"Working in this business is a lot like having kids." Peter grinned at my questioning look. We were sitting at a little cafe just off the sidewalk on Rodeo Drive.
"What do you mean?" I was drinking my third glass of wine like I needed every drop of it.
"When my wife, my first wife, had our first kid the nurse wanted me to come into the delivery room. You know, be part of the experience, the event." He chuckled at the word. "And I was like, no way, you know? I mean that's the miracle of birth. One person goes in, two people come out. I didn't want to know the secret, see the reality of it. I wanted the miracle."
"The illusion." I smiled and Peter nodded.
"The illusion, yeah. I mean, being there would have ruined everything."
And that summed up my life completely. I was 27 years old and ruined for life. I'd graduated summa cum laude from Yale and gone on to UCLA Film School, over the objections of everyone in my family. I wanted to make movies. I wanted to make magic. I went to work for Paramount and that lasted barely six months, just long enough to get into the guild and meet some people. I moved to Miramax largely at the urging of Jack Hovine, who did pre-poduction over there.
He was a shoe salesman, or so he liked to brag, since half the projects he started never finished and most of them walked out the door, down the street, and into Universal, or Paramount, or Fox. But Jack made money and 6 or 7 unfinished films could pay post on 2 or 3 indies. One of his big stories was how he'd paid for Pulp Fiction by selling Waterworld to Costner.
"Jack called me." Peter had let me sit there for a moment, but it was time to get to it. The sun was going down and the big deals happened at dusk, between drinks and dinner.
"So?" I shrugged. I'd left Miramax and gone to Dreamworks, mostly because I knew it would piss off Jack. Dreamworks just wanted me to piss off Harvey, I think. I did a year and moved on, doing rush jobs for anybody who had more money than time, which was just about everyone in this town.
"So, he's looking for a script supervisor," he said with a shrug. "He wants Jenny Devin."
"Jen's in New York. Wrapping Brookline."
"I know that. She looked at the story, hated it, wants it, but she won't do it without you."
I didn't say anything. Jen was on the sunny side of forty and one of my favorite 3 people in the world. She'd been my mentor, if you'll excuse the word, and we'd had a thing.
"Financing is good for 60 days from last Wednesday." Peter leaned back. "We get something in the can and GoldCoast will pick it up after that."
"But you got no script." I smirked a little.
"Nope. The guy that wrote it lives in fucking lala land. Wants artistic control." Peter almost shuddered at the thought.
"So give him a commentary track on the DVD." I laughed. "Run and gun." I drank more wine.
"Run and gun," Peter agreed. "Jen'll be back in 2 or 3 weeks, end of the month we roundtable, shoot in six. Okay?"
"My script." I looked at him closely. "I'm not adopting shit."
Peter held up his glass and smiled. "I'll tell the guy he's an orphan."
"Hey, what time is it there?" I asked, smiling as I heard Jen take a deep breath.
"Yeah," I replied, sitting on my futon, on the deck of my house. The air felt moist and tasted salty, coming straight off the ocean a hundred feet down. Something about living in a house with stilts on the California coastline excited me.
"It's late," she said. "No ... it's early. It's late there, what are you doing?"
"Working. Peter call you?" I drank some cranberry juicy straight out of the plastic bottle, making my mouth pucker.
"Yeah..." she said something else but I didn't catch it, " ... got six of them anyway."
"Uh-huh." I laughed, having no idea what she was talking about.
"What have you got for me?"
"I wanna move the picture," I said, leaning back and spreading my legs. I wore Jen's old pajamas, they were mens' pajamas, thin blue cotton and comfortable.
"Small town, Kansas, Iowa, someplace with cows." I shrugged. "The city thing ain't working, we move it outside so the whole world is there. The New York thing, it's claustrophobic."
"It's a claustrophobic story, the guys surrounded. You put him outside and..." We sat through a long pause while I let Jen sort it out. "Okay, so small town and fuck, we gotta find somebody good for this."
"It's Benedict," I told her.
"How do you know?"
"I went to get my hair done today." I laughed.
"I'll call Jack. Benedict isn't gonna work for this. It's gotta go tight."
"That's what I said."
"Yeah, okay..." Jen took a deep breath. "Sooo outside, we do some Ford big country and then tighter and tighter, blah blah blah how you been?"
She just threw it out, Jen style, surprising me, even though it shouldn't have.
"Huh?" I sighed. "Oh, you know."
"I love you."
"What happened to what's her name? The Hungarian with..."
" ... the big teeth?"
" ... left me for some beer commercial." Jen laughed. "You still doing the..."
"She split, yeah..."
" ... Laker girl, what was her name?"
" ... moved to Texas. Uh, Jaimie, she's a Cowgirl now. She sent me a jersey," I sighed.
"Well, good for us then." Jen sighed too. "I love you."
"You said that."
"Maybe I want to hear you say it."
"You know I do," I said switching the phone to my other ear.
"Say it then."
"No, uh-uh." I bit my lip. "You left me, remember?"
"Please say it?"
"Okay, sell it." Jack was swiveling around in his leather chair like a 300 pound kid.
"I can't do the city, we need fresh air on this." I sat next to Jeremy Benedict, the director who wasn't particularly happy to find out he wasn't going to be shooting his script. "We go outside. Kansas maybe, Iowa."
"Fresh air? Kansas?" Benedict rubbed the back of his left hand as if he had poison ivy. "It's about the city. What script are you reading?"
"Nooo..." I said slowly, "It's about a guy who cheats on his wife."