My Very Supportive Manager set up a meeting for me with a prominent book packager. Though I had no idea what that is, I rarely do when dispatched to these rendezvous. I suppose I could ask in advance, but I find it lots more fun to assemble the big picture once I get there. That's when I look around at the movie posters on the guy’s wall and pretend I actually saw the thing while he pretends he actually made it.
This particular fellow had a stack of teenage romance novels fanned out on his coffee table, so either he was some kind of sicko or a close personal friend of Judy Blume. It turns out he specializes in the lucrative tween genre and was behind a big summer hit about four teenage girls and one pair of pants. To ensure its popularity well in advance, the screenwriter had based her script upon a book hatched years earlier by committee in a New York writers’ room. Book packaging, I thus learned, begins with an idea proven to be marketable long before hiring the novelist and selling off the screen rights. While the publisher had very much enjoyed reading my Hilarious Funeral Comedy, he wondered if I had any good stories about little girls up my sleeve.
I told him that while I in fact used to be one, I no longer find the youngsters all that fascinating—preparing to wrap up yet another Big Hollywood Meeting by knocking back my rightful Evian and requesting my rightful parking validation. When he asked if I had a prose sample, I mentioned this blog. "It's one girl’s personal journey into the bleak Hollywood abyss,” was my not so compelling pitch. Suddenly, though, the guy was all ears, offering astonishing details about a blogger who’d landed a top agent and sealed an enormous book and three-picture deal valued at upwards of seven figures. “Of course it’s basically porn,” he added, leaning forward and lowering his voice as though offering me an illegal stock tip. “Erotic confessional is the next generation of chick lit.”
While there may be all kinds of smut going on in this city, it’s nothing Julie Goes To Hollywood gets herself tangled up with. You regular readers know very well that things have even cooled off between me and my Imaginary Boyfriend since he up and moved in with a real girl. Now on top of my ridiculous temp job, pointless studio meetings and pathetic attempts to complete yet another charming spec script I’m supposed to reel in some hot stud to mine for X-rated blog content? I just can’t picture myself as Diane Keaton in Looking for Mr. Goodbar. Faye Dunaway in Barfly. Sharon Stone in just about anything.
Trolling my general waters for something, anything, juicy enough to borrow and confess to, I decide to probe my co-workers—to whom I generally say nothing except good morning, good night and I need to go to the bathroom now. “So what’d you do last night?” I casually ask the twenty-something Alterna Girl seated beside me. I’m thinking she’s my best bet, since she dyes her close-cropped hair Annie Lennox white and studs her bulletin board with charcoal drawings of people screaming. “I went to the M----- party at L--,” she tells me, the mute crone wearing the blank look. “M----- is a magazine and L-- is a Big Hollywood Club. I even saw Prince there.” I lower my voice and ask if she happened to sleep with him. “I didn’t even look at him,” she says. “He doesn’t like people doing that.”
My luck is no better when I inquire into the health of the husband of a Cool Black Chick with scattered pictures of children on her desk. "Honey, I haven't got time for all that, I've got kids," she reports. "Talking about keeping some man around the house. Girl, please."
I'm thinking the Uptight Little Office Manager might well be a dirty, dirty girl beneath that prim "my hands are so cold" façade of hers. "I go to school, full time," is her non-sequitur of a response when I ask if she does much dating. "That plus I also work out, okay?"
I skip right over the woman who just delivered a three-pound baby at six months along, since she's busy pumping her breast milk for afternoon delivery to the neo-natal unit at Cedars-Sinai.
"I only have a dog," says my one last hope, a Sweet Señorita from Mexico City, who points to a revolving mosaic of Bassett Hound poses on her photo screensaver. "He's going as Sherlock Holmes for Halloween. Ay, que cute."
Maybe I'll try Editorial tomorrow, where a couple of girls sporting Lisa Loeb glasses have got to be closet sluts. Come to think of it, Advertising might be a better bet, since my dim recollection is that your typical sexual encounter requires a certain sales savvy. As for me, I guess another thing they won't tell you in film school is when a girl spends the whole day hoping to find a few scant moments to pour her heart onto the page, there's only so much left of it to spread around town come nightfall.