to where the jaw dropping statements end and the simple Gracie Allenisms begin, but I always enjoy sharing this. Mom, whom I still thank for providing material after all these years, was one of those people with a propensity for conflating their clich├ęs, “Well after all, none of us is human.” But her view of the world also had a way of unintentionally putting you in your place, even though she was trying to be supportive.

In high school a few us were selected to go off for a week to Boys’ State – that mock government precursor to Boys’ Nation, where Clinton had that famous photo taken with JFK. I got home all pleased to have been selected and informed everyone that the American Legion was sending me to Boys’ State. I was sort of surprised at how excited Mom was for me. Then she wanted to know if I would get to meet Father Flanagan.

Anonymous said...

That's Moms for you. When I returned from a trip to Europe some years ago, I showed my mother the pictures from the trip.

One was of me standing by the shore of the Mediterranean Sea in Antibes, shading my eyes, looking south. The tongue-in-cheek title I had given the photo was "Looking For Africa".

My mother looked at the picture and asked in all innocence, "Can you see Africa from there?"

For the record, the nearest point of Africa to Antibes is about 400 miles away.

Anonymous said...

Mine thought "the Honduras" were a chain of Caribbean islands.

Anonymous said...

Sorry i'm now gonna have to insist that you name this improv troupe that you're a part of... as much improv as there is in this city I can't find any good troupes.

er.. (captcha) ingray an improv troupe member who can't quite tell where the line of appropriateness is. (not an official entry, just one that seemed to fit.)

Unknown said...

I guess all those Emmys Jeremy Piven gets must be accidents...

The nerve...

Anonymous said...

"Several years ago a feature producer rejected a spec screenplay I had written. He told my agent, “The writing was so good that it almost fooled me into liking this movie.” Damn! I almost pulled it off!"

I'm not so sure that was such a dumb comment actually. (Or else I'm the same kinda dumb).

When I read I thought I knew what he meant....that the actual writing itself (the description of the scenes, the descriptive way of writing HOW a line is delivered, etc.) lifted the material, but the actual story wasn't up to it.

In music, I run into this, where I write a song, record it adding all kinds of interesting bells and whistles, all kinds of overdubs, and things, and in the end it "sounds" like a better song than it is.

The REAL clue (song for sure, maybe also script?) is if I could do the same song on an acoustic guitar and vocals, and it would STILL be riveting, interesting, good. Often those elaborate overdubs, and such covered up that the material wasn't good enough on its own.

Does that make sense? Because it sounded to me like that guy was insightful maybe.

Anonymous said...

Well, Anonymous, would you go to see a movie where a supposed critic had the following to say:

"This is the guaranteed movie of the year, but the writing was terrible. Five Stars."?

Or any other Angelina Jolie movie?

Eric Curtis said...

My Dad and I installed a dishwasher for my Grandmother years ago. The entire time she was looking over our shoulders at the dishwasher and the instructions. We could tell something was wrong with her but didn't say anything. Finally, when we finished she asked, "How does it keep from breaking the dishes during the spin cycle"?

Cap'n Bob said...

My mother unintentionally cut the pins out from under me with this compliment, "That's very good, for you." I felt like a member of the Special Olympics spelling team.

Word Verification: sibby. My midget brother.

Anonymous said...

Just saw Ron Howard on Charlie Rose and he was talking about preview screenings for Apollo 13. One of the cards was very negative. When Ron turned the card over to the space where additional comments were written, the person had written" Typical Hollywood Bullshit. They never would have survived that flight."