Six Degrees of Julie

"In the real world, the right thing never happens in the right place and the right time," Mark Twain once said. "It is the job of journalists and historians to make it appear that it has."

I'm guessing he only left out screenwriters -- charged with righting every brand of wrong with a big screen finish --  because neither movies nor Hollywood had been invented at the time. I can't imagine any self-respecting reporter bothering with anything like fact checking when weaving a filmable tale.

This got me thinking about my tendency to amuse my followers, real or imagined, by dwelling on the fallacy of my failures rather than the truth of my successes, however spotty. In reaching for the next laugh, I guess I'm also trying to exhibit some hard-won humility. I figure nobody likes a blowhard, which is why I generally decline to name names when relaying my occasional ass-kicking over adversity.

I considered the many celebrities I've worked with over the course of my stop-and-start-again career. While in Hollywood this is an exercise in sheer dumbassery, elsewhere it may be a source of inspiration. A distant cousin, for example, recently looked me up to ask about a certain box office favorite who once bought a script from me. Though I didn't have the heart to tell her it would never be made into an actual movie, maybe that kind of detail only matters to actual moviemakers.

What excited her was the idea that he and I worked together. In the interest of professional affirmation, my who's who list would have to omit stars I'd encountered only casually -- chatting up at some industry event (Brooke Shields, Hallie Berry), in line at the market (Faye Dunaway, Martin Landau) or walking a picket line (Julie Louis-Dreyfuss, Alicia Keyes).

Forget those who'd expressed only a passing interest in my work -- as well as the fast talking suits who brought me in for a "general" while scanning the trades for any obtuse reference to themselves. Only instantly recognizable names and faces with whom I'd collaborated directly would make the cut -- regardless of whether our project went anywhere.  Even Ron Howard will tell you that doesn't happen nearly enough.

Off the top of my head, I jotted down this dizzying list of Oscar-, Emmy- and even Grammy-honored co-conspirators, past and present, in no particular order: Val Kilmer, Patricia Arquette, Don Johnson, Philip Michael Thomas, Stanley Tucci, Mare Winningham, Barbara Mandrell, Mariska Hargitay, Danica McKellar, Meg Foster, Jennifer Tilley, Fisher Stevens, Joan Cusack, Lonnie Anderson, Ione Skye, Tim Curry, Dabney Coleman, John Astin, Allyce Beaseley, Glenne Headly, Jon Cryer, Tim Allen, Owen Wilson, Edward Norton.

While even we originators of the classic underdog story have ways of diminishing our own power before somebody else does if for us, the most obvious one here is giving in to my fear of irrelevance. So maybe I would like to improve my batting average. Some extra pocket change would by nice. Maybe a little house in the Hills and a sandy-bottom lap pool -- tended by a fetching young groundskeeper with strong Balkan features and a poor command of the English language.

"All you need is ignorance and confidence and the success is sure to follow," Mark Twain said in some other disembodied quote that basically sums up everything. Maybe the irony about trying so hard for so long to get into the game is that's what makes you a player.


  1. Anonymous11:18 PM

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  2. I just realized I never IMDBed you. Consider the error corrected (in my defense I am at best Hollywood adjacent adjacent adjacent.

  3. I just realized I never IMDBed you. Consider the error corrected (in my defense I am at best Hollywood adjacent adjacent adjacent.

  4. Doug, we have been reading each other long before IMDB became a verb.