When this all began, everyone was talking a Christmas ’91 release. Christmas 1991 was looking closer all the time.
Another week goes by and Kevin calls (twice). The delay is because…Kimberly the executive doesn’t like the notes the committee gave her. She thought they were off the mark. They were drifting even further from the original concept, and not considering the Pee-Wee casting at all. I’m told the notes will be sent out to all (me included).
Kevin says what he’s heard sounds really goofy: they don’t like the villain, they want an evil elf. They want to see the whole thing take place at the North Pole. Those are the only two I note at the time.
However, Kevin is already planning his exit strategy. He wants me to start working on the Nick Flebber version, because he’s just may ask for the story back and shop it around. Okay, I wasn’t expecting that.
The next day I’m taking to Les the lawyer. He’s looking into why I haven’t received my check yet. Also I needed to confirm what I owed him.
And here I note I attended my first guild meeting, a vote on a contract extension, a hotly debated topic. The union board was reluctantly in favor of it. I voted no. Only 50 people attended the meeting, so it was going to be decided by the mailed ballots. Ah, the life of a professional writer!
Then the reality.
Another week later and I get dumped on big time. First Kevin called to warn me; Kimberly would be calling soon. Then he called the next day to clue me in to the meeting between Kimberly, the Committee, Bill, Joel and him. He originally had called from Joel’s office but couldn’t talk freely. Later he called to give me the dirt.
Basically, they hated the script. However, they loved the idea of Pee-Wee saving Christmas. So they want a “polish” of the script (part of the contract) but it’s really a new script. What they’re pitching me is a plot stolen from “Santa Claus: the Movie,” grafting on the remains of my detective story and inserting Pee-Wee. Oh, bother.
Let’s see; we need rich secondary characters who have their own voice, plot-driven vehicle, scenes which advance the plot, evil elves, full-time active bad guys. A more pro-active Pee-Wee. A less active Tweedle. More clues. More mystery. More red herrings. “Kids today are too sophisticated to see Santa kidnapped.” The whole tone has to be Pee-Wee-ized. Bigger than life. Goofy. Everything from my spec script is dead. Too much hopping about; less locations (“Gee, why don’t I set the whole thing in Orlando like Ernst did. Gosh, when I think Christmas, I think Orlando.”).
Lots of notes. So many notes. Kevin says he might try to get a little extra money but I wouldn’t count on it (and he’d probably want a cut of that as well). I’m contractually bound to turn in a polish, and this, no matter how extensive, is going to be the polish. They really hated it. “Boring, charmless, insignificant.”
That’s show biz! Sigh.