This is Chapter 15 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "Open Lines II" , the previous chapter.
POV of Ron Rosenblum, Brian Kinney, featuring Jimmy Hardy, Freddy Weinstein, Others.
Rated PG for language and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Clips of the process, Hollywood, February-March 2002.
Disclaimer: This is for fun, not profit. Watch Queer As Folk on Showtime, buy the DVDs, videos, and CDs. Read the stories and enjoy.
Outtake 1: The House in the Canyon.
Suddenly, he's a fucking method actor.
Nothing but Neil Young, The Doors, The Velvet Underground, and Bowie blasts from the poolhouse, night and day. From the gym. From the car going to and from the studio. Anything before 1968 or later than 1972 is forbidden. And it's loud.
Carmel and Maria are ready to give notice. Armani refuses to come out from under the breakfront in the living room.
His running gear is everywhere. The place looks and smells like a damned locker room. I found a jockstrap lying on the floor of my office this morning -- and I don't want to know how it got there.
The refrigerator is also full of those creatine/soy things he's drinking -- he seems to be living on them more than any real food, which could be a problem. A big problem.
Outtake 2: The Studio, Executive Offices.
Jimmy and I meet with two execs from the studio.
Max is the old line guy. Been with the studio for years. Survived a hundred take-overs and bloodbaths. Can tell you everything about the way the studio was run in the Fifties and Sixties, 'When we had REAL stars!' He also knows shit about what is going on in film today.
Howie Sheldon is the young turk. Gay, but discreetly so -- meaning he's so paranoid he might as well be straight. But he knows what is what. He started as a lawyer, then became an agent, then one of his clients slid him into producing, and now he's a studio hot-shot. He's here -- at Jimmy's bidding -- to grease the wheels in what is optimistically called a 'casting meeting.'
Jimmy shows them some of the footage we shot with Ross Preston. Then he shows them the stuff with Brian. Max is wincing during all the sequences. Howie is impassive. He's not giving away anything.
"So, this Preston kid is really out? Completely?" Max sits up in his seat and scratches himself after the outtakes.
"Yes. His agent has already contacted the studio." Jimmy raises his eyebrows as he speaks. That famous 'impish' expression he has so perfected. "Of course, Ross let us know, ah... personally that he was unhappy with the project. He gave his notice to us the... other night. At rehearsal."
"And you want to go with this other guy? Brian What? I never heard of him."
Jimmy chimed in. "He's from back East. He's done one film." That's pushing it, Jimmy, I'm thinking. "But mostly, ah, regional stuff."
"Regional? Doesn't sound promising."
"Everyone has to start somewhere, Max."
"Yeah, Jimmy, but your 'somewhere' was a hit TV series -- not some regional theater and movie I never heard of."
"I want him in the picture, Max. Isn't that enough? We've postponed shooting, but we can't put it off any longer. If you have a better solution, let me know."
Max stands and draws himself up into his 'executive' stance. "I don't have one. This is your film to do right -- or fuck up. I guess I'll just have to let you fuck it up yourselves." He turns to leave. "Oh, but you owe us one, Jimmy. You owe us. And Ron -- don't come to me for any favors. Ever." And he exits the room.
That leaves Howie, sitting with his poker face. He calls up to the booth. "Could you run the takes once more for me?"
We sit in silence while they ran. Howie doesn't wince, as Max did, but watches intently. Then the lights come up. He's quiet for a few minutes.
"Well, Howie -- what's the word?"
"You're right, Jimmy. Ross Preston would have been a disaster. But... we could have sold him. He has a built-in recognition and the beginnings of a fan base."
"That doesn't help if he's wrong for the picture,"Jimmy says, eagerly.
"True enough,"Howie says. "But that doesn't convince me that your other boy can handle it, either. No credits. No experience. No rep in the business."
"A new name, a new face -- it means we can 'create' him from scratch!"says Jimmy.
"Maybe. Maybe not." Howie sits and stares at the blank screen. "He looks good. He's intense, that's for certain. Sexy. And he has some chemistry with you, Jimmy. That means something."
"It makes a huge difference in this film, Howie," insists JImmy. "It's all about the relationship."
"But we aren't talking about Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn here," Howie replies. "Or Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. Or even Paul Newman and Robert Redford. The last thing I'm thinking is pairing the two of you in a series of queer romances, Jimmy. This is a one-shot deal. And because of that... I'm recommending that you go ahead. Max will agree. I guarantee it."
"That's great, Howie, just great!" Jimmy is ecstatic. "And you'll love Brian. He's going to be great in this picture. I know it."
"Sure, Jimmy," says Howie. "Just finish the thing. And don't fucking go over budget, because the studio isn't going to carry this thing any further than it has to. This is your baby and your 'vanity project' -- as it were. I hope you realize that."
"It's going to be great! You'll see, Howie. You'll see."
Howie gets up to leave. I've been sitting in almost total silence through the entire meeting. I feel that Jimmy is more suited to pushing this thing. And I was afraid that if I said too much my own doubts will come through loud and clear.
Howie pauses next to me and puts his hand on my shoulder. ""Ron, you've been the silent partner here today, huh?"
"A little, Howard."
"Well, I hope you know what you're doing." He gives my head a little smack and smiles for the first time all morning. "This seems a very big gamble to take just to get your boyfriend into the movies. But it's your career, Ron. Your career."
Outtake 3: Lunch, The Grill in Beverly Hills.
"I've been your agent for what, Ron? How many years?"
"A lot of years, Freddy."
"And who took you on when you couldn't get your queer ass through the door of any other agency in town, huh, Ron?"
"You did, Freddy."
"So, I thought we had a relationship, here? I thought we were doing business here? THIS is how I get the payback? This is what it all means?"
"Now who's being a drama queen, Fred?"
"I wish, Ron! I frigging wish! Lew Blackmore? Lew frigging Blackmore! That's who you hand him over to? You are breaking my heart here!"
"Freddy, this was Jimmy's call -- not mine."
"So, now Jimmy Hardy is running your career? Maybe HE'D like to be your fucking agent!
"Freddy, Jimmy is the star of this picture. He is also the executive producer. Now I'm the writer and the director, but -- let's face it -- that and a quarter will get me a ride on the merry-go-round and not much else in this town. If Jimmy wants Brian to be represented by HIS agent, I can't very well block it. There's enough damned conflict of interest as it is!"
"I'm steaming here, Ron. I'm going to lose some big frigging money on that kid -- I can smell it!"
"Freddy, this is a one-shot deal! He's NOT a goddamn actor! He doesn't even WANT to be one! You aren't going to lose anything."
"If he doesn't want to be an actor then he's the ONLY person in this town! Jesus, even my gardener is a member of SAG!"
"Freddy, what can I say?"
Outtake 4: The Studio, Office of Publicity and Promotion.
"You can't SAY that."
"Why the fuck not?"
"Try not to say 'fuck.'
"Why the fuck not?"
"Brian, honey, you aren't helping us here. Ron said you would cooperate in this. Yvonne and I are just trying to make it easy for you!"
"It's a fucking waste of time! I'm not answering any of these questions. I never heard such bullshit in my life!"
"Brian, honey, this is the standard kind of press release we use for all our new actors. It's our job to promote you. To sell you to the public. Believe us -- we know what we're doing."
"Well, selling things to the public is something that I know about, too. In fact, I know a LOT about it. But, you see -- I'm NOT a product and I don't need to be sold to anyone. They said that all I have to do is show up and say my fucking lines and run around in fucking circles. And that's what I'm going to do. Period."
"Now that's where you're wrong, honey. That is only the beginning."
"It's the beginning AND the end for me -- because I'm not going to participate in this kind of shit."
"Brian, you don't want to get a reputation for being difficult, do you?"
"Why not? It's worked up until now."
"Now, Brian, honey, let's just get some simple answers down. People are going to be asking questions about you. The columnists are going to want some information about you. You don't want them snooping around on their own, do you?"
"Let 'em. I don't care."
"But this way we can 'control' the flow of information. You know, feed them interesting little tidbits about you and that will satisfy them until the film comes out -- and then you can let the performance speak for itself."
"That's even bigger bullshit than the other stuff!"
"This isn't helping!"
"Okay -- what sort of 'little tidbits' about me did you have in mind?"
"What about something about your family background? That usually makes for a nice connection that the public can identify with."
"Certainly -- if the public is made up of violent drunks, homophobic religious fanatics, and screaming hysterics. Because that's what you are going to get if you want stories about the Kinneys."
"All right, perhaps that's not the way to go. How about your school days? You're playing an athlete in the film -- did you play sports at school? What about a teacher or coach who encouraged you to pursue your dream?"
"Oh, I had a very inspirational coach. He encouraged me to pursue all sorts of things -- but that story might get me knocked off the air on Jay Leno."
"Well, then. Moving on... Any other stories about being a teenager? Family trips? Interesting after school jobs?"
"I had a very engaging sojourn in New York -- you might want to ask Ron about the details of that one. And my 'after school job' was rather riveting as well -- in fact, you might say it pretty much led to my landing here in La La Land and this wonderful acting career."
"Great! Let's hear some of the particulars."
"I'll forward you the video and you can check it out for yourself."
"Maybe you better talk to Ron before we go any further with this."
"Moving on -- here is a list of up-coming events that it would be helpful for you to be seen at. A premiere. A charity auction. The Oscars, of course. Here's a dinner for an agent who is retiring -- he's in Lew Blackmore's agency and you're his client, so it would be smart to attend. We'll need to coordinate your shooting schedule with the events so that we can see which ones are the best fit for you. And we'll provide transportation and all the perks, including working out an arrangement for clothes, jewels, whatever, depending on the degree of formality."
"I have my own clothes -- I don't wear rentals or borrowed shit."
"Brian, honey, everyone does it. The designers do it for the exposure. And you don't have to spend a dime."
"Jesus! These movie stars are the cheapest fucks on Earth! Don't they pay for anything themselves?"
"Not if they don't have to -- and you won't either if you play your cards right."
"Now this premiere -- it's the new Jill Atwood film. Romantic comedy. Yada yada. Fairly low key, but good exposure for a first time appearance. Give you a chance to 'test the waters,' so to speak."
"Do I really have to?"
"Brian -- most people would love to get dressed up, go in a limo to a big party, and have people make a fuss over them? What are you, anti-social?"
"This one will be easy. You're going to have to do it eventually. Your own picture will have a premiere. You won't be able to dodge that, baby."
And PLEASE try not to punctuate every sentence with that word! Please? You're a very articulate person -- I'm sure you can think of other things to say!"
"How about 'blimey!' or 'odds bodkins!'?"
"Can we move beyond the sarcasm?"
"Yes, let's. Now, Brian, honey, I'm sure your own clothes will do just fine for this premiere. Formal, but you can be funky as well."
"Funky formal? That's a new one."
"You know -- a tuxedo, but you don't shave. Like Brad Pitt. Or you wear some interesting tie or cowboy boots or something. Like Billy Bob Thornton. It's a comedy, so that's all right."
"So the audience has to dress like comic relief, too?"
"I think I can do that."
"And we can arrange for your date to have a dress or jewels on loan. But she'll need a fitting first, probably."
"My date? I don't do 'dates.' "
"Of course you do, dear. You can't go to the premiere by yourself. Or take your mother. Who do you think you are, Kevin Spacey? Brian? Brian! Come back here!"
Continue on to "Shopping Lists" -- Part I" , the first part of Chapter Sixteen of "Queer Theories."
©Gaedhal, May 2002
Picture of Gale Harold from MetroSource.
Revised and Updated January 16, 2003.