NOTE FROM LB
I met Steve McQueen back in the late 1960s. OK, I didn’t exactly meet him, but we interacted. I was stuck in an unmoving lane on the Hollywood Freeway, and with nothing else to do I glanced over at the car to my left and saw an equally unmoving Steve McQueen, tapping on his windshield.
He looked over at me, and our eyes met. I nodded and gave him my best Steve McQueen half-smile. He nodded back and gave me a thumbs up.
Yeah, I was thrilled, you bet. But I became even more impatient for the traffic to start moving. Because I’d already given him my best shot and had nothing else left to demonstrate my cool if he glanced at me again.
And that’s how I learned about true showbiz pressure.
Meeting With the New Kid Hollywood
by Larry Brody
“It’s a good idea,” the executive said,
“But the audience’ll never get it.
“They aren’t like us,” he said.
“They aren’t as intense. Pain, desire,
Being true to yourself don’t mean as much to
Real people as to those in the Biz.”
We were in an office at Fox,
And I was talking about a movie I wanted to write.
The executive’s smile, his conspiratorial way,
Reminded me of when I too had been a Hollywood Kid.
Ah, in those days I was so proud!
I drove my big Jag through streets of filth and
Despair, straight to Paramount’s high-crowned main gate
(the one named after Cecil B. DeMille!)
And I looked on that gate, and on myself and thought:
This is good!
This is great!
And why not? Wasn’t I in the best,
Most meaningful business that ever there was?
Wasn’t I working with the best,
Most meaningful people that ever there was?
Wasn’t I spreading the best,
Most meaningful entertainment that ever there was?
“We’re not curing cancer here,” the Big Bosses would say,
During a meeting when the famed “creative differences” flared.
“This isn’t brain surgery,” they’d point out when
The talent (that’s me! Me! I’m talent, yessirree!)
Disagreed with some fiat or mislabeled decree.
(“Input,” they would call it. “A note.” A “suggestion.”
You know, to strengthen the product’s—
Make that project’s—appeal.)
But what we did was more important than
Healing the sick, we all knew that,
For we were diverting the well.
I was so proud. I could feel my heart swell
Every time I drove past the bank.
Hey, I even stopped the big L.A. earthquake.
You know, the one in ‘91.
There was the ground, shaking and roaring,
And there was Kid Hollywood, sitting up in his bed.
“I can’t die now!” I cried out. “I haven’t done my best work!”
And, lo, the earth subsided.
The danger fled.
‘Til the morning when, if I’d had a gun,
I would have put it straight to my head.
(But with pride! The best and the most in suicide!)
It was then, at my most intense,
Wracked with pain, and desire,
And the knowledge that I no longer had a self
To be true to,
That I became
A real person,
Unlike any the executive at Fox has ever, would ever,
Will ever know.
I am, I believe, I real person still
(Although, come to think of it,
I fooled that executive, eh?),
But guess what? I still have my pride.
I look at my wife, and my children, and my friends,
And work to give them all they need,
And I think,
This is good!
This is great!
The most and the best,
And why not?
Larry Brody is the head dood at TVWriter™. He is posting at least one poem a week here at TVWriter™ because, as the Navajo Dog herself once pointed out, “Art has to be free. If you create it for money, you lose your vision, and yourself.” She said it shorter, though, with just a snort.