For the past several years, it seems as though whenever I've discussed the movie business and me, I've been pissed off. It usually stems from my frustration that a script I wrote is not moving toward production after all the parade marching ballyhoo to the contrary from the star or producer that hired me to write it. So it's a pleasure to finally share some good news about a film I've scripted.
In 2000, I was hired by a sharp, aggressive and very good-natured first time director/producer named Laurence Kaldor. He needed a screenwriter to whittle down some early drafts and write a script for a movie idea that he had been struggling to create. The story, which was originally called "Project: Indie," is inspired by Kaldor's personal dealings with his own filmmaking sister and his efforts to make a feature film. I think Kaldor tried to write the script himself. When that wasn't working he hired some "Hollywood" writer to script the film, but that failed too (and he lost a lot of money.) After repeated failed attempts to get the story right, he called NYU to ask for their recommendation for a screenwriter. They suggested me.
I interviewed with Kaldor and his producer. We never discussed it, but I think the young Jewish director and his crew were just a wee bit surprised when this young black man walked into the room. Several other writers were interviewing also but I got the gig.
Over the next several weeks, Laurence Kaldor worked closely with me as I rewrote the script. In October of that year (the same year I moved to Atlanta) Laurence filmed the movie, which was called "Directing Eddie." The first cut of the film was completed in early 2oo1. It stars Valerie Perrine, Jaid Barrymore (Drew's mom) and Deidre Imus (yep, his wife) and it was completed in time to screen and go on to win "Best Comedy" in the New York Independent Film & Video Festival 2001. Distributors were lining up to take it nationally. Then 9-11 struck.
As that fateful tragedy fucked with everything in the world, it also rocked "Directing Eddie." All at once, no one was interested in distributing a comedy set in New York. "The country just isn't ready," they said. "And it shows the twin towers!" So the movie hit the shelf and a year or so later Laurence left New York to move to LA.
I heard Tom Hanks on a few interviews talk about the "movie god." He calls her "Pelicula" or "Cineaste" or something like that. Anyway, whoever this celluloid oriented deity is, she has smiled on "Directing Eddie" because (drum roll please) the movie is rising again! From what I hear, "Directing Eddie" has been recut, reworked, re-something else (maybe the twin towers were digitally removed) and renamed to, "Re-Directing Eddie." A new song from Cher is even in the film now. Also, a new website has been constructed and a new campaign has been erected to take the film off the shelf to now be put, hopefully, on the screen. It's first re-showing will be at the American Film Market in Santa Monica, California next month. So here's the link to the website: Re-Directing Eddie... and click here for the movie's trailer.
Honestly, I don't know how good the movie is, but that really doesn't matter. Really it doesn't. I'm just glad to see something FINALLY made! Hats off to you Laurence Kaldor. Now the rest of you stars and producers go and do likewise!
Wow! It's been ten days since my last post. I promise, I'll post more frequently and with shorter entries. (I know some of y'all are just too busy to read more than a few lines!) So here's what's happening:
My first big push into TV Land is with a spec pilot I wrote entitled "Sermons By Lavell" starring, you guessed it, Lavell Crawford. I've been blessed to now have a veteran showrunner attached. His name is David Duclon and his credits are deep--as far back as "The Odd Couple" and "Happy Days." He was also an executive producer on "The Jeffersons" "Punky Brewster" "Silver Spoons" "Eve"-- and many more.
Last Sunday, David and I met with Lavell and his team (his manager Coco and roommate Jay Lamont) after the Last Comic Standing Tour Show in Anaheim. It was a solid meeting. For the next two days I retooled "Sermons..." then David took it to his agent at ICM to get his thoughts. We're awaiting word from him concerning the script and possible representation of me. Things look good. But then there is the approaching strike...!
More later. (I promise!)
Tony Robbins, the mega-selling motivational guru, says, "If the plan isn't working, change the plan." Sounds like good advice to me. So that's what I'm doing.
After years of encircling the world of feature film writing, I'm breaking free of that very frustrating and too often disappointing orbit to seek another mission: TV writing.
I've dabbled in it before when I've scripted pilot specs either for myself or people like "Nephew" Tommy Miles and Master P, but I never really firmly committed to the genre. Why not? It probably has something to do with the daily grind of the TV schedule and the nervousness of "pitching" jokes in a room of very funny people. But ya know, I'm ready to get over that.
The new mantra needs to be: TV is my job; film is my hobby.The reality is that I know more people working in the television biz than the film world. And it's true about Hollywood: it's who you know that makes a difference. Now I don't mean to make this crossover sound as simple as walking over to the other side of the street. Blasting out of ones orbit takes a lot of thrust and when I arrive, there's no guarantee that the good people of TV land will be any more open than those in movie world. When I told Wendy Raquel Robinson I was going to make this transition, she snapped back, "Why? Ain't no writin' jobs in TV either. What you ought to do is reality shows."
Mmm. Not yet. I want to give scripted shows a shot. I know I have the talent and ideas to go along with it. And I think I may just have a key element to my TV plans. I'll know for sure on Sunday, so tune in next week. '
"Tune in." Wow, I'm talking TV already!