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Shut Up! Fuck Off! You’re Lying!

And so we continue with the shamelessly extroverted post titles.

It’s Oscar day.  Ho hum for most of us, nauseatingly exciting for those up for awards.  Literally nauseating: I would be puking in a bucket right now if I were nominated.  With the helicopters whirling overhead because the Kodak Theater is less than ten blocks away, it’s time for me to muse about the Oscars from the perspective of a bit of satellite debris orbiting Planet Hollywood.

Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler looking like my Oscar-wishful producer.

Once upon a career, I had this executive producer in London who looked like a British Oskar Schindler as played by Liam Neeson, which, yes, meant he looked a bit like Liam.  He even smoked these little cigars, had a super cut-glass accent, wore blue blazers and jeans, and in general wowed me as being the archetypal dashing playboy Euro-producer.  Naturally, I hung on his every word.  The fact he wasn’t particularly successful, and like most of the people in our business sat around planning and talking about making films rather than actually making them, made not a tick of difference to me.  He looked the part.  And in this filmmaker’s mind, I had cast him in the movie of my life as the man who would produce me.  Finally.

“James, my boy,” Faux Oskar said to me once (yes, he actually used to call me James My Boy, with a slight wave of his cheroot, which dazzled me), “Anyone who tells you he isn’t in the film business to win an Oscar is lying.”  I gulped.  It had been a very long time since I had fantasized about winning an Oscar, of giving That Speech in my mind.  My mother was more excited about the prospect of my ever winning than I was (“Can I accept it for you, darling?  Wouldn’t that be fun to have your mum up there?”) However, if Faux Oskar said it, it must be true.  So I became a liar without a lie and let no one know I had no Oscar ambitions.

The real truth is I actually do this film thing because I love it.  It’s not work for me the way jobs are for most other people.  When I am seized with the passion of a project, it’s better than being high on sex-enhancing drugs in an orgy of gorgeous people, and that feeling lasts for the duration of the gig.  Now you have an idea of why we’re all so addicted to it, at the expense of all reason.

A few years later, I was in Los Angeles on a second date with this insanely handsome German guy, the kind who should have “Arrogance” tattooed between his shoulder blades, the kind the real Oskar Schindler risked so much to screw over.  This Uber-Douche invited me to an Oscar party in a loft downtown, during which he kept sneaking off to the bathroom and doing coke.  The fact he didn’t offer me any was bad enough, but what made it worse is that his already rampant Narcissism Personality Disorder was now a Godzilla in the room.  He had become Super Uber-Douche.

It was one of those Oscars that happen to me every few years where people I have known in the past were involved with the ceremony, either dishing out or receiving.  I believe Faye Dunaway, with whom I’d had a long history when I was much younger, not all of it pleasant, was one of the presenters.  Then Akiva Goldsman, whom I had known pretty well in college, won for Best Adapted Screenplay.  I groaned.

Crapmeister Akiva Goldsman turning into a genius. Akiva's greatest contribution to the arts is probably having inspired me to drop out of Wesleyan.

Now, the reason I groaned was not because I dislike Akiva particularly, even though he was the final straw that made me to decide to drop out of Wesleyan and move to Paris and become a fashion photographer’s assistant.  What happened on that occasion is I was very high on pot sitting in my friend Tom Rockwell’s kitchen at college and feeling paranoid (I was a freshman, Akiva was older, so that was extra paranoid-making), and he was trying to explain phenomenology to this other guy, and I just couldn’t grasp it.  Little did I know until I shacked up with a philosophy professor twenty years later that I was by no means alone in not understanding phenomenology.

I decided then and there that a) Wesleyan displeased me aesthetically in general, and b) admissions had made a mistake; I was far too dumb to be there.  The hidden third c) was that I desperately wanted to get back to Europe, where I had grown up.  America was still in a bit of a troglodyte era, ruled by Reagan; the croissant had yet to be introduced to McDonalds.

So there was Akiva, winning an Oscar for “Beautiful Mind,” fumbling through his speech, during which, in typical Wesleyan fashion, he sucked up to all of Power Hollywood from CAA (a Wesleyan creation) to Steven Spielberg.  Like I said, I didn’t groan because I dislike “Keevie,” as we called him back then, but because he was shattering my schadenfreude.  Up until that moment, Akiva was known as “Hollywood’s Crapmeister,” the man blamed for killing the first iteration of the Batman franchise.  That is no mean feat.  If I had been known as Hollywood’s Crapmeister, I would have committed hari kiri, ergo the schadenfreude.  But when he won the Oscar, I knew that from that moment, Akiva was screenwriting royalty, my new king, or at the very least a powerful arch-duke with connections to kings.  He was no longer a crapmeister, one of the worst writers around, someone whose presumed misery had made me feel better about mine; he would be forever more a “genius.”  And so I groaned.

And after I groaned, Uber-Douche turned to me and said, “You vill never vin von of dose.”  If he was grinding his teeth because of the coke he hadn’t offered me, I was grinding mine to stop myself from punching him.

Later at a club he announced, “Ok, vee go home now.”

“So go,” I replied.  And patted myself on the back for rejecting Apollo.

Wanna buy an Oscah? Peggy Siegal has one for you for the right price.

James, you ask, you are obviously the ultimate Hollywood outsider’s insider.  How does one win an Oscar? Easy.  Just have insane good fortune, a modicum of talent — filmmaking is not rocket science, believe me, not at all — and a fantastic publicist.  That’s what ultimately gets you the award.  Err on the side of caution and hire Peggy Siegal.  Done.  She’s a nightmare, but funny in a way, if you like your gossip hardcore.  She will stop at nothing and stoop to everything to reach your goals.

Speaking of hardcore gossip, we reach the explanation for the title of this blog post, a tribute to my friend, Indian fashion designer Malini Ramani.  It’s the way she gossips, I can never get enough of listening to her.  Across a crowded room at a noisy party, you can hear her breathlessly soaking in the latest dish, and she has this raspy voice that resonates through the sturdiest inebriated atoms.   When she hears the first tidbit she always says, in the Delhi upper class nasal singsong, “Shut up!”  This is how the speaker knows the story is good.  Getting a Shut Up! from Malini is the Michelin one star of quality South Asian gossip.  If you are lucky to get a Fuck off! next, you have really made the grade.  But it’s said like this: “Fuck! Off!” followed by a sharp intake of breath.  Now, if this isn’t just gossip, but a bona fide scandal, you will be rewarded with the third star: “YOU’RE LY-ING!” And “lying” is said just like that, both syllables clearly distinguished and with such force of purpose that the capital letters sway to the right as if gusted by a sharp wind of flabbergastedness.

My friend, Indian fashion designer Malini Ramani, at the end of one of her shows (she's the short one). I guess this collection was entitled "Injuns: Feathers, Not Dots." She's probably in full gossip with the gal on her left. There isn't a single moment one shouldn't be fully gossip-immersed, even at a curtain call.

Of course, you aren’t really lying, it just means that you have dished the goz so superbly, scooped every seasoned saried-and-bejeweled doyen in the room to the punch so expertly that you can only be LY-ING.  Given that most of Delhi gossip is pure fabrication generated simply for the sake of adding a little masala to the otherwise overly sweet and dull dolce vita everyone there swims in, being a liar is the Oscar of compliments.

No Killough Rant-Post would be complete without a mention of my (in my opinion) execrable psycho landlady, Susan Blais, whom I shall see in court the week after next, after which I shall give you more details, including the address of this shithole she owns so that you avoid it like the plague (I heard from another tenant that not long ago this place was lousy with fleas and bedbugs for six months until she was forced to fumigate).  And of course no Pure Film Creative post would be complete without a pic of Amanda Seyfried’s breasts, so here you are:

A double treat today, even though it is once again just Amanda's side boob. The other tit is Julianne Moore's breast, which probably won't get me as many hits as typing Amanda Seyfried's breast. What is Amanda doing with her right hand? Why, Amanda Seifried is fingering Julianne Moore! Now THAT should net me a half dozen more adorable perv readers for my blog. Thanks, girls. Keep up the good work. See you at the Oscars!

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Holy Hoodwinking Hookers!

I know, I said I wouldn’t use any more gratuitous alliterations after Monkey Monday, but in the case of this story it was harder to pass up than a free sample of organic taramosalata on a freshly toasted bagel chip at Whole Foods.

Once upon a less-than-a-week-ago, I got an email from a hooker who wanted me to write content for her website.  In the email, she described herself as follows:

“I am a young savvy cosmopolitan woman. I enjoy all things that encompass the fine Mediterranean lifestyle, gourmet cuisine, fine wines, theater, high fashion, laughter and keeping great company. Well cultured and traveled I am the perfect companion to accompany you in any social or private situation.

My hair is made of spun gold and hangs just above my waist; crystal green is the color of the eyes that you will want to gaze into for hours at a time! My body is firm and fit, I keep a rigorous workout routine and practice yoga daily to keep both my mind and body balanced and whole.”

Now, if you were a red-blooded homosexualist like me, who only gets confused about his sexuality when he’s had too much to drink and ends up dumping the guy and snogging the girl, you would see this after reading that:

Amanda Seyfried

Amanda Seyfried as the crystal green-eyed, spun-gold-haired hooker with magnificent breasts in Atom Egoyan's "Chloe"

Am I right or am I right?  This presumes you’ve actually sat through Atom Egoyan’s lullaby in soft porn, “Chloe,” in which a young hooker (Amanda Seyfried) seduces an upper-middle-class Canadian gynecologist (Julianne Moore, whom I always want to call Marianne Jones for some reason) by pretending to have seduced the gynecologist’s husband (Liam Neeson).  Even if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it for any sleepless night.  Just pop it on, grab a piece of toast with peanut butter, a glass of milk and you’ll be out like a light in half an hour.

Indulge me with a quick side trip to the subject of Atom Egoyan.  I mean, the guy has always been willfully trippy — as if making films about incest and other horrors is somehow more palatable if they’re hypnotic and tasteful — but now watching his films feels like the last time I took a quaalude back in ’89, when that drug was losing favor and dying out: feebly  erotic but above all soporific in a party-pooping kinda way.

And what is this about relentlessly portraying the upper middle class as even-toned, spaced-out, gorgeous successes who endlessly attend concerts or museum lectures or cocktail parties that look like choreographed routines at Sea World accompanied by … what is that music called, Atom, ambient synth jazz?  That ain’t the UMC I’m from, baby.  Maybe they’re like that up in Canadia (again, spelling intentional), but not in New York City.  Where are the rollicking, fractious, alcoholic, socially insecure, nerdy, witty banter-ful, mentally  unstable, erratically pulcritudinous folks I know, love and have major problems with?  (I was actually laterally moved out of the UMC to the lower upper class in the late 90s owing to the strong scent of gutter I have acquired.)

Atom, listen: if you want a good, truly sexy, realistic script about Our Crowd, have one of mine.  I’ll even give you a discount on the front end and take a chunk of the back, that’s how confident I am that one of your movies will finally make money.  (This is where I link-plug our feature film company, just in case Atom is bored enough to deep Google himself and take me up on my offer.)

Anyway, back to my hoodwinking hooker. So I got really excited about this gig, like, texting-my-friends excited.  I was going to do the content and maybe the design for the website of this smoking hot, high-end hooker who charged her clients $1,000 an hour, or $10,000 for a “pajama party” sleep-over. This was going to open up a whole new venue for me.  I was going to be the gay Hugh Hefner of web content.  I spoke to my prospective client on the phone, and we hit it off beautifully. I even sold her on the idea of doing video for her site when she comes out to Los Angeles in March.  Video is what Pure Film Creative — sorry, another link-plug rudely squeezed itself in there — is really trying to sell its clients; people won’t pay a lot for text, but they’ll shell out some decent dosh for good video.

I was so pumped about this that I sailed through my workout at the gym.  Things were looking up.  This was something I could enjoy and make some worthy money doing, once the word got out to the other girls and I was soon surrounded by prose-depraved harlots (they prefer the word “courtesan,” as if everything they learned about describing the business came from Memoirs of a Geisha), who would swaddle me in some of that delicious $1,000-an-hour green.

No sooner did I get home than I got an email from my new client:

James,
What a pleasure to speak with you! If we’re going to work together I believe honesty is the best policy. My name is S __ and my assistants name is S ___ you will be dealing with either of us at any time, but primarily myself in regard to my creative needs. My true description is 5’7 165 lbs long brown hair, brown eyes curvy and firm 38F 30 42 size 12 dress all natural I’m latina and african american mixed.

And accompanying this fantasy-shattering confession were two images:

Miss S__, the hooker who needed a content makeover, after full disclosure

WHOA!  “True description” indeed!  This has to be the exact opposite of the crystal green-eyed, spun-gold-haired Amanda Seyfriend look-alike with whom I imagined I had chatted on the phone.   This was not at all the sleek, lusty-yet-intellectual heroine of my forecast of the future, whose web content and image I would reposition so brilliantly  that the poor woman would never get off her back with the amount of clients she would be raking in, all thanks to me; she would be diving and swimming in a pool filled with cash, just like Donald Duck’s Uncle Scrooge.

After picking myself up off the floor, I shook out my shock and disappointment like a Turkish housewife beating a carpet, and rose to the challenge anyway.  38F bust size! Hmmmm. As S___ herself admitted in our further correspondence — I called her “extra voluptuous,” was that wrong? — she is a particular taste and has no trouble securing regular clients.  That made sense.  What I liked best was I was learning something about a whole new business sector and how it is marketed on the internet. I’m serious: this was a modern cultural curiosity, a revamping of the world’s oldest profession.  I learned from Miss S __, for instance, that hooker websites are mainly developed by a female-owned service named Veda Designs.  It’s a very clever model, everything a professional “companion” could need, from private photo galleries, to online payments, right down to finding an assistant.

Unfortunately, Miss S __ didn’t want my design services, just a polishing of her content, particularly her bio and her “philosophy towards the business,” which in most other industries is known as a Mission Statement. Copy like, “My goal is to take your face and smother it between my 38F ebony pillows until you pass out from ecstasy or from burst blood vessels in your brain,” sprang to mind later during my hike up to the Hollywood Sign, always my favorite way to regroup and re-strategize. (I saw Moby again on the street while I was hiking up there, greeting Heather Graham as she got out of a car.  He just bought and fixed up this mini castle, the lucky bastard.  We waved at each other.  We’re becoming waving friends.)

Then came the unfortunate question of money.  She wanted copy up front, I wanted a deposit up front.  Yes, I even put my policy in terms she could understand, you would have been so proud of me: “Listen, you know the drill: put the money on the dresser first before we get into bed, and I don’t take checks.”  I actually said that, in my usual cheeky way punctuated with a laugh.  I gave her my Paypal account, but she must have balked because I haven’t heard from her.  So much for my career as the gay Hugh Hefner of hooker web content.  That’s really Veda, bless her; I hope at least she’s a lesbian.

Weather Watch:

Can you believe it, it actually rained a bit last night in Los Angeles.  I’m sorry I missed it. Back on January 25th, when the umpeenth blizzard struck New York, I sent some of my friends this screenshot of the weather forecast for LA:

It was like that for the five days after that, too.  Yeah, not nice sending that to the blizzard-battered, but I couldn’t resist.  It’s fun to be wicked sometimes.  As my niece Savannah once said when I was scolding her, “But I like to be bad sometimes, Uncle James.”  I know what she means.  It’s not the same as being truly evil, like my landlady, Susan Blais; in my opinion, she’s the raw, pure Mean ‘N Nasty, the kind who can’t eat ice cream because it scorches her mouth.

Sorry, was I unkind?  Just getting started.  But I have to be careful to phrase everything about Ms. Blais with “in my opinion,” or she’ll sodomize me with a razor-barbed defamation suit as well.

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Monkey Monday

I’m not sure why I’ve named this post that way.  I was staring at the screen when gratuitous alliteration just flew right in my face and out through my fingers.  I’ll try for gratuitous assonance tomorrow.

Here’s my image for the day, because no post should go naked:

James and Rain on set

That’s me and my creative partner Rain Li our first night shooting together, on location at the Tate Britain.  Awwwww.  During the first take, she held my sweaty hand.  Awwwwwwwww.  I found the pic floating around some dusty folder in a forgotten corner of my hard drive, so I got it out and posted it.  Looks as good as new.  Note how she has cheekbones and I have more hair on my cheeks than my head.

Met with a potential new client today, a criminal defense attorney who is looking for someone to do his advertising copy, layouts, web content, the works for very little, of course.  He’s one of these handsome, improbably glib guys who is a guest legal expert on TV, commenting on high-profile cases.  His office was in Beverly Hills … well, right on the border of Not-Beverly-Hills-Any-More.  It seems nobody over the age of 23 works there, even though he’s in his early 50s, maybe, I’m guessing; nobody in or around that zip code/fault line looks his age.  He says he gets 2,000 calls a month from people who have been arrested.  That’s staggering.  I told him to stop nickle-and-diming me over my fee and show me some of that green if he expected me to bring in even more arrestees with my superlative copy and sparkling layouts.  To be honest, this is the sort of thing I love, the kind of advertising work I would frame if given the opportunity.  These are like the ads that Dr. Zizmor, Dermatologist, has been hammering us with on subway cars in New York for 25 years: badly, randomly chosen, garish colors; indifferent copy; troglodyte typeface and layout.  Screamin’-at-ya cheap.  And as if by a miracle of self-inflicted preservation, Dr. Zizmor himself never ages, mainly because it’s exactly the same ad as the one from 25 years ago.  This is the sort of bizarre gig that I’d take on now just for the anecdote later.  And genuinely love doing it.

After Mr. Criminal Defense told me how much he was willing to pay for all this advertising — you just know this dude has some swank, hyper-modernist spread in the Hills with a glittering diamond view of LA and a vanishing-edge pool that will trigger an existential crisis just looking at it — and I had chuckled away a lump of random rib cartilage rising in my esophagus (why had I come all the way out to Not-Beverly-Hills-Any-More on the bus for this?), he asked me if I ghostwrite books.

“Hell, yeah,” I replied.  I finished ghostwriting the first 10,000 words of a Young Adults novel two weeks ago and had such a great time that I had bad separation anxiety after I handed it in and they said, “Right, good job, you can piss off now.”  I tried in vain to get the full gig writing the whole book.  I had a blast.  I was sitting there typing and laughing like Liberace banging out the Turkish March on the piano while high on E and methamphetamine.  I was sorry it was over. So anything this guy wanted to propose, I was in, just to get my ghostwriting fix back.

“I need a book on the Top 10 Celebrity Crimes of all time,” Criminal Defense said.

Christ.  I’ve seen that program a hundred times on a hundred different channels — VH1, E!, Extra, etcetera.  OK, maybe not a hundred, but enough.  “It’s a prop,” he added.  “Something for me to hold up when I’m on TV like I’m the expert.  You just Google the information about the cases and rewrite it.”

Just like that.

We then started haggling about the price for that, too.  He wanted to pay a fifth of what I could bare-minimum do it for, if I weren’t so hungry for work, that is.  “It’s a prop,” he repeated.  I told him that in that case we could just print up a bunch of pages with “Lorem Ipsum” dummy text, slap a picture of OJ Simpson snogging Lindsay Lohan on the cover and, presto! Dummy book to hold up on NBC Nightly News.  “No, it has to be real,” he admitted.  My inner plaintiff rested.

Weather in LA today: paradise continues.  There was a bit of cloud cover this morning.  I thought it might get interesting, but no.  Sunny, high around 70.  Luckily a cool wind picked up because I only had a heavy sport jacket to wear to the interview, the lighter one being at the cleaners, the other lighter one being a wrinkled mess, and not being wrinkled in a cool, meaningful, linen-ish way.  Wrinkled as in the lapels look cranky and geriatric.

 


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