Sunday, January 8, 2017

HARVEY HEADBANGER - MY DOOMED PITCHES TO MR WEINSTEIN

I am banging my head with my fists. DUH DUH DUH DUH DUH!

You’d have to be here to see and hear the commotion. It’s not the first time it’s happened. In fact, it’s the fourth. Because every time movie producer extraordinaire and total genius Harvey Weinstein walks into a room and I have the chance to meet him, I turn into a gibbering wreck. You see? I’m doing it again and he’s not even here. And every time, the day after, I turn into a Harvey Headbanger.
   
Let’s go through the script of my idiocy. Right. The late Blake Snyder, who wrote the screenwriter’s bible, Save the Cat, was my friend and mentor and the reason I came to LA in 2009, when I took one of his extraordinary workshops. Talking about pitching your movie, Blake said that you had to think of it like this: you are in an elevator and Harvey Weinstein gets in; you have just seconds to pitch him your idea (they call it The Elevator Pitch in Hollywood). 

Blake could not stress enough the importance of taking advantage of those few valuable moments with the god of movie making. I tell you, after that I hung around so many Hollywood elevators, people thought I was a Schindler engineer.
   
And then, just before the Oscars five years ago, I am in the private members’ club, Soho House, in LA, and in walks Harvey. Now, if you’ve never seen Harvey enter a room, it’s like Moses’s parting of the Red Sea. First, there’s silence; then, people fall in mercurial waves to either side of him. Jaws drop. Mouths gawp. Awesome doesn’t even begin to describe it. 
Enter me. Stage front. Spotting my opportunity, I lurch forward between the waves, an errant Israelite ready to throw myself at the feet of the master. 
   
The next thing I remember is “I’m from the Daily Mail”, followed by something along the lines of “I’m your greatest fan” (a line I’ve embarrassingly used on Bill Clinton and Al Pacino, to name but two) and then noises such as gurgh mnn drss gnagh sonb – at any rate, it was a language I had no idea I could speak. It might have been Russian. Or Polish. The point is: it was not a pitch for my movie. Harvey says “Thank you” anyway, and continues through the divided Red Sea, where gasping onlookers, stunned and horrified at my audacity, are now receiving treatment from paramedics.
   
The day after, I go for lunch at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills. Banging my head at my missed opportunity, I dive into a melon cocktail, weeping at my stupidity. And in walks Harvey. Silence descends upon the terrace. He turns to each and every person, smiles and says “Hello”. Even me. I stand up in a strange kind of posture that wouldn’t look out of place in a production of Richard III. I think I might even have curtsied. But Harvey’s already disappeared to the shrine they doubtless reserve for him by the pool. DUH DUH DUH DUH DUH.
   
Okay, on to scene three. It’s the launch of the movie Philomena in 2013. It’s Hollywood again (of course) and Harvey, the producer, is there. This time, my Russian has improved slightly and I tell Harvey I love the movie. Next, I ask if I can shadow him in the build-up to the Oscars (oh, lordie, here I go again), to which he replies: “You have to be kidding” (no, Harvey, I’m not; this is my opportunity and I’m not going to screw it up). Then, I deliver my killer blow: “Oh, go on, Harvey. I know Simon Cowell and even he’s afraid of you.” This goes down spectacularly well. I’m in! “So he should be,” smiles Harvey. But then he’s gone again. So close, and yet so far. I’m out.
   
And so, to yesterday. It’s the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) annual Golden Globes tea party. I am so excited to meet Justin Hartley, a brilliant actor in one of my favourite TV shows, This Is Us, which is up for its first Golden Globe tonight (I’m praying it wins; it’s extraordinary). Not only is he a star, he is a lovely, lovely person, and hanging out with him and his friend Colin makes my day. The occasion is marred only by Ryan Gosling’s henchman being vile to me (these “minders” can be such bullies; it’s so unnecessary. They’re not protecting Jesus, for goodness sake). 

I’m a big fan of Gosling, though I can’t bear La La Land, the movie that will probably clean up during awards season. Maybe it’s just as well I didn’t reach Ryan in case my Russian suddenly became fluent and I managed to splutter the words “I really hate your latest movie.”
   
Then, I spot Harvey. A very slimmed down Harvey, I have to say (he’s clearly been taking the stairs, not the elevator, of late). Now, I say to myself. NOW! And up I go. “Hi, I’m . . . ” Who am I? The name has just gone. Seriously. Who the hell am I? “I met you at the movie that I loved . . . uh . . . uh . . . It was . . . Phil . . . Philip . . . Philistine . . . ” Nope. Nothing, again. Every proper noun in my vocabulary has disappeared into the ether, along with all the elevator pitches of the great movies I am writing. 

I cut my losses and say “Can I have a photo, please . . . ” I think I might also have added “I’m your greatest fan” (again). He kindly poses for a snap in which I am smiling manically like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Harvey looks more than a little scared.
   
And that’s why, today, I am again hitting my head in disbelief at another golden opportunity wasted. Double and triple DUH DUH DUH DUH DUH! 

So, if this should happen to reach you, Harvey, No, I am not a lunatic. I am a damned good writer who would like nothing more than to meet you and manage more than three coherent sentences. And in the hope that this might happen, I’m going back to stalking elevators. 

See you on the mezzanine level. I’m going up. And I’m taking you with me, Harvey, whether you like it or not. 
  

   


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