10.18.2006

Away Message


AQUARIUS
JAN. 20-FEB 18
What a great feeling to be honored, validated, and respected by your peers as well as the public. That's what usually happens whenyour 11th-house ruler culminates in your solar chart. You find yourself at the top of the A-list and getting into clubs with all the so-called beautiful people. You've got your critics, though. Not everyone sees you as shining and perfect. Some folks even intend to hold you to the contracts you signed and the oaths you made (or broke) before all the hero-worship business began.

9.13.2006

Meet the Blogger

Although I’m proud to be counted among a group of screenwriting blogs collectively known as the “scribosphere,” please don’t expect any relevant and insightful tips on screenwriting from me. No structure notes, no WGA news, no thoughts on how to be good in a room. This is not a repository of information about the craft and business of the screenwriter, but rather the scattered reflections of another girl with another big Hollywood dream of becoming a fabulously important one.

Alas, I did not arrive in Hollywood a fresh-faced innocent with nothing to call my own but a photogenic backside and a boyfriend named Bubba bent on leading my management team. While so many fellow aspirants haven’t got much to lose either way, I abandoned what by all appearances had been a dream life. A successful travel writer, I was the original accidental tourist dutifully navigating the globe. Based in Miami, I published popular guidebooks, while also self-syndicating hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles. Though responsible research dictated I eat the free shrimp and sample the umbrella drinks, it became increasingly challenging to hide my only real interest in shellfish, the famous lobster scene from Annie Hall. Rum intrigued me strictly when Erroll Flynn slugged it straight from the jug. I wanted to create the next insouciante pirate role for Johnny Depp, not listen to some overtly cheerful sort with a fake parrot leading another cheesy Caribbean museum tour.


While a whirlwind romance with a Croatian cruise ship maitre d’ felt vaguely cinematic, our hasty marriage amounted to a major indiscretion certain to hold me back for years. On assignment in my husband’s hometown of war-torn Dubrovnik, I happened upon a copy of Syd Field’s Screenplay at an English language bookstore. Wildly inspired, rather than recording the actual events of my trip, I went home and wrote the Hollywood version.

Armed with my completed script, I finally gave the big Croat the boot, severed the rest of the ties that bound, and took my shot out West. In no time at all, the cruel hand of fate delivered a protracted series of near misses conspiring to fuel my mysterious belief in the imminent advent of superstardom. The prestigious fellowship that was just out of reach, the coveted studio apprenticeship falsely promising to result in highly overpaid employment. Ultimately, in exchange for my life savings, my dwindling youth and any likelihood of finding new love with a wage-earning adult, I returned to school. By graduation day I’d amassed a coterie of inappropriate young drinking buddies and a lifetime of student loan debt, earning a fairly useless screenwriting M.F.A. conferred upon me by Arnold Schwarzenegger of all people.

Happily, though, along my quest to become Rocky, the underdog defying the odds, I learned instead that I’m Dorothy. None of that winning nonsense mattered much to begin with. What mattered was making it all the way to freaking Oz and hanging with the wizard! Whatever happens next, simply by virtue of having made the defining journey of my life, I’ll never have to look back and wonder, what if?

8.31.2006

Why Nobody Sleeps with The Screenwriter

Filling out a questionnaire yesterday at the doctor’s office, I was struck by my abject failure to meet the standards of normalcy by which the world is apparently judging me.

Are you employed?
Sometimes.
Are you sexually active?
Meaning with other people?
Are your parents still living?
Yes, but they’re on a cruise somewhere off the coast of Turkey and can’t be reached.

Okay, so I don’t work regularly or have any close, meaningful relationships with anyone but the two small dogs I sleep with. I’m not a freak. I’m just a screenwriter. Okay, so maybe I’m a freaky screenwriter. I mean, when my producer called to ask what I was doing for the holiday weekend, I couldn’t decide whether to ask what holiday or what weekend. I don’t care for either one, truth be told, since this is when regular people break free from their desks and take to the streets that otherwise belong exclusively to me. They fill my movie theater, storm my dry cleaner and overwhelm my farmer’s market, bringing their hyperactive children along for added noise and snot.

Even for an avowed misanthrope, working at home can be a double-edged sword. I tend to work many more than eight hours a day, since it’s hard to find a reason to stop. There are no secret office crushes to run into on the way to the bathroom, no coffee klatches, no water cooler chats about who showed up at the Emmys looking like a chandelier. 

On the plus side, it’s after noon and I’m still in my P.J.’s, despite having gotten up early to e-mail a revised outline on my new feature assignment to the studio. It’s a comfy shortie tank set with a built in bralette, so I don’t scare the neighbors with anything pendulous when I go out to fetch the mail and poop the dogs at three, five and ten, after the back-to-back repeat showings of The Office. Until then, they’ll be lying here beside me—Vienna on the couch where I sit to write in front of my laptop; Oscar on a big feather pillow he likes me to set out for him on the floor.

Yes, dogs and screenwriter appreciate the familiarity of routine just as much as the next guy. I generally begin the day with an on-line run through the “Scribosphere,” which feels like saying good morning to my assorted co-workers. With few exceptions, like Ken Levine and Alex Epstein, both former TV showrunners who would thus make excellent party hosts, blogging screenwriters tend to work in the more isolating world of features. One of my favorite chapters in Alex’s new book, Crafty TV Writing, is about making the transition to writing on staff versus writing alone, with passages called “Who Are All These People?” and “Playing Nice With The Other Kids.”

I don’t wanna. I just want to sit here all day and make stuff up, even though in some circles that might be defined as the early stages of psychosis. So what if my doctor thinks I’m crazy. He gets paid to listen to the heart I pour out free of charge. To that end, I’m always surprised when people comment on my blog, or call my manager to set up a meeting, or offer to pay money, of all things, to buy my work. Most of the time, I forget you’re even there.

8.25.2006

Julie's Big Hollywood Dreamhouse

Considering my "emerging screenwriter" price range, I hadn’t been able to get a single real estate agent to return my calls—not even the one with the handlebar moustache and speech impediment I found on some fly-by-night Internet site. Then I met Jerry J. one Sunday afternoon at an open house in Echo Park. He’d staged the place with signature homosexual style, lighting gingerbread-scented candles on the kitchen counter, setting back issues of the New Yorker in the master bath. He asked me to sign his Venetian leatherbound guest book and have a look around the little California bungalow, priced at a “very attractive” six fifty-nine, which stands adjacent to a state-run “rest home,” according to Jerry’s brochure. Personally I’d call it an “insane asylum.” When I stood very still, I’m pretty sure I heard screaming.

I hadn’t even been interested in Echo Park, which seemed a little too, I don’t know, colorful, until I saw Quinceañera. The only film ever to win both Audience Favorite and the Grand Jury Award at Sundance, it was promoted as a coming of age story about a teenager who gets pregnant without ever having sex. What it’s really about is gay couples with great taste initiating turf warfare by painting an entire L.A. neighborhood their own gangland color, Restoration Hardware Green.  I wanted in.

Unfortunately, once an already inflated L.A. real estate market is captured in an award-winning indie, it’s already too rich for my blood. The one property in the entire gang-infested hood priced below four hundred thousand wasn't a house at all, but a "cozy little writer’s cabin” built in the twenties as a hunting lodge. Perched on a solitary hilltop surrounded by meadowlands, its best feature was a wraparound deck where I could have all the “big wonderful dinner parties” Jerry imagined me to be throwing for my “important friends at the studio.” (Jerry apparently thinks I’m Lucy and Ricky Ricardo in their Hollywood years).

On the downside, the place needs a new roof, a missing bedroom wall, kitchen appliances, new flooring, heating and cooling, and an exterior retaining wall before the advent of the mudslide, fire and earthquake seasons. It’s also so tiny that my mortgage broker had to go to a “specialty house,” a mob allusion, I suspect, to secure financing.

But that’s not why I passed on it. I did that because of the homeless encampment at the foot of the driveway, beside the neighbor’s Roto-Rooter truck. Call me a snob, but I like to give at celebrity fundraisers rather than at gunpoint, and get a plumber on the phone when I need one, not lean out the back window and shout, “Yo, Julio!"

The thing about screenplays is that they’re worth either nothing at all or a huge wad of cash. There’s not a whole lot in between. My mother says I have to write my way out of my problems and my manager remains convinced I’ll be writing myself into the right house very soon. The mere idea of being able to write my way into and out of things is the closest I’ve gotten to Hollywood success. That and hanging with Jerry. The day he takes me to lunch at some star-studded greasy spoon at Sunset Junction to sign documents, I’ll know I’m in.

8.18.2006

Blonde Ambition

When someone you know from film school makes a major Hollywood script sale, all kinds of things run through your mind. The first is, phew, it really can happen. The second is, damn, why didn't it happen to me? The third is that no talent bitch couldn't write her way out of a paper bag! No way was fellatio not involved here, among a treasure trove of sexual hat tricks picked up during a mysterious "summer job" in a Hong Kong whorehouse. Just wait until that particular footnote makes the alumni newsletter.

It only gets worse when you made all that up, actually like the writer in question, and freely admit that she's super talented. Maybe not quite as talented as you, but ten years younger and maybe half your body weight soaking wet after a fatty meal. My friend C. sold a sitcom pilot last week in a heated bidding war among all the major networks. Included in the prize package was a job as co-exp on her own show, should it get an order, plus a staff writing position on the season's hottest comedy to tide her over until it does.

While nobody's paid my kind of dues, except maybe people who drive sportscars off cliffs while trying, C. has done her time in the trenches. She had been a playwright before grad school, and her work had been produced and published. She'd had some success as an actress, appearing in a couple of B-list movies before signing up with the inevitable staffing agency for celebrity assistants. She housesat for Don Roos, sat on Matt and Ben's phones, assisted Lisa Kudrow's assistant and fetched coffee for Ben Stiller and the little Marcia Bradyish wife he keeps insisting is funny, goddamnit.

Though C. and I hadn't been BFFs in film school, certainly we were allies. As first years, we were were shunned among the advanced students accepted into the class of a certain famous screenwriter. Each week, we would e-mail each other pissy little missives marked "Delete Immediately After Reading!" detailing the evening's perceived barbs and mean spirited notes from film school power brokers, as if that's not a contradiction in terms. She told me she'd been a geek in high school and felt naturally at home among losers, fat chicks and other outcasts, which I wasn't exactly sure how to take. Still, though nowadays she vaguely resembles Elle Woods, I believed her. For someone with a Dentyne smile sporting a perky, blonde bob, she has one too many angry snake tattoos to have escaped adolescence unscathed.

In my charming congratulatory note, I reminded her that I'm still writing a feature for E.N., and was in fact invited to the red carpet East Coast premiere of his new film last week. She replied that she hadn't heard a word of congratulations from Don, Matt, either of the Bens or Marcia, Marcia, Marcia. So instant was her success, so total her newfound power, she didn't even ask me to delete immediately after reading. Man, I love this town. It's not nearly enough to break in. Every now and then, a girl gets to break some balls.

7.31.2006

Laura Keitlinger Stole My Life

There's a new series on IFC about a girl screenwriter ten years out of film school still waiting for her break in Hollywood. Nope, it's not Julie Goes To Hollywood, starring me, but The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman, starring Laura Kightlinger.

Jackie has a best friend who's an upwardly mobile slut. Julie has an upwardly mobile stripper next door. Jackie has a day job at a second rate indie film rag. Julie had a day job at a second rate Hollywood trade rag. Jackie has a really stupid film school nemesis who becomes a smug overpaid screenwriter. Julie has a really stupid brother-in-law who became a smug overpaid sitcom weenie. Jackie even looks a little like me, if I were eight feet tall and thin and only had one chin and all. Either way, I am starting to feel like Steeley Dan with the whole Cousin Dupree debacle.

I have always liked Laura Kightlinger. I liked her on Saturday Night Live, where they never let her do much other than be brief and sarcastic while vaguely resembling Geena Davis. I liked her on Will & Grace, where she was a writer who also appeared as real life boyfriend Jack Black's nurse when he guested as a doctor. I sided with her in sisterhood when Jack dumped her after seven years to elope with some hot rocker chick he knew in high school. What do you guess the new Mrs. Black wouldn't even talk to him back then, when he was just another fat guy sniffing after her. Poor, loyal Laura was further humiliated with the requisite instant Hollywood love child who was undoubtedly named for a popular fruit.

Still, I can't forgive the identity thieving. Or the whole getting there first and doing it better thing, if that is indeed the case, which would somehow feel even worse. Laura Kightlinger may not have gotten the guy, but she did get the sitcom with an eight-episode order. Laura, if you happen to visit this blog with any frequency, and I suspect you do, please be advised that I'd be more than happy to give up my imaginary boyfriend for a staff job, or even a sweet little consulting gig. The rest of it will be our little secret. Really it will.

7.29.2006

Movie Moment

Being a film lover since early childhood only set me up for a lifetime of disappointment as the big movie moments of my own life played themselves out with scant cinematic flair. I can only describe my first sexual encounter, for example, as poorly staged. It was badly lit and the blocking was awkward. Why didn't the music swell? Why no elegantly timed dissolve to a nice soft focus? Why was Robert Redford not there? If only I'd cleared the set and called for a re-write, not to mention a little chat with that boob of a casting director who'd neglected to secure A-list talent.

An invitation to join the Writers Guild of America after ten long years of trying felt equally underwhelming. When the membership card arrived in the mail, I expected it to be gold or even platinum, embedded with a glittering hologram, the mother of all "credit" cards, pardon the pun. Maybe it would be key-shaped and ancient looking, like a prop from The Davinci Code, when Tom Hanks and that skinny French chick who turns out to be little miss Jesus arrive at the Swiss bank, demanding their rightful admittance.

It was cardboard. The flimsy kind, not even laminated for gloss and durabilty. Here I'd agreed to pay a $2,500 initiation fee and a nice chunk of my lifelong earnings and all I got so far was a welcome letter, a twenty buck subscription to Written By magazine, and an invitation to an upcoming dinner meeting for new members. Damn if I wasn't going to that shindig, if only to claim my rightful plate of sushi and jug wine. I would watch their badly produced video from the eighties about the history of the union--hosted by an older woman in a kooky wig whose most recent credit was a Doris Day movie--and I would like it!

Imagine my surprise when this actually happened. Considering all it took just to become a working screenwriter, I might not have survived being labeled a communist to boot. I never gave much thought to the studios' support of McCarthyism against early screenwriters attempting to organize. I'd only been after the health insurance, and of course the pretty card, knowing full well that my chances of securing either grew painfully longer with each passing year.

Looking around the reception room at the mostly young, mostly male new membership, I experienced a genuine movie moment. I'm not a white guy and I hardly remember my twenties, but there I stood anyway. Having beaten some shamefully long odds, I nonetheless found myself shoulder to shoulder among this closed club's famously fair-haired demographic.

On the way out, I was handed a very nice, boxed silver pen emblazoned with the WGA emblem. It's no Mont Blanc, mind you, but more likely another logo item purchased in bulk from a business gifts catalogue. And yet, I shall treasure it always. If life were indeed a movie, it would fall out of my hand as I wrote my last word, which in my case is unlikely to be "Rosebud," but rather, "Redford."

7.27.2006

Blogaversary Party

A year ago I started this blog because I was a writer nobody wanted to read. I'd had enough of opening the trades to news of another record spec sale I hadn't made. When blogs I hadn't created were optioned for books, sitcoms and three-picture deals I hadn't landed, I became even more annoyed. Eventually it became clear that if I didn't have a blog I'd surely never be tapped to adapt a blog into a New York Times bestseller and the feel good movie of the year. If also else failed, I would at least have created a repository for my work, forcing myself on a daily basis to chronicle the tail end of my ten-year struggle from successful journalist to failed screenwriter. The truth is, I wasn't at all sure I had a full year of struggle left in me.

Looking back through my early postings, I see that it took awhile to find my bloggerly groove. There is comedy in misery, I soon discovered, especially here in Hollywood, where the world's class clowns and homecoming kings and queens share the dubious goal of wanting in. What I hadn't counted on, of course, was getting in. What's fun about that? While selling my first script has opened all kinds of doors I spent so many years kicking in, the immutable truth is that success isn't nearly as funny as failure.

I used to record my thoughts here every day because I didn't have anything else to do with them. Now I have all kinds of things, and lo and behold, they're not all that fascinating. Today, for example, I have the shades drawn and the A/C on. I'll be in my pajamas all afternoon, working on a revised outline for my producers at Universal. Should my literary agent call to inquire into the latest re-write of my book proposal, I will either screen the call or pick it up and lie. At some point, I will make an egg salad sandwich and watch back to back episodes of Judge Judy. While I may tell myself I'm too busy to blog, the reality is I no longer have the requisite desperation to be heard.

Over the last year, my readership has grown from a single visitor, my sister, to many thousands of you every week who seem to pop by in equal numbers regardless of how long it's been since my last post. I can't promise I'll post more frequently now that I'm not as miserable or hilarious a girl as I once was. I do, however, urge the mysterious throngs who missed my early missives to get your fix in my archives. You might find, as I did, that success isn't so different than failure after all.

6.21.2006

A Hundred Things About Julie

1. I am older than Jesus Christ and Marilyn Monroe when they died and Lucy Ricardo in the pilot episode.

2. I am younger than Sandra Bullock, Lisa Kudrow and Madonna.

3. When asked my exact age, I lie.

4. I do not have an imaginary boyfriend but an imaginary relationship with a real person. It is very serious.

5. In my Oscar speech, I will thank my sister before anyone else.

6. I once won seven thousand bucks on the old Lifetime game show Debt, but lost it wagering on the final bonus question:
Which O.J. Simpson juror was dismissed because she shared the defendant's arthritis doctor?
Answer: Katherine Murdoch.
7. I drive a red 1998 Honda Civic DX Hatchback recently given to me when my mother bought a hybrid.

8. I love dogs, particularly the wiener variety, of which I have two, Oscar and Vienna.

9. Oscar and Vienna once killed my scariest neighbors' pet rabbit, so I left its body on their back patio without a note.

10. I don't much care for cats, except for the few whose personality I would describe as "dog-like."

11. I once starred in a flea collar television commercial as a life-sized cat lying on a grand piano.

12. My student film was a love story set to the music of Sarah Brightman's "Stranger in Paradise," starring my wiener dogs Oscar and Vienna.

13. My first dog was a two hundred-pound Neopolitan Mastiff .

14. I have done stand-up comedy and once co-owned an improv club.

15. The only sport I follow is figure skating, which seems to me very much like flying.

16. I would lay down my life for people I love and feel very sorry indeed for those who would seek to cross me.

17. I grow roses.

18. I believe Princess Diana was murdered.

19. I met my Croatian ex-husband on a cruise ship, married him seventeen days later and will always love him.

20. My personal idols are Martha Stewart, Nancy Grace and Judge Judy.

21. If screenwriting doesn't work out, I would like either to become a wedding planner or work at Home Depot.

22. I have a friend who is a former child star and hates when I call her that, since she's still a Big Deal Actress.

23. I have met the late pope.

24. I'm not a big fan of people and I don't have a whole lot of friends.

25. I once temped at a local police department and briefly considered a career in law enforcement.

26. My greatest wish is to have my stomach stapled and not also die.

27. I have a real problem with crowds and avoid them wherever possible.

28. I speak fluent French, but only when I am drunk.

29. My favorite candy is See's Butterscotch Squares, which I always choose when they offer the free sample.

30. The only way I'll ever be considered young again is if I die right now.

31. I worry about dying young.

32. I have not exercised regularly since 1998.

33. I have a recurring nightmare where a wad of bubblegum growing inside my mouth begins to choke me to death unless I can keep blowing bubbles one after the next.

34. My mom and dad are my unsung heroes.

35. I have straddled the equator in Ecuador.

36. My favorite movie is Annie Hall.

37. Favorite song, “What A Wonderful World," by Louis Armstrong.

38. Favorite book, The World According To Garp, by John Irving.

39. Favorite authors, Dorothy Parker, Charles Dickens and Mark Twain.

40. Favorite actor, Robert Redford back in his Jeremiah Johnson years.

41. Favorite current TV show, Cops.

42. Favorite TV shows of all time, I Love Lucy, All in the Family, and Roseanne.

43. I like diet Coke from the bottle or can but not the fountain.

44. I knew Val Kilmer as a teenager.

45. When I was very young, I co-starred in two episodes of Miami Vice. I rarely discuss this.

46. I grew up in the San Fernando Valley, went to high school in Miami, college in New Orleans and film school in Los Angeles.

47. I've been following the ABC daytime soaps since I started babysitting after school.

48. The director Alexander Payne once tried to talk to me, but my mouth was full of Nutter Butters at the time.

49. I took the heart-damaging drug Phen-Fen and was awarded cash in the class action settlement.

50. Both of my late grandmothers have visited me in dreams. One of them told me death was fabulous but crossing over was something she couldn't discuss.

51. Just once in my life I'd like to be described as "willowy."

52. My brother lives in Micronesia and has a Micronesian wife and two babies I have never seen.

53. I am not close with my brother.

54. I spent childhood summers on Cayuga Lake in Upstate New York, which for some reason still feels like home to me although I never lived there.

55. I have traveled virtually the entire world but would probably only care to re-visit Italy and France.

56. I was only afraid twice during my travels, in Kingston, Jamaica; and Jerusalem during the first Intifada, when a Palestinian kid threw a pipe at me.

57. I was once stranded at a resort for a week in Taormina, Sicily at the foot of Mt. Etna.

58. The best cheese in the world is Pecorino Sale from Sardinia.

59. The best cheese you can get locally is Parmigiano Reggiano.

60. My favorite food is California Slab Apricots from Trader Joe's.

61. I have perfect teeth, big eyes and very good hair.

62. In my twenties, I was built like the St. Pauli Girl, but only bloomed from there.

63. My grandfather, father, uncle, sister and brother are lawyers.

64. I once played a lawyer on TV.

65. My star sign is Aquarius. I once had the full chart done and almost all of my moons and suns were there too, a statistical oddity.

66. I don't much care for chocolate cake or ice cream and tend to order deserts involving lemons, coconut, custard or buttercream.

67. I make the world's best Caesar Salad.

68. I drink dirty Absolut martinis, extra olives, extra cold.

69. I think Emeril Lagasse is hot.

70. Ditto Anderson Cooper.

71. I once hit on Brooke Shields' husband.

72. I dedicated myself to a life in writing beginning at the age of six, when I wrote the following poem:
Peace is forever,
peace is for now.
There should be no wars,
not one kapow.
73. My first real job was cashiering at Publix in Coral Gables, Florida.

74. I published my first travel magazine article at the age of nineteen and my first travel guidebook at twenty-nine.

75. I am currently on unemployment.

76. My first career job was for the travel section of a major daily newspaper in Palm Beach, Florida.

77. I wrote an episode of the ABC Disney animated series Recess, my single produced professional screenwriting credit to date.

78. I don't understand the big fuss about children.

79. At the age of six, I saw a UFO outside the bedroom window of my family's summer cottage.

80. I tend to think men are inferior to women.

81. I feel very sad for strippers, hookers and porn stars, especially the younger ones and the older ones.

82. I am for free speech but against free porn.

83. The first time I voted for President it was for Ross Perot.

84. I am by and large non-political and anti-religion.

85. I'm unusually patriotic.

86. I don't care for scatological humor because I don't think it's funny.

87. I don't curse in writing but curse quite a bit in my speech.

88. I love eggs.

89. I think Michael Jackson did it.

90. I know O.J. did it.

91. I like going to the movies alone in the afternoon and sometimes see two or more while eating Hot Tamales or Raisinets.

92. I love Easy Listening from the seventies, especially Karen Carpenter, John Denver and Barry Manilow.

93. I've been on about a hundred Internet dates, but only two with the same guy more than once.

94. Whenever I walk down a hotel corridor, I see the twins from The Shining.

95. I would like to own a small working farm, where I would grow stone fruit, nuts and lavender, raise chickens, host fabulous dinner parties and have revolving affairs with the help.

96. I wish I had the talent for oil painting, playing the piano and headlining a Broadway musical.

97. As a kid I was obsessed with Robby Benson and often sketched his likeness from pictures I clipped out of Tiger Beat.

98. My first crush was on Speed Racer, who is animated. My second was on Bobby Sherman, who sang "Julie Do You Love Me?"

99. I have lost and re-gained more than a hundred pounds three times since the age of fifteen.

100. My greatest compliment was from my sister, who once told me I'm the least judgmental person she's ever known.

Swimming Pools, Movie Stars

The problem with having a very rich fantasy life is that reality so often pales in comparison. Last night I had dinner with a movie star, which wasn’t nearly as fascinating as the many movie star dinners I’ve been having in my head all these years.

First off, the restaurant was nothing special. I go there all the time, as a matter of fact, with my sister and my friends, none of whom are the least bit famous. On this particular occasion I got there early so I wouldn’t be nervous about being late. I chose just the right table and whipped out a script to establish right off that I am every inch the Hollywood type, but nobody seemed to notice. Not the clueless waitress focusing on the minimum basic requirements of her own job, not the male schoolteacher tossing graded papers onto a growing stack with a successively longer sigh. A couple of writers wiling away the afternoon alone got up to leave, the last of the dwindling lunch crowd, minutes before my companion arrived for dinner. Why were we having dinner at a place that closes at seven, anyway? How would the paparazzi find us?

At that point it occurred to me that what interested me most was not merely having dinner with a star, nor even about our working together, but instead by the notion of being seen doing all that. What’s that about a tree falling in a forest and not making a sound? “You guys should order now if you want soup,” the oblivious waitress said once my companion arrived. “It tastes like glue once they turn off the burners and have to re-heat it.”

Have you never seen a movie?” I wanted to shout. “Ask this woman for an autograph, you dolt!” I mean, my God, J. has been in pretty much all of them over the last twenty years, with and without her equally famous brother all girls my age have a crush on. Then again, J. wasn’t even wearing dark sunglasses, just jeans and sneakers like another unassuming Midwest housewife—despite her being one of the most popular comedic actresses of our time, with two Oscar nominations to show for it.

She’s recently started her own production company in partnership with her former agent, whose first big project is a biopic of a famous chef and WWII spy. In hopes of attaching me to write it, my manager had sent my semi-autobiographical sample script about three disinherited siblings who pull off a heist. (No we did not pull off a heist together in real life). J. casually informed me that she’d be ordering the artichoke and goat cheese salad and that she was interested in making my movie, as if these two thoughts deserved equal weight in a single sentence. “I even told my brother about it,” she added, squeezing a lemon wedge over her iced tea. “Do you see any Splenda around?”

“I’m sorry, can we go back?” I said, not about to let artificial sweetener come between me and this juicy tidbit. “What did your brother say about my script?”

“He said he’d do it.”

Star-struck rube that I am, I’ve been around Hollywood long enough to know that about a hundred things would have to happen before the two J's star together in my movie. But the mere idea of it all was enough to release any lingering disappointments I may have had about being in the moment. There I sat, just me and the movie star tossing around a few additional casting ideas. Although real sugar doesn't work as well in iced tea as the substitute, the thing about Hollywood is that every once in awhile, real life does turn out better than the movie version.

6.14.2006

Life Imitates HBO

After missing her at Sundance and during an earlier L.A. trip, I finally had lunch with the producing partner of the popular New York actress SJP. As is the general rule of thumb, she’s just as pretty as her celebrity collaborator, though maybe not as thin—but then, who is?

As she picked the chicken and cheese from a salad and left a crusty roll untouched, I resisted the urge to reach over and eat it myself while offhandedly informing her that bread is back. The generally accepted rule is New York gets to tell us which hemline is in this season and we get to say what diet trend must be followed after Labor Day. I sipped an ice blended mocha drink that both sides have agreed bears no relation whatsoever to the bi-coastally forbidden chocolate milkshake.

I did a lot of yammering about my current assignment writing a picture for EN, another Manhattan celebrity, forgetting how much smaller New York is than L.A., and that they all refuse to leave the island except for a few months in the summer when they re-group on the same beach just down the road. When she looked at me knowingly and asked if “the boys” were treating me right, I was pretty sure we'd stepped out of an episode of Sex and The City back on her home turf and entered an episode of Entourage here on mine. Part of me wanted to confess that sometimes I feel like the only girl in their Malibu Colony tree house whose hand-scribbled sign made it perfectly clear I wasn’t allowed to begin with. Unless of course I were Mandy Moore , Mrs. Ari Gold or a high-priced hooker, in which case all bets are off.

Though I realized that you haven't arrived in Hollywood until life begins to imitate HBO, mine would most closely approximate Curb Your Enthusiasm, what with its requisite level of personal humiliation I can't seem to sidestep despite my recent successes. Fortunately, it also occurred to me that nowhere in the real world show business manual is an allowance made for unbridled true confessions, even among women. “The guys are great,” I told her. “I’ve never felt so inspired.”

All I had to do now was avoid hitting her with my car, as Larry David surely would, once we backed out of our adjacent parking spaces. As we crossed Beverly Boulevard on foot, a breeze threatened to blow open my black linen wrap-around dress, and I shared my relief at having worn pretty panties. All her good stuff was dirty, she said, so she had thankfully opted for jeans.

On any other day, in any other town, on any other network, we might have become fast friends. We’d have gone back to her suite at the Four Seasons, raided the mini-bar and found something smutty on Lifetime starring Nancy McKeon and David Hasselhoff. We'd have charged up obscene amounts of late night room service and asked the delivery guy and his buddy from the boiler room to stay for a couple of hands of Texas Hold 'Em. Instead we shook hands, got into our cars and drove off in opposite directions.

5.25.2006

Opera Boy

Daniel and I share a house. This felt very odd to me when I first moved in, having had my own house, albeit a tiny one, for the previous ten years. Though our duplex apartments in one divided Hollywood bungalow have only one common wall, I can’t lose the image of him shadowing my daily movements. Our toilets, for example, surely have us sitting back to back as we go about our morning ritual. Once in awhile I even hear them flush together as though playing a familiar little ditty on the pipe organ. In my bedroom, I wouldn’t dream of putting my headboard up against this particular wall, as the imagined scenario of our sitting up together to read ourselves to sleep is far too intimate a way to end the day with this fellow I know so little about.

I’ve seen him at the coin washing machines on our back patio, so I know he uses Tide and Downey and understands exactly how to separate his brights and whites from his lights, a real rarity in a man.  I know he hates dogs, because when mine sniff his shoes desperate for love—as dogs will do pathologically when sensing there’s a non-believer afoot—he recoils in fear and disgust. I know he takes Interview Magazine, since the mailman once delivered his issue to me and I took the liberty of reading it before returning it to its rightful owner. In apology, when I received a duplicate issue of Vanity Fair—the one with Terri Hatcher on the cover in her panties—I dropped it by Daniel’s with a little note. “Thought you’d enjoy this! J.”

I’m not sure exactly why I thought he’d be particularly interested in knowing more about another desperate housewife in her underpants, since my only solid information on Daniel is that he’s gay as a picnic basket and he teaches opera at home. A heads up from the landlord as to his occupation concerned me greatly when I first moved in, as the only thing I could imagine to be worse than listening to opera all day would be listening to student opera all day. But it turns he only works with serious professionals honing their instruments for major operatic happenings around the world. These people could even be famous opera singers for all I know. They could be opera legends I’m casually listening to over my tuna sandwich and Diet Snapple Lemonade.

The men are fat, European and fabulous and the women look like Miss Universe contestants. They arrive every hour on the hour, buzzing themselves into our walled bungalow village originally built as studio housing when Charlie Chaplin set up shop nearby in the late 1920s. Daniel accompanies all kinds of arias and duets—many of which sound surprisingly familiar, from TV commercials and film scores, I guess—on a grand piano that must surely consume most of the space in his living room. Yup, that’s about all I got on Daniel, other than his daily demonstration of passion, commitment and loneliness, a few personal qualities I know a little something about.

The other day I was taking a nap, and woke up to a chorus of angels, the kind you hope to hear welcoming you to heaven after taking your last breath. So beautiful was this music, I truly felt ready to go, right there, secure in the knowledge that there really is a God and it really is all okay. I rushed outside in my pajamas to ask the angels what they’d been singing and they told me it was The Flower Duet, by the French composer Delibes. You can listen to a piece of it here, if you like, Disc 1, Track 4. It’s really quite extraordinary, even to the untrained ear of a reclusive, tuna-eating, Snapple-drinking screenwriter who so rarely bothers to get dressed.

5.22.2006

Dean Martin's Dentist

“You really need to get back to writing about what you do best,” my mother called to tell me. I had no idea what she meant by this. Snark? Bitterness? A perpetual state of nagging disappointment even during my finest hour? “You write best about people who’ve touched you out there,” she said. I didn’t know how to tell her that nobody actually touches each other in Hollywood. It’s not like New York where you’re all on the street together and you could easily pass off touching as an accident. In L.A., we barely look at one another, except to pass sub-conscious judgment on a butt that’s too big, a face too weatherworn or a car too old. I myself get judged quite regularly in this town, I’m willing to wager.

Now that I’m mostly locked indoors working on my first big studio assignment, I have to rely on the neighbors for any remote human contact. The old man next door, Gordon “Russ” Russell, is a Korean war vet and retired junk dealer an ambulance came for last week. It turns out he has a serious heart condition that in all likelihood will be the thing that gets him. He’s well into his eighties, so I suppose his dying wouldn’t be all that tragic in the grand scheme of things, although it never seems a good time to pencil death in.

I followed him to the hospital to be neighborly, where the nurses informed me that I’m his only friend in the world. This despite my only having met him six months back. Though he'd offered to look after my dogs when I went to Sundance, I wasn’t certain that obligated me alone to watch him take his last breath. He gave me a letter to send to an estranged sister in Albuquerque in the event he didn’t make it, although he doesn’t have anything for her to claim except a garage full of vintage Playboys.

He’d been an incorrigible youth sent to Boystown, where he played on the football team and served as a pallbearer at Father Flanagan’s funeral. He only specific Hollywood connection appears to have been sharing Dean Martin’s dentist, Dr. Peter K. Thomas, a fellow he’s mentioned to me at least twenty times. I find this ironic, since the old man has so few teeth I had to ask the half-wit hospital orderly to grind his food before serving it after witnessing an unfortunate choking and Heimlich incident. Russ claims that Dr. Thomas took him to a big soiree up at the Trocadero back in the day, where he encountered Marilyn Monroe, Ginger Rogers and Judy Garland, who also owed their famous celebrity chompers to Dr. Thomas’s handiwork. This all seemed a bit far-fetched, so I Googled the late Dr. Thomas and discovered he had indeed been a rather prominent Hollywood dentist and man about town in his time.

He’s been dead for years, however, so that leaves this reclusive screenwriting neighbor with so few permanent connections of her own to look after Russ in his last days. This is clearly a guy who’s made an awful lot of mistakes in life, since avoiding dying broke and alone seems to me to be the unspoken force driving most of us—especially in a place as notoriously difficult to accomplish that as Hollywood. On the other hand, the studio might actually end up making my movie, meaning I’d have a big Hollywood soiree of my own to attend with a date. I’m no Ginger Rogers, but if Russ can hang on that long, with the right partner I am known to dance one kick-ass Macarena.

4.27.2006

Blind Item

I saw Randy Jackson yesterday at Pain Quotidien while I was lunching with the producing partner of an A-list actress I’m hoping to work with.  I only mention the super cool star sighting because, as regular visitors know, I don’t care to divulge the names of those I encounter in business settings. The last thing I need is some freak Googling “pain” + ”Randy Jackson” + “Insert Name Of A-list Actress,” only to end up here. You can’t expect your garden variety Internet pervert to know "pain" only means bread in French, can you? I also figure it’s only fair since I myself blog anonymously to protect the precise identities of people who buy me French food while expressing even a passing interest in hiring me. (Hint: She lives out of town, recently released an art house film and has a famous brother. No it is not Maggie Gyllenhaal. Were I ever to find myself a single degree of separation from Jake Gyllenhaal, one of us is going to name some freaking names).

If I happen to meet Faye Dunaway in the Express Line of Ralph’s, where I meekly point out the trail of dollar bills flowing from her back pocket like a trail of crumbs for the poor and obscure, that’s another matter entirely. While I may be the only person in the store star-obsessed enough to know this is Mommy Dearest we’re dealing with, not to mention Bonnie Parker and the Oscar-worthy crazy chicks from both Network and Chinatown, she can worry about her own stalkers.

My uncanny ability to pick a familiar face from among the crowd can be a burden. A couple of weeks ago, I was seated so close to Gretchen Mol in a restaurant I could actually hear the details of an intimate conversation with her agent. There may have been some tears, I don’t know, something about points on the back end. The attempted eavesdropping that continuously absented me from my own conversation annoyed my dining partner to no end, since my Type A Lawyer Sister had no familiarity whatsoever with this so-called “major movie star.” She became impressed by coincidence only after catching the actress wearing nothing but a smile and a horsewhip in The Notorious Bettie Page. My sister herself once saw Bruce Springsteen and Patty Scialfa sharing a sandwich at Canter’s—a score my mother, the retired Umatilla schoolteacher, had to point out. My sister's probable response was that their corned beef looked a little dry.

I know I’m supposed to become blasé now that I’ve made the big leap from abject failure to marginal and tentative success in just ten short years, but I just can’t see that happening. Whatever happens next en route to my treacherous, star-studded route to the top, it will be tough to beat my scariest Hollywood moment to date. I attended a birthday dinner on the back patio of Orzo on Robinson. It’s quite popular among famous smokers because it’s one of the few hotspots where they can light up like dirty little chimneys between overpriced teeth bleaching treatments. I didn’t know this at the time. All I knew was that a group of swarthy-looking foreigners, covertly chattering in what sounded like Arabic on a network of cellphones, had sequestered themselves within the leafy branches of some overgrown trees. This was shortly after 9/11, and I was convinced America was about to experience its first suicide bombing. But it was only the stalkerazzi in pursuit of Brad and Jen in their married, hairy and happy phase sharing a butt with Claudia Schiffer. I didn’t see that little magician guy the supermodel married at some point, but Timothy Dalton, the
failedformer James Bond, now doing something big somewhere good, was
cryingvocalizing into his beer a few tables over.

All I ask is that anyone wagering a guess as to the identity of my recent lunch date makes a concerted effort to spell it wrong. As it is, I’m dealing with "Claudia Schiffer + hairy + butt + horsewhip” in terms of future Google searches. The last thing I need is somebody adding Shirley MacLaine to the mix. Good guess, kids, but drats, wrong again.

4.18.2006

I'd Like to Thank the Academy

Like most every kid with even a hint of dramatic flair, I began rehearsing my Oscar acceptance speech when I was seven. I thanked my dog, Crowley, for having a wet nose; my first grade teacher Mrs. Bowes who married suddenly and mysteriously quit her job; and of course my mom, who always got me to school on time and never stopped making me sandwiches.

Once I made it all the way to Hollywood and began pursuing screenwriting in earnest, I decided that should my time ever come I would proudly take the stage in my plus-sized gown from off the rack at Macy’s Woman and thank the people who hadn’t helped me get there. Though my true purpose would be to come across as gracious and forgiving, in actuality I’d have created the opportunity of a lifetime to savor the lingering bitterness I had no intention of letting go.

In the interest of time I might have to group them together, offering a grateful shout-out, for example, to the psychotic Internet dates who inspired me to focus exclusively on my career. Every no-talent anorexic in film school offering an uninvited script note or helpful bit of dieting advice would surely deserve a thumbs up from the podium. And how coud I neglect the legions of collection callers clogging my answering machine with urgent messages about our shared need to discuss a personal business matter. Certain individuals, however, deserve my singling them out for a heartfelt expression of gratitude…

To The Smug Overpaid Sitcom Weenie, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for failing to staff me on your short-lived, crap-ass, racist show after repeatedly promising to do so since we were kids. If not for your being a fraud, a user and a liar, I might never have written the spec script that launched my career in features, placing me significantly higher than you on the Hollywood food chain right out of the starting gates. I do look forward to denying ever knowing you to anyone who might ask, despite the fact that you are my brother-in-law.

To The Greedy Foreign Landlord, allow me to express my gratitude for your surprise illegal eviction of me after ten years in my rent-controlled Hollywood bungalow. The ten thousand dollars in damages you were forced to pay made it possible for me to survive the crucial months prior to my big break, a period in which I might have found myself back home in Umatilla working at The Home Depot.

To The Braless Warner Brothers Television Executive, how adorable it is that you married well, retired and took the mommy track only months after torpedoing my career. Had you not perceived an offhanded joke about a shortage in the world lingerie supply as a personal insult, my future might have been damaged beyond repair as a result of being staffed on The Brian Benben Show.

Finally, I thank The Estranged Brother On A Far-Off Tropical Island, who so frequently wrote to assure me, and I quote, that Hollywood’s “square peg” would never find a place for my “round hole,” so fondly comparing my knack for storytelling to your talent for lighting your own farts. How is it that of all the recent congratulations I received from perfect strangers in the blogosphere, I did not hear a peep from you? I do hope you have not inadvertently set your ass on fire.

Yes, all that was bitchy, even if it is the gospel truth. The good news is after all these years I’m still able to feel at all, even if it is only a twinge of guilt for telling it like it is. I suppose one of the most troubling things about surviving rejection is that it tends to numb you against feeling even the good stuff. I couldn’t have known that wallowing in failure might well be easier than reveling in success because I went so long without achieving any. I’m well aware that bitterness is wrong and bad, not to mention sinful and unattractive, but it works very well for chocolate and at least my brand isn’t fattening.

4.09.2006

Julie Goes Chick Lit

Contrary to popular belief, Julie hasn't "gone Hollywood" as a result of her recent success to the exclusion of her friends in the blogosphere. What's really been keeping me from my usual zeal for self-absorbed public ranting is writing a book proposal inspired by my entries here over the last year. Yes, Julie Goes To Hollywood: A Single Girl, A Second Chance, And The Dream That Won't Die!, Already, Die! is nearly ready to go on the auction block to a shortlist of Fabulous New York Publishers. Unlike the Hollywood types I so strongly hesitate to come out and name, my Big Deal New York Literary Agent is a man so civilized he probably wouldn't mind my revealing his actual name here rather than referring to him as "Literary Boy." He is Jason Anthony, with the Zachary, Shuster, Harmsworth Agency in Manhattan.

I could not make up this fellow if I were writing a Sex & The City spec. He has a bulldog named Humbert who likes to go out and roll in snow in the middle of the night and thus doesn't care a whit if I call his cell at midnight to ask his favorite flavor of Jelly Belly. He's a longtime fan of the blog, who thinks, and I quote, that I am "Sedarisesque." I didn't ask if this meant Amy or David because I'm totally down with it either way and would be especially happy to be perceived as their love child. But that would be gross, since they're full-on brother and sister, and hailing from North Carolina is really no excuse for that sort of behavior. Besides, David is gay and has married well. Like me, Amy can't seem to land a real man and has an imaginary boyfriend. Hers is a swarthy foreigner named Raoul. They often quarrel before making passionate love. I only know this because she's always on Letterman yakking about the guy with that mad glint in her eye that so delights and entertains Dave.

Now that I've finally conquered Hollywood after all these years with an overpaid assignment to write my first studio screenplay, my greatest hope is that the literary world receives me with refreshing graciousness and expediency. I expect to be mass published at once in paperback, feted with free gifts and prizes, and sent on a whirlwind book tour concentrating in and around the South Pacific. Or at least acknowledged in some small way with, say, a charming note and a correctly spelled word of encouragement. Ten years in this town and a girl learns not to ask for too much, even if she is so strongly influenced by the nation's greatest living satirist and his loopy actress-playwright sister. I always wanted to be a Letterman favorite.

UPDATE: Shortly after this post, my book went out for auction and despite some very kind words from some very fabulous folks, failed to sell. Jason Anthony jumped to another agency, or so I heard, and no longer represents me. I have no idea what's up with his dog. 

4.02.2006

Interior Monologue

Do we really want to pay three-ninety five for a tub of cantaloupe chunks? Do it, do it, throw it in the cart! Okay, but normally we get whatever they have on sale in a big bin with flies swarming around it the day before they ship it back to Tehachapi for the pigs. Don't you get it? Everything's different now! We're getting more for ten weeks' work than your average American couple brings down in six years. We're in, babe. Now pick up some nice rawhide bones for the wieners, so what if they do cost fifteen bucks a piece for scraps of freeze-dried Chilean shoe leather?

Hey, let's go pick out some of those stone crabs. And buy the Moet. Yes, the Moet. None of that Chandon crap, now, we've known very well since junior year abroad that "California champagne" is nothing but a déclassé bit of street slang. Why not pick up some of that pricey lemon garlic aioli, too, what's eight bucks and six hundred calories a teaspoon between friends? No, no, we'll make our own. "Gourmet" stuff in snotty jars usually sucks, even if it is from France.

Oh God, they're leading some guy out of Ralph's in handcuffs. He looks like a nice kid, really, a wannabe rock star who’ll strum you "Brown-Eyed Girl" on acoustic guitar for a quarter outside the Hollywood Farmer's Market. Another runaway with another dream from another Red State. Offer to buy whatever he stole, forgiving the fact that his folks voted in Doubleya. Do it! No, no, look the other way. Desperation could very well be contagious. Lord knows we don't want to catch that again. Okay, bitch, now it's too late. Rich people suck. You don't want to be a cheap rich girl like the Queen of England, do you? They say that old crone wouldn't pick up a tab if it bit her in the ass. Who says that? Andrew Morton, Sir Elton John, Mohamed al Fayed. People who know stuff.

Now they're putting the poor kid in a squad car just like the Matchbox kind he used to play with, telling him to watch his head. He's blushing now, visibly humiliated, as if hungry as hell weren't enough. Coming to Hollywood and wanting too much, that was his first mistake. Okay, now you're sad. Seriously, you could cry. There's all kinds of untapped talent itching to hit this town like an oil gusher, and yet, you can practically breathe the spillover vaporizing into the air with the morning smog. Hey, this must be Survivor's Guilt. It's hard to tell when you're Catholic and super in touch with your original sin, but yeah, it's a brand new feeling of shame, the "Why me?" kind. There’s also that little touch of Imposter Complex, as in "Uh-oh. Me?" You don't know how to write a hundred thousand dollar screenplay! Who are you kidding, Miss Fancy Pants? Let's not think about that now. Think about that tomorrow.

But don't forget the huge crate of toilet paper, the good kind that's quilted like a surprise powder puff from the rear. And buy that mother of all tampon boxes, forty bucks worth, the kind with the fancy pink applicators and the scent of a soft ocean breeze. Nothing says wealth and privilege like some gently perfumed privates. Where do they keep the goddamn Jelly Bellies already? Here we go, the big one, the party size. At ten calories a bean including the real fruit juices they're a nutritious, fat-free treat, it says so right on the jar.

Get in the pretend fancy car, wave to the fantasy crowd lining the streets, and ascend to the make believe palace. Now get out the bed tray and the ball peen hammer. Who needs a snooty nutcracker when you've got ten years of pent up hostility to direct at your crabs? Nothing wrong with shellfish and champagne in bed, Liz Taylor probably does it nightly. Music might be a classy touch, something feminist and self-righteous like the Indigo Girls. Wait, there's a hugely ironic Dateline episode on about people who surmounted long odds to make it to the top. Yup, your new hero is Joy Mangano, the divorced mom who invented the waterless mop to feed her kids and now lives in a twenty million dollar East Hampton spread just down the beach from Spielberg. Hah, the old man who dumped her for some tramp is now a lowly employee. You're totally loving that.

Stop thinking about your own ex, you haven't missed the big Croat for a good eight to ten years. Then again, he was always up for a celebration, the pricier the better. Last you heard he was body guarding for a no-name Saudi prince in Dubai. Do not get on that computer and search for the last e-mail where he claimed he'd "luff you 4ever, good Giuletta!" You always could measure how wasted he was by the quality of his spelling and grammar. Who are you to judge, you're half-crocked yourself. Yes, but never at a loss for words, darling. That's why they pay us the big bucks. The big, huge, rocking bucks!
That's it, sister, pour yourself another glass of champagne and phone in that long overdue order to HB Freaking O! Hell, get Showtime, too, and whoever's broadcasting the lady erotica starring Fabio at his peak, or perhaps a young, unknown college boy named Sly Stallone. Yup, it's good being queen, even if you are drunk, cheap and sleeping alone with the "Corgis" while some loser sits across town in a holding cell wishing he didn't have to call his father collect. Here's to you, good Giuletta. To the good life.

3.31.2006

Champagne Dreams & Caviar Wishes


Julie went to Hollywood,
where life was a bad dress rehearsal.

Ten years later, my terrible fortunes
needed some major reversal.

After pitching an R-rated comedy,
A big studio finally wanted me!

Yup, meet the new Julie, now under contract to Universal!

3.30.2006

It Girl

I received the following e-mail from "Kevin" at Tenspeed and Brown Shoe. This, if I’m not mistaken, was a short-lived eighties TV show starring Jeff Goldblum and Ben Vereen, a reference I’m not sure I get unless Kevin is a neurotic Jewish Broadway star who wants to run a failing detective agency. He’s tagged me by way of what I can only interpret as a slam:
I guess the thinking behind your blog is that everyone is always talking about how bad everyone else is. I want to know what YOUR worst was...Please answer on the blog!
Kevin, dear, the thinking behind my blog is not that everyone else is bad. It’s that everyone else is stupid. If they were smart, since we're dealing in caps, THEY WOULD HIRE ME. My mistake is continuing to believe that they will do this ANY TIME NOW.

I must point out that in direct violation of the rules, rather than picking one sorry sucker, you have tagged much of the scribosphere in one fell swoop. I see that John August and Ken Levine, both much bigger men than I, with careers and assistants and sizeable residuals checks, have already responded. Who am I to pass? Seriously, while I thank you for including me in this company, your questions seem directed at people enjoying some measure of success, which isn’t exactly how I’d describe myself at this point.

However, in the interest of being a good sport, I will play your silly game of tag, one I didn’t particularly care for as a child because you didn’t get candy if you won. All you got was not to be it any more. I wanted to be it. I am an it girl, born and bred. But then, you’ve already noticed that.

WHAT'S THE WORST THING YOU'VE EVER WRITTEN?
Jihad Barbie, a teen comedy about a sleeper terrorist inadvertently abandoned at University of Miami. She changes her mind about bombing the Orange Bowl after being nominated for Orange Bowl Princess. It wasn’t badly written, just a life-threatening career risk. Put the names Parker and Stone on it and the thing would have sold for 2.8 mil and inspired an episode of South Park lampooning the fatwah on their heads.

WHAT'S THE WORST LINE YOU'VE EVER WRITTEN?
“I wish I knew how to quit you!” Oh wait, that wasn’t me.

WHAT'S THE WORST ADVICE YOU'VE EVER GIVEN?
Of course you should go to film school! What’s sixty-five grand in exchange for a lifetime of fame and fortune?

WHAT'S THE ONE TIME YOU KNOW YOU SHOULD HAVE SPOKEN UP BUT YOU DIDN’T?
I was working in Thailand when a Japanese tourist started beating a little girl with a stick for letting her fall off the back of an elephant ride. To this day, I wish I’d gone Charlie’s Angels on the old bitch and dropped kicked her clear back to Osaka.

WHAT'S THE WORST PITCH MEETING YOU'VE EVER HAD
I will never again agree to another “phone meeting,” as if that’s not a contradiction in terms. It’s really important to know the exact moment when their eyes start rolling back in their heads in order to time the next inappropriate, self-loathing joke and hone in on something good to pocket on the way out.

WHO'S THE ONE PERSON YOU'D NEVER WORK WITH AGAIN AND AREN'T AFRAID TO NAME?
Jake Gyllenhaal. Our spontaneous lovemaking tends to interfere with the work.

WHAT'S THE WORST SCRIPT IDEA YOU'VE EVER HAD?
A comedy called Rivals, in which Jane Fonda would compete with her granddaughter Lindsay Lohan and ultimately get the guy. High concept to be sure, but there's something really creepy about sampling grannie’s greasy leftovers.

WHAT'S THE WORST THING ABOUT YOU BEING ON SET?
That I’m not.

WHAT'S YOUR WORST WORKING HABIT?
Blogging.

WHAT'S THE WORST MISTAKE YOU'VE EVER MADE?
Throwing over Jen for Angelina. I’m so over the weird pelvic tattoo that says “Billy Bob” in Swahili now that we’re talking stretch marks.