Soul Mates

I keep coming across this unusually well-promoted blog hosted by "Jim" and "Tanya," who, despite repeated rejections, are so determined to appear on a popular reality TV show they're insistently billing themselves as the "Million Dollar Fear Factor Couple." Like many duos sharing their basic physical attributes, she's some kind of Actress Person and he's a Certified Fitness Trainer—and both claim that they just keep getting better looking! Their promotional banner, what with its close-cropped photo of her breasts in a string bikini reflected in his mirrored sunglasses, must be earning some remarkable his'n'her page impressions.

What grabbed me more, though, is their unflinching commitment to this dubious quest—an undying belief that some terrible, cosmic mistake must surely be to blame for their continued exclusion from arguably the most vulgar and puerile program on the airwaves. "We've expressed interest, filled out the application and got called in to meet the casting staff," the New Jersey couple writes on their index page. "We made it past the initial interview and were even asked back to be taped again. There is nothing else we can do." The apparent purpose of this well-orchestrated Web campaign, besides your feeling their pain, is to rally visitors to write the series producers in support of the pair—who, we're reminded, "have been married for ten years, not ten minutes like most Fear Factor couples."

While my knee jerk reaction was to dismiss them both as shallow, over-buffed, sore losers, it occurs to me we have an awful lot in common—except, alas, the part where I end up with a hot body. My point is there's a fine line between determination and obsession, between wanting something so badly it makes your teeth hurt and allowing yourself to be so completely enveloped by said desire it begins to define you completely. We all know that’s how much I want to be a Big Deal Hollywood Screenwriter. So Jim and Tanya want to eat bulls’ balls in a blender. Who am I to judge?

We're all three hellbent on playing in the big leagues, however differently we may define them. I’ll bet they have no intention of winning yet another couples tug-of-war at the company picnic and calling that a victory. Similarly, I can't just settle for running my fingers over some anonymous keyboard all my life—hell, I can get that right here. Close enough to reach out and touch, just over that hill with the sign on it, my polestar is an invitation to write Big Hollywood Movies, treasured by millions, throughout the ages. “Popular and memorable stories,” my Legendary Film School Structure Professor used to call them. If I knew how to settle for less I’d head right home to Umatilla and whip up a season of hilarious and heartwarming one acts for the Bay Street Players.

If you watch a lot of movies, you know how important it is to reach for the top, even if that means betting the farm on your unreasonable conviction that the top is somehow your birthright. With few exceptions—Salieri and Mozart in Amadeus come to mind—the movies also promise that obsession is the one true path to total happiness. Rocky didn’t rise from the streets to become world champ only to find that it sucked. Okay, things might have gotten a little ugly up there to keep the franchise going—but the old prize belt, strategically cinched between the swelling chest and rising crotch—was just as big and shiny as ever. For some heroic underdogs—even the equine ones like Seabiscuit—getting there is not just half the fun, but well worth croaking over in an eternal blaze of glory.

Endearing me to Jim and Tanya most of all, their site features a link to Make Poverty History.org, placed high above the headline. Look to your left on mine and you'll find Another Lame Internet Poll asking folks to weigh in on the moral veracity of my Big Deal Hollywood Dream. My idea was to have some tangible proof of the sheer force of my built-in audience to wave around key Hollywood street corners like a madwoman—you know, should things ever come to that. Unfortunately, there were only sixteen votes, last time I checked, and three of these chide my unwarranted derision of the good people of Umatilla.

Geography aside, the heart wants what it wants because the movies keep promising us windmill-jousters we can have it. There’s a great Frank Sinatra quote about how he always felt sorry for people who don’t drink, because they wake up in the morning and that’s as good as they’re going to feel all day. Except for a brief Bridget Jonesian period after my divorce, martinis never worked for me anywhere near as well as a good banana split. But I have always wondered about the interior world of Regular People, loosely defined in the warped recesses of my cinematic mind as those who aren’t chasing a dream they can’t quite seem to capture. What’s it like to go to sleep at night without knowing that kind of absence?

“Let’s just say we’d like to eat cow balls as much as we’d like to be shot at point blank range in the head!” Jim and Tanya’s written petition concludes. “But good or bad, that's part of the show!”

That is show biz, folks—which is just one more thing they won’t tell you in film school. To that end, I’ve decided to write the Big Network Weasels in support of my soul mates—because as much fear as there is in this factor, we may be the only three people in all of Hollywood who truly understand one another.


  1. You obviously haven't seen ROCKY IV. There are some tough lessons found there.

  2. Maybe so, but not tough enough to avoid proceeding to Rocky V. By the way, I missed all of them after One, which is my general rule of thumb. The exception, natch, is that Little Gangster Trilogy by Sofia's Dad.


  4. I will have to trust you on these, because I haven't seen any of them. No lie. I think that last one has something to do with James Bond. I once saw Timothy Dalton eating in Orzo, though. There were a lot of paparazzi outside because Brad and Jen were there, too, back in their happier days, and also Claudi Schiffer. And me, of course. Anyway, they scared the pants off me because I saw all these furtive foreign guys looking over the terrace and talking on cell phones and decided they were suicide bombers. What can I say, I'm still a bit of a rube.