The Exec, his job safe for another two hours, beamed as he turned to Axelrod, who said: “Peace, bread, and socialist-realist movies, that’s our motto here in Tinseltown. Mission to Moscow, The North Star, The Boy from Stalingrad, Reds —”
I could feel my excitement rising: “Red Dawn.”
The room fell silent for a moment. Axelrod glared at me; the Exec stared at his shoes. “Right,” he said. “What we’re interested in is a new kind of subliminal campaign film, one that uses the earlier pro-proletarian cinema classics — did I mention that my mother used to work for PM in New York? — as the touchstones for a new theater of and for the common man —”
“Sorry, Jake,” I heard myself saying, “but no way am I rewriting Barton Fink.”
“Hear the man out, Kahane,” said the Exec. “We’re talking double your quote on this project, with a guaranteed rewrite whether we fire you or not.”
Axelrod continued: “Something that speaks to a new generation, born in this century, almost, with a knowledge of movies that stretches all the way back to just before the millennium. In other words, your usual target audience.”
“In short, a total rip-off,” said the Exec.
I thought for a moment, which is twice the usual amount of time I give to my pitches. And then I had it.