The call came in just before noon my time, which in Hollywood is pretty much the crack of dawn unless you’re on the set, which I was. I didn’t even have to look at the caller ID.
“What’s up, doc?” I asked. In b.g. — that’s big-time-screenwriter lingo for “background” — the set dressers were applying the final touches, making sure we had the verisimilitude exactly right.
“You talkin’ to me?” he said.
“So how’d it go?”
“Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.”
“That good, huh?”
“At least I didn’t get snippy or anything.”
“Sure you didn’t call anybody a jackass? Didn’t bash Dana?”
“Best behavior, I swear. I apologized to the planet. I even apologized to Huma, just like you told me to.”
“Glad we didn’t have a failure to communicate. Was she there?”
“Are you kidding?”
“Must have been tough,” I mused. “But always look on the bright side of life. Like I said the last time, I’m going to make you a bright, shining star.”
“I think I want to be alone,” he said.
This was bad: I couldn’t lose my star in a green-lit project. “Listen, Dorothy, you’re not in Kansas anymore. Or even Kew Gardens. What’s the matter?”
“Somebody shouted, ‘Bye-bye, pervert.’”
“You say that like it’s a bad thing. Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
“Somebody asked if I was more than seven inches.”
I had to calm him down. “I know you. You used to be big.”
“I am big,” he retorted. “It’s the pictures that got small.” He was still fuming. “Listen, Dave, I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more.”
“Relax. I took care of all that in the script. You won’t believe what we can do with CGI these days.”
“Somebody asked if I’m going to maintain my hot physique.”
“You damn well better. Buff, waxed, toned — it’s all right there in the character description. That’s why I’m making you an offer you can’t refuse.”
“Then show me the money.”
“What do think I am, a suit? If you like the deal, whistle. You know how to whistle, don’t you?”
He put his lips together and blew. “Read it to me again, Dave.”
I motioned to the script girl and she came hustling over. I turned to page one. “‘And in walks our main character, ANTHONY WEINER. Tanned, toned, super-fit, about 35 — ’”
“Isn’t that a little old for the male lead these days?” he asked. “I thought we were going for the teen market.”
“So we make it 25 and let hair and makeup take care of the rest. Happy now?”
“Go ahead, make my day.”
I continued reading: “ — he’s a cross between Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. If Bond, James Bond, had a love child with Miss Moneypenny who somehow grew up in Queens and worked out daily in the House gym, he would look and act very much like Tony.”