Saturday, October 16, 2021

Weekend Post

This is my worst movie meeting.

Anyone who’s been in the business for more than eleven minutes has twelve stories of disastrous meetings. My partner, David and I have had more than our share. But our worst is worthy of an I LOVE LUCY episode.

This was a number of years ago. VOLUNTEERS and MANNEQUIN had been made. JEWEL OF THE NILE (which we rewrote – uncredited) was going into production. So for the moment we had a viable feature career.

Our agent arranged a general meeting with an executive from 20th Century Fox, Dylan Sellers. These are generally just meet and greet affairs. You want to be on their radar. It’s fairly hard to screw up these meetings. They just want to be sure you’re not too weird. So if you show up on time, are dressed nicely, and can carry on a breezy conversation for a half hour without revealing that you collect tonsils or God talks to you through hidden messages delivered by Mr. Rogers you’re pretty much in.   Often they have a project in mind and if you don't scare them they offer you the assignment. 

Our meeting was set for the end of the day, around 5:30. At the time, we had an office on the Paramount lot in Hollywood and drove across town to 20th. Traffic was bad (duh) and we just arrived on time. Punctuality is important with these meetings. It gives the studio executive an idea of how responsible you are. If you can’t show up on time for a meeting, how can they count on you to turn in the first draft when you promise?

David was driving. I opened the passenger’s door, climbed out of the car, and the seat of my pants ripped right up the butt crack. We’ll dispense with the fat jokes for now because I had a much bigger problem. How was I going to take a meeting with my underwear hanging out?

There was no time to postpone the meeting. I lived way too far to race home and change. We decided to just take our chances. I know. This is like right out of THREE’S COMPANY.

We walked into Mr. Sellers’ outer office with David right behind me. We tried to look nonchalant but I’m sure in some states we were close enough for sodomy charges. The assistant told us Mr. Sellers would only be a couple of minutes and take a seat. We sat on the couch. I tried to grab a copy of Variety that was on the coffee table and as I leaned in I heard the rip get a little longer. I froze immediately.

A few minutes later Mr. Sellers was ready to see us. Instead of just cutting across the room to the door to his office I sort of hugged the walls. The assistant looked at me funny. We entered his office and again I walked laterally along the wall, trying to appear natural.

Dylan Sellers came around from behind his desk, shook our hands, and invited us to take a seat on the couch. Which we did. It was an overstuffed couch, the kind you really disappear into.

He sat in a chair across from us and the meeting began. I sat there with a big smile plastered to my face. Fortunately, David did most of the talking. I just nodded like a bobblehead. I don’t think I heard a thing Mr. Sellers was saying. All I could think was, “How the fuck am I going to get out of this giant couch?”

At one point, the conversation turned to cars. Mr. Sellers was very proud of the new one he had just purchased. It was parked right outside and he invited us to come to the window to have a look.


I struggled to my feet, felt a little more rip. Pretty soon the pants were going to just fall off. That would make a great impression. I casually hugged the walls, moving towards the window. David hopped in right behind me so that when Mr. Sellers was behind him he (hopefully) couldn’t see my now-officially fat ass.

It was back to the couch. Was he starting to sense something was weird? Most people turn and walk to a couch. They don’t backpedal.

More charming chit-chat for about fifteen minutes and that was it. Again, I had to hoist myself out of couchzilla. The ripping sound could have been mistaken for a fart but that’s hardly better. We shook hands, said goodbye, I hugged the wall all the way out the room then bolted.

Our agent followed up with him the next day. He said the meeting went well. He liked us but thought we were a little reserved. Worried that our sensibilities were a little too sophisticated for the project he had in mind. It was a very broad comedy. Lots of slapstick. Humiliating situations. That just didn’t seem like us.

Talk about taking one in the shorts.


Chuck said...

What a shame Mr. Sellers didn't mention what the project was, "slapstick and humiliating situations." You could have responded, "Like a guy has a meeting with someone important, but the guy has split his pants and doesn't want this someone important to find out. But then this someone important wants this guy to go to the window to see the someone important's new car! Oh, the humiliation!"

By then Mr. Sellers would have caught on, you all would have had a good laugh and you and David would have been hired on the spot.

Hey, this gives me an idea for a new script!

Mike Barer said...

Probably good to keep an extra pair. Could help with maybe other problems caused by heavy traffic.

@jackzullo said...

This is why I always lead with the truth. Had the whole torn pants issue been revealed, it may have landed you the gig. Cause it was the slap stick hilarity they were looking for and probably would have eased any of the reserved ness in the room. Hilarious story.

Moot said...

I would like to know more details regarding the undergarments you were (or weren't) wearing that day.

Ere I Saw Elba said...

There's no better way to communicate that your sensabilites are above broad comedy than showing up to a meeting with a big rip in your pants. Every smart agent will tell you that.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

It's fun just imagining and visualizing how this all went down.

D. McEwan said...

Now that's what's called a "Ripping Yarn."

Mike Bloodworth said...

So, what kind of car did Mr. Sellers have?

Your entrance reminded me of the scene in "Bringing Up Baby" where Katharine Hepburn's dress splits up the back and Cary Grant has to walk right behind her to protect her modesty.

Did you buy the pants at K-Mart? And since this was probably in the 80's, were they "parachute pants?"

Sounds like the inspiration for a new ten minute play.

Sorry you didn't get the job.


Randy @ WCG Comics said...

Hope you were at least wearing boxers!

Rick Whelan said...

I once had a meeting with a producer. I spied a picture on his desk of a very rugged-looking young man, holding some kind of sports trophy. I congratulated him on his son's obvious athletic prowess.
"Oh," replied the producer. "That's my daughter."

Honest Ed said...

My first time in LA, I was going to a meeting with a potential agent. Being from the UK, I realised it was a 15 minute walk from one meeting to the agent, so I walked. Not being used to the heat, I walked close to the buildings to stay in the shade. I walked past a fire hydrant/outlet type thing that was sticking out of the wall, which we don't have back home, so I wasn't on the watch for it.

Rrrrrippppp... Something caught and it tore the new trousers I had on from my hip, almost to the knee. I just went and had the meeting anyway but started with the story of how my trousers weren't a fashion statement. She took me on as a client anyway.

Lauren said...

In "hindsight" would you have explained the weird situation as a comedy moment?
Maybe it would have been memorable for the guy.

JED said...

This was a terrific story. It was funnier than all the new comedy series I've been seeing advertised this fall.

I don't agree with your saying it was worthy of an I Love Lucy episode, though. It sounds more like The Dick Van Dyke Show or a Mr. Bean skit.

TroyDeVolld said...

Took a general at CBS in 2001 after the cab driver dropped me off at a building he swore was CBS, but was the apartment complex above Erewhon. I ran a block in sweltering heat and arrived two minutes late, dripping in sweat. As much as I wanted to explain the goof, I abstained. Never heard a word from them.