Fly Me to the Moon

This week I went in to pitch an open studio assignment to re-write an R-rated comedy. This was somewhat tricky, since the producing partner of an A-list, twice Oscar-nominated actor wrote the original draft off which I'd only managed to preserve the character names. He would have the final word on my hiring, so my Very Supportive Manager told me just march in and "be adorable about it."

Yesterday the studio executive phoned Supportive to say I had indeed "delivered a movie." The producer reported that I was in fact adorable but he’d like to have lunch with me privately just to be sure I hold up well under harsh lighting conditions. Oh, and he’s got to hear one more “courtesy take” next week—either from his lover, his nephew or the brother-sister team of Sofia and Roman Coppola would be my guess—before making the final decision.

This time it’s not a one in three chance, or even two in three. It’s ninety percent, Supportive estimates. We’re relying on the executive who is trying to set up my spec script and senses I can’t wait as long as that might take. While Supportive feels I should avoid begging, fawning or crying in the meeting room, just for laughs I may have intimated how I only have three weeks left on my unemployment claim and plan to either sell my car to pay next month’s rent or give up my house and move into my car.  Supportive isn’t sure of the exact pay on the ten-week re-write, but the ballpark figure is more than I’ve managed to scratch together over the last four years combined.

Surviving this kind of wait requires many hours of re-arranging my sock drawer, polishing what I haven’t pawned off of the family silver and scrubbing the bathroom grout with an old toothbrush.  I sorted through an old music box filled with jewelry I never wear and thought about throwing out the box along with the J.Lo hoop earrings the size of shower curtain rings that seemed fabulous at the time. Then I remembered my grandmother had given me the box one Christmas. I doubt it was very expensive, just something she picked up on sale at J.C. Penney’s while passing the last of her Golden Years mall walking for exercise.

I never knew her very well until I was in my twenties and she bought a condo near my first apartment. She’d raised my mother alone and never felt obligated to say exactly why. It seemed to me she hadn’t answered to much of anyone in her life at a time when a girl could get arrested for that. She worked two jobs to put my mother through Catholic school, private college and even grad school. Beginning the day my mom gave up her teaching career to marry a struggling law student, Grandma referred to my father as “Whatshisname.” Though she didn’t drink often, she didn’t do it well. Even a glass or two of dessert wine on Christmas Eve fostered some paranoid delusion that Frank Sinatra was trying to kill her. I never did get the details, but frankly it seemed perfectly plausible. She died when I was twenty-six, of natural causes. Later appearing to me in a dream, young again and dressed in fox furs in front of some swank, pre-War hotel, she'd never looked happier.

I couldn’t remember the song the music box played, so I wound it up, expecting the usual "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies" or "Moonlight Sonata." It was "Fly Me To The Moon," made famous by Frank Sinatra.
Fly me to the moon
and let me play among the stars.
Let me see what spring is like
on Jupiter and Mars…

With that, she'd managed to deliver another message from beyond that there was never a thing to fear, that the future most certainly holds something truly magical for me if I can only hang on long enough to let it. I gave myself exactly five minutes to cry before getting up to clean the bathroom.

Note: In response to a student's request for specifics of my Hollywood journey, I've re-published this piece from January 7, 2006. And yes, I did get the job. Stay tuned for tomorrow's post, "Be Careful What You Wish For, My Little Hollywood Hopeful."


  1. Break a leg! I can't wait to hear what happens.

  2. Best of luck with this Julie, I hope THIS is the break you've been hanging on by your fingrenails for!

    I'll keep my fingers crossed for ya!

  3. Julie- good luck!

  4. This is itThis is itThis is itThis is itThis is itThis is itThis is itThis is itThis is itThis is itThis is it

    I'm going to be saying this over and over for you until I read the final wonderful news right here (you WILL post the very second you can get online, right? RIGHT?!)

    Love going out, and fingers and toes crossed. And please remember us wee folk later, if you ever find time whilst wading through the new offers...

  5. I have been saving up some luck for my own film. I'll send whatever I can spare your way.

  6. I'll cross my fingers for you. I discovered your blog recently and I truly LOVE it. It both inspires and makes me laugh which can sometimes be hard to find in this town. Good luck!

  7. Best wishes of wonderful success! (And sorry you can't make it next Saturday night.)

  8. You are all too kind. My new plan is to say, look, I have this blog, and we really can't let down the well-wishers, so what's it gonna be?

  9. Keepin' my fingers crossed!!

    Interesting about your grandmother's thing with Sinatra.

  10. If they don't hire you, they're fools and it will be their loss, babe. And the project will go down in flames and they will all lose their jobs and Hollywood will go down the tubes. Or the project was never real and they never actually had the authority to hire anyone, let alone the wonderful Julie.

    But they WILL. They WILL hire you.


  11. Try to remember that it's a matchmaking exercise and the criteria for the matching isn't always sensible.

    But you're young and strong. I know you're strong because you can digest fast food with ease. Neither the "biz" nor digestion gets easier as you get older so damn the torpedoes!

  12. Anonymous10:43 AM

    Another terrrific post, Julie!
    Your blog is informative and entertaining. I wish you good luck with the assignment. Remember, someone once said, glibly, I suppose, that no one in Hollywood fails, they either get what they want or stop trying. I know you will get it, cause you're not stopping anytime soon!

    Take care,

  13. Anonymous1:17 AM

    This was so sad and lovely. You write well. Where did you learn to write like that?