- August 3rd, 2014 -
I used to have a corner office on the second floor of a building at the intersection of 16th and Market streets in center city Philadelphia. Apparently location scouts from Hollywood production companies considered the intersection a close approximation to a Manhattan street scene so they used it for their movies and television shows at a considerable discount. They changed the street signs, brought in NYPD squad cars, and changed the license plates of other cars from Pennsylvania to New York plates, and imported scads of beautiful, sophisticated looking extras, for the shoot, apparently because ordinary folks from Philly just aren’t as beautiful or sophisticated. (I’m just sayin.)
From my office window I had a front row seat, so to speak, to the entire process. It begins in the dark of night when the police cordon off the streets. The following morning’s rush hour is a nightmare because traffic that normally flows through the intersection has been diverted without notice, resulting in enormous traffic jams, fender benders, fist fights, and a lot of drivers giving each other the finger. (It’s a Philly thing; what can I say?)
Next, enormous trailers magically appear on Market Street, parked at places that are normally off limits to the rest of us without being issued a parking ticket or having your car booted or towed to an impoundment lot and held for ransom. From the bowels of these trailers, lights, screens, crane mounted cameras, and other imposing paraphernalia are brought forth and placed in strategic locations around the intersection, all of which disrupt pedestrian traffic further adding to the chaos. On the actual day the filming takes place, a dozen or more people run back and forth with light meters and other objects as they talk into walkie-talkies. These people are soon joined by others, who are apparently more important, who criticize the less important people who preceded them. Everyone, important or otherwise, is dressed in black. Some of them are wearing tee shirts with the name of the movie or TV show on them. It all looked to me like a colossal waste of time, effort, and money.
After hours and hours of this the actors finally arrive. Someone, presumably the director, yells “Action.” The lights are turned on, extras walk across the sidewalk. A car pulls up, the stars step out and walk towards the entrance to my building. The whole thing takes 30 seconds! “Cut” the crew and extras applaud the stars who ignore them, get back in the car and are driven away. Like I said, it looked to me like a colossal waste of money and the other stuff.
Every few months this same scene, or a very similar one, would be played out with a different crew and cast and tee shirts. The production companies could probably save a shit load of money if they just used the same footage over and over, but what do I know.
Anyway, one day the corner under my window was being used for a movie that starred Bradley Cooper, who it turns out is a local boy from one of the Philadelphia suburbs, and Robert De Niro. The sight of these two mega stars for the 30 seconds it took for them to get out of the car and walk towards my building resonated in my mind.
What if I wrote a book in which Cooper and De Niro could play the principal characters in the movie and get out of a car and walk towards my building?
No matter how I tried to flush the thought out of my brain, I couldn’t prevent my subconscious from returning to the fantasy of Cooper and De Niro starring in my movie.
Imagine this scene:
Cooper walks up to the gate of the De Niro character’s mansion, presses the button and is admitted without inquiry. Cooper limps up the path, the door is opened by a young man with no neck who gestures for Cooper to follow him. “The senator is expecting you.”
The young man with no neck opens the door to a room where De Niro is sitting on what looks like a Queen Anne sofa. He is wearing a three piece black mohair undertaker suit, his state senator uniform. The top button of his white shirt and his vest are unbuttoned; his silk tie is partially untied. There are red flecks from his spaghetti lunch or from Chianti on his stark white shirt.
(De Niro): “Those dirty rotten sons of bitches!”
(Cooper looks around the room, there’s no one else there): “Senator?”
(De Niro): “Them. (He points out the window at a Comcast truck that is parked across the street from his house.)
(De Niro laughs): “That’s not Comcast.”
(Cooper): “It’s not?”
(De Niro): “No. It’s the FBI.”
(Cooper): “It is? How do you know it’s not Comcast?”
(De Niro looks at him as if Cooper is an idiot):“Today it’s Comcast, yesterday it was PECO, and tomorrow it will be Verizon. They park there all day. It’s the FBI, those rotten bastards!”
(Cooper takes a careful look at the truck and sees nothing suspicious.): “Ok senator, but what are they doing? I mean what are they accomplishing by sitting out in the open in a truck across the street from your house?”
(De Niro): “They’re spying on me. They have some kind of parabolic bullshit. They’re probably listening to our conversation, those motherless fucks!” (He gives them the finger.)
Can’t you just see these great actors reciting my dialogue? And believe me, there’s lots more where that came from. If only I could get my people to give my book to their people. Of course, I have no people, and their people guard their employers with their very lives, shielding them from entreaties from agentless (I think that’s a word) authors like me.
If Bradley Cooper only knew the wonderful, dare I say noble, deeds he accomplishes as the hero of my story, not to mention the great sex, I’m sure he would demand to be cast in the role. And Robert De Niro! I can already envision him walking towards the stage to accept his Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor!
So, if any of you happen to know Cooper or De Niro…