5.13.2007

Overweight Sensation

I figured things would go one of three ways for the people I met in film school. They would make it and become famous and possibly legendary; they would not make it and pursue something humiliating, such as dentistry; or they would teach. While I viewed that first option as the one true path to happiness, coming up on the third anniversary of my graduation, I've discovered an alternate route to nirvana among my old film school pals. While I judge the kind of day I'm having by whether or not My Very Supportive Manager called—and if so, how good or bad or annoying her news is—they're discovering how to be both happy and successful by not allowing one to depend on the other. They are carving not only their own careers, but also their own life plans, flying off in bold new directions without waiting for permission for take-off from the shadowy figures at Hollywood mission control.

All in the span of a year, Amy J. turned thirty, got a great job in development, got pregnant and got married to a British director unable to work in the U.S. Though the baby was cute and the much younger husband even cuter, I couldn't understand why she'd choose to stretch herself so thin at such a critical time in her career. Then I saw Richard's debut film, an English caper called Fakers, which began a stateside theatrical run last week. As I sat watching it opening night at the Beverly Center, any lingering question about Amy's rush to make a life with this brilliant little fellow vanished. At the tender age of twenty-three, he had directed a warm, funny, engaging look inside the colorful underworld of European art forgery. All I have to show for my early twenties is a long dead relationship with a pediatric resident who turned out to be gay and a blossoming devotion to Sarah Lee. While my early passions heralded a long struggle with excess body fat, Richard's launched what I'm convinced will be a huge career.

Meanwhile my friend Emeka, who'd been an undergrad when I was a grad T.A., is starring in a play called Wounded at The Powerhouse Theatre in Santa Monica. It was collaboratively written by the Los Angeles Theatre Ensemble, whose membership is heavy on fellow grads of the theater department. Set in the Fisher House rehabilitation home at the Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington D.C., the main point of re-entry for wounded service personnel, the story was culled from gut-wrenching true accounts.

Given my preference for irreverent comedy and general disdain for all things heavy handed, I didn't expect to even buy it, let alone walk away haunted for life. Yes, the story is thought provoking, the performances brilliantly rendered. What struck an even deeper chord with me, though, is the way these kids are carving big, brilliant careers for themsleves out of a tiny black box theater set with a single card table and a couple of folding chairs. Emeka told me that Tom Hanks has been showing up a lot with his wife, Rita Wilson, and that the penultimate Hollywood power couple recently secured him a suitably big Hollywood talent agent. I couldn't help thinking of another tiny little play they happened upon and teamed up to bring to the screen as My Big Fat Greek Wedding. This is Hollywood, folks, and big things happen here. They really, really do.

As for my own answer to thinking outside the box, you're looking at it. The blog begets a book, begetting a sitcom, begetting a long series of stints on Letterman during which time I supplant Amy Sedaris as Dave's favorite wacky girl guest. In theory, anyway. For today, a nice big dream, a nice little Sarah Lee pound cake and a nice little afternoon nap is pretty much all I got. The good news is, I couldn't afford to indulge any one of those vices three years ago today. Though I am finally working in the business, in all honesty I'd have to call myself more of an overweight sensation than an overnight suceess story.

6 comments:

  1. Dreaming big is the only excuse for dreaming. At least you DO something (not to mention, you're getting somewhere!). Those of us with big dreams and no guts salute you.

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  2. "a blossoming devotion to Sarah Lee"

    jesus, stop being so brilliantly funny okay?... wait, forget I even suggested such a thing and send me over a roll of duct tape so I can fasten my ribs back in place that you so lovingly dislodge

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  3. Nobody writes like you, though. Where can I drop off a poundcake?

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  4. Hi Pumpkin,
    Your tone is leaning toward the negative. Not a healthy sign.
    You are GOOD, dammit. Don't let the dumbfucks get you down.

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  5. Aw shucks, I'm actually feeling much more upbeat now that a total stranger has called me pumpkin.

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  6. Anonymous3:21 PM

    I was just at my Smith reunion and heard no less an authority than Gloria Steinem address the puppy girl graduates and intone, "After all, dreaming is a form of planning." Right on Glo!

    And right on Jules. How nice to see someone in Hollywood respond to the success of her peers with something other than schadenfreude.

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