“Get outa here!” (A Festival with my LA Agent)

The agent told me he was ‘astonished by the s—yness’ of a screenplay I wrote. So I entered it in a festival. It did well. Now, he told me I’d misunderstood. He loved it.

He asked me if I was going to the party at the festival. I said I didn’t know about the party. He said he’d put me on the list.

We did dinner first. The guests included a producer and his girlfriend: an exquisite actress recently divorced from a very rich man. A Svengali thing, I was told. He’d made her famous. She was suing him.

Dinner was fun. The agent was pleased with himself.  He was pitching a reality series for the actress.

We proceeded to the party in different cars. Private house. I gave my name and ID at the door and was indeed on the list. I’d been worried. You often can’t take the agent at his word.

The Festival Party

The entrance is through a garage or basement. Dimly dark (or darkly dim). DJ.

Round pillars three feet high with smoke pouring out. Atop each pillar is a dancer. They are, if not actually naked, at least supposed to look that way. The smoke obscures.

Upstairs is quieter. People drinking and talking. I grab a drink and spot the agent. He’s in a small circle, talking to the actress and her producer boyfriend, among others.

I stroll over to find the conversation circle closed. (We’ve all been there.) I ease a gentle shoulder in, trying to make my presence known.

The Actress sees me. I smile, friendly-like.

Actress: What are you doing here? Get outa here!

The Agent wheels around. He sees me but says nothing.

David: Are you talking to me?

She is.

Actress: It’s a private party!

From the wings, a Large Man starts coming my way. Laker jersey. Biceps.

David: I was on the list.

I look at the Agent for corroboration but get nothing. If I’m not mistaken (and I’m not), he’s enjoying this. Partygoers take notice. They circle round, attracted to the spectacle that is me.

I wonder if the Agent set me up.

Actress: Get outa here!

David: It’s me. David. We just went to dinner together…

I feel the Large Man’s hand on my shoulder. I’m going to be thrown out of the party. The Actress squints, steps a little closer.

Actress: Oh, David! I didn’t recognize you in your glasses. Why didn’t you say something?

The Actress hugs me. She’s taller than I thought and smells like apples. The Large Man walks away, his ‘World Peace’ jersey disappearing within the partygoers.

Actress: I’m sorry, David. I have to be so careful these days.

She kisses me on the cheek and hooks an arm around me. The conversation picks up again. The crowd disperses.

Later, the Agent catches me alone. He’s got a smirk on his face.

Agent: You’re good.

David: At what?

Agent: Getting a kiss and a hug like that. The center of the party. You planned that whole thing out, didn’t you?

David: Are you kidding me?  You think-

Agent: -You shrewd f—ing bastard. I’m going to give that s— screenplay of yours a big push when I get back.

—————————————

END NOTES:

The Agent did indeed push the script when he got back.

The Actress didn’t get the reality series but eventually got a hefty settlement from her former husband.

The Agent still thinks I planned it out.

You can buy ‘THE LAST ISLAND’ here.

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‘Let It Snow’ in LA (A Party with my LA Agent)

My agent threw a holiday party.  He told me there would be ‘performances.’  I wasn’t sure what that meant.

The party was held in a stately house in the Hollywood Hills.   There was a balcony overlooking the city lights and a manicured lawn.  I don’t think the house was his.

No alcohol was served.  Too many of his clients were substance abusers.  Nearly everyone on the balcony had a flask in their pocket.

I stood with friend and fellow writer, Randy, on the balcony when the agent called us into the house.  The ‘performances’ were going to begin.  Along with a handful of other clients, we didn’t move.

“You a—holes coming or what?” the agent barked.

Because ‘what’ seemed like the slightly less stimulating of those two options, we dumped some more Jameson’s into our glasses of warm coke and entered…

The Party

Maybe 50 people in the room.  A man is playing the piano.  “Linus and Lucy.”    

Agent:  We’re going to sing holiday songs.  When I point to somebody, everybody else stops singing and that person sings alone.

Randy:  I’m not doing it.

Agent:  You’re f—ing doing it.  Everybody’s doing it.

David:  I don’t want to do it either.

Agent: Nobody wants to do it.  That’s the point.  We’re going to get in the holiday spirit.  Quit acting like a bunch of p—ies.

The Agent gestures to the piano player, who begins to play ‘Let It Snow.’  An ironic song at a semi-sober party in LA (in more ways than one).  Nonetheless, we sing:

“Oh the weather outside is frightful.
But the fire is so delightful.
And since we’ve no place to go…”

For the chorus the Agent points at Randy.  We all knew it was coming.  We stop singing.

Randy:  I told you I’m not singing.

Agent:  You have to.

Randy:  I’m not.

Agent:  That s— screenplay of yours is gonna sit on my desk forever.

Randy:  Because I won’t sing?  David will sing.

Randy points at me.  Now I’m in a bind.  If I sing, it will look like I’m giving in to the Agent’s bullying.  If I don’t sing, who knows what might happen to my own screenplay?  (The Agent’s threats are largely idle, but there you are.)

 I point to the Character Actor next to me.  (You might not recognize his face, but almost certainly would recognize his voice.  He turned to writing when his acting career stalled.)  Just then, the Actor is chewing a cheese canape.  He can’t sing, but holds a finger up as a signal that he will do so after he swallows.  The Agent is displeased. 

Agent: F—- me with this group.  Oughta drop every one of you.  I’ll show you how it’s done.

The Agent charges up a winding staircase behind the piano player and disappears.   Flasks emerge.  The Character Actor blames himself.  He’s explaining how he didn’t want to sing with food in his mouth.   (He’s a very nice guy.)

 And then from upstairs:

Agent:  The f— is wrong with you?  $15,000 on singing lessons and you won’t go down there!

The room below falls silent.  We pretend not to listen, but we are listening.  The piano player stops playing.  Into the newfound silence:

Agent:  They’re my f—ing clients, who cares?  Get down-  What?  What?  I don’t give a s— what you sing!   Sure, f—ing ‘Moon River.’  Just get your a– down there

The Agent descends the winding staircase.  A few moments later, his daughter follows.  She is maybe 14 years old and in an awkward stage.  Lanky, cow eyes, tear stains on her cheeks.  She goes to the piano player and whispers.   She wipes tears from her eyes with the back of her hand.

She begins:

“Moon river, wider than a mile.
I’m crossing you in style, some day.
Oh, dream maker, you heart breaker.
Wherever you’re going, I’m going your way…”

Though still emotional, she manages to get through the first chorus.  She bows.  As she rises, another tear falls.  We applaud.  She goes back up the staircase. 

The Agent glares at his clients.

Agent:  That’s how it’s f—ing done, you bunch of p—ies!

You can buy ‘THE LAST ISLAND’ here.

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