Monday, March 09, 2015

Another awkward moment in Hollywood

There are so many... at least that happen to me.

I was having lunch recently in a restaurant that caters to the Hollywood crowd. Lots of agents and executives and (banished to the bad tables) writers. There was the usual industry dance. People you know pass by your table and you acknowledge them or they acknowledge you. Sometimes they stop to say hello. “We should get lunch.” (We never will.) “Love your new show.” (Never seen it.) “Congratulations.” (For what you can’t remember.)

It’s one gigantic lovefest.

Sometimes the nicest greetings come from people who once fired you. And you know how uncomfortable that chance meeting is with someone whose wife or girlfriend you once slept with? That’s what it’s like when writers bump into other writers they’ve rewritten. And it happens all the time. What’s worse is when you avoid going to industry haunts for fear of bumping into this writer you’ve rewritten and you encounter him anyway at the Fuddrucker's in Sherman Oaks because he was ducking Hollywood hotspots too.

Hollywood etiquette requires that if someone acknowledges you you return it with a smile. Failure to do so is considered a major snub. “Yes you once ran over my dog but lovely to see you again.”

So getting back to my recent lunch, I found myself in a rather awkward situation. I was leaving, crossing through the dining room when my eyes made contact with Mike Medavoy’s. Mike Medavoy has been and remains a huge Hollywood player. He was the co-founder of Orion Pictures, former chairman of Tri-Star Pictures, head of production for United Artists. Currently he’s the CEO of Phoenix Pictures.

I don’t know Mike Medavoy. I’ve never met him. I recognized him because he’s a biggie and I’ve seen him at various industry functions but have never said word one to the man.

When he spotted me he gave me a little wave, as if he knew me. Obviously he thought I was somebody else. So now what do I do? If I go up to him and engage him in any conversation it’s going to be clear I’m not who he thinks I am. He’s going to be embarrassed. We’re both going to be embarrassed. And if I don’t approach then it’s a slight.

I decided to just smile, give him a little wave, and move on. I still don’t know whether that was the proper show biz thing to do, but at least I spared him some embarrassment. Unfortunately, there’s someone in the industry who looks like me who is now on Mike Medavoy’s shit list. Whoever you are, I’m sorry. For all the love, Hollywood can be a brutal town.


Anonymous said...

Ken: Thanks for backing up my story. I think Medavoy will buy it.

Michael Medavoy said...

My bad, Ken. I thought you were the waiter. I was signalling that I was ready for you to take my order...
Uh-oh. I think I may have gotten the real waiter fired.

Corey L said...

Something like that happened to me on a family vacation in North Lake Tahoe. Tony Bennett strolls on over and heads toward dad. Obviously thinking he was somebody else. Dad knew what was happening and was ready.... mom saw Tony, immediately turned into a teenager. Tony was gone in a flash. I would have loved to see how Dad was about to blow off Tony Bennett.

Corey L said...

To bad you missed it. You were in LA doing wild & crazy things which you put in your hysterical book "The Me Generation..." which is available @ Amazon.

Johnny said...

Mike told me about this at lunch the other day. He's actually a big fan of your blog. He's pretty hurt that you snubbed him, but he understands what it's like to always be getting mobbed so he forgives you for wanting just one quiet lunch alone.

Oat Willie said...

I don't understand if Levine is back from Asia by now, or if this post is another Jor-El message to future blog readers. I'm not learning anything on this planet, just getting older and fatter. Although that's been happening for 40 years.

Anonymous said...

Help, could someone help me, I am really fed with these Readers or so phony Gatekeepers of LA, they know shit, so many filmmakers are fed up reading script, but not movies, scripts do good at Nicholl, but all these scripts are so boring, they said, but Readers why are not realizing that what they are doing is bullshit, yes they read scripts but their notes are so useless, they give notes for the sake of giving notes, why are readers wasting our time, they are not grasping the difference between cinema and scripts, scripts are just paper and words, but they don't tell the cinematic effect, readers are not trained in filmmaking, readers are just giving notes for the sake of giving notes, why can't we get rid of readers and just make movies, kill bill 2 had lots of expositions but we loved it, one cannot tell if a script will work on paper, readers are useless, please stop the madness

Chester said...

Wow... I'll have whatever drug Anonymous is on.

normadesmond said...

oh please, that happens to me at
kroeger's at least once a week.

Anonymous said...

Chester, I need help, I am not joking. I am just saying that we should stop depending on Readers and script contests. I moved to LA and I am really fed up with readers, readers give notes for the sake of giving notes, they are not visionary cinema guys or those who understand movies, they just read, did you read the script in those top script contests, the are written for paper only

don't depend on Readers
I stop using them or caring for their useless notes, a world without readers or script contests is good one,

I am fed up with Readers


I don't like them

their notes are usless,

just make and write a movie

I am learning from watching movies only

I take a movie and write the script from the movie , that's how I succeed

help, I am fed up with Readers because they give unconnected notes and very useless notes of the entirety of the scripts

CRL said...

I used to love him on NYPD Blue......

Hamid said...

I hope Ken returns soon so he can delete the insane troll comments. He mentioned he wouldn't be able to monitor them while he's in Asia.

Anonymous said...

Are you are Reader. If you are , tell us, why it's a bullshit job. All readers got zero fashion sense or know what what's cool or trendy, they rarely bathe or comb their hair and they never attended a fashion show in Paris.
Okay, might be over the top, but Readers are too ordinary.
What I am saying actually, is that readers are just average Joes, they are just normal guys giving their opinion that means nothing. They read the script without realizing the connection of the plots or the whole composition. Their notes is a stand alone of each page, they don't have a clue what will work or not work. They fill pages.

Hamid, are you defending Readers? Are you a reader. Why are readers paid so low , Why? because their notes hold no values.

Mike Botula said...

I guess the trifecta of Hollywood “Lunch Blunders” would be a Fuddrucker’s “bump-in” with a writer you’ve rewritten after sleeping with his wife who happened to be a show runner who later fired you. The mere chance of that happening has kept me out of Fuddrucker’s since 1979.

VP81955 said...

Ken, it's entirely possible he recognized you from your intros/outros of the Neil Simon films on TCM's "Friday Night Spotlight." (Now you know how all those actors feel when they pop into a McDonald's and try to make themselves inconspicuous.) Who knows -- perhaps he was about to offer you some sort of assignment.

Chris said...

What VP8 1955 said. Give yourself a little credit, Ken. We've never met, but I actually think I'd recognize you were I to see you in public.

SteveZ said...

I hope that Ken would go Curth Schilling all over the anonymous troll. He should be able to get some type of contact info.

Anonymous said...

Steve Z,
Just picture a world without Readers and script contests and Script Talk Radio. Maybe then we will make and write good movies.
We should not listen to Readers. If they are so confident in their consulting, then why is it they make so much little money example 20 or 40 or 60 or 75 per studio read?

Just watch a movie that made millions. Read that script. Learn from that. Write like that. Example, take Batman, Superman, Twilight, watch the movie, read the script, learn how to write one like that, we don't need readers who tell you then are pros at all genre (they are lying):
How could a reader be a pro at all these genre:
◦Epic films
◦War films
◦Gangster films
◦Detective and mystery films
◦Spy films
◦Disaster films
◦Caper films
◦Foreign films
◦Comedy films
◦Screwball comedy films
◦Romantic comedy films
◦Western films
◦Adventure films
◦Action and adventure films
◦Fantasy films
◦Science fiction films
◦Horror films
◦Musical films
◦Religious films
◦Police films
◦Puppet films
◦Erotic films
◦Film adaptations
◦Blaxploitation films
◦Frankenstein films
◦Star Wars films
◦Zombie films

And most Readers will say they are experts at all these genre, please stop listening to Readers. They are full of nonsense and crap and they are wrong.

Hamid said...


Calm down. I was referring to the other Anonymous (so many of them out there) who made a disgusting comment, I wasn't referring to your posts about readers.

Anonymous said...

I am really frustrated. I paid 350.00 to this reader from an old fart script contest and the reader told me what to do by referring my script to oldie classics of Hollywood. When I am writing for the modern day violent genre. I hate old Hollywood movies. And this reader told me to watch this old fart movies from Golden era of Hollywood. Why? I hate them. The new generation hates old Hollywood. Most people now love movies like Buffy, Kingsman, KickAss, Green Arrow, Lucifer, Fast and Furious, Ipman,Walking Dead, Snyder-esque Zack and the new Point Break remake and soon, Justice League Civil War. Things are moving faster and faster. Why did this Reader not connect with me. Why are they trying to convert me into this dead old style. Why? I am so fed up.


I spend a fortune to come to LA. Now these readers talk shit and clueless. I have a better chance making it by not listening to these fart readers.

Thanks for listening. I am doing 3 shifts here and writing and I will make.

Julia Littleton said...

Maybe he mistook you for the other Ken Levine?

nicname said...

I think Anonymous should send a query letter to the literary agent at Slush pile Hell. I'd love to see the response..

Hamid said...


I don't know about the contest you're referring to, but I can only give you my honest opinion which you're free to take or ignore as you wish. First, you should never spend $350 on script feedback. You can chalk that down as a learning experience and move on.

Secondly, there are all types of script readers. Some are rubbish, yes, and they tend to be interns, but there also professional script readers who know what they're talking about. I've written specs and on each one I got valuable feedback that helped me improve them, but I also disagreed with some of what they had to say.

Thirdly, I'm getting the feeling from what you've said that you want to write for the wrong reasons. By referring to classic films as old fart movies and saying that you're "writing for the modern day violent genre", I think you're going about this the wrong way. Don't be offended but if your writing goal is summed up by just wanting to write violent movies, you're not going to get much interest. Sorry to be brutally honest but I think you need to re-evaluate your goals.

tavm said...

I just read Sam Simon died. As a fan of "Taxi", "Cheers", "The Tracey Ullman Show", and the early years of "The Simpsons", I'll just say rest in peace and I know you'll write something touching in his honor, Mr. Levine.

Hamid said...

That's awful about Sam Simon. He was a great animal lover and chose to leave all his wealth to animal charities, which is a beautiful legacy on top of his accomplishments in TV comedy.


Anonymous said...


I think agents and managers are idiots too. They are drunks with tooshy opinion about movies. I think they are either gay or bi curious or drunks are loners or hardcore soft party animals.

Sorry most agents and managers are into suits and ties. They should learn how to make movies and leave the hard work to us.

Anonymous said...

Sorry about that, but I am really frustrated agents trying to make me try the movie they want. They don't respect my vision.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the advice.
But my genre is sale able.
My genre is in demand.

I write with heart.
So it might be violent, but it has a story.

I remain - never to listen to readers again.

VP81955 said...

To Anonymous:

After your repeated harangues, I hope I'll live to see the day when you're considered the old fart.

Barry in Toronto said...

Anonymous, if your scripts are anything like your rants, you're making a mistake not listening to what readers have said about your work.

Anonymous said...

I don't like readers.
I used them for a long time.
They need to make a living, but giving notes for the sake of giving notes. They are 50000% out to lunch.

Anonymous said...

I am try to write a script that be a tribute to gain followers from Russia, Tokyo, Paris and London. You know, all these goers love violent thriller films. What do readers know about what the audience from Tokyo, Paris, London , Russia want? Reader are a big nothing when it comes to violent thrillers. They know crap all.

Ron Rettig said...

No sense of history here. . . . so Over the Transom is no more, it is now slush pile?

Anonymous said...

Answer the question. Why would a reader know that a scene works on paper? I talked to a director from Mexico who said that it is the directors job to know if a script will work or not. A reader cannot visualize because he just reads simple scripts. A director likes his scripts on the level of complexity and vividness.

So skip the reader and go to the director for script notes... or directions.

chuckcd said...

He was waving at the blonde behind you...

Hamid said...


You've made your feelings about readers very clear. May I suggest you put more effort into your writing than into posting angry comments about how much you hate script readers and old movies?

Johnny Walker said...

Similar thing happened to me recently at a gig. Ok, it wasn't Hollywood brass, but I'm fairly certain I ruined a girl's night. Every time I glanced over at her, her face took a step away from "hey you!" towards "well screw you then". No idea who she was -- but it goes to show we can be our own worse enemies. I'm sure she left convinced that whoever she thought I was didn't like her any more.


And speaking of sad: Sorry to hear about Sam Simon's passing. He put up one helluva fight. I thought he might actually survive the way he was hanging on. Sigh :(

Anonymous said...

Hollywood: Manchildren who act like they're in High School... with money.