John Cho, Fake Blood and the Purse Controversy

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Chris found the advertisement in Working World magazine; “US Census takers wanted $17.00 an hour. “ According to the ad all you had to do was take a test, go through training and then you would make $17.00 an hour, full time for three months. Chris’s drug dealer, Brian told him that he had been a Census taker four years ago. He’d said that so long as you passed the test, you got the job.
Chris and I both signed up to take test, Chris was going to be first, and He took his test downtown. He told me he failed the test and had to go back and take it again the next day. He said half the class failed. He passed it the second time. I took the day off from Janitors Inc. to go to Long Beach and take the test. I couldn’t imagine anything that could read failing this test. I got a 98 percent and was told that I was almost sure to get a job. I asked when it was starting and they said it should be in about a week.
I walked back to the train station. I felt lovely, like everything was finally going to be okay. I even stopped at a restaurant and treated myself to lunch. I got a call from Ahmina saying that she had a job for the following weekend working on a political campaign. We would be going door to door working on a political campaign for a local politician. It paid $100 a day for six hours of going door to door in Westwood and asking for people to display a lawn sign for the politician. I went home and purchased a scratch game ticket on the way, I won fifty dollars. I called the Central Casting line and found that they had a weekend job on the pilot of a show called Flash Forward, it was rumored to be the most expensive pilot ever made. I was told to wear old cloths as I was supposed to have been in a car crash.
The job was in downtown LA and started at 5:00 am. I hired a dog walker and spent the night with Chris. He walked with me to the Hollywood freeway entrance where the show was being shot. We arrived to find several junk cars overturned and an overturned truck with oranges spilling out of it. I was told to visit wardrobe and then make up. Everyone was wearing their oldest grungiest rags just as the casting line had instructed.
The wardrobe women seemed to have a different Idea they were handing out outfits to everyone. Almost everyone was walking away with arms full of beige kakis and matching rain coats. I got up to the front of the line.
“size six”? the wardrobe lady asked me.
“Size eight”, I said .
“You look more like a six she said, shoving a pair of pants, t shirt and rain coat at me.
I went into the tiny changing trailer where there other girls were already putting on their beige khakis. I almost fell over trying to cram my fat ass into the tiny pants. I walked to the make-up trailer as quickly as the pants would permit. I asked the make-up lady if I could be dead. She did me proud. I looked like I‘d gone through a windshield when she was finished with me.
I walked out of the trailer and was told to report to the middle of the highway entrance where several other people in Kakis and beige rain coats waited. I was still carrying my zebra print purse it didn’t exactly go with the outfit, so the production assistant guy told me to stick it in the back of one of the cars.
The shows premise was simple, but clever. Everyone in the world was supposed to have blacked out at the same time for two minutes. Everyone had a vision of the same day in the future. The scene we were filming took place right after the accident. We were all wandering around in a daze after the blackout. The scene had been shot before and we were just doing pick up shots.
I chatted a bit with another background extra who told me that he was an actor. He told me had been in the touring company of “Rent” and I’m not even making that up. Even though I knew that he was lying to me because he was sick, I couldn’t help but feel that he has insulted my intelligence with the outrageousness of his fabrication. Why not tell a believable , lie “I had a line on a TV show once”, or something?
I asked the PA if we were all supposed to be in the same cult and he just looked at me funny. I knew the show had all kinds of special effects I just assumed that they were going to do some sort of cool digital effect with the wardrobe; certainly, a big Hollywood production would never allow all the extras in the big scene of its first episode to be inexplicably dressed in identical rain coats on a day when it wasn’t supposed to be raining. We all wandered around looking left and right for about two hours and then we broke for lunch.
This isn’t so bad I thought to myself. I’m getting paid to walk around in a daze covered in dirt and blood, I’d always wanted a job like that. There were some yummy chocolate chip cookies served at lunch and the show’s star John Cho , who played Harold in the Harold and Kumar movies said hello to us as we were standing in line.
Maybe I had been wrong. Maybe Hollywood wasn’t so bad. I grabbed my purse and headed back to the freeway entrance. This time the PA led me to a totaled car and told me to lie underneath it.
“Do you want me to put the purse in back of one of the cars”? I asked sincerely.
“Naw just toss it by your foot or something”, he said.
I tossed it beside me and flopped down on my back. The sun felt good. I was dead and I was going to be a part of television history. Why maybe…
“Excuse me , miss”? I heard a voice over me say.
I looked up to see the tall, white haired assistant director from Ghost Whisperer standing over me and looking down with an angry glare.
“Did someone tell you to lie there?”

 
‘No, brains, I just was waking by the set and decided to take a nap under this car. I decided to help myself to some of the blood, just for giggles.’ I thought.
“Uh yeah, it was that guy over there.” I pointed at the P.A. The PA came over.
“You said you wanted a bloody person laying there she’s the bloodiest person we’ve got.”
The AD grimaced at me with great disapproval.
“Is that your purse”? He said.
“Yes”. I said.
“What”, the PA said. “People carry purse. “
“Okay, “ the AD said and stalked off giving me a glare of raw hatred as he went back to his monitor. I lay down and tried to take a nap. It was hard with all the racket going on around. I opened my eyes for a moment and saw John Cho Standing over me staring down at me with a sort of morbid curiosity.
“Hi,” I said. He nodded and grinned and walked away.
The AD came back. He looked agitated.
“Could you throw your arm up against the entrance wall?”
I complied.
“ Now could you throw your let up against the wall. The camera isn’t registering you as a person.” He said angrily. I stuck my leg in the air and leaned it against the wall.
“Scoot down a little.” He directed.
“Like how? “ I asked, thinking that there was no way I could move in such tight pants.
“Scoot your butt down.” He said.
I scooted it down and prayed nothing would rip.
“I’m just goanna shove your purse under the car.” He said. It’s too distracting.
He smiled at me sadistically as he walked away. I lay twisted in that unnaturally position for another two hours before we finally went home.
The next weekend I went to work on Ahmina’s gig in Westwood. We all met in a McDonalds when an angry little fat man named Rob assigned territories and clip boards on which we were to record the names and addresses of anyone who wanted a lawn sign for the school board candidate we were promoting.
We dispersed and went on our respective routes. I went door to door for six hours and managed to get one lawn sign. Ahmina came to pick me up at the end of my shift. We stopped at Whole Foods on the way back and she laughed at the frantic manner in which I was gobbling down the trail mix that I bought.
“Well, I’m starving,” I said. “Six hours of walking with no lunch.”
“What, “ she said. “What do you mean no lunch?”
“I didn’t take a lunch. I figured it was only six hours and I wanted to get a lawn sign. {There was a prize if you got the most lawn signs.)
“ Oh, my God. You always take a lunch! “
“I wasn’t that hungry and there was nowhere to go where I was.”
“It’s the law you have to take a lunch!! Are you trying to get me thrown in jail?
“Um, no. I’m an independent contractor; what’s the big deal?”

 
She muttered something under her breath as we rode back to the Mcdonald’s.
The next day, I was assigned a partner. A tall, handsome blond young man named Michael. We were assigned to an area that was comprised of apartment complexes and we had to somehow sneak onto the property and hand out literature. We climbed in to his small, Ford Fiesta and headed out. Within seconds I was afraid for my life.
He began speeding down the express way weaving in and out of traffic. I held onto my seat as he talked a mile a minute.
“How long have you been doing petition circulating? I’ve been doing it about ten years. Before I worked for Ahmina I worked for Jerry,. Do you remember Jerry?
“Well, I …” I attempted to answer.
‘Jerry was cool,” he said as we almost ploughed into a school bus. Ahmina’s okay too.
“But, I don’t know petition circulating is kind o a stupid job. I mean I owe the government. I t pays well, but when you think about it not that well because you have to give half of it to the government if you pay taxes which I don’t. Where are you from?” He said running a red light.
He stopped the car and I thought I would throw up. We got out an

d began going door to door. Almost no one was home. A few people thought we were Jesus freaks. Eventually he just stopped getting out of the car and I went door to door by myself.
On the way back to Mcdonald’s he told me about his ex-girlfriend. He told me that he he’d been very lonely since she dumped him. He asked me if I was single. I realized that he was definitely the cutest guy who would ever show any interest in me under any circumstances. He almost ran over an old lady at a cross walk. I told him about Chris.
We arrived at McDonalds to find Ahmina having a heated argument with Rob. Apparently he had caught her daughter loafing on the job. He called the daughter an asshole and Ahmina went nuts.
“Eliza! “ She screamed as I sat down to fill out my paperwork, “Don’t work for him he’s a jackass!” I just sat there not knowing what to do. Although Ahmina was my coordinator Rob was really my boss, I couldn’t afford not to be paid again. Ahmina ran out into the parking lot.

 
She waited for me in the parking lot and offered me a ride home. She ranted about Rob the entire way. She told me she wanted to go live in Pakistan again because there was too much hate in this country. (h’mm, really?.) Then again we were in LA; Pakistan might not be so bad by comparison.

That night I went over to Chris’s. I told him I didn’t understand the way businesses were run in this city. I told him I didn’t think things could get any stranger.
I was about to be proven wrong.

Tracey Edmonds and the Case of the Stolen Screenplay

I began to suspect something was seriously amiss when I was awakened from a sound sleep by  a phone call at 1:00 AM.

“I was just wondering if you had thought of anything else we would do to sell the screenplay?” A vaguely familiar voice said.

“Calvin, What time is it?”

“Oh, I’m sorry were you sleeping?”

“Of course”.

“Did I wake Casey too?”

“Whuh,” I stammered almost forgetting that I had named my pretend boyfriend Casey.

“Um, no he’s sleeps like a log”. I said.

“I really want to get moving on this thing, If Tony doesn’t get the money we can just go somewhere else.” he said. He suddenly seemed to be breathing heavy.

“We’ve already sent it everywhere else”, I said, confused.

“Are you still working on the Pindling script?”

“Well yes, it’s an awful lot of research”, I said. “Look, I was sleeping so…”

For a moment all I heard was anxious breathing, he sounded almost as though he was going to cry.

“Eliza, I just want to get moving with this. I can’t take anymore of this, bullshit.  Call me if you think of anything.”

He hung up.  I fell back to sleep almost immediately, but I couldn’t help but wonder what the hell he had been talking about exactly.  Why had he been so nervous? What was going on.

I made an attempt at writing the white washed version of the Pindling screenplay, but nothing would come.

I made my reservations for Pitchfest and called Calvin to suggest he do the same. He told me that he wasn’t going to be able to afford it. He told me that he had lost his job and was looking for another one. When I asked him why, he said that they had said he tried to steal some jewelry.  He sounded awfully guilty when he said it. He told me that he might have to go back to the  Bahama’s for a bit.

Although it sounds terrible to say, I felt kind of relieved. maybe this could all be over. I still wanted to go to Pitchfest to try to see if I could sell our script, but I wasn’t so sorry to be getting rid of creepy Calvin.

A few days later he called me and told me that he was able to stay in the United States and that he was starting a new job soon .  A few days after that He called and asked if I wanted to see the film Brokeback Mountain  with him. I told him I didn’t really want to see it  as I was opposed to all the rodeo scenes in the film. The scenes involved bull riding and I was sure that animals had been hurt in the process of making the movie. I also hate anything that’s gotten too much press and publicity.

There had been many gay love story films before and the press was acting like this was the first one. Calvin told me the main reason he wanted to see it was because of all the hype: this was the main difference between me and Calvin. He kept begging me to go. He was too homophobic to want to go see it alone (I’m not kidding) and Will had headed for Hollywood so he didn’t have anyone else to go with. I finally caved in.

On our way back from the movies he showed  me a script of a short that he said was by some screenwriter in Vegas. He said she had asked him to play the lead role.  It was about a man who crawls in through the bathroom of a window in a suburban home and appears to rape the white woman inside.  A neighbor calls the police and he is shot to death, It turns out that they were husband and wife  acting out a fantasy. It was little more than porn. It also didn’t make any sense, because the neighbor should have recognized the man when she saw him climb through the window. I was sure Calvin had written it himself.  I coldly told him that I didn’t think he should do it.

A week later I called Calvin at lunch time to let him know my plans were firm for Pitchfest. He told me that he signed an agreement to produce Cable Call Center with Tony.

“Tony got his money”? I asked in shock.

“No, he didn’t get it yet. I just signed an agreement between the two companies that says he can produce it if he gets the money?”

“So is it like an option?” I asked.

“What’s an option?”

‘Oh my God, ‘ I thought. he doesn’t know what an option is.

“That’s like when you  sign an agreement with someone to have the exclusive right to produce your film if they want to “.

“Yes, It’s like that”, he said.

“Did he give you any money for this?” I asked.

“No, no one has any money  yet.”

“How long is the option for,” I said trying to control the panic attack that was developing.

“There is no time limit”.

“So you optioned our screenplay for an indefinite period of time for no money?”

“Well, yes, but they will get the money soon and ..”

“Calvin, How do you know this”? I almost screamed. Several co-workers looked my way.

“I just have faith in them”.

But, now I can’t pitch Cable Call Center at pitch fest.

“Why not”?

“Because you gave them the exclusive rights to our work. ”

“I’ll call them right now,” he said.

Ten minutes later I got a call back  saying that he had in fact signed an exclusive, indefinite agreement for no money. I wanted to kill him. I told him that I actually wrote the screenplay, both of our names were on it and I didn’t agree to that. I told him that he had no right to sell my work. He hung up on me .

He e-mailed me saying that I was just a rewriter and I would be paid accordingly. I told him we were registered as co-writers with the WGA . He said that I was a liar and a thief. He called me an idiot and I told him that he had no right to call anyone an idiot when he didn’t even know what he was signing.

I got a lawyer named Peter. He was a criminal attorney who was transitioning into entertainment law. I couldn’t afford a real entertainment attorney. All I wanted him to do was write a letter and follow it up with a call he agreed to do this for $100 and the experience. I figured the dim-witted Calvin would shit himself if he knew I actually had representation.

A week later I got a call from Peter saying that Calvin said he never got the letter. He said he tried to talk to Calvin, but he would not stop screaming at him.

He said he talked to Tony as well. Tony told him that he was absolutely getting the money and that this would be a movie.

Peter asked how many hours I put into the screenplay. I told him about ninety. He said that I should bill Calvin $15.00 an hour and be done with it. I told him that Calvin would never agree to that. Even if he did we would never see the money. I told him that I was not at all confident that Tony was getting the money. Peter said he sounded really confident and he would have no reason to lie.  I  decided that this was true. I hadn’t lived in Los Angeles yet and I didn’t know  that necessity had nothing to do with deception there.

Peter talked to Tony again. he said that they were willing to do a deal where Tony’s company would pay me as a re-writer. My deal would be strictly with them and the would pay me $9000 dollars for the job. We signed the agreement and Peter told me that we should get the money within six moths. He would get 40% of course as his fee for writing the contract.

I went to Pichfest and pitched Surface and another script I wrote called Sleepwalking. I was repeatedly told that Surface was too much like Pretty Persuasion. (g’rrr). IA few people read Sleepwalking, but no one bought it.

I anxiously awaited the money. I called Peter once a month, but he never knew anything. eventually, Peter stopped taking my calls. I got frustrated. I looked up Tony’s company on IMDB again and I tracked down Ric who was  that wrestler that was the subject of the one documentary Tony had produced. He was a fairly well-known guy, he even had his own show on the travel channel.

I called his office and he called me back himself.  We talked for an hour. He said that there never really was a documentary they just talked about it. He told me they kept telling him that the money was coming in one months then two months then three. He said they had weekly meeting and a year went by, but nothing happened. eventually he asked to be taken off of IMDB. They refused to take him off and he was in the process of suing them.

I emailed Peter telling him what I had learned and he never wrote back.

A year later I got a call from Peter saying he just talked to Calvin and Calvin was experiencing some of the same frustrations with Tony that I had experienced. He said that Calvin claimed to have been to Los Angeles and that Tracey Edmonds (I’m not kidding) was interested in producing Cable Call Center.   They said they wanted me to do another rewrite of the screenplay. I asked if he had talked to anyone in Tracey Edmonds’ office or if he was just taking Calvin’s word for it.  He said so far he had only talked to Calvin.  I told him that I thought Calvin the ex call center employee turned jewelry store employee turned bus boy would be the last person Mrs. Eddie Murphy would associate with. I told him that Calvin couldn’t afford a ticket to LA or a pot to piss in. If he was going to make stuff up he should read Variety and find a person who was a bit more obscure. anyone who watches ET knows Tracey Edmonds.

Peter said he would call Calvin and ask if one of us could talk to Tracey Edmonds. He called me back the next day and Calvin said that I would have to go through him  directly or no deal. I told Peter I didn’t want anything more to do with Calvin. Peter tried to tell me I should write it because of all the work he had done on my contract for free, Seriously! He was trying to make me feel guilty, I told him  that I couldn’t believe he would listen to anything Calvin had to say. I told him that I had repeatedly tried to contact him and that he had never returned a call.

I never heard from either one of them again, Years later I Googled Calvin and saw a poorly photo shopped picture of him With Sidney Poitier.

I thought the drama was over – until I moved to Los Angeles.

Hope Begins to Die and Samuel Goldwyn Profits

My foray into screenwriting began twenty two years ago right after I saw the movie Dogfight, the tale of a young marine who has a contest with his friends to see who can invite the ugliest girl to a party. The girl played by Lily Taylor finds out about the contest and tells the Marine, played by River Phoenix , off. They proceed to spend the night walking around San Francisco. They fall in love and she looses her virginity to him. The movie pissed me off. I went home and wrote an angry short story about a girl who is invited to a dog fight and murders the boy who invited her. I stuck it in a drawer and thought no more about it; it was therapy.
Ten years later I saw the film Adaptation for the first time. The semi true story of an insecure writer who is commissioned to adapted the book “The Orchid Thief” for the screen. Much of the film dealt with the writer’s contempt for Hollywood clichés. I could relate. I had always preferred independent films myself. I hated movies where the guy and the girl, meet cute hate each other then realize they love each other. I couldn’t stand it when the characters grew up completely due to a single life changing incident. I also don’t believe anyone grows and when people do change, its not always for the better. I too hated all the ridiculous plot twists and think a simple human story is more interesting. I fell in love with Charlie a bit, although he had been fictionalized. I have to question how I would have felt if I had known that the real Kaufman is 5’2 and about a hundred pounds with a bad Jewfro and glasses, bearing no resemblance Nicolas Cage who plays him in the movie.
The very fact of the extremely appealing Mr. Cage playing Kaufman is another thing I hate about Hollywood; it glamorized everything. Prostitutes were beautiful grown women instead of pre teen run –a-ways, Women who had been alone forever were portrayed by stunningly beautiful actresses. We were asked to believe they were alone because they were married to their careers. In real life the women I’d known who had been alone for years, myself included, were all goofy looking, nominally employed chicks. In the movies men were often wrought with one moral conflict or another, they would have a crisis of conscience and end up doing the right thing. In real life I had witness greed beyond belief. I rarely if ever saw anyone so much as question their stock market investments, jobs or the moral beliefs of those close to them.
After seeing the movie four times in one week I got it into my head that I too could write a screenplay. I would change all those Hollywood clichés. I would be the voice of the ugly woman! I took the short story out of my desk drawer and over the coarse of the year, turned it into a screenplay about an ugly girl with a tennis playing trophy wife step mom and a sister who is a model. The girl is invited to a dogfight, kills the boy who invited her as well as his friend. She then makes it look as if the two boys are having an affair and frames a third boy for the murder. When the media picks up on the story the gay rights movement of the nineties is born. The girl uses the media attention on the case to advance herself. She profits from her crime and becomes a producer of reality television shows.
I timidly began to shop it around. Oh, I never showed it to anyone I knew. I entered it into a contest or two and never heard back. I discovered something called a Pitchfest. Which was an event held in Los Angeles where people from all over the country went to pitch their stories to Hollywood producers. Tickets to the event were $375 and it would cost at least $400 to fly to LA and spend the night in a hotel. I decided it was a ridiculous thing to do. The screenplay was for an underground film at best and I didn’t think it warranted any kind of investment.
About a week later I went gambling in the mountains with a friend of mine. I made a silent promise to myself that if I won big I would go to Pitchfest . I felt that there was absolutely no chance of this happening . I put a dollar in the machine and won $775.00 exactly. I was extremely freaked out. I bought my tickets the next day.
I arrived in LA a month later. I didn’t tell anyone I was going. I expected to fail miserably. I couldn’t sleep all night before the Pitchfest. The writers started arriving at 5:00 a.m. to sign up to pitch to the various production companies that would be attending the fest. Each production company would listen to fifty seven minute pitches. It was like speed dating . At the time I thought it was exciting. Now I realize it was part of the Hollywood Caste system. In spite of the exorbitant amount of money the writers had paid to attended the festival they still had to vi for a position in for the very chance at talking to some nothing little d boy schmuck from the production company. If we were lucky enough to get a spot we would get to pitch our story and hope the loser would agree to look at it.
I was so nervous during my first pitch session that I actually stuttered a bit. The man I pitched my screenplay to actually felt sorry for me and agreed to read my script. I pitched my script to a total of twenty five companies and received seven script request (more than anyone else). I was sure that I was in. One of the companies that requested a script was Samuel Goldwyn, I was thrilled, almost no one got a request from them.
I returned to Denver and sent out seven copies of my screenplay. I waited impatiently to hear back. I spent many a day fantasizing about what it would be like when my screenplay sold and I was a successful screenwriter. I never heard back from any of them.
A year later I sent my screenplay around to several agents. I got them all directly from the Writers Guild of America website so I knew they were “legit”. There was a woman named Jennnette who was starting a new agency. I thought I might have a chance with her. I got a call from her a month later saying she wanted to represent me. I was thrilled. I told everyone I knew. She sent me a contract and I was sure that I was in. I considered moving to Los Angeles right then .
I didn’t hear anything from her for three months. I emailed her at one point to check on the progress . She emailed back saying,
“we took a pass on this several months ago.”
I went out of my mind. I called her screaming that we had a signed contract with one another. She called me back and said she couldn’t find the contract. I faxed it to her and she apologized. I began to get regular newsletters from her. I talked to a couple of her other clients who said she had not managed to sell anything for them. A year later I got a letter from her saying she would not be renewing my contract. I was at about this time that Samuel Goldwyn released the film Pretty Persuasion about a Beverly Hills High school girl being raised by a tennis playing trophy mom who lies about a teacher molesting her and becomes famous in the process. I noticed a few similarities to my screenplay, but not really enough for a lawsuit.
That’s the thing a lot of people don’t understand about the theft process in Hollywood . They don’t steal your whole screenplay, they just lift certain elements out of various screenplays and put their own name on it.
The film was a flop. The girl, played by beautiful Evan Rachel Wood was completely unbelievable as a high-school reject. High school rejects don’t look like her, they look like me and the character I created for my screenplay.
In spite of all this I didn’t give up. I still wanted to see my characters come to life. What would happen next would be yet another lesson in who to trust and an example of blatant stupidity on the part of everyone involved.

John Cusack and the Hollywood Redemption

My story of Hollywood failure begins long before I ever tread The Walk of Fame or worked background on a TV show; it begins with me as a lonely only child watching one old movie after another and dreaming of a day when I would escape the constant bickering of my paranoid parents.

I would watch Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, I knew the lyrics to every song in every musical. I tried to teach myself to dance.  I went through a period of wanting to be a boy, it wasn’t a gay thing; boys got all the meaty parts. I watched The Graduate over and over again and imagined a day when I would play someone just like Benjamin Braddock.

It is not unusual for a child (or anyone else) to want to be an actor. Almost everyone has at one time or another wanted to be somebody else. Who wouldn’t want a job where you have the rapt attention of an audience? Who wouldn’t want someone to cheer for them when they performed their job correctly? But, to me there was a deeper appeal; acting offered something that life didn’t – a resolution.  Oh, I’m not talking about a happy ending. I grew up in the seventies and few films or plays offered the happy ending.  I just longed for some kind closure as a kid.

Although my parents fought endlessly they never got divorced. When the other kids at school taunted me, I wanted the director to yell cut so I could wipe the tears away and take a bow for my heartfelt performance. I had just enough interest in science to want to play a doctor. I had enough passion for justice to want to play a lawyer, although I would never have the intelligence or patience to be one in real life.   I wanted that harrowing scene in the courtroom where everything was changed by my words. I wanted to be Woodward and Bernstein, I wanted the glory of exposing the bad guy, but I didn’t want to have to do all the leg work and research it would take to accomplish this – I didn’t have enough interest in anything for that. I wanted the thrill of the catch!

Growing up in Chicago offered a wealth of opportunities for a young acting hopeful. My parents grudgingly enrolled me in The Jack and Jill school of Acting. It was pretty well know as Harvey Korman from The Carol Burnett show had studied there as a child. I played a lost boy in the production of Peter Pan. The teacher seemed to think I had potential and I was good at line memorization. When we moved to Evanston I enrolled in the famed, Piven Theater Workshop (Jeremy’s dad owned it). Where I took improv classes. The teacher always seemed to like what I did, but I was never picked to be in any of their shows. You see I looked just a bit different than a typical actress looked.

I grew into a rather unfortunate physic. Although blonde and blue eyed my head had grown into a strange square shape. I was chubby and flat-chested. At the age of twelve I had child bearing hips and hair that was baby fine and riddled with cowlicks. I just wasn’t believable as a leading lady. Leading ladies tended to be the romantic interest of the leading man. The seventies open the door for unconventional looking actors as long as they were male.

A man could be interesting and attractive if he was funny and smart. So long as one possessed these qualities, one could obtain the virtually interchangeable “girl”. Think I’ve being glib? I give you The Paper Chase, The Graduate, The Verdict, Annie Hall ,  Atlantic City, The Conversation, The Godfather and on and on. They were all masterpieces and they were all had unconventional looking male anti-hero’s.

I wasted a good amount of my time wishing I were pretty and trying to make the transformation happen – it never did. In high-school my classmates included Jeremy Piven, John Cusack, Joan Cusack, and Steve Pink.  John was Jeremy’s best friend and a star in Piven Theater Workshop Productions. John Hughes discovered John and John and his sister got parts in all his movies. John secured parts for several of his friends in these films. Eventually they would follow him to Hollywood where Jeremy and Joan would appear in his films and Steve would act as a producer.

So if I was so interested in acting and I knew John Cusack, an actor famous for making his friends stars , why didn’t I simply befriend Mr. Cusack? Well tall, dark handsome boys don’t generally hang with goofy looking chicks, who have learning disabilities and two friends; Jeremy would occasionally even taunt me. I got to watch as John and his crew became more famous and live out my dream.

I moved to Denver and went to college for a bit, but I could never really feign an interest in my studies. As an adult I took to writing screenplays. It was my goal to write roles for female characters who were not pretty. I wrote one about an unattractive young woman who gets revenge on her cruel classmates. I sent it around and managed to get an agent, but she dumped me when she couldn’t sell it.

Eventually, I would decide to head to Los Angeles, in spite of everything I still had to try and see if I could change things in a way that might benefit women like me. On my strange journey I would encounter an illiterate producer who would option a screenplay of mine for no money and an indefinite period of time, a theater owner who resembled comic bookstore guy on The Simpsons, a Willy Lomanesque porn star, the dumbest “intellectual” I ever met, a delusional Script Analyst, two slumlords, a plethra of incompotent but cute business people, a real life Broadway Danny Rose, the worst actress in the world and many, many a religious zelot.  I would  be taken advantage of in a way I thought only happened in the movies and lied to by people who considered lying a sport.

In spite of everything I don’t regret my time in LA, it gave me a great story to tell, so sit back and get ready for a tale that gets curiouser or and curiouser.