I've been looking back on my adventure in Hollywood, culling pages from my journal...
So, as it turns out, my big reason for joining the WGA Activities committee, to get a workshop going, was misdirected at best. I was on the wrong committee. Another committee, the Programs committee, would do something like that.
We reach February 1992, and I had finished and sent off “Like Magic.” I’m surprised to read that I had serious doubts about it at the time. Now, I have fond memories of it (In fact, I’m supposed to be working on it). But I was also annoyed that my Hollywood connections (Kevin, Bill and Joel) didn’t want to see any of my scripts, they just wanted to consider stuff they pitched to me.
September ended with nothing going on, which bled into October. No word on anything. My new Atari PC was replaced, so that meant I had to get back to work on something.
Later, word was coming out of Hollywood that Paul Ruebens was already at work re-building his career, and leaving Pee-Wee at the wayside for the time being. So, hurray for him. ABC announced it was getting out of the late night business. Not my fault!
As August 1991 drew to a close, things were still tumbling around. My Hollywood connection, Kevin, wanted a progress report on the re-write of “Jingle Bell Blues” (the old title of the now-former Pee-Wee Herman script) as he had a pitch meeting with William Morris coming up. He also wanted to pitch a cable comedy featuring comedy troupes (like Style Without Substance), which came out of that comedy festival he attended with me a year earlier. He wanted me to put together a list of groups for him.
Mid-August 1991, word comes in from Hollywood. Kevin wants to know how the “Magic” script is coming. Again. Once that’s out of the way, he remembers to tell me that “Kringle” is being sent to the William Morris Agency, as well as a couple of other places. But mostly he wants the “Magic” script.
Bill, from “Party” calls to assign me some bits to write. I note in my log that this is a good sign because the writer meetings have generally been without form. I write that some “kid” on the staff seems to have made an impression on people and might wind up as an on-screen character (“Oh, well.”)
So, Warner Brothers liked my script, but it was decided to pass the script directly to Paul “Pee-Wee” Ruebens, who promptly got arrested in a Florida porn theater. From the time the story first broke on a Friday night (as my family & I were packing for a weekend getaway) until that Sunday night (when we came home), the details trickled out and they were not happiness-inducing.
Just a few days later Kevin called with news: the Warner team read the script and liked it, but they didn’t love it. They were on the fence about it. So Kimberly, who now no longer worked for Warner, told Joel & Bill to send it to Paul Reubens. An end-run. They did just that, sending it to Reubens’ agent. The idea was that if Reubens and his people liked it that would be enough to push Warner off the fence. Or entice Rueben to set it up elsewhere. Or just option the damn thing. In the meanwhile, Bill and Joel were still all set to send out the Flebber version of the script to others as soon as the option expired. Not good news, not bad news, just different news. “Stay tuned,” I noted.
6/24/91; the one-year anniversary of my Hollywood odyssey, Staten Island branch.
Kevin called. Kimberly liked the script. Thought it was better, funnier (huh?). Anyway, it was on the weekend read list for the studio folk with (we assumed) Kimberly’s recommendation. She'd be leaving at the end of the week (so how much would her recommendation even mean at this point?). Besides, the option would expire two weeks afterward.
Mid-June I spoke with Kevin. He really loves the script (“so what else is new?”). It’s funny, but still “too simple.” They really have a problem with a clean through line on a comedy. Caught some typos, wanted line changes. He was editing speeches that had been there from the beginning drafts. These things are never finished. Then he brings up “Brain Donors” again.
I received the script at the end of May. Naturally, there was a call with Kevin. I was trying to save some of my actual jokes. I was being told the bad elves had to go, too repetitive, too one-jokey, just not funny. Still have to reign in my clever scene descriptions, cut pages, re-work Elfis into a scene of his own.
I finished it all quickly, trying to give Arsenio (the new hip elf) a decent scene, which I didn’t quite pull off. Arsenio merely exists because I was told to put him there. He doesn’t have a personality yet. Maybe, I decided, to make him a bit of a smart aleck. It was all under consideration.
Freelance writer, still hacking away.